Joseph Smith/Polygamy/Not Biblical/No biblical mandate for plural marriage
Was there no biblical mandate for plural marriage?
Important introductory material on plural marriage available here
Joseph Smith era:
While sometimes forced to admit that some Old Testament figures practiced polygamy, some Christians insist that there was no biblical mandate or command to practice plural marriage.
To see citations to the critical sources for these claims, click here
FairMormon Perspectives offers answers to these questions
Gregory L. Smith, M.D., "Polygamy, Prophets, and Prevarication: Frequently and Rarely Asked Questions about the Initiation, Practice, and Cessation of Plural Marriage in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," FairMormon Papers (2005)
The criticism that polygamy is irreligious appeals to western sensibilities which favor monogamy, and argues that polygamy is inconsistent with biblical Christianity or (ironically) the Book of Mormon itself.
Even were there no such precedents, LDS theology has no problem accepting and implementing novel commandments, since the Saints believe in continuing revelation. I will not belabor the matter here, since ample resources are available.
This is a weak attack at best, and replies–devotional, apologetic, and scholarly–have been made to the claim.6 There is extensive, unequivocal evidence that polygamous relationships were condoned under various circumstances by biblical prophets, despite how uncomfortable this might make a modern Christian. Elder Orson Pratt was widely viewed as the victor in a three-day debate on this very point with Reverend John P. Newman, Chaplain of the U.S. Senate, in 1870.7
Even if true, this claim is immaterial. God did not condemn the practice of plural marriage in the Bible. If it was everywhere and always forbidden, God could and would have done so. Early Christian authors understood this.