Plural Marriage

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.

4 Responses to “Plural Marriage”

  1. April 30, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    This actually very interesting Mark, from the outside perspective I think it is fairly obvious that the Church and it’s leaders find the whole history and doctrine of plural marriage troublesome and awkward, What is perceived as a concerted effort to minimize it or refocus attention and put polygamy as minor footnote in the history of the Church, to me this is all completely to be expected and normal as it parallels culture and the nature of man.

    Fallen man is more concerned about his own fallen image and in that tries to present the best possible image to cover up his failings and shortcomings, it goes back to the garden the first thing Adam and Eve did was to cover themselves hiding their shame, because now their eyes had a different focus or different standard of good and evil, they felt shame and desperately wanted to cover it. Because man is lost and weak man and trying to lead himself in darkness he is as shifting sand in the desert; we see this in all aspects of life under the Sun, from fashion to laws to revisionist history and ever changing social mores.Unless something movable is tethered to something immovable and unchangeable, it will shift and change over time, that’s why as Christians our faith is founded on the rock of Christ, and the word of God, the Bible as our bedrock of truth.

    The Mormon Church is a shaped by a number of influences, the culture and laws of the day as well as the attitudes and personalities of it’s leaders, but within Mormonism this is presented as “ongoing revelation”, or “new guidelines” Now just to be fair and also to lead to my main point the Christian church has suffered from these types of changes and whitewashing this is an area where we should be really open about Christianity’s history, as it is spotted and blemished, and the reason we can and must be very forthcoming is the truth is it’s not about the church and it’s perfection it’s about Jesus and His.

    Because the Mormon Church ends up putting itself ahead of Jesus as to the door of salvation it creates a problem, it must now focus on trying to maintain what is ultimately a shifting image of the perfect true church before the world, as it calls itself the One true Church and as such all flaws or imperfections must be hidden or obfuscated.

    The LDS Church has replaced Jesus’ first and only position as the Way the Truth and the Life. The Mormon Church has now become the new “truth” by their claims of being the “One True Church” Membership in the Church and the road to Exaltation become the new “Way and Life” You ultimately end up going first through Joseph Smith then the book of Mormon, Church membership and then meeting the church standards and path to exaltation and then finally when you’re finish doing all that one can do then you receive the grace offered through the Atonement.

    True Biblical Christianity teaches you always go straight to Jesus for your Salvation.

    If you look at the bible God always presents man in truth there is no whitewashing, no revisionism, fallen man is shown in all his flaws and sins but also as examples of God’s redemptive work within them and examples of faith “the good and the bad” The Christian Church doesn’t need to revise History or present something other than the truth. We can always tell the truth, because once again it’s not about our perfection but His.

    We have examples of both good and bad in church history, we are very much like Adam, Abraham, King David, Jacob, Peter etc, we are flawed and imperfect but that only makes the Perfect Light of Christ shine that much brighter in this world of darkness. We as Christians must always put forth the perfect spotless image of Jesus Christ as the way the truth and the life, not the church. The church is a redemptive work in progress her sanctification and preparation for her groom and the glorious wedding day is yet to come. I invite Mormons to come to our Imperfect Churches and taste of the true goodness and perfection that starts at the foot of the cross.

    May 1, 2013 at 11:41 am

    Praise thy Lord. i have been reading your powerful messages from WordPress.com&to me i cant take them for granted.i think marriege is ordained with God.according LDS teaching i think you can marry anther wife.you divorced or if your wife has died.

  3. 3 markcares
    May 1, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    Hi Kepher:
    Yes, the Bible says that you can remarry in certain situations. But it also says that marriage is between one man and one woman. God did not create two or more Eves for Adam. Having more than one spouse at the same time is what the Bible doesn’t sanction.

  4. May 7, 2013 at 9:36 am

    Mark , you said concerning talking about polygamy : ” ….more importantly , however , I have’nt 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 . ”

    I agree with you that talking about our relationship with Jesus is considerably more important than talking
    about anything else . Thank you for your insistence on that priority . When I look at what Mormon apostles
    have claimed as to why we should trust them to be the true officers in Jesus’ Church in these latter days , I
    have to look at polygamy . Why ? Because of what was taught about this practice by these men . It was
    declared to be a vital part of Jesus’ gospel ; it was said to be a church ordinance as important and essential
    as baptism ; it was taught that it was a part of ” the religion ” of heaven . These are a few examples of
    what Mormon authorities taught about polygamy, and so we can evaluate these teachings in the light of
    God’s Word as we are told to do because of the danger of being misled into accepting a false gospel
    promulgated by men in the latter days who will mimic the claims of Jesus’ true apostles —-2Cor 11:15 .
    Good and sincere people can fall for spiritual deception , and the Mormon people did so when they
    accepted polygamy . In 1830 Mormon leaders claimed to have restored the church that Jesus had
    established 1700yrs earlier , and the gospel that Paul subsequently preached in His travels—Rom 1:16 .
    However , by inserting polygamy into that gospel Mormon apostles thus altered Jesus’ true gospel —
    —Gal 1: 8 . We simply cannot trust Mormon apostles to be consistent guides in spiritual truths from
    God , they have succumbed to teaching for doctrine the commandments of men —-and polygamy is
    a good example of this .
    The Mormon people deserve to know about Jesus and His true gospel that is still available today .

    Thanks again Mark for your labor of love to these precious people .

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April 2013

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