Polygamy and the Mormons

April 9, 2008

By Janet Walgren

My blogging friend, Archana, requested information on my religion and our beliefs concerning polygamy so I am dedicating this post to her.

“Hi Janet,
I have been hearing a lot about the Polygamist sect and the abuses that are being committed. I remembering you mentioning that you belong to the Mormon faith. I heard that Mormon’s also believe in polygamy. I want to understand more about this religion. Can you point me to some sources or would you be able to write to me/do a post on this. I hope you don’t mind me asking.”


There is much misunderstanding concerning my faith and what we believe. Some of the misunderstanding is innocent, some is carefully cultivated to promote enmity between other Christians and the Mormons (a nickname for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). You have really asked about two things: 1. Polygamy and 2. Doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I will address each separately.

Facts about Polygamy:

  • Polygamy is a legal marriage between a woman and a man who has multiple legal wives.
  • Polygamy IS NOT found among the citizens of the United States of America because the law strictly forbids the practice. Anyone claiming to be a polygamist is nothing more than an adulterous man or a fornicating woman with the exception of the man’s first and only legal wife.
  • The Holy Bible condemns the practice of adultery and fornication, therefore those engaged in either behavior are committing an abominable sin in the sight of God.
  • Polygamy is presently legal in many nations of the earth and was practiced by many of the prophets of the Bible such as Abraham and Jacob. Polygamy is not and has never been considered a sin in the Christian and Muslim religions.
  • All nations, peoples and religions that sanction or have sanctioned polygamy have had strict laws and guidelines governing the practice.
  • Before Utah became a state in 1896, when there were no laws against the practice, a few (less than 10%) of Mormons practice polygamy. This was mostly done as 1. A welfare practice because there were many widows who were in need of shelter and protection, or 2. To provide husbands for women who had no option for marriage because of the shortage of men.
  • Mormon men who were engaged in the practice of polygamy were called (requested) to do so by their ecclesiastical leaders. They had to have permission from their wife to take another wife. They had to provide separate maintenance for each wife (without diminishing the maintenance of the first wife) and there were no illicit sexual undertones in their relationships. The practice was totally voluntary after being called, but volunteers (= self-called men) were not allowed. It was a calling and only righteous, decent men were called.
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints discontinued the practice in 1890, six years before Utah became a state and Utah became the first state in the United States of America to outlaw the practice.

The FLDS group that you read about in the news are: not of my faith. They are not sanctioned by, or associated with my faith in any way. They force the illicit practice of fornication on the girls born into their families and kick their teenage boys out of their society to eliminate competition for the girls. The young girls are not of a legal age to consent to marriage or sexual intercourse so the consummation of the forced illegal marriage (usually to a much older man) is nothing more than statutory rape.

Facts about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints:

1. We believe that the Godhead is made up of three separate individual beings namely; God the Father, Jesus Christ his son and the Holy Ghost.

We believe in a God who is our eternal father who lives in heaven. We believe that he is the father of our spirits and that as spirit children we lived with him in heaven before we came to earth. We believe that after we die we will be resurrected and return to God in heaven to be judged for our works on earth and rewarded accordingly. In the Holy Bible in the gospel of St. John, chapter 20, verse 17 Jesus was talking to Mary after his resurrection when he said, “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brethren, and say unto them, ‘I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God and your God.'”

We believe that Jesus Christ is the spirit son of God and the only begotten son of God in the flesh. Because he was conceived of a mortal mother and a God (our father in heaven), he was a God who had the power to lay down his life and take it up again. This accomplished the grace whereby all people on earth will be resurrected, and the atonement whereby all people may be forgiven of their sins if they will repent.

We believe that there is a third member of the godhead called the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit. We believe that he is a testifier, revelator and comforter who can help you know truth when you hear it.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, a member of the quorum of twelve apostles in the leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, gave a detailed description of this belief in a recent conference address. You can read it in full by clicking on this link.

2. We believe in continuing revelation whereby God speaks to ALL of his children through prophets just as he did in biblical times.

All of the  Christian churches in the early United States were called “reformation” churches meaning that their origins were reformed in nature or broken off from earlier sects. The great reformers had one thing in common, they believed that there was an apostasy from the original teachings of Jesus. The reformers were trying to get back to the original beliefs but never claimed authority from God. We believe that the early reformers were great men who were inspired by God.

In the early 1800’s there was a lot of religious excitement in the United States. A young boy by the name of Joseph Smith didn’t know what church to join. He was reading in the Bible in the book of James chapter 1 verse 5, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally. and upbraideth not and it shall be given him.” He concluded that he would pray and ask God which church was right and which to join. He went to a grove of trees near his farm and prayed. As a result he saw a vision where God the father and his son Jesus Christ appeared to him and told him that none of the churches were right and that the priesthood authority had been lost through apostasy. Joseph was commanded not to join any of them.

Later, a book consisting of golden plates containing a record known as The Book of Mormon was given to Joseph Smith by an angel to translate and the original church established by Jesus Christ was restored to the earth along with all the priesthood keys of authority. We believe that the prophet and quorum of twelve apostles who head The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints hold those priesthood keys today.

Again, Elder Holland spoke on this topic a few days ago. Although his talk has not been published in text format you can listen to the talk by clicking on the following link, scrolling down to the Sunday Afternoon session and clicking on the MP3 icon: http://www.lds.org/conference/sessions/display/0,5239,23-1-851,00.html

You can listen to or read The Book of Mormon, The Holy Bible and other scriptures and learn more about the doctrines of my faith at this website: http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=e419fb40e21cef00VgnVCM1000001f5e340aRCRD

Thank you for asking!


Your friend Janet