A few years ago I watched a you-tube video called “Emma Smith — Never Had an Ordinary Day ”. It emphasized several traumatic events from Emma’s life, with background music repeating the words “How much can one heart take?” This video didn’t mention what I believe was the most difficult thing Emma’s heart endured—the unfaithfulness of her husband!
Every woman should put themselves in Emma’s place. How would you feel if your husband told you he had received a revelation from God commanding plural marriage? He then “obeys” God by “marrying” several women and consummates those marriages. Imagine, lying alone at night knowing that the man you love is in another room, being sexually involved with a woman whom he claims was given to him by God. Would you believe him and submit to his priesthood authority? It appears Emma tried to object, but Joseph claimed God told her to “receive all those that have been given unto” him or she would be “destroyed” (D&C 132:52, 64).
The same year I watched the you-tube video I also followed along with the Relief Society Lessons as they studied the “Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith”. It was not easy for me to read Lesson 20 “A Heart Full of Love and Faith: The Prophet’s Letters to His Family”. It made me sick to my stomach to read Joseph’s love letters to Emma; knowing that at the same time, he was being sexually intimate with other women. It’s hard to understand how any man could declare his loyalty and love to his wife; while at the same time destroying that intimacy by giving it to other women. However, I know it happens because the man I married in the temple did this to me.
Since Emma believed her husband was a Prophet she must have been conflicted about what was truly right. If she would have just turned to scripture; she would have learned that Joseph was wrong, he was committing adultery! Nowhere does Heavenly Father command plural marriage. When we read Bible passages about men with multiple wives these are verses which merely describe what’s happening. They are called “descriptive” because they are merely describing an event. For example, God did not command men to have sex with harlots, even though scripture describes that Judah committed this sin, Genesis 38:15.)
What is God’s truth about plural marriage? The Apostle Paul instructed Bishops to be husbands of but one wife:
“This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife…” (1 Timothy 3:1-2) “If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God” (Titus 1:6-7) Also Deacons: “Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.” (1 Timothy 3:12)
The Bible clearly shows the painful and natural consequences of the unnatural union of polygamy. Whenever women shared a husband we read of favoritism, rivalry and bitter jealousy. The sins of the father were “visited” upon his children and grandchildren through horrendous consequences including banishment, slavery, rape, betrayal, murder and rebellion. This was true for Abraham, Jacob, Hannah, David and Solomon’s families (Isaac and Moses did not have multiple wives).
Jesus testified that marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman, who become one flesh. They are no longer two, but one! (Matt 19:4-5- Mark 10:2-8) In addition, a marriage founded on God’s love is even more rewarding and awesome! It’s a lovingly intimate relationship where two people forgive each others faults because they have received this forgiveness from Jesus! When Christ is at the center of a marriage, that marriage flourishes!
As painful as Joseph’s revelation concerning plural marriage was to Emma, it is not his most damaging revelation about marriage. He revealed that to gain the highest kingdom of heaven one must be married and both the husband and wife must be worthy to enter. A single person or a person whose marriage partner falls short will spend eternity as a “ministering servant for those who are worthy of a far more” exceeding eternal glory.
God’s truth, is that all who have faith in Christ will dwell in the highest degree of heaven with Heavenly Father—no matter whether they were married or single. Don’t place your faith in LDS prophets who claim you must have a marriage relationship to dwell with God the Father. The only relationship that matters is your relationship with Jesus! Is He your Savior from the sins that entangle you — even the ones you can’t seem to forsake? Do you trust completely that His blood covers all your sins and leaves you spotless? Are you so grateful for everything Christ did for you, that everything you do is for Him?
Polygamy forbidden: Deut 17:17; Lev 18:18; Mal 2:14-15
Evil Effects of plural marriages:
Deut 21:15-17; Gen 16; Gen 21:9-16; Gen 29:30-34; Gen 30:1-23; 1 Samuel 1:4-7; 2 Chr 11:21; 1 Kings 11:4-8
Marriage is for earthly life, not eternity:
Matt 22:29, 30; Mark 12:24, 25
LDS Teachings regarding polygamy:
(Until the laws of the U.S. change and polygamy can be re-instated, LDS women today are protected from sharing their husbands with “sister wives”. Polygamy was abolished in 1890 when the US Government forced the LDS Church to end polygamy and abide by the laws of the land that it had been violating for many years. But in one way, polygamy is still practiced. Men can be married in the Temple to as many women as they choose. Women can be married in the Temple to only one husband, even if that husband dies within days of their marriage.)
D&C 132: (Heading) “Revelation given through Joseph Smith… relating to the new and everlasting covenant, including the eternity of the marriage covenant, and also the plurality of wives… Although the revelation was recorded in 1843, it is evident from the historical records that the doctrines and principles involved in this revelation had been known by the Prophet since 1831.”
Verse 1: “…Joseph, that inasmuch as “you have inquired of my hand to know and understand wherein I, the Lord, justified my servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as also Moses, David and Solomon, my servants, “as touching the principle and doctrine of their having many wives and concubines”
[I’ve always wondered how poor Emma felt about these words. Here we see that God didn’t call Joseph to give him this command. Instead, it was Joseph who initiated the idea. In prayer he went to God, and asked why men of the Old Testament times were “justified” to have multiple wives.]
Verse 52: “And let mine handmaid, Emma Smith, receive all those that have been given unto my servant Joseph… and those who are not pure, and have said they were pure, shall be destroyed, saith the Lord God.”
Verse 64: “…if any man have a wife…and he teaches unto her…as pertaining to these things, then shall she believe and administer unto him, “or she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord your God; for I will destroy her…”
Link to this LDS Scripture:
D&C Declaration 1, Manifesto: “The question is this: Which is the wisest course for the Latter-day Saints to pursue—to continue to attempt to practice plural marriage, with the laws of the nation against it and the opposition of sixty millions of people, and at the cost of the confiscation and loss of all the Temples, and the stopping of all the ordinances therein, both for the living and the dead, and the imprisonment of the First Presidency and Twelve and the heads of families in the Church, and the confiscation of personal property of the people (all of which of themselves would stop the practice); or, after doing and suffering what we have through our adherence to this principle to cease the practice and submit to the law, and through doing so leave the Prophets, Apostles and fathers at home, so that they can instruct the people and attend to the duties of the Church…”
Link to this LDS Scripture:
Lesson 31: “Sealed … for Time and for All Eternity”, Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, 176:
“At various times throughout biblical history, the Lord commanded people to practice plural marriage. For example, He gave this command to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, and Solomon (D&C 132:1)… In this dispensation, the Lord commanded some of the early Saints to practice plural marriage. The Prophet Joseph Smith and those closest to him, including Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball, were challenged by this command, but they obeyed it. Church leaders regulated the practice. Those entering into it had to be authorized to do so, and the marriages had to be performed through the sealing power of the priesthood.”
Link to Lesson: https://www.lds.org/manual/doctrine-and-covenants-and-church-history-gospel-doctrine-teachers-manual/lesson-31-sealed—for-time-and-for-all-eternity
LDS Scripture regarding those who do not marry in the Temple:
D&C 131:1-3: “In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage; And if he does not, he cannot obtain it.”
“Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; “but are appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory. For these angels did not abide my law; therefore, they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, “without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever.”
Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith Lesson 20 “A Heart Full of Love and Faith: The Prophet’s Letters to His Family”