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Doctrine and Covenants 131-132

by Paul Grant

These sections discuss the principle of eternal marriage as a requirement for obtaining the highest degree of glory in the Celestial Kingdom (D&C 131:1-4; cf. 76:50-70). In that exalted state, men and women become gods (see Godhood), continue to have children (see Eternal Increase), and come to know God fully (D&C 132:23-24).

Section 131 contains selected statements made by Joseph Smith on May 16-17, 1843, during a visit to members of the Church in Ramus, Illinois, 22 miles east of Nauvoo (HC 5:391-93). They were recorded by William Clayton in his diary. In addition to its teachings on eternal marriage, section 131 also defines the phrase "more sure word of prophecy," declares that no one can be saved in ignorance (cf. TPJS, p. 217), and explains that spirit is purified matter.

Section 132 contains the doctrinal basis of the practice of plural marriage. Although some were distressed by it, others found plural marriage "the most holy and important doctrine ever revealed" (W. Clayton, in A. Jensen, Historical Record 6:226). This revelation was recorded on July 12, 1843, in the brick store in Nauvoo. At the urging of Hyrum Smith so that Emma Smith might be convinced of its truth, the Prophet Joseph Smith dictated it sentence by sentence. Clayton reported that "after the whole was written Joseph asked me to read it through, slowly and carefully, which I did, and he pronounced it correct" (CHC 2:106-7). That evening, Bishop Newel K. Whitney received permission to copy the revelation. The next day, his clerk, Joseph C. Kingsbury, copied the document, which Whitney and Kingsbury proofread against the original. This copy was given to Brigham Young in March 1847; it was officially adopted as revelation at a general conference in Salt Lake City in August 1852, and was first published for public review in the Deseret News in September 1852.

The doctrines in this revelation were probably received sometime in 1831 while the Prophet was translating the Bible. In response to questions about the legitimacy of the ancient prophets' plural marriages, the Lord revealed to Joseph Smith the conditions and requirements under which plural marriage was to be observed. Lyman Johnson told Orson Pratt that "Joseph had made known to him [Johnson] as early as 1831, that plural marriage was a correct principle," but had said it was not yet time to teach and practice it (MS 40 [1878]:788). That date was later confirmed in various statements and affidavits collected by Joseph F. Smith and others from those who had been close to Joseph Smith in Nauvoo.

Section 132 states that all covenants must be made in the proper manner, by proper authority, and be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise in order to be valid eternally (verses 7-19), and that through faithfulness eternal blessings are guaranteed to those who marry by this new and everlasting covenant: "Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue" (verse 20). This law was ordained before the world was, and through it Abraham received the promise of eternal lives through his seed (verses 28-37). Strict prohibitions against adultery accompany the law of eternal marriage (verses 38-44, 61-63). In concluding verses, Joseph Smith received divine affirmation of his eternal standing with God and acceptance of his labors (verses 45-50); and admonitions were given to Emma and others to observe this law and to multiply and replenish the earth so that God may be glorified (verses 51-66).

(See Basic Beliefs home page; Doctrines of the Gospel home page; Scriptual Writings home page; Doctrine and Covenants home page; Overview of the Doctrine and Covenents home page)


Danel W. Bachman. "New Light on an Old Hypothesis: The Ohio Origins of the Revelation on Eternal Marriage." Journal of Mormon History 5 (1978):19-32.

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 1, Doctrine and Covenants Sections 131-132

Copyright 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company

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