There are no “higher” or “lower” laws; there are only expedient laws


In the church, we are accustomed to dividing the laws of God into two categories: higher and lower.  For example, inevitably, whenever the topic of tithing comes up, and it is compared to the law of consecration, tithing will be considered a lower law, while consecration will be termed a higher law.  Another example is when the law of Moses is compared to the law of Christ.  We call the law of Moses a lower law, while the law of Christ is called the higher law.

I have always taken this customary practice at face value, without questioning it, although there was one thing that always bugged me: Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek. We are taught that Abraham lived the law of Christ, which came before the law of Moses, so, why wasn’t he living the “higher” law of consecration?  Why was he living the “lower” law of tithing?  Although I had these questions, I never took the time to investigate the matter.  It had made sense to me to divide the laws of God into two levels, like every other LDS did, and I never gave it another thought.

That is, until recently.  As I was reading another Mormon blog, I noticed that the article contained an inordinate number of the phrases “higher law” and “lower law” when referring to the laws of God.  My mind was not so much drawn to the subject the author was addressing, as it was to the very idea of whether there was such thing as a higher and lower law of God.  So I decided to investigate that matter.  This post is the result of that research.

No scriptural uses of “higher law” or “lower law”

Here are some online searches in the Standard Works and what they bring up:

  • higher law”  There are no occurrences of the term “HIGHER LAW” found in the Text of the Scriptures.
  • high law”  There are no occurrences of the term “HIGH LAW” found in the Text of the Scriptures.
  • lower law”  There are no occurrences of the term “LOWER LAW” found in the Text of the Scriptures.
  • low law”  There are no occurrences of the term “LOW LAW” found in the Text of the Scriptures.

Other searches:

  • greater law”  There are no occurrences of the term “GREATER LAW” found in the Text of the Scriptures.
  • lesser law”  There are no occurrences of the term “LESSER LAW” found in the Text of the Scriptures.

All laws of God come from God

The law of Christ (the gospel) came from Christ.  And so did the law of Moses:

And it came to pass that when Jesus had said these words he perceived that there were some among them who marveled, and wondered what he would concerning the law of Moses; for they understood not the saying that old things had passed away, and that all things had become new.  And he said unto them: Marvel not that I said unto you that old things had passed away, and that all things had become new.  Behold, I say unto you that the law is fulfilled that was given unto Moses.  Behold, I am he that gave the law, and I am he who covenanted with my people Israel; therefore, the law in me is fulfilled, for I have come to fulfil the law; therefore it hath an end.  (3 Ne. 15: 2-5)

Thus, it is appropriate to call the law of Moses one of the laws of Christ.  If you have a problem with the law of Moses, all of it or any part of it, you have a problem with Christ who gave the law. Said Paul of the law of Moses:

Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me?  God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.  For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.  (Rom. 7: 12-14)

Where the “higher/lower law” interpretation might come from

The scriptures do speak of each of the three glories having a law, though we are left in the dark concerning what those laws may be.  We know that the laws of the gospel pertain to the Celestial Kingdom.  That much we know.

And they who are not sanctified through the law which I have given unto you, even the law of Christ, must inherit another kingdom, even that of a terrestrial kingdom, or that of a telestial kingdom.  For he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory.  And he who cannot abide the law of a terrestrial kingdom cannot abide a terrestrial glory.  And he who cannot abide the law of a telestial kingdom cannot abide a telestial glory; therefore he is not meet for a kingdom of glory. Therefore he must abide a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory.  And again, verily I say unto you, the earth abideth the law of a celestial kingdom, for it filleth the measure of its creation, and transgresseth not the law—

All kingdoms have a law given; and there are many kingdoms; for there is no space in the which there is no kingdom; and there is no kingdom in which there is no space, either a greater or a lesser kingdom. And unto every kingdom is given a law; and unto every law there are certain bounds also and conditions.  (D&C 88: 21-25, 36-38)

It may be that the statement, “either a greater or a lesser kingdom” has spawned the thought that a greater kingdom means a “higher kingdom,” and therefore it must have a “higher” law, whereas a lesser kingdom means a “lower kingdom,” which requires a “lower” law.  If, in fact, this is where the error starts, then it is pretty easy to correct.  Greater and lesser in this scripture do not mean higher and lower, but bigger and smaller.  In other words, greater means “larger in bulk or dimensions; a term of comparison, denoting more magnitude or extension than something else,” while lesser means “smaller in bulk or dimensions; a term of comparison, denoting less magnitude or extension than something else.”  For example, molecules and atoms are lesser kingdoms, whereas moons are greater kingdoms.  Larger planets and stars are even greater kingdoms, etc.

The principle to understand is that all of these kingdoms’ laws come from God.  All three glories, then, are governed by laws of Christ.  For example, speaking of those who would inherit the Telestial kingdom, the Lord said, “and they shall be servants of the Most High” (D&C 76: 112.)  How does one serve the Most High?  Through the laws of Christ.

Quantity of commandments does not determine “highness” or “lowness” of law

A common interpretation is that the “lower” laws, such as the law of Moses, contain carnal commandments and performances, whereas the “higher” law of the gospel, is a spiritual law, meaning that it doesn’t have a whole lot written down as to rites and performances, each one merely being guided by the Spirit to follow Christ according to the circumstances.

Scriptural support for this interpretation is available:

For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.  Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; for the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.  But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned.  (D&C 58: 26-29)

But such an interpretation taken to the extreme can discount the many temple ordinances, statutes and performances and the many other rites and “outward ordinances” found within the church that are not mentioned in the New Testament.  As these things have an Old Testament feel to them, they appear to be of a “lower” law, such as that of Moses.

Unfortunately for those who believe this, there is the following pesky scripture concerning the reward of those who obey the Lord’s gospel:

Yea, blessed are they whose feet stand upon the land of Zion, who have obeyed my gospel; for they shall receive for their reward the good things of the earth, and it shall bring forth in its strength.  And they shall also be crowned with blessings from above, yea, and with commandments not a few, and with revelations in their time—they that are faithful and diligent before me.  (D&C 59: 3-4)

So, those who obey the gospel are rewarded with lots of commandments? That sounds like “lower” law talk, yet the Lord here is referring to the gospel law. The conclusion, then, we should take from this is that just because a law given by God has lots of commandments or performances, rites, statutes, etc., does not automatically make it a “lower” law.

Do not pit one law against another

A mistake LDS often make is pitting one law of God against another law of God.  As God is the author of all these laws, you in essence are pitting God against Himself.  This is why the Jesus said to the Nephites:

Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets. I am not come to destroy but to fulfil; for verily I say unto you, one jot nor one tittle hath not passed away from the law, but in me it hath all been fulfilled.  (3 Ne. 12: 17-18)

If it was never the purpose of Jesus to destroy his law given to Moses, neither should it be our purpose.  We should not pit the law of the gospel of Jesus Christ given to the apostles in Jerusalem against the law given to Moses.  We should not pit the law of plurality of wives given to Joseph against the law of monogamy given to Lehi.  We should not pit the law of consecration given to the saints of this dispensation against the law of tithing also given to the saints of this dispensation.  They are all laws of Christ and are all just, holy, good and spiritual.

When we attack or belittle any of the laws of God, even with good intentions, we are attacking and belittling the Author of those laws.  Not a single one of those laws is higher or lower than any of the others.

Why the differences in laws?

If there are no higher or lower laws of God, why are there so many different laws of God given to various people at various times?  Why does the Lord command one group of His people to do one thing, while commanding another group of His people to do the exact opposite?  This should not be a mystery to us.  The Lord has already revealed how He works among the children of men:

And again, to some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know the differences of administration, as it will be pleasing unto the same Lord, according as the Lord will, suiting his mercies according to the conditions of the children of men. (D&C 46: 15)

Differences in the administration of the laws of God exist because mankind exists under different conditions (circumstances) and because all the laws of God are tailored to fit those conditions.

Expediency

It all comes down to the principle known as expediency.  The word expedient literally means “hastening; urging forward.  Hence,” expedient means “tending to promote the object proposed; fit or suitable for the purpose; proper under the circumstances.”  It has a secondary shade which means “useful; profitable.”  (Definitions were taken from the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary.)

All of the laws of God are expedient, meaning that they are proper under the circumstances (conditions).  The scriptures are replete with uses of the word expedient. If you were to do a word search, you’d find expedient used 113 times in the Standard Works.  I will list a few to of those instances to demonstrate the principle.

The Holy Ghost manifests things which are expedient

Ask the Father in my name, in faith believing that you shall receive, and you shall have the Holy Ghost, which manifesteth all things which are expedient unto the children of men.  (D&C 18: 18)

Expediency varies according to time

Be patient, my son, for it is wisdom in me, and it is not expedient that you should translate at this present time.  •  •  •  Now, if you had known this you could have translated; nevertheless, it is not expedient that you should translate now.  Behold, it was expedient when you commenced; but you feared, and the time is past, and it is not expedient now;  (D&C 9: 3, 10-11)

Yahweh did all things for Israelites (past) that were expedient for them to receive

And notwithstanding they being led, the Lord their God, their Redeemer, going before them, leading them by day and giving light unto them by night, and doing all things for them which were expedient for man to receive, they hardened their hearts and blinded their minds, and reviled against Moses and against the true and living God.  (1 Ne. 17: 30)

All things are given to man (present) which are expedient for them

Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.  (2 Ne. 2: 27)

The law of Moses was expedient

And now I say unto you that it was expedient that there should be a law given to the children of Israel, yea, even a very strict law; for they were a stiffnecked people, quick to do iniquity, and slow to remember the Lord their God;  (Mosiah 13: 29)

There was a time it was expedient to keep the law of Moses, and a time it was not expedient

And now ye have said that salvation cometh by the law of Moses. I say unto you that it is expedient that ye should keep the law of Moses as yet; but I say unto you, that the time shall come when it shall no more be expedient to keep the law of Moses.  (Mosiah 13: 27)

Concerning the above, it should be noted that although the Nephite prophets preached the gospel of Jesus Christ among the people, they still kept the law of Moses.  Why would they live a “lower” law when they were aware of the “higher” law?  Because there are no higher or lower laws, only expedient laws.  Had they gone against the law of expediency, it would have turned to their condemnation.

Ask for only things which are expedient, otherwise condemnation results

Whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name it shall be given unto you, that is expedient for you; and if ye ask anything that is not expedient for you, it shall turn unto your condemnation.  (D&C 88: 64-65)

The law of expediency is the law of the Lord

Because of this, if the Lord deems something expedient, whether it be the law of Moses, the law of plurality of wives, the law of tithing, or any other law, if we fight against it it will turn to our condemnation.  And if the Lord deems something not expedient, whether it be the law of consecration, the redemption of Zion, the law of plurality of wives, or any other law, if we attempt to force the law upon the people or condemn the people for not living a law that is not expedient, we bring condemnation upon ourselves.

Church leadership must follow the law of expediency, or be condemned

Many of those who cry apostasy among the saints do so because they misunderstand the law of expediency.  When church practices and policies change, there is a tendency to think, among these individuals, that the church has gone astray.  They hold up some doctrines as “higher laws” and others as “lower laws” and use this false assumption to “prove” the apostasy of the church by demonstrating that the church is not living the “higher laws.”

It is not the design of the Lord that the church live higher or lower laws, only that they do what He tells them to do, whatever that may be, according to the law of expediency.  Were the church leadership to hold tightly to a revealed concept and not budge, no matter what happens in the world, come hell or high water, they would not be following the promptings of the Holy Ghost, for the Holy Ghost works according to the law of expediency.  (See above.)  This would, in effect, be denying the Holy Ghost’s promptings, for the Holy Ghost always tailors all things to the conditions found among men.

This brings up quite the problem, for how do we know if church leadership is leading the church astray if the laws of God are not designed to be set in stone, but malleable according to the circumstances men find themselves in?  (And we can plainly see that the laws of God can be changed by Him in the example of the modification of the law of Moses for the Nephites, which change was given to Lehi, substituting a law of monogamy for the revealed law of polygamy given to Moses.)  For all we know, the leadership is not leading the people astray, but acting according to the principle of expediency.  So, then, how does one know?  Each man must take the Spirit for his guide and answer this question for himself.

We should discard the terms “higher” and “lower” laws

I recommend that LDS do away with this practice of separating the laws of God into higher and lower divisions.  There is no scriptural basis for it and it gives added weight to arguments that are scripturally weak.  Let us stress what the Lord stresses about His laws, namely that they are expedient, and be willing to live all His laws, no matter what they are, when it becomes expedient to live them.

Complete List of Articles authored by LDS Anarchist

Advertisements

Damnation


I recently (Sept. 17) had the opportunity to participate in a discussion on The Millennial Star blog.  The topic was on the meaning of the word “damned” in D&C 132: 4-6.  I stopped participating when I realized that I needed more room than a comments section to explain my understanding of damnation.  So, I thought I’d take the topic up in earnest on this blog.

Bible Dictionary definition of damnation

BIBLE DICTIONARY
Damnation
As used in the KJV this word has a wider meaning than is at once apparent from modern usage. Damnation is the opposite of salvation, and exists in varying degrees. All who do not obtain the fulness of celestial exaltation will to some degree be limited in their progress and privileges, and hence be damned to that extent. See Matt. 23: 14, 33; Mark 3: 29; Mark 16: 16; John 5: 29; Rom. 13: 2; 1 Cor. 11: 29; 2 Ne. 9: 24; 3 Ne. 18: 28-29; D&C 58: 26-29; D&C 84: 74; D&C 112: 29; D&C 132: 4, 6, 27.

This is the definition that the modern Mormons have accepted, and which they routinely teach.  According to this interpretation, there are four degrees of damnation:

  • Sons of perdition. These are people who are cast into outer darkness, who inherit the kingdom of the devil.   They receive the full measure of damnation, being fully limited in their progress and privileges.  They are damned in that they do not partake of either the Telestial, Terrestrial or Celestial kingdoms of glory and the happiness which is found therein.  The kingdom of the devil is not a kingdom of glory, but a hell, and all who inherit it are miserable forever.
  • Telestials. These are people who inherit the Telestial kingdom of glory and the happiness found therein.  They escape the misery of outer darkness, but partake of the misery in knowing that they will eternally miss out on the glories of the Terrestrial and Celestial kingdoms.  Although this kingdom of glory is termed a heaven (see the section heading of D&C 76), because of the damnation of these individuals in what they might have received, but did not, they feel regret and longing and are miserable forever.  And thus their kingdom of glory is also a hell.
  • Terrestrials. These are people who inherit the Terrestrial kingdom of glory and the happiness found therein.  They escape the misery of outer darkness and the misery of the Telestial kingdom, but partake of the misery in knowing that they will eternally miss out on the glory of the Celestial kingdom.  Although this kingdom of glory is termed a heaven, because of the damnation of these individuals in what they might have received, but did not, they feel regret and longing and are miserable forever.  And thus their kingdom of glory is also a hell.
  • Celestial angels. These are people who inherit the Celestial kingdom of glory and the happiness found therein.  They escape the misery of outer darkness and the misery of the Telestial and Terrestrial kingdoms, but partake of the misery in knowing that they will eternally miss out on the glory of the exalted, those who are gods in the Celestial kingdom.  Although this kingdom of glory is termed a heaven, because of the damnation of these individuals in what they might have received, but did not, they feel regret and longing and are miserable forever.  And thus their kingdom of glory is also a hell.

Under this model, there is only one type of person that is not damned:

  • Celestial gods. These are people who inherit the Celestial kingdom of glory and the happiness found therein, and who are exalted.  They escape the misery of outer darkness and the misery of the Telestial and Terrestrial kingdoms, as well as the misery of Celestial angels.  This kingdom of glory is termed a heaven, and it verily is to these individuals, because they have no regrets and long for nothing, for they possess all things and thus are not miserable, but have a fulness of joy and happiness.

Salvation, who gets it and who doesn’t

As the Bible Dictionary mentions salvation in its definition of damnation, it might be helpful to give the Mormon understanding of who gets saved.  Specifically, we know of four types of people who receive salvation:

  • Celestial gods. These are people who inherit the Celestial kingdom of glory and the happiness found therein, and who are exalted.  They dwell in the presence of God and Christ and receive that salvation known as eternal life (exaltation), becoming like God.
  • Celestial angels. These are people who inherit the Celestial kingdom of glory and the happiness found therein, but who are not exalted.  They are servants to God and Christ and dwell in their presence, but are not exactly like them.  They are in a saved condition, like gods, but without exaltation.
  • Terrestrials. These are people who inherit the Terrestrial kingdom of glory and the happiness found therein.  They do not dwell in the presence of God, but receive of “the ministration of the celestial.”  Like the Celestials, these people are saved.
  • Telestials. These are people who inherit the Telestial kingdom of glory and the happiness found therein.  They do not dwell in the presence of God, nor receive of the fulness of Christ, but receive of the Holy Spirit through “the ministration of the terrestrial.”  These people are also “heirs of salvation.”

There is only one type of person that is not saved:

  • Sons of perdition. These are people who are cast into outer darkness, who inherit the kingdom of the devil, a kingdom which is not of glory.

Damned and saved at the same time?

The Bible Dictionary model creates a conflict in which it is possible to be damned and saved at the same time, to be eternally happy and eternally miserable at the same time. Despite damnation being “the opposite of salvation,” according to the Bible Dictionary these two opposite conditions will exist in Celestial angels, Terrestrials and Telestials.  This thought goes contrary to the principle of like things cleaving unto like things:

For intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence; wisdom receiveth wisdom; truth embraceth truth; virtue loveth virtue; light cleaveth unto light; mercy hath compassion on mercy and claimeth her own; justice continueth its course and claimeth its own; judgment goeth before the face of him who sitteth upon the throne and governeth and executeth all things.  (D&C 88: 40)

The way around this quandary is to redefine the word damnation (or damned) to mean something other than what it traditionally means.  The Bible Dictionary would have us believe that damnation means “to be limited in one’s progress and privileges” in certain passages of the scriptures, in other words, that “this word has a wider meaning than is at once apparent from modern usage.”

Acceptance of this theory creates an internal conflict of regret and longing, and a judgmental attitude, with comparisons of those “above us” and “below us,” and ultimately will and does lead to depression.  In other words, according to this model, happiness comes from knowing you got more than someone else and unhappiness comes from knowing you didn’t get as much as others.  This is what LDS look forward to in the eternities, having accepted this doctrinal theory, and this is what they routinely display in their mortal lives.

Correcting an error

The redefining of the words damnation and damned to fit certain passages of the scripture, assigning them a meaning of “a limiting of one’s progress and privileges,” has become systemic throughout the church.  Every LDS I know believes the Bible Dictionary assertion.  I do not know how or when it crept into the church, but I am a convert member of some decades and I have never heard another model other than this one since my baptism, so I know it’s been around a long time.

It is a bit embarrassing to admit that I not only accepted it myself from the beginning without question, but also preached it as a missionary to others. It wasn’t until September 17, 2009, that I actually got around to checking to see if the model held up to scriptural scrutiny.  It was then that I discovered that the standard LDS damnation model (of being saved and damned at the same time) is incorrect.  Many thanks go out to JA Benson and his/her Friday Forum post at The Millennium Star blog, as well as the comments of others on that post, for providing me the excuse and impetus to investigate this subject.

Although I don’t know the origins of this particular doctrinal theory, it seems apparent that it was the result of not understanding the scriptures.  So, to correct it, I will attempt to lay out the scriptures to the understanding of the reader and expound the real meaning of the words damned and damnation.  Perhaps with a proper understanding of these words, LDS won’t be such chronically depressed people.

Number of scriptural uses of damned and damnation

Damn In the scriptures, there are ZERO uses of the word damn.

Damning In the Doctrine and Covenants there is but ONE use of the word damning. (See D&C 123: 7Damning in this verse means detestable and so it doesn’t need to be addressed.)

Damned In the New Testament there are THREE uses of the word damned. (See Mark 16: 16; Rom. 14: 23; and 2 Thes. 2: 12.)  In the Book of Mormon there are EIGHT uses of the word damned. (See 2 Ne. 9: 24; Alma 14: 21; Alma 36: 16; 3 Ne. 11: 34; Morm. 2: 13; Morm. 9: 4, 23; and Ether 4: 18.)  In the Doctrine and Covenants there are TEN uses of the word damned. (See D&C 42: 60; 49: 5; 58: 29; 68: 9; 84: 74; 112: 29; and 132: 4, 6, 27.)  And in the Pearl of Great Price there is but ONE use of the word damned. (See Moses 5: 15.)  The total number of scriptural uses, then, of the word damned, comes to 21.

Damnation In the New Testament there are ELEVEN uses of the word damnation. (See Matt. 23: 14, 33; Mark 3: 29; 12: 40; Luke 20: 47; John 5: 29; Rom. 3: 8; 13: 2; 1 Cor. 11: 29; 1 Tim. 5: 12; and 2 Pet. 2: 3.)  In the Book of Mormon there are NINE uses of the word damnation. (See Mosiah 2: 33; 3: 18, 25; 16: 11; Alma 9: 28; Hel. 12: 26; 3 Ne. 18: 29; 26: 5; and Morm. 8: 33.)  In the Doctrine and Covenants there are THREE uses of the word damnation. (See D&C 19: 7; 29: 44; and 121: 23.)  The total number of scriptural uses, then, of the word damnation, comes to 23.

So, there are only 44 verses in the English Standard Works that mention damn or damnation.  It shouldn’t be too hard for us to figure this all out.

1828 Webster’s Dictionary definition of damned and damnation

First let’s establish what people understood these words to mean during the time of Joseph Smith:

DAM’NED, pp.

1. Sentenced to everlasting punishment in a future state; condemned.

2. a. Hateful; detestable; abominable;

A word chiefly used in profaneness by persons of vulgar manners.

(Taken from the damned entry of the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary.)

DAMNA’TION, n.

1. Sentence or condemnation to everlasting punishment in the future state; or the state of eternal torments.

How can ye escape the damnation of hell. Matt. xxiii

2. Condemnation.

(Taken from the damnation entry of the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary.)

From the same dictionary, here are the definitions of the words condemned and condemnation:

CONDEMNED, pp. Censured; pronounced to be wrong, guilty, worthless or forfeited; adjudged or sentenced to punishment.

(Taken from the condemned entry of the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary.)

CONDEMNATION, n.

1. The act of condemning; the judicial act of declaring one guilty, and dooming him to punishment.

For the judgment was by one to condemnation. Romans 5.

2. The state of being condemned.

Dost thou not fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation. Luke 23.

3. The cause or reason of a sentence of condemnation.  John 3.

(Taken from the condemnation entry of the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary.)

Okay, so the words damned, damnation, condemned and condemnation all deal with a judicial act of declaring one guilty (no mercy applied) and dooming him to punishment.  In the case of the words damned and damnation, this can refer to either eternal (everlasting) punishment or temporal punishment (condemnation).  Condemned and condemnation usually refer to temporal punishment unless the scriptural text is speaking specifically of the last day (day of judgment) and eternal punishment.  Regardless of which word you use, though, the meaning always is that a judgment has taken place, you have been found guilty because no mercy has been applied and you are to receive a punishment.

To condemn means to damn

In the scriptures, the verb to damn is never used.  Instead, the verb to condemn is used.  This makes sense from an etymological standpoint:

Etymology of condemn: Middle English, from Anglo-French condempner, from Latin condemnare, from com- + damnare to condemn

See that damnare? Damnare means damn, or to damn. So, the verb to condemn is really just the verb to damn with the prefix con- attached to it.

Damned and damnation in Spanish

Remember those 44 total verses listed above?  If you look them up in Spanish, you will find that in 40 of them the word damned is translated as condenado and the word damnation is translated as condenación.  The Spanish word condenado means condemned and condenación means condemnation.  Also, regardless of whether the word in English is damned or condemned, the Spanish word is almost always condenado (condemned). In the same manner, regardless of whether the word in English is damnation or condemnation, the Spanish word is almost always condenación (condemnation). So, in Spanish there is no distinction made between damnation and condemnation and the Spanish speaking population merely allows the context to indicate whether we are talking of temporal or eternal condemnation (judgment, verdict of guilty and punishment).

The other four verses are translated as follows:

Matt. 23: 33 reads in English, “damnation of hell,” but in Spanish it reads, “juicio del infierno” (judgment of hell).

Mark 3: 29 reads in English, “eternal damnation,” but in Spanish it reads, “juicio eterno” (eternal judgment).

1 Cor. 11: 29 reads in English, “damnation,” but in Spanish it reads, “juicio” (judgment).

2 Pet. 2: 3 reads in English, “judgment” and “damnation,” but in Spanish it reads, “condenación” (condemnation) and “perdición” (perdition).

All of this shows that in the scriptures, whenever it speaks of damnation (or condemnation), it is always talking about a judgment being passed, no mercy has been applied, a guilty verdict is the result and punishment is inflicted.  Always.

Abinadi’s definition of damnation

Even this mortal shall put on immortality, and this corruption shall put on incorruption, and shall be brought to stand before the bar of God, to be judged of him according to their works whether they be good or whether they be evil—if they be good, to the resurrection of endless life and happiness; and if they be evil, to the resurrection of endless damnation, being delivered up to the devil, who hath subjected them, which is damnation—having gone according to their own carnal wills and desires; having never called upon the Lord while the arms of mercy were extended towards them; for the arms of mercy were extended towards them, and they would not; they being warned of their iniquities and yet they would not depart from them; and they were commanded to repent and yet they would not repent.  (Mosiah 16: 10-12)

According to Abinadi’s definition, damnation consists of “being delivered up to the devil.”  Those who are damned are subject to the devil. Notice that Abinadi says that there is an endless damnation. There is also a damnation that ends.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man marry a wife according to my word, and they are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, according to mine appointment, and he or she shall commit any sin or transgression of the new and everlasting covenant whatever, and all manner of blasphemies, and if they commit no murder wherein they shed innocent blood, yet they shall come forth in the first resurrection, and enter into their exaltation; but they shall be destroyed in the flesh, and shall be delivered unto the buffetings of Satan unto the day of redemption, saith the Lord God.  (D&C 132: 26)

So, we see from this verse that it is possible to be delivered up to the devil for a time, and then be redeemed when repentance occurs.

Two types of damnation

This shows that there are two types of damnation: eternal damnation (that damnation that comes after the resurrection) and temporal damnation (that damnation that comes prior to the resurrection and which has an end prior to the resurrection.)  This is why the scriptures speak of two time frames of forgiveness: this world and the world to come.

But whoso breaketh this covenant after he hath received it, and altogether turneth therefrom, shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come. (D&C 84: 41)

And now, behold, I speak unto the church. Thou shalt not kill; and he that kills shall not have forgiveness in this world, nor in the world to come. (D&C 42: 18)

And we saw a vision of the sufferings of those with whom he made war and overcame, for thus came the voice of the Lord unto us: Thus saith the Lord concerning all those who know my power, and have been made partakers thereof, and suffered themselves through the power of the devil to be overcome, and to deny the truth and defy my power—they are they who are the sons of perdition, of whom I say that it had been better for them never to have been born; for they are vessels of wrath, doomed to suffer the wrath of God, with the devil and his angels in eternity; concerning whom I have said there is no forgiveness in this world nor in the world to come—having denied the Holy Spirit after having received it, and having denied the Only Begotten Son of the Father, having crucified him unto themselves and put him to an open shame.  (D&C 76: 30-35)

Those who do not have forgiveness in this world, but who receive forgiveness in the world to come are those who are temporally damned, meaning that they are delivered unto the buffetings of Satan until the day of their redemption.  They are subject to the devil in the mortal world or in the spirit world, being delivered up to him until the day that they finally have faith in Jesus and repent of their sins.  At that point, they are washed clean in the blood of the Lamb and are no longer damned.  In other words, at that point they no longer have a judgment with a guilty verdict and a punishment hanging over them, because mercy and forgiveness is extended to them and they become heirs of salvation.  This applies to all mankind who inherit any of the three glories.  None of these people will be among the “filthy still” because they will have accepted Christ and mercy will be applied to them.

Those who do not have forgiveness in this world, nor in the world to come are those who are eternally damned, meaning that they are delivered up to the devil, are in subjection to him and remain subjected to him, having no deliverance.  These are the sons of perdition.  (Remember the 2 Pet. 2: 3 Spanish scripture above, where condemnation was translated as perdition?)  These are the people who are cast into outer darkness, who inherit the kingdom of the devil.

Greater damnation, lesser damnation

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. (Matt. 23: 14)

Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation. (Mark 12: 40)

Which devour widows’ houses, and for a shew make long prayers: the same shall receive greater damnation. (Luke 20: 47)

What is the greater damnation?  It is eternal damnation. What is the lesser damnation?  It is temporal damnation.

It is impossible to be saved and damned at the same time

Remember that I wrote above that condemnation requires that no mercy is applied?  It is a judgment of guilty with punishment executed upon the party.  Well, consider Jacob’s words:

Wherefore, he has given a law; and where there is no law given there is no punishment; and where there is no punishment there is no condemnation; and where there is no condemnation the mercies of the Holy One of Israel have claim upon them, because of the atonement; for they are delivered by the power of him.  (2 Ne. 9: 25)

By the same token, where there is mercy, there is no condemnation and where there is no condemnation, there is no punishment.  Speaking of the day of judgment (the last day), there is only one punishment or penalty affixed to the law: death.  The spiritual death that is the second death means dying as to things pertaining to righteousness, meaning that those who receive it are banished from the kingdom of God and cast into outer darkness, where the devil will eternally subject them (Abinadi’s definition of damnation).

None of the inhabitants of the three degrees of glory receive this punishment.  In fact, it is impossible for them to receive it because Satan will be cast out into outer darkness.  Once out of the kingdom of God, he cannot subject anyone in the kingdom of God to himself.  Only those cast out with him (the filthy still) can be subject to him.  So, the inhabitants of the three kingdoms will be free forever from the power and influence of Satan.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  (John 3: 16-18)

The above scripture shows that you are either saved or condemned (damned) based upon your acceptance of Christ.  It is one or the other, not both. If you do not accept Him now, you are condemned (damned) already (temporal damnation).  But once there is acceptance of Christ, there is salvation not damnation. This is why the inhabitants of the three glories are only spoken of as being saved.  There is not a single scripture that indicates that these people are eternally damned.  They may be temporally damned (for a time) but eventually they, too, will be redeemed and be heirs of salvation.

Mormonism is so much more excellent and merciful than apostate Christianity because the people they say are damned to hell, we say are saved in a kingdom of glory.  Unfortunately, we go awry of the pure doctrine of Christ by adopting the man-made precept found in the Bible Dictionary theory of damnation.

The misunderstood scripture

I believe the reason why people generally accept the Bible Dictionary model of damnation is due to a misunderstanding of D&C 132: 4-6.  Here are those verses, along with the comments I gave on them over at The Millenial Star blog:

For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.  For all who will have a blessing at my hands shall abide the law which was appointed for that blessing, and the conditions thereof, as were instituted from before the foundation of the world.  And as pertaining to the new and everlasting covenant, it was instituted for the fulness of my glory; and he that receiveth a fulness thereof must and shall abide the law, or he shall be damned, saith the Lord God.  (D&C 132: 4-6)

And now my comments:

The 1828 Webster’s Dictionary definitions, which gave how these words were used in Joseph Smith’s time, are consistent with the usage of the word damned in the above quotes.

I will break it down for you:

For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.

The key word here is “abide.” To “abide…that covenant” means “to endure or sustain” or “to bear or endure; to bear patiently” the covenant. You cannot abide a covenant without first entering the covenant, so the use of the word damned here refers to people who have entered the covenant and have not abided it, or, as the Lord states later in the same sentence, to people who have entered the covenant and then “reject” it. These people are damned. The verse does not refer to people who never enter the covenant.

Next, the following verse:

And as pertaining to the new and everlasting covenant, it was instituted for the fulness of my glory; and he that receiveth a fulness thereof must and shall abide the law, or he shall be damned, saith the Lord God.

The key here to understanding the verse are the words “he that receiveth a fulness thereof.” The Lord doesn’t say “he who would receive a fulness thereof,” but refers to people who already received a fulness thereof. These people must and shall abide the law or they shall be damned. In this particular verse, the damned people we are talking about have already entered the covenant and have received a fulness of the Lord’s glory, who then do not abide (or, in other words, they reject) the law. However, we are assured by the Lord that such people “shall abide the law,” so there is no danger of such being damned, because they will not reject it after receiving such a fulness.

However, those who enter the covenant and who have not yet received of this spoken fulness, who reject the covenant, are damned.

These verses, then, are explicitly referring to one type of damnation: that received by the sons of perdition (see verse 27) and not to merely not receiving exaltation (a stopping of progression.)

27 The blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, which shall not be forgiven in the world nor out of the world, is in that ye commit murder wherein ye shed innocent blood, and assent unto my death, after ye have received my new and everlasting covenant, saith the Lord God; and he that abideth not this law can in nowise enter into my glory, but shall be damned, saith the Lord.

My comments were meant to show that there is no need to invent another shade of meaning of the word damned to fit into these particular verses, as the normal shades of damned work just fine.  When the above scriptures are misunderstood to mean that “if you don’t enter the covenant, at all, you will miss out on the opportunity for exaltation,” then you must invent a new shade of meaning of the word damned, giving it the meaning of a “stopping or limiting of progress and privileges,” which is what LDS appear to have done.

Apparently, I am not the only one to come to this conclusion.  Another person commented on the same Millennial Star post, one Rob Osborn, and he essentially said the same thing:

As for defining “damnation”, in Joseph Smiths day he grew up with a protestant background and upbringing. In their day they used the word “damned” to mean “condemnation to hell”. I have done a lot of research on this noting how Joseph himself used the word outside of scriptural text. In every account I have run accross, Joseph uses it in the traditional protestant sense of condemnation to hell. To this day, that definition is what other Christian religions use. It is only our LDS religion that uses the word out of context. This is almost entirely due to a misunderstanding of the scriptural text. As has already been discusssed, section 132’s usage of the word “damned” literaly is used in the context of “condemantion to hell”. Verse 26 speaks of those who enter into the fulness and then perhaps sin in the new and everlasting covenant. It says they will be destroyed in the flesh and delivered over to the buffetings of Satan (in hell). This is the usage of “damned” in verses 4-6.

The three glories are not punishments; they are rewards

Only those who go into outer darkness receive punishment after the resurrection.

Wherefore, he saves all except them—they shall go away into everlasting punishment, which is endless punishment, which is eternal punishment, to reign with the devil and his angels in eternity, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched, which is their torment—  (D&C 76: 44)

So, if everyone else gets saved and receives a fulness of joy and endless happiness, why is everyone put into one of three glories?  Why not have one glory, instead of three?  Why do all the Telestials eventually receive a fulness of the Telestial glory, the Terrestrials a fulness of the Terrestrial glory and the Celestials a fulness of the Celestial glory, without being able “to go up a glory?”  If the assignment to a kingdom of glory is not a punishment for wicked deeds, but a reward, upon what principle is the reward based?

I will simply say that these questions and their answers have to do with the doctrine of the resurrection.  They could be explained with a review of D&C 76, D&C 88 and Alma 41, but I am done with expounding scripture for today.  This post is long enough already and I want to keep it on the topic of damnation and not delve into the mysteries of the resurrection.  However, I will say that assignments to one of the three glories has nothing to do with dishing out punishments.  None of the saved people long for something they could have had, but are eternally blissful, content, happy and joyful in their saved condition.  Assigning them to a kingdom of glory does not, and cannot, damn them.  I hope this post is sufficient to get that point across.  If there is still confusion, I will open it up further in the comments section.

I have listed above and hyper-linked all of the scriptures that mention damned and damnation. I invite everyone to read those verses again, with the information in this post fresh in your mind, and see if the scriptures are not more plainly unfolded to your view.

Complete List of Articles authored by LDS Anarchist

“David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me”


Recently, I made some comments on another blog concerning the LDS revelation on polygamy (D&C 132) and I thought that I would re-publish them here.  As Jacob 2: 22-35 always seems to come up whenever discussing D&C 132 with people who do not believe that that section is a revelation from God, I felt the need to expound those verses somewhat.  Here is my exposition:

Comment expounding Jacob 2: 22-35

[Note: Check out this comment and this comment below for my updated and current (Nov. 9, 2015) understanding of Jacob 2:23-24.LDS Anarchist.]

Let me attempt a brief explanation of what is going on in Jacob 2, as I understand it. The key to understanding the verses found in 22-35 is the word “whoredoms.” What is being condemned by the Lord is whoredom. And what is a whoredom? A whoredom is any illicit sexual commerce, in other words, whatever the Lord has said, “No,” to, is a whoredom. That is the key. So, with that in mind, let’s take yet another look at these verses:

22 And now I make an end of speaking unto you concerning this pride. And were it not that I must speak unto you concerning a grosser crime, my heart would rejoice exceedingly because of you.

23 But the word of God burdens me because of your grosser crimes. For behold, thus saith the Lord: This people begin to wax in iniquity; they understand not the scriptures, for they seek to excuse themselves in committing whoredoms [illicit sexual commerce], because of the things which were written concerning David, and Solomon his son.

Lehi had received commandments from the Lord modifying the law of Moses and taking away all the plural marriage provisions of it and causing monogamy with no concubinage to be the approved marriage doctrine for the Nephites. Because of this, from Lehi onward plural marriage became a whoredom (illicit sexual commerce.) The Nephite men thought to commence plural marriage anyway, as that was a part of the original law of Moses, and were using the same old prophet (good, righteous and pure, meaning undiluted or unmodified doctrine) – new prophet (modified doctrine, meaning apostate) tactic many people use nowadays. Specifically, they were pointing to David and Solomon and the righteous deeds these polygamous men had done.

24 Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.

To counteract this, the Lord points to the unrighteous deeds of David and Solomon. He doesn’t point to plural marriage in general, but to the abominations David and Solomon committed in the name of plural marriage, meaning that they “had many wives and concubines” instead of “receiving many wives and concubines” from the Lord. In other words, they illicitly took wives which were forbidden them to take. In the case of David, this was the Uriah affair. In the case of Solomon, he took wives of a forbidden people. Again, to be even plainer in writing, the Lord here is pointing to the whoredoms of David and Solomon.

25 Wherefore, thus saith the Lord, I have led this people forth out of the land of Jerusalem, by the power of mine arm, that I might raise up unto me a righteous branch from the fruit of the loins of Joseph.

26 Wherefore, I the Lord God will not suffer that this people shall do like unto them of old.

A righteous branch is a branch that obeys the Lord. The Lord is not referring to polygamy here and equating righteousness with monogamy and unrighteousness with polygamy. Had the Jews of the Old World obeyed the Lord’s commands, they would have been a righteous branch even while practicing polygamy.

When the Lord says He doesn’t want the Nephites to do like them of old, He is not referring to the Old World practice of polygamy, but to the Old World practice of disobedience. So, the Lord is simply saying that this Nephite branch is to hearken to His words (obedience) or THEY WILL BE CURSED. He will not allow them to prosper in disobedience.

27 Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none;

28 For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity [approved sexual commerce] of women. And whoredoms [illicit sexual commerce] are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts.

These are the commandments given to Lehi, repeated here by Jacob. Whoredoms is not referring to polygamy but to all sexual commerce prohibited by the Lord. In the case of the Nephites, as they had received a law of monogamy (a modification of the law of Moses), polygamy in their case was a whoredom, whereas in the case of the Old World Jews, polygamy was not a whoredom, as it was permitted.

29 Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes.

The emphasis is on keeping the current commandments of the Lord. It is the current prophet’s words that are the most important, not the words of dead prophets. The Lord is not so much concerned with polygamy, as He is concerned with obedience.

30 For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.

This is self-explanatory, but I’ll explain it anyway. “Raise up seed unto me” refers to plural marriage. “I will command my people” means that plural marriage is illicit sexual commerce (a whoredom) to the Nephites unless the Lord commands its practice. “These things” refers to the new commandments received by Lehi, which modified the law of Moses for the Nephites.

31 For behold, I, the Lord, have seen the sorrow, and heard the mourning of the daughters of my people in the land of Jerusalem, yea, and in all the lands of my people, because of the wickedness and abominations of their husbands.

The abominations and wickedness that the Lord speaks of do not apply to the law of Moses-approved practice of plural marriage found among the Old World Jews (and those of other lands), but to their disobedience to His commandments. Again, the Lord is talking of disobedience to His commandments and not specifically of the general practice of polygamy.

32 And I will not suffer, saith the Lord of Hosts, that the cries of the fair daughters of this people, which I have led out of the land of Jerusalem, shall come up unto me against the men of my people, saith the Lord of Hosts.

33 For they shall not lead away captive the daughters of my people because of their tenderness, save I shall visit them with a sore curse, even unto destruction; for they shall not commit whoredoms, like unto them of old, saith the Lord of Hosts.

Remember, the Lord is still talking about whoredoms (illicit sexual commerce) and other disobedience, not about polygamy in general. Polygamy in the Old World was not whoredom, but in the New World it was.

34 And now behold, my brethren, ye know that these commandments were given to our father, Lehi; wherefore, ye have known them before; and ye have come unto great condemnation; for ye have done these things which ye ought not to have done.

35 Behold, ye have done greater iniquities than the Lamanites, our brethren. Ye have broken the hearts of your tender wives, and lost the confidence of your children, because of your bad examples before them; and the sobbings of their hearts ascend up to God against you. And because of the strictness of the word of God, which cometh down against you, many hearts died, pierced with deep wounds.

Okay, that seems self-explanatory to me. They did wrong not because polygamy was intrinsically wrong, but because the Lord made it wrong through Lehi for the Nephite people, until the Lord should make it right again (which He did later on in 4 Nephi.)

End of comment

Here’s another comment I made on the same post, concerning what I had mentioned above about 4 Nephi:

Comment expounding 4 Nephi polygamy

The Nephite branch became righteous when the Lord visited them and they “graduated” from the law of Moses to the law of Christ. Everybody still alive (after the destructions caused by His death) then converted to Christ. Interestingly enough, upon becoming a “righteous branch,” the record states the following:

And now, behold, it came to pass that the people of Nephi did wax strong, and did multiply exceedingly fast, and became an exceedingly fair and delightsome people.

And they were married, and given in marriage, and were blessed according to the multitude of the promises which the Lord had made unto them. (4 Nephi 1: 10-11)

These passages are referring to the doctrine of plural marriage and the promises made to those who enter therein. When the full Nephite record comes forth, it will show this. So, the Nephites were temporarily prohibited from entering into this practice while they lived the law of Moses, for reasons known only to the Lord, while the Jews in the Old World and the 10 Tribes of Israel in the Northern Countries, were allowed by the Lord to have plural marriage under the same law of Moses. In other words, these were three groups of contemporary people living different laws of the Lord. This doesn’t mean that one group’s laws were unjustified before the Lord. The Lord “commands and revokes” as He pleases. It is His privilege and as long as each group of people kept the commandments He gave to that particular group, they were justified.

Also, it should be kept in mind that the plural marriage under the law of Moses was not the plural marriage under the law of Christ. Plural marriage under the law of Christ is a doctrine of exaltation. Plural marriage under the law of Moses was not a doctrine of exaltation, however, it did prepare a people for the doctrine that came under the law of Christ. And that was what the law of Moses was for, to point people to Christ and to prepare them for Him and His doctrines.

So, the Nephites lived the doctrine of plural marriages under the law of Christ, from the visit of Christ to them onward, a period of 300+ years. Most people miss this and I can only believe that this is by the design of the Lord. When the Book of Mormon went forth at first, it was the intention of the Lord that it be the public doctrine, the milk, while the meat was to be revealed privately and over time revealed publicly as the public was ready for it. Had the Book of Mormon been exceedingly plain on this point of plural marriage, from the get-go, upon it being published, everyone would have rejected it, as the world was not ready for the doctrine of plural marriage.

As it is, the wording in the Book of Mormon was sufficiently obscure (on purpose) that people (even Joseph Smith!) mistook the Lord’s words in Jacob 2 as being a condemnation of all plural marriage. Most people completely missed the meaning of “For if I will, saith the Lord, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things,” the meaning being that only the unauthorized practice of plural marriage was condemned. Now, after the doctrine of plural marriage has been publicly taught, the chapter heading expounds the principle plainly, but when first published, the meaning of Jacob 2 was “hidden in plain sight.”

Also, the verses in 4 Nephi were (and still are) obscure to many people and most did not understand that they spoke of authorized plural marriage being practiced among the Nephites according to the more excellent law of Christ.

Besides all of that, Jacob 2 served another purpose: that of getting Joseph to inquire about plural marriage, which ended up revealing some meat, so we see in this that the purposes of the Lord are fulfilled and none of this has anything to do with perversion or whoring spirits, but with how the Lord works among the children of men, meaning according to their conditions.

End of comment

As I mentioned above that even Joseph Smith, at first, did not understand the meaning of Jacob 2, I will next re-publish here another couple of my comments, from that same post, which talk about Joseph’s understanding.

First, some background.  A question had been asked,

Why would Joseph Smith, as the Seer of the Lord who translated the Book of Mormon be asking why God justified David and Solomon in taking multiple wives when in fact it was through his efforts in translating the Book of Mormon that he was able to reveal to the world that David and Solomon WERE NOT JUSTIFIED in having multiple wives[?]

This question was referring to D&C 132: 1.  As an answer, I responded with this:

Comment answering question concerning D&C 132: 1

Joseph approached the Lord concerning Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, not concerning Moses, David and Solomon. Jacob’s remarks about David and Solomon made him wonder about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and so he made inquiry about these three prophets. The Lord, though, in his answer to Joseph, threw in a surprise for Joseph, for he included three more justified servants in his answer, two of which Joseph was thinking (because of Jacob’s words in the Book of Mormon) were not justified. In fact, when the angel appeared to him with the answer to his question, Joseph quoted the Book of Mormon to him. Joseph knew it was a true angel from God, as he had already received the keys to discern true and false angels and had applied the keys. So, the Lord’s response was to not only explain Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’s justification, but also to expound a bit on the meaning of the Lord’s words to Jacob, which Joseph, at the time, did not fully comprehend. This is why the first verse reads like this:

Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you my servant Joseph, that inasmuch as you have inquired of my hand to know and understand wherein I, the Lord, justified my servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, [at this point there is a break of “as also” because the Lord is giving more than Joseph asked for, to teach him that David and Solomon were also justified, except in those things which they did not receive from the Lord, in other words, the Lord’s intention was to more fully explain Jacob’s words in the Book of Mormon] as also Moses, David and Solomon, my servants, as touching the principle and doctrine of their having many wives and concubines—

Had Joseph made inquiry of all six men, it would have read, “as you have inquired of my hand to know and understand wherein I, the Lord, justified my servants Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David and Solomon, as touching the principle and doctrine of their having many wives and concubines—”

End of comment

After this, I was asked a question:

“Why would the Lord reveal that David and Solomon were not Justified in the Book of Mormon and then say that they were justified in this revelation?”

My answer was the following:

Comment concerning Joseph’s understanding of Jacob 2

Because the Lord didn’t say that David and Solomon were not justified in the Book of Mormon, he said, “which thing was abominable before me.” He never mentioned justification. He just mentions a “thing” that was abominable before Him.

At first, Joseph (and currently yourself and others) misunderstood Jacob’s words and thought that David and Solomon were unjustified by the practice. He did not understand just what the “thing” the Lord was referring to was and erroneously thought that it referred to all instances of the practice of plural marriage. This is why Joseph quoted Jacob’s words to the angel when he was told of the principle of plural marriage.

And so we have one of Joseph’s wives saying the following:

An angel came to him and the last time he came with a drawn sword in his hand and told Joseph if he did not go into that principle [plural marriage], he would slay him. Joseph said he talked to him soberly about it, and told him it was an abomination and quoted scripture to him. He said in the Book of Mormon it was an abomination in the eyes of the Lord, and they were to adhere to these things except the Lord speak. (Mary Lightner 1905 Address, typescript, BYU, Pg.1 – Pg.2)

So, this shows that Joseph was confused over Jacob’s words in the Book of Mormon and inquired of the Lord about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and NOT Moses, David and Solomon, because he already believed David and Solomon were unjustified per the Book of Mormon. This is why the Lord phrased it “as also,” which means “and also,” to indicate to Joseph that not only were the first three justified, but the last three were also.

So, Joseph’s question was doctrinally sound and consistent with what we know of those times. The problem you are having, then, is not with Joseph’s question, but with the Lord’s answer to him. Joseph applied the keys to determine a real angel from a false angel, so a real angel from God appeared to him and delivered this real doctrine in answer to his honest inquiry.

Again:

I [Mary Lightner] asked him [Joseph Smith] if Emma knew about me, and he said, “Emma thinks the world of you.” I was not sealed to him until I had a witness. I had been dreaming for a number of years I was his wife. I thought I was a great sinner. I prayed to God to take it from me for I felt it was a sin; but when Joseph sent for me he told me all of these things. “Well,” said I, “don’t you think it was an angel of the devil that told you these things?” Said he, “No, it was an angel of God. God Almighty showed me the difference between an angel of light and Satan’s angels. The angel came to me three times between the years of 1834 and 1842 and said I was to obey that principle or he would slay me. “But,” said he, “they called me a false and fallen prophet but I am more in favor with my God this day than I ever was in all my life before.” (Mary Lightner 1905 Address, typescript, BYU, Pg.1 – Pg.2)

The answer made him recoil and resist, but he eventually was able to wrap his mind around it and embrace it.

End of comment

My next group of comments were originally split up into multiple comments, but I’m here putting them all together:

Comments concerning polygamy & the law of Moses

I find it interesting how the Lord’s words to Jacob are held up as the final word and the rest of the Lord’s words given in the Bible are discarded. That is what I see on this post and comments. Of course, anyone is free to do this, but this is the same sort of tactic used by apostate Christianity, but in reverse order: they throw out the Book of Mormon in favor of the Bible.

When both the Bible and Book of Mormon are held up, and both are accepted as the word of God, you cannot honestly take the Lord’s words of “which thing was abominable before me” as meaning a wholesale condemnation of the practice of plural marriage. It must mean something other than that. If you force such a meaning, you must throw the Bible out the window, for the Bible contradicts such an interpretation.

For example:

Paul said of the law of Moses: “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” (Romans 7: 12) And in verse 14 he said, “For we know that the law is spiritual.” So, the law of Moses is holy, just, good and spiritual. Paul’s words, not mine. To say, then, that the law of Moses, which was given by Yahweh, was abomination, or allowed abomination, or even commanded abomination, is contradictory.

We know, from the Bible, that King David married at least 4 women with the approval of the Lord:

David, king of Israel took Abigail and Ahinoam, “and they were also both of them his wives;” (1 Sam. 25: 42-43). Then he “took him more concubines and wives out of Jerusalem;” (2 Sam. 5: 13). With two wives and concubines (plural) he at this time had at least 4 wives. The Bible later says that “David did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, and turned not aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite;” (1 Kings 15: 5). In this passage we have an assurance that David done right in taking all his wives and concubines, except in one instance, for which he was severely chastised. In the case of Uriah the Hittite, David committed adultery with his wife, and then had Uriah killed in the Battlefield. This was adultery and murder and it was condemned by the Lord, but his prior marriages were, according to the Bible, approved as “right in the eyes of the Lord”.

This is consistent with D&C 132, which basically says the same thing. In order for Jacob 2: 24 to be consistent with the Bible, the abominable thing referred to by the Lord concerning David was the Uriah affair and not the general practice of polygamy.

The law of Moses both permitted polygamy AND COMMANDED IT, in certain instances.

When Moses took a second wife, he was not in violation of the Law given to him by the Lord. That law does not prohibit plural marriage and in fact, recognized the possibility of multiple wives:

If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have born him children, both the beloved and the hated; and [if] the firstborn son be hers that was hated: then it shall be, when he maketh his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not make the son of the beloved firstborn before the son of the hated, which is indeed the firstborn. (Deuteronomy 21: 15-16)

In fact, the Law of Moses sometimes may have commanded Plural Marriage. When a woman’s husband died, the Lord commanded that a brother of the husband was supposed to take her as his wife. (Deut. 25: 4-10.) If he was already married, then at that point he would have had two wives. The Law as given to Moses does not mind that.

So, in order to hold onto your pet theory that the Lord’s words in Jacob 2 negates D&C 132, you have to throw out the entire Old and New Testaments, too. Now, how badly do you want to keep to such a theory?

Btw, these quotes were taken from polygamy.com. Here is another interesting quote from the same source:

Many of the leading men of the Bible had more than one wife in some form of marriage relationship at the same time. This includes Abraham, Jacob (Israel), Moses, David and others. The Law that Moses gave also made provision for plural marriage and in some cases, it seems that plural marriage was even commanded by the Law of Moses. There is evidence that multiple wives was an acceptable practice all through ancient Israel, including the time of Christ and it was not until the end of the 1st Millennium AD that some Jews officially rejected polygyny. One branch of Jews never agreed to this and still accept the practice of plural wives to this day.

One last thing, the marriage doctrine given in D&C 42 is completely compatible with plural marriage. It is not a doctrine of monogamy, but a doctrine of fidelity. It is, in essence, the law of chastity, stated differently.

End of comment

As the above comment mentioned D&C 42, I might as well talk about that, too.

In addition to holding up Jacob 2 as the standard of monogamy and the reason why D&C 132 must be a false revelation, D&C 42 is also held up as contradictory to section 132.  So, here were my answers to such a proposition.

While speaking of D&C 42: 22 and D&C 132: 54, and comparing the two verses, it was stated in a comment,

The definition of “none else” is “not one beside” or “no other.” So, if the Lord meant “none else” to indicate the exclusion of all others in 132 then that is his precise meaning in 42. If you hold to the belief that 42 allows for multiple spouses then you have to believe that the Lord was not excluding Emma from multiple spouses in 132. In which case the verse becomes nonsense. Either way, according to the verse in 132 living this “law” was required for Emma’s salvation.

I replied:

Comment concerning D&C 42: 22 and D&C 132: 54

The Lord was excluding Emma from multiple spouses in 132. The wording in section 132 is different than in section 42. In D&C 42: 22, it is a command to “cleave unto [thy wife],” whereas in D&C 132: 54 the command is to “cleave unto my servant Joseph.” Had the Lord said to Emma, “cleave unto your husband,” it would have left open multiple husbands, but He didn’t say that. He stated a specific person, not a specific title. (”Wife” being a title, designation or office of a person.) This is why the early saints who practiced plural marriage had no problem with D&C 42: 22, at all. It is compatible and not contradictory.

End of comment

Later, came the rebuttal and question,

You focused on the term “cleave” without addressing the issue of the words “none else.” To me the words “none else” are more important in these two passages. Are you suggesting that in section 42 “none else” means something other than “no other” or “not one beside?”

My reply was the following:

Comment on why D&C 42: 22 is a doctrine of fidelity, not monogamy

I left out “none else” because the phrase, when combined with just “wife” does not indicate monogamy. It only indicates fidelity. Have you ever wondered why the Article on Marriage was even necessary, if D&C 42 put forth a doctrine of monogamy? The Article on Marriage would then be redundant in stating that the saints believed in monogamy, would it not?

If I marry a wife and then she dies, does D&C 42 prohibit me from taking another wife? If section 42 indicates that I am to cleave only to one wife, then I can only be married once and I can only cleave to her and to none else, even if she dies. I am to remain single and widowed forever more, for if I take another wife I would be cleaving unto someone other than my (first) wife.

Of course this is not the meaning of the scripture. It is a doctrine of fidelity, not monogamy, meaning that I am only to cleave to my wife, whether I have one wife or ten wives. Each woman married to me, whether in succession (after their deaths) or with all of them still living (in polygamy), is to have me cleave to her and to no one else who is not my wife.

End of comment

Note: the reason why I am placing these comments all together like this in a single post is because of my intention—should I ever again find myself talking to someone about D&C 132 and they bring up Jacob 2 (or D&C 42) as proof that D&C 132 is a false revelation—to point to this post.  If you agree with the above comments and also, like me, tire of hearing the same worn out Jacob 2/D&C 42 objections, feel free to use them, also.

Previous Chastity article: The Law of Chastity: What It Is and What It Isn’t

Complete List of Articles authored by LDS Anarchist