Scripture Roundtable 35: D&C Gospel Doctrine Lesson 31, “Sealed … for Time and for All Eternity”

(Originally published on 13 July 2013.)

This is Scripture Roundtable 35 from The Interpreter Foundation, in which we discuss Doctrine & Covenants Gospel Doctrine Lesson #31, “Sealed … for Time and for All Eternity,” focusing on D&C 131, and 132, bringing in various insights to help us better understand the scriptures. These roundtables will generally follow the 2013 Gospel Doctrine schedule of scriptures, a few weeks ahead of time.

Some interesting highlights from this roundtable discussion include:

  • The LDS concept of heaven centers around family.  This flows naturally from the LDS concept of heavenly parents.  Eliza R. Snow said she learned the principle of heavenly parents from Joseph Smith, which inspired her to write her famous poem “O My Father” hymn 292 in our LDS hymnal, which says in part:
    I had learned to call thee Father, Through thy Spirit from on high,But until the key of knowledge Was restored, I knew not why.In the heavens are parents single? No, the thought makes reason stare!Truth is reason, truth eternal Tells me I’ve a mother there. (See Eliza R. Snow, “My Father in Heaven”, Times and Seasons, vol. 5, p. 1039 (15 November 1845)).
  • Another LDS hymn, “Oh, What Songs of the Heart” hymn 286, mentions meeting our heavenly parents after this life.
  • These concepts of Heaven are quite distinct from the rest of Judaism and Christianity, which views God as a “parent” of the human family, metaphorically at most, certainly not literally as do LDS.
  • The sealing concept is the way LDS believe God authenticates, authorizes and makes permanent family relationships so they last beyond this life, thus making our families like God’s family.  D&C Sections 131 and 132 focus on these most important concepts.
  • Malachi did not say “it would be a pretty good idea” for the hearts of the fathers to turn to their children and for the hearts of the children to turn to their fathers, he said if not so, the earth would be wasted at the second coming of Jesus Christ.  Thus, Malachi teaches us sealing power is most important!

Panelists for this roundtable include Brant Gardner, Craig Foster, and Martin Tanner.

This roundtable is also available as an audio podcast, and will be included in the podcast feed. You can listen by pressing the play button or download the podcast below:

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Joseph Smith and the Doctrine of Sealing

Abstract: Brian Hales has observed that we cannot understand Joseph Smith’s marriage practices in Nauvoo without understanding the related theology. However, he implies that we are hampered in coming to a complete understanding of that theology because the only primary evidence we have of that theology is the revelation now recorded as Section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants and a few entries in William Clayton’s journal. This paper argues that we have more primary evidence about Joseph Smith’s sealing theology than we realize. The accounts we have of the First Vision and of Moroni’s first visits in 1823 have references to the sealing power embedded in them, ready for Joseph to unpack when he was spiritually educated enough to ask the right questions. Continue reading

Dating Joseph Smith’s First Nauvoo Sealings

Abstract: In the October 2015 issue of The Journal of Mormon History, Gary Bergera presents a richly illustrated article, “Memory as Evidence: Dating Joseph Smith’s Plural Marriages to Louisa Beaman, Zina Jacobs, and Presendia Buell” (95–131). It focuses on a page from the “Historian’s Private Journal,” which Bergera dates to “specifically September or thereabouts” of 1866 (99). Wilford Woodruff’s handwriting on that page describes Joseph Smith’s plural marriage sealings and dates his marriage to Louisa Beaman to “May 1840,” to Zina Huntington on “October 27, 1840,” to Presendia Huntington on “December 11, 1840,” and also to Rhoda Richards on “June 12, 1843.” The first three dates on the historian’s document are important, as Bergera explains: “If accurate, Woodruff’s record not only pushes back the beginnings of Joseph Smith earliest Nauvoo plural marriage by a year but it also requires that we reevaluate what we think we know — and how we know it — about the beginnings of LDS polygamy” (95–96). The key question is whether the information on that page can be considered “accurate” in light of other available documents dealing with these plural sealings. During the remaining thirty-four pages of the article, Bergera presents an argument that 1840, not 1841, is the most reliable year for the Prophet’s earliest Nauvoo plural unions. This essay examines why his analysis of the records appears to be incomplete and his conclusions problematic. Continue reading