Project Conversion

Project Conversion

Multiple Wives: A Divine Right?

posted by abowen

When I turned 14 years old, I started working summers with my dad. He delivered bags of ice to the beach out of an 18-wheeler and, as it was with the Army, he spent a lot of time away from home. Because the days were long, I usually made a killing taking this ice to all the vacationers at the beach. We delivered mostly to grocery stores and gas stations so we constantly bumped into customers as we unloaded the climate-controlled trailer. One joke we constantly heard:

“Man, you have the coolest job in the world!”

Yeah, that was catchy…for the first week. Like all jokes told ad infinitum, it got old quick.

The same thing happened this month. When folks learn I’m exploring the Latter-day Saints, I am invariably asked, “So, you gonna pick up a few extra wives?”

At first, I would brush off the joke with a chuckle, but eventually–as happened with the ice jokes–I wanted to strangle the messenger. At one point, I considered replying with: “Yeah, how about I borrow yours for 31 days?”

So here I am, taking offense about a stereotype and I’m only an honorary member of the church. See what Project Conversion does? It makes you part of the tribe, and once you’re part of the tribe, you start looking at things in a whole new way.

Anyway, the jokes got the gears turning about this rumored polygamy thing. Was it really part of LDS culture, or just something hanging on the fringe of the church? More importantly, is this practice condoned scripturally?

The answer is: yes, and all over the place.

Genesis 16: 2-3 says,

2And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the Lord hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. 3And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.

The implied purpose in the giving of a Hagar was to produce offspring. Remember, Abram (he wasn’t known as Abraham yet) was promised to become the “father of many nations.” Can’t do that with just one or two kids.

We see plural marriages and the use of concubines all through the Old Testament (or Tanakh for our Jewish friends), especially with kings and patriarchs like David, Solomon, and Abraham. Conservative theologians maintain that Jesus played hard-to-get and went lone wolf during his life. Turned out, he had more important things to do…

Next, we look at specific LDS scripture, namely The Doctrine and Covenants. The D & C is scripture written by the prophet Joseph Smith as well as a few other church presidents and contains revealed wisdom, guidance, and information for the church–usually as Joseph Smith and others asked for it from God. Section 132: 59-66 specifically addresses the issue of polygamy,

61 And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood–if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else. 62 And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified. 63But if one or either of the ten virgins, after she is espoused, shall be with another man, she has committed adultery, and shall be destroyed; for they are given unto him to multiply and replenish the earth, according to my commandment, and to fulfil the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my Father continued, that he may be glorified.

Why would Joseph Smith need revelation for more wives? The man was in the middle of building a religious movement. Did he really need the added pressure of a growing household? One theory I’ve heard is that Joseph’s wife caught him in bed with another woman. Subsequently, the Lord “revealed” the aforementioned scripture in order to justify his actions. On the other hand, we must remember that LDS members believe that each of us are spirit children, born of God, who planned for us to inhabit the earth that we might gain experience. In this context, Joseph Smith and other early church leaders/members seemed interested in expediting that plan. With such revelation in hand, they were cooking with grease.

The practice of polygamy continued through several leaders in the church until the United States government turned up the legislative heat on the matter in the 1862. By the 1880′s, the added pressure against polygamy had many LDS men on the run. Increasing turmoil in the church led then LDS president and prophet, Wilford Woodruff, to seek guidance from the Lord. Apparently, the Lord said enough is enough.

In 1889, church president Woodruff made an official declaration of the church called the Manifesto,” in order to abolish the practice of polygamy,

Inasmuch as laws have been enacted by Congress forbidding plural marriages, which laws have been pronounced constitutional by the court of last resort, I hereby declare my intention to submit to those laws, and to use my influence with the members of the Church over which I preside to have them do likewise. There is nothing in my teachings to the Church or in those of my associates, during the time specified, which can be reasonably construed to inculcate or encourage polygamy; and when any Elder of the Church has used language which appeared to convey any such teaching, he has been promptly reproved. And I now publicly declare that my advice to the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land.

The die was cast and the mainstream LDS church officially stands against polygamy to this day, going so far as stating on the site: “Groups who teach polygamy today are not part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”


Seems the death of polygamy in the LDS church is certain. But reality is never so cut and dry. The church still deals with the residue of their past to this day in the form of jokes, ridicule, ignorance, and even entertainment. Shows like Sister Wives and Big Love open the fresh wound of the polygamy issue on a daily basis. Interestingly enough, the cast of Sister Wives is even filing suit to legalize ”cohabitation and bigamy.”

Should be an interesting case.

The lesson here is to ask ourselves how we look at scripture in modern times. Polygamy was clearly given the green light during Joseph Smith’s time and those of the Bible, so if God and his wisdom is a universal constant, why change? Had the United States not issued laws against polygamy, would then church president Woodruff still issue the Manifesto against polygamy? Were his instructions divinely inspired, or reactionary? I don’t know, but cases such as these help us realize the more controversial side of all our scriptures…some that we tend to tuck under the rug as if to hide from view.

Does society change because of divine wisdom, or does divine wisdom adapt to changes in society?

For more information on the church’s position regarding polygamy, visit the LDS website.

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Previously blindly-obedient "elite" LDS ~ Kay Dee

posted August 18, 2011 at 6:22 am

As an “honorary” LDS outsider, there is much for you to learn!

The Book of Mormon states that polygamy is an ABOMINATION of the Lord, no matter who practices it…not even if it is King David and his son Solomon (Jacob 2:23-24) and the Nephites were destroyed because they practiced polygamy (Jacob 3). The Doctrine of Covenants warned Joseph Smith that if he followed “his own counsel and CARNAL DESIRES he would fall” and he used his position of spiritual power to justify polygamy much like Warren Jeffs has done (D&C 3:1-11).
Also, D&C 132 which you quote from was politically added to justify polygamy by carnally-minded, fallible men in the late 1880s with section 101 altered due to its teachings of sanctified monogamy in line with the teachings of Christ!

The Lord never sanctioned Abraham’s lying to the Prince regarding Sarah (said she was his sister due to his fear of man) or sexual use of Hagoth due to the lack of faith of Sarah!

The Lord allows free agency and consequences will follow! Attempted murder and contempt followed Abraham’s adultery with Hagoth with Sarah and Hagoth hating each other. Through Hagoth’s posterity we have today the Muslims who hate Christians with resulting religious wars evident even today (9/11, etc.).

The Book of Mormon also prophesies regarding the corruption of the LDS church (“the most great and abominable church” and its cleansing! (1st Nephi 13, 2 Nephi 28, 2 Nephi 3:24, etc.)

I’m telling the truth as a concerned and knowledgeable Mormon. Here is a post that I posted elsewhere:

As a truth-seeking and truth-telling Mormon who is aware of historical and present-day facts, all Americans need to know that all temple-going LDS members have taken a blood oath of loyalty to the church rather than to God or country. The penalty for disobedience of the oath was demonstrated prior to 1990 by slitting the throat, cutting out the heart and intestines as ways to “suffer my life to be taken” (actual LDS quote). After 1990, the penalty actions were removed but are still “assumed” today…

This consecration of “time, talent, and all that you do possess to the building up of the kingdom” is serious and justifies LDS leaders to steal from wealthy members and, of course, all “gentiles”.

The Mormon church is the “third most hated religion” in America (see blog article on BeliefNet) with good reason. Polygamy is still very much believed in with women as 2nd class citizens in Utah (can’t make it to Heaven without a man with the Priesthood) and practiced with temple “celestial sealings of men to many wives but not visa versa. The fruits of the belief in polygamy is seen with Utah having the highest rate of depression in the nation (U.S. Census 2004 to present) and the highest rate of online pornography subscription in America (2-9-2009 Salt Lake Tribune article) and pedophila searches. The “carnal desires” of men goes rampant when polygamy justifies lustful actions as seen with Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and Warren Jeffs…all men of power who “married” very young children and even wives of other men and justified it in the name of God.

Interestingly, Joseph Smith was warned in LDS doctrine (Doctrine & Covenants 3:1-11) against “following his own will and carnal desires” or he would fall! Obviously, he did not heed this advise from God to the ridicule of the church throughout America.

No, America needs to be aware that America is only ready for a Mormon President after the LDS church comes clean with its “abominable” history of polygamy (warned AGAINST in the Book of Mormon as seen in Jacob 2:23-24 and Jacob 3) and Satanic Masonry which requires a blood oath which Christ warned us against…”as it comes of evil”.

Because I believe in the warnings and prophesies of the ORIGINAL Book of Mormon I’m telling the truth for the good of the LDS church!

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posted July 24, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Hello S.C., thanks for taking time to read the post.

The interesting aspect of the Judao-Christian and Islamic scriptures is that we aren’t usually given a list of directions to follow so much as a narrative passage through a person or people’s interaction with their God. In this way, we see men and women falling into error and God creating avenues of escape or redemption for many problems. In the Abraham case, there is clearly a problem going on in the bedroom between himself and his wife Sarai. The passage I used showed how God was able to use such an unfortunate situation and transform it into the legacy of the nation of Israel. There are also many cases in the Bible where polygamy is so common that it is only mentioned in passing, where God appears more worried about the political/religious affairs of his people. Jacob, for example, had many wives and to my knowledge was never cursed but blessed for the children who came from these unions (Tribes of Israel). That great warrior Gideon and king Solomon also had many wives. Their problems were never directly correlated with how many wives they had, but with either one woman in particular or another character error. King David’s affair with his general’s wife produced not only a marriage (one of many) but a genetic line toward Jesus. In all these cases, God used a negative to create a possitive. As a Christian pastor and friend once told me on the issue, it isn’t that God particularly directs the use of plural marriage, but he doesn’t outright say it’s wrong either. In every faith that has, in its history, supported some idea of plural marriage, there were always guidelines. The Qur’an as well as the Doctrine and Covenants hold these guidelines. For the LDS church, once the need for polygamy ended (and a little pressure from the US gov.), God appears to remove the practice from the church.

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posted July 24, 2011 at 8:39 am

Your Biblical references for “condoning” polygamy and such are used incorrectly. If you do a study on the instances where polygamy (which is basically adultery), etc… are committed, GOD never condoned such things in scripture. Period. Though, often, society “condoned” it. If you, in fact, do a deep study, you will easily find that those who committed acts of polygamy in scripture – especially the ones you mentioned, regarding Abraham & Sarah (Abram and Sarai) and Hagar, you will find where they were punished/disciplined/cursed by God because of their acts against Him. Nowhere in Scripture does God condone such things. Before using scripture references, I recommend doing much more in depth research, including exploring the scripture as a whole, taking it in context, and looking at the whole picture. Just because something happened and was written about in Scripture doesn’t mean God necessarily condoned it.

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posted July 21, 2011 at 8:02 am

The “(non-Mormon) Bible”?  I’m Mormon, and the Bible I read, also known as the King James Version of the Holy Bible, has these incidents that you mentioned about prophets and patriarchs committing sins.

This reference to “non-Mormon Bible” leads me to believe that you think (or would like other people to think) that the Book of Mormon is the Bible in the eyes of the LDS people.  For anyone who may be casually scrolling through this and misunderstand you in any way… I’d like to clarify.  Mormons believe in, study, use, read, quote, and live by the precepts of the King James Version of the Holy Bible. We also believe in, study, use, read, quote, and live by the precepts of other Testaments of Jesus Christ and his ministry throughout the rest of the world, namely the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. 

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