Polygamy — the practice of being married to more than one person at the same time — is something that was practiced and even encouraged by a particular church in the 1800s. Since this teaching is not found in the Bible, many people assume that the Book of Mormon, which is also used by that particular church, must be the book that teaches that polygamy is acceptable. Since The Church of Jesus Christ also uses the Book of Mormon, we want to make sure to set the record straight on this matter.
In reality, Jacob 2 is the only chapter in the Book of Mormon that discusses this subject, and the instruction is clearly opposed to this practice: “Hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife” (Jacob 2:27).
You may wonder how the leadership of the church referenced above could have allowed polygamy when the Book of Mormon is so clearly against it. The answer is that they found what they felt was a loophole in verse 30: “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.” Although this verse is meant to explain why the Lord tolerated this practice in the time of David and Solomon, as referenced earlier in the chapter, the leadership of that church took it as an opportunity to have God give them a “revelation” to go against the instruction of this chapter. Some years later, when the geographic area dominated by this church sought to become a U.S. state, another “revelation” revoked the first one, eliminating church support of polygamy, allowing the church to comply with the laws of the United States and become a state in 1890.
This is not, however, the end of the story regarding polygamy. There are still people today (not necessarily associated with any particular church) who practice polygamy. It is currently illegal in all 50 states, but there are movements that are seeking to change that. People who are in favor of such a change point out that marriage has already been redefined in the past couple of years, no longer matching the scriptural definition, so why stop there? Who (other than God) says that marriage has to be limited to a single partner? Don’t people have a right to be married to people who they love?
This is the problem that arises when people “redefine” what God has established. Once you modify the Lord’s precepts to suit yourself or your personal views, how do you then oppose someone else’s desire to do the same?
If you choose to live completely according to the Word of God, then you have an absolute standard by which to measure whether any behavior is appropriate. If you decide that 98 percent is good enough, then how much of a leap is it to 97 percent or 95 or 90? And, who decides which 5 percent or 10 percent can be redefined?
The Church of Jesus Christ upholds the scriptural definition of marriage. Although sympathetic arguments can be made for redefining it to suit various types of people, we do not feel it is within our rights to redefine what God has established — be it marriage or anything else.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.
Historical Note: The above-mentioned church was secretly practicing the abomination of polygamy (they called it plural marriage) from 1890-1904 until the Federal Govt. threatened to come down on them like a sledgehhammer for being duplicitous.
… that is The Salt Lake Utah Church of LDS which broke off from TCOJC in 1845 due to the many doctrinal heresies of said LDS church.
Correction: “another revelation” was in Oct.1890, BUT Utah did not become the 45th state until Jan.4, 1896.
I am really surprised, but I guess I shouldn’t be, that there is a movement for plural marriages. Very interesting information even from Mr. Anonymous. 🙂
That loophole the Church found is actually not a loophole at all. We use the 1837 Book of Mormon, which is not the most accurate. Joseph Smith made one more complete edit in 1840 and had begun another when he was martyred. Royal Skousen spent years studying the differences between those Books of Mormon and found over 2,000 textual changes. Some of those actually changed the meanings of the verses.
I have been reading the more accurate Book of Mormon, and lo and behold, there was verse 30 in Jacob 2! I see why the Church doesn’t want to use the more accurate version because the punctuation that Joseph changed it to no longer gives an “out” for polygamy. The more accurate Book of Mormon puts a period after “I will command my people” instead of a semi colon. “Otherwise they shall hearken unto these things” is followed by a semi colon instead of a period and “for behold…” is not a new sentence, but a follow up to the not hearkening to the Lord and the sorrow that follows because the Lord is not who is commanding them.
Just thought you might find that interesting.
Those are some pretty bold claims for a heretic within crusading distance.