The Polygamy Question

This entry is part 16 of 50 in the series 2011A

A reader writes:
There is only one thing that has bothered me so far and that is your explanation on Joseph Smith and polygamy? It sounds like you completely believe he was (and is) a prophet but this explanation you give to explain polygamy just is not sitting well with me at all … I do believe in Joseph being a prophet and as such believe in the doctrine of polygamy. How can you believe a man was a prophet and not believe in a vital doctrine that he taught?

JJ
I think that the LDS have a wrong view of prophets. Not every word they teach is God breathed or the black and white truth. For instance, Joseph’s revelation on selling the copyright to the Book of Mormon turned out to be completely untrue.

Even Jesus said the temple would be destroyed so not one stone would be left upon another, but there still exists a wailing wall.

To follow any flesh and blood man without question is to receive the mark of the beast. The only infallible authority comes from the Spirit within. If you want to know the truth behind polygamy or any other doctrine you must run it by your own soul be open to all things as a little child. I have done this and get no go-head to practice polygamy but do not condemn anyone who does through their own free will.

I believe Joseph saw the beginnings of The Molecular Relationship (see my book on this) but what he received was misinterpreted.

It is difficult to sort out all that happened with polygamy. It is interesting that there is not proof that Joseph fathered even one child through his dozens of wives. So far all DNA testing has shown that kids thought to be descended from him are not.
Here’s an interesting book you might want to check out:

http://restorationbookstore.org/jsfp-index.htm

Reader:
So what is for your feeling as to why most of the ancient prophets practiced polygamy? … Is your feeling that they all practiced it out of free will? From what I have read they thought that they would receive greater blessings and rewards which before I had just thought of that as more posterity but when you have 1,000 or more lives how much more posterity do you need, right?

JJ
Not only did the ancient prophets practice polygamy but just about all the ancient peoples did. Many pharaohs, kings, tribal leaders, religious leaders practiced it. Greece and Rome were two empires that only practiced it during part of their histories. Herod of New testament fame had nine wives.

Mohamed had numerous wives and that tradition is still carried on among the wealthy Moslems today. Would you like to be a plural wife of a Taliban leader? I don’t think so.

Just about anyone who had the means to support more than one wife was polygamous in most cultures. Polygamy was much more prevalent among the rich and powerful than the common people for it was all an average guy could do to support one wife and the kids – and often this was a terrible struggle.

This also worked in reverse. Many powerful women in the ancient world had more than one lover, but weren’t usually officially married to them.

So basically polygamy thrived in the ancient world and powerful men took numerous wives because they could. Powerful men also took many slaves. Why? Because they could. Interestingly, neither slavery or polygamy were condemned in the Bible. That doesn’t make either of them right. It just tells us that the consciousness of the people in that age was not prepared to change their age old traditions.

It is interesting that the early Mormons practiced polygamy yet the practice was condemned in the Book of Mormon, the foundation book of Mormonism.

Jacob 1:15 And now it came to pass that the people of Nephi, under the reign of the second king, began to grow hard in their hearts, and indulge themselves somewhat in wicked practices, such as like unto David of old desiring many wives and concubines, and also Solomon, his son.
16 Yea, and they also began to search much gold and silver, and began to be lifted up somewhat in pride.

Jacob 2:23 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.
30 For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.
31 For behold, I, the Lord, have seen the sorrow, and heard the mourning of the daughters of my people in the land of Jerusalem, yea, and in all the lands of my people, because of the wickedness and abominations of their husbands.
32 And I will not suffer, saith the Lord of Hosts, that the cries of the fair daughters of this people, which I have led out of the land of Jerusalem, shall come up unto me against the men of my people, saith the Lord of Hosts.
33 For they shall not lead away captive the daughters of my people because of their tenderness, save I shall visit them with a sore curse, even unto destruction; for they shall not commit whoredoms, like unto them of old, saith the Lord of Hosts.
34 And now behold, my brethren, ye know that these commandments were given to our father, Lehi; wherefore, ye have known them before; and ye have come unto great condemnation; for ye have done these things which ye ought not to have done.
35 Behold, ye have done greater iniquities than the Lamanites, our brethren. Ye have broken the hearts of your tender wives, and lost the confidence of your children, because of your bad examples before them; and the sobbings of their hearts ascend up to God against you. And because of the strictness of the word of God, which cometh down against you, many hearts died, pierced with deep wounds.

Series NavigationThe Gold Standard, Part 2Hell on Earth, Part 1

6 thoughts on “The Polygamy Question

  1. JJ I wanted to help with this statement:

    “There are about 40,000 polygamists today in Utah, many more than in the days of Brigham Young. I haven’t heard of any geniuses coming from any of these families.”

    Here’s one. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Eyring.

    They are actually pretty easy to find. First, you need to research those who are the famous Mormons and then research their ancestry. Now that you have your list you just judge whether you think they are “geniuses” or not.

    Bear in mind this is a “skeleton in the closet” issue, so when making that list you may need to dig a little deeper.

    Also, I have never heard a celebrity Mormon announce, “Yes, I am a success and I owe it all to my polygamist ancestors.”

    For some reason I don’t think you can always judge the fruits of the fathers by the children. People like JFK, Laman, & Lemuel had some pretty different works than their fathers.

    1. I’m descended from Wilford Woodruff, a well known polygamist, but was raised in a very non religious atmosphere. My point was that kids raised in a polygamist situation are at a disadvantage and it’s unlikely that an advanced soul who has some choice in the matter would chose to be born in that situation. I’m sure there are a handful who have been raised in a polygamous compound situation that have made something positive of their lives, but I would bet that the percentage is a lot lower than kids in monogamous families.

  2. I have done much thinking about this whole polygamy situation. The one thing that I noticed about the Book of Mormon scriptures on “no polygamy for the Nephites” is that one must take a look at who the Lord gave as an example when he decided not to allow the Nephites to practice polygamy. He brought up two leaders.. David and Solomon. He did not bring up Abraham, or Jacob or any other family members that did practice it. Why? Both David and Solomon abused the term marriage. David we know committed adultery with his last wife and had her husband killed in battle so he could posses her. Coveting your neighbors wife was still one of the big ten. By the law.. David should have been stoned and certainly his last wife should have been.

    Next we have Solomon. And what was his crime. He married outside the covenant. The Queen of Sheba was not an Israelite and did not worship the God of Israel. She worshiped her pagan Gods. So it would be easy to say that God was certainly displeased with the decisions made by both of these men.

    Last.. polygamy was certainly used by the Lord to increase the seed he wanted raised up. The covenant he made with Abraham is most indicative of this. If you look at the land that Abraham inhabited.. he was in direct competition with other peoples. Look at the Nephite situation.. they were not. Reading 2 Ne 10:20.. Jacob, the brother of Nephi, has been explaining to his people a bit about the Jews and God’s past dealings with them. In part of this verse he reveals a bit about the land they are in. He says: “…… nevertheless, we have been driven out of the land of our inheritance; but we have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea.”

    They were upon an island.. completely surrounded by water. There was no contention or competition with other peoples. Everyone on that island all originated from two groups sent to that island.. the Lehites and the Mulekites. And of course the Jaredites 1500 years earlier. There was no need to “raise up a seed” with polygamy as they were all on this island.. there was no hurry. They were protected from outside influence. And as stated by the Lord and pointed out by JJ.. “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.”

    As far as why polygamy in the 1800’s.. there could be several reasons for it. First I know and feel that it had to come to an end at some point as when the church started to grow to be world wide… polygamy could not go with it. Second.. for it to exist.. there had to be a better reason than just “raising up a seed”. It did happen for the Mormons.. but the real thing I see is that the Mormons had many problems before polygamy became an “issue”. So if the Mormons had not been practicing polygamy.. do you think that people would have just “left them alone” in the Salt Lake Valley? They had been pushed out of every place they had been and polygamy was not even in the picture. I think that because they were now openly practicing polygamy in the Salt Lake Valley.. this gave the people, the government and the enemies of the Church something to focus upon. It became the driving force of everyone back east. GET THE MORMONS TO STOP PRACTICING POLYGAMY. Polygamy was the focal point and the fight was not with the people so much.. as this one doctrine. The time it took for them to focus on this one problem.. left the Mormons to do others things. Like watching the right hand and missing what the left does. So in a way.. I believe that Polygamy saved the Mormons from a more extreme persecution than if polygamy had not been around.

  3. You wrote:

    “Even Jesus said the temple would be destroyed so not one stone would be left upon another, but there still exists a wailing wall.”

    There does exist a wall in Jerusalem that Jews started calling the “Wailing Wall” many centuries after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. However the testimony of eyewitnesses is that the Romans destroyed the Temple and dug it up to the foundations looking for gold that might have melted and run down into the cracks of the foundations (they had thousands of Jewish slaves captured in the war to do this for them). What Jews many generations later identified as the “Wailing Wall” might in fact be the remains of the Fortress Antonia, the fort used by the Romans in Jerusalem which was adjacent to the Temple before it was destroyed.

    This website http://www.askelm.com argues for this conclusion, in particular this article (link below):

    http://www.askelm.com/temple/t980504.htm

    So it may very well be that Jesus was 100% accurate in his prediction about the Temple being completely destroyed. It would be very ironic indeed if modern Jews were in fact worshipping at a wall of the fort used by the destoyers of Jerusalem.

    In regards to polygamy, it would seem to me that these verses you quoted should end any controversy as to whether or not polygamy is a spiritual doctrine. It might, as you said, be a practical doctrine after a war where many of the men died and it was simply necessary to repopulate a country. When I read the article “Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy” at the Restoration Bookstore some time ago that you referenced it struck me quite forcefully as containing much more real truth than the claim by LDS, led by Brigham Young, that Joseph taught polygamy. I personally believe that was a contrived and orchestrated lie after his death.

    lwk

  4. This is a principle I always use whenever I hear or read anything:

    “Pretend you have never heard anything pro or con about polygamy and then run it by your soul and see what you feel. The inner voice must always be the greatest authority in the life of the disciple.”

    Ruth

    By the say JJ, there is a typo : truth behind polygamy or any other doctrine you must rum……should be ‘run”

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