I received a question this morning about the first two verses of Section 132. The questioner presumes the first two verses frame everything that follows. According to his manner of reading the first two verses the language dealing with eternal marriage requires plural wives.
Here’s my response:
God gives “liberally.” (James 1: 5.) This means something. The word “liberally” is illustrated frequently in scripture. For example, Joseph Smith inquired which church to join. (JS-H 1: 18.) The answer to the specific question was to “join none of them.” (Id., v. 19.) But the answer was not limited to the question posed. It also explained that:
-Their creeds were an abomination.
-The professors were corrupt.
-The practitioners draw near with their lips, but
-Their hearts were far from God.
-They possess only a form of godliness.
-Their form of faith is powerless.
-Their doctrines are merely commandments from men. (Id.)
Then the Lord added “many other things did he say unto [Joseph]. which [he] could not write at this time.” (JS-H 1: 20.)
This information, beyond which church to join is the Lord giving liberally.
When Joseph sought to know what his standing was before God four years later, he prayed to have his sins forgiven. (JS-H 1: 29.) In response to this inquiry, the angel Moroni appeared and gave him information about coming judgments, the future revelations to be poured out as promised in Joel, the restoration of priesthood, and a book buried nearby giving a history of the ancient inhabitants of the American continent. (JS-H 1: 33-43.) The answer was far beyond the scope of the inquiry. This was God giving “liberally.”
When the Brother of Jared tried to solve the problem of interior lighting in eight barges, the Lord’s answer had very little to do with the lighting problem. (Ether 3: 1.) The Lord’s answer redeemed this prophet from the fall (Ether 3: 13), included ministering to him as the Lord administered to the Nephites at a later time (Ether 3: 17-18), and the Lord “ministered to him,” which would have included a great deal more than solving lighting issues (Ether 3: 20.) This is what “liberally” means.
The question asked by Joseph concerned plural wives and created the circumstance where the Lord could then “give liberally” to Joseph. The question is posed in verses 1-2. The Lord gives liberally, and explains the eternal marriage covenant (not responsive to the question asked). Then he also answers the question, beginning at about verse 34 and going through verse 44. Moreover Joseph receives his calling and election, and is given the sealing authority in verses 45 through 50. This, once again, has nothing to do with the question in verses 1 and 2. This is the Lord “giving liberally.”
Revelations from the Lord go well beyond the question asked. Oftentimes the issue which brings a prophet before God has nothing to do with the reason we later learn of the Lord’s answer. The highly local question (which church to join, how to light a barge, where to hunt food, why some ancients had plural wives, what repentance is required, etc.) is largely irrelevant to us. The “liberally” given material addresses matters of universal concern:
-Apostasy and restoration.
-Priesthood restoration to Joseph.
-The fullness of God’s revelations to mankind, including from the beginning to the end.
-Calling and election.
-Visions of eternity.
It is the “liberally given” material which shows what the Lord really intends to bestow on mankind.
Therefore, although the question is posed in verses 1 and 2, the answer goes well beyond, giving liberally, and reveals for the first time the eternity of marriage. You can have plural wives without having an eternal marriage. That is what happens today in the various powerless cults. But the conditions for having an eternal marriage, bound by someone who has been into the Lord’s presence and received from Him that authority (as Joseph did), is another matter.
Therefore I do not think verses 1 or 2 frame what follows any more than I think the ministry of Jesus to the Brother of Jared is confined exclusively to lighting interior of barges; or any more than Moroni’s visit was confined exclusively to whether Joseph had good standing before the Lord.