Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Mormons and Polygamy

Here is a question I received from a non-LDS reader, who lives in Europe:

 "Why is there a connection between mormons and polygamy? In the Book of Mormon it is clearly and rather lenghtily said that polygamy is a very bad thing and sooner will a pagan in a decent marriage with 1 woman go to heaven than a mormon with several wives. So why were some of the mormon leaders (B. Young) polygamous and why are there still (I`ve heard different things about the present state, some say there aren`t and some say there are. Was there within recent years a case in America where children were removed from a polygamous mormon commune?) people who are polygamous and call themselves mormons? "

To answer this question, I refer to this article from mormonnewsroom.org:
"Today, the practice of polygamy is strictly prohibited in the Church, as it has been for over 120 years. Polygamy — or more correctly polygyny, the marriage of more than one woman to the same man — was a part of the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for a half-century. The practice began during the lifetime of Joseph Smith but became publicly and widely known during the time of Brigham Young.
In 1831, Church founder Joseph Smith made a prayerful inquiry about the ancient Old Testament practice of plural marriage. This resulted in the divine instruction to reinstitute the practice as a religious principle.

Latter-day Saint converts in the 19th century had been raised in traditional, monogamous homes and struggled with the idea of a man having more than one wife. It was as foreign to them as it would be to most families today in the western world, and even Brigham Young, who was later to have many wives and children, confessed to his initial dread of the principle of plural marriage.

Subsequently, in 1890, President Wilford Woodruff, fourth president of the Church, received what Latter-day Saints believe to be a revelation in which God withdrew the command to practice plural marriage. He issued what has come to be known as the "Manifesto," a written declaration to Church members and the public at large that stopped the practice of plural marriage.

Today Church members honor and respect the sacrifices made by those who practiced polygamy in the early days of the Church. However, the practice is banned in the Church, and no person can practice plural marriage and remain a member.

The standard doctrine of the Church is monogamy, as it always has been, as indicated in the Book of Mormon (Jacob, chapter 2): “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 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.”
In other words, the standard of the Lord’s people is monogamy unless the Lord reveals otherwise. Latter-day Saints believe the season the Church practiced polygamy was one of these exceptions.

Polygamous groups and individuals in and around Utah often cause confusion for casual observers and for visiting news media. The polygamists and polygamist organizations in parts of the western United States and Canada have no affiliation whatsoever with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, despite the fact that the term "Mormon" — widely understood to be a nickname for Latter-day Saints — is sometimes incorrectly applied to them."

From The Family: A Proclamation to the World, [a proclamation written by our presiding church leaders. It is an official proclamation to the whole world on what God holds sacred: marriage and family] it emphasizes how important marriage and family is to our Father in heaven.

"Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God "
"Family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children "

Because marriage and family are so key and so important to the Lord, He has at times in the history of this earth, commanded His children to practice polygamy.  We know from the Bible, that many of the the Lord's holy prophets had many wives. A key example would be Jacob who was married to Leah, Rachel, as well as their handmaidens. Jacob's name was later changed to Israel and his posterity is known as "The Children of Israel". 

Then there were other times, that the Lord's holy prophets had monogomous marriages and it was a sin in the eyes of God to have more than one wife, as it is now.

We have to keep our eyes on the prophet and on the Lord. He will guide us and never lead us astray.

The Lord is in charge and has a purpose and plan.  Nothing He commands is a coincidence or an accident. 

I go back to my favorite scripture from the Book of Mormon: Mosiah 4: 9

"Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend."