Mormon Scripture – The Articles of Faith/Part 36

By: Marvin W. Cowan; ©2004
This final installment on the Articles of Faith deals with LDS teachings about plural marriage.

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The 13th LDS Article of Faith says: “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and we hope to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”

As stated before, there isn’t anything in this Article itself with which Christians would disagree. But, LDS leaders gave Apostle James Talmage the responsibility of explaining each Article of Faith in his book entitled the Articles of Faith. His chapter on the 13th Article is entitled “Practical Religion” in which he wrote about many things not mentioned in it or in the previous 12 Articles of Faith.

In previous discussions of this Article, we considered what Talmage said about being honest, true, chaste, virtuous, benevolent as well as LDS tithing, the United Order or the Order of Enoch which required Mormons to give all of their property to the LDS Church. Now we will consider what he said about marriage.

Talmage wrote,

The Latter-day Saints accept the doctrine that marriage is honorable, and apply it as a requirement to all who are not prevented by physical or other disability from assuming the sacred responsibilities of the wedded state…Celestial Marriage, as regarded by the Latter-day Saints, is ordained of God and designed to be an eternal relationship of the sexes. With this people it is not merely a temporal contract to be of effect on earth during the mortal existence of the parties, but a solemn agreement which is to extend beyond the grave…A contract as far reaching as this, extending not only throughout time but into the domain of the hereafter, requires for its validation an authority superior to that of earth; and such an authority is found in the Holy (LDS) Priesthood, which given of God, is eternal…The ordinance of Celestial Marriage is permitted to those members of the (LDS) Church only who are adjudged worthy of participation in the special blessings of the House of the Lord (Temple); for this ordinance, together with others of eternal validity, is to be administered in Temples reared and dedicated for such holy service (Articles of Faith, pp. 443-446).

Notice that Celestial Marriage or eternal marriage can only be performed in an LDS Temple by those who have the LDS Priesthood and only those “adjudged worthy” (have an LDS Temple Recommend) can be married for eternity.

Talmage wrote a lengthy explanation of this LDS doctrine using Section132 of the Doctrine & Covenants, but we will use a more concise explanation given by LDS Apostle John A. Widtsoe in his book Evidences and Reconciliations. The material in his book was initially published in The Improvement Era, which was then the official magazine for Mormon adults. He said,

Several approaches to eternal marriage may be made: Two living persons may be sealed to each other for time and eternity. A living man may be sealed for eternity to a dead woman; or a living woman to a dead man. Two dead persons may be sealed to each other (by proxy). It is also possible, though the Church does not now permit it, to seal two living people for eternity only, with no association on earth. Further, under a divine command to the Prophet Joseph Smith, it was possible for one man to be sealed to more than one woman for time and eternity. Thus came plural marriage among the Latter-day Saints. By another divine command, to Wilford Woodruff, a successor to Joseph Smith, this order of marriage was withdrawn in 1890 (p. 340).

Widtsoe did not explain that Mormons still seal more than one wife to a dead man in LDS Temples today. Doctrine & Covenants, Section 132 is still in the current edition of Mormon scripture and it says the Lord gave the doctrine of having many wives and concubines and all who have it revealed to them must obey it! That is why thousands of fundamentalist Mormons as well as some who are still in the LDS Church are polygamists today! Section 132:1-21 also teaches that unless one is married or “sealed” by the power of the LDS Priesthood, they can only become angels instead of gods in the afterlife. But those who are married for time and eternity will become gods and bear children forever and have all things subject unto them.

Mormonism teaches that God became a God the same way they believe they can become Gods: by keeping all of the laws and ordinances of the LDS gospel, including being married in an LDS Temple for all eternity. That is the meaning of the couplet: “As man is, God once was; as God is man may become” (Articles of Faith, by Talmage, p. 430).

Talmage also said, “We are expressly told that God is the Father of spirits, and to apprehend the literalness of this solemn truth we must know that a Mother of spirits is an existent personal­ity” (p. 443). LDS Apostle Bruce McConkie further explained,

Implicit in the Christian verity that all men are the spirit children of an Eternal Father is the usually unspoken truth that they are also the offspring of an Eternal Mother. An exalted and glorified Man of Holiness (Moses 6:57) could not be a Father unless a Woman of like glory, perfection, and holiness was associated with him as a Mother. The begetting of children makes a man a father and a woman a mother whether we are dealing with man in his mortal or immortal state (Mormon Doctrine, p. 516).

The Bible doesn’t teach that there is a Heavenly Mother who begets spirit babies. Nor does it teach that God was once a man and men can become Gods and beget spirit babies through an eternal wife or wives. Jesus said in Matthew 22:30, “In the resurrection men won’t get married and women won’t be given in marriage, but they are like the angels of God in heaven.”

Even Mormon scripture says that angels are not married but are single (Doctrine & Cov­enants, Sec. 132:17). McConkie wrote “Only the Celestial Kingdom is the kingdom of God where the faithful saints will gain their eternal inheritance.” He also said, “Baptism is the gate to the Celestial Kingdom; Celestial Marriage is the gate to an exaltation in the highest heaven within the Celestial World” (Mormon Doctrine, pp. 420, 118).

But Jesus did not teach that either baptism or celestial marriage would get anyone into the presence of God. He said, “I am the gate; whoever enters through Me will be saved” (John 10:9). And He said, “No man cometh to the Father but by Me” (John 14:6). The Apostle Paul also said, “There is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man, Christ Jesus” (I Tim. 2:5). Therefore, nothing can be added to Christ who is the only Mediator!

This concludes our study of the 13 LDS Articles of Faith. Next time we will consider whether or not Mormons today believe and teach that God was once a man and that men can become gods.

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