The specific situation involved a religious community in Ohio commonly called the Shakers. The introduction to D&C 49 summarizes the situation.
Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet to Sidney Rigdon, Parley P. Pratt, and Leman Copley, at Kirtland, Ohio, May 7, 1831.
[These men were called as missionaries to the Shakers.]
Leman Copley had embraced the gospel but still held to some of the teachings of the Shakers (United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing), to which he had formerly belonged.
[We all retain the teachings we inherit from our families and peers. Converts retain the teachings they hold until they learn differently. Learning new beliefs and changing one's worldview is a process of recognizing a second reality.]
Some of the beliefs of the Shakers were that Christ’s Second Coming had already occurred and that He had appeared in the form of a woman, Ann Lee. [Verse 22 explains that Christ does not come in the form of a woman.]
[Ann Lee lived from 1736 to 1784. She was born in England but died in Watervliet, New York, which was about 200 miles east of Palmyra. She was mentioned twice in the Messenger and Advocate and three times in the Times and Seasons. Sidney Rigdon wrote, "The disciples of Ann Lee, Joanah Southcoat, the French Prophets, Jemimah Willkeson, Hull Barton, Matthias, Alexander Campbell, Walter Scott, or Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian or any other, are all alike, as far as their salvation is concerned one is just as near eternal life as the other. It is the gift of the Holy Ghost as administered by the apostles, by the laying on of hands, which makes the difference, and it is this alone, and the society which has this power are the people of God and those who have not are not.
(Messenger and Advocate II.4:245 ¶3)]
They rejected marriage and believed in a life of total celibacy. [Verses 15-17 emphasizes the importance of marriage and family.]
Some Shakers also forbade the eating of meat. [Verses 18-21 explain that God does not forbit eating meat, although it should not be wasted.]
In prefacing this revelation, Joseph Smith’s history states, “In order to have [a] more perfect understanding on the subject, I inquired of the Lord, and received the following.” The revelation refutes some of the basic concepts of the Shaker group.
The aforementioned brethren took a copy of the revelation to the Shaker community (near Cleveland, Ohio) and read it to them in its entirety, but it was rejected.
(Doctrine and Covenants 49, Heading)
For a good discussion of the Shakers, see Leman Copley and the Shakers (churchofjesuschrist.org)
President Joseph F. Smith, in writing to one of his missionary sons, explained:
Kindness will beget friendship and favor, but anger or passion will drive away sympathy. To win one's respect and confidence, approach him mildly, kindly. No friendship was ever gained by an attack upon principle or upon man, but by calm reason and the lowly Spirit of Truth.
Now note this important concept:
If you have built for a man a better house than his own, and he is willing to accept yours and forsake his, then, and not till then, should you proceed to tear down the old structure. Rotten though it may be it will require some time for it to lose all its charms and fond memories of its former occupant. Therefore let him, not you, proceed to tear it away. Kindness and courtesy are the primal elements of gentility. (Letter of 18 May 1896 to Hyrum M. Smith, in From Prophet to Son, pp. 42-43, emphasis added.)