This broadcaster has 662 podcast archives available on-demand.
Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.
August 15, 2020 7:13 pm
Unprepared to engage. Mormon missionaries when they knock on your door. Perhaps the book Mormon ism, one or one will help Mormonism one on one published by Baker Book available at your favorite Christian bookstore.
Viewpoint on Mormonism. The program that examines the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints from a biblical perspective viewpoint on Mormonism, is sponsored by Mormonism Research Ministry since 1979.
Mormonism Research Ministry has been dedicated to equipping the body of Christ with answers regarding the Christian faith in a manner that expresses gentleness and respect. And now your host for today's Viewpoint on Mormonism.
Welcome to this edition of Viewpoint on Mormonism. I'm your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director of Mormonism Research Ministry. And with me today is Erik Johnson, my colleague at M r m. Why did Latter-Day Saints practice plural marriage in the early days of the church? This is a question that was asked in an article by that title written by Kate Holbrook, who works with the LDS Church History Department, and she is going to try and answer that question. Unfortunately, she tries to answer it in a very small space. It's found on page 17 of the July 2020 edition of Inside Magazine. And yesterday, we were talking about how she mentioned that Joseph dragged his heels for years to implement this practice. But eventually he did implement it because he wanted to be obedient to God's commandment to him. Yesterday, we went through Section 132 of the doctrine and covenants showing that the phrase new and everlasting covenant is tied to the practice of plural marriage, or, as it says in verse one, having many wives and concubines. And how first four in Section 132 says, For behold, I reveal unto you a new and ever Everlast and an everlasting covenant. And if you abide not that covenant, then, are you? Damn. So you can see it's pretty much a commandment, not just to Joseph Smith, as Ms. Holbrook says, but technically she's correct. In the early years, around the early eighteen thirties, it was given specifically to Joseph Smith. But then when it was recorded in 1843, you could argue that it was now meant for the entire church body or LDS church body. But clearly, if you did not practice this, you would be damn.
So she's right in saying it is a commandment from God. And it's interesting where I'm jumping the gun bill. But in the second paragraph, when we'll get to it later, she talks about how only a minority of the Saints were actually practicing polygamy. And yet, according to Doctrine and Covenants 132, it seems like that's for everyone to practice.
I think you're absolutely correct. And yesterday we were talking about how this understanding of celestial marriages is taught in Section 132 is now merely understood to mean marriage for eternity. I don't think that's the way it was understood originally. I think this was speaking specifically of plural marriage. If it was only speaking of marriage for eternity, being sealed to your wife for eternity. Why would Joseph Smith have to insert a threat against his wife in verse 54, saying to her, and I command mine Handmaid Emma Smith, to abide and cleave into my servant Joseph into none else. But if she will not abide this commandment, she shall be destroyed, say, at the Lord, for I am the Lord that God and will destroy her if she abide. Not in my law. Seems odd that Smith would have to include that threat against his own wife, his first wife, Emma Smith. If this was merely talking about being sealed for eternity in the next life. As we know, Emma Smith never liked the doctrine of a plurality of wives.
She fought her husband after he instituted this and then later in her life, after Brigham Young had taken most of the Latter-Day Saints to Utah, she denied that Joseph even practiced it. So it was one of those things that it was not a very good subject with her. Her kids would ask her all the time and she continued to deny it all the way until she died.
In yesterday's show we cited from Section 132 versus twenty seven down to verse 32. And I was trying to make the point that, again, we find this threat that if you don't practice plural marriage, that you will not be saved, showing that it was certainly a commandment to the church in the 19th century. But I want to emphasize this one more time, and I want to use a statement from Brigham Young to bolster my premise when it comes to this topic. What did Brigham Young say on July 6th, 1862? And this is found in the Journal of Discourses, Vol. nine. Page 322.
Why do we believe in and practice polygamy? Because the Lord introduced it to his servants in a revelation. Given to Joseph Smith and the Lord's servants have always practiced it, quote. And is that religion popular in heaven, end quote? It is the only popular religion there for this is the religion of Abraham. And unless we do the works of Abraham, we are not Abraham seed and heirs according to Promise.
Notice that Brigham Young ties polygamy, plural marriage in with doing the works of Abraham. Where does that phrase come from? It comes from Section 132 32 where it reads Go ye therefore and do the works of Abraham entry into my law and you shall be saved. So if you hope to be saved and again, you have to look at that word in the context of Mormonism. I'm sure he's referring to celestial exaltation. He's not just talking about a resurrection from the dead. It seems pretty clear, according to Brigham Young, that you need to be practicing polygamy.
What does that mean, being saved? Well, according to the same Brigham Young, on August 19th, 1866, in the Journal of Discourses Vol. 11 page to 69, the only men who become gods, even the sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy. And then fourth, President Wilford Woodruff said in Journal of Discourses Vol. 13, page 166. And this is December 12th, 1869. If we were to do away with polygamy, it would be only one feather in the bird. One audience in the church and kingdom do away with that. Then we must do away with prophets and apostles with revelation and the gifts and graces of the Gospel. And finally, give up our religion altogether and turn sectarians and do as the world does. Then all would be right. We just can't do that, for God has commanded us to build up His kingdom and to bear our testimony to the nations of the Earth. And we are going to do it. Come life or come death. He has told us to do thus, and we shall obey him in days to come, as we have in days past.
That sounds like it's pretty serious, wouldn't you say, Eric? If you don't do this, you're not going to be saved, so you better do it. But Ms. Holbrook goes on to talk about Joseph Smith's early efforts to implement this doctrine of plural marriage.
She writes, He tried to practice plural marriage in the middle of the eighteen thirties, but it was really in 1841 that he slowly, more officially began to introduce the practice to his trusted associates. They were shocked. They pled in prayer at their father in heaven for understanding of this principle, and they receive personal, spiritual witnesses that it was right for them at that time.
Let's dissect what she says here. First of all, she says he tried that Joseph Smith tried to practice plural marriage in the middle of the eighteen thirties. That seemed like an interesting way to word that, because normally when I hear Latter-Day Saints use the word try, it's always in the context of failure. So what does she mean? He tried to practice plural marriage in the middle of the eighteen. Well, we know that there were at least two women that he was married to, polygamous Lee Fanny Elgar in 1833, and another woman, Lucinda Morgan Harris in 1838. Lucinda Morgan Harris was married to George W. Harris. So this would be his first polyamorous relationship with a woman. But clearly, he did have two wives in the eighteen thirties that were married to him besides Emma Hale Smith. So he really did succeed. Didn't just try. He did succeed. But then she says. But it was really in 1841 that he slowly, more officially began to introduce the practice to his trusted associates. And that's true. You find in 1841, Joseph Smith had three wives that he married during that year. Louisa Beamon in April of 1841, Zida Huntington, Jacobs in October of 1841 and percent. Dhia Huntington Bewell in December of 1841. Now, two of those three, Zeiner, Huntington, Jacobs in percentage Huntington Bewell had living husbands at the time. So again, we have, of the three marriages, polygamous Lee in 1841, two of them were two women who had living husbands. When Ms. Holbrook says it was really in 1841 that he slowly, more officially began to introduce the practice to his trusted associates, that's actually true. But she also says they were shocked.
Not only were some of them shocked.
What's interesting is that one of those who was shot. It was Joseph Smith's brother, Don Carlos Smith, in the book Mormon Enigma.
What do the authors say? There is pages 95 and 96, and it was written by Linda Noel King and bellying Tippett's. Avery, we highly recommend this book. They wrote early in that summer of 1841, however, Joseph publicly tested the water for this new order of marriage. One church member, Joseph Lee Robinson, heard the speech and later recorded it in his journal, adding, quote, This was to me the first intimation that I ever received that polygamy would ever be practiced or lawful with this people, end quote. His brother Ebeneezer later wrote of Don Carlos Smith's reaction, quote, Any man who will teach in practice the doctrine of spiritual wife free will go to hell. I don't care if it is my brother, Joseph L..
Don Carlos Smith wasn't the only one that was shocked. William Lau, who is a member of the first presidency, Joseph Smith's second counselor, also was shocked as well. William Law was one of the men who put together what was known as the Narvo Vu Expositor, a newspaper that came out in June of 1844, which I personally feel ultimately led to Joseph Smith's death. Because after this paper came out, Smith and the Nauvoo City Council had the printing press destroyed. And this started a whole chain of events that ultimately led to Joseph Smith murder at Carthage jail not long afterwards. But Miss Holbrook ends this paragraph by saying that not only were they shocked, but these associates who were shocked also, she says, pledged in prayer with their father in heaven for understanding of this principle. And they received personal spiritual witnesses that it was right for them at that time. I think it needs to be made clear, however, that not all of them came to this conclusion, though according to Miss Holbrook says here, it gives the impression that everybody. Could you say, Eric, after they prayed about it? They had no problem with plural marriage. And that is really not the case historically. Tomorrow, we're going to continue looking at this article some more. When she talks about polygamy being something that people could choose, could they really choose if it had something to do with their salvation? See, again, I think this kind of language becomes a bit misleading. Sure, they could refuse, but it would come with consequences. Tomorrow, we'll continue looking at why did they practice plural marriage in the early days of the church?
Thank you for listening. If you would like more information regarding Morman is a research ministry. We encourage you to visit our Web site at w w w dot m r m dot org, where you can request our free newsletter, Mormonism researched. We hope you will join us again as we look at another viewpoint on Mormonism.
Have you ever wondered what life is like for women and children who are trapped in polygamy? If so, you're invited to hear from ministries aimed at reaching those in polygamy, as well as testimonies of former polygamists who are now Christians. This event will be held in Sandy, Utah, on Saturday, September 19, from eight thirty to two thirty p.m. registration is twenty dollars per person and includes a continental breakfast and lunch for questions. Or to register. Call Chris at eight zero one seven five four three six three six. Again, that's eight zero one seven five four. Thirty six. Thirty six.