|Volume 24 Number 6 June 2022
From its inception in 1830 through the next 13 years, the Mormon Church officially condemned the practice of polygamy. Doctrine and Covenants (first published in 1835) expressly equated polygamy with fornication in each edition for over 40 years. “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” (Section 101:4).
The New Testament also prohibits polygamy (1 Timothy 3:2, 12; Titus 1:5-6). The Book of Mormon has always condemned polygamy as well.
But the word of God burdens me because of your grosser crimes. For behold, thus saith the Lord: This people begin to wax in iniquity; they understand not the scriptures, for they seek to excuse themselves in committing whoredoms, because of the things which were written concerning David, and Solomon his son. Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord. (Jacob 2:23-24 emphasis added)
For behold, he did not keep the commandments of God, but he did walk after the desires of his own heart. And he had many wives and concubines. And he did cause his people to commit sin, and do that which was abominable in the sight of the Lord. Yea, and they did commit whoredoms and all manner of wickedness. (Mosiah 11:2 emphasis added)
And it came to pass that Riplakish did not do that which was right in the sight of the Lord, for he did have many wives and concubines… (Ether 10:5)
However, in 1876, Section 101 of Doctrine and Covenants was deleted and Section 132 which authorizes polygamy was added. However, Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church, claimed he received that revelation permitting polygamy on July 12, 1843, though it was not published anywhere until 1852.
Joseph Smith married at least 27 women, though some studies attribute 84 or more wives to Smith, 12 of whom were his plural wives before the purported reception of the polygamous revelation in 1843. Even by Mormon doctrine, Joseph Smith was a fornicator, and in that condition hell-bound (1 Corinthians 6:9). Equally clear, Smith’s revelation about polygamy was a self-serving attempt to gratify an insatiable appetite for illicit sex. Following the lead of their prophet, Mormon men of that day also soon adopted polygamy. Mormon women, sometimes at first skeptical about the prospect of entering polygamy, were swayed by the purported revelation of the prophet Smith in whom they wholly trusted. Emma Smith, Joseph’s wife, was specifically commanded by revelation to accept polygamy regarding her husband or be “destroyed” (Doctrine and Covenants, Section 132:54). On May 25, 1844, Joseph Smith was indicted by a grand jury for polygamy.
Mormon men often married sisters. Sometimes they married a mother and her daughter or a grand-mother and her grand-daughter. Girls as young as 12 and 14 were taken as plural wives. Further, Joseph Smith declared that marriages contracted outside the Mormon Church were invalid, therefore husbands and wives were released from each other and free to remarry other spouses. Smith sometimes even asked men to surrender their wives to him – and often they did!
Polygamy became a major tenet of Mormonism. Mormon leaders taught in the past that God the Father and Jesus Christ are polygamists, and that Mormons must practice polygamy to procure salvation. Through polygamous marriages, a Mormon man might father over 60 children, thus greatly multiplying membership in the Mormon kingdom, on earth (and in their minds) in heaven as well. Mormons believe they shall have their wives in heaven, too, and continue to maintain physical relationships by which they will continue to bear children.
Another unique doctrine introduced into the Mormon Church by Joseph Smith was “blood atonement.” This concept supposes that there are sins of which one may be guilty that are beyond the capacity of the blood of Christ to remit, and that such a sinner can only achieve forgiveness by shedding his blood in his death. Sufficient documentation exists to verify that this doctrine was actually practiced in the early Mormon Church. This capital punishment enacted by Mormons took the form of cutting one’s throat, beheading or being shot.
In June of 1838, a secret Mormon organization called the “Danites” was formed in Far West, Missouri. This group was initially charged with the punishment (often effecting “blood atonement”) of dissenting and apostate Mormons. Later, their mission included protecting Mormons from non-Mormons, frequently by going on the offensive – murdering non-Mormons, burning their homes and stealing their property. On July 4, 1838, a Mormon leader, Sidney Rigdon, with the consent of Joseph Smith, called for a “war of extermination” against “gentiles” (non-Mormons) in Missouri. Shortly after, open war ensued between the Mormons and the citizens of Missouri, the consequence of which was that the Mormons were driven from Missouri into Illinois. The Mormon Church considers itself the temporal kingdom of God on earth, and it intended to conquer the State of Missouri, the whole United States and eventually the world.
The Mormons continued their activities against non-Mormons in Illinois. After being arrested and confined to a jail in 1844, a mob stormed the jail and killed Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum. The Smith brothers had obtained guns and died in a gunfight with those who stormed the jail. In 1846, the Mormons were driven from Illinois and migrated, under the leadership of Brigham Young, to what in 1848 was annexed by the United States as Utah Territory. There they established a church-state. Former practices and atrocities against non-Mormons were continued. Additionally, the Mormon Church was antagonistic toward and resisted the United States Government.
Utah in 1857, under the control of the Mormon Church, closed its borders to non-Mormons and the United States Government. That year the Mormons intercepted wagon trains and other parties attempting to pass through Utah and even attacked U.S. Army supply wagon trains. Among other incidents, the Aiken party of six men was captured and brutally killed. In the Mountain Meadows Massacre, Mormons and Indians teamed together to attack a wagon train, killing about 110 men, women and children – most of whom died after they were taken captive! On September 6, 1857, the Mormon Church under the leadership of Young declared Utah’s independence from the United States and essentially declared war on the U.S. Government – which war had been raging by then for several months. In about 1858, the Mormon Church renamed the Territory of Utah to “State of Desert.”
President Buchanan termed the Utah situation “civil disobedience,” determined to remove Brigham Young as Governor of the Utah Territory and decided to restore order by military force. Consequently, an order was dispatched to send 2,600 soldiers to Utah against the Mormons. Finally, some Mormons were captured and executed by the U.S. Courts for Mormon crimes. Some fled farther west and north to other territories. Disavowing participation or responsibility for the Mormon crimes, most Mormons were allowed to remain free. The activities for which the Mormons were known through their various settlements continued but to a lesser degree.
The Mormon Church was a religious-political kingdom with designs (much like the old “Holy Roman Empire” – the Catholic Church) of conquering the world. It perceived of a one world government ruled by Mormons. Army troops were required to tame the militant aspirations of the Mormon Church – the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Checked by superior military forces and compelled to submit to the dominion of the Federal Government, the religious-political organization popularly known as the Mormon Church has significantly mellowed and has worked diligently to acquire a reputation of respectability. Historically, though, the Mormon Church was founded in the practice of gross sin, including adultery, murder and declarations of war. The Mormon Church was never in the mind of God (Ephesians 3:8-11).