Let me preface these thoughts by acknowledging that we are asked to share some of our personal insights during Sunday school discussions. The following thoughts are my own. I believe they are personal revelations from the Holy Ghost to me, as an individual. They are not intended as revelations for the class, the ward, or the Church. They are not intended to be authoritative, definitive, or final. They are a personal work in progress. I am learning by study and also by faith. I may err, and I am subject to correction. That correction, when it is needed, may come through other individuals, but must be confirmed to me by the Holy Ghost. Varying opinions will arise. However, based on my current understanding of the scriptures, and the whisperings of the Holy Ghost to my own soul, I am convinced that the following thoughts have merit.
I find it interesting that the genealogy of Jesus Christ, recorded in the first chapter of Matthew, is actually the genealogy of Joseph, mortal husband of Mary. Biologically, Christ’s mortal and spiritual paternal lineage is Heavenly Father.
This fact implies that Mary has two husbands: Heavenly Father and Joseph. It has to be. Heavenly Father delights in the chastity of women (see Jacob 2:28), and would not have conceived a child out of wedlock. Joseph was a righteous man and would not have taken Mary outside the covenant of eternal marriage. The fact that Mary and Joseph had children together after the birth of Christ, makes it clear that Joseph and Mary were husband and wife. Their children were born in the covenant of eternal marriage.
Jesus is the biological and spiritual son of Heavenly Father, and the biological son of Mary. Mary has to be a wife of Heavenly Father, married to Heavenly Father in the covenant of eternal marriage, because Jesus cannot be a bastard child. How could Jesus set the perfect example if his mortal life were to have begun as an illegitimate child?
My sister discovered a detail related to this in Doctrine and Covenants 132:50-52:
Behold, I have seen your sacrifices, and will forgive all your sins; I have seen your sacrifices in obedience to that which I have told you. Go, therefore, and I make a way for your escape, as I accepted the offering of Abraham of his son Isaac. Verily, I say unto you: A commandment I give unto mine handmaid, Emma Smith, your wife, whom I have given unto you, that she stay herself and partake not of that which I commanded you to offer unto her; for I did it, saith the Lord, to prove you all, as I did Abraham, and that I might require an offering at your hand, by covenant and sacrifice. And let mine handmaid, Emma Smith, receive all those that have been given unto my servant Joseph, and who are virtuous and pure before me; and those who are not pure, and have said they were pure, shall be destroyed, saith the Lord God.
I believe the sacrifice Joseph Smith was to offer to Emma was to give her multiple husbands. This, for Joseph Smith, would have been as great a trial of faith as Abraham being asked to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Once the willingness to make these sacrifices was manifest, the Lord made an escape from the requirement to go through with them. The necessary faith had been demonstrated in the willingness and intent to humbly obey without murmuring or reviling.
Can you imagine the fit men would throw today if we were to be asked by the Lord to give our wives additional husbands while we are still alive and married? Perhaps we should humble ourselves and be willing, if such were ever to be the case. Many of us men secretly, or not so secretly, expect our wives to be willing to accept the possibility that at some point in our eternal exaltation, we are going to have multiple wives.
I imagine there are no more than one or two men in any given area throughout the Church who have ever pondered the precedent set by Mary having two husbands, and confirmed by the likelihood of Joseph Smith being asked to give his wife, Emma, multiple husbands while Joseph Smith and Emma were both still alive and married.
I believe these are types and shadows of eternal family structures among exalted persons. I like to visualize this idea using what I call the Tinker Toy model of eternal family structures.
Picture the little round, wooden wheels－let’s call them nodes－with the little holes in them. Let’s paint some nodes pink and some nodes blue. The pink nodes are exalted wives. The blue nodes are exalted husbands.
Now, make an exalted couple by connecting one pink node to one blue node with a stick fitted into a hole on each node. Let the stick represent the covenant bond of eternal marriage. Clip some clothes pins onto the stick that joins the pink node to the blue node. The clothes pins represent spirit children born to the husband and wife who are connected by the covenant of eternal marriage.
Now, connect another pink node to the blue node with a second stick at a ninety degree angle to the first stick. Clip some clothes pins on that stick. Now we have a husband with two wives, and spirit children with distinct lineages. There is no mistaking which spirit child comes from which parents.
Attach another blue node to one of the pink nodes with a third stick, making an open-sided square. Now, we have a wife with two husbands. Clip some clothes pins onto that third stick. The spirit children begotten by each exalted couple are clearly connected to one and only one set of heavenly parents. There is no confusion. There is order. There is a specific, identifiable lineage and heritage for each spirit child.
Attach another blue node to the two pink nodes with a fourth stick, completing one square. The square should have two blue nodes situated diagonally from one another and not sharing a stick. The two pink nodes should be situated diagonally from one another and not sharing a stick. There is only a stick between a blue node and a pink node. There is never a stick joining two blue nodes to each other. There is never a stick joining two pink nodes to each other.
Now, repeat this process in a plane perpendicular to the first square, until you have completed one cube. Notice that each husband has three wives, and each wife has three husbands, but there is no confusion. There is order. Each and every spirit child has a specific, identifiable lineage. Each spirit child has exactly one set of exalted parents.
Keep adding cubes to each side of the first cube, and then more cubes to each side of those additional cubes, expanding outward to infinity. This represents eternal increase, and a structurally strong and stable family. The more this pattern is added upon, the stronger it gets, and never is there any confusion. There is order. Every spirit child is begotten by a distinctly identifiable, single set of heavenly parents. Never are two husbands linked to each other.
Never are two wives linked to each other. The pattern is the same no matter how big the structure grows. Males are only connected to females. Females are only connected to males. Every spirit child has exactly one set of exalted parents.
If we expand this pattern of cubes indefinitely, we can see that each husband has exactly six wives, and each wife has exactly six husbands. There is a balance.
Let’s not stop here. We are talking about eternal increase, and we already know there is a hastening, an acceleration, involved in Heavenly Father’s work and glory, which is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.
Take it to the next level. Add one cube within each cube, making a network of hypercubes. Notice that each husband has exactly fourteen wives, and each wife has exactly fourteen husbands. We can continue adding hypercubes within hypercubes within hypercubes, ad infinitum.
Take it even further. Look at each square in its own plane. There is a node at each corner. Add one node of opposite gender to each node of the square, forming a coplanar rectangle inside the square.
For each square, we can add any number of coplanar rectangles in similar manner. Never are nodes of the same gender connected to each other.
Examining even one square at a time, we can see that each husband may have infinitely many wives, and each wife may have infinitely many husbands, as long as a pattern is followed. If the pattern is followed, there is never confusion. There is order. Every spirit child has exactly one set of heavenly parents. Males are never married to males. Females are never married to females.
I believe the principle of eternal increase not only refers to infinitely many spirit offspring, but also to infinitely many eternal spouses. Simple geometry seems to prove this profound possibility.
Now, consider that each blue node－each exalted husband－is the patriarch of his own godhead. His firstborn spirit child will be the atoning agent for all of his spirit offspring throughout all eternity, regardless of which of his wives bears them.
Each atoning agent must be the firstling of his father. An atoning agent is not referred to as the firstling of his mother. This lends itself to a simple order. The first spirit child born to a given heavenly mother is not necessarily the first spirit child born to that mother’s husband.
Each patriarch will preside over the creation of infinitely many earths throughout all eternity. The firstling of each patriarch will be the creator of the heavens and earths his father directs him to create. To each distinct earth, a specific group of spirit offspring will be assigned for mortal probation.
I believe one perfect male spirit offspring will be assigned as a testifying agent and ordained to the office of holy ghost for the inhabitants of each separate and distinct earth.
The inhabitants of all the earths created by a given atoning agent－firstling－will have the same heavenly father, whom they will worship in the name of his firstling. However, each distinct earth will have a separate holy ghost assigned as testifying agent specifically to that earth’s inhabitants.
One earth out of all the earths created by a given firstling will be the footstool earth, the earth upon which the firstling carries out his mortal ministry and completes his atonement, applicable to all his father’s spirit offspring, forever more.
The atonement of any given firstling will have infinite scope and eternal efficacy, strictly and exclusively applicable to the spirit offspring of that firstling’s father, and not applicable to the spirit offspring of any other father.
Each father will have infinitely many and ever increasing spirit posterity, so each father’s firstling’s atonement must have infinite reach, and must remain effective throughout all eternity.