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Eternal Marriage and Polygamy


Although Mormons have abandoned the practice of polygamy in order to attain statehood in the United States, polygamy and eternal marriage are still required to become Gods.

"I, the Lord, justified...David and Solomon... as touching the principle and doctrine of their having many wives and concubines."

- Joseph Smith, Doctrine and Covenants Sec 132,vs 1

"It is the word of the Lord, and I wish to say to you, and all the world, that if you desire with all your hearts to obtain the blessings which Abraham obtained, you will be polygamists at lest in your faith, or you will come short of enjoying the salvation and the glory which Abraham has obtained. This is as true as that God lives...The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy. Others attain unto a glory and may even be permitted to come into the presence of the Father and the Son; but they cannot reign as kings in glory, because they had blessings offered unto them, and they refused to accept them."

- Brigham Young Journal of Discourses, Vol.11, pg266, 8/19/1866

"All these principles that I have treated upon, pertaining to eternal marriage, the very moment that they are admitted to be true, it brings in plurality of marriage, and if plurality of marriage is not true or in other words, if a man has no divine right to marry two wives or more in this world, then marriage for eternity is not true, and your faith is all in vain, and all the sealing ordinances and powers, pertaining to marriages for eternity are vain, worthless, good for nothing; for as sure as one is true the other also must be true. Amen."

- Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, Vol.21, pg300, 7/18/1880

In 1890, after decades of practicing polygamy, the then LDS President Wilford Woodruff officially declared the end of the practice in the LDS official declaration, the Manifesto:

"...I now publicly declare that my advice to the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land."

I highly recommend that you read the entire Manifesto and Woodruff's addresses regarding it, since they show this "revelation" came from fear of reprisal and arrest...tremendous religious courage...the early Christians who were eaten by lions would be proud.

Notice that Woodruff only advised that the Latter-day Saints refrain from polygamy, and only because it violated the law of the land. The Manifesto does not affect the Mormon belief in eternal marriage or the need to practice it in order to become Gods. No wonder there are so many Fundamentalist Latter-day Saints who secretly continue the practice.


Though King David and King Solomon both had many wives, it was explicitly forbidden by Moses in Deuteronomy, long before they became Kings.

Deuteronomy 17:14-17 "When thou art come unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me; [15] Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother. [16] But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the LORD hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way. [17] Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold."

Furthermore, one would think that when Jesus, the Son of God, spoke on the matter, that His word would be the final word on the subject:

Matthew 22:25-30 "Now there were with us seven brethren; and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother: Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. And last of all the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her. Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven."

Clearly, from Jesus' own words, eternal marriage is false. The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Romans, reinforces this fact:

Romans 7:1-2 "Do you not know, brothers---for I am speaking to men who know the law--that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives?  For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage."

If eternal marriage is false, then according to Orson Pratt, polygamy is not valid and the Mormon "faith is all in vain."

Additionally, Jesus' teachings on adultery suggest that a man would be committing adultery in his heart by lusting after another woman...which is par for the course in polygamous marriages:

Matthew 5:27-28 "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart."

With this in mind, Paul gives us clear guidance on monogamous marriage in the Christian Church:

I Corinthians 7:2 "Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife and every woman her own husband."

Ironically, the Book of Mormon is more explicit in condemning the polygamous marriages of David and Solomon than the Bible:

Book of Mormon

  • Jacob 2:24,27 "Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord...For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none;"
  • Jacob 3:5 "Behold, the Lamanites...are more righteous than you; for they have not forgotten the commandment of the Lord, which was given unto our father-that they should have save it were one wife, and concubines they should have none..."

So, while it was not explicitly stated in the Old Testament, the Book of Mormon indicates that it is an old "commandment of the Lord" that a man should have only one wife. 

Mormons then point to this verse, which is only a few verses after the 1st verse above:

Jacob 2:30 "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."

The Mormons claim that in this verse, God is saying that He may make an exception to His commandment, for the purpose of increasing "seed". That is certainly a valid position to take for those that consider the Book of Mormon to be scripture, but that does not sound like the God of the Bible to me. Where does the God of the Bible say it is OK to violate His commandments, to sin,  for certain purposes? Was Joseph Smith's practice of polygamy of this nature...to increase his seed...or was it for lust?

The way in which Smith practiced polygamy violated several other laws of God, so even if polygamy were actually allowed by God to increase his seed, the way Smith practiced it demonstrates that it was for lust. Specifically, we see in Leviticus 18:18 (KJV): "Neither shalt thou take a wife to her sister, to vex her, to uncover her nakedness, beside the other in her life time" or more clearly in the NIV: "Do not take your wife's sister as a rival wife and have sexual relations with her while your wife is living." Yet Joseph Smith married both Emily Dow Partridge and Eliza Maria Partridge, two sisters, in March of 1843. He also married Sarah and Maria Lawrence, two more sisters, in May of 1843.

We see also in Leviticus 18:20 (KJV): "Moreover thou shalt not lie carnally with thy neighbour's wife, to defile thyself with her." This, of course, is a confirmation of the commandment to not commit adultery. This commandment, Smith violated many times, by marrying 11 women who were already married to other Mormon men. Even King David, when he had fallen in love with a married woman, had her husband sent off to be killed first in battle, before marrying her. There is simply no excuse for marrying an already married woman.

The Tanner's do an in-depth study of the subject.  You can also read the biographies of most of Joseph Smith's wives yourself at http://www.wivesofjosephsmith.org 

How do Mormons make the leap from polygamy being an abomination before God to polygamy being a requirement to become a God, as Brigham Young preached? Are today's Mormons prevented from becoming Gods by the laws of the United States?

Finally, how can Mormons maintain a belief in eternal marriage when Jesus clearly stated that marriage is only of this world? Who is more reliable on the matter...Jesus or Joseph Smith?