BY: Resa LaRu Kirkland
The latest news on the horrors of man-instituted polygamy has caused me to receive a deluge of emails regarding the LDS church--to which I belong--and the practice of polygamy. While the scandal involves a break off of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, it is still a reasonable question, and deserving of a truthful answer. Only the Prophet can give direction for the Gospel here on earth, but all of God's children are entitled to ask Him for answers and receive answers when He--and His child--is ready. Between His words to His prophets--from the Old Testament to now--and the personal answers we are all entitled to through study and prayer, understanding the difference between polygamy ordained by God and the selfish, gluttonous, and wicked polygamy of man are plain to see and stark in contrast.
So here it is--the good, the bad, and the ugly of Polygamy.
We believe in the concept of the New and Everlasting Covenant. We are sealed by those in authority to do so beyond this life so that we remain a family in the next life; there is no "'till death do you part" in our religion. We do not believe that God meant for marriage and family--the
God instituted polygamy on rare occasions on earth; it was never viewed as one of the "blanket commandments" like THOU SHALT NOT STEAL. It was a law that was lived at certain times and forbidden at others, and was usually a legal maneuver for childless women within society more often than a commandment of Father's. But there is a most definite way to know when the times were approved of by God and when they were chosen by man.
When polygamy was allowed by God, it was always the woman's choice, such as with Abraham and Sarah. Not only did the woman have to give her consent to living polygamy, it was often her idea. The wife had to both agree to polygamy
It was the same with Mormons and polygamy. Less than 5% were asked to live it, and every time it was the decision of the woman, not the man, that was the final call. And as with Old Testament polygamy, there was no threat of hell or eternal punishment if it was rejected, no excommunication or denial of association. It was all a matter of free will: the one matter of eternity that not even Father’s unconditional love can trump. We must choose to return to Father; He will NOT force us to Heaven, nor will He ever force us to do right. It must always be our choice—both good choices and wicked choices--or it simply doesn’t count. Only Satan forces. He has to, because he knows that those with free will gain knowledge, truth and understanding, and such things are NOT his friend. He knows God’s children will never choose him if given a choice; that is why all wicked men must deny free will. It is the ultimate enemy of iniquity.
Now look at the difference between God-ordained polygamy and the polygamy of man. In man's polygamy, the wife has no say whatsoever. The man gets to choose whatever woman and however many women he wants, and none of the women are allowed to say no. The trend when polygamy is evil is toward men growing older and older and their wives getting younger and younger. To force anyone to do anything is a direct violation of God's lawful polygamy, which was a law of choice, not force. You also see--without the ordination of God--that men begin to turn on one another, forcing younger more attractive men to leave their cults so they have less competition for women, beatings and threats to keep non-compliant women in line, the denying of choice or even the right to say “No” to marriage or pregnancy, gluttonous numbers of women who are forced into a lifetime of servitude to a man instead of being allowed to choose to serve God as they see fit, and the eventual incestuous relationships of uncles, nieces, cousins, etc. It is a law of force and no choice when it is mandated by man, rather than the law of choice--specifically the woman's choice--when it is justified by God. Therein lies the difference.
You must also understand that social norms often demanded such things. When polygamy was authorized of God, it often came at a time where famine, plague, or war had depleted the male population and left more females behind, in particular widows and orphans. God has been consistent from Old Testament through Doctrine and Covenants in providing care for widows and orphans. In ancient Israel it fell to a man's brothers to marry his widow and care for his children, but in modern heavily-Puritan influenced times of the 1800’s, a woman could be labeled the worst thing society back then could label her: a whore. Most of the documented cases of Mormon Polygamy were to care for women left behind by men who had either died or abandoned them. Remember, American society at the time frowned on women with careers. Brigham Young was actually ahead of his time in that when they needed doctors and there weren't enough single men to fill the need, he sent single women back east to train. Many of the marriages, as in ancient times, were done to remove the shame that man heaped on women who were alone, and prevent any punishment by gossip and the evil tongue against these righteous daughters of God. Of course, it shouldn’t happen that way, but the evil tongue is a horrific evil that weighs heavily on man more today than at any other time in history, and Father knows this to be true. In His wisdom, He seeks to give those who hate Him no cause.
Many say that polygamy has been lived over the centuries to build up the
Adam and Eve were the beginning of God laying down His laws and relationship with His children on earth. For the rest of time, men would look back to the beginning when asking God how they should deal with life on earth. The fact that God made Adam and Eve the foundation for all marriage proves that His eternal ideal always has been the idea of one man, one woman. There have been times when He has temporarily ordained more than one wife, but those were never meant to be His law forever, or for everyone, and were often the idea of man and made into the law of the land. So long as His daughters were NOT denied the right to say “No,” Father allowed man to make laws for the benefit of society. But His ideal of marriage will always be that of one man with one woman. He has made that abundantly clear.
We believe that the inherent love for family and spiritual leanings of a woman means that more women will be worthy to enter the Celestial Kingdom--the highest degree of Heavenly glory, and the only one where man can live with our Father in Heaven--than will men. The Jews also believe more women will be worthy to enter Heaven than will men. In order to access the top level of the
I must stress this again: at any of the times that polygamy was authorized or tolerated by God, less than 5% of his righteous were asked to live it. That is hardly enough for any reasonable person to believe that it will be the rule rather than the exception in the next life. Bear in mind that when polygamy was lived in unrighteousness and against the will of His daughters, God was quite irate, and chastised the people through His prophet. That happened in the OT as well as in the Book of Mormon. I honestly don't know how much more God has to do to make it clear that His eternal ideal, both now and for eternity, is the same as it was in the beginning: one man, one woman.
You need only to read scripture and the words of the prophets to know that what we see in
CAVEAT—Obeying the laws instilled by the will of the people is NOT force, so let’s nip that in the bud right now. Those who choose God will make righteous laws; those who choose Satan will make selfish, wicked laws that remove free will. Choose wisely and you have no need to fear law, be it God’s or mans. Consequences are the natural result of obedience or disobedience, NOT a punishment from God. If your choices force your Father to leave, you are not in neutral territory; you are left to the mercy of he who has none. And once in his grasp, you can be sure choice will be gone and replaced with slavery.
All of this can be summed up in my favorite old hymn:
Know this, that every soul is free
To choose his life and what he’ll be;
For this eternal truth is given
That God will force no man to Heaven.
He’ll call, persuade, direct aright
And bless with wisdom, love, and light;
In nameless ways be good and kind,
But never force the human mind.
So there it is…knowledge, truth, and understanding. The choice is up to you. Ain’t it grand?
Keep the faith, bros, in all things courage, and no substitute for VICTORY.