Mormon Polygamy

In the early 1840’s Joseph Smith learned about polygamy while translating the Book of Mormons. He explained it to Brigham Young, but both were reluctant to institute the principle. By the 1850’s it was instituted, but members of the Mormon Church no longer engage in polygamy.

Many people including members of the Mormon Church wonder why polygamy was practiced. The best answer is because God commanded them. God has not revealed why he instituted polygamy in the early days of the Church, but some people believe that it was done to raise a large number of second and third generation of Church members who were born into families with parents deeply devoted to the Church. This is because men had to be called by God to practice polygamy and their worthiness was strictly watched.

In 1890 the Prophet Wilford Woodruff issued a proclamation that officially stopped the practice of polygamy within the Mormon Church. By this time there were actually very few people who were practicing polygamy. The main reason why polygamy was stopped is because the Mormon Church teaches that its members are subject to the laws of their land, and the United States had passed a law making polygamy illegal. Wilford Woodruff went to the Lord and asked him if they should obey the laws of the land and God revealed to him that polygamy should be stopped.

The current prophet and president of the Church, Gordon B. Hinckley stated, “I wish to state categorically that this Church has nothing whatever to do with those practicing polygamy. They are not members of this Church. Most of them have never been members. They are in violation of the civil law. They know they are in violation of the law. They are subject to its penalties. The Church, of course, has no jurisdiction whatever in this matter.

“If any of our members are found to be practicing plural marriage, they are excommunicated, the most serious penalty the Church can impose. Not only are those so involved in direct violation of the civil law, they are in violation of the law of this Church.” Polygamy is also not allowed within the Church even in countries where it is allowed. The Church today teaches that marriage is strictly monogamous and no one can be a member of the Church and practice plural marriage.

Other Links:
About Polygamy

History of Mormon Polygamy

Why Mormonism

Social and Political Reactions to Mormon Polygamy

  1. It is well documented that members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve apostles continued to secretly sanction at least some plural marriages through 1904, when Joseph F. Smith issued the second manifesto.

  2. Why does your link to “About Polygamy” take me to a different place than it did yesterday?

    It looks like someone decided they didn’t like the information available at

    What’s the story?

  3. Duh, I should’ve read under the LDS Headlines on the BCC site …

    BYU polygamy Web page dumped – Salt Lake Tribune

  4. Larry Schneider

    Today I read something in the book, “The teachings of the prophet Joseph Smith” . He made this little questionaire because he said that he was simply tired of being asked the same questions over and over a thousand times. He was obviously asked the question about his understanding of the scriptures (don’t quote me on it) and I can’t quote exactly, but it was to the effect that well I could do no more wrong in my interpetation than those of the sectarian world. Well, you know I totally agree with him. The sectarian world cannot see very far ahead or behind. Now first of all it must be agreed upon as to who was the giver of the Law of Moses: Was it given to Moses by the Lord or was it kinda made up by Moses? And not just the “Ten Commandment” part. There was far more to the Law of Moses than the ten commandments alone. There was many different laws given for many different things. But within the Ten Commandment part, it does say, ” Thou shalt not commit adultry”. Yet when we go to, let’s say deuteronomy, here we have a law dealing with the case of inheritances among the children. And though not verbatim, it does say something like, ” Now if a man marry him a woman and she bare him a son, and in time he marry another woman and she bare him a son also, and she find more favor in his eyes than the first wife, yet when the time comes for him to make his sons inherit that which he hath, he shall not put the son of the second wife as the first born before the son of the less favored wife who is indeed the first born, but shall acknowledge that he is the first born by giving him a double portion of what he has, for he is the beginning of his strength and the right of the first born belongeth to him.” Now if plural marraige is wrong or evil before God,then why did He give such a detailed law as that one and why did HE not simply say, ” Ye shall not have save one wife and concubines ye shall have none?” And further more what about Jacob and his two wives which he labored for? And King David? It is apparent that the ignorant preachers of today have no knowledge at all on this subject. Yeah, the adulterer shalts at the top of his lungs in the town square,” Plural marraige!? Plural marraige?! It is then apparent that within the Law of Moses that adultry is condemned and plural marraige allowed. It then is quite apparent that the “world” does not understand the meaning of adultry. And lastly but not least, is not the Lord the same today and tommorrow as He was yeaterday? so that whatsoever thing was evil to Him yesterday will be evil still today and also tommorrow since He changeth not?

  5. Some things may be proscribed to man that are not necessarily evil. Plural marriage, tobacco, alcohol to name some.

    God has from time to time given laws and later taken them (and the blessings for obedience to them) away for various reasons -generally man’s refusal to obey them. Good point on adultery one made in scripture, you can’t commit adultery with your own wife.

  6. What is the problem? The short answer should be nothing! Is this designed to embarass the “Mormon” Church? Because there is nothing to be embarrassed about! Period. Polygamy was practiced in the early Mormon church. So what?
    If it offends your value system, that is your problem. If you wish to conjure stories or to enhance negative points that is your perogative. The true facts are many families were exceptionally successful under polygamy. You may not like it but that is a fact.

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