If you wish to contact me for any purpose or would like to ask any questions, I can be contacted through these various ways:

Email: barryjustinhobert@gmail.com

Facebook: 'Things As They Really Are' Facebook Page

Facebook Messenger

Twitter: @Thingsastheyrea


Line Upon Line: Adoption Sealings, Polygamy, and Further Light and Knowledge

I recently wrote a post on the topic of polygamy and how it was not necessary for exaltation. This article also tackled some myths that are perpetuated often when speaking of the practice. It can be found here. This caused some backlash from some individuals. Therefore, I wish to point out that this article is NOT a response to them. It is something I planned on writing beforehand in order to show the beauty of how revelation has worked in this dispensation. This is a very brief and watered down history of how our understandings of temple sealings have evolved.

"For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have." (2 Nephi 28:30)
The following is a very quick summary. More information on the topic can be found in the readings at the bottom.

For some time, there was a practice in our temple ordinances that would have been very foreign to us today. From Nauvoo until 1894 there was a 'Law of Adoption' in which men, women, and children were counseled to be sealed to living or dead priesthood leaders whom they knew had been true and faithful to their covenants. The reasoning for this was that it was unknown if those who had not been true and faithful, were not members of the Church, or had never received their temple ordinances would accept the gospel in the spirit world.

Therefore, the practice was to be sealed to 'sure' priesthood lines. This caused concern for many. Men like Heber C. Kimball, John Taylor, Brigham Young, and Wilford Woodruff all have recorded statements saying they didn't quite understand the practice, but they were doing the best they knew how until more revelation would be given. For example, Wilford Woodruff commented once about how he hated to see broken-hearted women who could not be sealed to their husbands due to the practice.

After President Woodruff received the revelation to cease the practice of plural marriage in 1890, a lot of unanswered questions come to his mind and others. As a result, President Woodruff received many revelations regarding how we should perform and understand various temple ordinances and doctrines. The most impactful one was his revelation about how to move forward with the 'Law of Adoption'.

I will let President Woodruff speak for himself in this lengthy quote:

"We have not fully carried out those principles in fulfillment of the revelations of God to us, in sealing the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers. I have not felt satisfied, neither did President Taylor, neither has any man since the Prophet Joseph who has attended to the ordinance of adoption in the temples of our God.  We have felt that there was more to be revealed upon this subject than we had received... I have prayed over this matter, and my brethren have. We have felt, as President Taylor said, that we have got to have more revelation concerning sealing under the law of adoption. Well, what are these changes? One of them is the principle of adoption. In the commencement of adopting men and women in the Temple at Nauvoo, a great many persons were adopted to different men who were not of the lineage of their fathers, and there was a spirit manifested by some in that work that was not of God... President Young was not satisfied in his mind with regard to the extent of this matter;  President Taylor was not.  
When I went before the Lord to know who I should be adopted to (we were then being adopted to prophets and apostles), the Spirit of God said to me, “Have you not a father, who begot you?”  “Yes, I have.”  “Then why not honor him?  Why not be adopted to him?”  “Yes,” says I, “that is right.”  I was adopted to my father, and should have had my father sealed to his father, and so on back; and the duty that I want every man who presides over a temple to see performed from this day henceforth and forever, unless the Lord Almighty commands otherwise, is, let every man be adopted to his father. When a man receives the endowments, adopt him to his father; not to Wilford Woodruff, nor to any other man outside the lineage of his fathers. That is the will of God to this people. I want all men who preside over these temples in these mountains of Israel to bear this in mind. What business have I to take away the rights of the lineage of any man? What right has any man to do this? No; I say let every man be adopted to his father, and then you will do exactly what God said when he declared he would send Elijah the prophet in the last days. Elijah the prophet appeared unto Joseph Smith and told him that the day had come when this principle must be carried out. Joseph Smith did not live long enough to enter any further upon these things. His soul was wound up with this work before he was martyred for the word of God and testimony of Jesus Christ. He told us that there must be a welding link of all dispensations and of the work of God from one generation to another. This was upon his mind more than most any other subject that was given to him." (1)
 Interestingly, after having received and implemented this revelation President Woodruff commented:

"Many a woman's heart has ached because of this, and as a servant of God I have broken the chain." ("Discourse by President Wilford Woodruff", Millennial Star, 56:22, May 28, 1894, p. 339)
In the spirit of reverent speculation, is it possible that this understanding of more familial sealings could have been revealed to a people so attached to their notions of 'plural marriage'? It is my opinion if this were revealed before, it would have caused much more confusion than it already had. Imagine the prophet saying to women that it is okay to be sealed to your deceased non-member husband while at the same time promoting the practice of adoption/plural marriage.

I admit that the Law of Adoption and Plural Marriage were not the same practice, but it is hard to historically deny that they were very closely interwoven. For me, this is not to suggest that polygamy is a celestial institution or not. This is not to suggest that the practice cannot return. But it does show how sometimes people must be stripped of their traditions in order for more light and knowledge to be given.

It is hard but beautiful to contemplate. For the first 50+ years of practicing the temple ordinances in our temples, such a radical change in understanding could take place. I wonder if we will have to go through similar growing pains:
“One by one, our best efforts as individuals will be required to correct errors that have crept in through the years.” - President Nelson (2)
 Book Recommendations


Popular Posts