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Relationship to Section 42. The relationship of Verses 42:56-93 to the rest of Section 42 is discussed at D&C 42.
Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Verses 42:56-93 include:
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- D&C 42:74-77: Divorce. These verses begin by addressing the topic of the person who puts away their companion. We might think of this as divorce but it is different than our language of divorce in two ways. First, it may not entail a legal divorce, it could be less formal - something like what we would call separation. Second, the language of "putting away" identifies an instigator. In contrast the language of divorce can be applied without identifying any person as an instigator. Finally the language of putting away may suggest (we don't know please edit this text if you do) something different than "leaving a companion" (the language used in verse 75).
- The purpose of verse 74 is to carve out an exception for not casting out a person who puts away their spouse. Given that the topic of the verse is for carving out a reason not to cast such a person out, the assumption is that by default such a person is to be cast out. The exception the Lord gives here is when the person's spouse commits fornication. (Adultery could have just as easily have been substituted for fornication in verse 74 without changing the meaning.)
- Next verse 75 deals with a sort of opposite case - the person who leaves their spouse to live with a new companion. Such a person is to be cast out. The possibility of repentance and a second chance (as discussed for adulterers in verse 24 above) isn't given because the person is living with someone they aren't married to. This is an opposite case because it is the adulterer who is also breaking up the marriage. In contrast in verse 74 it is the person who was cheated on, who breaks it up.
- Verse 76 and 77 tell the Church to be careful not to receive someone who has left their family to commit adultery and also adds a further caveat "if they are married." This caveat could be interpeted in two ways and both may be valid. It may be that the Lord here is talking about essentially the same case outlined in verse 75 but who never was married to their first companion. Alternatively it may be that an exception is being carved out for the person who did leave their family to live with someone else but afterwards went through the process of formally ending the first marriage.
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Prompts for life application
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Prompts for further study
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- D&C 42:56. What scriptures are appointed to be given to the saints? Is this referring to the continuing revelations of Joseph Smith? The sealed portion of the Book of Mormon? If we never ask for the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon, will the church ever receive it?
- D&C 42:81. Law of God. What does it mean to "be dealt with according to the law of God" here?
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Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.