I wrote this article as a companion info sheet for an earlier study of the US Government and Mormonism. In light of the scripture changes made by the Church this week (March 1, 2013) I made some amendments reflecting the latest denial of the Church’s history with polygamy, and have included it here.
More than anything my heart hurts for those caught in the web of lies the Church keeps spinning. The first purpose of this ministry is to glorify God by showcasing who He is and what He does for us. Our second focus is to warn others of the dangers when we don’t worship the God of the Bible. Unfortunately in this time of history there’s many organizations working overtime to turn people away from the One True God and Mormonism happens to be one of the biggest in recent history. Now, onto the article…
The LDS Church was founded in 1830 by Joseph Smith who came along in a very progressive time in America. Besides Smith there were others that left their mark on this country so we thought we’d give you a very small list of what happened while Smith was busy finding himself some wives;
The Oregon Trail marked the first wagon trains to cross the Continental Divide, the Rocky Mountain Fur Company went into business, the Alamo took place, the Morse code was invented, Charles Goodyear invented rubber vulcanization, we saw the births of the public school system and Emily Dickinson and finally, we saw a population growth of 33% within a decade!
In the sense of the sky’s the limit and let freedom ring Joseph Smith not only founded the Mormon Church, but a system of marriage not seen in the Western world. Polygamy.
There were a few problems with Smith’s new religion and one of those problems was the illegality of having more than one wife at a time. Now in the eyes of God it’s not only that Smith was breaking the civil law, he was also breaking God’s law not to commit adultery and being a false prophet who taught people to follow a false god.
The other problem with Smith’s teachings was the constant denial of the polygamous activity he and others were engaged in. While they were busy lying about their lifestyle this was the reality in Nauvoo, Illinois;
“Over the six years when polygamy was practiced in Nauvoo, 1841 to 1846, Smith, Kimball, and Young were the most-married men in Nauvoo; they accounted, in fact, for 117 of the 434 Nauvoo polygamous marriages, over one-fourth of the marriages by the community of 153 polygamous husbands. After Nauvoo, Young married fifteen more wives and Kimball married eight. At the funeral of his wife, Vilate, Kimball, pointing to the coffin, said: “There lies a woman who has given me forty-four wives.”” – Nauvoo Roots of Mormon Polygamy, 1841-1846: A Preliminary Demographic Report, pg 32, George D. Smith
Things like this break my heart for those who’ve fully trusted in this man and the other leaders of Mormonism. Come alongside us and pray for these dear people won’t you? I know that if God could save someone like me, He’s able to save the rest of my people!
With Love in Christ;
1 Cor 1:18
Church demands one wife system
D&C 42:22; “Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else.”
February 9, 1831
History of the Church 1:148-154
D&C 49:16; “Wherefore, it is lawful that he should have one wife, and they twain shall be one flesh, and all this that the earth might answer the end of its creation.”
Denial of Polygamy
History of the Church 2:247; “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 case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again. It is not right to persuade a woman to be baptized contrary to the will of her husband; neither is it lawful to influence her to leave her husband.”
September 24, 1834.
This text was part of D&C 101 from 1834 to 1876.
Also see Messenger & Advocate 1:163
D&C section 101, pg. 251; “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.”
1835 Edition of D&C
No Fellowship with Polygamists
Messenger and Advocate, (October 1836-Sept. 1837), Vol. 3, No. 8 Kirtland, Ohio, pg 511; “That we will have no fellowship whatever with any Elder belonging to the quorums of the Seventies who is guilty of polygamy…”
Smith had been practicing polygamy for several years by this time. He married Fannie Alger, a 16 yr old house-maid in 1833.
History of the Church 3:28-29; “Question 7th.—”Do the Mormons believe in having more wives than one?” “No, not at the same time. But they believe that if their companion dies, they have a right to marry again. But we do disapprove of the custom, which has gained in the world, and has been practiced among us, to our great mortification, in marrying in five or six weeks, or even in two or three months, after the death of their companion. We believe that due respect ought to be had to the memory of the dead, and the feelings of both friends and children.”
May 8, 1838 in Far West, MO – Smith had three wives at this point; Emma, Fanny Alger and Lucinda Pendleton Morgan Harris.
Also see Elder’s Journal, Vol. 1, No. 3, pg 43.
Polygamy Denial/Ex-Mormons Spread Lies
History of the Church 3:230; “Was it for committing adultery that we were assailed? We are aware that that false slander has gone abroad, for it has been reiterated in our ears. These are falsehoods also. Renegade “Mormon” dissenters are running through the world and spreading various foul and libelous reports against us…Such characters God hates; we cannot love them. The world hates them, and we sometimes think that the devil ought to be ashamed of them.
We have heard that it is reported by some, that some of us should have said, that we not only dedicated our property, but our families also to the Lord; and Satan, taking advantage of this, has perverted it into licentiousness, such as a community of wives, which is an abomination in the sight of God.”
December 10, 1838
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith pg 127
Apostates’ False Accusations
Millennial Star, Vol. 3, No. 4, pg 73-74; “Among the most conspicuous of these apostates, we would notice a young female who emigrated from Manchester in September last, and who, after conducting herself in a manner unworthy the character of one professing godliness, at length conceived the plan of gaining friendship and extraordinary notoriety with the world, or rather with the enemies of truth, by striking a blow at the character of some of its worthiest champions.”
This was written and distributed in August 1842
Times and Seasons Vol. 3, No. 21, September 1, 1842, pg 909; “Inasmuch as the public mind has been unjustly abused through the fallacy of Dr. Bennett’s letters, we make an extract on the subject of marriage, showing the rule of the church on this important matter. The extract is from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and is the only rule allowed by the church.
“All legal contracts of marriage made before a person is baptized into this church, should be held sacred and fulfilled. 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 case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again. It is not right to persuade a woman to be baptized contrary to the will of her husband neither is it lawful to influence her to leave her husband.”
September 1, 1842
See earlier entry for Denial of Polygamy, History of the Church 2:247.
This is the same denial verbatim from September 24, 1834. By this time Smith had 24 wives.
D&C 101 & Elders & Relief Society Deny Polygamy
According to the custom of all civilized nations, marriage is regulated by laws and ceremonies: therefore we believe, that all marriages in this church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, should be solemnized in a public meeting, or feast, prepared for that purpose: and that the solemnization should be performed by a presiding high priest, high priest, bishop, elder, or priest, not even prohibiting those persons who are desirous to get married, of being married by other authority…The clerk of every church should keep a record of all marriages, solemnized in his branch.
All legal contracts of marriage made before a person is baptized into this church, should be held sacred and fulfilled. 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 case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again. It is not right to persuade a woman to be baptized contrary to the will of her husband, neither is it lawful to influence her to leave her husband. All children are bound by law to obey their parents; and to influence them to embrace any religious faith, or be baptized, or leave their parents without their consent, is unlawful and unjust. We believe that husbands, parents and masters who exercise control over their wives, children, and servants and prevent them from embracing the truth, will have to answer for that sin.”
The text above is D&C Section 101. In 1842 the Church decided to republish this in their periodical Times and Seasons and add the following declaration:
We have given the above rule of marriage as the only one practiced in this church, to show that Dr. J. C. Bennett’s “secret wife system” is a matter of his own manufacture; and further to disabuse the public ear, and shew [show] that the said Bennett and his misanthropic friend Origen Bachelor, are perpetrating a foul and infamous slander upon an innocent people, and need but be known to be hated and despise. In support of this position, we present the following certificates:-
We the undersigned members of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and residents of the city of Nauvoo, persons of families do hereby certify and declare that we know of no other rule or system of marriage than the one published from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and we give this certificate to show that Dr. J. C. Bennett’s “secret wife system” is a creature of his own make as we know of no such society in this place nor never did.
N. K. Whitney
We the undersigned members of the ladies’ relief society, and married females do certify and declare that we know of no system of marriage being practised [practiced] in the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints save the one contained in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and we give this certificate to the public to show that J. C. Bennett’s “secret wife system” is a disclosure of his own make.
Emma Smith, President
Elizabeth Ann Whitney, Counsellor
Sarah M. Cleveland, Counsellor
Eliza R. Snow, Secretary
Mary C. Miller
Sophia R. Marks
October 1, 1842
D&C 101 condemning polygamy was published by the Church and part of their canon from 1835 to 1876. Their new declaration on marriage is known as D&C 132, commanding polygamy for salvation.
Times & Seasons Vol. 4, No. 9, March 15, 1843, pg 143; “We are charged with advocating a plurality of wives, and common property. Now this is as false as the many other ridiculous charges which are brought against us. No sect have a greater reverence for the laws of matrimony, or the rights of private property, and we do what others do not, practice what we preach…”
March 15, 1843
Smith just kept recycling the same lie whenever he could, he had up to 28 wives at this point.
Polygamy for Salvation
History of the Church 5:500-501; “Revelation on the Eternity of the Marriage Covenant, including the Plurality of Wives. Given through Joseph, the Seer, in Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois, July 11th, 1843, Verily thus saith the Lord unto you my servant Joseph, 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… 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…and he that receiveth a fulness thereof must and shall abide the law, or he shall be damned, saith the Lord God…Abraham received promises concerning his seed and of the fruit of his loins,—from whose loins ye are—…Go ye, therefore, and do the works of Abraham; enter ye into my law, and ye shall be saved…”
July 11, 1843
No Dark Revelations from Joseph
Contributor, Vol. 5, (October 1883-September 1884), No. 7, pg 259; “”They accuse me of polygamy, and of being a false Prophet, and many other things which I do not now remember; but I am no false Prophet; I am no impostor; I have had no dark revelations; I have had no revelations from the devil; I made no revelations; I have got nothing up of myself. The same God that has thus far dictated me and directed me and strengthened me in this work, gave me this revelation and commandment on celestial and plural marriage, and the same God commanded me to obey it. He said to me that unless I accepted it and introduced it, and practiced it, I, together with my people, would be damned…””
This is an excerpt from one of Joseph Smith’s speeches in the spring of 1844 reprinted in the LDS periodical, The Contributor.
Denial of Polygamy
Millennial Star, Vol. 4, No. 9, pg 144; “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 but one wife, and one woman but one husband… We wish these doctrines to be taught by all that are in the ministry, that the people may know our faith respecting them, and also to correct the public mind in respect to the church.”
January 9, 1844
Polygamy Denial/Hyram Brown’s to Blame
Times and Seasons, Vol. 5, No. 3, pg 423; “As we have lately been credibly informed, that an Elder of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter-day Saints, by the name of Hyram Brown, has been preaching polygamy, and other false and corrupt doctrines, in the county of Lapeer, state of Michigan. This is to notify him and the Church in general, that he has been cut off from the church, for his iniquity.”
February 1, 1844
Polygamy Denial/No Such Doctrine
Times and Seasons,Vol. 5, No. 6, pg 474; “Whereas brother Richard Hewitt has called on me to-day, to know my views concerning some doctrines that are preached in your place, and states to me that some of your elders say, that a man having a certain priesthood, may have as many wives as he pleases, and that doctrine is taught here: I say unto you that that man teaches false doctrine, for there is no such doctrine taught here. And any man that is found teaching privately or publicly any such doctrine, is culpable, and will stand a chance to be brought before the High Council, and loose his license and membership also: therefore he had better beware what he is about.” – Hyrum Smith
March 15, 1844
Polygamy Denial/JC Bennet’s Accusations
Times & Seasons, Vol. 5, No. 7, pg 491; “We very frequently receive letters from elders and individuals abroad, inquiring of us whether certain statements that they hear, and have written to them, are true: some pertaining to John C. Bennet’s spiritual wife system; others in regard to immoral conduct, practiced by individuals, and sanctioned by the church; and as it is impossible for us to answer all of them, we take this opportunity of answering them all, once for all.
In the first place, 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 anything like iniquity is practiced, much less taught or sanctioned, by the authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
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.
Polygamy Denial/All Hell Boil Over
History of the Church 6:408-411; “Come on! ye prosecutors! ye false swearers! All hell, boil over! Ye burning mountains, roll down your lava! for I will come out on the top at last. I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet…
I had not been married scarcely five minutes, and made on proclamation of the Gospel, before it was reported that I had seven wives. This new holy prophet [William Law] has gone to Carthage and swore that I had told him that I was guilty of adultery. This spiritual wifeism! Why, a man dares not speak or wink, for fear of being accused of this… What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one. I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago.”
May 26, 1844
An address towards the dissenters of the Church, two months later Smith was killed. By now Smith had 48+ wives.
Polygamy Affirmed/Sidney Rigdon
Messenger and Advocate, vol. 1, No. 1; “It is a fact, so well known, that the Twelve and their adherents have endeavored to carry this spiritual wife business in secret… and have gone to the most shameful and desperate lengths, to keep it from the public… I could bring facts which can be established in any court of justice, in relation to these vile abominations practiced under the garb of religion that would make humanity blush.”
Sidney Rigdon – First Presidency Counselor
Polygamy Denial/Church Law doesn’t Allow it
Times and Seasons, v. 5, p. 715; “The law of the land and the rules of the church do not allow one man to have more than one wife alive at once…”
Nov. 15, 1844
Polygamy Denial/D&C Says No
Times & Seasons, Vol. 6, No. 8, pg 894; “The Latter-day Saints are charged by their enemies, with the blackest crimes. Treason, murder, theft, polygamy, and adultery, are among the many crimes laid to their charge… As to the charge of polygamy, I will quote from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, which is the subscribed faith of the church and is strictly enforced. Article Marriage, sec. 91, par. 4, says, “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 BUT ONE WIFE, and one woman but one husband.”
Polygamy Denial/No Authority to Practice it
Millennial Star, v. 19, pg 475;”The Latter-day Saints, from the rise of the Church in 1830, till the year 1843, had no authority to marry more than one wife each. To have done otherwise, would have been a great transgression.”
July 25, 1857
WW Phelps Letter to Brigham Young
Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., 1831 revelation, recorded in a letter from W.W. Phelps to Brigham Young, dated August 12, 1861; “Verily, I say unto you, that the wisdom of man, in his fallen state, knoweth not the purposes and the privileges of my hold priesthood, but ye shall know when ye receive a fullness by reason of the anointing: For it is my will, that in time, ye should take unto you wives of the Lamanites and Nephites, that their posterity may become white, delightsome and just, for even now their females are more virtuous then the gentiles.”
Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act
United States President Abraham Lincoln signs the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act outlawing bigamy.
Polygamy Denial/Deseret News
Deseret News; “Polygamy in the ordinary and Asiatic sense of the term, never was and is not now a tenet of the Latter-day Saints. That which Joseph and Hyrum denounced… was altogether different to the order of celestial marriage including a Plurality of wives…. Joseph and Hyrum were consistent in their action against the false doctrines of polygamy and spiritual wifeism, instigated by the devil and advocated by men who did not comprehend sound doctrine nor the purity of celestial marriage which God revealed for the holiest of purposes.” Prophet Joseph F. Smith, editor.”
May 20, 1866
Doctrine and Covenants 101 Removed
Section 101 condemning polygamy is removed from the Doctrine and Covenants. Section 132 requiring polygamy for exaltation is canonized. Section 132 remains part of the canon today.
Polygamy Vital Principle
Millennial Star, v. 40, pg. 226-227; “And we… are believers in the principles of plural marriage or polygamy… as a principle revealed by God, underlying our every hope of eternal salvation and happiness in heaven… we cannot view plural marriage in any other light than as a vital principle of our religion.” – Brigham Young
April 15, 1878
Civil Law Ignored
Journal of Discourses 20:317; “I was asked, “Do you believe in obeying the laws of the United States?” Yes I do, in all except one—in fact I had not broken that. “What law is that?” The law in relation to polygamy.” – John Taylor
October 6, 1879
Salt Lake City, Utah
Polygamy or Damnation
Millennial Star, v. 47, pg. 711; “Damnation was the awful penalty affixed to a refusal to obey this law [polygamy]. It became an acknowledged doctrine of the Church; it was indissolubly interwoven in the minds of its members with their hopes of eternal salvation and exaltation in the presence of God…”
November 9, 1885
Part of the General Conference Address given while in hiding.
US Congress passed an anti-polygamy act – two weeks later (March 3) it would be signed into law.
In 1862 President Abraham Lincoln signed a federal enactment into law banning bigamy and limiting churches and non-profits in America to $50,000 in assets. It was targeted to stop Mormons from practicing polygamy and curb their dominance in Utah Territory. While Lincoln gave Brigham Young unspoken permission to ignore the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act in exchange for not getting involved in the Civil War, the issue wouldn’t quietly go away.
The Manifesto of 1890 allowed Utah to become a state of the Union, but another manifesto was needed in 1904 to completely and formally declare before Congress that no one in the Church could perform multiple marriages. The first manifesto, known as the Official Declaration 1, was canonized and Mormons today consider it to be a direct revelation from God.
February 19, 1887
Reed Smoot & US Congressional Hearings
Reed Smoot Case, v. 1, p. 201;
“Senator Pettus. Have there been any past plural marriages without the consent of the first wife?
Mr. [Joseph F.] Smith. I do not know of any, unless it may have been Joseph Smith himself.
Senator Pettus. Is the language that you have read construed to mean that she is bound to consent?
Mr. Smith. The condition is that if she does not consent the Lord will destroy her, but I do not know how He will do it.
Senator Bailey. Is it not true that in the very next verse, if she refuses her consent her husband is exempt from the law which requires her consent?
Mr. Smith. Yes; he is exempt from the law which requires her consent.
Senator Bailey. She is commanded to consent, but if she does not, then he is exempt from the requirement?
Mr. Smith. Then he is at liberty to proceed without her consent, under the law.
Senator Beveridge. In other words, her consent amounts to nothing?
Mr. Smith. It amounts to nothing but her consent.”
Reed Smoot Case, v. 1, pg. 480; ““The Chairman: That is the Book of Mormon?
Joseph F. Smith: Yes, sir; that is the Book of Mormon.
The Chairman: Is the doctrine of polygamy taught in that revelation?
Mr. Smith: Taught in it?
The Chairman: Yes.
Mr. Smith: It is emphatically forbidden in that book.
The Chairman: In that book it is emphatically forbidden?
Mr. Smith: It is.””
Intro to Declaration 1
“The Bible and the Book of Mormon teach that monogamy is God’s standard for marriage unless He declares otherwise (see 2 Samuel 12:7–8 and Jacob 2:27, 30). Following a revelation to Joseph Smith, the practice of plural marriage was instituted among Church members in the early 1840s (see section 132). From the 1860s to the 1880s, the United States government passed laws to make this religious practice illegal. These laws were eventually upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. After receiving revelation, President Wilford Woodruff issued the following Manifesto, which was accepted by the Church as authoritative and binding on October 6, 1890. This led to the end of the practice of plural marriage in the Church.”
1. The US Government began instituting laws banning bigamy as early as the 18th Century, not the 1860’s.
Vermont – 1797
New York – 1788
Ohio – 1824
Missouri – 1825
Illinois – 1833 – See Illinois Criminal Code, Section 121
2. The LDS Church did not stop practicing polygamy in 1890 – that didn’t happen until 1904 – see Reed Smoot hearings above.
3. The LDS Church was practicing polygamy long before the 1840’s. See reference and link below for that. Also if the Church wasn’t practicing polygamy before that time then why did Smith have to keep denying it all through the 1830’s? Where would people get the idea they were practicing polygamy if nothing was going on?
Brigham Young, 1834