Last Saturday a group gathered to participate in a conference to discuss the upcoming marriages taking place between their children. Several were in attendance. I was there, along with Keith Henderson and other men and women whose children are preparing for marriage. Keith Henderson wrote up a description of the outcome, and a few of us helped edit and synthesize it into an article you can now find on the Recorder’s Clearinghouse website. The article is titled Marriage and could be of interest to anyone whose family includes someone contemplating getting married.
The “stone cut out of the mountain without hands” (Dan. 2:44-45) is not a corruptible institution but an incorruptible Gospel.
There is no organization currently ministering the “gift of the Holy Ghost” as a right conferred upon an individual to remain always with them. There is an admonishment directing people to: “receive the Holy Ghost.” That admonishment is directed to the individual as advice, counsel or an objective to seek for, not as a right conferred indelibly upon them. (See, David Bednar, Receive the Holy Ghost, April 2010 General Conference; That We May Always Have His Spirit To Be With Us, April 2006 General Conference.) As recently as the Sunday morning session of the last LDS conference, President Eyring explained the limits of the LDS connection to the Holy Ghost. “We desire it, yet we know from experience that it is not easy to maintain. We each think, say, and do things in our daily lives that can offend the Spirit.” (The Holy Ghost as Your Companion.) Anyone of any faith anywhere in the world can have the same experience as a transitory gift from God. (Moroni 10:4-5.) Remember God gives liberally to all; the wicked and the righteous. People of faith throughout the world have as much access to the Holy Ghost as a latter-day saint. If it were not so, the LDS missionaries could not advise an investigator to pray and ask God – pointing out Moroni 10:4. If it were not so, Joseph could not have asked God relying on the promise of James 1:5. There is nothing special about the LDS admonishment, but it is a good, worthy and correct principle which all mankind ought to follow. If they do, no matter what their faith traditions, they will harvest the same results as those spoken of by President Eyring in the last LDS general conference.
Christ, however, can give the permanent gift of the Holy Ghost by His touch. (3 Ne. 18:36; Moroni 2:1-3.)
There are no “sealing” keys used by any Mormons in their temple rites: “Brothers and sisters, if you are true and faithful the time will come when you will be called up and anointed kings and priests, queens and priestesses, whereas now you are only anointed to become such. The realization of these blessings depends on your faithfulness.” It, like the Holy Ghost, is conditioned on your faithfulness. This same promise is made to all mankind by the Lord. (See, e.g., D&C 14:7; D&C 96:6; Alma 11:40; Moroni 7:41.)
Christ can and does seal a man up to eternal life. (See, e.g., Mosiah 26: 14, 20; Enos 1:5-8; D&C 132:49; 1 John 2:25.)
Institutions who use fear to control the hopes and aspirations of mankind concerning eternal life are in the gall of bitterness. Fear is of the devil. When the final remnant is gathered, they will have shepherds who remove fear. (Jeremiah 23:2-5.) When we are prepared by Christ, and by His word alone, we will not fear. (D&C 38:30.)
If we are warned we should warn others. But the Lord has instructed: “And let your preaching be the warning voice, every man to his neighbor, in mildness and in meekness.” (D&C 38:41.)
The unity of man and woman is required for either of them to be saved in the truest meaning of “saved” (meaning exalted):
Paul wrote: “Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 11: 11.) But what does that mean?
-Is “sealing” enough?
-What if the couple are unworthy of being preserved because, among other things, they are not happy together?
-Why keep together what is more punishment than reward?
-If this union is required for either to be exalted, then does it matter who is sealed to who, with what language?
-What is your responsibility?
-How can you return to God without seeking to reclaim and redeem your husband?
-Remember the counsel of Hyrum Smith when he wrote as the prophet to the church? He said:
These things we have written in plainness and we desire that they should be publicly known,
The marriage of man and woman puts into the closest and most intimate contact two very different people. In their union it is possible to create offspring. It is this basic relationship where the two most important things are accomplished:
1. The work of bringing new life into the world, and
2. The work of overcoming the world and becoming “one.”
Yet fools seek to overcome the world while leaving their spouse uninvolved. Or, in other words, they seek to avoid the very test that is required and which is given to us all to help us to overcome the world. Remember there is neither the man nor the woman without the other in the Lord.
Assuming this is the requirement, then does the wording of church rites matter? Does language sealing the woman to the man change this need of unity?
Notice the definition of the “remnant” to whom the prophecies apply has now been given. The distinction between the “gentiles” and the “remnant” are apparent here. Notice that although the gentiles will receive “much of my gospel” they will still remain identified as “Gentiles.” We may refer to the restored church as “latter-day Israel” or similar terms, but the Book of Mormon vocabulary applies the term “Gentiles” to us. This is akin to the “Samaritans” many of whose blood was as Jewish as those who were exiled to Babylon and returned. Even Christ didn’t acknowledge they were Jewish.
“Paul ascended into the third heavens and he could understand the three principle rounds of Jacob’s ladder – the telestial, the terrestrial, and the celestial glories or kingdoms, when Paul saw and heard things which were not lawful to utter. I could explain a hundredfold more than I ever have of the glories of the kingdoms manifested to me in the vision were I permitted and were the people ready to receive them.” (DHC vol 5, p. 402.)
Joseph administered a form of endowment ceremony in Nauvoo, but told Brigham Young that he would have to finish it. Joseph initiated a few in the manner he received, but was not content with the form of the endowment. Brigham Young reported that Joseph told him, “Brother Brigham, this is not arranged right. But we have done the best we could under the circumstances in which we are placed, and I wish you to take this matter in hand and organize and systematize all these ceremonies.” (See Journal of L. John Nuttal, Vol. 1, pp. 18-19, quoted in Truman G. Madsen, Joseph Smith the Prophet, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1999, p. 97.)
Joseph also initiated a practice of sealing others to him, as the Patriarchal head of a dispensation. The nature of Patriarchal authority Joseph administered is different from what we currently understand or teach. Today we “seal” families together in genealogical lines based upon birth or legal adoption. Our families are tied together in what we understand was the intended purpose of Elijah’s prophecy about “turning hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers” so that the earth would not be smitten with a curse at the Lord’s return. But Joseph’s practice was somewhat different.
Joseph, who received the revelations on this matter, attempted to set out the manner in which the “family” will be constituted in eternity. He used Christ’s comment in Matthew 19: 29 to support the idea that those who are worthy will be placed in a family organization that would be completely restructured in the resurrection. Orson Hyde later constructed a diagram of this teaching and published it in the Millennial Star Vol. 9 [15 January 1847] at pages 23-24. If you search for that on-line you can find it. You need both the diagram and the explanation to understand the teaching. It is also in The Words of Joseph Smith at page 297. Please find and read it. You need to understand that teaching, which came to Orson Hyde from Joseph Smith.
As a result of this teaching, beginning with Joseph Smith and continuing until Wilford Woodruff discontinued it, sealing for eternity was not done in family lines. It was done instead to bind those who had received the Gospel to Joseph Smith, as the Patriarchal head of this dispensation. Joseph’s teaching was followed by Brigham Young, who sealed himself to Joseph as his (Joseph’s) son. John D. Lee, who was executed for the Mountain Meadows Massacre, was another sealed to Brigham Young as his son. Heber Grant’s mother was sealed to Joseph Smith, although his father was Jedediah Grant. As a result he (President Grant) considered himself Joseph’s son. That’s a side issue.
Returning to the gentile inheritance of “much of my gospel” referred to above, does it suggest that the gentiles are not/never were given generally or as a group possession of “the fullness?” Is “much of my gospel” something worth considering? Can you be certain Joseph delivered all he could or would, were the Saints willing to receive it? If it was “much” rather than “the fullness” then how does that change things?
Assuming “much of my gospel” includes (as it tells us) those things which “shall be plain and precious” then do the gentiles have enough to allow them to receive an audience with Christ as the promised Second Comforter from John’s Gospel? (John 14: 18, 23.) If so, then will not Christ, along with the Holy Ghost, teach you all things needed, even if the gentiles are not in possession of the “fullness” of it all? (John 14: 26.)
This is important to understand. Nephi makes it clear how the gentiles can become adopted into the promised line and inherit a place among the chosen people who will be preserved, inherit this land, and be numbered among the house of Israel. While that jumps us ahead a bit, it is directly connected here. The first two verses of the next chapter state the following:
“And it shall come to pass, that if the Gentiles shall hearken unto the Lamb of God in that day that he shall manifest himself unto them in word, and also in power, in very deed, unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks— And harden not their hearts against the Lamb of God, they shall be numbered among the seed of thy father; yea, they shall be numbered among the house of Israel; and they shall be a blessed people upon the promised land forever; they shall be no more brought down into captivity; and the house of Israel shall no more be confounded.”
If the gentiles will hearken to the Lamb, He will manifest Himself to them. What does that mean?
What does it mean to manifest Himself to us “in word?” What does it mean to manifest Himself to us “in power?” What does it mean to manifest Himself to us “in very deed?”
How would Christ manifesting Himself to you in word, in power, and in deed “take away your stumbling block?”
These are the means promised by the Book of Mormon to deliver gentiles so that they may become “a blessed people upon the promised land forever” so as to never be brought down into captivity. But to know this would require you to come into possession of the fullness. Gentile possession of the fullness does not come from group-think, or group possession of some institutional magic. It comes by the same means as salvation has come to mankind from the beginning. The Catholics don’t have it and can’t give it to you. No institutional church has the means to deliver the gentiles. It will come, if it comes at all, from Christ and on the same conditions as saved Joseph Smith, Paul, Alma, Moroni, Peter, Moses, Enoch, Abraham and others.
Now there is a great deal to understand about how to move from having “much of the Gospel” to having a fullness of it. But it was always planned for that final step to be taken by you with the Lord. After all, He is the gatekeeper who employs no servant between you and Him. (2 Ne. 9: 41.) This is why true servants will always point you to Him. False ones will claim they can save you, they have power to bring you to Him, they have been entrusted to open the door for you. The “gatekeeper” however does not need a doorman. Nor can He be fooled by men making pretensions to have authority while lacking any of His power. You must confront Him; or, to use His description, you must be comforted by Him.
It is clear from these verses in 1 Nephi Chapter 13 that the Lord intends to make redemption available to the gentiles, if they will receive it. But the primary means was never intended to be an institution. It was intended to be the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon speaks right over the heads of those who are trying to distract you from returning to Christ. You must either seek and find Him while here, or remain in this Telestial state worlds without end. His invitation is extended. He will open the gate.
Where will we find true doctrine taught? From what source does it come? Will He not, as He has promised, send true messengers to warn before He cuts off and divides asunder? If you do not understand this it is because you will not ask Him.
So, let us press on. I find this is more interesting a Gospel than I had at first imagined. Truly, such things do not enter into the heart of man. They must be revealed, or they stand unknown. Fortunately for us, the Lord has provided the Book of Mormon and sent Joseph Smith to establish a foundation from which we gentiles may derive hope.
There were two copies made. The one Hyrum took to Emma was burned by Emma. The second came west and was ultimately made public in the 1850’s and added to the scriptures.
The dating of the revelation is uncertain, but the headnote to Section 132 notes that “the principles involved in this revelation had been known by the Prophet since 1831.” (Section 132, headnote.) Given the uncertainty of dating, the typical approach by scholars has been to date it from when the first practice began. I think that is wrong. I would date it from the time Joseph translated Jacob, Chapter 2, in 1829. Joseph prayed during the translation of the Book of Mormon to receive the visitation of John the Baptist and the ordinance of baptism. I see no reason why the translation of Jacob ‘s comments on plural wives would not have provoked a similar inquiry and revelation.
We know the information was suppressed from at least 1831 to 1843. What we do not have is an earlier version from which to reconstruct the entire process; we only have the finished product in 1843. With that, I think the revelation divides into sections as follows: