Are We Living the Lesser Priesthood Like the People of Moses?

In the days of Moses, the people rejected the higher law that would allow them to ‘behold the face of God’.  Why didn’t they want it?  I guess because with great blessings come great sacrifices.

“Therefore, he took Moses out of their midst, and the Holy Priesthood also;

And the lesser priesthood continued, which priesthood holdeth the key of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel;

Which gospel is the gospel of repentance and of baptism, and the remission of sins, and the law of eternal commandments…”  ~D&C 84:25-27

So what is the higher priesthood that they rejected?  It is the Abrahamic Covenant that they rejected (also known as the higher priesthood).  And what is the Abrahamic Covenant?  It is Celestial Marriage, with which, came the assurance that 1) Christ would come through Abraham’s lineage (another topic for another time for how this blessing applies to us as inheritors of Abraham’s blessing…whoa!), and 2) Abraham’s posterity would receive certain lands as their inheritance.

There seems to be confusion in our day regarding the term “Celestial Marriage”.  In our day, a Celestial Marriage is simply one man and one woman being sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise for time and all eternity.  But the works of Abraham include multiple wives, which equated to multiple increase, and this increase is the context in which this covenant and blessing are offered.  In the days of Joseph Smith, particularly referenced in the Doctrine and Covenants Section 132, Celestial Marriage included multiple wives.

So can we deduce that it was Celestial Marriage that the people in the days of Moses rejected?  And if so, why did they?  Why would they if it was merely the marriage of one man and one woman?  How is that hard to accept?  Or have we changed the definition of Celestial Marriage to fit our times?  And are we as the Church today, accepting and living only the lesser law as the people in the days of Moses?

“…give diligent heed to the words of eternal life. 44 For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.”  ~D&C 84: 43-44

Follow up with:

“Go ye, therefore, and do the works of Abraham; enter ye into my law and ye shall be saved.”  ~D&C 132: 32

The verse is immediately followed by defining Abraham’s works…

“God commanded Abraham, and Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to wife.  And why did she do it?  Because this was the law; and from Hagar sprang many people.  This, therefore, was fulfilling, among other things, the promise.”  verse 34

“Abraham received concubines, and they bore him children and it was accounted unto him for righteousness, because they were given unto him, and he abode in my law; as Isaac also and Jacob did none other things than that which they were commanded ; and because they did none other things than that which they were commanded, they have entered into their exaltation, according to the promises, and sit upon thrones, and are not angels but are gods.”  verse 37

It goes on to talk about David’s, Solomon’s, and Moses’ wives and concubines, and many of his other servants from the beginning of creation.  And then, he follows that up with…

“I am the Lord thy God, and I gave unto thee, my servant Joseph, an appointment, and restore all things.”  verse 40

Then the Lord follows up with instruction about when and when it isn’t adultery, and then finally in verse 45 reiterates that he has conferred upon Joseph “the keys and power of the priesthood, wherein I restore all things, and make known unto you all things in due time.”

Now if the Celestial Marriage that was being restored were only the sealing of one man and one woman, why would the Lord go into the big oration about the multiple wives and concubines (marriages for time only?) of the ancient prophets, and into the rules surrounding taking multiple wives?

D&C 132: 61 also brings us back to the idea that the [higher] priesthood has to do with plural marriage: “as pertaining to the law of the priesthood – if a man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another…”  More rules surrounding taking multiple wives being part of the higher priesthood and the Lord’s law (“for I will magnify my name upon all those who receive and abide in my law.”)

The question begs… are we to be living the law of Plural Marriage?  If not, how can we justify it?  Since when does the Lord revoke everlasting covenants?  Surely he commands and revokes, we have examples of that… but of everlasting covenants?  I don’t know.  And was the Manifesto signed by Wilford Woodruff to stop plural marriage a revelation or was it an act of buckling under extreme pressure from, and to satisfy, the State (I don’t ever see a “thus saith the Lord”)?  If not the latter, how to explain the many plural marriage sealings after the Manifesto for years to come?  Not to mention the 1886 revelation to John Taylor about the continuation of plural marriages…

Lot’s of studying to do.

If anyone is reading this, I am open for some dialogue.  My only agenda is to learn… not to be right.  I don’t want to be right, in fact.  Please leave your comments/thoughts below.


  1. Your question on Celestial or Marriage or Polygyny seems to be based on the premise that everything in the Bible, and ancient prophets etc. as passed down over centuries and subsequently written is the will of God, period. When I examine my own relationship with deity which I admit is not nearly as direct as some people seem to claim, I am not sure how we ever filter our relationship with God from the culture and context where we are positioned in society. I believe that things like Plural Marriage were instituted because of the influence of Patriarchy in some cultures; of a group of people led by men who believe that Men are appointed by God to have power over women and that polygyny is the natural extension of that power.

    While polygyny may have existed in benign forms in the past, I think it is always based on the subjugation of women by men, and for that reason it is morally and ethically wrong. God didn’t stop it because God does not stop us from doing anything we want to do because of our agency, at least that is not my experience. While I think your question of whether we have been true to how Celestial Marriage was laid out, is doctrinally correct, I find the practice morally repugnant and misogynistic. That being said, I think it should be legal because it will stop the abusive practices and power that FLDS leaders hold over their people because of the illegality of the practice and will bring people who abuse their authority out of the shadows.

  2. When I say doctrinally correct, I mean by conventional Mormon understanding of the practice, not because I personally believe or support the practice.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *