The Mormons and Polygamy

By John McCort

One of most glaring discrepancies in Mormon doctrine is their position on polygamy. Over the years their position on polygamy has changed like the colors on a chameleon. They try to give the impression that their position has never changed on this particular subject. History does not bear that fact out.

The original Mormon position was that polygamy was sinful. The Book of Mormon scathingly condemns polygamy in no uncertain terms,

“But the word of God burthens 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. Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord …. Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it one wife; and concubines shall he 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” (Jacob 2:23, 24, 27, 28).

The original Doctrines and Covenants likewise rebuked the practice of polygamy,

“Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproach 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 case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again” (Doctrines and Covenants, Section 101:4, 1835 edition.).

This section was included in every edition of the Utah Doctrines and Covenants until 1876. In 1876 Section, 101 was removed and Section 132, which allows polygamy under certain circumstances, was inserted.

“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. David’s wives and concubines were given unto him of me, by the hand of Nathan … And in none of these things did he sin against me save in the case of Uriah and his wife ” (Doctrines and Covenants, 132:38-39, 1876).

The contradiction between the Book of Mormon and the 1876 Doctrines and Covenants is unmistakable. “Behold, David and Solomon truly had wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me ” (Jacob 2:24). Compare that with, “David also received many wives and concubines … and also Solomon … and in nothing did they sin ” (Doctrine and Covenants 132:28-29). How can the Mormons explain deleting Section 101 from the original Doctrines and Covenants, since the Doctrines and Covenants are supposed to be inspired? How can they reconcile what the Book of Mormon says on polygamy and what the revised Doctrines and Covenants say?

The early leaders of the Mormon movement officially favored polygamy. Joseph Smith had approximately 44 wives, some of which were joined to him by “celestial marriage.” Brigharn Young, who succeeded Joseph Smith as President of the Latter Day Saints church, stated that if any denied the scripturality of polygamy they would be damned:

“Now if any of you will deny the plurality of wives, and continue to do so, I promise you that you will be damned; and I will go still further and say, take this revelation, or any other revelation that the Lord has given, and deny It In your feelings, and I promise that you will be damned” (Brigham Young, “Journal of Discourses”, Vol. III, p. 266. Delivered July 14, 1855).

Orson Hyde, a later president of the Latter Day Saints church, stated,

“The revelation of the almighty from God to a man who holds the priesthood, and is enlightened by the Holy Ghost, whom God designs to make and ruler and a governor in his eternal kingdom, is, that he may have many wives, that when he goes yonder to another sphere he may still continue to perpetuate his species, and of the increase of his kingdom and government shall be no end . . .” (Orson Hyde, “Journal of Discourses”, Vol. 11, p. 85. Delivered October 6, 1854).

This same Orson Hyde declared that Jesus was a polygamist,

“We say it was Jesus Christ who was married (at Cann to the Marys and Martha) whereby he could see his seed before he was crucified.” (Apostle Orson Hyde, Sermon 3). “If all the facts were written, we, no doubt, would learn that these beloved women were his wives “(The Seer, p. 159).

Their position makes Christ not only a polygamist but a fornicator. The Book of Mormon, in no uncertain terms, states that polygamists are fornicators and whoremongers. The Mormon position forces them to take the position that Jesus was married. (The Bible never mentions Jesus’ being married.) They take the position that in order to enter into the “celestial kingdom” (the highest of the heavenly kingdoms), an individual must be married. They suddenly discovered that Jesus couldn’t go to the celestial kingdom because He wasn’t married. They had to invent this story about Jesus’ being married and having children to get him into the celestial kingdom. In the process they made him a fornicator.

The Mormon churches now teach that polygamy is sinful. Either they must repudiate Brigham Young as a prophet, or they must concede that they will be damned as Brigham Young stated. (My guess is that both alternatives are true.) They have been guilty of blatant dishonesty by telling people that their position has never changed. The polygamy issue certainly is a millstone around their neck.

Truth Magazine, XX:11, p. 11
March 11, 1976