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John Taylor’s 1886 Revelation on Celestial Marriage

As the nineteenth century was coming to a close, the United States government was putting more and more pressure on the Mormon Church to stop the practice of plural marriage. Several Mormon leaders brazenly defied federal intervention into what they believed was a divine doctrine, and several went to prison for their convictions.

While many Mormons today can easily claim that defiant statements from LDS leaders vowing never to abandon this practice was nothing more than zealous rhetoric, there is one often overlooked revelation insisting that such a practice would never be rescinded. This revelation, given by then- President John Taylor on September 27, 1886, was in response to a question his son had regarding celestial marriage. Taylor prefaces his remarks with the typical “Thus saith the Lord,” and while he notes that his God can revoke a commandment, he made it clear that the doctrine of celestial marriage is not one of them. He insists that this teaching “cannot be abrogated” but “will stand forever.” Taylor is resolute in his belief that his God has not revoked this law nor will he. The revelation states:

  1. My son, John: You have asked me concerning the New and Everlasting Covenant and how far it is binding upon my people.
  2. Thus saith the Lord All commandments that I give must be obeyed by those calling themselves by my name unless they are revoked by me or by authority and how can I revoke an everlasting covenant
  3. For I the Lord am everlasting and my everlasting covenants cannot be abrogated nor done away with; but they stand forever.
  4. Have I not given my word in great plainness on this subject?
  5. Yet have not great numbers of my people been negligent in the observance of my law and the keeping of my commandment, and yet have I borne with them these many years and this because of their weakness because of the perilous times. And furthermore it is more pleasing to me that men should use their free agency in regard to these matters.
  6. Nevertheless I the Lord do not change and my word and my covenants and my law do not.
  7. And as I have heretofore said by my servant Joseph all those who would enter into my glory must and shall obey my law
  8. And have I not commanded men that if they were Abraham’s seed and would enter into my glory they must do the works of Abraham.
  9. I have not revoked this law nor will I for it is everlasting and those who will enter into my glory must obey the conditions thereof, even so, Amen

John Taylor died in July of 1887 and was succeeded by Wilford Woodruff. In 1890 Woodruff capitulated and signed what is known as the Manifesto. This document, also known as Declaration One, officially abolished the practice of plural marriage, thus proving Taylor’s revelation to be false.

[This revelation can be found in Fred Collier’s Unpublished Revelations of the Prophets and Presidents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, volume 1, pp 145-146]

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