The Seer/Volume 1/Number 2/Celestial Marriage
The first great commandment which God gave unto mankind, as recorded in the Scriptures, was, to “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.” (Gen. i., 28.) The principal object was to people this creation with myriads of intelligent, moral beings, after His own image and likeness, endowed with God-like capacities, and capable of progressing in the grand scale of knowledge and happiness, until they should receive a fulness, and become like God, and be glorified in Him, and He in them, that they might be one in glory, and in power, and in dominion. Herein is God glorified, because there are millions of beings who eventually become like Himself, with whom He can associate, and who are capable of understanding and appreciating all the fullness of His glorious attributes, and of acting with Him in the most perfect harmony, in all the magnificent works of Creation. Herein are the dominions of the Almighty enlarged, by the accession of new worlds, people with being in His own form and of His own order. And herein joy, and gladness, and happiness, reign in the bosom of the great Creator, in all their fullness and perfection, because He exercises His infinite goodness in the formation of numberless worlds, people with beings upon whom, if obedient, He bestows all the fullness of His own great perfections.
If, then the multiplication of human beings add to the dominions of the Almighty, glorifies His name, and gives Him an opportunity of displaying His infinite goodness, it is reasonable to suppose that He would give laws unto mankind, regulating them upon so important a subject—a subject fraught with consequences that are eternal. Think, for one moment, of the great responsibilities resting upon the father and mother of an infant child: they have been instruments in giving existence to a being capable of eternal happiness or of eternal misery;they have been entrusted with the protection and instruction of a being in the image and likeness of God, who, by proper training, may soar aloft in wisdom, and knowledge, and power, and God-like majesty, to the realms of immortality and everlasting light: they have been entrusted with a treasure infinitely more valuable than all the riches and honours of this world—a treasure which, by their mismanagement, may be lost—eternally lost—a treasure for which they are accountable in the great judgment of quick and dead. O, how great will be glory and happiness of that man and woman who have obeyed that great first commandment to “Multiply,” and have trained up themselves and their children unto life and immortality! On the other hand, what wretchedness and misery, will be inflicted upon those who have been instruments of unlawful connections, whose illegitimate children will remain as a standing curse, both in time and in eternity, to testify loudly of the unvirtuous associations of their guilty parents! O, how fearful the responsibilities resting upon mankind in regard to this momentous subject!
It is because of the infinitely important consequences involved in themultiplication of the human species, that God has regulated the same by the strictest kind of laws. He has not permitted an indiscriminate intercourse between the sexes, as among the dumb brutes; but He has ordained Marriage as the only justifiable means through which the sexes can legally “multiply and replenish the earth.” All connections out of the marriage covenant, are unlawful in the sight of God; and all who are guilty of such crimes will be severely punished for the same. In ancient times, persons committing adulteries, fornications, and unvirtuous connections, were punished with death, according to the law of God, which reads as follows:— “If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel. If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour’s wife: so shalt thou put away evil from among you. But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die.” (Deuteronomy, xxii., 22, 25.)
The great abhorrence which the Lord manifested towards all unvirtuous connections, may be clearly seen from the following:— “If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her, and give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid.” And, “if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel; then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die; because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father’s house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.” (Deuteronomy xxii., 13,14. 20,21.)
It was pleasing to the Lord to have such wicked characters put to death. Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron, was greatly blessed of the Lord, for putting to death a man and woman who were guilty of unlawful connections. We give the history of this event in the words of Scripture:— “And, behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman, in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazer, the son of Aaron, the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation and took a javelin in his hand; and he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through. *** So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel. And those that died in the plague, were twenty anf four thousand. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Phinehas, the son of Eleazer, the son of Aaron, the priest, hat turned my wrath away from the children of Israel while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy. Wherefore, say, behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace: and he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel.” (Numbers, xxv., 6-13.)
Why was the Lord so displeased with the sexes, that He would punish them with death for unvirtuous conduct? It was because He had ordained marriage as the only lawful way of multiplying the human race. The direful effects which follow unvirtuousassociations, can easily be perceived, even though there were no law of God against such evils. First, illegitimate children are thrown upon the world without any lawful protector to look after their temporal welfare. Secondly, these children have not the moral advantages which should be derived from the teachings and examples of lawful parents, and, consequently, are in greater danger of losing their eternal salvation. And lastly, an indiscriminate intercourse between the sexes would break up all family associations, and destroy the harmony and peace enjoyed in the domestic circle; fathers would not know their own children, and children could not, with confidence, say who were their fathers: such an order of things would be deplorable, and would strike a deadly blow at the foundation of all domestic happiness. Many other dreadful consequences might also be named, as the result of licentiousness, such as jealousies, want of confidence, loathsome diseases transferred to posterity, all of which evils are abhorrent to the feelings of every good man. It is for this reason, that God has enacted strict laws in regard to all these crimes. It is for this reason, that He punishes, with such heavy penalties, those who violate these sacred laws. Adulterers and unvirtuous persons were not only to be punished temporally, but also spiritually, after this life. Hence, the Lord says, “The fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and scorcerers [sorcerers], and idolators [idolaters], and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”—Rev. xxi., 8. Punishment by a temporal death, is not sufficient to satisfy the demands of justice: they must suffer the penalties of the second death also.
The same strictness against all unvirtuous conduct is taught in the Book of Mormon, as may be seen from the following quotations:— “O the wise, and the learned, and the rich, that are puffed up in the pride of their hears, and all those who preach false doctrines, and all those who commit whoredoms, and pervert the right way of the Lord; wo, wo, wo be unto them, saith the Lord God Almighty, for they shall be thrust down to hell.”—2 Nephi, xxi., 2. The prophet Alma, in speaking to his son on the same subject, says, “Know ye not, my son, that these things are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins, save it be the shedding of innocent blood, or denying the Holy Ghost.—Alma, xix., 1.
In another place, the Lord says to the ancient inhabitants of America, as follows:— “I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith he Lord of Hosts. Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes. Fro it I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things. 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. 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; 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.”—Book of Jacob, ii., 6. When Jesus appeared unto the ancient Nephites, in the northern partof what we call South America, He taught them concerning adultery, in these words:— “Behold, it is written by them of old time, that thou shalt not commit adultery; but I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman, to lust after her, hath committed adultery already in his heart. Behold, I give unto you a commandment, that ye suffer none of these things to enter into your heart; for it is better that ye should deny yourselves of these things, wherein ye will take up your cross, than that ye should be cast into hell.”—Book of Nephi, page 460, c.v., 10. The same doctrine is taught in the revelations and commandments, given through Joseph, the Seer, unto this church. In February, 1831, the Lord spake thus:— “Though shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else; and he that looketh upon a woman to lust after her, shall deny the faith, and shall not have the Spirit, and if he repents not, he shall be cast out. Thou shalt not commit adultery; and he that committeth adultery and repenteth not, shall be cast out; but he that has committed adultery and repents with all his heart, and forsaketh it, and doeth it no more, thou shalt forgive; but if he doeth it again, he shall not be forgiven, but shall be cast out.”—Doctrine and Covenants, sec. xiii., par. 7. “And if any man or woman shall commit adultery, he or she shall be tried before two elders of the church, or more, and every word shall be established against him or her by two witnesses of the church, and not of the enemy; but if there are more than two witnesses, it is better. But he or she shall be condemned by the mouth of two witnesses, and the elders shall lay the case before the church, and the church shall lift up their hands against him or her, that they may be dealt with according to the law of God. And if it can be, it is necessary that the bishop is present also. And thus ye shall do in all cases which shall come before you.”—Sec. xiii., par. 22. The saints are prohibited, by revelation, to receive certain persons into the church. The Lord says:— “Behold, verily I say unto you, that whatever persons among you, having put away their companions for the cause of fornication, or in other words, if they shall testify before you in all lowliness of heart that this is the case, ye shall not cast them out from among you; but if ye shall find that any persons have left their companions for the sake of adultery, and they themselves are the offenders, and their companions are living, they shall be cast out from among you. And again, I say unto you, that ye shall be watchful and careful, with all inquiry, that ye receive none such among you, if they are married; and if they are not married, they shall repent of all their sins, or ye shall not receive them.”—Sec. xiii., par. 20. And again, the word of the Lord came unto Joseph, the Seer, in August, 1831, saying:— “There were among you adulterers and adulteresses; some of whom have turned away from you, and others remain with you, that hereafter shall be revealed. Let such beware and repent speedily, lest judgments shall come upon them as a snare, and their folly shall be made manifest, and their works shall follow them in the eyes of the people. And, veriy, I say unto you, as I have said before, he that looketh on a woman to lust after her, of if any shall commit adultery in their hearts, they shall not have the Spirit, but shall deny the faith, and shall fear: wherefore, I, the Lord, have said that the fearful, and the unbelieving, and all liars, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie, and the whoremonger, and the sorcerer, shall have their part in that lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. Verify I say, that they shall not have part in the first resurrection. And, now, behold, I, the Lord, say unto you, that ye are not justified, because these things are among you; nevertheless, he that endureth in faith, and doeth my will, the same shall overcome, and shall receive an inheritance upon the earth, when the day of transfiguration shall come.”—Sec. xx, par. 4, 5, 6. In all these quotations from ancient and modern revelations, every one can see the dreadful consequences arising from the least indulgence of these sinful lusts. These persons who suffer unvirtuous thoughts to come into their hearts, and cherish them there for one moment, will find themselves under condemnation; they have broken the law of God; they have become defiled by their wicked thoughts, and unless they repent, the Spirit will depart from them; for the Holy Ghost dwelleth not in unholy temples—and they will be left in darkness, and their faith will die away, and they will be filled with fear, and finally be cast down to hell.
The Latter-day Saints are under greater obligations than any other people on the whole earth, to keep themselves pure and virtuous before the Lord—to refrain from adulteries, fornications, licentiousness, all unlawful connections, all uncleanness, all fleshly lusts, all unvirtuous and unholy desires, and from all lustful thoughts, and carnal affections; for we have been faithfully warned, again and again, by the voice of that great Prophet and Revelator, Joseph Smith; we have been warned by the voice of inspiration—by the voice of angels—by the voice of the ancient prophets of America, speaking as it were from the dead through the medium of their ancient records—we have been warned by the voice of God, threatening us with destruction, and with the miseries of the second death, if we do not keep ourselves entirely free and pure from all these sinful, saul-destroying lusts. If we reject so great warnings, and sin against the great light, how can we obtain forgiveness, or escape the damnation of hell? The Lord our God is a holy and just God—faithful and true in all His words, and will in nowise vary from that which He hath said; for judgment goeth before His face, and justice and righteousness is the habitation of His throne! O ye Saints of the last days, do you realize the fearful—the infinitely important—the eternal responsibilities which rest upon you, to watch over yourselves, your children, and all who are placed under your charge? Do you realize that your condemnation and punishment will be in proportion to the light and knowledge against which you sin? If you fully understand and appreciate the warnings which you have received, happy are you, if you give heed and obey the voice of the Lord your God, for great shall be your reward, and eternal shall be your glory. But if any among you harden their hearts, and yield themselves unto the wicked lusts of their flesh, and suffer themselves to be defiled by cherishing in their minds unvirtuous thoughts and unholy desires, they shall speedily be visited by sore judgments, and their names shall be blotted out from under heaven, and they shall be thrust down to hell, where there is weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth.
From the foregoing quotations and remarks, it will be seen, that the Latter Day Saints have stricter notions of virtue, and consider themselves under grater obligations to refrain, not only from unvirtuous acts, but from unvirtuous thoughts, than any other people under Heaven. But do the Saints actually demonstrate, by their practices, that they believe what the Lord has taught them upon these subjects? Do they practice virtue, as well as deliver the precepts thereof? We answer, let the practices of the thirty thousand Saints in Utah, speak; let strangers who have traveled through our flourishing territory, declare; let the record of the courts of justice bear witness; let the injured females, if there be any,whose character and reputation have been destroyed by the vile seducer, publish their wrongs; let illegitimate children, if Utah affords them, come forth as a public monument of our disgrace; if a house of ill-fame and breadth of our territory, then let the Saints hide their faces in shame, and the sons and daughters of Utah blush before the Heavens; if an adulterer or seducer of female virtue, can be found in all that land, then let the elders be clad in sackcloth, and the Saints put on the garments of mourning, and weep before the Lord, day and night, until the evil be taken from their midst.
But have not some of the Saints in Utah, more wives than one? Yes: and they take good care of them too; and teach them and their children the great principles of virtue and holiness, by example as well as by precept. But is it not sinful for a man to have more than one wife living at the same time? If it is, the Bible has not told us of it. But is it not contrary to the Christian religion? If it is, the Christian religion has not revealed it as an evil. But do you not really think that it is contrary to the will of God for a man, in these days, to take a plurality of wives? Yes, unless God shall give them to him by a revelation through a holy prophet. Is it not contrary to the Constitution and laws of the United States, for the citizens of Utah to practise the plurality of wives? No; neither the Constitution nor the laws of the United States, have said anything on the subject of marriage or domestic relations. But is it not contrary to the laws of the Territory? No; the Legislature of that Territory do not feel disposed to debar her citizens of any blessings or privileges enjoyed, under the sanction of the Almighty, by holy prophets and patriarchs of old.
Do you believe that the Book of Mormon is a divine revelation? We do. Does that book teach the doctrine of plurality of wives? It does not. Does the Lord in that book forbid the plurality doctrine? He forbid the ancient Nephites to have any more than one wife. What does the Book of Mormon say on this subject? It says, as follows, “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. Wherefore, I, the Lord God, will ot suffer that this people shall do like unto them of old. 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.”—Book of Jacob, ii. 6. Why were the ancient Nephites restricted to the one wife system? Because, first, the number of males and females among them, at the time the command was given, was about equal. Secondly, there was no probability that judgments, wars, on [or] any other calamities which were to befall their nation, would produce a disproportionate number of males and females. Thirdly, this small remnant of the tribe of Joseph were, at that time, about equally righteous; and one was about as capable of raising up a family in righteousness as another. And lastly, the Lord, Himself, informs them, in the same connection with the quotation which I have just made, that if He would have them practise differently from what He had previously taught them, it must be by His command. It reads as follows: “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.” Thus we see, that a man among the Nephites, by the law of God, had no right to take more than one wife, unless the Lord should command for the purpose of raising up seed unto Himself. Without such a command, they were strictly limited to the one wife doctrine: “otherwise,” says the Lord, “they shallhearken unto these things;” that is, without an express command, they should hearken to the law limiting them to one wife. So it is in this Church of Latter-day Saints: every man is strictly limited to one wife, unless the Lord, through the President and Prophet of the Church, gives a revelation permitting him to take more. Without such a revelation it would be sinful, according to the Book of Mormon, which this Church are required to obey. Hence, the Book of Mormon is somewhat more strict than the Bible; for there is nothing in the Bible that limits mankind to one wife, but the Book of Mormon does absolutely forbid a man to have more than one wife, unless God shall command otherwise.
Now in the early rise of this church, the Lord gave no command unto any of His servants authorizing them to take more than one wife, but on the contrary, said unto them that they should give heed to that which was written in the Book of Mormon; therefore, they were under the strictest obligations to confine themselves to one wife, until a commandment came to the contrary, which the Lord did not see proper to give unto any of them, until about thirteen years after the first organization of the church. The Church, therefore, are still restricted, by the severest penalties, to one wife, according to the Book of Mormon, unless in individual cases where the Lord shall, by revelation, direct otherwise.
No man in Utah, who already has a wife, and who may desire to obtain another, has any right to make any propositions of marriage to a lady, until he has consulted the President over the whole church, and through him, obtains a revelation from God, as to whether it would be pleasing in His sight. If he is forbidden by revelation, that ends the matter: if, by revelation, the privilege is granted, he still has no right to consult the feelings of the young lady, until he has obtained the approbation of her parents, provided they are living in Utah; if their consent cannot be obtained, this also ends the matter. But if the parents or guardians freely give their consent, then he may make propositions of marriage to the young lady; if she refuse these propositions, this also ends the matter; but if she accept, a day is generally set apart by the parties, for the marriage ceremony to be celebrated. It is necessary to state, that before any man takes the least step towards getting another wife, it is his duty to consult the feelings of the wife which he already has, and obtain her consent, as recorded in the 24th paragraph of the revelation, published in the first number of “The Seer.”
When the day set apart for the solemnization of the marriage ceremony, has arrived, the bridegroom, and his wife, and also the bride, together with their relatives, and such other guests as may be invited, assemble at the place which they have appointed. The scribe then proceeds to take the names, ages, native towns, counties, States, and countries of the parties to be married, which he carefully enters on record. The President, who is the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator over the whole church throughout the world, and who alone holds the keys of authority in this solemn ordinance, (as recorded in the 2d and 5th paragraphs of the Revelation on Marriage,)—calls upon the bridegroom, and his wife, and the bride to arise, which they do, fronting the President. The wife stands on the left hand of her husband, while the bride stands on her left. The President then puts this question to the wife: “Are you willing to give this woman to your husband to be his lawful and wedded wife for time and for all eternity? If you are, you will manifest it by placing her right hand within the right hand of your husband.” The right hands of the bridegroom and bride, being thus joined, the wife takes her husband by the left arm, as if in the attitude of walk-ing: the President then proceeds to ask the following question of the man: Do you, brother, (calling him by name,) take sister, (calling the bride by her name,) by the right hand, to receive her unto yourself, to be your lawful and wedded wife, and you to be her lawful and wedded husband, for time and for all eternity, with a covenant and promise, on your part, that you will fulfil all the laws, rites, and ordinances, pertaining to this holy matrimony, in the new and everlasting covenant, doing this in the presence of god, angels, and these witnesses, of your own free will and choice?” The bridegroom answers, yes. The President then puts the question to the bride: “Do you, sister, (calling her by name,) take brother, (calling him by name,) by the right hand, and give yourself to him, to be his lawful and wedded wife for time and for all eternity, with a covenant and promise, on your part, that you will fulfil all the laws, rites, and ordinances, pertaining to this holy matrimony, in the new and everlasting covenant, doing this in the presence of God, angels, and these witnesses, of your own free will and choice?” The bride answers, yes. The President then says, “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the authority of the Holy Priesthood, I pronounce you legally and lawfully husband and wife for time and for all eternity; and I seal upon you the blessings of the holy resurrection, with power to come forth in the morning of the first resurrection, clothed with glory, immortality, and eternal lives; and I seal upon you the blessings of thrones, and dominions, and principalities, and powers, and exaltations, together with the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and say unto you, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, that you may have joy and rejoicing in your posterity in the day of the Lord Jesus. All these blessings, together with all other blessings pertaining to the new and everlasting covenant, I seal upon your heads, through your faithfulness unto the end, by the authority of the Holy Priesthood, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.” The scribe then enters, on the general record, the date and place of the marriage, together with the names of two or three witnesses who were present.