Someone who notices when new stuff on topics gets posted on lds.org alerted me to the fact that there is updated information regarding the topic of polygamy.
The main article is titled “Plural Marriage in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints [https://www.lds.org/topics/plural-marriage-in-the-church-of-jesus-christ-of-latter-day-saints] which links to other related articles about plural marriage.
Of particular interest is the article discussing the origins of plural marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo [https://www.lds.org/topics/plural-marriage-in-kirtland-and-nauvoo?lang=eng]. This article discusses the likely 1831 timing of the original revelation, the marriage between Joseph and Fanny Alger in Kirtland, and Joseph’s marriages in Nauvoo. Somewhere in this series of articles, Joseph’s marriage to the youthful Helen Mar Kimball is discussed as well.
Given the marriage-related discussions I have engaged in here at Millennial Star, I was interested in the closing paragraphs for the article on plural marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo:
“The challenge of introducing a principle as controversial as plural marriage is almost impossible to overstate. A spiritual witness of its truthfulness allowed Joseph Smith and other Latter-day Saints to accept this principle. Difficult as it was, the introduction of plural marriage in Nauvoo did indeed “raise up seed” unto God. A substantial number of today’s members descend through faithful Latter-day Saints who practiced plural marriage.
“Church members no longer practice plural marriage. Consistent with Joseph Smith’s teachings, the Church permits a man whose wife has died to be sealed to another woman when he remarries. Moreover, members are permitted to perform ordinances on behalf of deceased men and women who married more than once on earth, sealing them to all of the spouses to whom they were legally married. The precise nature of these relationships in the next life is not known, and many family relationships will be sorted out in the life to come. Latter-day Saints are encouraged to trust in our wise Heavenly Father, who loves His children and does all things for their growth and salvation.”
No More “Old Wive’s Tales”
With these articles on plural marriage and the recent video discussing temple clothing, they Church is making it possible for individuals to learn about these aspects of Church history and practice without resorting to word of mouth or every word that is written in the comment section below every article that discusses some aspect of Mormonism (e.g., the ubiquitous pithy comments damning Joseph Smith and all things Mormon).
An aspect of these articles I particularly enjoyed was the nuanced and sober tone of the writing. These articles are concise and therefore lack detail, but there is nothing here that hides facts about plural marriage.
I also appreciated the discussion about how plural marriage ended, with acknowledgement of the lack of clarity on process. Some husbands restricting their physical affections to only one wife while other husbands maintained full marriages with their multiple wives. I appreciated the information about the reprimands for those men who used the end of plural marriage as an excuse to abandon women and children (as happened with Annie Clark Tanner).
I particularly liked the clarification that the revelation on marriage (D&C 132) is talking primarily about the eternal nature of marriage, since we so often focus on the bits that discuss plural marriage.
If plural marriage in the context of Mormon history is an area that interests you, I highly recommend you take a short moment to read the linked articles at lds.org discussing the topic.