&C 132:26–27 . Does Marriage in the Temple Assure One of Exaltation, No Matter How One Lives?
President Harold B. Lee taught: “Some folks have the mistaken notion that if somehow, by hook or crook, they can get into the House of the Lord and be married they are assured of exaltation regardless of what they do, and they’ll quote the 132 Section, the 26th verse . But that isn’t what the Lord means. The Lord does assure an exaltation to those who make mistakes, if they repent.” ( Cram for Life’s Final Examination, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [Provo, 5 Jan. 1954], p. 7.)
President Joseph Fielding Smith commented:
“ Verse 26, in Section 132 , is the most abused passage in any scripture. The Lord has never promised any soul that he may be taken into exaltation without the spirit of repentance. While repentance is not stated in this passage, yet it is, and must be, implied. It is strange to me that everyone knows about verse 26 , but it seems that they have never read or heard of Matthew 12:31–32 , where the Lord tells us the same thing in substance as we find in verse 26, section 132 . . . .
“So we must conclude that those spoken of in verse 26 are those who, having sinned, have fully repented and are willing to pay the price of their sinning, else the blessings of exaltation will not follow. Repentance is absolutely necessary for the forgiveness, and the person having sinned must be cleansed.” ( Doctrines of Salvation, 2:95–96.)
The key phrase is “and they are sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise” ( D&C 132:26 .) This sealing is related to having one’s calling and election made sure. (See Notes and Commentary for D&C 76:53 ; 131:5 ; 132:7 .)
Speaking of the promise in Doctrine and Covenants 132:26 , Elder Bruce R. McConkie said:
“Making one’s calling and election sure comes after and grows out of celestial marriage. Eternal life does not and cannot exist for a man or a woman alone, because in its very nature it consists of the continuation of the family unit in eternity. Thus the revelation on marriage speaks both of celestial marriage (in which the conditional promises of eternal life are given) and of making one’s calling and election sure (in which the unconditional promises of eternal life are given) in one and the same sentence—which sentence also says that those who commit sins (except ‘murder whereby to shed innocent blood’) after being sealed up unto eternal life shall still gain exaltation. This is the language: ‘Then’—that is, after their calling and election has been made sure—[ D&C 132:19–20 cited].
“Then the revelation [ D&C 132:26 ] speaks of that obedience out of which eternal life grows, and still speaking both of celestial marriage and of making one’s calling and election sure says: ‘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’—that is, if they are both married and have their calling and election made sure . . . ‘they shall come forth in the first resurrection and enter into their exaltation.’” ( Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:343–44.)
“What if those whose calling and election has been made sure thereafter commit grievous sins? Suppose they backslide and walk in the ways of wickedness? Or fight the truth and rebel against God—what then?
“That all men commit sin, before and after baptism, and for that matter, before and after their calling and election is made sure, is self-evident. There has been only one Sinless One—the Lord Jesus who was God’s own Son.
“Thus in the revelation announcing the setting up of the restored church in this day, the Lord says: ‘There is a possibility that man may fall from grace and depart from the living God; Therefore let the church take heed and pray always, lest they fall into temptation; Yea, and even let those who are sanctified take heed also.’ ( D. & C. 20:32–34 .)
“The prophets and apostles from Adam and Enoch down, and all men, whether cleansed and sanctified from sin or not, are yet subject to and do in fact commit sin. This is the case even after men have seen the visions of eternity and been sealed by that Holy Spirit of Promise which makes their calling and election sure. Since these chosen ones have the sure promise of eternal life, and since ‘no unclean thing can enter into’ the Father’s ‘kingdom’ ( 3 Ne. 27:19 ), ‘or dwell in his presence’ ( Moses 6:57 ), what of sins committed after being sealed up into eternal life?
“Obviously the laws of repentance still apply, and the more enlightened a person is, the more he seeks the gift of repentance, and the harder he strives to free himself from sin as often as he falls short of the divine will and becomes subject in any degree to the Master of Sin who is Lucifer. It follows that the sins of the godfearing and the righteous are continually remitted because they repent and seek the Lord anew every day and every hour.
“And as a matter of fact, the added blessing of having one’s calling and election made sure is itself an encouragement to avoid sin and a hedge against its further commission. By that long course of obedience and trial which enabled them to gain so great a blessing the sanctified saints have charted a course and developed a pattern of living which avoids sin and encourages righteousness. Thus the Lord said: ‘I give unto you Hyrum Smith to be a patriarch unto you, to hold the sealing blessings of my church, even the Holy Spirit of promise, whereby ye are sealed up unto the day of redemption, that ye may not fall notwithstanding the hour of temptation that may come upon you. ( D. & C. 124:124 .)
“But suppose such persons become disaffected and the spirit of repentance leaves them—which is a seldom and an almost unheard of eventuality—still, what then? The answer is—and the revelations and teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith so recite!—they must then pay the penalty of their own sins, for the blood of Christ will not cleanse them. Or if they commit murder or adultery, they lose their promised inheritance because these sins are exempt from the sealing promises. Or if they commit the unpardonable sin, they become sons of perdition.” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:342–43.)
(Doctrine and Covenants Institute Student Manual pp. 330-332)