1. Why was Joseph Smith still preaching against polygamy after he received the revelation on it?
2. Was it right or wrong for Solomon to have many wives?
3. Why did God give Adam only one wife?
4. An omission from the current Doctrine and Covenants
5. Why did the Mormons yield to the pressure of the government and stop practicing polygamy?
6. A Bishop should be the husband of one wife
7. The Book of Mormon specifically forbids having more than one wife
8. What are some Bible references supporting polygamy?
See also: Sherry and
in Answers to Submitted Questions.
Note: Many critics' questions relate to quotations from the Journal of Discourses(J. of D.), which was a sixteen-page semimonthly subscription publication privately printed in Liverpool, England, in 1854-1886. It included articles written by twelve different authors who recorded the speeches, mostly in shorthand, as they were delivered from the pulpit. It has never served in the past as a source for official Church teachings or scripture. It reflects the personal feelings, opinions, and speculations of the writers and/or speakers of the time. Because of modern revelation and because of "line-upon-line, precept-upon-precept" progression, we now have information on some of the subjects that was not yet known when the Journal of Discourses was published.
Though the First Presidency endorsed the publication of the Journal there was no endorsement as to the accuracy or reliability of the contents. There were occasions when the accuracy was questionable. The accounts were not always cleared by the speakers because of problems of time and distance.
It was not an official Church publication nor has it ever been a source for official Church doctrine.
1. Why was Joseph Smith still preaching against it in October 1843 after he got his revelation in July 1843 commanding the practice of polygamy? (D & C 132; and History of the Church Vol. 6, page 46, or Teachings of the Prophet, page 324).
A: The Prophet Joseph did not preach against the practice of plural marriage as you suggest. If you read your reference again carefully, he said that no man should practice it "unless directed to do so by the Lord". This has been the policy of the Church both before and after 1843.
2. How can the same act be both right and wrong? Was it right or wrong for Solomon to have many wives?(see Jacob 2:24; D & C 132:38, 39).
A: Jacob 2:24 "Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord."
D&C 132:38 "David also received many wives and concubines, and also Solomon and Moses my servants, as also many others of my servants, from the beginning of creation until this time; and in nothing did they sin save in those things which they received not of me."
Verse 39 explains that, in David's case, the wives and concubines were given to him by the Lord. What was abominable was when he took Bathsheba as a wife and sent her husband into battle to be killed:
"Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon." (2 Samuel 12:9)
In Soloman's case we read the following:
"BUT king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites;
Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love.
And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.
For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.
For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.
And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father."(1 Kings 11:1-6)
It was the fact that Solomon allowed some of his wives to turn his heart away from the Lord, just like Uriah's wife did with David, that resulted in sin or evil. It was not polygamy that was evil.
So in both David's and Solomon's cases, some of their wives and concubines were "received not of me", as God explains in D&C 132:38. And that is what was abominable before the Lord, as stated in Jacob 2:24
3. If polygamy was a provision for increasing population rapidly, why did God give Adam only one wife?
A: When Adam was given Eve the immediate purpose was to be a helpmeet to him in the Garden of Eden and so he would not be alone. They could not have children before the Fall anyway, so it would have done no good to give him more than one wife at that time. After the Fall there was no real reason to rapidly increase the population of God's people, because there was noone else there that would have opposed them.
4. The original Doctrine and Covenants states in part ". . . Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication and polygamy: we declare that we believe that one man should have one wife: and one woman, but one husband, except in the case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again." Why has this been omitted from the current Doctrine and Covenants? (see Joseph Smith Begins His Work, Vol. 2, page 251, last half of the book).
A: This statement which was in the original 1835 D&C Section 101, was never intended to be a revelation but was approved as a statement of belief indicating that monogamy was the practice of the Church at that time. The section was written by Oliver Cowdery, not by Joseph Smith, and was voted upon by members in his absence. Even though the principle of polygamy was know as early as 1832, the intention of this section may have been to prevent members from getting involved with plural marriage until such a time as the practice would be authorized by the Lord Church-wide. When that became the fact, the current Section 132 replaced the old Section 101.
5. Brigham Young said, "The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy." (J. of D., Vol. 11, page 269). Why did the Mormons yield to the pressure of the government and stop practicing polygamy?
A: This only means that those who would become gods must believe in the practice of polygamy as a true principle; not that they must participate in it. In fact it would have been impossible for every man to do it back then because there would not have been enough available women for it. Also, a man had to be called upon by church leaders to take more wives. Not every faithful member was asked to do it.
The church did not yield to pressure. God does not let his church practice any doctrine that goes against the "law of the land"(Article of Faith #12). Once it was obvious that the government was not going to allow it, the prophet received revelation from God to discontinue it. (See Official Declaration 1 and statements at end of D&C)
(See Note above on the J. of D.)
6. Since the bible says that a Bishop should be the husband of one wife, how can Mormons claim that polygamy is proper for New Testament Christians? (1 Timothy 3:2).
A: First of all most Bible scholars do not interpret this scripture as placing a limit to the number of wives a Bishop can have; it is simply refering to the requirement that a Bishop be a married person.
Also, at the time Paul was talking to the New Testament Christians it was not proper for a Bishop to have more than one wife. God can revoke or re-institute a practice or commandment as He sees fit. Such is the case with polygamy.
D&C 56:4 "Wherefore I, the Lord, command and revoke, as it seemeth me good; and all this to be answered upon the heads of the rebellious, saith the Lord."
Plural marriage is righteous and acceptable conduct if God commands it through his prophet, but it is an abomination when the Lord has not commanded it.
Before other Christians condemn Joseph Smith about polygamy they had better examine their own heritage. Jesus is a result of polygamy as is the entire House of Israel, God's covenant people. God established his covenant with polygamist Abraham and said that all nations of the earth would be blessed through him and his seed. Even Gentiles who accept the gospel and are baptized become the seed of Abraham by adoption. (Gal. 3:20). So all Christians claim lineage from a polygamist family.
7. How can Latter-day Saints claim to follow the Book of Mormon when it specifically forbids having more than one wife? (Jacob 2:27-29)
"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;
For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts.
Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes.(Jacob 2:27-29)
These scriptures do tell the Nephites that they weren't to have more than one wife. There is only one exception, however, to this rule. To understand it, we need to read one more verse--
verse 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."
The one exception would be if the Lord commands his people to live otherwise--to raise up a righteous seed--as he did in Old Testament times as well as in the early days of the Restored Church. Plural marriage is righteous and acceptable conduct if God commands it through his prophet, but it is an abomination when the Lord has not commanded it.
8. What are some Bible references supporting polygamy?
A: Here are some references that support the existance of plural marriage in the Old Testament:
Abraham - Gen. 25:1-6
Jacob - Gen. 29 and 30
David - 2 Samuel 12:7-9, 2 Samuel 5:13; 1 Sam.18:27, 2 Sam. 3:2-3, 1 Samuel 25:43, 1 Chronicles 3:1-9
Solomon - 1 Kings 11:3, D&C 132:38-39
Gideon - Judges 8:30
Jehoiada the priest - 2 Chronicles 24:2-3
Moses - Ex. 2:16-21 and Num. 12:1
Deuteronomy 21:15-17 shows polygamy accepted as a valid practice and gives rules governing the inheritance for children of polygamous wives.
(See also Exodus 21:10 and D. & C. 132:7, 29-66.)
If what Abraham and the other O.T. prophets were doing was a sinful practice as some believe, but were still considered righteous prophets of God, why coud not Joseph Smith or Brigham Young practice polygamy and still be righteous prophets of God?