“…in that day, seven women shall take hold of one man, saying: We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel; only let us be called by thy name to take away our reproach [the expression of disapproval or disappointment].” (2 Nephi 14:1)
Isaiah speaks of a time when Zion and her daughters shall be redeemed. This time will come very close to the millennial day and at the door of the Last Days. It is interesting that this chapter opens up speaking of seven women taking hold of one man. This is speaking of Polygamy.
What is Polygamy?
Polygamy occurs when there are more than two partners in a marriage. In this case, seven women marrying one man (or taking hold of one man) would constitute ‘Polygamy’ and more specifically; ‘Polygyny’; which is when a man has multiple wives.
Polygamy in the LDS Church:
When someone wants to attack The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Days [LDS]; or more commonly known as “The Mormons”, Polygamy is almost ALWAYS brought up! Why? Because the LDS Church practiced Polygamy. However, are the “Mormons” the only ones who have practiced Polygamy throughout time? No.
At various times, the Lord has commanded His people to practice plural marriage. However, like the scripture above, Polygamy was to be used within the laws of God, in other words it has only been instituted when and IF God commands. God has initiated this practice, when population of his people was at risk for extinction or in cases such as the scripture above, when women married men to take away the ‘reproach’. Early in the History of the LDS Church, so many people persecuted the church and its members that men were actually killed at an alarming rate. This left many women as widows with children. But as anyone knows women in the 1800’s were not given as many rights as men, and especially not as many rights as married women. Because women had basically no rights as single unmarried women (regardless of being widows) the Lord commanded some of the early Saints to practice plural marriage. The Prophet Joseph Smith and those closest to him, including Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball, were challenged by this command, but they obeyed it. Church leaders regulated the practice. Those entering into it had to be authorized to do so, and the marriages had to be performed through the sealing power of the priesthood.
Many of the men who participated in it did so for legal reasons, and many men kept “one wife”, but had many other legal wives that did their own thing. Like the scripture mentioned above; “…We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel; only let us be called by thy name to take away our reproach.” – In other words give us your last name and be legally called your ‘wife’, but I will take care of myself. Some who were chosen to practice polygamy were also commanded to have children with their multiple wives; however this was not the common practice throughout the church. Anyone who disobeyed the commandment of God and used Polygamy to have control over women or simply for sexual lust were disciplined by the church.
Contrary to what many people think, the LDS Church does NOT practice Polygamy today! In 1890, President Wilford Woodruff received a revelation that the leaders of the Church should cease teaching the practice of plural marriage;
To Whom It May Concern:
Press dispatches having been sent for political purposes, from Salt Lake City, which have been widely published, to the effect that the Utah Commission, in their recent report to the Secretary of the Interior, allege that plural marriages are still being solemnized and that forty or more such marriages have been contracted in Utah since last June or during the past year, also that in public discourses the leaders of the Church have taught, encouraged and urged the continuance of the practice of polygamy—
I, therefore, as President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, do hereby, in the most solemn manner, declare that these charges are false. We are not teaching polygamy or plural marriage, nor permitting any person to enter into its practice, and I deny that either forty or any other number of plural marriages have during that period been solemnized in our Temples or in any other place in the Territory.
One case has been reported, in which the parties allege that the marriage was performed in the Endowment House, in Salt Lake City, in the Spring of 1889, but I have not been able to learn who performed the ceremony; whatever was done in this matter was without my knowledge. In consequence of this alleged occurrence the Endowment House was, by my instructions, taken down without delay.
Inasmuch as laws have been enacted by Congress forbidding plural marriages, which laws have been pronounced constitutional by the court of last resort, I hereby declare my intention to submit to those laws, and to use my influence with the members of the Church over which I preside to have them do likewise.
There is nothing in my teachings to the Church or in those of my associates, during the time specified, which can be reasonably construed to inculcate or encourage polygamy; and when any Elder of the Church has used language which appeared to convey any such teaching, he has been promptly reproved. And I now publicly declare that my advice to the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land.
President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
President Lorenzo Snow offered the following:
“I move that, recognizing Wilford Woodruff as the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the only man on the earth at the present time who holds the keys of the sealing ordinances, we consider him fully authorized by virtue of his position to issue the Manifesto which has been read in our hearing, and which is dated September 24th, 1890, and that as a Church in General Conference assembled, we accept his declaration concerning plural marriages as authoritative and binding.”
Salt Lake City, Utah, October 6, 1890.