22 x 22 oil on board (2017)
This painting depicts an important event in LDS Church history: the sealing of Benjamin and Melissa Johnson by Joseph Smith on May 16, 1843. This never before painted moment is seminal in LDS Church history because this sealing provides the doctrinal source material for D&C 131:1-4 on the need for eternal marriage to have eternal increase. Joseph Smith was staying with the Johnsons and that evening he called them to talk him. Benjamin Johnson later recorded: “He [Joseph Smith] called me and my wife to come and sit down, for he wished to marry us according to the Law of the Lord. I thought it a joke, and said I should not marry my wife again, unless she courted me, for I did it all the first time. He chided my levity, told me he was in earnest, and so it proved, for we stood up and were sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise.’” (Benjamin F. Johnson, My Life’s Review (Independence, Missouri: Zion’s Printing and Publishing Co., 1947), chapter 6 pp. 85-86, see http://www.boap.org/LDS/Early-Saints/BFJohnson.html ). Joseph’s secretary, William Clayton, recorded Joseph’s conversation with the Johnson’s on the evening of May 16, 1843: “Except a man and his wife enter into an everlasting covenant and be married for eternity, while in this probation; by the power and authority of the Holy Priesthood; they will cease to increase when they die, that is, that they will not have any children after the resurrection; but those who are married by the power and authority of the Priesthood in this life, and continue without committing the sin against the Holy Ghost, will continue to increase and have children in the celestial glory… In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees, and in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the Priesthood, and if he does not, he can not obtain it. He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom, he can not have an increase.” (http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/history-1838-1856-volume-d-1-1-august-1842-1-july-1843/194 )
This painting attempts to capture not only this historical moment in LDS theology, but also to convey through the expressions of Benjamin and Melissa Johnson that soul stirring truth of eternal marriage that touches the depths of human love and devotion.
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