“If a man commit adultery, he cannot receive the celestial kingdom of God. Even if he is saved in any kingdom, it cannot be the celestial kingdom” (HC 6:81)
We also heard him [Joseph Smith] say that God had revealed unto him that any man who ever committed adultery in either of his probations that that man could never be raised to the highest exaltation in the Celestial Glory and that he felt anxious with regard to himself and he inquired of the Lord and the Lord told him that he, Joseph, had never committed adultery. This saying of the Prophet astonished me very much. It opened up to me a very wide field of reflection. The idea that we had passed through probation prior to this and that we must have been married and given in marriage in those probations or there would be no propriety in making such an assertion and that there were several exaltations in the Celestial Kingdom of our God, the highest we supposed to be the Godhead and we conclude that there are several grades of exaltations in servants to the Gods. Be this as it may, this is what he said. We will know the truth of the matter some day. 1
The laws of heaven must not be violated. We must keep sacred the holy covenants we have entered into. I will here relate a circumstance that came under my notice a short time ago, which will serve to show the terrible consequences following a violation of the law of God.
A certain Bishop wrote to me to know what should be done in the following case: A man had been away from home on a mission, and during his absence his wife had committed adultery. I replied that the woman would have to be severed from the Church; but requested that the aggrieved husband should call upon me. He did so, bringing with him his delinquent wife and three beautiful little boys—three as beautiful little boys as I ever saw. He also brought with him the villain who had done the damage. But I told him to take him away, I would have no communication with such a contemptible wretch. The husband explained that he wished to talk with me in the presence of his wife, if it was agreeable. He wanted to know what was to be done in the case. I told him I should be under the necessity of confirming the Bishop’s decision in the case, but I will have read to you what the law says upon the subject. George Reynolds, who is one of my secretaries, was present, and I asked him to read certain portions of the revelation on celestial marriage; for they had been married according to that order. That revelation states that, “If a man receiveth a wife in the new and everlasting covenant, and if she be with another man, and I have not appointed unto her by the holy anointing, she hath committed adultery and shall be destroyed.” And in another place it says, “they shall be destroyed in the flesh, and shall be delivered unto the buffetings of Satan unto the day of redemption, saith the Lord God.” Now, said I, I did not make that law. I find it in the word of God. It is not my province to change it. I cannot make any change. I am sorry for these little children. I am sorry for the shame and infamy that has been brought upon them; but I cannot reverse the law of God. I did not commit this crime; I am not responsible for it; I cannot take upon myself the responsibility of other peoples’ acts. Well, it made my heart ache. The husband wept like a child, so did the woman; but I could not help that. I speak of this for the purpose of bringing up other things, and of presenting them before the people. And the principle I desire to impress upon their minds is, that we have no right, any of us, to violate the laws of God.2
Joseph F. Smith
The man and the woman who engage in this ordinance of matrimony are engaging in something that is of such far-reaching character, and is of such vast importance, that thereby hangs life and death, and eternal increase. Thereupon depends eternal happiness, or eternal misery. For this reason, God has guarded this sacred institution by the most severe penalties, and has declared that whosoever is untrue to the marriage relation, whosoever is guilty of adultery, shall be put to death. This is scriptural law, though it is not practiced today, because modern civilization does not recognize the laws of God in relation to moral status of mankind. The Lord commanded, “Whosoever sheddeth innocent blood, by man shall his blood be shed.” Thereby God has given the law. Life is an important thing. No one has any right to take life, unless God commanded it. The law of God as to violation of the marriage covenant is just as strict, and is on a parallel with law against murder notwithstanding the former is not carried out.3
George Q. Cannon
But O ye Presidents of Stakes and ye Bishops, you must be on the watchtower about these things, for God will hold you accountable. The sins of the people will be found upon your garments in the day of the Lord Jesus, if you do not cleanse impurity from the midst of your wards. If you recommend men who are unworthy, through tenderness of heart and through sympathy, when they are wicked, I say to you, in the name of Jesus Christ, that the condemnation of God will rest upon you, and He will hold you to a strict accountability. For God has not chosen men to preside without laying upon them responsibility of a very grave and weighty character. He holds us accountable for these things. When a man has a relative and he condones the offense of that relative, through sympathy, he will not be free from responsibility.
Now let it be known throughout all Israel, as the word of the Lord to us for the present, through His servant who stands at the head, that a man who commits adultery, a man who has had his endowments, cannot be baptized again into the Church. Let it be known throughout all Israel, as the word of God through His servant, who stands at the head, that a man who has had his endowments and commits whoredom, cannot now be received into the Church again. These must be cut off; because the law that was given in the early days of the Church concerning a man committing adultery once and being received back into the Church does not apply today. There has been a higher law since then, namely, the endowments, and men have taken upon themselves, and women also, sacred obligations in holy places. Therefore, hear it and understand it. Let it be given out in all the congregations of the Saints; let it be known everywhere throughout the land of Zion, so that if a man is tempted to do that deed, or a woman, that they will pause in view of the terrible consequences which await its commission—that they will pause and ask themselves the question—can I do this at the expense of my salvation and my exaltation in the presence of God? 4
In 1942 the First Presidency stated: “The doctrine of this Church is that sexual sin—the illicit sexual relations of men and women—stands, in its enormity, next to murder. The Lord has drawn no essential distinctions between fornication, adultery, and harlotry or prostitution. Each has fallen under His solemn and awful condemnation.”5
- Joseph Lee Robinson, Journal, LDS Church Archives, retrospective entry, without date.
- John Taylor, “The Work of God“, Journal of Discourses, vol. 24, pp. 227-235, 1883.
- Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 273
- George Q. Cannon, “Marvelous Growth of the Kingdom”, Journal of Discourses, vol. 25, pp. 318-328, October 5, 1884.
- Grant 758