Zelophehad’s Daughters

What would the church say about making polygamy legal?

Posted by Vada

I was reading this article about laws that are no longer really enforced, of which anti-polygamy laws are one. I’ve read about this other places, too. The only time anti-polygamy laws are prosecuted is when someone is being prosecuted for something else (i.e. they’re prosecuted for enabling statutory or other rape, or for misusing the welfare system, or something, and since they’re also a polygamist, that charge gets tacked on, too). No one really wants to prosecute anyone for having more than one spouse unless they’re doing other things we don’t approve of. And the next logical step to our society’s acceptance of polygamy as a valid life choice (even if most people don’t want to participate in it) is to make it legal to make that choice.

What do you think the church would do/say if there was a push to get anti-polygamy laws off the books? This question really struck me as I was reading the article, and made me think (which is quite a feat in and of itself right now, and a sign I must be starting to feel a little better, since I’m able to have any thought other than “I hate pregnancy”).

My first thought was that they would oppose it. After all, right now not practicing polygamy is what differentiates “us” (the mainstream LDS church) from “them” (fundamentalist Mormons), especially out west where the fundamentalist Mormons are. And if there were no anti-polygamy laws then not only could a man have more than one wife, but a woman could have more than one husband. “Brother-husbands” is not a concept I see many Mormons being at all comfortable with. And really, if we’re okay with alternative forms of marriage, then why not gay marriage? All of this is not something I see the church being happy about.

On the other hand, wouldn’t it be sort of hypocritical for the church to oppose legalization of polygamy, given our history? We fought hard to have those laws declared unconstitutional, but now we think they should stay? We honor our ancestors who followed the teachings of the prophets and practiced polygamy, but we think it’s morally wrong to allow it now? It would be hard to for the church to oppose legalization of polygamy.

What do all of you think? What would the church say if there was a possibility that the anti-polygamy laws were going to be taken off the books?

32 Responses to “What would the church say about making polygamy legal?”

  1. 1.

    Vada,

    This is the text of the Defense of Marriage Act, passed by congress and sign into law by Pres. Clinton in September, 1996.

    1. No state (or other political subdivision within the United States) need recognize a marriage between persons of the same sex, even if the marriage was concluded or recognized in another state.

    2. The Federal Government may not recognize same-sex or polygamous marriages for any purpose, even if concluded or recognized by one of the states.

    The church was a strong supporter of this law. This law is interesting because it forbids both SSM and polygamous marriages.

    I understand that the church does operate in countries where polygamy is legal, and that practicing polygamists are not permitted to be baptized in those places.

  2. 2.

    I believe anti-polygamy laws will be taken off the books. The “gay marriage” debate will most likely be the catalyst. The Christian polygamy movement is already preparing to get the right polygamy case before the Supreme Court so that these laws can be ruled unconstitutional, opening up polygamy, polygyny, polyandry, group marriage, “same sex marriage,” etc. I believe the Church is well aware of this and this is primarily the reason for its push against “gay marriage.” In other words, it is only partially due to the sin of homosexuality, but mostly due to the real possibility that polygamy will be legal again.

    As the law of chastity only deals with legally and lawfully wedded persons, if polygamy becomes legal, the leaders and members face their first real test, since you can’t excommunicate someone who is obeying the law of chastity and the laws of man, too. The church will be forced to accept it, though the prophet still has the right to deny polygamous sealings.

    At any rate, I’ve always felt that this will be one of the three issues facing the church in the future which will split it to the very center and begin the house-cleaning that the Lord has prophesied, leaving only a sanctified, elect remnant.

    Mark IV, the Church’s current practice of not baptising polygamists in countries where it is legal is probably due to its corporate charter and rules, i.e. the agreement it has entered into with the State of Nevada (as a corporation sole) and the U.S.A. (as a 501c3) in obeying the laws of the same, and not the morality of it. The Church doesn’t want to lose its corporate, tax-exempt status.

  3. 3.

    I have wondered about this, too. I could totally see us at some point one of the few not supporting polygamy. That would be an interesting twist! I don’t think this would be hypocritical; if anything, it would reinforce the fact that the ONLY time polygamy has been ok is when it is commanded by God, and that was what happened in our history.

  4. 4.

    The impact would be no different than if gay marriage were legal. The Church would stand behind its definition of marriage being between one man and one woman (temple sealings and deceased spouses notwithstanding).

  5. 5.

    #2: I agree with most of what you said, except for this:

    you can’t excommunicate someone who is obeying the law of chastity and the laws of man, too

    Can’t the church still consider it against the law of chastity, even it they are legally married? I’m not aware of any external rules the church must live by as far as who it excommunicates.

    This issue for me raises a question I’ve been thinking about recently: If the church opposes a certain practice, does that mean the church must oppose it being legal? Would the church support a ban on coffee? I don’t mean the threadjack, but I think the question is directly related.

    Does the church’s clear opposition to gay marriage or polygamy mean is most oppose them being legal? I don’t think so, but I agree that the church would most likely oppose it, if only because it would be a public relations nightmare if it did anything else, and I agree with #2 that both gay marriage and polygamy will be legal in the near future.

    This is why I’ve been considering supporting another option: Perhaps the government should stay out of marriage altogether.

  6. 6.

    Um, it’s already happened, of course. Years ago.

    Ours is a world-wide church now, and operates in many places of the world (e.g. Nigeria) where polygamy has been legal and part of the culture.

  7. 7.

    I beleive that MTH is right here. The church would keep it’s current stand on polygamy, and as was mentioned here, the church is in countries where polygamy is legal. Members there are not allowed to be polygamists, nuff said. People can lose their temple recomends for drinking alcohol or coffee can’t they? Those practices are completely legal aren’t they?

    So, in answer to the question, certainly the church would support anti-polygamy ligislation.

  8. 8.

    the Church will stand by very quietly and say nothing. What else could it do, really? They might also restate that God does not authorize polygamy at this time just in case anyone thought the light was green.

  9. 9.

    If the legislation would result in the state sanctioning and recognizing polygamous marriages just as it does heterosexual monogamous marriages now, the Church would undoubtedly oppose it. This would not be at all hypocritical, as it is my understanding that polygamous church members in the 19th century never sought state sanction of their marriages (after the first one).

    If the legislation would merely decriminalize polygamy (i.e. formalize the de facto decriminalization described in the article), I have no idea how the church would respond. In my opinion, opposing decriminalization would indeed be hypocritical and supporting it need not signal church support for the practice–just a recognition that the state should not be throwing people in jail for it. But the leadership may be too invested in distancing itself from polygamy in any conceivable way to take such a stand.

  10. 10.

    I’ve always been confused about this and this appears to be a good time to bring it up. What exactly is illegal about polygamy?

    Is it illegal for one man to live with multiple women and call them wives? If so, then shouldn’t it also be illegal for an unmarried man to have more than one partner? What’s the difference, except that one calls his partners his wives and one does not?

    Or is it that they are trying to claim benefits from the government for people who they say are their wives but are not legally their wives? In that case, aren’t they guilty of fraud? We don’t need a law against polygamy to protect against that.

    Of course the offenses that are sometimes associated with polygamy, such as child-abuse or underage relationships are illegal and should be prosecuted regardless of whether the offender considers himself to have more than one wife.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a polygamy supporter. I just don’t get it. Perhaps someone can clue me in on how/why polygamy is illegal. Sorry for the theadjack. Feel free to delete my comment if it’s too far off topic, I’ve just been curious about this for some time.

  11. 11.

    #2&5, the Church actually has excommed at least two members in Canada who have entered legal same-sex marriages. Which raises big questions about the Church’s posiiton that civil marriages of the regular sort aren’t disciplinary matters and what the justifications for these excomms were.

  12. 12.

    #5 – Mike, my understanding is that chastity is defined by the “legal and lawful” union between a man and a woman. The Lord has established what is lawful with the revelations, especially D&C 132, which is still apart of our scriptural canon. Legality, though, is established by the State. The laws were fought by the saints until the Supreme Court finally ruled polygamy illegal. That is when the Manifesto was issued, as there must be both lawfulness (D&C 132) and legality. The fundamental Mormons recognize the lawfulness of polygamy, but it is still illegal, thus, they are in error. Once polygamy becomes legal, by its own doctrine, the Church cannot forbid polygamous unions in the church. However, the sealing power remains tightly under the control of the president of the Church and he can forbid polygamous sealings, but the decision and result will be on his head, not ours. The church can’t legally excommunicate anyone for polygamy if polygamy is ruled constitutional unless it first removes D&C 132 from the scriptural canon and replaces it with some other form of law of chastity. If the Church even tries to excommunicate someone in such a situation, they will open themselves up to lawsuits, as they must follow their own rules and doctrine. No one, after all, said the Lord, is exempt from the laws of God, not even the prophet. (D&C 107: 84, 82-84)

  13. 13.

    #12: After re-reading section 132 and the manifesto, I have to admit that I can see your point of view. The manifesto does state that the reason polygamy was discontinued in the church was because it was made illegal, even thought it was still lawful. So by this fact alone it might seem that if polygamy were made legal the church would have to accept it, since then it would be both lawful and legal.

    However, we believe in continuing revelation. What’s in the D&C is not the end of our doctrine. Given that recent prophets have denounced the practice of polygamy, not only because it is against the law of the land but also because it is against the law of God as currently revealed. Regardless of why polygamy was originally discontinued, it’s clear that the prophet today considers polygamy to be unlawful, even where it is legal. (Note that the linked GC address re-iterates some of the things you are saying about polygamy being discontinued because it was illegal, but then goes on to say it is against the law of God even where it is legal–so apparently the prophet has considered your argument and is comfortable with the fact that the reasons have changed).

    It sounds like your point is that the prophet would be wrong to have such an opinion, as it would be against church doctrine. I don’t think it is against doctrine to consider that polygamy was once lawful (when D&C 132 was written) and now is not. Consider Jacob 2:27-30.

  14. 14.

    “Men and women who are living together but are not married may not be baptized without first getting married or separated. Those who are married to more than one person at a time may not be baptized. Seek counsel from your mission president, who will give you specific direction
    in each case.”

    From “Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service” p. 77 “Couples Living Together”

  15. 15.

    Mike #13, I believe the prophet has stated publicly in an interview that polygamy is not doctrinal. He is, of course, correct. As long as there is a conflict between legal and lawful, it breaks the law of chastity. This is why vicarious sealings, or having more than one wife at the same time, but only one wife who is currently alive, is practiced still in the church. Vicarious sealings do not come under the jurisdiction of the legal statutes, therefore, they are both legal and lawful and we still practice polygamy. So, in one sense, polygamy is still doctrine and practiced (vicarious sealings) and in another sense, polygamy is not doctrine and is not practiced (having two or more living wives is a no-no.) President Hinckley, thus, whenever he says it’s not doctrinal, he’s referring to when it breaks a legal prohibition.

    As for the practice of not accepting polygamy in countries whose laws allow it, the Church cannot do this, as it is incorporated as a 501c3 Corporation Sole, I believe in Nevada, and it must obey that corporate charter, including the laws of the State that granted the incorporation. As long as the Church remains incorporated (a State-Church) it must abide by that agreement, despite the laws of other countries. But if the Church ever un-incorporates, becoming a Free-Church, it no longer is constrained by the laws of Nevada and may legally and lawfully baptize persons practicing polygamy in countries where it is legal. This is my understanding. The GAs don’t talk about the Church’s corporate responsibilities, but they exist and they are bound to fulfill them.

    As far as I can tell, the prophet said everything correctly in that link you supplied for the question of polygamy, but he did not reveal the whole picture. The Jacob link is consistent with this view. D&C 132 is the Lord’s command required by Jacob’s scripture, making it now lawful. The Manifesto never nullified D&C 132. Go back and read the Manifesto again. Pres. Woodruff merely declared that he and his associates do not teach, inculcate or encourage polygamy, that his intention was to submit to the laws, and that he declared publicly that his advice to the LDS was to not contract a marriage that was forbidden by the laws of the land. The entire D&C 132 is still in full force and is practiced as fully as the law and the binding incorporation agreement will allow.

  16. 16.

    #15: You make a good argument and I have to admit your reasoning seems logical and hard to argue against, so I won’t.

    But even if I accept what you are saying, I still have a problem with the fact that if polygamy were made legal, you say the church is bound to accept it, and if the prophet does not allow it, then he is wrong.

    I don’t know if the prophet would accept polygamy or not if it were made legal (you’ve got me on that point, at least for now), but if he didn’t and said “God doesn’t want it to happen”, why would that not be enough to negate DC 132? If we believe in following a living prophet, if one prophet (Joseph Smith) establishes a practice, can’t another (Pres. Hinckley) end it, especially considering that God has said this practice could be begun and ended at his will?

    It seems you are saying we would need an additional manifesto or revelation in the D&C to overtturn DC 132. I don’t see what it would be necessary. Wouldn’t the prophet saying it be enough?

  17. 17.

    As for the practice of not accepting polygamy in countries whose laws allow it, the Church cannot do this, as it is incorporated as a 501c3 Corporation Sole, I believe in Nevada, and it must obey that corporate charter, including the laws of the State that granted the incorporation.

    So if the church allowed polygamy in a country in which it is legal, and the ever-enlightened state of Nevada came poking around and objecting that its laws were not being upheld, the church could simply claim that the polygamist’s first wife was operating a brothel and her husband was the only customer. Problem solved. :-}

  18. 18.

    Thanks for the replies, everyone.

    Mark IV, I didn’t know that the Defense of Marriage Act contained a clause on polygamy. I think there are probably a lot of people unaware of that. Thanks for pointing it out.

    Naismith, as far as I know, it hasn’t happened. I’m not asking about places where polygamy was already legal. I’m asking what the church would do if there was a campaign to make polygamy legal somewhere where it currently isn’t. As far as I know, this has never come up, though if you know differently, please enlighten us. I’d be fascinated to see what the church did.

    Mike the Horebite, I’m not sure myself what exactly it is that makes polygamy illegal when sleeping with more than one person is not. There are cases when a person tries to get more than one marriage recognized by the state, and that is a legal no-no. But I have friends who are in long-term committed relationships involving one man and multiple women. The man is married to one, and the others are his girlfriends. They all know about each other. Some live together, some don’t. I’m not sure how their legal situation would be any different if they were all called wives, as long as they didn’t try to get the state to recognize their marriages.

    As for the question of whether or not the church could/would/should recognize polygamy as an accepted practice if it was ever made legal, I think that it would have to come directly from the prophet. Even with D&C 132, we are taught that not all of the early saints were in polygamous marriages, or were allowed to be. Only those specifically authorized and called by the prophet to be in a polygamous marriage. So I think that anyone entering into a polygamous marriage who didn’t want to get excommunicated would have to get specific authorization from the current prophet to be able to do so. I personally don’t foresee it happening, what with the emphasis on “one man and one woman,” but I could be wrong. And there is, of course, the ever-present issue of polygamous sealings still being allowed, and not needing special permission.

  19. 19.

    I’ve been silently following this thread and feel a need to inject a couple of comments. The comments are independent of one another, and are somewhat random.

    Comment #1 — Big Love
    First is the potential (and intended) impact of the HBO Show “Big Love” on the marriage question. The creators of the show are a gay couple whose stated intent was to create a show that opens the minds of their viewers regarding what it means to be married. For a report on an interview with the creators, see
    http://www.washblade.com/2006/3-10/arts/television/feeling.cfm

    (but watch out for the ADS!!!!)

    The issue of plural marriage and SSM marriage are, by design, now linked politically and legally. For a fairly right-wing analysis of this linkage (whether or not you agree with everything he says — I don’t), see this op-ed piece from National Review:

    http://www.nationalreview.com/kurtz/kurtz200603130805.asp

    My opinion is that it is very possible that both plural and SSM marriages will be legislated or judicially decreed to be legal. Now for the irony… When that happens, most other Christian churches will accept members who live in either polygamous and gay marriages — because they accept any legal activity. If this happens, my opinion is that the opposition of our church to gay marriage, and the linkage between gay and polygamous marriage will force our church to stand against both. An ironic twist indeed!

    Comment #2 — the Utah State Constitution
    Second, besides the legal issue in Nevada mentioned by LDS Anarchist in #2 above, there is also the interesting difficulty presented by the Utah State Constitution. In order to win statehood, the state of Utah had to agree to a provision in their constitution that prohibits plural marriage. Quoting from the text of the constitution:

    “30-1-2. Marriages prohibited and void.
    The following marriages are prohibited and declared void:
    (1) when there is a husband or wife living, from whom the person marrying has not been divorced;”

    It is my understanding that Utah is the only state in the USA that constitutionally prohibits plural marriage. So if the courts or legislature (congress or state legislatures) legalize plural marriage, it my guess that we may end up with a situtation that plural marriage will be legal everywhere except Utah. Another ironic twist!

  20. 20.

    16- Mike, you said, [If the prophet] said “God doesn’t want it to happen”, why would that not be enough to negate DC 132?

    Because 132 is canonized. It is part of the Standard Works. It is a standard, a measuring stick, by which all things are measured, you, me and even the prophet. We are bound to the scriptures, as is the prophet. That is why, for example, when Area Authorities were first introduced, President HInckley made it a point to say in GC where his scriptural authority for creating this new office came from. The scriptures are the limit. If we want to go beyond that limit, we need to canonized additional revelations or documents. Also, once the First Presidency was established, the prophets (all of them) became bound to their counselors. That is why First Presidency statements are official, whereas statements by the prophet are not. However, First Presidency statements can interpret scripture, and that interpretation becomes binding upon the saints, but First Presidency statements cannot give further revelation that is binding upon the saints, unless a vote is taken and we approve of adding it to the scriptural canon. The option of taking a vote to de-canonize 132 is possible, of course, but anyway you look at it, once something is canonized, it becomes part of the standard we are all bound to obey.

    So, the GAs or prophets can’t just pull things out of their you-know-what. The Lord established a written word (the canonized standard works) to reign in both the people and the leaders. All things must be done in order, according to the written word and if something wants doing additional to that written word, either the written prohibitions need to be de-canonized or additional documents allowing the new power or doctrine need to be added to the scriptural canon. I don’t have the scriptures on hand, otherwise I’d give you the scriptural references.

    So, once things are canonized, the Berean principle applies.

  21. 21.

    Vada–
    No one really wants to prosecute anyone for having more than one spouse unless they’re doing other things we don’t approve of.

    Actually, the problem is that they can’t prosecute. They are not legally married, so it is exactly the same as your friends with one married man and multiple girlfreinds. Current polygamists don’t often care if the state recognizes their marriages or not– they consider it spiritual marriage.

  22. 22.

    Also, I would like to see the legal document that charges someone with polygamy. It cannot exist unless someone legally married multiple people. I think you are wrong that they tack it on.

  23. 23.

    16 – Mike, sorry, I was in a hurry and probably could have written comment #20 better, but hopefully it is understandable anyway.

  24. 24.

    mami-
    I don’t know how exactly it works. But I do know that Tom Green was convicted of 4 counts of bigamy. You can see this cnn article. It’s not clear from the article whether he was legally married to the women. It sounds like not — it says Tom Green “had testified that he married the women in a spiritual sense.” I don’t understand how he can be convicted of bigamy if they’re not married legally (maybe they are?), but he was definitely convicted of it.

  25. 25.

    LDS Anarchist,

    I’ve been busy lately so I haven’t been able to devote much time to thinking about or researching this topic. I do appreciate that you’ve given me some things to think about though.

    However one thing I’ve been thinking about concerning your #20 is how you say that if the prophet said that God didn’t want us to practice polygamy (regardless of whether it would be legal), that would be going beyond the scriptures. I’m not so sure that’s true. In my comment #13 I referenced Jacob as evidence (in my opinion) that polygamy was something that could be started and ended at the will of God. There is already a scriptural basis for that. Perhaps if God wanted to give the priesthood to women (not trying to start another debate here, just using it as an example) then yes, a canonized revelation might be needed, since there is no scriptural basis for that that I know of. However, this is a different situation were the scriptures already indicate that it is doctrinal for polygamy to be lawful at one point in time and not lawful at another, at his own discretion.

    So it still seems to me that it would not take a canonized revelation for the prophet to discontinue polygamy.

    Even so, if it were necessary, there would be nothing stopping the prophet from issuing such a manifesto of sorts and getting it canonized–I’m pretty sure it would have widespread support–so I think this debate might be bordering too much on the hypothetical. I return to my original point that no external force can determine who the church can and can’t excommunicate. If there are laws that say we have to abide by our doctrine, and if you are correct that we would not be abiding by our doctrine, all that would be needed would be some offical (perhaps canonized) statement clarifying the doctrine to explicitly state the polygamy is against the law of chasity, even when legal. So from a practical standpoint, I think the church won’t have problems excommunicating members engaged in polygamy, even if it’s legal, and I don’t think that’s a motivating factor for why the church would oppose making it legal.

  26. 26.

    #21: That’s precicely why I don’t understand what people mean when they say “polygamy is illegal”. In what sense?

    I accept that it is (somehow), I just don’t understand how it can be, or how that law can be enforced. People always make it seem like it’s a law that’s not well enforced and we should do better. I think it’s a law that can’t be enforced, since it relies on how the peretrator views himself (as married to multiple women vs. just sleeping around). Therefore we only hear about it when some other crime occurs along with polygamy.

    (strangely, my wife just turned on a recorded Oprah show on polygamy).

  27. 27.

    Mike,

    I’m also not sure about how the law can be enforced if the man is only legally married to one woman. However, it’s definitely a law that can be enforced in some instances. Even though it’s against the law, people certainly can manage to get legally married to two spouses, especially if it’s in different states, or even different countries. The people who issue marriage licenses don’t usually do extensive background checks, and if you say you’re single, they generally assume you are. So then you could be married by the state more than once, and that would definitely be prosecutable bigamy.

  28. 28.

    LDS Anarchist,

    What you state in #20 is technically correct — the prophet will NOT guide in non-scriptural ways. But there are several examples of where the Brethren have instructed us not to obey the commandments/laws exactly as contained in the scriptures. Two quick examples:

    1) The Word of Wisdom was given “not by commandment or constraint” and it still is in the canonized scripture as such. But about 1870, the Church started teaching it as a commandment, and in the 1950′s it was added to the temple recommend interview and could start being used as the basis for denying people temple blessings. But we still haven’t changed the canon.

    2) Perhaps a more direct parallel is the Law of Consecration. It WAS given to the church as a commandment (see section 42). We still covenant to keep it. But we are instructed by the Brethren (not in canonized scripture) that we are not required to keep it in fullness at this time. So we don’t even though the canonized scripture tells us that it is a commandment to do so.

    It is possible that even if plural marriage is legalized, that the Brethren will instruct us that the time to practice it again has not come yet without violating the precedents set previously regarding obedience to canonized scripture.

  29. 29.

    I’m late to this discussion, but I’ve wondered about this question as well. OD1 says nothing about the theological status of polygamy, only the intention of the Church to comply with the laws of the land, and the practice currently has a rather ambiguous doctrinal status. I wonder if legalization would force some clarification on that–if we don’t engage in it even when it’s legal, that would seem to indicate that we see it as forbidden by God for reasons beyond the social and legal consequences referenced in OD1. It would also bring up the question, as others have mentioned, of why polygamous temple sealings are okay as long as some of the parties are dead, but polygamous temple sealings to multiple living wives aren’t allowed.

    The Manifesto resulted in a lot of re-thinking of our theology of marriage, as we backed off from the idea commonly taught in the nineteenth century that exaltation required polygamous marriage, and re-defined celestial marriage in monogamous terms. And I wonder whether legalization of polygamy might likewise result in some theological re-thinking of the subject.

  30. 30.

    #28 – hoish, the first three verses of the WoW was not part of the revelation, but was written by Joseph to indicate that it was not given as a commandment. Then, 18 years later, Brigham Young stood up in Conference and called for a vote to make the WoW binding upon the LDS people. The vote was in the affirmative, thus, the (silly) LDS bound themselves and the church to live it as a commandment. It was already canonized, so the Church just started teaching it as a commandment, as it now, indeed, was one. (The power of common consent to change all aspects of the Church is scriptural.)

    Section 119 supplanted the law of consecration, due to a failure on the part of the saints to live it fully. (Had it not been for 119, we probably would have been rejected as a church.) Luckily, the Lord gave his saints a lesser law and second chance to show our generosity and willingness to obey commandments. Donating to welfare also helps. The law, though, is still on the books. Those who have been to the temple have covenanted to obey it, but when? When they are commanded again to do so. And if they don’t when the commandment is issued again, heaven help them!

    So, none of this is outside of the bounds set forth in the scritpures.

  31. 31.

    This is an interesting tidbit many don’t know about…

    A Second Manifesto was announced at the general conference of the church held on April 6, 1904. At a public meeting, Joseph F. Smith annouced that he would like to read an “official statement” that he had prepared so that his words “may not be misunderstood or misquoted”. Smith read:

    Inasmuch as there are numerous reports in circulation that plural marriages have been entered into, contrary to the official declaration of President Woodruff of September 24, 1890, commonly called the manifesto, which was issued by President Woodruff, and adopted by the Church at its general conference, October 6, 1890, which forbade any marriages violative of the law of the land, I, Joseph F. Smith, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, hereby affirm and declare that no such marriages have been solemnized with the sanction, consent, or knowledge of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And I hereby announce that all such marriages are prohibited, and if any officer or member of the Church shall assume to solemnize or enter into any such marriage, he will be deemed in transgression against the Church, and will be liable to be dealt with according to the rules and regulations thereof and excommunicated therefrom.

    JOSEPH F. SMITH,
    President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    Francis M. Lyman, president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, then presented the following resolution of endorsement, which was seconded by B.H. Roberts and accepted unanimously by those in attendance at the conference:

    Resolved that we, the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in General Conference assembled, hereby approve and endorse the statement and declaration of President Joseph F. Smith just made to this Conference concerning plural marriages, and will support the courts of the Church in the enforcement thereof.

    Smith’s official statement was later published in the Improvement Era, an official magazine of the church.

    Even though not canonized this is still binding and therefore current doctrine. Could it be resended? Yes, and only by the same authority that permitted Plural marriage to be allowed, then discontinued. Same could be said for the WoW. Our current prophets have the same authority as past prophets and can reveal, add to, or resend past doctrine according to the will of the Lord.

  32. 32.

    Uh, someone came into my blog from this page and now that I look over my comments, I see an error. Apparently, the Church is incorporated in Utah, not Nevada. So, in every instance that you see the word “Nevada” on this page, it should be pronounced “you-tah.”

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