[What follows is an extract from a section of my paper presented at the 2009 Pratt Summer Seminar, titled “‘Here Was an End to Mysticism’: Divine Embodiment, Human Corporality, and Parley Pratt.”]
With Mormonism’s radical exaltation of the body came the need to redefine bodily affections and impulses. Following the New Testament injunction that “the flesh lusts against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh” (Galatians 5:17), Christianity largely held that bodily desires and spiritual promptings were always at odds. One of the “enduring themes” of Western thought, writes one religious scholar, was that the body must be “adequately controlled and regulated” in order to overcome its “unruly, ungovernable, and irrational passions, desires, and emotions.” Contemporary Thomas Kempis wrote in his highly influential Treatise on the Imitation of Christ, “blessed is that man [who] violently resisteth nature, and through fervour of spirit crucifieth the lusts of the flesh.” Even Ralph Waldo Emerson, the Transcendentalist who spent his life fighting against orthodoxy and tradition, wrote that “our senses barbarize us,” and that it is “the savage [who] surrenders to his senses; he is subject to paroxysms of joy and fear; he is lewd and a drunkard.” Whether for religious or pragmatic reasons, bodily senses were to be rejected or, at the very least, controlled.
One example of this ideology was the Catholic rite of “Extreme Unction,” where the near-death patron is anointed “with a little oil [on] the chief seat of the five senses,” meant to represent forgiveness towards all carnal desires throughout life. Juxtaposed to this was Mormonism’s Nauvoo temple ritual where the exact same senses were anointed, yet not as a penance for their functions, but rather as an act of sanctification and enlargement. The temple served as a coronation of the body, a holy ceremony where the patrons re-enact all aspects of embodiment: the plan of the pre-mortal council, the reception of a tabernacle on earth, and the eventual exaltation of human corporality. In these rituals, the body was not overcome, but hallowed; the apotheosis attained was an imminent exaltation of both the individual soul and its physical structure.
Parley Pratt expounded on this view in his 1844 pamphlet “Intelligence and Affection,” written after his temple experience, where he argued that natural bodily impulses were to be cultivated and amplified instead of restricted. “Our natural affections are planted in us by the Spirit of God, for a wise purpose,” Pratt wrote. He taught that persons who understood “our natural affections” as “the results of a fallen and corrupt nature,” those who believed that these impulses are “carnal, sensual, and devilish,” and therefore ought to be “resisted, subdued, or overcome as so many evils which prevent our perfection, or progress in the spiritual life…have mistaken the source and fountain of happiness altogether.” Instead, the apostle claimed that any attempt to repress these inclinations “are expressly and entirely opposed to the spirit, and objects of true religion.”
Center to Pratt’s claims was the differentiating between “natural” and “unnatural” desires. The true duty of mankind, he wrote, was to learn to decipher between these two urgings: “Learn to act in unison with thy true character, nature and attributes; and thus improve and cultivate the resources within and around thee.” The goal of life was not to suppress impulses rooted in the flesh, but to amplify them.
Instead of seeking unto God for a mysterious change to be wrought, or for your affections and attributes to be taken away and subdued…pray to him that every affection, a tribute, power and energy of your body and mind may be cultivated, increased, enlarged, perfected and exercised for his glory and for the glory and happiness of yourself, and of all those whose good fortune it may be to associate with you.
When Pratt wrote his Key to the Science of Theology a decade later, he returned to this theme in relation to the progress of exaltation: “The very germs of these Godlike attributes, being engendered in man, the offspring of Deity” he reasoned, “only need cultivating, improving, developing, and advancing by means of a series of progressive changes, in order to arrive at the fountain ‘Head,’ the standard, the climax of Divine Humanity.” Thus, when man’s body is redeemed and exalted, his affections and affinities are perfected with him.
This exaltation of human affection is remarkably unique among Mormonism’s contemporaries. Pratt took Joseph Smith’s teachings concerning the importance of embodiment to unprecedented heights, claiming that in mankind’s physical body was not just power, but the seed for eternal felicity and glory. When he wrote his autobiography a decade later, this principle was preeminent among the doctrines he expanded from Smith:
It is from him that I learned that the wife of my bosom might be secured to me for time and all eternity; and that the refined sympathies and affections which endeared us to each other emanated from the fountain of divine eternal love…that we might cultivate these affections, and grow and increase in the same to all eternity.
He progressed the theology one step further and in a slightly different direction from his religious mentor: for the Mormon Prophet, marriage, sealings, and physical connections were focused on nobility, kinship, and dynasty; for the Mormon apostle, it was about the literal physicality of love, affections, and even intimacy.
 Bryan Turner, “The Body in Western Society: Social Theory and its Perspectives,” in Religion and the Body, Sarah Coakley, ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 20.
 Thomas A Kempis, The Christian’s Pattern; or, a Treatise on the Imitation of Christ, abridged by John Wesley (Halifax: Printed and Published by William Milner, 1845), 115.
 Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The Senses and the Soul,” The Dial 2 (January 1842): 378.
 Joseph Faa Di Bruno, Catholic Belief: or A Short and Simple Exposition of Catholic Doctrine (London: Burns and Oates, 1878), 96.
 Representative of the bodily blessings given in accordance with the Nauvoo temple was Brigham Young’s Second Anointing received under the hands of Heber C. Kimball. See “Book of Anointings—Wives to Husbands,” 11 January 1846, in The Nauvoo Endowment Companies, 1845-1846: A Documentary History, Devery S. Anderson and Gary James Bergera, comp. and ed. (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2005), 397.
 Pratt participated in the endowment for the first time on 2 December 1843, and received his Second Anointing on 21 January 1844 (Joseph Smith Journal, in Scott H. Faulring, ed., An American Prophet’s Record: The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith [Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books in association with Smith Research Associates, 1989], 429, 442). Pratt later dated this essay as being written towards the beginning of 1844. Parley P. Pratt, Jr., ed. The Autobiography of Parley Parker Pratt, One of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Embracing his Life and, Ministry and Travels, with Extracts, in Prose and Verse, from his Miscellaneous Writings (New York: Russell Brothers, 1974), 367.
 Parley P. Pratt, “Intelligence and Affection,” in Parley P. Pratt, An Appeal to the Inhabitants of the State of New York, Letter to Queen Victoria (Reprinted from the Tenth European Edition,) The Fountain of Knowledge; Immortality of the Body, and Intelligence and Affection (Nauvoo: John Taylor, Printer, 1840), 37-38.
 Pratt, “Intelligence and Affection,” 38-39.
 Parley P. Pratt, Key to the Science of Theology: Designed as an Introduction to the First Principles of Spiritual Philosophy; Religion; Law and Government; As Delivered by the Ancients, and as Restored in This Age, For the Final Development of Universal Peace, Truth and Knowledge (Liverpool: F. D. Richards, 1855) , 32.
 One noted exception is Emmanuel Swedenborg. For the Swedish theologian’s deification of the senses, see Leigh Eric Schmidt, Hearing things: Religion, Illusion, and the American Enlightenment (Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London, England: Harvard University Press, 2000), 211-221.
 Pratt, Autobiography, 329. I say that Pratt “expanded” this principle from Joseph Smith because we have no teachings from the Mormon prophet that seem to show that he held this view of the eternal cultivation of sympathies, though he did constantly speak of the eternal importance of friendship. Rather, it appears that Parley is reading back into Smith the theological innovations he himself induced from the Prophet’s teachings.
It is also interesting to note that the wife Parley seemed to be implying to in this passage (that is, during his 1840 trip to Philadelphia), had left him over the principle of celestial marriage by the time he was writing this segment of the autobiography.
 For Joseph Smith’s “dynastic” view of sealing and, especially, plural marriage, see Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1997), chapter 1; Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, 439, 443-446; Brooke, Refiner’s Fire, 255-258. This focus on creating a religious dynasty led to the theological development of attaching every family to a hierarchical figure. See Gordon Irving, “The Law of Adoption: One Phase of the Development of the Mormon Concept of Salvation,” BYU Studies 14, no. 3 (1974): 291-314. It should be noted that Parley Pratt was hesitant enough about this practice that he was not a participant in any of the adoptions performed prior to the trek west (I appreciate Jonathan Stapley for sharing his statistics on Nauvoo adoptions).