This is part 11 of a series of posts on Doctrine and Covenants Section 132, Joseph Smith’s July 12, 1843 revelation on marriage. See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10. The followup post is here.
Verse 64 below again speaks to the dynamic between Joseph and Emma. The “destroyed” meme recurs. That Joseph is the male object here is clear, since he “holds the keys of this power” and only one at a time exists according to previous text in the revelation. Get on board Emma. That’s the major message.
64 And again, verily, verily, I say unto you, if any man have a wife, who holds the keys of this power, and he teaches unto her the law of my priesthood, as pertaining to these things, then shall she believe and administer unto him, or she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord your God; for I will destroy her; for I will magnify my name upon all those who receive and abide in my law.
65 Therefore, it shall be lawful in me, if she receive not this law, for him to receive all things whatsoever I, the Lord his God, will give unto him, because she did not believe and administer unto him according to my word; and she then becomes the transgressor; and he is exempt from the law of Sarah, who administered unto Abraham according to the law when I commanded Abraham to take Hagar to wife.
66 And now, as pertaining to this law, verily, verily, I say unto you, I will reveal more unto you, hereafter; therefore, let this suffice for the present. Behold, I am Alpha and Omega. Amen.
The necessity of consulting wife #one is stated (and called, somewhat ironically, the law of Sarah), but that is obviated here. It’s just that her opinion does not matter in the sense that the male partner still must, should, take more wives, if commanded to do so. Joseph is not giving up his other wives, and the “law of Sarah” (Sarah gives Abraham a wife) only works if Sarah is willing. If not, too bad for Sarah it seems. “she becomes the transgressor”. Emma evidently took this to heart, at some point, since by September 1843, Joseph seems to be back in her good graces. William Law’s tales at least, suggest that Emma believed the revelation and believed she was in jeopardy.
Keep in mind that Joseph had already married quite a number of his wives without consulting Emma. Perhaps this is the context for verse 58. Or, perhaps this is simply new regulation for Joseph, no more wives without telling Emma. Joseph’s wife-taking is certainly significantly curtailed after the revelation.
The importance of a textual authority for all of this cannot be overestimated, even if it remained essentially hidden for nine years. After 1852, anyone could appeal to the revelation, though it was not canonical until 1880. Later Utah practice doesn’t mention the “law of Sarah” explicitly, indeed, advice to prospective plural husbands suggests that Brigham was first of the list to see. Then the parents of the women, then the woman herself. (Turner, Brigham Young, 240.)
Next time: A summary, a philosophy, a bold new text: for the sake of Bill McLellin.
 Emphasis added. Again, the meaning of “the law” is polygamy, not eternal marriage. The revelation offers the possibility of those two meanings, mainly because it is a compound of texts, not a single text. A three hour dictation of the 66 verses suggests it was a struggle to put it all together, and I think once again, not really meant for public consumption.
 This “law of Sarah” builds on the Abraham story of Genesis, but while the reasons for Sarah’s delivery of her “handmaid” to Abraham are somewhat parallel to Joseph’s reasons for taking other wives, in fact the July 12 version of Sarah’s Rules don’t invite the (symbolic) “Sarah” to “cure” her infertility by giving another wife to her fertile husband. The July 12 version requires “Sarah” to give assent to her husband’s taking new wives to spread his seed far and wide (theoretically, at least) and rewrites Old Testament text in the process. The meaning of the law of Sarah in the revelation appears to be simply that wife “number one” assents to further marriages—or else. (No “law of Sarah” seems to apply to subsequent wives, in the sense that assent to the addition of other wives is not required of them.)
One may argue that the symbolic Sarahs “give” other wives to their husbands for procreation purposes–engineering a wider posterity in the earth–and coherently, the original Sarah in the Genesis story might engage this practice because she was unable to fulfill the Edenic imperative (although the story hints at a much broader cultural background). But in Joseph’s case, this turned-on-its-head law of Sarah didn’t effect his plurality much, unless one believes that the Partridge sisters became cast-offs because of this law somehow.
The Woodruff doctrine pushes off both sorts of Sarah-angst (can’t have children-must have children / must engage plurality-can’t engage plurality) into eternity for post-1894 Latter-day Saints, no matter which of the Mormon protologies are embraced.