Groundbreaking scriptural heading changes: Section 132 and Official Declaration 1

Another important* (enough to make its own post instead of just comment in my previous posts on the announcement or OD 2) change is the addition of the OD 1 Introduction and the changes to the heading of Section 132.

Again, nothing was written in way of introduction to OD 1 before. And the introduction now reads: “The Bible and the Book of Mormon teach that monogamy is God’s standard for marriage unless He declares otherwise (see 2 Samuel 12:7-8 and Jacob 2:27, 30). Following a revelation to Joseph Smith, the practice of plural marriage was instituted among Church members in the early 1840s (see section 132). From the 1860s to the 1880s, the United States government passed laws to make this religious practice illegal. These laws were eventually upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. After receiving revelation, President Wilford Woodruff issued the following Manifesto, which was accepted by the Church as authoritative and binding on October 6, 1890. This led to the end of the practice of plural marriage in the Church.”

In regards to Section 132 the heading used to read:

“Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Nauvoo, Illinois, recorded 12 July 1843, relating to the new and everlasting covenant, including the eternity of the marriage covenant, and also the plurality of wives (see History of the Church, 5:501–7). Although the revelation was recorded in 1843, it is evident from the historical records that the doctrines and principles involved in this revelation had been known by the Prophet since 1831.”

Now it reads “Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Nauvoo, Illinois, recorded July 12, 1843, relating to the new and everlasting covenant, including the eternity of the marriage covenant and the principle of plural marriage. Although the revelation was recorded in 1843, evidence indicated that some of the principles involved in this revelation were known by the Prophet as early as 1831. See Official Declaration 1.”


See? Fascinating!

*Important takes on so many meanings with this much change. See, as a great example. Ben P.’s post on “one of the more seemingly mundane changes, but perhaps the most frequent, concerns the reference’s to Joseph Smith’s history.” Mundane perhaps, but so important.


  1. Wow. What do you think? Clarification? A step back? (I do muchly prefer “the principle of plural marriage” to “the plurality of wives”. It just sounds so much less…uh…creepy?).

  2. What you have as it used to read and what it now reads is almost the same isn’t it?

  3. The former implies that JS had a full Mormon theology by 1831, whereas the latter suggests he didn’t, for one thing.

  4. #2, ctw,
    i don’t think they’re the same. whilst the former indicates strictly polygamy, the latter takes into consideration items such as polyandry (i think!).

  5. Yeah, plural wives doesn’t include all the many women who had plural husbands.

  6. Have Mormon’s ever practiced polyandry?

  7. #5 Where can I read about polyandry in Mormonism?

  8. #7, I first came across it in Tod Compton’s book, In Sacred Loneliness.
    I can’t say it was a general phenomenon with “mormonism” though (just something associated with Joseph Smith).
    All those aside, i just love these changes, its sincerity, etc…

  9. And this: “After receiving revelation, President Wilford Woodruff issued the following Manifesto, . . .” suggesting that the Manifesto itself was not the revelation, but only a public statement.

  10. David M. Morris says:

    Can someone clarify for me, when “Joseph Smith’s history states” — which history are we referring to, is it HC, DHC, JSP, etc.?

  11. Admitting that Wilford Woodruff did have a revelation, many a historian will find hard to accept several passages in this new heading. Sure enough, the scriptures are not history books but the emphasis put on providing specific dates would make you think that they would have avoided writing “This led to the end of the practice of plural marriage in the Church.” It may have put an “end to the practice of plural marriage [FOR] the Church”, it may have USHERED IN the end of the practice, but plural marriages IN the Church did not stop in 1890. Anyone familiar with “The Second Manifesto” in 1904?

  12. #11, It might be because English isn’t my native language, but I read that differently. Doesn’t leading to mean a process? It didn’t end it, but led to its end. I thought that ‘lead to’ is pretty much the same as ‘ushered in’. Am I mistaken here?

  13. Niklas, I read it as you did.

  14. Niklas, I agree with you. English is my native language and I’m also an editor. “Led to” in this case would be equivalent to “ushered in” or “began the process of.”

    I think these are good changes – focusing more on historical accuracy and nuance rather than lds tradition or folklore – and move the church and our understanding of its history in the right direction. Kudos to the brethren for instituting the new edition and including the historical research of the Joseph Smith Papers project in that effort. I think it’s a great step forward.

  15. Niklas, that is exactly what “led to” means. The wording is correct, as stated.

    I like the changes – a lot.

  16. Kevin Barney says:

    “led to” seems to me a very intentional, nuanced (and restrained) acknowledgement that the actual cessation was a process and that authorized polygamy didn’t stop on a dime.

  17. Completely agree with Kevin.

  18. Don’t forget the heading to Jacob 2, changed from “Jacob condemns the unauthorized practice of plural marriage” to “The Lord commands that no man among the Nephites may have more than one wife.”

    This is huge, especially considering that in the 1920 edition, the heading said quite inexplicably that the Nephites were forbidden from practicing polygamy *because they were wicked*.

  19. The Other Clark says:

    Fascinating changes. I think the revisers did an excellent job of being concise (cramming a tremendous amount of meaning into a few short phrases.) The big differences I see are:
    1) Joseph didn’t know all the doctrine in 1831, only some of it. (Is this an admission that JS made mistakes in how polygamy was initially introduced.
    2) plural marriage is a more accurate term for what occurred than “plurality of wives”
    3) The Manifesto is not a revelation, but was written in response to inspiration
    4) The manifesto was not adopted unanimously
    5) The Manifesto didn’t end polygamy in the Church, but was only the beginning of the end
    6) The Manifesto did not end polygamy outside the Church. (which implies it continues to this day, which it does.)
    7) It also attempts to explain why the revelation came. (Tying it to the Reynolds case, the last legal recourse)
    8) And harmonize it with Article of Faith #12 about being subject to government.

    That’s alot of ground to cover in just a few sentences. I say “hurray for change”

  20. As far as the officialization of the Church’s teachings on marriage goes, I was always told by seminary teachers to “glue in” the Proclamation on the Family as OD number 3, assured that it was up and coming that it be canonized. Oh, seminary teachers and their spurious teachings…But it seems there is still some lingering questions on the doctrine of the family that have not fully been resolved, as much as we like to think that things are clear cut and well defined in the Church. It is nice to see at least a rhetorical admission in these changes that we don’t have all the answers yet.

  21. @ All (and in particular to those who may have read my previous comment, #11) : Yes, I should have read more carefully. “LED TO” is perfectly right.
    I erred. But that doesn’t have anything to with my mastery of a language foreign to me. Personally, I’d avoid personal attacks on people I don’t know and whose intent cannot fully be understood base on a brief comment. I misread the quote and confused it with something else that I had in mind posted by a French LDS apologist who maintains that polygamy stopped in 1890. Hence my tirade and rhetorical question on a second manifesto… I admit that I was off track: there was no intent on my part to “nitpik” or find a quarrel where there is not. And, honestly, questioning my reading of the text is (and would have been, for some) much more productive than passing a judgment on me or my reading abilities. Wait, what am I complaining about? Blogging on Mormonism for over 5 years should have taught me to take things less personally. Or do I take some remarks personally because I’ve been teaching that foreign language of Shakespeare for over 7 years? Nobody’s perfect. Nice to meet you!

  22. Rachael says:

    I find it particularly significant that the intro to OD 1 states that “God’s standard for marriage” is *monogamy*, and that it continually referring to polygamy as a “practice” rather than a “principle.” Perhaps I’m overly optimistic, but I’ll take this as sufficient grounds for now to officially dismiss anyone’s attempt to argue polygamy as a “celestial principle” or heavenly norm.

  23. Duke of Earl Grey says:

    The reference to 2 Samuel 12:7-8 seems unhelpful to me. It least, it says nothing at all as to “monogamy is God’s standard for marriage unless He declares otherwise”. All it says regarding polygamy is that the Lord “gave” David the wives of Saul to be his. Why the church wants to draw attention to a verse that treats women as property to be given is beyond me.

  24. #21 – Carter, I apologize for the use of “nitpick” in the other thread. Thank you for your last comment.

  25. It seems significant that the intro to OD1 reads: “the practice of plural marriage was INSTITUTED among Church members in the early 1840s”–What about Fanny Alger? (and others) closer to the 1831 date when “some of the principles” were introduced? (see heading of 132). Can we assume then that plural-marriage-TYPE realationships existed before plural marriage was instituted in 1844?

    (I realize some assume this revelation was given in 1831 but not written down until 1844–and that would void my question if true-What is the current thought as to when this revelation was actually revealed?)

    Am I reading too much into that? Does that leave room for Joseph to be vulnerable in those early relationships doing the best he knew how to live “some of the priciples?” Oliver surely didn’t like Joseph’s interpretation of living “some of the principles”. Maybe we need to cut Oliver some slack here…and also the prophet!

  26. #23 I too find it interesting that the new heading would reference Saul’s harem as something God would deem fit to give a new prophet-king.

  27. #23 & #26 – Whether or not God was involved, in that culture, it is an accurate statement of what happened and how the issue was viewed.

    More importantly, David wasn’t the prophet; he was the king. Samuel was the prophet. That is an important point in a discussion like this.

  28. Rachael — regarding polygamy in heaven. How do you then explain the hundreds of examples of men being allowed to be sealed to a new wife after the death of a first wife? The answer is: you have to accept that polygamy will be allowed in heaven, or you have to assert that the church really doesn’t have the authority to promise these 2nd marriages will be for eternity. The whole thing is a mess, IMO — and is still not totally explained officially. It’s called “wiggle room” to change and adjust doctrine at will.

  29. I don’t want the faintest whiff of Polygamy to follow me when I again meet my eternal companion !!!!

  30. Well the LDS edition of the standard works pre 1980’s had also significant changes . Which in some parts of D & C were removed , with some cryptic names Joseph Smith used . The Changes to the Book of Mormon from the 1979 edition to the 2013 editions are vary greatly .

  31. erratum ‘…indicates…’

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