Over the years I have rarely talked about polygamy (or, as the LDS Church calls it, plural marriage) either on this blog or in conversations with LDS members. There are a couple of reasons why I have often refrained from mentioning it. The first is that I often talk about what is being currently taught in the LDS Church and plural marriage is rarely mentioned in that context. More importantly, however, I haven’t talked about it much because I strive to stick to the most important subjects such as our worthiness in Christ and how, because of him, we can be assured that we will live forever with Heavenly Father.
But I have decided to talk about it today because an upcoming lesson in the LDS Church is about family relationships. Chapter 9 of the Teachings of Lorenzo Snow is entitled “Sacred Family Relationships”. What I found interesting is that it begins with a description of a reunion of his large family that he initiated in 1884. But no mention is made of the fact that he had more than one wife. This omission is especially striking since he would be imprisoned for practicing plural marriage less than two years after that event. But neither in that description nor in the whole chapter is there even a whiff of the fact that he was a polygamist. (To be fair, the book does mention that fact very briefly in the introductory history that precedes the chapters. But it has also been my experience, since no lessons are based on that history, very few church members read it.)
This avoidance of the subject of plural marriage is common. A striking example of such avoidance involved a couple of friends who toured the Beehive House in Salt Lake City last summer. The Beehive House is a large house where numerous of Brigham Young’s wives lived. But that was not mentioned by the tour guides. My friends repeatedly tried to politely raise that issue but each time the tour guides changed the subject. This coincides with how it is described on lds.org. “The Beehive House was built between 1853 and 1855 and served as home to Brigham Young when he was President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and governor of the Utah Territory
This avoidance of the subject of plural marriage helps explain why some LDS members aren’t even aware that it is part of their history or doctrine. (The doctrine of plural marriage is enshrined in LDS Scripture in D&C 132.) Many non-Mormons are astonished by such ignorance and often conclude that their LDS friend is just not being honest. I’m sure that is sometimes the case, but I also know LDS members who truly did not know about this facet of their religion. Don’t automatically assume your LDS friends are being disingenuous if they express ignorance about polygamy.
I would also like to hear, from my LDS readers, your thoughts on plural marriage. Do you believe that men will be able to have more than one wife in eternity? Is that part of what you think of when you think of having an eternal family? What about those men who were sealed to multiple women? Let me know your thoughts.