My thoughts on the history of Plural Marriage

Plural marriage is one of the most controversial historical practices of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I’ve read and pondered the Gospel Topic Essay, Plural Marriage in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I’ve also listened to many programs about the history of the Church which mention polygamy. My response to what I’ve learned is not church doctrine, but my reaction and opinion. Please read and study the essays for yourself for a more in-depth history and understanding. And to receive an assurance that the practice of plural marriage was from God, pray with a sincere heart and a willingness to come unto Christ.


The thought of plural marriage is detestable to me. I can’t imagine the difficulty of being a plural wife emotionally and sexually. I rely on a deep friendship with my husband. I don’t know how he could give the amount of emotional connection I need to an additional woman. I also thrive on order and having my house how I want it. I can’t imagine bringing another wife into my house. And with the trust and commitment that a sexual relationship requires, my mind and heart recoils at the thought of my husband having an intimate relationship with another woman.


Yet, I believe that Joseph Smith is a prophet. I’ve read, studied, and prayed about The Book of Mormon, a book of scripture he translated. I’ve received a witness by the Holy Ghost that it is true and from God. I feel good and at peace when I read The Book of Mormon and The Doctrine and Covenants, a book of revelations received by Joseph Smith and other church presidents. I love learning about our church’s history and marvel at the fortitude and faithfulness of early church members. Therefore I have to believe that Joseph Smith practiced and taught plural marriage as a commandment from God. Yes, when I hear that he married a 15 year-old and had many wives, I’m reminded of current day charismatic cult leaders who’ve lure in young and trusting girls. But because of my testimony of Joseph Smith I cannot believe that he had evil intentions.


A teaching from The Book of Mormon from the prophet Jacob is what has given me the best reason for plural marriage. Jacob taught, “For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall 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. 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” (Jacob 2:27-30). These scriptures helped me understand that the Lord required plural marriage of Abraham and Isaac and Joseph Smith because there was a need for more children to be born to families who followed Christ and belonged to his church on the earth. I am a product of polygamy from both my mom and dad’s ancestors who were early members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This made sense to me, but I never wanted to be asked to live polygamy.


For years I thought that eventually I would be required to practice plural marriage. I assumed it was God’s law for marriage. It seemed like the hardest commandment I would be asked to keep. But I hoped I wouldn’t have to practice it until the next life. Recently I learned I was wrong. I was studying the Foundations of the Restoration course, Lesson 20: Plural Marriage. The first sentence is, “Marriage between one man and one woman is the Lord’s law unless He commands otherwise.” I don’t know why I’d had that misconception for so long. The lesson referenced the teaching from Jacob, “For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none” (Jacob 2:27), but I’d never understood that God’s law is marriage between one man and one woman, not between one man and several women. Unless the Lord requires plural marriage of a select few at select times. What a relief.


I do not understand completely the history, practice, and controversy of plural marriage in the church. But I do know that when I pray, when I repent, and give my desires and will to my Savior, I am happier, I experience miracles, and I feel guided and known by the creator of the world. I do not know all things now, but I know some things and that is what keeps me anchored in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.