I invested a couple of hours this morning listening to the recording of Denver’s recent talk on plural marriage. These are my first-impression notes at the end of the day after pondering and praying about what I heard. I wasn’t there and I don’t have a transcript, which I am certain someone will have available within a few days. The recording is available in various formats.
Denver referred to a white-board illustration throughout the talk, a copy of which he provided on his website, and which I have included here. You may recognize the illustration of the Diagram of the Kingdom of God on the right. Various authors who have written about the subject have included it when attempting to explain Joseph’s view on the subject. Denver added the lineage.
I think the main point I would like to make is found in the upper left of the white board. We have next to nothing from Joseph on the subject of plural marriage. What we have is limited to section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants, which I accept as scripture, including the quote about there being only one person on the earth at a time who holds the sealing power and priesthood keys.
Plural Wives of Joseph Smith
As I listened to the first eighty-five minutes I kept thinking to myself, “Why is Denver reviewing such basic stuff?” He went over the history of what we know about Joseph’s participation in the law of Celestial Marriage. Denver reviewed several legal case records – listed on the left side of the board – as well as writings from various sources, including Brian Hales’ three-volume set.
If you have no background in the history of Joseph’s participation in plural marriage, then the first eighty-five minutes will be extremely helpful. A member of one of the reading groups I belong to split the two-hour talk into twelve ten-minute segments. I have linked to them at the bottom of this page. If you have studied this subject extensively, start on track eight or nine.
I have written a few posts on the subject over the years, even though I don’t really find it all that fascinating. I think I last wrote about it in 2009 in a post entitled The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith. At the time I was astonished at the response of many of my readers who said they had never heard that Joseph participated in plural marriage. It still amazes me to hear that today.
The Family of God on the Earth
The good stuff starts in track nine on the law of adoption. The LDS Church doesn’t talk much about that any more. In fact, I don’t think it’s included in any official curriculum. Come to think of it, I don’t think plural marriage is included in any Sunday curriculum, including the History of the Church taught in the Gospel Doctrine class. I found one quote in the D&C teacher’s manual:
“In this dispensation, the Lord commanded some of the early Saints to practice plural marriage. The Prophet Joseph Smith and those closest to him, including Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball, were challenged by this command, but they obeyed it. Church leaders regulated the practice. Those entering into it had to be authorized to do so, and the marriages had to be performed through the sealing power of the priesthood.” (Page 182)
I think the theme of the last thirty minutes of the talk can be summarized as the Lord’s plan to restore the family of God. Denver went over the Kingdom of God diagram on the right of the white board, noting again there is only one on the earth at a time who has the sealing power and the right of the Fathers – to ask and get answers from heaven for the family of God on the earth.
The True Purpose of Temple Work
Much of what he reviewed will sound familiar to members of the LDS Church, but I suspect many of the thousands who are being baptized these days are coming from the fundamentalist organizations. He discussed the importance of being sealed to the Fathers and defined that for his listeners. A key to understanding this doctrine is knowing who the Fathers are in God’s kingdom.
He touched upon a fundamental difference in the true purpose of temple work – to be sealed to the Fathers. I can’t emphasize enough how important this concept is to our personal salvation. The work of finding our own ancestors is important but not nearly as important as being sealed to the Fathers. There must be a welding link from us to the Fathers, not just our own ancestors.
The way temple work is being done in the LDS Church is upside down. It is the opposite of the way the Lord intended. Enough time has passed – four generations – from the death of Joseph. The Lord intends to continue the restoration process of preparing the family of God. Denver read from his revelation book about why so few were resurrected at the time of Christ’s resurrection.
A Witness Has Come
He pointed out there will be relatively few resurrected at Christ’s return. You need to listen to the recording to understand why. He explained the importance of a witness to the restoration process beginning again and said, “A witness has come. I am him.” Without Joseph Smith you have no church. Listen carefully to the last two tracks, the last twenty minutes of the talk to understand.
I don’t want to share too much in this post. As I wrote at the beginning, these are first impression notes. I will be listening to the talk several times over the next few weeks. I look forward to the transcript. This is extremely important doctrine for us to understand. It is not being taught in the LDS Church today but was understood and taught by Joseph. Sadly, the restoration was cut short.
Denver testified Joseph was a virtuous man. He was not a wicked man. He condemned adultery and lust. He extoled the virtues of sexual purity. What Brigham did with Polygamy was not what Joseph taught or intended. The Lord wants to gather us as chicks under the wing. We must not go charging into the pass to be destroyed by the beast. Let us patiently wait upon the Lord for more.
|Part One||Part Five||Part Nine|
|Part Two||Part Six||Part Ten|
|Part Three||Part Seven||Part Eleven|
|Part Four||Part Eight||Part Twelve|