Social And Political Reactions To Mormon Polygamy

Powerful Essays
"We are a peculiar people," Elder Bruce R. McConkie once said (McConkie 25). The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is one of a few "odd" Christian religions. Many of its practices have created much persecution and political reaction, polygamy being one of these. It created much social and political persecution of the Mormons.

Most of this persecution had come from anti-polygamist Christians. This is ironic because the anti-polygamists believed in the Bible, but not polygamy, one of its teachings. Many of God’s righteous followers in the Old Testament practiced polygamy. Abraham married Hagar, Sarai’s handmaiden (Genesis 16:1-3). Jacob was married to Leah, Rachel, Billah, and Zilpha all at the same time. In the Doctrine and Covenants, a book of modern revelation used as scripture by the LDS church, it states that "in nothing did they [the Old Testament prophets] sin save in those things they received not of me [God]"(132:38). Quickly one sees that God gave those women to the prophets of old because they were righteous.

So what exactly is the justification and reason for polygamy? Mormons believed that when a couple or family is sealed in the temple of the Lord by one holding God’s priesthood keys of sealing, that the bond is not "until death do us part," but rather for all eternity. If this is true, then when a man is widowed and he marries a second wife, he then has two wives. The Mormons believe that if a man can have multiple wives in heaven, then the same should be true on Earth. "According to the Lord’s law of marriage, it is lawful that a man have only one wife at a time unless by revelation the Lord commands plurality of wives in the new and everlasting covenant" (McConkie5770). If a woman who is sealed in the temple is widowed, she not allowed to be resealed: only a man is allowed a plurality of spouses.

Before the founding and organizing of the LDS church and introduction of polygamy, Joseph Smith received bitter persecution. He was tarred and feathered by a mob, but this was nothing compared to the treatment the saints received when their practice of polygamy became well known (Arrington JS 26-7). In order to escape the torture, Joseph Smith led one hundred and fifty or more saints from New York to Kirtland, Ohio in 1831 (Arrington JS 21). After living in harmony with the native Gentiles for several years, the town of Kirtland be...

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...e early and present members stronger by forcing them to defend their beliefs as Mormons (Roberts 5:294-300).

Works Cited

Arrington, Leonard J. Brigham Young: American Moses. New York: Alred A Knopf, Inc., 1895.

Arrington, Leonard J. ed. The Presidents of the Church. Salt Lake: Desert Books, 1986.

Arrington, Leonard J. "Joseph Smith," Presidents.

Arrington, Leonard, J. "Brigham Young," Presidents.

Benton, William, ed. Encyclopedia Britanica. Chicago, 1965.

Bitton, Davis & Beecher, Maureen U. New Views of Mormon History. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1987.

Doctrine & Covenants. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1989.

The Holy Bible. King James Version. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1989.

Kenney, Scott. "Joseph F. Smith," Presidents.

McConkie, Bruce R. Mormon Doctrine. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft Inc., 1886.

Newell, Linda King & Avery, Valeen. Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1984.

Roberts, B. H.. A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City; Bookcraft, 1957.

Swinton, Heidi S. "Lorenzo Snow," Presidents.
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