Friday Forum: Doctrine and Covenants 132:4-6 “If Ye Abide Not That Covenant, Then Are Ye Damned”

Discuss D&C 132:4-6


3 Therefore, aprepare thy heart to receive and bobey the instructions which I am about to give unto you; for all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same.
4 For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting acovenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye bdamned; for no one can creject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.
5 For all who will have a ablessing at my hands shall abide the blaw 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 aeverlasting covenant, it was instituted for the fulness of my bglory; and he that receiveth a fulness thereof must and shall abide the law, or he shall be damned, saith the Lord God.

Comments? Anyone?
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About JA Benson

Joanna entered the world as a BYU baby. Continuing family tradition, she graduated BYU with a degree in Elementary Education and taught for several years. Growing up in Salt Lake County, her favorite childhood hobbies were visiting cemeteries and eavesdropping on adult conversations. Her ancestral DNA is multi-ethnic and she is Mormon pioneer stock on every familial line. Joanna resides in the Southeastern USA with her five children ranging in age from 8 to 24. Her husband passed away in 2009. She is an avid reader and a student of history. Her current intellectual obsession is Sephardic Jewish history, influence and genealogy. She served as a board member for her local chapter of Families with Children from China. She is the author of “DNA Mormons?” Summer Sunstone 2007 and “Becoming Hong Mei`s Mother” in the Winter Sunstone 2009

53 thoughts on “Friday Forum: Doctrine and Covenants 132:4-6 “If Ye Abide Not That Covenant, Then Are Ye Damned”

  1. Joanna, when I was taking the discussions 11 years ago, we had an excellent gospel principles teacher, and I remember clearly him going over this very text. I think the most important thing is to understand what “damned” means. Damned means being separated from God. It doesn’t mean eternal torment, fires and pitchforks. It means being in a place far from God. My teacher described it as being able to see a magnificent city but not being able to live there. I’ve always imagined it as seeing Emerald City in Wizard of Oz far away but being prevented from going there. So, if you reject the covenant, you don’t get to live with God in the Emerald City. And if you accept the covenant and then don’t abide by its provisions, you also don’t get to live in the Emerald City. That’s just my simplistic way of seeing it.

    By the way, this is the only post where we allow LDS Anarchist, one of our most ardent followers, to swear. So, goshdarnit, he’d better appreciate it.

  2. That cartoon is very funny until you actually think about it. Go through the door marked “Damned if you don’t”.

  3. @LDS Anarchist

    Nice! You’ve just been damned! 😉

    @Geoff B

    Damned also means ‘stopped’, which is what happens to eternal progression you fail to enter into the new and everlasting covenant. You cannot obtain exaltation without it.

  4. There’s a lot of urban legend-type stuff among the Mormons about the meaning of “damned.”

    The English words damned/damnation/damnable are translated from two Greek words in the New Testament: *krima* or *krisis*, both of which mean “judgment” or “condemnation.” *Krisis* also has the added nuance of “separating, sundering” in the sense of a legal body dividing two things based on an infraction of the law.

    The word “damn” came into English in the 13th century from Old French *damner* (“to condemn”), which was a derivative of the Latin verb *damnare* and noun *damnum* (“damage, loss, hurt”). The Latin word evolved a legal meaning of “pronounce judgment upon.” “Damn” wasn’t used in a theological sense until the early 14th century.

    “Damned” doesn’t mean “stopped” in the sense of “dammed” (creating a water barrier). “Dam” came into English via Germanic or Scandinavian influence; it’s just a coincidence that they happen to sound the same.

    It’s interesting to me that D&C 132 tells us that if we do not abide the terms of the new and everlasting covenant, then we are dammed, or separated — separated from God, and separated from our spouse.

  5. Mike, I disagree with you exegesis. It may be that the word “damn” had an etymological origin meaning to condemn and secondarily to separate or split, but D&C 132 was reduced to writing in 1843. At that time and int he context of D&C 132 especially it did mean to stop in progress. Your reasoning commits the etymological fallacy to the effect that if the historical origin of a term is what it means in a more recent usage.

    In Joseph smith’s time, “damned” meant to stop something in its progress.

  6. Uh, why not just consult the dictionary in use at the time of the revelation, the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary? Which says:


    DAM’NED, pp.

    1. Sentenced to everlasting punishment in a future state; condemned.

    2. a. Hateful; detestable; abominable;

    A word chiefly used in profaneness by persons of vulgar manners.


    And, in that same dictionary, here is the definition of the word condemnend:



    CONDEMNED, pp. Censured; pronounced to be wrong, guilty, worthless or forfeited; adjudged or sentenced to punishment.



    So, although we modern LDS like to think damned meant “stopped in progress,” during the time of the revelation’s writing, it had no such meaning.

  7. Blake, I think it is rather likely (and Mike provides evidence) that the earlier sense of the term prevailed when the King James translators were translating the Bible, and barring further evidence that particular sense prevails generally until the present day.

    Now if in Mormonism we often use “damned” to mean “stopped”, I have yet to see any evidence that suggest that interpretation is derived anywhere other than an attempt to make the quoted verses in D&C 132 make sense.

    I don’t think there is any question whatsoever that “eternal damnation” was intended to mean something entirely different (i.e. to persist in an unsaved state) in the scriptures in general, including the Book of Mormon in particular.

    Only in post D&C 132 Mormonism can anyone ever be “damned” and “saved” at the same time. The Book of Mormon itself contradicts this usage:

    “And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God. And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned.” (3 Ne 11:33-34)

    If salvation and damnation are compatible, this pair of verses is meaningless.

  8. Anarchist, you might want to look at this from the Etymological Dictionary:
    dam (1) variant, damn; “water barrier,” c.1325, probably from O.N. dammr or M.Du. dam, both from P.Gmc. *dammaz, of unknown origin.
    “animal mother,” 1297, variant of dame (q.v.), also originally used, like that word, for “lady, mother;” but meanings diverged into separate spellings by 16c.
    1292, from O.Fr. damage “loss caused by injury,” from dam “damage,” from L. damnum “loss, hurt, damage.”
    damask Look up damask at
    c.1250, Damaske “cloth from Damascus,” the Syrian city, famous in medieval times for steel and silk, from Gk. Damaskos, from Ar. Dimashq.
    c.1225, from O.Fr. dame, from L.L. domna, from L. domina “lady, mistress of the house,” from L. domus “house” (see domestic). Legal title for the wife of a knight or baronet. Slang sense of “woman” first attested 1902 in Amer.Eng.
    c.1280, “to condemn,” from O.Fr. damner, derivative of L. verb damnare, from noun damnum “damage, loss, hurt.” Latin word evolved a legal meaning of “pronounce judgment upon.” Theological sense is first recorded c.1325; the optative expletive use likely is as old. To be not worth a damn is from 1817. Damn Yankee, characteristic Southern U.S. term for “Northerner,” is attested from 1812.

    Further, I believe that Wittgenstein is correct, if you want to know what a word means, see how it is used and actually functions. In D&C 132 it means unable to foster off-spring eternally or to continue in the course of progressing as the gods. So although you might want to think that you’re in a better position than those poor “modern LDS” in Sunday School because you looked it up in the 1823 Webster’s dictionary, that usage is hardly informed by the way the term is used in D&C 132.

    Once again, looking at the origin of a word commits the etymological fallacy. Looking up the word in the Dictionary commits the semantic fallacy.

  9. LDS Anarchist beat me to it.

    I’ve computer-searched History of the Church, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and Words of Joseph Smith, and couldn’t come up with any instance in which Joseph used the word “damned” to mean “stop.” If anyone else is aware of such a use, I’d be very interested in seeing it.

    Blake is correct, though, in calling me on origin and derivation of the word versus how it was used in Joseph Smith’s time.

  10. Mark D. — I don’t think that the usage in the BofM is instructive in this case. The relevant reference is not a contrast of “saved or damned,” but of being barred from “entering into my glory” — in the very same verse. The very next vs. remarks on those who would enjoy a blessing must abide by the law which governs receipt of that blessing, referring to the numerous references to the fact that those who are resurrected enjoy that glory of the law they abided (in D&C 76 and 88 and of course 131). The issue is whether than can have eternal progeny and enjoy “eternal increase” in glory with God. So I suggest that in context “to be damned” means precisely to be barred in the progress of eternal progeny and glory.

  11. And that is not to say that I think “damnation” has any *necessary* bias to the temporal duration of such a state, just that damnation and salvation are polar opposites.

    Whether this is an artifact of the word choice of the KJV translators or their specific intent in choosing the word makes no difference. The opposition is set up in Mark 16:16 (as translated):

    “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”

    From the Vulgate:

    “Qui crediderit, et baptizatus fuerit, salvus erit: qui vero non crediderit, condemnabitur”

    So I guess the interesting question is why, ca. 1611, did the KJV translators use the word “damned” here, when the original precedent was clearly for the word “condemned”.

  12. Blake, I don’t disagree with what “damned” means in the context of these verses in D&C 132 – I object to the theological fallout of that usage that led to the common aphorism “salvation without exaltation is damnation”, and all the other peculiar consequences of reading that sense back into earlier passages.

  13. @Mark D.

    “Only in post D&C 132 Mormonism can anyone ever be “damned” and “saved” at the same time.”

    I don’t see where you are getting that from in this passage. Could you please inform me?

  14. I think that D&C 132 is the basis for the “damned=stopped in progress” meaning and this isn’t “post” 132. Otherwise I agree with you. I dislike the aphorism that “salvation without exaltation is damnation,” because I agree with you it is theologically muddled. However, “salvation without exaltation is being stopped in progression even tho saved” makes a good deal of sense. To be saved merely means one isn’t condemned to suffer as it is used in D&C 76. To be saved generally means to be justified in the sense of being accepted into a right-wised covenant relationship in Paul’s thought.

  15. Blake (and others) look at the scriptural quotes again. The 1828 Webster’s Dictionary definitions, which gave how these words were used in Joseph Smith’s time, are consistent with the usage of the word damned in the above quotes.

    I will break it down for you:

    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.

    The key word here is “abide.” To “abide…that covenant” means “to endure or sustain” or “to bear or endure; to bear patiently” the covenant. You cannot abide a covenant without first entering the covenant, so the use of the word damned here refers to people who have entered the covenant and have not abided it, or, as the Lord states later in the same sentence, to people who have entered the covenant and then “reject” it. These people are damned. The verse does not refer to people who never enter the covenant.

    Next, the following verse:

    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.

    The key here to understanding the verse are the words “he that receiveth a fulness thereof.” The Lord doesn’t say “he who would receive a fulness thereof,” but refers to people who already received a fulness thereof. These people must and shall abide the law or they shall be damned. In this particular verse, the damned people we are talking about have already entered the covenant and have received a fulness of the Lord’s glory, who then do not abide (or, in other words, they reject) the law. However, we are assured by the Lord that such people “shall abide the law,” so there is no danger of such being damned, because they will not reject it after receiving such a fulness.

    However, those who enter the covenant and who have not yet received of this spoken fulness, who reject the covenant, are damned.

    These verses, then, are explicitly referring to one type of damnation: that received by the sons of perdition (see verse 27) and not to merely not receiving exaltation (a stopping of progression.)

  16. As a help, here is verse 27 (so no one needs to look it up) :

    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.

  17. Tex, It is a bit of a thread jack about a common Mormon use of the term damnation that is derived from a common interpretation of this passage.

    I agree with LDS Anarchist that there is a condition to the damnation referred to here, however in these verses it is “has this covenant revealed unto them and reject it”. I believe that verse 27 is referring to an entirely different mode of damnation, (that implied by shedding innocent blood after receiving the covenant) one that makes a lot more sense, by the way.

    Blake, When I say “post D&C 132” I mean starting with D&C 132 and following on thereafter. I agree that “stopping progress” one of the few reasonable interpretations of “damnation” in the verses quoted here, as much as I question that usage in general. I think “condemnation” would probably have been a much better choice for verse 4, assuming that is what Joseph Smith really intended. Otherwise we would have to say that if you are not exalted you are not saved.

  18. Anarchist: “and not to merely not receiving exaltation (a stopping of progression.)”

    Well, that just means that it is used in both ways — tho I believe that to be a son of perdition is to be stopped from progressing as well since I believe in progression among the kingdoms. I believe that you argument actually supports the interpretation of “stopped in progress” rather than “condemned by judgment.”

  19. Mark, look again at verses 3 and 4 again. You’ve mixed everything up. Verse 3 says nothing about having a covenant revealed. It talks about having a law revealed. Verse 4 talks about a COVENANT. Verse 3 talks about a LAW. Verse 27 also talks about a LAW. Now, with that in mind, read it again. What is the revelation talking about? What is the covenant and what is the law?

  20. Mark, the entire revelation makes a distinction between the law and the covenant. See, for example, verse 19:

    “if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, AND BY the new and everlasting covenant”

  21. LDS Anarchist, Mark D., Blake,Tex, Mike, Brian, Craig and Geoff. Thanks guys. Wow!! What an interesting conversation. I certainly learned a lot. I thought the conversation would lean toward eternal marriage and polygamy. You guys were awesome taking the conversation to defining damnation.

    Extra Credit for LDS Anarchist for the joke.

  22. Well, for such a rebel rousing chaos person, he/she is highly articulate. He/she does kinda froth at the mouth though. Speaking as someone who often froths at the mouth.

    Anyway good discussion. We will do it again next week, providing, “The Good Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise.”

  23. I agree a law and a covenant are different. However, in this case abiding the covenant means keeping the law. That is the whole point.

  24. I would understand that the “law” applies to the keeping of anything mentioned in verse 7 by the key (or token) of sealing.

    Covenants are more arbitrary (meaning, there appear to be several that could fall under this same law), and as explained in verse 18, some of them may qualify as being made “by my word, which is the law”, and other covenants may be made not according to the law.

    The law itself is defined further in verses 28-33. Admittedly, it is vague, being boiled down to, “Go ye, therefore, and do the works of Abraham;”

    In verse 34, Abraham was commanded to take another wife, but verse 35 poses the question “Was Abraham, therefore, under condemnation?” Interestingly enough, using the word condemnation (rather than damned) in connection with whether or not the law was kept. He also was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac, and he took concubines.

    It seems to be not Abraham’s specific doings, but his mode of operation, that is being pointed at here. Joseph receives likewise, being told that whatever he asks will be given him.

  25. You can still be saved in the Kingdom of God (Celestial Kingdom) and not be exalted, and hence, not have eternal progression. Levels 2 and 3 of the CK are non-exalted levels of individuals who will exist “singley and separately”.

    We’re told that those who die as infants will be inheritors of exaltation, so there must be some kind of post-mortal celestial-marriage option for them, as there is for proxy temple sealings of married couples after they die.

    And if the door is open for those who die as infants to be sealed-in-eternal-marriage, and the door is open for temporally-married folks who never had a chance to accept the restored gospel, logically there must also be a way for adults “who through no fault of their own remain single while in mortality.”

    To put it simply (maybe oversimplifying, and please forgive the minor doctrinal errors inherrent in the verbal short-cuts): Keeping your baptism covenants gets you in the door of the CK. Keeping your endowment and celestial marriage covenants gets you into the exalted level of the CK, otherwise known as “Church of the Firstborn.”

    Now there’s a good question. Does “Church of the Firstborn” refer to _only_ the exalted ones, or does it refer to all inhabitants of the CK? I think it means the former.

  26. We’re told that those who die as infants will be inheritors of exaltation,

    Who has told us this besides McConkie?

    so there must be some kind of post-mortal celestial-marriage option for them

    Yes, there is an option, but that implies that they might not avail themselves of that option. Hence, they are not necessarily exalted.

  27. Interesting Bookslinger.
    I would have to agree with you that the exalted ones are the Church of the Firstborn
    “They are they who are the church of the Firstborn.
    They are they into whose hands the Father has given all things–
    They are they who are priests and kings, who have received of his fulness, and of his glory;”
    -D&C 76: 54-56

    Of course you know about the Lebaron polygamist cult of the same name. Unfortunately because of their activities the name has negative association, and has become foul to my ears.

    Thanks Jeff for your comment and expounding on the law.

    For me, the “damned if you and damned if you don’t” scenario is polygamy. I tend to think this is how the early church members (especially the women) felt about this type of marriage covenant.

  28. Last Lemming-

    Abinadi said, “Little children also have eternal life.” (Mosiah 15:25.) I would guess that would include all that eternal life avails.

    Joseph Smith and Joseph Fielding Smith taught:

    Joseph Smith taught, “Children will be enthroned in the presence of God and the Lamb; . . . they will there enjoy the fulness of that light, glory, and intelligence, which is prepared in the celestial kingdom.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 200.)

    President Joseph Fielding Smith spoke very expressly on this point: “The Lord will grant unto these children the privilege of all the sealing blessings which pertain to the exaltation. We were all mature spirits before we were born, and the bodies of little children will grow after the resurrection to the full stature of the spirit, and all the blessings will be theirs through their obedience, the same as if they had lived to maturity and received them on the earth. The Lord is just and will not deprive any person of a blessing, simply because he dies before that blessing can be received. It would be manifestly unfair to deprive a little child of the privilege of receiving all the blessings of exaltation in the world to come simply because it died in infancy. . . . Children who die in childhood will not be deprived of any blessing. When they grow, after the resurrection, to the full maturity of the spirit, they will be entitled to all the blessings which they would have been entitled to had they been privileged to tarry here and receive them.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:54.)

  29. Not too late to jump in I hope, eh eh.

    As for defining “damnation”, in Joseph Smiths day he grew up with a protestant background and upbringing. In their day they used the word “damned” to mean “condemnation to hell”. I have done a lot of research on this noting how Joseph himself used the word outside of scriptural text. In every account I have run accross, Joseph uses it in the traditional protestant sense of condemnation to hell. To this day, that definition is what other Christian religions use. It is only our LDS religion that uses the word out of context. This is almost entirely due to a misunderstanding of the scriptural text. As has already been discusssed, section 132’s usage of the word “damned” literaly is used in the context of “condemantion to hell”. Verse 26 speaks of those who enter into the fulness and then perhaps sin in the new and everlasting covenant. It says they will be destroyed in the flesh and delivered over to the buffetings of Satan (in hell). This is the usage of “damned” in verses 4-6.

  30. Since D&C 132 is about polygamy, isn’t the whole section de facto de-canonized, essentially in the same category as Adam-God or the KFD?

  31. I had decided to take this subject up in earnest on my own blog, as I needed more space than a comments section to really do it justice, but as Rob has kept this going here…

    Another thing to take a look at are the other language translations that the church has done of the scriptures. For example, in Spanish, “damn” is translated as “condenar” (to condemn) and “damned” as “condenado” (condemned) and “damnation” as “condenacion” (condemnation). For example, look at D&C 132 in Spanish:

    That I know of, Spanish-language saints have no concept of “condenar/condenado/condenacion” meaning merely a damming or stopping of progression, or, in other words, that you can inherit the CK but just not get the exaltation part of it (continuation of the seeds).

  32. I should qualify my words, a bit. Upon reading the scriptures, the Spanish-language saints have no such concept, that is, until they talk to an English-language saint, who then explains to them (interprets) the meaning of “condenado” in D&C 132. Lol.

  33. JA Benson,

    I call your attention to the bolded phrase in your JFS quote:

    and all the blessings will be theirs through their obedience, the same as if they had lived to maturity…

    This is not a throwaway phrase. Earlier in the same section he states: “Little children who die before they reach the years of accountability will automatically inherit the celestial kingdom, but not the exaltation in that kingdom until they have complied with all the requirements of exaltation.” I maintain that if free agency means any thing, some (and perhaps many) of those children will choose not to comply with all the requirements.

  34. Last Lemming-fair enough. You are right; there will be choice in the Hereafter as on earth. Those of us who have lost children like to think they are pure spirits who were too good for this life. I am sure we romanticize the condition.

  35. Steve EM: good to see you back. It’s been a while. How many of your boys are back from their missions? How were their experiences? Last we chatted, you were just sending one or two off.

    By the way, section 132 is not entirely about polygamy. Part is about polygamy, part is about eternal marriage, and part is about both.

  36. Loved the cartoon as well. I actually hear “you’ll be damned” a lot in my ward. Or I used to, when I used to attend all the meetings. I would sit there in Relief Society and hear the teacher blithely spouting “You will be damned if you don’t do your genealogy…food storage…scripture reading…” Geez, why don’t we just give up already.

  37. Bookslinger: Hope you are well too. I’m kind of the mind set that once we discard part of a section of scripture, best to flush the whole thing and forget about it. To ditto Annegb, to make silly lists about all the stuff that will damn us is, in the end, a rejection of Christ’s atonement, as our works don’t save us, Jesus does.

    I’ve had a busy summer w/o much time for blogging. My one boy (not counting my BYU love child) has been back a good while now but is still doing his undergrad. To be blunt, he had a negative mission experience under a poor mentor Nazi MP and doesn’t like to talk about it. That said, he remains active, a rarity for twenty-something LDS these days.

  38. Anne Thank you for stopping by to comment. You are one of my favorite people. I am sorry you go to church (or did go) with shaming people. I would hope that as a community we are moving away from that method of persuading others in regards to Christian service and behavior.

    Steve EM- you are right about the Atonement. Thanks for reminding us. I do not think the polygamy sections of the Doctrine and Covenants 132 are not flushed as much as put on hiatus; for those who choose that arrangement in the next life.

  39. Pingback: Damnation « LDS Anarchy

  40. LDS Anarchist, the Latin form of “condemned” (condemnabitur) appears in the Vulgate instead of “damned” in Mark 16:16.

    So in this case, the Spanish text appears to be faithful to a *much* earlier translation, which makes sense since it was probably translated by Spanish Catholics using the Vulgate as a reference, considering the Vulgate was the dominant, quasi-official Catholic translation until relatively recently, and Spanish is a Latinate language.

    So the really interesting question isn’t how the Spanish translation got to be that way, but rather why the KJV or earlier English translators decided to use the term “damned” instead of “condemned” in the first place. Douay Rheims, a Catholic English translation, has “condemned”.

    It ought to be pretty obvious either way that (eternal) salvation and (eternal) condemnation are mutually exclusive states in the context of Mark 16:16, and its parallels in the Book of Mormon.

  41. Hi,

    I’m a student from Israel.

    I have to analyze how much time someone spend on internet.

    There are websites which are a guilty pleasure, but there are websites which only have a visits duration of 40 seconds.

    I would like to know how much time do you spend on internet (day/week/month).

    Thanks for your help!


  42. President Brigham Young taught that the only people who ever stop learning are the sons of perdition. Thus, if we believe President Brigham Young, even those in the Terrestrial and Telestial Kingdoms will continue to progress throughout eternity, even though they may not have eternal “increase” in the sense of having an eternally increasing posterity. Therefore, we may need to revise our beliefs about “damn” meaning “dam.” I have to agree with LDS Anarchist–I think that the confusion between “damn” and “dam” came about by uninformed members of the Church making up their own definition of the word, which seems to happen a lot.

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