Before reading any part of this post, take some time to educate yourself on the subject and affiliation between these two subjects:
Let me recap on what that’s saying in case you didn’t decide to read it. It’s the Prophet saying that Polygamy was practiced, and later taken away (by God, not by man, because it wasn’t the right time for it, same thing happened with the lesser and higher laws with Moses and the Jews) to preserve the Kingdom of God on the Earth. Then it’s the testimony of President Wilford Woodruff in relation to polygamy being solely of God if practiced by His divine decree and that the only reason it was taken away was because God said so.
So let’s talk about this a little bit.
Here’s one of the greatest quotes in all of Church history:
“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, and also leave the Temples in the hands of the Saints, so that they can attend to the ordinances of the Gospel, both for the living and the dead?
The Lord showed me by vision and revelation exactly what would take place if we did not stop this practice. If we had not stopped it, you would have had no use for … any of the men in this temple at Logan; for all ordinances would be stopped throughout the land of Zion. Confusion would reign throughout Israel, and many men would be made prisoners. This trouble would have come upon the whole Church, and we should have been compelled to stop the practice. Now, the question is, whether it should be stopped in this manner, or in the way the Lord has manifested to us, and leave our Prophets and Apostles and fathers free men, and the temples in the hands of the people, so that the dead may be redeemed. A large number has already been delivered from the prison house in the spirit world by this people, and shall the work go on or stop? This is the question I lay before the Latter-day Saints. You have to judge for yourselves. I want you to answer it for yourselves. I shall not answer it; but I say to you that that is exactly the condition we as a people would have been in had we not taken the course we have.
… I saw exactly what would come to pass if there was not something done. I have had this spirit upon me for a long time. But I want to say this: I should have let all the temples go out of our hands; I should have gone to prison myself, and let every other man go there, had not the God of heaven commanded me to do what I did do; and when the hour came that I was commanded to do that, it was all clear to me. I went before the Lord, and I wrote what the Lord told me to write.”
-Wilford Woodruff, Official Declaration 1
He knew what he was doing was the commandment of the Lord. And only the commandment of the Lord to cease it could make him do so.
Now why would polygamy be practiced then and forgotten forever? Doesn’t it make sense that if Heavenly Father instated it once, then He indeed would again? Why would He do that, and then abandon it for good and for no reason? He clearly would not.
Let’s look at the willingness of women to become involved in the church as a start.
Baptisms of men in the church (in my mission) was 1/4 (one quarter) of the baptisms of women. This was the best ratio in all of Brazil. Usually it was 1 man baptized for every 16 women baptized. Clearly women are more humble than men and more willing to follow what they feel and believe than what they witness and see.
So because of that, there are a significant amount of women in the church in relation to men. More women in the church means less women having the chance to be sealed for eternity in the Temple.
It is a requirement to enter the Celestial Kingdom to be sealed in the Temple to a spouse. Without it, you cannot enter. (D&C 131:1-4)
3 And if he does not, he cannot obtain it.
4 He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an aincrease.
In this scripture, “man” signifies “person” rather than just “man” himself.
Okay, so far we know that more women will be worthy to be exalted than men, but they have to be sealed in order to actually be exalted. So how else could this happen? If there aren’t enough men to marry the women, then they couldn’t be exalted no matter how great a life they live, and God can’t deny His own laws or He would cease to be God. So how does He account for all of this?? How can these otherwise worthy women be exalted, doing everything in their power to be the best they could be in keeping the commandments of the Lord during their mortal lives? Simply enough, they are given the opportunity to be married and sealed.
To be exalted, one must be worthy and marry a worthy spouse. Let’s put it in a simpler setting.
There are 20 women on the Earth and 10 men. Let’s suppose every single one of them follows the commandments as best they can and does what they’re supposed to do. 10 of the women marry 10 of the men and get sealed in the Temple in order to achieve their exaltation. And what about the other 10 women? Don’t they deserve the chance to be exalted? They did everything right but what they didn’t do wasn’t in their power to do. Would a just God punish them for something that wasn’t in their control? Of course not.
Here enters polygamy. Now, in the days that it was practiced in the church, it was for other reasons, principally because men died in the wars, or just left their wives and children for whatever other reason. This was prevalent in the history of that time period. So the women go to the church with no money, with their families, and with no hope of what they can do. The Lord says that they are to marry a man in order to have a means of provision for them and their families. Simple enough. It just so happens that this man already has a wife, or two, or three, or more. This is where most women cringe or disagree with this act. “My husband BETTER not have another wife or he’s so dead!” For one second, thing about marriage as something other than sex. Think about it as a way to take care of someone without being in a sexual, erotic, or sensual nature in any way. Is that something bad for a man to do? Would you not want your husband to help those in need? If a woman is stranded on the side of the road and needs a ride to get gas for her car, should a man not give her that ride, not help those in need as Christ did? It’s simpler than it looks.
Now think of that. Christ’s example. He gave us all eternal life, if we should choose it. So if a man gives a woman a chance at eternal life, he is acting exactly as Christ did. And whose example should we be following in all things after all?
Today, polygamy is not practiced, nor taught, nor spoken of for the majority. But it is known that it is a celestial practice and that polygamy is practiced in heaven. But it’s practiced for the reasons I already mentioned. God will give all His children a chance to return to live with Him again, and this is how He manages that. Obviously not every worthy person will have the chance to get sealed in the Temple, look at all those who lived before Temples existed! Heavenly Father loves them too, and He will give them that chance that we have today.
Next on the list, Mosiah 2:41 “A state of never-ending happiness.” When we live with God in the Celestial Kingdom, we will be happy for all eternity. If a woman resents her husband because he is married to another woman as well, she will assuredly not be happy, and God will not allow that. He promises us eternal happiness, and He will make that happen for us.
Along those same lines comes agency. God willnevertake away our agency. He will always give us a choice. And if that choice is to abstain from polygamy, then the choice is ours to make. However, how selfish is it to deny an otherwise worthy woman exaltation because of our own pride. Remember, it’s not about sex, nor necessarily about intimate romantic love, but about love for our fellow brothers and sisters, love for the fellow children of God, love for those that our very own Heavenly Father loves just as much as He loves us, and how can we choose to deny our own Heavenly Father one of His children returning to Him because of pride or envy or other sins in themselves? It’s not His way.
So in life today, a man may be sealed to one woman, and after she dies, if he remains alive, he may be sealed to another woman. The seal is only broken through unworthiness. (A temple divorce is always caused by unworthiness on the part of one party or both and therefore counts as unworthiness just the same.)
Finally let’s look at the various polygamists in the Bible before we criticize polygamy in and of itself. I won’t list them here, but there are numerous of them and if you require examples, ask me.
So to finish this up. God loves us and will make us happy. He will not force us to do what we do not want to. Polygamy is practiced in heaven, but not on Earth as it is against the laws of the land. Everything will be resolved in the world to come, and this isn’t something we, with our immensely limited knowledge in mortal bodies, don’t need to worry about today, nor can we comprehend or fathom anything about how important it truly is. But God knows, and He will make it right.
I hope this helps to clear up a little bit of the turmoil that’s been going on tonight. If you have any questions following up on this, or just in general about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and our doctrine, feel free to ask away. Thanks!