Monday, April 28, 2008

Is Polygamy Still Part of Mormon Doctrine?

Is Polygamy Part of Mormon Doctrine?

Absolutely. Polygamy is even officiated in LDS temples, and it is still part of the core doctrine, if we are to believe what we read in what the church considers scripture.

Now, let me be clear. The LDS church does not currently practice polygamy on this earth, but it is still part of the core doctrine that polygamy must be accepted in the celestial kingdom, or the highest degree of heaven. So if one is to ask the question "Do members of the LDS church practice polygamy on this earth?" then the answer is a definitive "no". However, that is not the question I am answering today.

Polygamy in the earthly practice was a fundamental core doctrine of early Mormonism and was taught by many early church leaders that the only people that will get into the highest degree of heaven were those that entered into polygamy. To say that polygamy was only practiced to protect seed due to a shortage of men is incorrect factually. The census data tells us that there were more men in Utah than women during this time period. This idea is a made up excuse and completely inaccurate. Polygamy was an important doctrinal principal that was practiced and promoted as vital to becoming Gods.


The FLDS church is a splinter group that broke off the mainstream LDS church when the church stopped practicing polygamy. The FLDS are also called "Mormon Fundamentalists" and the reason is because they practice the fundamental teachings of Mormonism, particularly regarding the earthly practice of polygamy. The FLDS has scripture on their side.

Doctrine and Covenants Section 132

D&C section 132, which is part of canonized scripture, outlines the basis for plural marriage.The Doctrine and Covenants section 132 contains a revelation given to Joseph Smith from the Lord.

The introduction to D&C 132 states: "Although the revelation was recorded in 1843, it is evident from the historical records that the doctrines and principles involved in this revelation had been known by the Prophet since 1831". This is in reference to Joseph Smith's first plural wife Fannie Alger, who was 16 when she married Joseph Smith and she was a housekeeper at the Smith home. Joseph Smith was 27 or 28 years old when he married the 16 year old Fannie Alger and this was without Emma Smith's knowledge or consent.

In the D&C 132, we learn that you must accept polygamy or you will be damned.
verses 1-4

Verily, thus saith the touching the principle and doctrine of their having many wives and concubines...Therefore, prepare thy heart to receive and obey the instructions which I am about to give unto you; for all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same. For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.

Then, mid-revelation, the Lord sees fit to inject an admonition directly for Emma Smith, Joseph's principal and first wife. Keep in mind that Joseph Smith has already been practicing polygamy for many years at this point as noted in the introduction to the chapter:

Verses 52-56

And let mine handmaid, Emma Smith, receive all those that have been given unto my servant Joseph, and who are virtuous and pure before me; and those who are not pure, and have said they were pure, shall be destroyed, saith the Lord God. For I am the Lord thy God, and ye shall obey my voice; and I give unto my servant Joseph that he shall be made ruler over many things; for he hath been faithful over a few things, and from henceforth I will strengthen him.

And I command mine handmaid, Emma Smith, to abide and cleave unto my servant Joseph, and to none else. But if she will not abide this commandment she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord; for I am the Lord thy God, and will destroy her if she abide not in my law. But if she will not abide this commandment, then shall my servant Joseph do all things for her, even as he hath said; and I will bless him and multiply him and give unto him an hundredfold in this world, of fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, houses and lands, wives and children, and crowns of eternal lives in the eternal worlds. And again, verily I say, let mine handmaid forgive my servant Joseph his trespasses; and then shall she be forgiven her trespasses, wherein she has trespassed against me; and I, the Lord thy God, will bless her, and multiply her, and make her heart to rejoice.

Then, the lord finishes up with these words of warning:
Verses 60-64

Let no one, therefore, set on my servant Joseph; for I will justify him; for he shall do the sacrifice which I require at his hands for his transgressions, saith the Lord your God. And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood—if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else. And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified. But if one or either of the ten virgins, after she is espoused, shall be with another man, she has committed adultery, and shall be destroyed; for they are given unto him to multiply and replenish the earth, according to my commandment, and to fulfil the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my Father continued, that he may be glorified.
Even if this was a real revelation from God, Joseph Smith did not follow the instructions given to him.

Joseph Smith and Polygamy

This information can be found by the church's own genealogical record of Joseph Smith. None of his plural wives changed their names, and there are no recorded children from Joseph Smith with any of his wives other than through Emma.

According to various sources, Joseph Smith may have had 34 wives, 7 of which were under 18 and 11 of which were already married to living men at the time. One of the more disturbing marriages is when Joseph Smith calls Orson Hyde to be an apostle and sends him off on a 3 year mission, then a few months after he leaves, Joseph marries his wife Marinda Hyde while Orson is gone.

Polygamy Currently Officiated in LDS Temples

Polygamy is very much a part of Mormon doctrine in principal, but the current policy disallows the practice on this earth. However, Temple practices demonstrate that polygamy is expected to be practiced in heaven.

A widower may re-marry in an LDS temple where he can be sealed to both women, but a widow may not get sealed to multiple men. Current apostle Dallin H. Oaks is sealed to two wives, one of which has died. He has referred to both of them as his "eternal companion".

Polygamy is very much a fundamental teaching of Mormon doctrine. Even if it is not currently practiced on this earth, members of the church are expected to accept the practice of polygamy in the early days of the church and accept the practice in the next life. It is still considered a holy and sacred practice.

Skeptical Mormon


True and Living said...

What are you talking about? I am Mormon, so I think I should know we do not practice polygamy. Anyone that practices polygamy is excommunicated. Our former prophet Gordon B. Hinckley has made it clear that there is no such thing as a Mormon Fundamentalist. The 2 words are a contradiction.

The FLDS no longer became Mormon when they changed there name. That should be your first clue right their. You forgot to mention the official declaration, which over-rides any previous revelations. Current prophets are here to help clarify doctrine.

As for Joseph Smith, yes, he practiced polygamy, but I assure you he has done no such thing as you have said. Most of his wives were sealed to him after he died, and I assure you that Emma Smith understood what Joseph was doing, otherwise she would have left him.

Jeremy said...

True and living: The information related to sealing more than one woman to the same man in the temple today is fact. Your Bishop and Stake President have a copy of the church manual in their office and it even indicates in there that such a thing is possible today.

I don't know for sure about all of the evidence for Joe's wives but I'm sure Zelph can provide references for his information or he would not be posting about it.

Zelph said...


Well said.

True and living-

Thank you for your comments, but my assertion stands. I made it clear that even though polygamy is not currently practiced on earth, it is still very much a part of Mormon doctrine. Point is that one must accept the practice of polygamy in the early days of the church as being legitimate and it is evident that polygamy will be expected to be practiced in heaven.

The church is in a sticky spot right now, although they have been denouncing polygamy as a practice, as long as D&C section 132 is part of canonized scripture, polygamy is part of the doctrine. The church could get rid of D&C 132, but that would undermine all of Joseph's revelations.

Regarding declaration 1, I would advise you to read it again. It is not a revelation, it is a press release. (how many revelations begin with the phrase "to whom it may concern).

The press release was not even written for members of the church, it was written to congress telling them that the church would stop the practice of polygamy because it is illegal. It also does not condemn polygamy as a practice.

Even though it is not a revelation, it is considered scripture as it was sustained by unanimous vote.

However, even after this official declaration, members of the church continued practicing polygamy in Mexico.

Disillusioned Mormon

Bishop Rick said...

true and living,

Zelph made it clear that he was talking about polygamy in the celetial kingdom, not here on earth. Do you really not think this is LDS doctrine?

Ask your bishop. He will tell you that it is common for men to marry more than 1 woman in the temple for time and eternity in the case of death of the first wife.

Hinckley stating that there is no such thing as a mormon fundamentalist does not make it so. They practice the fundamental doctrines of the LDS church including polygamy (Joseph Smith) and blood atonement (Brigham Young) among other things. This makes them Mormon Fundamentalists regardless of what Hinckley or anyone else says.

Anonymous said...

Nice Blog. I will be back.

zytines said...

true and living - Do a bit more research and you will see that this post is accurate, and all faithful Mormon scholars agree. Emma didn't know a lot of what Joseph was doing, and when she found out, she almost divorced him. They were actually separated for a short period because she was close to leaving him. Most of Joseph's wives were marriages while he was alive. One example, of many: he married two girls (sisters) without Emma's knowledge, then later convinced Emma to accept plural marriage and give him permission to marry the sisters. He had a fake marriage ceremony to "re-marry" the sisters in front of Emma without telling her they were already married. This is acknowledged by all historians, in and out of the church.

Zelph - Not sure if you'd be interested in this at this point, but you may enjoy reading Eugene England's essay On Fidelity, Polygamy, and Celestial Marriage. He explores the idea that Mormon doctrine may not require polygamy in the Celestial Kingdom. Some think his arguments are weak, but those who want to believe him are easily convinced, with good reason.

Gospel of Christ said...

I don't understand polygamy. However, I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet and he would never lead us astray. My theory (and this is just my personal opinion) is that perhaps Joseph Smith had access to special knowledge of the hereafter that we might not ever understand on this earth.

Zelph said...


That would certainly be an interesting read. Certainly one would have to accept that there exists polygamy in the celestial kingdom according to Mormon doctrine.

Bishop Rick said...


How do you know Joseph Smith was a prophet and that he wouldn't lead you astray? You don't know him. You have never met him. All you have to go on is hearsay.

Gospel of Christ said...

Bishop Rick,

The scriptures talk about false prophets and how we are to know the false prophets from the true prophets. "By their fruits ye shall know them." When we look at the fruits that Joseph Smith has accomplished, he has given us the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Peal of Great Price, the priesthood, relief society, temple ordinances and restored Christ's church.

I am paraphrasing, but the scripture says that good fruit can not come from a bad tree, and bad fruit can not come from a good tree, so by their fruits ye shall know them.

I know the Book of Mormon is true because I feel closer to God every time I read it. I feel that it gives me spiritual strength and I can draw upon it for guidance.

That is how I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet.

Jeremy said...

Gospel of Christ, to put your comment into perspective let's pretend for a moment that you are a faithful follower of another religion... (Doesn't matter which, pick one)and then you read "By their fruits ye shall know them." Then think about all the good things that particular religion has done in the world. Think about all the great things that you would *think* is great about your religion because they did something that made you feel good, even if it was publishing some kind of text that may or may not be scripture but sure does make you feel good about what you are doing, believe and hope to become like.

And really, lets think about how good you feel when you read the Book of Mormon. Come on, I know you know the verse about the fruits of the spirit... Galations 5:22-23... something about love and joy and peace and whatever... very subjective feelings, you know I feel the same way when I read the Davinci Code.

POINT: Your feelings toward the "true" church are subjective and open to interpretation.

I might compare it to Pavlov and conditioning your response but that might be too much to blab on about for now.

Bishop Rick said...


It is true that Joseph Smith provided many good "fruits" to the world, including those things you mention below, but I would not give him credit for the Relief Society. The Relief Society was actually thought up by Sarah Kimball with assistance from Eliza Snow. After reviewing the idea, Joseph expanded the purpose of the organization, but then it was under Emma (the first president) that the organization flourished. I don't think you can give Joseph credit for that one.

In addition, with all due respect, using totally subjective materials to prove one's point proves nothing at all. First you use the scriptures, which can't be proven valid, then you use fruits as a determining factor - again based on the scriptures, then you use feelings felt from reading the BofM (again a book that cannot be proven). I guess my point here is that you cannot possibly know that Joseph was a prophet or that the BofM is true. You can believe it, but you cannot know it.

You you believe that Muhammad was a prophet? He brought many good fruits as well.

AngieK said...

Where the spiritual wives of Joseph Smith also sealed to their husbands?

Did Joseph Smith actually live with any of these polygamist wives and if so did they have any children?

I took a brief look at the genealogy records from the link you provided and it appears these 'spiritual' wives only had children with their husbands and not Joseph Smith.


Anonymous said...

I had been a member of the LDS church for over 55 years before I left due to untruths taught. I found that many members were not seaching for truth, but just wanted to belong to the 'club'. Many members have confided in me that they do not believe the teachings but enjoy the social aspects of the organization. grouch

Anonymous said...

Brim over I to but I think the collection should prepare more info then it has.

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