Commentary on Doctrine & Covenants 74

/ Doctrine & Covenants 74 / Commentary

Find helpful commentary on the verses below to better understand the message of this revelation.

Verses 1-5

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)


This revelation deals with a passage from the New Testament that can be difficult for modern readers to understand. In context, Paul is commenting on the issue of whether a woman who is married to a nonbeliever should continue in the marriage. Paul felt that the believing partner should not initiate a divorce, but if the unbelieving partner desired to end the marriage, the believer should not feel bound to remain in the union. Paul’s reasoning for this was summarized as “For how do you know, wife, that you will not save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, that you will not save your wife?”[i]


The issue of a mixed-faith marriage becomes especially delicate when children are introduced. Paul’s use of the word unclean in 1 Corinthians 7 refers to the children not being brought up in a proper relationship with the Lord. According to Paul, a sanctifying relationship with God is more likely to develop among children with a believing parent in the home because, regardless of the beliefs of one’s spouse, the principles of a happy family life are the same: “Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.”[ii]


However, Paul also recognized that, though the principles of a happy family are the same, believers need to establish boundaries regarding who they will marry. For example, bringing up a child within the law of Moses and the law of Christ was not possible, for the laws were often contradictory. Therefore, Paul counseled that Christian believers should not marry Jewish believers unless they agreed not to force their children to live the law of Moses. The revelation notes that this counsel came from Paul “not of the Lord, but of himself” (D&C 74:5). This does not mean that Paul was contradicting the will of the Lord, but rather that he was providing counsel of his own accord. Still, it is wise for Church members who are in mixed-faith marriages to discuss and set clear expectations with their spouses about the religious upbringing of their children. Lack of communication on this matter can be the source of much heartache for those in mixed-faith marriages.


[i] 1 Corinthians 7:14, The New Testament: A Translation for Latter-day Saints, Thomas A. Wayment, translator, 2019.

[ii] Family Proclamation, 1995, paragraph 7.


(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)

Verses 6-7

Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)


Paul’s teachings in this passage in Corinthians were often used to support the doctrine of infant baptism. According to one modern theologian, “With the exception of the Scripture passage where Jesus blesses little children no passage has been laid under more laborious contribution to serve the cause of infant baptism than this one [1 Corinthians 7:14].”[i] The teaching that young children who had not yet reached the age of accountability (D&C 68:27) should be baptized is strongly refuted in scripture. The Book of Mormon prophet Mormon called infant baptism a “gross error” and declared that “it is solemn mockery before God, that ye should baptize little children” (Moroni 8:6, 9).


Around the time this revelation was likely received, the Lord instructed the Church that children should be blessed in the Church but that “no one can be received into the church of Christ unless he has arrived unto the years of accountability before God, and is capable of repentance” (D&C 20:70–71). Joseph Smith maintained this teaching throughout his life. In an 1842 discourse he declared, “The doctrine of Baptizing children, or sprinkling them, or they must welter in hell is a doctrine not true, not supported in Holy writ, and is not consistent with the character of God. All children are redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, and the moment that children leave this world they are taken to the bosom of Abraham.”[ii]


[i] Paul K. Jewett, Infant Baptism and the Covenant of Grace, p. 122, quoted in “Explanation of Scripture, 1830 [D&C 74], fn. 1, JSP.

[ii] Times and Seasons, 15 April 1842, p. 751, JSP.


(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)