Prophets in Mormonism/Part 25
|By: Marvin W. Cowan; ©2008|
|Joseph Smith, the founding Prophet and first President of the Mormon Church, was a polygamist. He claimed God revealed to him that he and other LDS men were to have more than one wife. That revelation was “recorded on July 12, 1843” and is now Doctrine and Covenants, Section 132.|
Joseph Smith, the founding Prophet and first President of the Mormon Church, was a polygamist. He claimed God revealed to him that he and other LDS men were to have more than one wife. That revelation was “recorded on July 12, 1843” and is now Doctrine and Covenants, Section 132. The first four verses out of the 65 that make up Doctrine and Covenants 132 state:
- Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you my servant Joseph (Smith), 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—Behold, and lo, I am the Lord thy God, and will answer thee as touching this matter. Therefore, prepare thy heart to receive and obey the instructions which I am about to give unto you; for all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same. For behold, I reveal a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.
The introduction to Doctrine and Covenants 132 says, “Although the revelation was recorded in 1843, it is evident from historical records that the doctrines and principles involved in this revelation had been known by the Prophet (Smith) since 1831.” If Smith knew the doctrines and principles of having more than one wife since 1831, where did he get that information? There is no record of a revelation on that subject prior to Doctrine and Covenants 132 recorded on July 12, 1843. The introduction to Doctrine and Covenants 132 says “It is evident from historical records” that Smith knew about this doctrine since 1831, but the only historical evidence that exists is that Smith began marrying other women as plural wives in 1831!
Wouldn’t an all wise God have given the revelation before Smith began marrying other wives if the revelation came from Him? Since Smith “recorded” Doctrine and Covenants 132 twelve years after he began to marry several other wives, was he trying to justify what he was already doing? Doctrine and Covenants 132 clearly shows that Smith had other wives before he received this revelation because he is told in verse three, “Therefore, prepare thy heart to receive and obey the instructions which I am about to give unto you….” Since “the Lord” was “about to give” instructions concerning having more than one wife, He had not given those instructions to Smith previously. But, verse 52 of this revelation says, “And let mine handmaid, Emma Smith (Joseph Smith’s first wife) receive all those (wives) that have been given unto my servant Joseph….” The words “have been given” show that Smith already had other wives when “the Lord” gave him this revelation!
In Doctrine and Covenants 132:1 Joseph Smith was obviously thinking about polygamy when he asked “the Lord” how Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and other Old Testament men were justified in “having many wives and concubines.” Some men in the Old Testament did have more than one wife, but the Bible does not say that God commanded them to do that or that He “justified” them in it. Smith seems to be looking for a way to justify himself since he already had several wives. In verse one of this “revelation” the subject of having many wives was brought up by Smith, not God. But the Bible says, “No prophecy [revelation] ever came by the will of man; but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Pet. 1:21). In other words, revelation from God doesn’t originate with man and isn’t given because man wants it. Revelation is given only because God knows we need it and He wants to give it.
When God created the first man and woman He said, “Therefore, shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). Notice, it says “wife,” not wives. Jesus also said in Matthew 19:4-5 “Have ye not read, that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain [two] shall be one flesh.” Again it says “wife,” not wives. It also says “they two” shall be one flesh, not the man and his five, ten, or twelve wives shall be one flesh! Ephesians 5:31 also says, “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.”
These and other biblical texts clearly teach monogamy, not polygamy. There is no biblical command to be a polygamist, but there are many texts that teach monogamy. So, why was Joseph Smith asking about polygamy instead of monogamy? Was he was looking for a way to make the polygamous lifestyle he had lived since 1831 appear to be holy or scriptural because he knew that most people would not accept it otherwise?
Those who want to read more about this subject should read all of Doctrine and Covenants, Section 132. Next time we will discuss some further teaching in that LDS Scripture.