WORKS OF ABRAHAM
Is the directive in D&C 132:32 to “Go… and do the works of Abraham” a specific command to practice plural marriage?
Some contemporary polygamists interpret D&C 132:32-33 as a command from God to practice plural marriage: “Go ye, therefore, and do the works of Abraham; enter ye into my law and ye shall be saved. But if ye enter not into my law ye cannot receive the promise of my Father, which he made unto Abraham.”
Abraham did many good “works.” He sought for the priesthood (Abr. 1:2-3), he presided righteously over his family, he paid his tithing (Alma 13:15), he kept his covenants, he received revelation, he was married by proper authority (D&C 132:37), he practiced polygamy, and significantly, he offered up burnt offerings (Gen. 22:13). Latter-day Saints recognize that God has commanded them today to “do the works of Abraham” (D&C 132:32), but acknowledge that He has not authorized or commanded them to do all of Abraham’s works. Specifically, Church members are not expected or permitted to offer up burnt offerings. Equally, they believe that God has also withdrawn His authorization and command to practice plural marriage. However, these limitations do not remove the divine directive for believers to emulate Abraham’s other good works.
Importantly, Abraham “received” his wives; they were “given” to him (D&C 132: 29, 37; see also 38-39) by the Lord through His authorized servants. Marriages performed without the authorization of the “one” man are unauthorized plural marriages and unauthorized polygamy is not doing the “works of Abraham.” It seems that the Lord anticipated freelance plural marriages when he revealed D&C 132:18. “If a man marry a wife, and make a covenant with her for time and for all eternity, if that covenant not… through him whom I have anointed and appointed unto this power, then it is not valid neither of force when they are out of the world.” In this verse God reveals that tradition, sincerity, personal revelation, and/or correct language cannot compensate for the lack of proper authorization.
Unauthorized priesthood ordinations are “dead works” in the eyes of the Lord (D&C 22:3). Doing the works of Abraham requires a legal administrator to seal any and all eternal marriages, because that is the way Abraham did his own work.