Many LDS Church members don’t know about its first official statement on the subject of marriage. With all of the current brouhaha over what constitutes a marriage, I thought it would be fun to acquaint you with this piece of history.

On August 17, 1835, Priesthood and members assembled in Kirtland, Ohio to vote on canonizing the (new) Book of Doctrine and Covenants. The minutes of this assembly are in the introduction of the RLDS (CofC) Doctrine and Covenants (D&C) 1970 edition. Paragraph 13 reads President W.W. Phelps then read an article on Marriage, which was accepted and adopted and ordered to be printed in said book, by a unanimous vote. The Article on Marriage (AOM) is Section 111 of the RLDS D&C. Here are some of the highlights (IMO), the paragraph references, and how the LDS/RLDS currently compare to it.

1b. ….all marriages in this Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints should be solemnized in a public meeting, or feast, prepared for that purpose. RLDS marriages follow this instruction. LDS marriages outside the Temple are certainly public; Temple marriages/sealings are somewhat in-between public and private.

1c……the solemnization should be performed by a presiding high priest, high priest, bishop, elder, or priest….. The RLDS are still good with this. The LDS officiator is either a Temple President or the Ward Bishop, unless I’m mistaken. I wish Fathers could perform the marriage of their children in the Ward, just like their baptisms/ordinations.

1d. We believe that it is not right to prohibit members of this church from marrying out of the church, if it be their determination to so do, but such persons will be considered weak in the faith of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Some might find validity in this statement, but I never knew any RLDS who agreed, myself included. We knew too many spouses who became members in due time.

2b. “You both mutually agree to be each other’s companion, husband and wife, observing the legal rights belonging to this condition; that is, keeping yourselves wholly for each other, and from all others, during your lives?”

2d. “May God add his blessings and keep you to fulfill your covenants from henceforth and for ever. Amen.”

Although the remarks and vows of an RLDS wedding can vary, every one that I witnessed included these two statements, and they were recited verbatim. I don’t know if anyone got in trouble for omitting them. Now, with the CofC performing same-sex marriages, the wording will definitely have to change.

And now, the BIGGIE

4b. Inasmuch as this Church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy, we declare that we believe that one man should have one wife; and one woman but one husband, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again. This was always the “ace in the hole” for the RLDS to refute polygamy. But I wondered “if polygamy originated under the leadership of Brigham Young and not Joseph Smith (as the RLDS claimed) why did it have to be addressed in 1835? I understand that the CofC no longer makes that claim, and polygamists in foreign nations are permitted membership without change in marital status.

Of course, once the LDS church printed the revelation on eternal marriage, the 1835 article was discarded. Three main arguments were made against it.

It was not a Revelation. Neither was the article on governments and laws in general, which was presented/adopted at the same assembly; now found as LDS section 134 and RLDS section 112.

Joseph Smith was absent when it was presented (minutes; para. 4b) Oliver Cowdery is accused of being the author of the AOM, but I find it hard to believe that he could “sneak” it in for the assembly to consider/vote without the Prophet’s knowledge.

It was replaced by section 132. This is the most plausible point. Priesthood structure and purposes of the Temple both went through expansions.

If you get a chance, read the AOM in its entirety, and consider these questions:

Are there parts of this document you wish the LDS had retained?

Was it inspired, or just an attempt to lessen suspicions/hostilities of non-LDS?

What would you have added or deleted?