|For six weeks in the summer of 2013, student scholars from all over the United States and from Europe met daily in the Maxwell Institute library to discuss and research the topic “Workings of the Spirit and Works of the Priesthood: Gifts and Ordinances in LDS Thought and Practice.” This seminar was hosted by the Maxwell Institute and directed by Terryl Givens. The Summer Seminar Working Papers 2013 are the result of the research done by the students and were presented at a BYU symposium on July 11, 2013.|
Web of Kin or Chain of Family?
Theological Implications of Early Mormon Sealings to 1894
Joseph Smith's conception of the human family was one of interconnectedness. From his plural wives (including some already married to other men) to the posthumous sealings to him (sons, nephews, etc.) his theology of family was vibrant, creating a network, a web of interrelatedness that would stretch into the eternities.
However, Joseph died before the theology of sealings could be wholly unfolded and implemented. It seems Brigham Young's introduction of the law of adoption—where couples are sealed to a priesthood leader as a father figure—may represent a fifty-year exploratory digression of the sealing powers. But it was in 1894 the clearer tradition of sealings reached the proper form understood in the Church today.
I use the term "tradition" in the Catholic sense. For Catholics, God bestowed a "deposit of faith" with the early Apostles. He will give no more, but the deposit is sufficient. The role of Roman Catholic magisterium, as it developed over time and as it is now articulated, is to tease out the implications of the deposit of faith and to preserve it against heresy. The LDS understanding of sealings follows at least the first of the two roles—teasing out implications. This metaphor does break down in some ways. We LDS have a view of continuing revelation that is inimical to the idea of a deposit of faith. But our view of revelation as a sense of "precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little and there a little" (Isaiah 28:10) can be seen as the development of the tradition. God does not reveal everything at once, and he allows us to work out the implications of what he has revealed instead of showing up with a complete Church Handbook of Instructions at every developmental juncture of the still-unfolding Church.
The purpose of this paper, then, is twofold. First, I will trace the development of the sealing rituals and their doctrinal understandings. In this I will be relying heavily on Jonathan Stapley and Sam Brown's excellent articles in the 2011 Journal of Mormon History. Then I will discuss the theological and practical implications of this development. Finally, I will argue that it is not until 1894, when President Woodruff abandoned the "law of adoption" that all of the pieces of the sealing tradition became fully integrated. In short, Brigham's "web" approach to sealings did not "turn the hearts of the children to the fathers," as the angel Moroni quoted to the boy prophet Joseph on their first encounter. Wilford Woodruff's "chain" approach gives a clearer understanding of the sealing ordinances, weaving together the disparate threads in the developing tradition of early Mormonism. This paper, then, is both historical theology, in that it traces historical developments in theology and ritual, and systematic theology, in that it argues which of those developments—namely Wilford Woodruff's—is the more complete understanding of what God's revelations had given the church.
II. Stage 1—Joseph's Polygamy and Polyandry
It's generally accepted that Fanny Alger was Joseph's first plural wife. The relationship was entered into in 1835, and ended very shortly thereafter. I only mention this because I find it intriguing that Joseph began polygamy before the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, and hence before Elijah returned to bestow the sealing keys on Joseph and Oliver (D&C 110:13-16). Perhaps sealings and polygamy are not as interrelated as is commonly assumed.
I mention this because the historical record indicates that during Joseph's lifetime the only kinds of sealings that were entered into were male-female couple sealings. A good example of this is John Bernhisel. On October 26, 1843, John was sealed to eleven women, all as wives.1 This doesn't seem unusual until you look closer and realize that the women being sealed to him as wives included his sister, a cousin, a second cousin, four of his aunts, and two close friends, all of whom were dead. Perhaps Joseph recognized that other kinds of sealings than husband-wife sealings were possible, but that the recorders, or perhaps Joseph Smith himself, didn't know what to call them. Perhaps they simply lacked the vocabulary for it. Still, male-female marriage sealings were the only kinds that people entered into in his lifetime.2
It's also important to note that the word "adoption" never occurs in Section 132. It doesn't occur in any of the documents collected in Anderson and Bergera's Joseph Smith's Quorum of the Anointed: 1842-1845 except one instance of John D. Lee being sealed to Brigham Young.3 Joseph Smith himself never clearly uses "adoption" in conjunction with the sealing powers.4 He does however use the term "welding link" between the generations (D&C 128:18) and said that the sealing power was to be used to bind the hearts of the children to the fathers.5 The following quote from Joseph is instructional:
If you have Power to Seal on Earth and in Heaven, then we should be crafty. The first thing you do—go and Seal on earth your sons and your daughters unto yourself, and yourself unto your fathers in eternal glory, and go ahead and not go back. Use a little craftiness, and Seal all you can and when you get to Heaven tell your father that what you Seal on Earth should be Sealed in Heaven.6
Arguably what Joseph is saying here is the modern form of the sealing ritual. Seal children to parents, and then seal parents to grandparents. Ehat and Cook make this very claim in a note on one of his public sermons that used coded terms to discuss polygamy.7 This seems to be what Joseph meant when he said that we should create a chain between the fathers and the children, binding their hearts together.8 However, as Sam Brown put it, "Smith left to his followers the difficult problems of understanding what the theology and liturgy meant and how to reconcile the intense otherworldliness of his teachings with the this-worldly stress they experienced."9 For that we have to look to Brigham Young.
III. Stage 2—Nauvoo after the Martyrdom
Brigham was absent when the martyrdom occurred. Though he had already been sealed to a few women, he had not been present for many of the last sermons of Joseph Smith. It fell to him, amidst the succession crisis, to finish the Nauvoo temple and get the saints their endowments and sealings before abandoning the city. It was during this period that parent-child adoptions begin to be performed. These were of two varieties. The first is the kind that we still do today—parents to biological children. The second I think represents an exploratory digression of Brigham Young's, as he tried to understand the various threads left behind by Joseph, a digression that Gordon Irving called a "phase" in his 1974 article on the law of adoption. This is when they begin sealing couples to priesthood leaders. For example, in one day, 48 different people were sealed to Brigham,10 who ended up with over 300 couples sealed to him. Heber C. Kimball had only 200 couples sealed to him.11 Joseph Smith was only sealed to one person in this new rite, John Bernhisel.12 The reasons for doing this were ostensibly to connect families to the priesthood, and as so many people did not have family that were in the church (as everybody was first-generation converts), they needed to be sealed to those who had the "right" of the priesthood, based on the then-current understanding of D&C 86:8-10.
Orson Hyde said this in his "Diagram of the Kingdom of God" from the Millenial Star in 1847.
The above diagram shows the order and unity of the kingdom of God. The eternal Father sits at the head, crowned King of kings and Lord of lords. Wherever the other lines meet, there sits a king and a priest unto God, bearing rule, authority, and dominion under the Father. He is one with the Father, because his kingdom is joined to his Father's and becomes part of it.
The most eminent and distinguished prophets who have laid down their lives for their testimony (Jesus among the rest), will be crowned at the head of the largest kingdoms under the Father
Despite this idea of sealing priesthood leaders to some other priesthood leaders, this was not done during Nauvoo. Brigham himself was ambivalent about whether he should have been sealed to Joseph, or to his own biological father. In the rush of temple work before the saints abandoned Nauvoo, many things were not fully thought out. This would come to haunt the trip westward.
IV. Stage 3—The Trip West and the Inter-Temple Period
The trip west was a way to finish the earthly integration of what had been performed in the Nauvoo temple. Companies of the pioneers were organized according to the families they had been sealed into. This structure continued into Salt Lake City, where the city plots were divided by "family." The Twelve chose their locations in downtown SLC in order of seniority. Everybody else chose theirs "according to their adopted family affiliation and lottery selection."13 This proved to be a source of chaos when others arrived in the valley that did not fit into the neat system of dividing up lots in the city.14 But the problems had started long before the Saints arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. During their stay in Winter Quarters, the "practice of the law soon spawned serious jealousies as people scrambled to gain acceptance into one or another of the greater families," since Brigham had allowed the rite of adoption to continue despite the lack of a temple.15
Despite this continuance, Brigham himself was ambivalent about what was now being termed "the law of adoption." In one instance he said:
This Principle [adoption] I am aware is not clearly understood by many of the Elders in this Church at the present time as it will Hereafter be: And I confess that I have had ownly a smattering of those things but when it is necessary I will attain to more knowledge on the subject & consequently will be enabled to teach & practice more and will in the mean time glorify God the bountiful giver."16
Famously, on February 17, 1847, Brigham had a dream vision in which he met with the Prophet Joseph. Foremost on Brigham's mind was the law of adoption. "The brethren have a great anxiety to understand the law of adoption or sealing principles and I said if you have word of counsel for me I should be glad to receive it." Joseph's instruction to Brigham is very interesting. "Tell the people to be humble and faithful, and be sure to keep the spirit of the Lord and it will lead them right." If they do so, "they will find themselves just as they were organized by Our Father in Heaven before they came into the world. Our Father in Heaven organized the human family, but they are all disorganized and in great confusion." Young wrote that Smith then "showed me the pattern how they were in the beginning. This I cannot describe, but I saw it, and where the Priesthood had been taken from the Earth and how it must be joined together so there would be a perfect chain from Father Adam to his latest posterity."17
Despite Brigham's claim to now having seen the organization of heaven, there was still some confusion among the saints. Whatever information Brigham gleaned from that insight, it had a "cooling effect," according to Stapley, on his engagement with the doctrine.18 There were no adoptions, either biological or otherwise, during the Saint's time in Utah until 1877, and this despite the formalization of public polygamy and other ongoing doctrinal discussions among the brethren, like the Adam-God debate, which might figure into Brigham's understanding of the law of adoption. Despite the fact that some temple ceremonies were conducted in the absence of a temple, adoptions were not, inverting what happened at Winter Quarters, where adoptions were performed, but other rituals were not. Brigham did say in 1856 that "their will not be much of this [baptisms for the dead and sealings] done until Joseph comes. He is our spiritual Father. Our hearts are already turned to him and his to us."19 Clearly this language reflects that of Malachi. Brigham expressed again a desire to be sealed to his biological father, and stated that much of this work would be done during the Millenium. Upon the dedication of the St. George temple in 1877, adoptions resumed. Brigham died later that year, not leaving much instruction on the matter.
V. Stage 4—St. George Temple to 1894
Wilford Woodruff was sealed to many men and women as their priesthood father. However, he himself was sealed to his biological father on April 13, 1877, who had been a member of the church since 1838.20 It wasn't until fifteen years later, in1892, that he decided to whom his parents should be sealed. He had them sealed to Joseph Smith. This was an emerging pattern—people could be sealed biologically in a chain back one generation before the first converts to the church, but then that chain was connected to some priesthood leader.21 Stapley clearly indicates that the time was one of "confusion." Some people believed in sealings to priesthood leaders. Others were confused by it. Others didn't believe in it at all. Different temples handled temple recommends for adoptions differently.22 Wilford Woodruff said "It may possibly be a correct doctrine that a man's Kingdom will consist of only the fruit of his own loins . . . Paul talked a good deal about Adoptions, but we did not understand much about it, until the Lord revealed it to Joseph Smith, and we may not, perhaps, understand it now as fully as we should. Still the Sealings and Adoptions are true principles, or our Prophets have been badly deceived."23 Some people actually began cancelling their priesthood sealings and were sealed to their biological parents. It was clear that some new clarification needed to be received by revelation.
VI. Stage 5—1894 to the Present.
The awaited revelation came in 1894. In a meeting with the twelve on April 5, President Woodruff said:
The Lord has told me that it is right for children to be sealed to their parents, and they to their parents just as far back as we can possibly obtain the records, and then have the last obtainable member sealed to the Prophet Joseph, who stands at the head of this dispensation.24
The twelve unanimously accepted this change in policy, which President Woodruff announced to the public shortly thereafter on April 18. It was front-page news in the Deseret Weekly three days later. In that speech he said this:
We have not fully carried out those principles in fulfillment of the revelations of God to us, in sealing the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers. I have not felt satisfied, neither did President Taylor, neither has any man since the Prophet Joseph who has attended to the ordinance of adoption in the temples of our God. We have felt that there was more to be revealed upon the subject than we had received.
Now, what are the feelings of Israel? They have felt that they wanted to be adopted to somebody. President Young was not satisfied in his mind with regard to the extent of this matter; President Taylor was not. When I went before the Lord to know who I should be adopted to (we were then being adopted to prophets and apostles), the Spirit of God said to me, "Have you not a father, who begot you?" "Yes, I have." "Then why not honor him? Why not be adopted to him?" "Yes," says I, "that is right." I was adopted to my father, and should have had my father sealed to his father, and so on back; and the duty that I want every man who presides over a Temple to see performed from this day henceforth and forever, unless the Lord Almighty commands otherwise, is, let every man be adopted to his father. When a man receives the endowment, adopt him to his father; not to Wilford Woodruff, nor to any other man outside the lineage of his fathers. That is the will of God to this people. 25
The policy was the same in some sense as had been previously done, that it was to seal biological parents to children, but now to continue past the generation that joined the church, and then to seal the last in that chain to Joseph Smith.26 However, sometime in the next twenty or thirty years, the idea of sealing to Joseph was quietly dropped. Stapley could find no evidence of an explicit change in policy, indicating that the church merely quietly evolved out of it as the sheer size of the genealogical task before the saints became clear. The idea of a chain of family from the current generation back to Adam was finally in place, though the chain is obviously yet being forged.
VII. Implications of the Law of Adoption Understanding
Though the historical record has amply indicated the confusion that existed in the minds of the Saints up until 1894, I would like to go further, and explain several of the problems I see that were also solved by the 1894 change in policy, problems that would have continued to get more complex as the church grew and genealogical data became more readily available.
First, there is the question of who is to be sealed to whom? Who gets to be a "node" of sealing, like Brigham was? Apostles only? Couldn't this create a kind of tension where positions in the church became lobbied for? After all, if you don't make stake president (or whatever), you can't have as big of a kingdom in heaven!
Second, if it were to be generalized, so that anybody could be sealed to anybody, then what we have is sheer chaos. Basically it would turn into "he who has the most time to do temple work, wins!" as wealthier Mormons with more time and resources could have many people sealed to them.
Third, this doesn't turn the hearts of the children to the fathers. It turns the hearts of the children inward, as the dead are sealed to currently living people in an attempt to expand their future kingdom in heaven. If the same sociality that exists here on earth will exist in heaven (D&C 130:2), why change the sociality up so much, and then borrow the same vocabulary of sons and nephews and daughters and mothers anyway?
Fourth, it demonstrates that the very institution itself is based on biological family ties. Nephews. Sons. Daughters. Mothers. Fathers. These are all terms appropriated from biological kin reinterpreted, somewhat radically, in a system of work for the dead based on the law of adoption. Why the appropriation and reinterpretation? The fact that the web system must borrow its own vocabulary from the chain system indicates, to me, a weakness.
Fifth, as we already saw in Winter Quarters, it easily leads to stratification and jealousy among the Saints. "I'm sealed to someone higher than you are!" is a great temptation. George Q. Cannon said, in the same general conference where the change was announced, said, "there need be no jealousy, then [with this new change]. There need be none to say, 'Well, I am sealed or adopted to a greater man than you.' There will be no need to pride and plume ourselves . . . creating to a certain extent a feeling of rivalry which does not belong to the Gospel of the Son of God."27
And finally, it is possibly that this web of sealings becomes compulsory, and the D&C states that "without compulsory means" the dominion of the righteous will flow to them (121:46). This, however, may be a weakness also of our current system. Is every marriage that we perform for the dead a happy one, where husband and wife rejoice over being sealed to each other for eternity? Will every child be excited to be with her parents in heaven? These are questions that seem unlikely to be answered this side of the veil. Surely on some level there will be a reshuffling of the deck of humanity, but that is not a task we in mortality are equipped to even begin to sort through, let alone execute.
However, there might be some positive outcomes of the law of adoption. Not all is negative. Specifically those who were acting as nodes would have ample opportunity to serve their family. This would be a very selfless role to play, being the father to many, many people both in this life and in the eternities. However, we could wonder why only certain people have this opportunity to serve as nodes and hence become more Christlike, and others do not have that same opportunity.
Perhaps a more historically based view of why the law of adoption was introduced would be that it was a temporary way of building unity in the church during the turbulent times after the martyrdom and while settling in the Great Basin area. It would be possible that Brigham used Joseph's introduction of the sealing to create inter-people unity. It was a way also to cement the authority of the twelve during the succession crisis.28 Though there were negative side effects, as has been discussed in regard to Winter Quarters and the settling of Salt Lake, there were many positive ones as well. Those should not be ignored, even if we can conclude that, in the long run, the chain model of sealing is more orderly and systematic than the web model.
The possible negative side effects I have discussed are all very live possibilities that existed and might have continued to grow in complexity had Wilford Woodruff not instituted the chain model of sealings in 1894. I think it is evident that the web model brought about by the law of adoption could create many problems. To do all things in wisdom and order, and to keep God's house a house of order, the chain model seems the most appropriate.
VIII. Theological Speculation and Ramifications
If it is true that the same sociality that exists here will exist in heaven, then one's belief in the law of adoption might also color one's theology of the premortal life and the afterlife. Here I will only suggest a few possibilities for Mormon scholars to examine. Here I will attempt to have the same attitude that Sam Brown has in his recent paper on adoption theology in that it is not "a formal work of philosophy, theology, or history, but as one believer's personal encounter with this set of concepts."29
If we are to believe, as I have argued, that the law of adoption was an exploratory digression of Brigham Young's, then this would indeed counter some of the speculations Brown gives in his paper. In particular, his view of spirit birth would need to be reformulated. 30 His "adoptive model," though obviously with its advantages in overcoming the caricature of heaven as "filled with eternally pregnant goddesses arrayed in celestial harems,"31 may not entirely reflect what goes on in the pre-mortal life as God helps his children to advance from stage to stage.
Working off of Brown's musings on spirit birth, such a discussion would be incomplete without a mention of Mother in Heaven. The law of adoption, with its breaking up of traditional biological families, was still nonetheless heteronormative, in that adoption sealings were always to a sealed couple. Does this somehow reflect the order of heaven? Is this why the thought that parents are single in heaven "makes reason stare," according to Eliza R. Snow's hymn?
However, there is also the fact that, in Eliza R. Snow's mind, the doctrine of Mother in Heaven was linked to the doctrine of Mother Eve, as Snow does not speak much of Mother in Heaven post-Nauvoo, but does frequently speak of Mother Eve as the archetype of women and the example for female progression.32
The idea of holding Eve as the archetype of womanhood could possibly be tied to the doctrine of Adam as the archetype of manhood. It could be that such confluences influenced Brigham Young's Adam-God doctrine.33 If, as was sometimes taught, we will all eventually be sealed with Adam as a "node" (perhaps even a "node of nodes," with apologies to the scriptural writers who coined "lord of lords" and "king of kings") could that have influenced what Brigham taught when he spoke of Adam as the head of the human race?
The chain view of sealings is akin to the hymn "If You Could Hie to Kolob," in that it appears to argue for a version of the pre-earth events like that of earthly events. In this view, God himself had a Father in Heaven, and progressed to godhood as we are now doing, much like how on earth there exists a biological chain of family extending back in time. However, any answers on this question are doctrinal speculation, as D&C 121:28 indicates the question of whether there is one God or whether there are many Gods is, as of yet, unanswered.34
Clearly there are many theological questions that could be discussed in relation to the law of adoption. Whether one understands the law of adoption as a digression or as somehow representative of the order of heaven, it would indeed color one's speculations on these questions. Questions of spirit birth, Mother in Heaven, eternal families, and how we are now and will be in the eternities related to the ancient patriarchs, are questions bound up in and informed by what one thinks of the law of adoption.
IX. Conclusion—Chain of Family
It seems clear to me that the development of the LDS understanding of sealings was, indeed, like that of the Catholic understanding of the tradition. Early on, a revelation was given, and the implications of that revelation needed to be worked out over time. One of Joseph's earliest encounters with the other side of the veil referenced Malachi's prophecy of turning the hearts of the children to the fathers. As Joseph's temple theology was revealed, and as his understanding of what had been revealed continued to grow, he explicitly tied this first to baptisms for the dead and later to doing temple work for our kindred dead.35 However, he never spoke of what would later be termed the law of adoption. He never performed that ceremony. The term "adoption" appears infrequently in his teachings, and is ambiguously used when it does. Joseph's understanding of sealing was explicitly marriage-centered. When Brigham came, amidst the hubbub of the succession crisis, the conflict with Joseph's biological family, and attempting to keep the church together, the law of adoption was introduced. It represents a Brigham Young innovation.
Almost from the time it began, there were questions. Brigham himself felt that there was more to be revealed, but pressed on ahead anyway. The law of adoption created inter-church conflict during the pioneer trek. Joseph's appearance to Brigham in a dream put the brakes on the subject, and the ritual was then re-introduced only months before Brigham died. Confusion reigned as to how it was to be enacted, and specifically how sealings for the dead were to be enacted. It was not until Wilford Woodruff's 1894 revelation, which sadly was never written down, that it appears the full import of Malachi's words were finally realized.
The various conflicting concepts of how the human family was to be organized finally came together. The law of adoption created the "web" view of sealings, focused around some kind of priesthood fathers. Instead, in what was revealed to President Woodruff, we have a true family. Father to son. Mother to daughter. Husbands and wives and their children. Finally there is a vision of the human race that actually creates a chain of humans down from our present day back to Adam. There aren't any "nodes." There are no discussions about who can be sealed to whom, or how such things should be done, or who is eligible to be sealed to, or if ranks need to be created to determine who can be a "node" in the "web of kin." The problems all vanish, and though we have yet much temple work to be done, it is orderly, it is systematic, and it represents what was given in some of the earliest revelations to Joseph Smith. The terminology of a "chain" back to Adam is replete in the words of the prophets from Joseph Smith down to Wilford Woodruff. It is not until 1894, however, that the Latter-day Saints actually began forging that chain. It is not until then that they developed their understanding of the tradition fully, through the inspiration and revelations of God.
There are still questions to be raised however. Disobedient members of families may break the chain, whether on this side of the veil or on the other. The "chain" metaphor itself is explicitly male-centered, as the idea of polygamy both in this life and in the life to come does make men "nodes" where many women can be sealed to them.36 Perhaps a "tree" is a better term for what we are now creating. Regardless, it is true that God "will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God" (A of F 1:9), but for now, in this life, Woodruff's 1894 revelation is the culmination of what Joseph began to teach 50 years previously. To return to the dream-vision of Brigham Young, Joseph there said a very similar thought three different times with slightly varying wording in the vision. Brigham ends his account with this quote from Joseph: "Tell the people to be sure to keep the spirit of the Lord and follow it and it would lead them just right." From the historical record, it is clear that they were indeed lead "just right" in 1894.
Even with that assertion, we can still think that there might be more to come. In that same public announcement of the 1894 change in policy, President Woodruff had this to say: "Revelations were given to us in the St. George Temple, which President Young presented to the Church of God. Changes were made there, and we still have more changes to make, in order to satisfy our Heavenly Father, satisfy our dead and ourselves."37
Anderson, Devery S., ed., The Development of LDS Temple Worship, 1846-2000: A Documentary History. Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2011.
Anderson, Devery S. and Gary J. Bergera, eds., Joseph Smith's Quorum of the Anointed, 1842-1845: A Documentary History. Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 2004.
---. The Nauvoo Endowment Companies, 1842-1846: A Documentary History. Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 2005.
Bennett, Richard E. Mormons at the Missouri: Winter Quarters, 1846-1852. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 2004.
---. We'll Find the Place: The Mormon Exodus, 1846-1848. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 2009.
Brown, Samuel. "Believing Adoption." BYU Studies 52, no .2 (2013): 45-65
---. "Early Mormon Adoption Theology and the Mechanics of Salvation." Journal of Mormon History, 37, no. 3 (2011): 3-52.
---. "The Early Mormon Chain of Belonging." Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 44, no. 1 (2011): 1-52.
Buerger, David John. "The Adam-God Doctrine." Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 15, no .1 (1982): 14-58.
Cannon, George Q. "The Law of Adoption" in Collected Discourses, vol. 4, ed. Brian H. Stuy. Burbank, CA: BHS Publishing, 1991.
Derr, Jill Mulvay. "The Significance of 'O My Father' in the Personal Journey of Eliza R. Snow." BYU Studies 36, no. 1 (1996): 84-126.
Ehat, Andrew F. and Lyndon W. Cook, eds. The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph. Orem, UT: Grandin Book Co., 1991.
Harwell, William S. Manuscript History of Brigham Young. Salt Lake City: Collier's Publishing Co., 1997.
Irving, Gordon. "The Law of Adoption: One Phase of the Development of the Mormon Concept of Salvation, 1830-1900." BYU Studies 14, no. 3 (1974): 291-314.
Kenney, Scott G., ed. Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 1833—1898, 9 vols. Midvale, Utah: Signature Books, 1983—85.
Ludlow, Daniel H., ed., The Encyclopedia of Mormonism. New York: MacMillan, 1992. Accessed July 12, 2013. http://eom.byu.edu.
Lyman, Edward Leo. Candid Insights of a Mormon Apostle: The Diaries of Abraham H. Cannon, 1889-1895. Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2010.
Penrose, Charles. "Answers to Peculiar Questions." Improvement Era 15, no. 11 (September 1912): 1042.
Smith, Joseph Fielding, ed. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1976.
Stapley, Jonathan. "Adoptive Sealing Ritual in Mormonism." Journal of Mormon History, 37, no. 3 (2011): 53-118.
Woodruff, Wilford. "The Law of
Adoption." Deseret Weekly, April
21, 1894, 541-44.
1. Lyndon Cook. Nauvoo Marriages, Proxy Sealings 1843-1846 (Provo, UT: Grandin Book Co., 2004).
2. Jonathan Stapley. "Adoptive Sealing Ritual in Mormonism." Journal of Mormon History, 37, no. 3 (2011): 59.
3. Devery S. Anderson and Gary J. Bergera, eds., Joseph Smith's Quorum of the Anointed, 1842-1845: A Documentary History (Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 2004), 215.
4. The sources I am using are: Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, eds. The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph, (Orem, UT: Grandin Book Co., 1991) and Joseph Fielding Smith, ed. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1976). "The articles of adoption" is a phrase used once in the WJS, and without much explanation. I am reluctant to read too much into such miniscule evidence. Ehat and Cook, WJS, 256; Smith, TPJS, 328.
5. Smith, TPJS, 337-8.
6. Ehat and Cook, WJS, 331, Smith, TPJS, 340. TPJS uses "wise" instead of "crafty."
7. Ehat and Cook, WJS, 297.
8. Scott G. Kenney, ed., Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 1833—1898, Typescript, 9 vols. (Midvale, Utah: Signature Books, 1983—85), 2:341-43, January 21, 1844. The context, however, is about baptisms for the dead, not sealings
9. Samuel Brown. "Early Mormon Adoption Theology and the Mechanics of Salvation." Journal of Mormon History, 37, no. 3 (2011): 51.
10. Devery S. Anderson and Gary James Bergera, eds., The Nauvoo Endowment Companies, 1842-1846: A Documentary History (Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 2005), 537.
11. Richard E. Bennett, We'll Find the Place: The Mormon Exodus, 1846-1848 (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 2009), 82.
12. Stapley speculates this was because Emma was not participating, as all of the other adopted mothers were the first wives of the adopted fathers. "Adoptive Sealing," 67-8.
13. Bennett, We'll Find the Place, 237-9.
14. Bennett, We'll Find the Place, 337.
15. Richard E. Bennett, Mormons at the Missouri: Winter Quarters, 1846-1852 (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 2004), 190-4.
16. Kenney, Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:134.
17. William S. Harwell, ed., Manuscript History of Brigham Young (Salt Lake City: Collier's Publishing Co., 1997) 34-6.
18. Stapley, "Adoptive Sealing," 80.
19. Kenney, Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 4:389—91
20. Aphek Woodruff's baptism date is listed as either July 1, 1838, or July 1, 1837 on ancestry.com. (Accessed July 12, 2013)
21. Gordon Irving. "The Law of Adoption: One Phase of the Development of the Mormon Concept of Salvation, 1830-1900." BYU Studies 14, no. 3 (1974): 12.
22. Stapley, "Adoptive Sealing," 99-102.
23. Wilford Woodruff, Letter to Samuel Roskelley, June 8, 1887, typescript, Samuel Roskelley Collection, Box 2, Book 4, Merrill-Cazier Library. Quoted in Stapley, "Adoptive Sealing," 103.
24. Edward Leo Lyman, ed. Candid Insights of a Mormon Apostle: The Diaries of Abraham H. Cannon, 1889-1895 (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2010), 488-9, April 5, 1891.
25. Wilford Woodruff, "The Law of Adoption," Deseret Weekly, April 21, 1894, 542. There was one exception for murderers, they were to be skipped, but even then Woodruff said "But the Spirit of God will be with us in this matter."
26. "As to the matter of adoptions, you understand that children are to be sealed to their own parents so far as possible, and when not any further possible, the chain (Genealogical chain) is to be linked on to the Prophet who stands at the Head of this great dispensation." Joseph F. Smith to Charles F. Middleton, Sept. 18, 1895. Quoted in Devery S. Anderson, ed., The Development of LDS Temple Worship, 1846-2000: A Documentary History (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2011), 101.
27. George Q. Cannon, "The Law of Adoption" in Collected Discourses, vol. 4, ed. Brian H. Stuy. Burbank, CA: BHS Publishing, 1991, 80.
28. Samuel Brown, "The Early Mormon Chain of Belonging," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 44, no. 1 (2011): 31.
29. Samuel Brown, "Believing Adoption," BYU Studies 52.2 (2013): 45.
30. Brown's law of adoption-based speculations on spirit birth are in "Believing Adoption," 49-55. See also "Premortal Life" and "Spirit Body" in Daniel Ludlow, ed., The Encyclopedia of Mormonism (New York: MacMillan, 1992), accessed July 12, 2013, http://eom.byu.edu.
31. Brown, "Early Mormon Adoption Theology," 52.
32. Jill Mulvay Derr, "The Significance of 'O My Father' in the Personal Journey of Eliza R. Snow," BYU Studies 36, no. 1 (1996): 106.
33. A good overview of the Adam-God doctrine and its history in the church can be found in David John Buerger, "The Adam-God Doctrine" Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 15, no. 1 (1982): 14-58.
34. However, verse 32 clearly indicates a plurality of Gods, as do other scriptures in the D&C and elsewhere in the canon. I take verse 28 to be asking the question of whether or not there is an infinite regress of Gods, a question that is as of yet unanswered unambiguously in Mormon revelation.
35. Irving, "The Law of Adoption," 2-3.
36. Though it should be noted that, despite teachings during the early decades in Utah, the church does not believe that polygamy is mandatory, as evidence by the 2013 introduction to OD-1 in the Pearl of Great Price, where it says "monogamy is God's standard unless he commands otherwise." See also Charles Penrose, "Answers to Peculiar Questions," Improvement Era 15.11 (September 1912) 1042. This was a doctrinal discussion that was also ongoing during approximately the same time that President Woodruff ended the law of adoption.
37. Woodruff, "The Law of Adoption," 542.