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Do Mormons Practice Polygamy?


Nearer My God To The
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Being Mormon has many great and wonderful rewards.  There are times, however, when membership in the Lord's Church can be trying.  I once operated a tour business in Salt Lake City.  Twice a day, six days a week, I took 40 to 50 visitors to Salt Lake City on a tour called "The Historic Salt Lake and Old Mormon Trail Tour".  As the old saying goes, "I wish I had a dollar", for every time I was asked, "If you're a Mormon, how many wives do you have?"  Most of the time I would just smile and say something like, "we no longer practice plural marriage".

That response is correct.  Plural marriage has been difficult to explain.  Read what modern day inspired men of God, apostles, and prophets have to say about the subject. 


Ludlow, Daniel H., ed. Encyclopedia of Mormonism. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1992.

Polygamy
Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol.3, POLYGAMY
[The main article on this subject is Plural Marriage. Under the direction of the Prophet Joseph Smith, some members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began to practice plural marriage, also referred to as "celestial marriage." This was viewed as a divine commandment to "raise up seed unto" God (Jacob 2:30). The revelation of God concerning eternal marriage is D&C 132. See Doctrine and Covenants: Sections 131-32. The latter also contains strong warnings against marital infidelity. See Adultery; Chastity; Marriage: Eternal; and Sexuality.
Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol.3, POLYGAMY
On the federal and public opposition to Mormon polygamy, see Antipolygamy Legislation; Legal and Judicial History of the Church; Mormons, Image of; and Reynolds v. United States. On attitudes of Mormon women toward polygamy, see Retrenchment Association and Woman's Exponent.
Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol.3, POLYGAMY
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints officially discontinued the practice of plural marriage in 1890. See Manifesto of 1890.
Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol.3, POLYGAMY
Some schismatic groups have not accepted the revelation of God to Wilford Woodruff, fourth President of the Church, ending Church-sanctioned plural marriage and therefore continue the practice today. See Fundamentalists.
Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol.3, POLYGAMY
See generally History of the Church: c. 1844-1877 and c. 1878-1898; Smith, Emma; Smith, Joseph: Teachings of; Snow, Eliza R.; Woodruff, Wilford; and Young, Brigham.]

McConkie, Bruce R. Mormon Doctrine. 2d ed. Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1966.

Plural Marriage
577
See ADULTERY, ARTICLE ON MARRIAGE, CELESTIAL MARRIAGE, CHASTITY, CONCUBINES, KEYS OF THE KINGDOM, MANIFESTO, PRIESTHOOD, SEALING POWER. According to the Lord's law of marriage, it is lawful that a man have only one wife at a time, unless by revelation the Lord commands plurality of wives in the new and everlasting covenant. (D. & C. 49:15-17.) Speaking of "the doctrine of plurality of wives," the Prophet said: "I hold the keys of this power in the last days; for there is never but one on earth at a time on whom the power and its keys are conferred; and I have constantly said no man shall have but one wife at a time, unless the Lord directs otherwise." (Teachings, p. 324.)
578
The Lord, by the mouth of his Prophet Jacob, gave similar direction to the Nephites: "For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none; For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts. Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes. 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." (Jacob 2:27-30.)
578
From such fragmentary scriptural records as are now available, we learn that the Lord did command some of his ancient saints to practice plural marriage. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob -- among others (D. & C. 132) -- conformed to this ennobling and exalting principle; the whole history of ancient Israel was one in which plurality of wives was a divinely accepted and approved order of matrimony. Those who entered this order at the Lord's command, and who kept the laws and conditions appertaining to it, have gained for themselves eternal exaltation in the highest heaven of the celestial world.
578
In the early days of this dispensation, as part of the promised restitution of all things, the Lord revealed the principle of plural marriage to the Prophet. Later the Prophet and leading brethren were commanded to enter into the practice, which they did in all virtue and purity of heart despite the consequent animosity and prejudices of worldly people. After Brigham Young led the saints to the Salt Lake Valley, plural marriage was openly taught and practiced until the year 1890. At that time conditions were such that the Lord by revelation withdrew the command to continue the practice, and President Wilford Woodruff issued the Manifesto directing that it cease. (Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, pp. 213-218.) Obviously the holy practice will commence again after the Second Coming of the Son of Man and the ushering in of the millennium. (Isa. 4.)
578
Plural marriage is not essential to salvation or exaltation. Nephi and his people were denied the power to have more than one wife and yet they could gain every blessing in eternity that the Lord ever offered to any people. In our day, the Lord summarized by revelation the whole doctrine of exaltation and predicated it upon the marriage of one man to one woman. (D. & C. 132:1-28.) Thereafter he added the principles relative to plurality of wives with the express stipulation that any such marriages would be valid only if authorized by the President of the Church. (D. & C. 132:7, 29-66.)
579
All who pretend or assume to engage in plural marriage in this day, when the one holding the keys has withdrawn the power by which they are performed, are guilty of gross wickedness.

Smith, Joseph Fielding. Answers to Gospel Questions. vols. 1-5. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957-1966.

Plural Marriage in Early Days
158
Question: "When it is discovered that I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, someone always has something unpleasant to say about 'having more than one wife.' I would appreciate very much an explanation as to why the Church taught and practiced plural marriage in the early days of the Church."
158
Answer: In regard to your question, I think you are entitled to an explanation and will give you a brief statement which I hope will explain this matter satisfactorily.
158
First, it should be understood that the practice of plural marriage in the Church was discontinued upwards of half a century ago by command of the Lord in a revelation to President Wilford Woodruff, then the President of the Church. The reason for this I will explain later.
158
The Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith the doctrine of the eternity of the marriage covenant. That is to say, when a man and a woman are married by divine authority in a temple their marriage is to continue throughout all eternity. Children born to such parents will belong to their parents forever, and the family will be an eternal organization and will not come to an end at the death of the members.
159
The so-called Christian world, because of apostasy, has lost this glorious doctrine and believes that marriage is only for this mortal life, and therefore in all Protestant and Catholic churches the marriage covenant is performed for time only. The priests who officiate do not have authority to marry for eternity and generally do not believe in that doctrine. Therefore, according to their teaching and practice, the marriage union ceases to exist forever when one of the covenanting parties dies, and the children are left without parents in the eternity. To the minds of those who understand the fulness of the gospel, this teaching and practice is a false and fearful doctrine.
159
MARRIAGE NEVER MEANT TO END AT MORTAL DEATH
159
Marriage was never intended by the Lord to end at mortal death. Commenting on this President Joseph F. Smith once said:
. . . While man was yet Immortal before sin had entered the world, our Heavenly Father himself performed the first marriage. He united our first parents in the bonds of holy matrimony, and commanded them to be fruitful and multiply . . .1
159
The Apostle Paul, when writing to the Corinthian Saints, said:
Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.2
160
This understanding is necessary to comprehend the answer to your question regarding plural marriage. When the Lord revealed celestial marriage to Joseph Smith, which is marriage for all eternity, he also explained to the Prophet why Abraham, Jacob, and other ancient prophets had plural wives, and the Lord did not condemn these prophets because they did have plural wives, but to the contrary, he greatly blessed and prospered them. Abraham had two or three wives, and he is spoken of in the Bible as the "Friend of God."3 Jacob, grandson of Abraham, had four wives, and by these four wives he had twelve sons, from whom come the twelve tribes of Israel. The Israelites became the chosen people of the Lord with whom he made special covenant and to whom he gave the Holy Priesthood. The Lord said through Moses:
The Lord's portion is his people: Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.4
160
Likewise, the Lord blessed and honored these men who are spoken of as holy prophets.
160
THE LORD HONORED MOSES
160
The Lord blessed and honored Moses. He was called to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt, and the Lord spoke to him "face to face, as a man speaketh to his friend."5 Moreover, the Lord gave to Moses the law by which Israel was to be governed, and not only accepted him as his servant, but accepted also his plural family and made provision in the law sanctioning plural marriage. This same Moses was highly praised and commended by our Savior when he was in his ministry on the earth.
161
In the Book of Revelation you will discover that the Lord revealed to John the Apostle, on the Isle of Patmos, that the holy city, New Jerusalem, was to be established when the Lord should come to reign in the millennium. No unclean thing was to enter this city, and it is written:
Blessed are they that do his commandments that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.
For without are dogs and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.6
161
On the gates of this holy city, on its four sides are to be emblazoned the names of the twelve sons of Jacob, the heads of the tribes of Israel.
161
ANCIENT PROPHETS ACCEPTED FOR THEM RIGHTEOUSNESS
161
In the revelation on celestial marriage, that is marriage or eternity, the Lord informed Joseph Smith that these men who had plural families in ancient times did not sin. Moreover, he taught Joseph Smith the doctrine of plural marriage and commanded him to practice it, and this practice was in the Church for many years.
161
In 1890, because of the enactment of laws forbidding this practice and because of the opposition on the part of all other people in the United States and throughout the so-called Christian world, the Lord instructed President Wilford Woodruff to call upon the members of the Church to discontinue the practice of plural marriage. From that time forth the Church has accepted this as a commandment, and plural marriage within the Church has ceased.
162
JUSTIFIED IN OBEYING THE LAWS OF THE LAND
162
When the government passed laws against plural marriage the Church, by revelation from the Lord, ceased the practice. In doing so they were justified, for in a revelation given to Joseph Smith when the Saints were prevented in building the temple in Independence, Missouri, the Lord said:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, that when I give a commandment to any of the sons of men to do a work unto my name, and those sons of men go with all their might and with all they have to perform that work, and cease not their diligence, and their enemies come upon them and hinder them from performing that work, behold, it behooveth me to require that work no more at the hands of those sons of men, but to accept of their offerings.7
162
It is also written in another revelation:
Let no man break the laws of the land, for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land.
Wherefore, be subject to the powers that be, until he reigns whose right it is to reign, and subdues all enemies under his feet.8
163
According to the teachings and practice in the Church when a man and woman are married in the temple, and the wife dies, the man is at liberty to marry another wife for time and all eternity. It is also permissible for a man who has been divorced for good cause to marry again and have another wife sealed to him in the temple.

    The plural family is ordained of God.  Because we must live in a world, in a society, and be subject to the laws of the land, the practice of plural marriage has been taken from the earth.  I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  Were I to enter into a polygamus marriage, I would be excommuniated from the Church. That would be just and correct as God's house is a house of order.  I testify that what you have read here is true and correct, and I do so in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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