Mormon Doctrine of Plural Wives


Joseph Smith, founder of the LDS Church in 1830, was married to Emma Hale in 1827. He began practicing polygyny (one husband, more than one wife) in 1836 when he took Fannie Alger to be his second “bride.” In 1838 (estimated) he “married” Lucinda Pendleton Morgan Harris, wife of G.W. Harris. Forty-nine wives – at least twelve of whom had living husbands – were serially acquired by Joseph Smith and have been documented. Smith’s biographer, Fawn Brodie, believes he may have married as many as 65 women. He married five pairs of sisters and a mother and daughter. Six of the girls he married were living at various times as wards in his own home; Smith was their guardian.

He claimed he had a “revelation” from God about plural wives (but not about plural husbands for women:D). At the urging of his brother Hyrum, who also had several wives, he wrote the “revelation” he purportedly received from God. Hyrum then took it to Emma, including God’s statement that He would destroy her if she didn’t accept it. Emma was not pleased. His “revelation” concerning “celestial marriage” became Section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants (Mormon “scripture”).

“If any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then he is justified; he cannot commit adultery…and if he have ten virgins given unto him by the law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him. . .”

Joseph didn’t obey his “new law” about the “spouses” “not having vowed to no other man.” He married whomever he wished, whether they were already married or not.

Western Civilization’s two highest achievements are monotheism and raising the status of women from chattel to equality with men – the very achievements which Mormonism undermines with its polytheistic (or henotheistic), polygynous doctrines.

What is your opinion about the effect polygynous marriage has on women? Mormon polygyny – old men married to several wives, many of them very young girls – is a fact of life in my state (Arizona).

If same-sex marriage is approved by our judicial system can legalized polygamy (definition: one husband, two or more wives; one wife, two or more husbands; or any form of plural marriage) be far behind?


Reference: No Man Knows My History, The Life of Joseph Smith, by Fawn M. Brodie, Second Edition, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1979


I have never understood this. I have enough trouble with one wife. I cannot imagine trying to handle five, much less 65 :bigyikes: :smiley:



So if all these wives have good jobs, make lots of cash, I could stay home on the forum all day!!!:love:

Hum, one could be head of the household chores, one could organize the jobs, one could push the button on the remote so I don’t tire, one of them is bound to know haw to cook? This is bad? Luther said polygamy was OK so it must be!:yup:

Oh wow, you got me dreaming and I didn’t know if I’d make back to reality here Utah where I live or want to go live in Arizona? Come to think of it, we do have polygamist ‘compounds’ just down the street and all over the state? I guess it’s already legal here so what was your question again?:whacky:

Don’t tell my wife I wrote this or she’ll be collecting my life insurance next week! I want to go to heaven but I want God to choose when and not my wife.:bigyikes:



I forget the exact quote (maybe it’ll come to mind for someone else), but Mark Twain once (unkindly) “praised” Brigham Young as the epitome of Christian charity – for marrying a couple dozen of the ugliest women he’d ever seen.



[quote=Katholikos] . . . If same-sex marriage is approved by our judicial system can legalized polygamy (definition: one husband, two or more wives; one wife, two or more husbands; or any form of plural marriage) be far behind?

You’ve hit upon a fairly serious legal problem – especially if the practice is connected with religious belief. The Edmunds Act prohibiting polygamy might easily be challenged on First Amendment grounds.

So far, a number of courts (including, occasionally, the US Supreme Court) have found so-called “rights” that appear nowhere in the US Constitution. As the right to the “free exercise” of religion actually does exist (though government seems ambivalent toward it), the idea of plural marriage being legalized (on religious grounds) isn’t really that far-fetched.

Chaos, anyone?





The first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants (1835) included a section on LDS Marriages:

[list]“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.” (History of the Church, vol. 2, pg. 247, it is interesting to note that this section in the D&C was in every single edition until 1876 when the D&C first included D&C 132).END QUOTE
[/list]D&C 132, of course, is the “revelatIon” to Joseph Smith that polygamy was ordered by God.

Joseph’s “revelations” were very convenient.

I’ve been insisting that the proper term for plural wives as practiced by Mormons is polygyny (one husband, two or more wives). But I didn’t think this through. In practice Joseph Smith sanctioned polygamy, since he married several women who had living husbands – polyandry. Polygamy is any form of plural marriage.

The future is scary. It appears that if man-man or woman-woman unions are legalized, any form of marriage will have to be allowed or someone’s “civil rights” will be violated.:frowning:


I apologize for the wasted space in my last post. I tried to correct it but the fix wouldn’t “take.” Jay

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit