|President Gordon B. Hinckley|
The purpose of this blog post is to provide evidence as to where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stands on the subject of plural marriage or as it is often called, polygamy. Later in this post you will read words on the subject by recent Church President, Gordon B. Hinckley, whose photo you see here.
As is usual in this blog, we look to that book of books, the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, to shed light on the subject being considered. Jacob, one of Father Lehi's younger sons became a formidable prophet in ancient America much like his older brother, Nephi. Speaking for the Lord as a prophet, we find these words in the Book of Jacob:
Jacob 2: 27 Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none;
28 For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts.
29 Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes.
30 For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things. (emphasis added)This very clearly stated scripture lets us know that plural marriage was not to be allowed among the Nephites. In verses 28 and 29 the Lord explains what He wants His Nephite people to avoid by disallowing plural marriage.
The Lord, through the prophet Jacob, in verse 30, makes it clear that plural wives will be allowed only at times when the Lord indicates, through his authorized servants, His prophets, that there is a great need in the expansion of the numbers of the Lord's people. (emphasis added)
In the case of the great prophet, Abraham, because his only wife Sarah was unable to conceive children, the Lord, after Sarah had give her consent to it, allowed Abraham to have a child through her servant, Hagar. This surely was an example of there being a case where: "For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people... (emphasis added)
Certainly such was also the case with the prophet Moses having a number of wives while the Children of Israel were struggling to be of sufficient numbers to retake the land of Israel which God had given their forefathers.
In Jacob 2: 23-26, the verses just previous to the quote from Jacob in the Book of Mormon above, we read that the Lord was very displeased with the excesses in regard to plural marriage by King David and his son, Solomon. Their bad examples in regard to plural marriage was certainly something Book of Mormon Prophets wanted their people to avoid following after.
For fifty years early in this Church's history, (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) polygamy, or plural marriage was authorized by the Lord through a series of presiding prophets. Having been driven from the United States proper, and even before, while living in Missouri and in Illinois where they were driven and persecuted , the Church had a great need to grow in numbers. The average age of wives entering into this form of marriage was very comparable to the average marriage age of women throughout the USA at that time.
The following is an up-to-date statement by a prophet of this Church regarding Plural marriage:
The Ensign, November 1998- Questions, Gordon B. Hinckley ("What Are People Asking About Us? (Question 4. What is the Church's position on polygamy? pp.71,72)
"We are faced these days with many newspaper articles on this subject. This has arisen out of a case of alleged child abuse on the part of some of those practicing plural marriage. (emphasis added)
I wish to state categorically that this Church has nothing whatever to do with those practicing polygamy. They are not members of this Church. Most of them have never been members. They are in violation of the civil law. They know they are in violation of the law. They are subject to its penalties. The Church, of course, has no jurisdiction whatever in this matter.
If any of our members are found to be practicing plural marriage, they are excommunicated, the most serious penalty the Church can impose. Not only are those so involved in direct violation of the civil law, they are in violation of the law of this Church. An article of our faith is binding upon us. It states, "We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law" (A. of F. 1:12). One cannot obey the law and disobey the law at the same time.
There is no such thing as a 'Mormon Fundamentalist.' It is a contradiction to use the two words together.
More than a century ago God clearly revealed unto His prophet Wilford Woodruff that the practice of plural marriage should be discontinued, which means that is now against the law of God. Even in countries where civil or religious law allows polygamy, the Church teaches that marriage must be monogamous and does not accept into its membership those practicing plural marriage."As a young undergraduate at BYU in 1951 I worked part-time at the Heber J. Grant Library there and enjoyed, when on my own time, looking through books in the special collections room downstairs. I do not have any notes on this, but my memory is very clear on what I read there on several occoasions. A writer whose name I do not recall, told of how several women, who were women's rights advocates from back East in the United States, came West to Utah in about the 1870s to liberate the Mormon women who were "trapped" in Polygamy. The efforts of these Easterners to "liberate" plural wives were rebuffed by the women they were trying to "save."
Basically, plural marriage, which was, at that time, authorized by the Lord through His servant, the President of His Church, was succeeding. I'm positive that the Lord directed this to happen as instructed in Jacob 2:30 ("For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people...)(emphasis added)
There were divorces among a few of those who had plural marriages, but there were very many happy families from which came children who made great contributions to society in many ways.
One woman was unhappy that her husband had built a more magnificent home for one of his other wives than he had for her, but she and the other wife remained great friends. There certainly were difficult challenges to be faced in plural marriage families, but surely these faithful members of Latter-day Saint families were guided by the Gift of the Holy Ghost given to all faithful members of the Church, that guided them through their special challenges.
I will end this blog post by mentioning that all through my seventy six years of life, I have seen example after example of virtuous Latter-day Saint men and women (monogamists) who were married for "Time and all Eternity" in holy temples of the Lord. I have observed closely their marriages and know they are worthy examples to be followed by all. Their children accomplish much good in this world and are ensuring a great place for themselves, through the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, and through their faithful, upright lives, in the next world!
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