81 1890 Manifesto

Religious history demonstrates that at times, plural marriage is commanded, permitted, or not permitted. God “will command” His people (Jacob 2:30).

  • Plural marriage is a principle and a practice that can be commanded and revoked according God’s will.
  • Plural marriage is not a covenant, an ordinance, a law of God, or a condition of the law (D&C 132:7).
  • At times, plural marriage is not permitted by the Lord.  In those periods, living righteously in eternal monogamous marriages brings full exaltation. 
  • There is nothing in the scriptures to indicate that prophets such as Adam, Noah, Enoch, Isaac, the Brother of Jared or other holy men had more than one wife.[1]  The first polygamist mentioned in the Bible was Lamech, who was a murderer.[2]  It is apparent that Noah had only one wife when entering the ark.[3] The Book of Mormon tells us clearly that Lehi was a monogamist (Jacob 3:5). 
  • There are times when polygamy is not commanded, but is permitted by the Lord.[4]  In such seasons, the “one” man holding the keys may still use them to solemnize plural marriages for worthy men and women who so desire to continue polygamy.  Or the Saints may sustain monogamy without eternal penalty. This situation also occurred in the period between 1890 and 1904.  The Latter-day Saints were taught that polygamy was no longer required in order to receive all of Father’s blessings.[5] 
  • There are times when plural marriage has been commanded of the Lord.  While the Old Testament tells us that Abraham took Hagar to wife at Sarah’s bidding (Gen. 16:1-3), the Doctrine and Covenants says: “God commanded Abraham, and Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to wife” (D&C 132:34).  It is assumed that the two sentences “God commanded Abraham” and “Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to wife” are directly related to each other, meaning, “God commanded Abraham to take Hagar as a plural wife.” 
  • In Nauvoo certain Church leaders were also commanded to enter into polygamy. Between 1852 and 1890 it was also commanded.  President Brigham Young announced the restored doctrine of polygamy to the world in 1852.  For the next thirty-eight years various priesthood leaders would teach the Saints that plural marriage was a commandment from God.

[1] See Moses 7:16-24.

[2] Gen. 4:19, 23.  See also D&C 137:9.

[3] Noah took one wife onto the ark (Gen. 7:7, 8:16, 18, 1 Peter 3:20, compare JST Gen. 8:34, 37, 9:1, 3).

[4] See Alexander, “Wilford Woodruff and the Manifesto,” 203.

[5] CD 2:294.  Diaries of Rudger Clawson, 11 July 1901.  Stan Larson, Diaries of Rudger Clawson, 300-01.

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