Gospel Doctrine Lesson 12 is a study of Jacob 1-4 in the Book of Mormon. There are a number of things that could be looked at in these chapters. One of its main topics is a condemnation of polygamy or plural marriages. The following verses are from Jacob 2.
“22 And now I make an end of speaking unto you concerning this pride. And were it not that I must speak unto you concerning a grosser crime, my heart would rejoice exceedingly because of you. 23 But the word of God burdens me because of your grosser crimes. For behold, thus saith the Lord: This people begin to wax in iniquity; they understand not the scriptures, for they seek to excuse themselves in committing whoredoms, because of the things which were written concerning David, and Solomon his son. 24 Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord. 25 Wherefore, thus saith the Lord, I have led this people forth out of the land of Jerusalem, by the power of mine arm, that I might raise up unto me a righteous branch from the fruit of the loins of Joseph. 26 Wherefore, I the Lord God will not suffer that this people shall do like unto them of old. 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.”
Here is how the teacher’s manual addresses this section:
“1. Jacob condemns the unauthorized practice of plural marriage
• Whom did the Nephites claim as examples to justify their whoredoms?
(See Jacob 2:23–24.) Why were David and Solomon unworthy examples?
(See D&C 132:38–39. The Lord gave wives and concubines to David and
Solomon, but they sinned by marrying additional wives outside of the
covenant.) You may want to explain that anciently, a concubine was not
an immoral mistress, but a legal wife of lesser social standing (see Bruce R.
McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. , 154).
• What marriage law did Jacob teach to the Nephites? (See Jacob 2:27–28.)
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “I have constantly said no man shall have
but one wife at a time, unless the Lord directs otherwise” (Teachings of the
Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith , 324).
Explain that the Lord gave such direction (see D&C 132), but He later withdrew
His sanction of plural marriage when conditions changed (see Official
Declaration 1). Emphasize that the law of the Lord regarding marriage today is
the same as it was in Jacob’s day.”
It’s interesting that Joseph Smith didn’t get a revelation (D&C 132) until July, 1843 that David and Solomon sinned only “by marrying additional wives outside of the covenant”. Until that time, all LDS members must have thought, on the basis of Jacob 2, that they sinned by having many wives – period. Why would not the Lord have clarified this sooner?
It’s also interesting that the teacher’s manual doesn’t specify exactly how the conditions changes for the Lord to withdrew his sanction of plural marriage. Was it because of the pressure being brought on the LDS Church by the United States government? It’s obvious from the wording of the Official Declaration that political considerations were paramount.
But even more to the point, if it truly was a revelation from the Lord allowing, even encouraging, plural marriage during the mid 1800’s, why are so many Mormons so hesitant to talk about it and its role in Mormonism’s history?