Thursday, April 8, 2010
D & C 132, part 3
Further on Section 132:
Joseph taught that we can't expect to achieve the same glory as the ancients if we do not make a similar sacrifice as they did. It's all in Lecture 6 of the Lectures on Faith. I've quoted that stuff in several books and won't repeat it here. If you don't have a copy you should get one. And read it.
Anyway, it is quite important to note the necessity of sacrifice to produce the kind of faith which saves. Joseph's explanation required us to sacrifice all things to be able to lay hold on saving faith. Without the knowledge that we would give up everything, even our own lives if necessary, we cannot receive eternal life. We have to trade this life for the next. No trade, no exaltation.
So when a man or woman reaches the point where she/he can be tested, the Lord will supply a test to them to prove (to themselves) that they will sacrifice all things. [The Lord already knows, but we don't. And it is OUR faith which is required to be tested.]
For most women, they make this kind of sacrifice when they marry. They literally "give up their lives" and become a wife. Even to the point they surrender their prior name and become known by a new name and begin a new life. The sacrifice for them is completed in childbirth, where they risk their life and then shed their blood to bring a new person into the world. For women, therefore, this estate provides a ready-made opportunity for the development of this faith. For men that is much different. That is why we produce so few men worthy of preservation into the next life in an exalted state.
Joseph Smith succeeded in receiving his calling and election. His promise of eternal life appears within Section 132. That is no accident. If the revelation is a series of communications, beginning in either 1829 or 1831, and continue through nearly the time of the recording in 1843, all of which are on the same subject, then they are all interrelated.
Joseph's sealing authority is confirmed in verse 46 and his calling and election is confirmed in verse 49. This would have been after Joseph had received the beginning of Section 132 and had actually begun to live it. Meaning that Joseph was doing what he was commanded to do, and that in so doing he was sacrificing everything. Even his own life was being sacrificed. He was developing the faith necessary to know he would surrender everything to God by this principle. Later, when he would go to Carthage and die, it was not as difficult for him to do because he had earlier lived a principle which proved to him that he would obey God at all costs. Death under such circumstances was not a test, merely a confirmation of what Joseph already knew.
Plural marriage was so difficult for Joseph that it was THE means by which he advanced in faith to the point he knew he would surrender all things to God. It was the key to his exaltation. Not because plural wives are needed, but because of the difficult sacrifice this practice imposed upon him.
Now if that were true for Joseph, then we should not think the practice of plural marriage, with all its difficulty and sacrifice, something desirable to undertake. Nor should we be fooled into thinking that Joseph wanted or welcomed it. The revelation belies this notion.
Therefore I take it as a given that plural marriage was introduced as a test. Not as a reward or as a holiday for Joseph Smith and his close associates. It was a difficult, trying ordeal.
Now there's more to be said, so I'll add another post at some point on this as well.