Topical Guide/Doctrinal issues/Marriage and Sexuality/Polygamy

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  • Relationship to the modern Church
    Brief Summary: Critics or ill-informed commentators often try to make it appear as if modern polygamist groups continue to have Church connections. Some often call upon the Church to "stop" the polygamist activities of such groups. (Click here for full article)
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  • Did President Gordon B. Hinckley state that polygamy was not doctrinal?
    Brief Summary: Gordon B. Hinckley made the following statement on Larry King Live on September 8, 1998 with regard to the practice of polygamy: "I condemn it [polygamy], yes, as a practice, because I think it is not doctrinal. It is not legal. And this church takes the position that we will abide by the law. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, magistrates in honoring, obeying and sustaining the law." (Click here for full article)
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  • Twentieth century LDS publications on plural marriage
    Brief Summary: Some have claimed that the Church suppressed the fact that Joseph Smith taught plural marriage, or other details. This selection of books published by Church leaders and in presses associated with the Church (e.g., Deseret Books, Bookcraft, BYU) demonstrate that there has not been silence on plural marriage. Not all of the information is entirely correct, given what is now known from the historical record, but are included here as written as a reference for the type of discussions which continued regarding plural marriage. (Click here for full article)
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  • Will polygamy be reinstated before the Second Coming?
    Brief Summary: Bruce R. McConkie said in his book Mormon Doctrine that polygamy would be practiced again before the Second Coming. Is this a teaching within the Church? (Click here for full article)
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  • Early Christians on plural marriage
    Brief Summary: 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. (Click here for full article)
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  • Polygamous marriages involving mothers, daughters and sisters
    Brief Summary: A biblical prohibition under the Mosaic law prohibited polygamous marriages involving a mother and daughter: "Neither shalt thou take a wife to her sister, to vex her, to uncover her nakedness, beside the other in her life time." Leviticus 18:18. The law also prohibited one from marrying two sisters: "And if a man take a wife and her mother, it is wickedness: they shall be burnt with fire, both he and they; that there be no wickedness among you." Leviticus 20:14. Why, then, was Joseph Smith sealed to mothers, daughters and sisters? Did this not violate a biblical prohibition? (Click here for full article)
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  • Why were Adam and Noah not commanded to practice polygamy?
    Brief Summary: If polygamy was commanded of God to "raise seed," then why were Adam and Noah not commanded to practice polygamy? (Click here for full article)
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Joseph Smith is frequently criticized for his introduction and practice of polygamy. From a Christian perspective, these attacks usually focus on arguing that polygamy is unchristian or unbiblical, and that Joseph hid the truth from the world. From a secular perspective, it is asserted that the practice of polygamy sprung from Joseph's carnal desires to marry young women. Of particular interest is the fact that Joseph was sealed to women who were already married to other men (polyandry). (Click here for full article)