Polygamy and the Latter Day Saint movement

Historically, one of the defining characteristics of much of the Latter Day Saint movement was the doctrine and practice of polygamy or later referred to as plural marriage, a type of polygyny. [Citation|author=anonymous|title=History of Mormonism|newspaper=The Daily Corinne Reporter|volume=4|issue=84|year=1871|date=September 9 1871|url=http://udn.lib.utah.edu/u?/corinne,885.] According to a consensus of historians, the practice was taught by Joseph Smith, Jr., founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, and introduced formally to the public in 1852 by Brigham Young, leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). The practice became famous during the 19th century when it was opposed and outlawed by the United States government, resulting in an intense legal conflict, culminating in LDS Church president Wilford Woodruff announcing the church's official abandonment of the practice on September 25, 1890. [Woodruff's declaration was formally accepted in a church general conference on October 6, 1890.] Nevertheless, plural marriage continues amongst several groups of Mormon fundamentalists in the western United States, Canada, and Mexico. Mainstream Latter-day Saints who are found practicing polygamy or associating with sympathetic groups are excommunicated.

According to a majority of historians, the doctrine of plural marriage was developed by Joseph Smith over several years, perhaps beginning in the early 1830s, [Harvnb|Compton|1997] even though Smith publicly opposed the practice and denied his involvement during his lifetime. [Harvnb|Whitmer|1887] [ [http://www.centerplace.org/history/ts/v5n06.htm "Times and Seasons", Volume 5, page 474] ] [ [http://www.centerplace.org/history/ts/v5n03.htm "Times and Seasons", Volume 5, page 423] ] Under the Mormon doctrine of plural marriage, first published in Utah in 1852, the first wife's consent should be sought before a man married another wife, but also declares that Jesus Christ will "destroy" the first wife if she does not consent to the plural marriage. A 12 July 1843 polygamy revelation on plural marriage, attributed to Joseph Smith, with the demand that Emma Smith, the first wife, accept all of Joseph Smith's plural wives. See the "", . The revelation states in part that:

Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you my servant , that inasmuch as you have inquired of my hand to know and understand wherein I, the Lord, justified my servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as also Moses, David and Solomon, my servants, as touching the principle and doctrine of their having many wives and concubines—
Behold, and lo, I am the Lord thy God, and will answer thee as touching this matter.
Therefore, prepare thy heart to receive and obey the instructions which I am about to give unto you; for all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same.
For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory. …
if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood …
Then shall "they be gods", because they have no end …
to know the only wise and true God, and , whom he hath sent. I am he. Receive ye, therefore, my law. …
God commanded Abraham, and Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to wife. And why did she do it? Because this was the law; and from Hagar sprang many people. This, therefore, was fulfilling, among other things, the promises. …
Was Abraham, therefore, under condemnation? Verily I say unto you, Nay; for I, the Lord, commanded it. …
Abraham received concubines, and they bore him children; and it was accounted unto him for righteousness, because they were given unto him, and he abode in my law; as Isaac also and Jacob did none other things than that which they were commanded; and because they did none other things than that which they were commanded, they have entered into their exaltation, according to the promises, and sit upon thrones, and are not angels but are gods.
David also received "many wives and concubines", and also Solomon and Moses my servants, as also many others of my servants, from the beginning of creation until this time; and in nothing did they sin save in those things which they received not of me. …
David's "wives and concubines" were given unto him of me …
And let mine handmaid, , receive all those that have been given unto my servant …
Let no one, therefore, set on my servant ; for I will justify him …
as pertaining to the law of the priesthood—if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else.
And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified. …
[T] hen shall she believe and administer unto him, or she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord your God; for I will destroy her; … if she receive not this law … she then becomes the transgressor; and he is exempt [.]
] Smith's wife Emma Smith was opposed to plural marriage and lived until the age of 74. The revelation states:
… if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else.
And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified. …
[T] hen shall she believe and administer unto him, or she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord your God; for I will destroy her; … if she receive not this law … she then becomes the transgressor; and he is exempt [.]
The final portion of has been interpreted as meaning that the husband is exempt from asking for his wife's consent in the future. Plural marriage evolved out of the concept of heavenly sealings, where a man and woman can be married for eternity as well as for time. Scholars generally count about 30 wives for Smith, about 10 of them married to other men, being sealed to the women, while still retaining an earthly marriage to their current husbands. Plural marriages usually involve sexual relations, but some are marriages of convenience. The practice did not include group sex, and each wife had her own bedroom, and sometimes even her own house.

The origin of plural marriage

The 1835 and 1844 versions of Doctrine and Covenants (D&C) prohibited polygamy and declared that monogamy was the only acceptable form of marriage:

:"Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in the case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again" [Doctrine and Covenants, section 101, page 251, 1835 edition. ] As early as 1832, Mormon missionaries were laboring successfully to make converts among Maine's followers of polygamist religious leader Jacob Cochran, who went into hiding in 1830 to escape imprisonment due to his practice of polygamy. Among Cochran's marital innovations was 'spiritual wifery', and "tradition assumes that (Cochran) received frequent consignments of spiritual consorts, and that such were invariably the most robust and attractive women in the community". [ [http://www.olivercowdery.com/smithhome/1880s-1890s/ridl1895.htm#pg269a Ridlon, G.T. "Cochran Delusion/Mormon Invasion", in "Saco Valley Settlements and Families: Historical, Biographical, Genealogical, Traditional, and Legendary"] (Rutland, Vermont: Charles E. Tuttle, 1895), 269 ff..] The majority of what became the Quorum of the Twelve in 1835 attended Mormon conferences held in the center of the Cochranites in 1834 and 1835. ["The Evening and the Morning Star" 2 [August 1834] : 181] ["Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate" 2 [October 1835] : 204-­207 states that "On August 21, 1835, nine of the Twelve met in conference at Saco, Maine"] ["RLDS History of the Church" 1:583] ["LDS History of the Church" 2:252] Brigham Young, an apostle in the Twelve, was acquainted with Cochran's followers as he made several missionary journeys through the Cochranite territory from Boston to Saco, ["Times and Seasons" 6 [November 1, 1845] ] and later married Augusta Adams Cobb, a former Cochranite. [Stewart, J.J. (1961) "Brigham Young and His Wives", at 85] [Carter, K.B. (1973) "Our pioneer heritage" 6, 187-189]

However, Brigham Young has claimed that Smith introduced the doctrine to selected church leaders in the early 1840s, some of whom (such as Young) were directed to take more wives.Fact|date=July 2008 At the same time, Smith was publicly condemning the practice, denying he was involved in it, and participants were being excommunicated, as church records and publications reflect. ["Notice", "Times and Seasons", Volume 5, No. 3, 1 February 1844 (p. 423 in [http://patriot.lib.byu.edu/cdm4/document.php?CISOROOT=%2FNCMP1820-1846&CISOPTR=8375&REC=10&CISOBOX=Polygamy bound edition] — [http://www.centerplace.org/history/ts/v5n03.htm alt source] of text) "As we have lately been credibly informed, that an Elder of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter-day Saints, by the name of Hiram Brown, has been preaching Polygamy, and other false and corrupt doctrines, in the county of Lapeer, state of Michigan." ] [ cite book |last= Roberts |first= B. H. (Brigham Henry) |authorlink= B. H. Roberts |title= History of the Church |year= 1912 |url= http://books.google.com/books?id=pGi-iiz6juYC |volume= 6 |pages= [http://books.google.com/books?id=pGi-iiz6juYC&pg=PA411&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=0_0 p. 411] |quote= What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one. (Joseph Smith, Jr.)] Others struggled with their consciences and agreed to the practice only after much prayer.Fact|date=July 2008 Brigham Young famously saidFact|date=July 2008 that after the doctrine was communicated to him, he would gladly have traded places with the body in a hearse he saw passing down the street, than embrace this new doctrine. But church leaders nevertheless began practicing polygamy in the 1840s, particularly members of the Quorum of the Twelve. [Smith, W. "A Proclamation", Warsaw Signal, Warsaw, Illinois [October 1845] , page 1, column 4] Sidney Rigdon wrote a letter to the "Messenger and Advocate" in 1844 condemning the church's Quorum of the Twelve and their alleged connection to polygamy, cquote|It is a fact so well known that the Twelve and their adherents have endeavored to carry on this spiritual wife business … and have gone to the most shameful and desperate lengths to keep from the public. First, insulting innocent females, and when they resented the insult, these monsters in human shape would assail their characters by lying, and perjuries, with a multitude of desperate men to help them effect the ruin of those whom they insulted, and all this to enable them to keep these corrupt practices from the world. [Harvnb|Van Wagoner|1986|pp=83] At the time the practice was kept a secret from non-members, and many church members at large. Throughout his life, Smith publicly denied having multiple wives. [Harvnb|Abanes|2003|pp=195,283-284]

However, John C. Bennett, a recent convert to the church and the first mayor of Nauvoo, used ideas of eternal and plural marriage to justify acts of seduction, adultery and, in some cases, the practice of abortion in the guise of "spiritual wifery." Bennett was called to account by Joseph and Hyrum Smith, and was excommunicated from the church. ["Times and Seasons" 3 [August 1, 1842] : 870–871] In April 1844, Joseph Smith referred to polygamy as "John C. Bennett's spiritual wife system" and warned "if any man writes to you, or preaches to you, doctrines contrary to the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or the book of Doctrine and Covenants, set him down as an imposter." Smith mused cquote|we cannot but express our surprise that any elder or priest who has been in Nauvoo, and has had an opportunity of hearing the principles of truth advanced, should for one moment give credence to the idea that any thing like iniquity is practised, much less taught or sanctioned, by the authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. ["Times and Seasons" 5 [April 1, 1844] : 490–491]

The practice was publicly announced in Utah in 1852, some five years after the Mormons arrived in Utah, and eight years after Smith's death. The doctrine authorizing plural marriage was published in the 1876 version of Doctrine and Covenants. [Doctrine and Covenants, section 132 and the doctrine denouncing polygamy (section 101) was removed.]

Plural marriages of early church leaders

Joseph Smith's wives

The 1843 polygamy revelation, published posthumously, demanded that Smith's wife Emma accept all of Smith's plural wives, and warns of destruction if the new covenant is not observed. Smith's wife Emma was publicly and privately opposed to the practice and Joseph may have married some women without Emma knowing beforehand. [Harvnb|Brodie|1971|pp=403] Emma publicly denied that her husband had ever preached or practiced polygamy, ["Saints' Herald" 48:165–166] which later became a defining difference between the church under Brigham Young, and the church under her son Joseph Smith III that she remained affiliated with until her death at the age of 74. Emma Smith claimed that the very first time she ever became aware of the 1843 polygamy revelation was when she read about it in Orson Pratt's booklet "The Seer" in 1853. ["Saints' Herald" 65:1044–1045]

There is a subtle difference between 'sealing' (which is a Mormon priesthood ordinance that binds individuals together in the eternities), and 'marriage' (a social tradition in which the man and woman agree to be husband and wife in this life). In those early days of this religion, common practices and doctrines were not yet well-defined. Even among those who accept the views of conventional historians, there is disagreement as to the precise number of wives Smith had: Fawn M. Brodie lists 48 [Harvnb|Brodie|1971|p=457] , D. Michael Quinn 46 [Harvnb|Quinn|1994|p=587] , and George D. Smith 42 [Harvnb|Smith|1994|p=14] . The discrepancy is created by the lack of documents to support the alleged marriages to some of the named wives.

A number of Smith's "marriages" occurred after his death, with the wife being sealed to Joseph via a proxy who stood in for him. [cite journal |url=http://www.lds-mormon.com/zina.shtml |title=All Things Move in Order in the City: The Nauvoo Diary of Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs |editor=Maureen Ursenbach Beecher |last=Jacobs |first=Zina Diantha Huntington |journal=BYU Studies |no=3 |pp=285 |volume=19 ] One historian, Todd M. Compton, documented at least 33 plural marriages or sealings during Smith's lifetime [Harvnb|Compton|Dec. 1996] .

exual nature of Smith's plural marriages, and alleged children

It is unclear how many of the women Smith had sexual relations with. No allegations of Smith progeny from any of the alleged plural wives have ever been proven. As of 2007, there are at least twelve early Latter Day Saints who, based on historical documents and circumstantial evidence, have been identified as potential Smith offspring stemming from plural marriages. In 2005 and 2007 studies, a geneticist with the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation showed "with 99.9 percent accuracy" that five of these individuals were in fact not Smith descendants: Mosiah Hancock (son of Clarissa Reed Hancock), Oliver Buell (son of Prescindia Huntington Buell), Moroni Llewellyn Pratt (son of Mary Ann Frost Pratt), Zebulon Jacobs (son of Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs Smith), and Orrison Smith (son of Fanny Alger).cite news |first=Carrie |last=Moore |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=DNA tests rule out 2 as Smith descendants |url=http://deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,695226318,00.html |work= |publisher=Deseret Morning News |date=11/10/2007 |accessdate=2007-11-12 ] The remaining seven have yet to be conclusively tested, including Josephine Lyon, for whom current DNA testing cannot provide conclusive evidence either way. Lyon's mother, Sylvia Sessions Lyon, left her daughter a deathbed affidavit telling her she was Smith's daughter.

Polyandry among Smith's wives

About eight of Smith's wives were also married to other men (four were Mormon men in good standing, who in a few cases acted as a witness in Smith's marriage to his wife) at the time they married Smith. Typically, these women continued to live with their first husband, not Smith. Some accounts say Smith may have had sexual relations with some of his other wives, and one wife later in her life stated that he fathered children by one or two of his wives. [ [http://farms.byu.edu/display.php?table=review&id=290&mp=T The Prophet Joseph Smith and His Plural Wives - FARMS Review ] ]

Some of Smith's wives were older women and some of them younger, the youngest known being Helen Mar Kimball, who was 14. Heber C. Kimball, Helen Mar's father, was a devout Church member, Church leader, and close friend of Smith. Heber C. Kimball later married 39 wives. [Stan Kimball lists 43 wives in his biography of Kimball.] Some historians have viewed these types of unions not as a marital connection but as a dynastic relationship sealing families together, in this case, linking the Kimball family with that of Smith's.

Plural marriages of other early church leaders

Church president Brigham Young had fifty-one wives, and fifty-six children by sixteen of those wives.

Church apostle Heber C. Kimball had forty-three wives, and had sixty-five children by seventeen different women.

Alleged problems associated with plural marriage in the LDS movement

Unhappiness associated with plural marriages

Critics of polygamy in the early LDS church claim that plural marriages often produced extreme unhappiness in some wives. [Harvnb|Tanner|1979|pp=226-228] LDS historian Todd Compton, in his book "In Sacred Loneliness", described many instances where some wives in polygamous marriages were unhappy with polygamy. [Harvnb|Compton|1997]

Church apologists note that many women were very satisfied with polygamous marriages, and many—such as Zina Huntington, a wife of Brigham Young—went on speaking tours as part of the suffrage movement touting the joys and benefits of plural marriage.

Plural marriage used as an excuse for multiple sexual partners

Critics of polygamy in the early LDS church claim that church leaders established the practice of polygamy in order to further their immoral desires for sexual gratification with multiple sexual partners. [Harvnb|Tanner|1979|pp=204-290] Critics point to the fact that church leaders practiced polygamy in secret from 1833 to 1852, despite a written church doctrine renouncing polygamy and stating that only monogamous marriages were permitted (section 101 D&C). [Harvnb|Tanner|1987|p=202] Critics also cite several first-person accounts of early church leaders attempting to use the polygamy doctrine to enter into illicit relationships with women. [Harvnb|Young|1876|pp=65-86] [Harvnb|Bennett|1842|pp=226-232] Critics also assert that Joseph Smith instituted polygamy in order to cover-up an 1835 adulterous affair with a neighbor's daughter, Fanny Alger, by taking Alger as his second wife. [Harvnb|Abanes|2003|pp=132-134] However, Compton dates this marriage to March or April 1833, well before Joseph was accused of an affair. [Harvnb|Compton|1996|pp=174-207]

Others conclude that many Latter-day Saints entered into plural marriage based on the belief that it was a religious commandment, rather than as an excuse for sexual license. For instance, many of the figures who came to be best associated with plural marriage, including Church President Brigham Young and his counselor Heber C. Kimball, expressed revulsion at the system when it was first introduced to them. Young famously stated that after receiving the commandment to practice plural marriage in Nauvoo, he saw a funeral procession walking down the street and he wished he could exchange places with the corpse. He recalled that "I was not desirous of shrinking from any duty, nor of failing in the least to do as I was commanded, but it was the first time in my life that I had desired the grave, and I could hardly get over it for a long time." [Leonard J. Arrington, , 100 (1985).] When Kimball first heard of the principle, he believed that he would marry elderly women whom he would care for and who would not be a threat to his first wife Vilate. He was later shocked to learn that he was to marry a younger woman. [Harvnb|Whitney|1888|p=326] His biographer writes that he "became sick in body, but his mental wretchedness was too great to allow of his retiring, and he would walk the floor till nearly morning, and sometimes the agony of his mind was so terrible that he would wring his hands and weep like a child..." [Harvnb|Whitney|1888|p=326] While his wife Vilate had trials "grievous to bear" as a result of her acceptance of plural marriage, she supported her husband in his religious duties, and taught her children that "she could not doubt the plural order of marriage was of God, for the Lord had revealed it to her in answer to prayer." [Harvnb|Whitney|1888|pp=325-328] Apologists also note that, although the revelation permitting polygamy was not published until 1852, it was actually received by Joseph Smith sometime in the 1830s.

Plural marriage used to justify immoral behavior with young girls

Critics of polygamy in the early LDS church claim that church leaders sometimes used polygamy to take advantage of young girls for immoral purposes. [Harvnb|Abanes|2003|p=294] LDS historian George D. Smith studied 153 men who took plural wives in the early years of the Mormon Church, and found that two of the girls were thirteen years old, 13 girls were fourteen years old, 21 were fifteen years old, and 53 were sixteen years old. ["Nauvoo Polygamists", George D. Smith, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Spring 1994, p. ix] LDS historian Todd Compton documented that Joseph Smith married several girls of age 13 or 14. [Harvnb|Compton|1997] Historian Stanly Hirshon documented cases of girls aged 10 and 11 being married to old men. [Harvnb|Hirshon|1969|pp=126-127]

Church apologists point out that underage marriage was not an issue in the 1800s.Fact|date=July 2008 Legal marriage age for many places was as young as 10 or 12.Fact|date=July 2008 There are many famous women who were married under the age of 17.Fact|date=July 2008 However, it seems that even Brigham Young attempted to stamp out the practice of men being sealed to excessively young girls. In 1857, he stated "I shall not seal the people as I have done. Old Father Alread brought three young girls 12 & 13 years old. I would not seal them to him. They would not be equally yoked together...Many get their endowments who are not worthy and this is the way that devils are made." [Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 5:58.]

hortage of wives caused by plural marriage

Critics of polygamy in the early LDS church point out that polygamy may have caused a shortage of brides in the early LDS community, [Harvnb|Abanes|2003|pp=297] citing quotes by church leader Heber C. Kimball who said (addressing departing missionaries):

Brethren, I want you to understand that it is not to be as it has been heretofore. The brother missionaries have been in the habit of picking out the prettiest women for themselves before they get here, and bringing on the ugly ones for us; hereafter you have to bring them all here before taking any of them, and let us all have a fair shake. [Harvnb|Hirshon|1969|pp=129-130]
On another occasion, he said "You are sent out as shepherds to gather sheep together; and remember that they are not your sheep ... do not make selections before they are brought home and put into the fold." [Journal of Discourses; August 28, 1852; vol. 6, p256.]

Church apologists point out that polygamy was relatively rare in the early church community, involving only 2% to 5% of church households, and thus any alleged shortage of wives was negligible.

The precise number who participated in plural marriage is not known, but studies indicate a maximum of 20-25% of LDS adults were members of polygamist households. One third of the women of marriageable age and nearly all of the church leadership were involved in the practice. [Encyclopedia of Mormonism. MacMillan(1992) p. 1095]

Coercion and deception related to plural marriage

Critics of polygamy in the early LDS church have documented several cases where deception and coercion were used to induce marriage, [Harvnb|Ostling|1999|pp=60-63] for example citing the case of Joseph Smith who warned some potential spouses of eternal damnation if they did not consent to be his wife. [Harvnb|Compton|1997] In 1893, married LDS church member John D. Miles traveled to England and proposed to Caroline Owens, assuring her that he was not polygamous. She returned to Utah and participated in a wedding, only to find out after the ceremony that Miles was already married. She ran away, but Miles hunted her down and raped her. She eventually escaped, and filed a lawsuit against Miles that reached the Supreme Court and became a significant case in polygamy case law. [Harvnb|Gage|1972] Ann Eliza Young, nineteenth wife of Brigham Young, claimed that Young coerced her to marry him by threatening financial ruin of her brother. [Harvnb|Young|1875|pp=440-454]

Plural marriage and incest

Critics of polygamy in the early LDS church claim that polygamy was used to justify marriage of close relatives that would otherwise be considered immoral. [Harvnb|Young|1875|pp=306-319] [Harvnb|Abanes|2003|pp=297] In 1843, Joseph Smith's diary records the marriage of John Bernhisel to his sister, Maria. [Harvnb|Faulring|1987|p=424] In 1886, Lorenzo Snow said that brothers and sisters should be able to get married. [Journal of Mormon History, 1992, p. 106] former LDS church member and prominent critic Fanny Stenhouse wrote in 1875:

It would be quite impossible, with any regard to propriety, to relate all the horrible results of this disgraceful system.... Marriages have been contracted between the nearest of relatives; and old men tottering on the brink of the grave have been united to little girls scarcely in their teens; while unnatural alliances of every description, which in any other community would be regarded with disgust and abhorrence, are here entered into in the name of God. [Harvnb|Stenhouse|1875]

Abandoning the practice

As The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints settled in what became the Utah Territory it eventually was subjected to the power and opinion of the United States. Friction first began to show in the James Buchanan administration and federal troops arrived (see Utah War). The general opinion of the rest of the United States was that the practice of plural marriage was offensive. On July 8, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the "Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act" into law, which forbade the practice in US territories. President Lincoln told the church that he had no intentions of enforcing it if they would not interfere with him, and so the matter was laid to rest for a time. Nevertheless, the rhetoric continued, and polygamy became an impediment to Utah being admitted to the United States. This was not a concern to Brigham Young, however, who preached in 1866 that if Utah will not be admitted to the Union until it abandons polygamy, "we shall never be admitted." [Journal of Discourses 11:266.]

After the Civil War, immigrants to Utah who were not members of the church continued the contest for political power. They were frustrated by the consolidation of the members. Forming the Liberal Party, they began pushing for political changes and to weaken the church's advantage in the territory. In September 1871, President Brigham Young was indicted for adultery due to his plural marriages. On January 6, 1879, the Supreme Court upheld the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act in Reynolds v. United States. The decision was not well-received by the members and leadership of the church.

Federal government actions against polygamy

In February 1882, George Q. Cannon, a prominent leader in the church, was denied a non-voting seat in the House of Representatives due to his polygamous relations. This revived the issue in national politics. One month later, the Edmunds Act was passed, amending the Morrill Act by revoking the right of polygamists to vote or hold office, and allowing them to be punished without due process. Even if people did not practice polygamy, they would have their rights revoked if they confessed a belief in it. In August, Rudge Clawson was imprisoned for continuing to cohabit with wives that he married before the 1862 Morrill Act. In 1887, the Edmunds-Tucker Act allowed seizure of control of the church and further extended the punishments of the Edmunds Act of 1882. In July of the same year, the U.S. Attorney General filed suit to seize the church and all of its assets.

The church was losing control of the territorial government, and many members and leaders were being actively pursued as fugitives. Without being able to appear publicly, the leadership was left to navigate underground. Teaching new marriage and family arrangements where the principles that could not be openly discussed, compounded the problems. Those authorized to teach the doctrine had always stressed the strict covenants, obligations and responsibilities associated with it—the antithesis of license. But those who heard only rumors, or who chose to distort and abuse the teaching, often envisioned and sometimes practiced something quite different. One such person was John C. Bennett, an earlier mayor of Nauvoo and adviser to Joseph Smith, who twisted the teaching to his own advantage. Capitalizing on rumors and lack of understanding among general Church membership, he taught a doctrine of "spiritual wifery." He and associates sought to have illicit sexual relationships with women by telling them that they were married "spiritually," even if they had never been married formally, and that the Prophet approved the arrangement. These statements were false. The Bennett scandal resulted in his excommunication and the disaffection of several others. Bennett then toured the country speaking against the Latter-day Saints and published a bitter anti-Mormon exposé charging the Saints with licentiousness. Those that twisted teachings of polygamy over the years often caused serious problems and acted as a fuel for distress over the issue, associated rumors, and misunderstandings.

Following the aforementioned passage of the Edmunds-Tucker Act in 1887, the Church found it difficult to operate as a viable institution. Among other things, this legislation disincorporated the Church, confiscated its properties, and even threatened seizure of its temples. After visiting priesthood leaders in many settlements, President Woodruff left for San Francisco on September 3, 1890, to meet with prominent businessmen and politicians. He returned to Salt Lake City on September 21, determined to obtain divine confirmation to pursue a course that seemed to be agonizingly more and more clear. As he explained to Church members a year later, the choice was between, on the one hand, continuing to practice plural marriage and thereby losing the temples, "stopping all the ordinances therein," and, on the other, ceasing plural marriage in order to continue performing the essential ordinances for the living and the dead. President Woodruff hastened to add that he had acted only as the Lord directed:

I should have let all the temples go out of our hands; I should have gone to prison myself, and let every other man go there, had not the God of heaven commanded me to do what I do; and when the hour came that I was commanded to do that, it was all clear to me.

1890 Manifesto banning plural marriage

The final element in President Woodruff's revelatory experience came on the evening of September 23, 1890. The following morning, he reported to some of the General Authorities that he had struggled throughout the night with the Lord regarding the path that should be pursued. "Here is the result," he said, placing a 510-word handwritten manuscript on the table. The document was later edited by George Q. Cannon of the First Presidency and others to its present 356 words. On October 6, 1890, it was presented to the Latter-day Saints at the General Conference and approved.

Plural marriages after 1890

While many Church leaders in 1890 regarded the Manifesto as inspired, there were differences among them about its scope and permanence. Some leaders were reluctant to terminate a long-standing practice that was regarded as divinely mandated. As a result, over 200 plural marriages were performed between 1890 and 1904. [Harvnb|Hardy|1992]

1904 second manifesto banning plural marriage

It was not until 1904, under the leadership of President Joseph F. Smith, that plural marriage was banned finally and completely, everywhere in the world, by the church." [Scriptures of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for the Sunday Schools, Salt Lake City: Deseret Sunday School Union, 1968, p. 159] Not surprisingly, rumors persisted of marriages performed after the 1890 manifesto, and beginning in January 1904, testimony given in the Smoot hearings made it clear that plural marriage had not been completely extinguished.

The ambiguity was ended in the General Conference of April 1904, when President Joseph F. Smith issued the "Second Manifesto," an emphatic declaration that prohibited plural marriage and proclaimed that offenders would be subject to church discipline. They declared that any who participated in additional plural marriages, and those officiating, would be excommunicated from the church. Those disagreeing with the second manifesto included apostles Matthias F. Cowley and John W. Taylor who both resigned from the Quorum of the Twelve. Cowley retained his membership in the church, but Taylor was later excommunicated.

Instance of plural marriage in 1943

In 1943, the First Presidency discovered apostle Richard R. Lyman was cohabitating with a woman other than his legal wife. As it turned out, in 1925 Lyman had begun a relationship which he defined as a polygamous marriage. Unable to trust anyone else to officiate, Elder Lyman and the woman exchanged vows secretly. By 1943, both were in their seventies. Lyman was excommunicated on November 12, 1943 at age 73. The Quorum of the Twelve provided the newspapers with a one-sentence announcement, stating that the ground for excommunication was violation of the Law of Chastity, which any practice of post-Manifesto polygamy constituted.

Modern LDS Church position

Today, the LDS Church today teaches it can only be practiced when specifically authorized by God. The LDS Church teaches that even during periods when plural marriage was sanctioned, several individuals disobeyed the word of the Lord in the way they entered into it. David, Solomon, and Rehoboam, among others, married women that were not the will of the Lord for them.Fact|date=September 2007 David's sin in having sexual relations with Bathsheba, then arranging for her husband to be killed in war is an example of this. [ [http://scriptures.lds.org/dc/132/38-39#38 Doctrine and Covenants 132 ] ] The "Book of Mormon" prophet Jacob also discusses when plural marriage is allowed. [ [http://scriptures.lds.org/jacob/2/23-30#23 Jacob 2 ] ]

Officially, the LDS Church has not tolerated plural marriages since the 1890 Manifesto was declared. However, all of the First Presidency and almost all of the apostles at that time continued to maintain multiple families into the twentieth century: they did not feel that they could dissolve existing unions and families. Polygamy was gradually discontinued after the 1904 Second Manifesto as no new plural marriages were allowed and as the older polygamists died off. Since the Second Manifesto, the official policy of the LDS Church has been to excommunicate members who enter into or solemnize new plural marriages. The current LDS Church does not practice plural marriage, nor does it have any formal ties with Mormon fundamentalist groups that do.

Fundamentalist beginnings

Over time, many of those who rejected the LDS Church's relinquishment of plural marriage formed small, close-knit communities in areas of the Rocky Mountains. These groups continue to practice 'the principle' despite the ostensible opposition, and consider the practice to be a requirement for entry into the highest heaven, which they call the "first degree" of the Celestial Kingdom. These people are commonly called Mormon fundamentalists and may either practice as individuals, as families, or as part of organized denominations.

In consequence of the tendency of outsiders to confuse the LDS church with the breakaway groups, the LDS church seeks vigorously to disassociate itself from the practice of plural marriage. [ [http://www.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=21525e876b68f010VgnVCM100000176f620aRCRD&vgnextchannel=9ae411154963d010VgnVCM1000004e94610aRCRD "Mormon Fundamentalists"] , 6 March 2006 press release by the LDS Church] Moreover, the LDS church has requested that journalists not refer to them as the 'Mormon Church', or the various polygamist sects as 'Mormons' or 'Mormon fundamentalists'; as such titles may become confusing when differentiating between denominations. [ [http://www.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=0ebf22526078f010VgnVCM100000176f620aRCRD&vgnextchannel=9ae411154963d010VgnVCM1000004e94610aRCRD "Polygamist Sects Are Not 'Mormons,' Church Says"] , 25 October 2006 press release by the LDS Church] Multiple churches and sects use the term 'Mormon', as their religious beliefs involve canonizing 'The Book of Mormon', as well as a shared belief with the LDS church of Joseph Smith's calling as a modern-day prophet.

Relationship of Current Practice Regarding Temple Sealings to Plural Marriage

Marriages ending in divorce

A man who is sealed to a woman but later divorced must apply for a "sealing clearance" from the First Presidency in order to be sealed to another woman. This does "not" void or invalidate the first sealing. A woman in the same circumstances would apply to the First Presidency for a "cancellation of sealing," (sometimes incorrectly called a "temple divorce") allowing her to be sealed to another man. This approval voids the original sealing as far as the woman is concerned. Divorced women who have not applied for a sealing cancellation are considered sealed to the original husband. However, it should again be noted that the LDS Church teaches that even in the afterlife the marriage relationship is voluntary so it is evident that no man or woman can be forced into an eternal relationship through temple sealing that they do not wish to be in. On occasion, divorced women have been granted a cancellation of sealing, even though they do not intend to marry someone else. In this case, they are no longer considered as being sealed to anyone and are presumed to have the same eternal status as unwed women.

ealed marriages ended through death

In the case where a sealed marriage ends through the death of one of the spouses, the requirements are different. A man whose sealed wife has died does not have to request any permission to be married in the temple and sealed to another woman, unless the new wife's circumstance requires a cancellation of sealing. However, a woman whose sealed husband has died is still bound by the original sealing and used to have to request a cancellation of sealing to be sealed to another man. In some cases, women in this situation who wish to remarry choose to be married to subsequent husbands in the temple "for time only," and are not sealed to them, leaving them sealed to their first husband for eternity.

As of 1998, however, women may be sealed to more than one man. On page 72 of the 1998 edition of the Church Handbook of Instructions, the LDS Church created a new policy that a woman may also be sealed to more than one man. A woman, however, may not be sealed to more than one man while she is alive. She may only be sealed to subsequent partners after both she and her husband(s) have died.LDS Church, "Church Handbook of Instructions", (LDS Church, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1998). "A deceased woman may be sealed to all men to whom she was legally married during her life. However, if she was sealed to a husband during her life, all her husbands must be deceased before she can be sealed to a husband to whom she was not sealed during life."] Thus, if a widow who was sealed to her first husband remarries, she may be sealed by proxy to all of her subsequent husband(s), but only after both she and the subsequent husbands have died. Church leaders have not clarified if women in such circumstances will live in a polyandrous relationship in the afterlife.

It would seem that after death the presumed status of widowers who are re-sealed is an effective plural marriage. If a man leaves this life having been sealed to two or more women, and having been faithful in life to both of them, one would presume that in the hereafter those relationships would continue.

Proxy sealings where both spouses have died

According to Church policy, after a man has died, he may be sealed by proxy to all of the women to whom he was legally married to while he was alive. The same is true for women; however, if a woman was sealed to a man while she was alive, all of her husbands must be deceased before she can be sealed by proxy to them.

Church doctrine is not entirely specific on the status of men or women who are sealed by proxy to multiple spouses. There are at least two possibilities:
# Regardless of how many people a man or woman is sealed to by proxy, they will only remain with one of them in the afterlife, and that the remaining spouses, who might still merit the full benefits of exaltation that come from being sealed, would then be given to another person in order to ensure each has an eternal marriage.
# These sealings create effective plural marriages that will continue after death. There are no Church teachings clarifying whether polyandrous relationships can exist in the afterlife, so some church members doubt whether this possibility would apply to women who are sealed by proxy to multiple spouses. The possibility for women to be sealed to multiple men is a recent policy change enacted in 1998. Church leaders have neither explained this change, nor its doctrinal implications.

It should be noted that the LDS Church teaches free agency is given to all, and it seems clear that those in the afterlife would have a choice whether to accept the marriage sealing performed on their behalf.

Implications

Theological issues are likely to exist when any church endorses the notion that marriage relationships continue into an afterlife, yet endorses people having more than one spouse during life. In this light, a doctrine of multiple marriage relationships in the afterlife does not necessarily imply an endorsement of plural marriage during life.

It should be noted that the LDS Church teaches that even in the afterlife the marriage relationship is voluntary so it is presumed that no man or woman can be forced into an eternal relationship through temple sealing that they do not wish to be in.

ee also

* Origin of Latter Day Saint polygamy
* Latter Day Saint polygamy in the late 19th century
* Group marriage
* 1843 polygamy revelation
* List of Latter Day Saint practitioners of plural marriage
* Short Creek raid
* Polyandry
* Criticism of the Latter Day Saint movement

Notes

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External links

* [http://scriptures.lds.org/en/od/1 Official Declaration - 1] , proclamation ending polygamy in 1890.
* [http://lds.org/newsroom/showpackage/0,15367,3899-1--36-2-539,00.html Polygamy: Latter-day Saints and the Practice of Plural Marriage] - an official LDS church statement on Plural Marriage
* [http://www.signaturebookslibrary.org/essays/mormonpolygamy.htm The Four Major Periods of Mormon Polygamy]
* [http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/u?/NCMP1847-1877,2859 PDF scans of "Deseret News Extra"] : minutes of 1852 meeting where LDS Church announced the practice of plural marriage


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