Doctrine and Covenants 131-132: "The New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage"

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Student Study Guide, (2005), 148–150

Families can be together forever. This simple truth is one of the greatest revelations of the Restoration. Do you know what is expected of those who desire a celestial marriage and an eternal family? Are you aware of the promises given to those who work to achieve a celestial marriage? Can any blessing be more wonderful than the promise that you can have your loved ones with you in celestial glory for all eternity?

Understanding the Scriptures

Doctrine and Covenants 131

He cannot have an increase(v. 4)He will not be able to progress or have children in the eternities 

Doctrine and Covenants 131:1—What Are the Three Degrees in the Celestial Kingdom?

“The Lord has not revealed to the Church who will live in two of the three degrees in the celestial kingdom; therefore, any discussion on this topic is conjecture or speculation. A great deal has been revealed, however, about the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, or exaltation, because that is where the Father would have all of his children live if they keep his commandments. InDoctrine and Covenants 76:50–70the Lord outlines the requirements and qualifications to obtain the highest degree in the celestial kingdom” (Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual,325).

Doctrine and Covenants 131:1–4—“The New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage”

President Harold B. Lee told priesthood holders: “Remember, brethren, that only those who enter into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage in the temple for time and eternity, only those will have the exaltation in the celestial kingdom. That is what the Lord tells us” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1973, 120; orEnsign,Jan. 1974, 100).

Elder Russell M. Nelson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, explained that “the highest ordinances in the house of the Lord are received by husband and wife together and equally—or not at all!

“In retrospect I that the most important day of my life was the day when my sweetheart, Dantzel, and I were married in the holy temple. Without her I could not have the highest and most enduring blessings of the priesthood. Without her I would not be the father to our wonderful children or grandfather to our precious grandchildren” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1999, 52; orEnsign,May 1999, 39).

Doctrine and Covenants 131:5—“The More Sure Word of Prophecy”

The “more sure word of prophecy” refers to having one’s calling and election made sure. Speaking on the blessings of the priesthood, Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said:

“We have power to make our calling and election sure, so that while we yet dwell in mortality, having overcome the world and been true and faithful in all things, we shall be sealed up unto eternal life and have the unconditional promise of eternal life in the presence of Him whose we are.

“Our revelations say: ‘The more sure word of prophecy means a man’s knowing that he is sealed up unto eternal life, by revelation and the spirit of prophecy, through the power of the Holy Priesthood.’ (D&C 131:5.)

“During the latter years of his ministry, in particular, the Prophet Joseph Smith pleaded fervently with the Saints to press forward in righteousness until they made their calling and election sure, until they heard the heavenly voice proclaim: ‘Son, thou shalt be exalted.’ (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith,p. 150.)

“He himself became the pattern for all such attainment in this dispensation, when the voice from heaven said to him: ‘I am the Lord thy God, and will be with thee even unto the end of the world, and through all eternity; for verily I seal upon you your exaltation, and prepare a throne for you in the kingdom of my Father, with Abraham your father.’ (D&C 132:49.)” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1977, 51–52; orEnsign,Nov. 1977, 34; italics in original).

Doctrine and Covenants 131:6—What Kind of Knowledge Is Needed to Be Saved?

President Joseph Fielding Smith explained:

“The Prophet did say that a man cannot be saved in ignorance, but in ignorance of what? He said that a man could not be saved in ignorance of the saving principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ [Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith,297, 324, 331–32]. Not many of the great and the mighty, those who form and control the thoughts of the people of today, are going to find salvation [exaltation] in the kingdom of God. Why? Because they have not found the way; they are not walking in the light of truth. They may have knowledge, but they lack intelligence.

“Intelligence is the light of truth, and we are informed that he who has intelligence or the light of truth will forsake that evil one [D&C 93:36–37]. A man who has intelligence will worship God and repent of his sins; he will k to know the will of God and follow it” (Doctrines of Salvation,1:290).

Doctrine and Covenants 131:7–8—“All Spirit Is Matter”

The Prophet Joseph Smith explained: “In tracing the thing to the foundation, and looking at it philosophically, we shall find a very material difference between the body and the spirit; the body is supposed to be organized matter, and the spirit, by many, is thought to be immaterial, without substance. With this latterstatement we should beg leave to differ, and state the spirit is a substance; that it is material, but that it is more pure, elastic and refined matter than the body; that it existed before the body, can exist in the body; and will exist separate from the body, when the body will be mouldering in the dust; and will in the resurrection, be again united with it” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith,207).

Doctrine and Covenants 132

Efficacy(v. 7)Power, effectiveness 
Principalities(vv. 13, 19)Areas of authority 
ds(v. 19)Children, descendants 
Strait(v. 22)Narrow, restricted 
Buffetings of Satan(v. 26)All the ways and means Satan uses to oppose us in our righteous endeavors 
Remit, remitted(v. 46)Forgive, excuse 
Cleave unto(v. 54)Hold onto, stay with, remain faithful to 
Espouse(v. 61)Marry 
Exempt(v. 65)Excused 

Doctrine and Covenants 132:1—What Are Concubines?

Elder Bruce R. McConkie defined the termconcubines,explaining: “Anciently they were considered to besecondary wives,that is, wives who did not have the same standing in the caste system then prevailing as did those wives who were not called concubines. There were no concubines connected with the practice of plural marriage in this dispensation, because the caste system which caused some wives to be so designated did not exist” (Mormon Doctrine,154–55).

Doctrine and Covenants 132:7—“Sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise”

Elder James E. Faust, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said:

“I wish to say a word about the Holy Spirit of Promise, which is the sealing and ratifying power of the Holy Ghost. To have a covenant or ordinance sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise is a compact through which the inherent blessings will be obtained, provided those king the blessing are true and faithful (D&C 76:50–54).

“For example, when the covenant of marriage for time and eternity, the culminating gospel ordinance, is sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise, it can literally open the windows of heaven for great blessings to flow to a married couple who k for those blessings. Such marriages become rich, whole, and sacred. Though each party to the marriage can maintain his or her separate identity, yet together in their covenants they can be like two vines wound inseparably around each other. Each thinks of his or her companion before thinking of self.

“One of the great blessings available through the Holy Spirit of Promise is that all of our covenants, vows, oaths, and performances, which we receive through the ordinances and blessings of the gospel, are not only confirmed but may be sealed by that Holy Spirit of Promise. However, that sealing may be broken by unrighteousness. It is also important to remember that if a person undertakes to receive the sealing blessing by deceit, ‘then the blessing is not sealed, notwithstanding the integrity and authority of the person officiating’ [Joseph Fielding Smith,Doctrines of Salvation,2:98–99].

“To have a covenant or ordinance sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise means that the compact is binding on earth and in heaven” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1989, 41–42; orEnsign,May 1989, 33).

Doctrine and Covenants 132:15–16—Why Should We Strive for an Eternal Marriage?

Elder Parley P. Pratt, who was one of the first members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in this dispensation, explained how an understanding of the doctrine of eternal marriage changed his life:

“Till then I had learned to esteem kindred affections and sympathies as appertaining solely to this transitory state, as something from which the heart must be entirely weaned, in order to be fitted for its heavenly state.

“It was Joseph Smith who taught me how to prize the endearing relationships of father and mother, husband and wife; of brother and sister, son and daughter.

“It was from him that I learned that the wife of my bosom might be secured to me for time and all eternity; and that the refined sympathies and affections which endeared us to each other emanated from the fountain of divine eternal love. It was from him that I learned that we might cultivate these affections, and grow and increase in the same to all eternity; while the result of our endless union would be an offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven, or the sands of the sea shore. …

“I had loved before, but I knew not why. But now I loved—with a pureness—an intensity of elevated, exalted feeling, which would lift my soul from the transitory things of this grovelling sphere and expand it as the ocean” (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt[1985], 259–60).

Gordon B. Hinckley

Speaking of the worldly alternatives to eternal marriage, Elder Gordon B. Hinckley, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said:

“In conclusion may I leave you a story. It is fiction, but in principle it is true. Can you imagine two young people at a time when the moon is full and the roses are in bloom and a sacred love has matured between them? Johnny says to Mary, ‘Mary, I love you. I want you for my wife and the mother of our children. But I don’t want you or them forever. Just for a season and then goodbye.’ And she, looking at him through tears in the moonlight, says, ‘Johnny, you’re wonderful. There’s nobody else in all the world like you. I love you, and I want you for my husband and the father of our children, but only for a time, and then farewell.’

“That sounds foolish, doesn’t it? And yet isn’t that in effect what a boy says to a girl and a girl says to a boy in a proposal of marriage when given the opportunity of eternal union under ‘the new and everlasting covenant,’ but, rather, they choose to set it aside for a substitute that can last only until death comes” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1974, 33; orEnsign,May 1974, 24).

Doctrine and Covenants 132:26–39—Is a Temple Marriage a Guarantee of Exaltation?

Commenting onDoctrine and Covenants 132:26, President Joseph Fielding Smith taught:

“The Lord has never promised any soul that he may be taken into exaltation without the spirit of repentance. While repentance is not stated in this passage, yet it is, and must be, implied. It is strange to me that everyone knows about verse 26, but it ms that they have never read or heard ofMatthew 12:31–32, where the Lord tells us the same thing in substance as we find in verse 26, section 132. …

“The Lord said by his own mouth: ‘And he that endureth not unto the end, the same is he that is also hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence they can no more return, because of the justice of the Father. And this is the word which he hath given unto the children of men. And for this cause he fulfilleth the words which he hath given, and he lieth not, but fulfilleth all his words. And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end’ [3 Nephi 27:17–19].

“So we must conclude that those spoken of in verse 26 are those who, having sinned, have fully repented and are willing to pay the price of their sinning, else the blessings of exaltation will not follow. Repentance is absolutely necessary for the forgiveness, and the person having sinned must be cleansed” (Doctrines of Salvation,2:95–96).

InDoctrine and Covenants 132:27, the Lord said that there can be no forgiveness for blasphemy against the Holy Ghost.

Doctrine and Covenants 132:27—“Blasphemy against the Holy Ghost”

How are those who commit blasphemy against the Holy Ghost guilty of murder and shedding innocent blood? President Joseph Fielding Smith explained that “all who partake of this, the greatest of sins, sell themselves as did Cain to Lucifer. They learn to hate the truth with an eternal hatred, and they learn to love wickedness. They reach a condition where they will not and cannot repent. The spirit of murder fills their hearts and they would, if they had the power, crucify our Lord again, which they virtually do by fighting his work and king to destroy it and his prophets.

“Before a man can sink to this bitterness of soul, he must first know and understand the truth with a clearness of vision wherein there is no doubt. The change of heart does not come all at once, but is due to transgression in some form, which continues to lurk in the soul without repentance, until the Holy Ghost withdraws, and then that man is left to spiritual darkness. Sin begets sin; the darkness grows until the love of truth turns to hatred, and the love of God is overcome by the wicked desire to destroy all that is just and true. In this way Christ is put to open shame, and blasphemy exalted” (Doctrines of Salvation,1:49).

Doctrine and Covenants 132:58–66—Plural Marriage

As shown in the verse summary forDoctrine and Covenants 132, verses 58–66 concern “laws governing the plurality of wives.” Through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord commanded the practice of plural marriage in the early days of the Church; in 1890, through President Wilford Woodruff, He ended that practice (Official Declaration 1). Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained:

“Plural marriage is not essential to salvation or exaltation. Nephi and his people were denied the power to have more than one wife and yet they could gain every blessing in eternity that the Lord ever offered to any people. In our day, the Lord summarized by revelation the whole doctrine of exaltation and predicated it upon the marriage of one man to one woman. (D. & C. 132:1–28.) Thereafter he added the principles relative to plurality of wives with the express stipulation that any such marriages would be valid only if authorized by the President of the Church. (D. & C. 132:7, 29–66.)

“All who pretend or assume to engage in plural marriage in this day, when the one holding the keys has withdrawn the power by which they are performed, are guilty of gross wickedness” (Mormon Doctrine,578–79;italics in original).

Studying the Scriptures

Do five of the following activities (A–F) as you studyDoctrine and Covenants 131–32.

Activity A Scripture Mastery iconScripture Mastery—Doctrine and Covenants 131:1–4

  1. 1.

    From your reading ofDoctrine and Covenants 131:1–4, make a diagram illustrating what the Lord said about the celestial glory. As part of your diagram, list the requirement given in those verses and indicate how it applies to the degrees of the celestial glory.

  2. 2.

    Why do you think that only one part of the celestial glory is mentioned and not the others? What does that tell you about the importance of a celestial marriage? ( the “Understanding the Scriptures” sections forD&C 131:1and 131:1–4).

Activity B iconWrite a Quiz

Doctrine and Covenants 131:5–8is a compilation of information the Prophet Joseph Smith received on different topics. Review those verses and write one quiz question each for verse 5, verse 6, and verses 7–8. Be sure to include the answer after each question. ( the information in the “Understanding the Scriptures” section for help, if needed.)

Activity C iconPromises and Cautions

When the Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation on the eternal nature of the marriage covenant, the Lord also revealed promises and a warning with it (D&C 132:1–6). In your notebook, list some of those promises and cautions the Lord gave.

Activity D iconWrite a Definition

  1. 1.

    From your reading ofDoctrine and Covenants 132:7–14, define “Holy Spirit of Promise” and explain what it has to do with marriage and every ordinance in the Church ( the information in the “Understanding the Scriptures” section for help, if needed.)

  2. 2.

    Describe what you think a married couple would need to do to have their marriage “sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise.”

Activity E iconWhat Is an Eternal Marriage?

Some Church members mistakenly believe that a temple marriage guarantees an eternal marriage and eternal life, no matter what else happens.

  1. 1.

    In addition to having the marriage performed in the temple, what more is required for a temple marriage to become an eternal, celestial one? (D&C 132:7, 26; also the “Understanding the Scriptures” section forD&C 132:7for help, if needed).

  2. 2.

    From what you learn inDoctrine and Covenants 132:26–44, what circumstances can cancel the promises of an eternal marriage? ( the “Understanding the Scriptures” section forD&C 132:26–39for help, if needed).

Activity F iconWhy Strive for an Eternal Marriage?

ReviewDoctrine and Covenants 131:1–4and 132:6–7, 15–20, 46–49; also read the “Understanding the Scriptures” section forDoctrine and Covenants 132:15–16.

  1. 1.

    From what you learned, what is the significance of the Lord’s promise that marriage and family can last forever? Why is that promise important to you and your future children?

  2. 2.

    Why is an eternal marriage worth striving for? (Strivingincludes planning, working, sacrificing, and praying.)

  3. 3.

    What can you donowto prepare yourself for an eternal marriage?