We have all heard the doctrine- Those who do not achieve Eternal Marriage will be damned! This doctrine comes from the 132nd section of the Doctrine and Covenants. Is there a mystery here, and more importantly, do we understand what damnation really means? This post will set out to define what damnation is and the mystery of D&C 132.
In general Christianity to be damned means to be condemned, especially to hell. In LDS terms it can also mean to be stopped, limited, or slowed in ones progress by not being eternally married and sealed by the Holy spirit of promise. I believe that because D&C 132 has been misinterpreted in commentary on the definition of the word damned, that we have created a false doctrine in the gospel of Christ. Let us start in verse 3 of that section.
3 Therefore, prepare thy heart to receive and obey the instructions which I am about to give unto you; for all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same.
(Doctrine and Covenants Section 132:3)
The key to this verse is the timing, It speaks generally of Eternal marriage but also towards Plural marriage. Joseph and Emma had this law revealed to them already- this is the main context to the meaning. It specifically means those who have already entered into the covenant or those who were worthy and about to enter into the covenat of eternal marriage. The command to obey in this context though entails that the parties the Lord is referring to (Joseph and Emma specifically), have already entered into the covenant and this is just a refresher of how God's laws work. This is detailed further in verse 4, it reads-
4 For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.
(Doctrine and Covenants Section 132:4)
This verse is where we read into the scriptures the wrong definition. Upon just a quick reading and passing over, it appears that those who know about eternal marriage, but then decide not to partake of it are damned- kind of like a refusal to either get married eternally or even get married at all. This is where we have erred! The key to this verse is the term "abide not". This means that one must have already entered into the covenant of eternal marriage. It is impossible to not abide by a covenant that one has not first entered into. The dictionary definition states that to "abide by" means to "remain steadfast or faithful to". This fits in with what is being explained. If one is to remain "faithful" to a covenant, he first has to enter into it under divine law & under the right authority.
Let us apply this law to the covenants we make at baptism. For someone who has not yet entered into the waters of baptism and made those covenants, he cannot be held accountable before God for not abiding that covenant. But once he agrees and makes the covenant and is baptised, he must abide the covenant he made or face possible condemnation/ damnation. Verses 5 & 6 finally show the mystery to the true meaning, they read-
5 For all who will have a blessing at my hands shall abide the law which was appointed for that blessing, and the conditions thereof, as were instituted from before the foundation of the world.
6 And as pertaining to the new and everlasting covenant, it was instituted for the fulness of my glory; and he that receiveth a fulness thereof must and shall abide the law, or he shall be damned, saith the Lord God.
(Doctrine and Covenants Section 132:5 - 6)
Verse 5 parallels D&C 130:20-21 Where the Lord informs us with the logic that blessings only come after obedience to law. Obedience to law requires covenants to be made and already in place to even be under law. The fulness of glory is the "blessing". For one to receive this blessing he must "abide the law" first. If he receives the blessing and then breaks his covenants of that law- he will be damned. This means that he will be delivered up to the devil. All laws of God work in this fashion. If we reject covenants after we have entered into them in full knowledge and do not repent in mortality, then there is no choice but for God to remove the blessing either temporarily or permanently and deliver us over to the buffetings of Satan. This is the state of the "damned" in spirit prison.
To prove that this is what damned means in this section let us read in verses 26-27, they read-
26 Verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man marry a wife according to my word, and they are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, according to mine appointment, and he or she shall commit any sin or transgression of the new and everlasting covenant whatever, and all manner of blasphemies, and if they commit no murder wherein they shed innocent blood, yet they shall come forth in the first resurrection, and enter into their exaltation; but 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.
27 The blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, which shall not be forgiven in the world nor out of the world, is in that ye commit murder wherein ye shed innocent blood, and assent unto my death, after ye have received my new and everlasting covenant, saith the Lord God; and he that abideth not this law can in nowise enter into my glory, but shall be damned, saith the Lord.
(Doctrine and Covenants Section 132:26 - 27)
Here we confirm that the word "damned" means to be delivered up to the devil in hell either temporarily or permanently. It stands to reason that if this section is viewed in this light, our definition of damned/ damnation fits in with all other scriptures capturing this word with either being saved in God's kingdom or damned to hell which in other words mean that all will receive either eternal salvation in God's kindom or eternal damnation in Satan's kingdom. If our doctrine is the true doctrine, which I for one believe it is, then this redefining of damnation in this section of the D&C should bring harmony with other revealed works such as the New Testament and the Book of Mormon. If this is true then everything should cross check itself. Let us read where "damned souls" dwell From the Book of Mormon-
4 Behold, I say unto you that ye would be more miserable to dwell with a holy and just God, under a consciousness of your filthiness before him, than ye would to dwell with the damned souls in hell.
(Book of Mormon Mormon 9:4)
Damned people dwell in hell according to the Book of Mormon. What does the New Testament say about where the damned are? Let us read-
33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
(New Testament Matthew 23:33)
According to both the New Testament and the Book of Mormon, the spirits/ souls who are in hell are damned, or in speaking of their state- they are in a state of damnation. If God allows damned souls to dwell safely in his kingdom, then how come there is no mention of it in the scriptures? The closest scriptures that speak of this theory is in section 132. But under scrutiny, the truth is revealed that the damnation spoken of in this section truly means- to be delivered unto Satan in hell/ spirit prison.
So who will be damned at the final judgment? Only the sons of perdition. All the rest, including those who paid their penalty in spirit prison and have come under the laws of the gospel through obedience, will not be in any state of damnation. Neither will they carry a mark of being damned in eternity! These souls are free, God had made them free. They will not rest under a penalty of law, they will not be subject to condemnation, yea, they are the fruits of Christ's atonement and will enjoy all the blessings they wish as they proceed and progress onward and upwrd forever!