During the 1800's the Mormon Church practiced what is now often
referred to by many as Mormon polygamy. This practice was a law
instituted by God's command to the prophet Joseph Smith. Many in Old Testament times practiced polygamy including: Abraham who married both Sarah and Hagar her handmaiden1, Jacob, father of the twelve tribes of Israel, who married sisters, Leah and Rachel2, and both King Saul and King David had multiple wives3. For reasons known only to the Lord He reinstated the practice of polygamy for a period of about fifty years.
Some of those reasons may have included:
- Mormon belief state that all things were to be restored in the last days; polygamy was among those things restored.
was one way for the Lord to rapidly increase the number of members of
the LDS Church. As the Book of Mormon teaches polygamy is prohibited
unless the Lord decides He needs to "raise up seed unto me."
- There were more women than men in the Mormon Church. Mormon polygamy allowed the women to be cared for and protected.
Not everyone was involved in Mormon polygamy. It was only practiced
when a direct call from the Lord was issued through His prophet. Only
about 15-25% of members practiced Mormon polygamy.
The Mormon Church received much persecution from US political leaders. Many men were put in jail for practicing Mormon polygamy
others went into hiding. The Lord recognized that the Church would not
be allowed to progress while it still practiced Mormon polygamy. So in
1890 the Lord commanded the people of the Mormon Church to stop
practicing polygamy. As the 12th Article of Faith states "We
believe… in honoring, obeying, and sustaining the law." Polygamy was
against the law of the United States so the Lord commanded His people
to stop the practice of Mormon polygamy.
Today those that practice polygamy are in no way associated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. President Gordon B. Hinckley
stated, " This Church has nothing whatever to do with those practicing
polygamy... 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." 5
(1) Gen. 25:1-6
(2) Gen. 29 and 30
(3) 2 Samuel 12:7-9
(4) Jacob 2:30
(5) Gordon B. Hinckley, “What Are People Asking about Us?” Ensign,
Nov. 1998, 70