“Lesson 51: Doctrine and Covenants 131; 132:1–33,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual (2017)
“Lesson 51,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual
On May 16–17, 1843, the Prophet Joseph Smith stayed with Benjamin and Melissa Johnson in Ramus, Illinois. While there, the Prophet taught the Johnsons the Lord’s law of marriage and sealed them for eternity. The next morning the Prophet preached a sermon on 2 Peter 1 in Ramus and explained the meaning of the phrase “the more sure word of prophecy” (2 Peter 1:19). Later that day, after a Protestant minister gave a sermon to the Saints in Ramus, the Prophet taught that “all spirit is matter” (D&C 131:7). Portions of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s teachings on these occasions are recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 131.
On July 12, 1843, the Prophet Joseph Smith dictated the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 132, in which the Lord taught about “the new and everlasting covenant of marriage” (D&C 131:2). Historical evidence suggests that the Prophet had received some of the principles found in this revelation as early as 1831. This lesson covers Doctrine and Covenants 132:1–33, in which the Lord taught principles concerning eternal marriage and the importance of abiding by His law. Lesson 52 covers Doctrine and Covenants 132:34–66, which includes the Lord’s teachings about plural marriage.
- Early 1840
Joseph Smith taught Parley P. Pratt about eternal marriage.
Joseph Smith began privately teaching the doctrine of plural marriage in Nauvoo, Illinois.
- May 16–17, 1843
The teachings recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 131 were given.
- May 28, 1843
Joseph and Emma Smith were sealed for eternity.
- May–July 1843
Emma Smith consents to several of Joseph Smith’s plural marriages but struggles to accept the practice.
- July 12, 1843
The revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 132 was dictated.
Display the following statement by Elder Richard G. Scott (1928–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and invite a student to read it aloud:
“Think of the long view of life, not just what’s going to happen today or tomorrow. Don’t give up what you most want in life for something you think you want now” (Richard G. Scott, “Jesus Christ, Our Redeemer,” Ensign, May 1997, 54).
What are some ways in which Elder Scott’s counsel could help a person make important decisions?
Why might this counsel be especially helpful when making decisions about dating, courtship, and marriage?
Explain that on May 16, 1843, the Prophet Joseph Smith and William Clayton traveled to Ramus, Illinois, and stayed at the home of Benjamin and Melissa Johnson. While there, the Prophet taught the Johnsons important doctrine about eternal marriage and sealed them for eternity. William Clayton recorded the Prophet’s teachings on that occasion (see Matthew McBride, “Our Hearts Rejoiced to Hear Him Speak,” in Revelations in Context, ed. Matthew McBride and James Goldberg , 279–80, or history.lds.org). Some of those teachings are recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 131:1–4.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 131:1–4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Prophet taught about eternal marriage.
What principle can we identify from verses 1–2 about what we must do to obtain the highest degree of the celestial kingdom? (Help students identify the following principle: In order to obtain the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, we must enter into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage.)
Explain that in this context the word new means that the covenant was newly restored in our dispensation; everlasting means that the covenant, including its blessings, has existed from the beginning and is forever the same.
According to verses 3–4, what will happen if we do not enter into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage? (You may want to explain that the phrase “he cannot have an increase” means that those who do not enter into and keep the new and everlasting covenant of marriage will not be able to have children after the Resurrection.)
Based on the truths taught in these verses, how would you explain why celestial marriage is central to God’s plan for our exaltation?
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 131:5–8 by explaining that in these verses the Prophet Joseph Smith explained the meaning of the phrase “more sure word of prophecy” mentioned in 2 Peter 1:19, and he taught that “all spirit is matter” (verse 7).
Explain that on July 12, 1843, Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were discussing the doctrine of plural marriage, which Joseph’s wife Emma had for some time been struggling to accept. During their conversation, Hyrum encouraged Joseph to record the revelation he had received on celestial marriage, which also included the Lord’s instructions concerning plural marriage. The Prophet then dictated the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 132. “Although the revelation was recorded in 1843, evidence indicates that some of the principles involved in this revelation were known by the Prophet as early as 1831” (Doctrine and Covenants 132, section heading).
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 132:1–3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the question the Prophet Joseph Smith had asked the Lord. Ask students to report what they find.
Point out the phrase “I … will answer thee as touching this matter” in verse 2, and inform students that before the Lord answered the Prophet’s question about plural marriage, He taught important principles about the covenant of eternal marriage and obedience to His law. The Lord’s answer to the Prophet’s question about plural marriage is recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 132:34–65, which will be addressed in the next lesson.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 132:4–6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord revealed to the Prophet about eternal marriage and obedience to His law. Before the student reads, remind students that the phrase “a new and an everlasting covenant” in verse 4 refers to the covenant of eternal marriage (see D&C 131:2).
According to verses 4–5, what will happen if a person does not “abide,” or obey, the covenant of eternal marriage?
What will happen to those who do abide this law?
Explain that the phrase “the new and everlasting covenant” in verse 6 refers to the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which includes all ordinances and covenants essential to salvation and exaltation (see D&C 66:2). Eternal marriage is a necessary part of the new and everlasting covenant.
According to Doctrine and Covenants 132:6, why did the Lord establish the new and everlasting covenant? (You may want to explain that the phrase “the fulness of my glory” refers to the exaltation of God’s children [see Moses 1:39].)
Remind students that a covenant is “an agreement between God and man, but they do not act as equals in the agreement. God gives the conditions for the covenant, and men agree to do what He asks them to do. God then promises men certain blessings for their obedience” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Covenant,” scriptures.lds.org).
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 132:7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the conditions the Lord gave concerning the new and everlasting covenant.
What conditions did the Lord give concerning the new and everlasting covenant? (It must be “sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise” and entered into through proper priesthood authority.)
To help students better understand what it means to be “sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise” (verse 7), invite a student to read the following paragraph aloud:
“The Holy Ghost is the Holy Spirit of Promise (Acts 2:33). He confirms as acceptable to God the righteous acts, ordinances, and covenants of men. The Holy Spirit of Promise witnesses to the Father that the saving ordinances have been performed properly and that the covenants associated with them have been kept” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Holy Spirit of Promise,” scriptures.lds.org).
What does it mean to be “sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise” (D&C 132:7)?
What doctrine can we identify from Doctrine and Covenants 132:7 concerning what is required for a covenant to be eternal? (Help students identify the following doctrine: When a covenant is made through proper priesthood authority and is sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise, it will last forever.)
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 132:8–14 by explaining that the Lord continued to explain the conditions of His laws and ordinances. He declared that everything done “by [Him] or by [His] word” (verse 13) will remain forever but that everything else will eventually be destroyed.
Explain that after the Lord taught the conditions of the new and everlasting covenant, He used the covenant of marriage to illustrate the importance of meeting these conditions.
Invite three students to take turns reading aloud from Doctrine and Covenants 132:15–18. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the various types of marriage described in these verses.
According to verses 16–18, what will happen to those who do not abide God’s law concerning eternal marriage?
Write the following incomplete statement of principle on the board:
Divide the class into pairs. Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 132:19–20 in their pairs, looking for the blessings of meeting the Lord’s conditions for eternal marriage. Invite students to consider marking what they discover. Ask each pair to write down a sentence that completes the principle statement on the board. After sufficient time, invite students to report what they wrote. Answers could include the following:
… they will inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, powers, and dominions.
… their marriage will be of full force when they are out of the world.
… they will receive exaltation and glory in all things.
… they will be gods.
… their family and their posterity can continue throughout eternity.
What do you think a husband and wife must do to abide in the covenant of eternal marriage?
How might an understanding of the blessings of eternal marriage affect the way a person thinks about and prepares for marriage?
Share your testimony of the Lord’s law of eternal marriage and the blessings we may receive by obeying that law. Assure students that even though not everyone will have the opportunity for marriage in this life, the Lord has promised that He will not withhold any blessing from the faithful.
Ask students to ponder what they will do to prepare for or, if they have already made this covenant, faithfully keep, the covenant of eternal marriage. Encourage them to follow any promptings they receive.
Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Doctrine and Covenants 132:21–25. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the image the Lord used to illustrate the importance of following His law regarding eternal marriage.
In what ways can the image of a “strait … gate” and “narrow … way” (verse 22) represent the Lord’s law concerning eternal marriage?
In what ways can the image of a “broad … gate” and a “wide … way” (verse 25) represent current opinions in society about marriage?
What principle can we learn from verses 23–25 about what we must do to obtain eternal life? (Help students identify the following principle: If we receive the Lord and His law, then we will come to know the Father and the Son and will eventually receive exaltation and eternal lives.)
Explain that the phrase “eternal lives” (verses 22, 24) refers to the ability of those who obtain exaltation to create their own eternal families through bearing and rearing spirit children (see D&C 131:4; 132:19, 22, 24, 30).
Summarize D&C 132:26–33 by explaining that the Lord warned what would happen to those who sinned after receiving the new and everlasting covenant of marriage (see verses 26–27). He also taught that because Abraham willingly received and obeyed all of God’s laws, including the law of eternal marriage, he obtained exaltation—including the promise that his family and posterity would continue forever (see verses 29–30).
Testify that as we “do the works of Abraham” (D&C 132:32) by entering into and abiding by the new and everlasting covenant, we too will receive the blessings of exaltation and eternal families. Invite students to prayerfully seek to act on the truths identified in today’s lesson.