Doctrine and Covenants 132

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Resource Manual, (2001), 222–27


Section 132 treats marriage for time and eternity (see vv. 3–33) and plural marriage (see vv. 34–66). Speaking about marriage, President Spencer W. Kimball said:

“That’s the most important decision of your entire life! It isn’t where you are going to school, or what lessons you are going to study, or what your major is, or how you are going to make your living. These, though important, are incidental and nothing compared with the important decision that you make when you ask someone to be your companion for eternity” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball [1982], 301).

President Joseph F. Smith, who was then a counselor in the First Presidency, wrote that the “principle of plural marriage was first revealed to Joseph Smith in 1831, but being forbidden to make it public, or to teach it as a doctrine of the Gospel, at that time, he confided the facts to only a very few of his intimate associates” (in “Plural Marriage,” in Andrew Jenson, comp., Historical Record, 9 vols. [1882–90], 6:219). The Prophet taught the principle privately, and by 1841–42 he and several trusted Church members were living it (see Church History in the Fulness of Times, p. 256). Section 132 was recorded in 1843, but the Church did not announce the doctrine of plural marriage publically until 1852.

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

  • In order to live with and be like God, we must obey the law of celestial marriage (see D&C 132:3–6, 19–24; see also D&C 131:1–4).

  • All covenants and agreements must be made in the Lord’s appointed way, with proper authority, and be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise to have effect in the next life (see D&C 132:7–14, 18).

  • Marriages performed outside the temple can last until death only. In the next life couples who were not sealed will no longer be married but will live singly forever (see D&C 132:15–18).

  • When a temple marriage is authorized by God and sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise, the marriage will be in force for eternity. Couples who are sealed and continue faithful to God’s law will be exalted (see D&C 132:19–33, 37; see also D&C 131:1–4).

  • Plural marriage is forbidden unless the Lord commands it through His prophet (see D&C 132:34–39, 61–66; see also Jacob 2:27–30; Official Declaration 1).

  • In the dispensation of the fulness of times, the Lord has or will restore all His laws and commandments through His prophets (see D&C 132:40, 45; see also Acts 3:21; D&C 128:18).

  • Some righteous people receive the assurance in this life that they will be exalted (see D&C 132:49–50; see also 2 Peter 1:10, 19; Mosiah 26:20; D&C 131:5).

  • Wives should love and support husbands who follow the Lord in righteousness (see D&C 132:52–65; see also Ephesians 5:22–25).

Additional Resources

  • Church History in the Fulness of Times: Religion 341–43, pp. 255–56.

  • Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, pp. 327–34.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 132:3–6, 15–33, 37. When a temple marriage is authorized by God and sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise, the marriage will be in force for eternity. Couples who are sealed and continue faithful to God’s law will be exalted.

(25–30 minutes)

Show the class wedding pictures of a couple. Invite the class to list characteristics they think would be important in a mate. Ask how critical they think the decision of who to marry is. Write on the board the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley: “Choose your [marriage] companion with care. … It is the most important decision you will make in your entire lives” (in John L. Hart, “Bueno! Juarez Academy Centennial,” Church News, June 14, 1997, 8).

Discuss with students why marriage is such an important choice in life. Ask:

  • Why is it so important to marry in the temple? (see D&C 131:1–4).

  • What two categories of marriage are there in the world today? (Non-eternal marriage and eternal marriage.)

  • Read Doctrine and Covenants 132:3–6. According to these verses, who is required to live the new and everlasting covenant of marriage?

Write on the board the headings Non-Eternal Marriage and Eternal Marriage. Have half the students read Doctrine and Covenants 132:15–18 and look for “if-then” statements regarding non-eternal marriages. Have the rest of the class read verses 19–24 and look for if-then statements regarding eternal marriages. Invite students to write their findings on the board under the appropriate heading. Their lists might include the following:

If-Then chart

Note: As your students complete this activity, be sure they understand that it is not sufficient for a couple to promise themselves to each other for eternity or to be married in another church that claims to be able to marry them for eternity. To be eternal, a marriage must be performed by the authority given to the Prophet Joseph Smith and passed down to the current President of the Church. This authority is only available in the Church’s temples today.

Share the following statement by President Spencer W. Kimball:

“Now, all Latter-day Saints are not going to be exalted. All people who have been through the holy temple are not going to be exalted. The Lord says, ‘Few there be that find it.’ For there are the two elements: (1) the sealing of a marriage in the holy temple, and (2) righteous living through one’s life thereafter to make that sealing permanent. Only through proper marriage … can one find that strait way, the narrow path” (“Marriage is Honorable,” in Speeches of the Year: BYU Devotional and Ten-Stake Fireside Addresses, 1973 [1974], 265–66).


  • What did President Kimball say was necessary to make a marriage “permanent”?

  • What marriage status will people have in the next life if they are not exalted? (They will be single.)

  • How does this affect your desire to marry in the temple?

  • What can you do now to better prepare to be a good husband or wife?

  • How can your decisions about dating now affect your future marriage?

  • What qualities do you want in someone you date?

  • What standards has the Lord set for dating? (see the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet).

  • How would following or not following these standards make a difference in who you marry?

  • How can your daily choices affect what type of people are attracted to you?

Tell students of the blessings that come in this life and the next from having a happy marriage. Share your testimony of the importance of eternal marriage.

Doctrine and Covenants 132:7–14, 18. All covenants and agreements must be made in the Lord’s appointed way, with proper authority, and be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise to have effect in the next life.

(20–25 minutes)

Show students a copy of a baptismal, priesthood ordination, or marriage certificate. Ask: What are some of the promises made when these events occur? Invite students to consider how committed they are to keeping their covenants. Ask: Why is it important that we keep these promises?

Read Esther 8:8 and ask:

  • How binding on the people was the king’s writing in Esther’s day?

  • How did the people recognize that a writing really came from the king and not from some other source? (The king used his ring to seal it.)

Share the following statement: “Whatever had passed the royal signet [seal] could never be revoked; no succeeding edict could destroy or repeal a preceding one” (Adam Clarke, Clarke’s Bible Commentary, 6 vols. [1827–31], 2:823).

Write on the board the word sealed, and ask:

  • What do we do in the world today to bind or seal agreements? (Sign contracts, shake hands, make promises.)

  • What does the word sealed mean in a gospel sense?

  • How does being sealed “bind” us? (We are bound to keep our promises, and our reward is made sure; see D&C 82:10.)

Write the following matching exercise on the board, or give copies to students as a handout. Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 132:7–14, 18–19 and complete the exercise. Discuss their answers.

(Answers: 1–C, 2–F, 3–E, 4–B, 5–H, 6–A, 7–G, 8–D)

Write on the board the following questions:

  • Under what conditions will the Holy Spirit of Promise seal your baptismal covenant or any other covenant you have made with the Lord?

  • Who is the Holy Spirit of Promise?

Invite students to listen for answers to these questions as you read the following statement by President Joseph Fielding Smith, who was then President of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“The Holy Spirit of Promise is the Holy Ghost who places the stamp of approval upon every ordinance: baptism, confirmation, ordination, marriage. The promise is that the blessings will be received through faithfulness.

“If a person violates a covenant, whether it be of baptism, ordination, marriage or anything else, the Spirit withdraws the stamp of approval, and the blessings will not be received.

“Every ordinance is sealed with a promise of a reward based upon faithfulness. The Holy Spirit withdraws the stamp of approval where covenants are broken [see D&C 76:52–53; 132:7]” (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:45).

Doctrine and Covenants 132:34–40, 45–48, 61–66. Plural marriage is forbidden unless the Lord commands it through His prophet.

(40–45 minutes)

Note: Avoid sensationalism and speculation when talking about plural marriage. Sometimes teachers speculate that plural marriage will be a requirement for all who enter the celestial kingdom. We have no knowledge that plural marriage will be a requirement for exaltation.

Write on the board Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joseph Smith, and Brigham Young. Tell students that they can ask 10 yes-or-no questions to determine what these prophets had in common that relates to Doctrine and Covenants 132. (They all practiced plural marriage.) Read Doctrine and Covenants 132:34–40 and ask:

  • According to verse 34, what did Abraham do? (He married more than one wife.)

  • What reasons are given in these verses for this action?

  • What else was Abraham commanded to do by the Lord? (see v. 36).

  • Why would the commandments in verses 34 and 36 be difficult to obey? (see Exodus 20:13; Jacob 2:27).

Share the following statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith:

“That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another.

“God said, ‘Thou shalt not kill;’ at another time He said ‘Thou shalt utterly destroy.’ This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted—by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed. Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire” (History of the Church, 5:135).

Write on the board Dispensation of the Fulness of Times. Ask students to define the phrase. If they have difficulty, have them look up “dispensations” in the Bible Dictionary (p. 657). Then have them read Doctrine and Covenants 128:18 (last half of the verse); 132:40. Ask:

  • When is the dispensation of the fulness of times?

  • What does “fulness of times” mean?

Share the following statement by President John Taylor:

“In and through [the] various dispensations, certain principles, powers, privileges and priesthoods have been developed. But in the dispensation of the fulness of times a combination or a fulness, a completeness of all those dispensations was to be introduced among the human family. If there was anything pertaining to the Adamic … dispensation, it would be made manifest in the last days. If there was anything associated with Enoch and his city, and the gathering together of his people, … it would be manifested in the last days. If there was anything associated with the Melchizedek priesthood in all its forms, powers, privileges and blessings at any time or in any part of the earth, it would be restored in the last days. … For this is the dispensation of the fulness of times, embracing all other times, all principles, all powers, all manifestations, all priesthoods and the powers thereof that have existed in any age, in any part of the world” (The Gospel Kingdom, sel. G. Homer Durham [1943], 101–2).

Ask: How does this statement relate to the fact that plural marriage was practiced early in this dispensation?

Read Doctrine and Covenants 132:45–48 and ask:

  • Who received the revelation to practice plural marriage in this dispensation? (Joseph Smith.)

  • Who received the revelation to discontinue practicing plural marriage? (Wilford Woodruff; see Official Declaration 1.)

  • What did these two men have in common? (They were prophets who held the keys of the kingdom; see vv. 45–46.)

  • What powers are given to prophets with these keys? (see vv. 46–48).

  • How are the powers described in verse 46 seen in the actions of both Joseph Smith and Wilford Woodruff?

Have students read and cross-reference Jacob 2:30 and Doctrine and Covenants 132:63. Ask: Besides “restor[ing] all things” (D&C 132:40) in the dispensation of the fulness of times, what other purpose does the Lord give for restoring plural marriage?

Share the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley:

“I wish to state categorically that this Church has nothing whatever to do with those practicing polygamy. They are not members of this Church. Most of them have never been members. They are in violation of the civil law. They know they are in violation of the law. They are subject to its penalties. The Church, of course, has no jurisdiction whatever in this matter.

“If any of our members are found to be practicing plural marriage, they are excommunicated, the most serious penalty the Church can impose. Not only are those so involved in direct violation of the civil law, they are in violation of the law of this Church. An article of our faith is binding upon us. It states, ‘We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law’ (Articles of Faith 1:12). One cannot obey the law and disobey the law at the same time” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1998, 92; or Ensign, Nov. 1998, 71).

Read Doctrine and Covenants 132:32. Explain that, while members of the Church are no longer called to live in plural marriage, we should follow Abraham’s example of obedience and faithfulness (see Hebrews 11:8–19). List on the board some of the major works of Abraham. You could read portions of President Spencer W. Kimball’s “The Example of Abraham” (Ensign, June 1975, 3–7) or use the following summary of President Kimball’s article:

  1. 1.

    He followed Jesus Christ.

  2. 2.

    He sought the priesthood and priesthood blessings.

  3. 3.

    He obeyed promptly.

  4. 4.

    He received revelation for his family.

  5. 5.

    He presided over his family in righteousness.

  6. 6.

    He taught his family the gospel by example and precept.

  7. 7.

    He gave missionary service.

  8. 8.

    He was a peacemaker.

  9. 9.

    He kept his covenants with God.

  10. 10.

    He was honest with others.

  11. 11.

    He paid a full tithing.

  12. 12.

    He exercised faith.

(Based on Otten and Caldwell, Sacred Truths of the Doctrine and Covenants, 2:361.)


  • What did the Lord grant Abraham because of his righteousness? (see D&C 132:37).

  • What would you be willing to do to receive this same reward?

Invite students to write ways they could better follow Abraham’s example.

Doctrine and Covenants 132:49–50. Some righteous people receive the assurance in this life that they will be exalted.

(10–15 minutes)

Note: See also the teaching suggestion for Doctrine and Covenants 131:5–6 (p. 222).

Ask the class:

  • What are some careers you are interested in preparing for? (List responses on the board.)

  • How many years of study does it take to prepare for each of these careers?

Choose a career requiring several years of training and ask a student who is interested in that career:

  • How do you feel about the years of training required for this career?

  • Why do you think some people begin this career but never complete their training?

Note: The next two questions apply to a student who wants to become a doctor. Adapt them to the student’s chosen career.

  • How would it affect your hope if the Lord told you that you would not only become a doctor, but that you would discover a cure for cancer and become one of the most famous doctors ever?

  • Would knowing this take away the years of struggle and learning required to find the cure?

  • Would it help you endure your struggles? How?

Invite students to consider what their greatest desire is. Read Doctrine and Covenants 14:7 and look for what God considers His greatest gift. Read Doctrine and Covenants 132:49 and look for what the Lord promised the Prophet Joseph Smith. Ask:

  • How would you feel if you received this promise?

  • Would it take away the challenges and sacrifices of mortality?

  • Read verse 50. What had the Lord seen that qualified Joseph Smith for this blessing?

  • What trials did the Prophet Joseph Smith endure after this promise was given? (He watched the Saints suffer at the hands of mobs, and he and his brother Hyrum were murdered.)

  • If this promise were given to you, how would it help you endure your trials?

Have students read Mosiah 26:14–15, 20 and identify someone else who received this promise (Alma). Read 2 Peter 1:10, 19 and look for two ways Peter referred to this promise from the Lord. (Making one’s calling and election sure, and receiving the more sure word of prophecy.) Ask: What counsel did Peter give in verse 10 that we could strive to follow? Share the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“To have one’s calling and election made sure is to be sealed up unto eternal life; it is to have the unconditional guarantee of exaltation in the highest heaven of the celestial world; it is to receive the assurance of godhood; it is, in effect, to have the day of judgment advanced, so that an inheritance of all the glory and honor of the Father’s kingdom is assured prior to the day when the faithful actually enter into the divine presence to sit with Christ in his throne, even as he is ‘set down’ with his ‘Father in his throne.’ (Rev. 3:21.)” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1966–73], 3:330–31).

Help students understand that this experience is not common or needed in mortality to gain eternal life. Share the following statement, also by Elder McConkie:

“If we die in the faith, that is the same thing as saying that our calling and election has been made sure and that we will go on to eternal reward hereafter. As far as faithful members of the Church are concerned, they have charted a course leading to eternal life. … If they are in line of their duty, if they are doing what they ought to do, although they may not have been perfect in this sphere, their probation is ended. … They will not thereafter depart from the path” (address given at the funeral of Elder S. Dilworth Young, July 13, 1981, 5).

Have students make a scripture chain using 2 Peter 1:10, 19; Mosiah 26:20; and Doctrine and Covenants 132:49–50. Invite students to follow Peter’s counsel to seek to have their calling and election made sure, whether it happens in this life or the next.