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.
FLDS VS. LDS
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.
Verily, thus saith the Lord...as 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:
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:
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.
Monday, April 28, 2008
Is Polygamy Part of Mormon Doctrine?