Archive Section III
of the Doctrine & Covenants
This tract, which has been slighly edited, was originally produced by the Independent Church of Jesus Christ in January 1992 just prior to its disorganisation the following April. At that time the Independent Church was emerging from a Restoration paradigm which it had been gradually shedding. A matter of weeks after the publication of this tract the Independent Church ceased to exist and its members, reverting back to the Bible for their sole authority of truth, rejected the LDS pardigm altogether. This document has been included on the LDS Page for its historical interest. After passing through an intermediary "New Covenant Christian Fellowship" (NCCF) phase, the members reorganised in 1996 as the New Covenant Church of God, an organisation based on the principle of revelation but without the LDS scriptures.
Section 132 of the Mormon Edition of the Doctrine & Covenants is one of the most controversial revelations purporting to have come through Joseph Smith, Jr.. It treats the controversial doctrine of polygamy and eternal marriage which, though long discontinued by the Mormon Church, is still practiced by some 32,000 fundamentalist Mormons in the United States.
The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has long disputed the authenticity of this document and it is not, therefore, a part of the RLDS Church's canon of scripture. Unlike the Reorganized Church, though, the Independent Church acknowledges the validity of the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage -- or Eternal Marriage -- but not only rejects Section 132, as currently published by the LDS Church, as a genuine revelation, but doubts it is the original document penned by Joseph Smith.
According to LDS tradition, Section 132 was "recorded July 12, 1843" and this claim is to be found in the introduction to the revelation in all recent LDS editions of the Doctrine & Covenants. The word "recorded", however, was omitted in the LDS 1890 edition, leaving the impression that the revelation was, in fact, received on that date and not just recorded, for Mormon apologists have long insisted that the revelation came before 1843. However, the LDS History of the Church confirms that the word "recorded" was not a part of the original (Vol.5:501; also see Millennial Star 19:475).
In every printing of the LDS Doctrine & Covenants the Mormon Church has credited Joseph Smith with having received this revelation at Nauvoo, Illinois, and that he communicated it to the High Council on 12 July 1844. However, in public statements made at Nauvoo on 10 June 1844, before the City Council of Nauvoo, Joseph Smith affirmed that the real truth of the document read to the High Council the previous July had been twisted by his enemies into a distortion, and that the revelation dealt only with marriage practices of ancient times and marriage in eternity (Nauvoo Neighbor, Wednesday, June 19, 1844, Vol.2, p.239, from the minutes of the City Council at which the Nauvoo Expositor was ordered destroyed as a public nuisance).
It seems likely, therefore, that the document as published by the LDS Church in 1852 (and eventually replacing, in its Doctrine & Covenants in 1876, the historic, monogamous stand on marriage represented by what the RLDS Church still publishes as Section 111), represents that distortion of the original 1843 document on marriage for eternity to which Joseph Smith referred in his June 10, 1844, explanation to the City Council.
Either that, or Joseph Smith was lying....in which case it is difficult, if not impossible, to make any kind of historical assessment on this or other controversial documents produced by him. However, Joseph Smith's 10 June 1844 explanation is further corroborated by a statement made by him in a letter written by a citizen of Nauvoo in 1844 (Letter by Jacob Scott, Nauvoo, Illinois, to his daughter, Mary Warnock, 5 January 1844).
The matter of the origin of Section 132 is made more complicated by the fact that Brigham Young, who claimed to possess the original document, kept the revelation locked away in his desk until 1852 -- some 9 nears after its purported time of origin -- when it was published to the Utah Church. And given that it is now well known that Brigham Young tampered with other documents of Joseph Smith, and most particularly Section 121 (references to polytheism in verses 28 & 32 are now known to be later additions some ten years after Joseph Smith's death), there remains the strong possibility that he tampered with Section 132 also.
Finally, there is a strange reference to Section 132 in a sermon by Joseph F. Smith given in Salt Lake City on 7 July 1878 (Journal of Discourses 20:29) which reads: "It is most probable that had it (Section 132) been written with a view to its going out as a doctrine of the church, it would have been presented in a somewhat different form.." Not only does this contradict Brigham Young's decision to publish the revelation to the world as bona fide, which he did in 1852, but seems to suggest the revelation should have been written "in a somewhat different form" for public consumption. Which confirms the Independent Church's position that revelations in the Doctrine & Covenants were tampered with by the LDS Church for various reasons (even though this has been strenuously denied by the Mormon leaders).
Doctrinal and Practical Objections
The Independent Church of Jesus Christ not only doubts the historical authenticity of the current Section 132 but objects to some of the revelation's content which doctrinally is disjunctive with the ethics of the Bible (and even the LDS Church's own Book of Mormon, for that matter).
In the aforementioned sermon by Joseph F. Smith, the author continues: "There are personalities contained in a part of it (Section 132) which are not relevant to the principle itself, but rather to the circumstances which necessitated its being written at that time" (Op.cit.).
These "personalities" are interesting indeed and are to be found towards the end of the revelation.
To begin with, verse 52 makes it very plain that Joseph Smith had been practicing polygamy before the revelation was received on 12 July 1843 which accounts for the anxiety of the LDS Church to modify the introduction to Section 132 to make it seem as though the revelation was received beforehand and only recorded on that date to preclude the charge of adultery.
There is sufficient historical evidence to suggest that not only was Joseph Smith's wife, Emma, vigorously opposed to polygamy but that their marriage nearly came to an end. Numerous eye witnesses attest to the couple frequently quarrelling on the matter and some LDS historians believe that Emma even tried to poison her husband on one occasion. Joseph Smith, already facing mounting opposition to polygamy which at that time was pursued secretly, and confronted with hostility in his own wife and the threat of public exposure, seems to have taken drastic measures to contain his wife's anger, realised his blunder, and penned an excuse in Section 132:
No Mormon leader or commentator has ever been able -- or dared to -- explain what it was that Emma was not to "partake" of. But there can be little doubt from the evidence that Joseph Smith, who by this time was trying to seduce other men's wives, had offered Emma the hand of one of the Church leaders, William Law, whose wife he had himself tried to seduce. When William Law refused the arrangement, it became necessary to invent the excuse that it had all been an "Abrahamic test". That Joseph Smith was somehow in the wrong is confirmed by his own hand in Section 132 where "the Lord" tells Emma to "forgive my servant Joseph his tresspasses" (v.56). Again, no commentator has ever dared, or been able, to explain what these "tresspasses" were.
"Verily, I say unto you: A commandment I give unto mine handmaid, Emma Smith, your wife, whom I have given unto you, THAT SHE STAY HERSELF AND PARTAKE NOT OF THAT WHICH I COMMANDED YOU TO OFFER UNTO HER; for I did it, saith the Lord, to prove you all, as I did Abraham, that I might require an offering at your hand, by covenant and by sacrifice" (D&C 132:51).
To this writer, Section 132 appears as a special concocted revelation to save Joseph Smith at a difficult time when his improprietries were being exposed. This explains why in so many places in the revelation people are threatened with destruction if they do not follow its injunctions (e.g. v.52,54).
The subject of Joseph Smith and Nauvoo polygamy is a long and involved one. Suffice to say that the Independent Church considers that at about this time Joseph Smith fell into serious moral sin (to compound his many other ones) which in turn led to his own assassination and the death of many of his followers. His attempted adultery with the wife of apostle Orson Pratt, which nearly destroyed the man, his organisation of secret Danite Bands to pursue and even murder opponents of the Church, and many other transgressions, together with the whole tone of Section 132 which is so unlike the early revelations of the Doctrine & Covenants, and which was used to justify attrocities in the early Utah Church, leads New Covenant Christians to reject this document as a devilish work.
From the earliest times, Joseph Smith admitted a weakness for women and it is the opinion of this author that he employed a Bible marriage practice, polygamy, to gratify his own lusts. It is our belief that Joseph Smith fell into serious moral transgression and while Section 132 certainly contains some interesting principles what might possibly have a modicum of inspiration, it is sufficiently tainted by the writer's fallen nature as to be dangerous. He even had the audacity to claim that he he was beyond sin (v.49), even though this is contradicted by a later verse (v.56).
New Covenant Christians do not, furthermore, regard marriage -- whether monogamous or polygamous -- to be a doctrine of salvation. Thus we believe that Section 132 should be left to stand as a warning not to all who would use the Name of the Lord in vain to further their own diabolical ends.
It is an historical anachronism, an ugly wart on the body of a religious movement perverted by deviating from Biblical truth. It, and other Latter Day Saint practices, are the cause of New Covenant Christians distancing themselves from what might broadly be called "Latter Day Saintism" whilst preserving that which is undoubtedly good. And whatever Section 132 is, it is not, in its totality, good.
For NCCG's position on polygamy, see FECPP.
This page was created on 8 July 1998
Updated on 9 March 2001
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