Thursday, May 24, 2007

Plural Marriage a Requirement for Exaltation

Sherry's makes a point regarding polygamy as a requirement to enter the celestial kingdom - that it has never been a doctrine of the church:

You erroneously portrayed plural marriage as an LDS requirement to enter heaven. That is how many fundamentalist polygamists think (you gave a lot of coverage to them!). But that has never been the doctrine of the LDS Church. Celestial marriage is a practice whereby two worthy individuals enter a marriage covenant and have it sealed by one having priesthood authority – period. That policy includes monogamous and plural marriages but the latter does not overshadow the former.

However, the following statements by 19th century apostles and prophets (and a revelation) seem to suggest the plural marriage was a requirement for exaltation  (see for a larger list).

Was Mormon Plural Marriage a requirement for Exaltation in the Celestial

Some people have supposed that the doctrine of plural marriage was a
sort of superfluity, or non-essential, to the salvation or exaltation of
mankind. In other words, some of the Saints have said, and believe, that
a man with one wife, sealed to him by the authority of the Priesthood
for time and eternity, will receive an exaltation as great and glorious,
if he is faithful, as he possibly could with more than one. I want here
to enter my solemn protest against this idea, for I know it is false.
There is no blessing promised except upon conditions, and no blessing
can be obtained by mankind except by faithful compliance with the
conditions, or law, upon which the same is promised. The marriage of one
woman to a man for time and eternity by the sealing power, according to
the will of God, is a fulfillment of the celestial law of marriage in
part--and is good so far as it goes--and so far as a man abides these
conditions of the law, he will receive his reward therefor, and this
reward, or blessing, he could not obtain on any other grounds or
conditions. But this is only the beginning of the law, not the whole of
it. Therefore, whoever has imagined that he could obtain the fullness of
the blessings pertaining to this celestial law, by complying with only a
portion of its conditions, has deceived himself. He cannot do it. When
that principle was revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith ... [common
background on Joseph Smith, skipped here] ... he did not falter,
although it was not until an angel of God, with a drawn sword, stood
before him; and commanded that he should enter into the practice of that
principle, or he should be utterly destroyed, or rejected, that he moved
forward to reveal and establish that doctrine.

Journal of Discourses, Vol.20, p.28 - p.29, Joseph F. Smith, July 7, 1878

The benefits derived from the righteous observance of this order of
marriage do not accrue solely to the husband, but are shared equally by
the wives; not only is this true upon the grounds of obedience to a
divine law, but upon physiological and scientific principles. In the
latter view, the wives are even more benefitted, (sp) if possible, than
the husband physically. But, indeed, the benefits naturally accruing to
both sexes, and particularly to their offspring, in time, say nothing of
eternity, are immensely greater in the righteous practice of patriarchal
marriage than in monogamy, even admitting the eternity of the monogamic
marriage covenant.

... As before stated no man can obtain the benefits of one law by the
observance of another, however faithful he may be in that which he does,
nor can he secure to himself the fullness of any blessing without he
fulfills the law upon which it is predicated, but he will receive the
benefit of the law he obeys. ... I understand the law of celestial
marriage to mean that every man in this Church, who has the ability to
obey and practice it in righteousness and will not, shall be damned, I
say I understand it to mean this and nothing less, and I testify in the
name of Jesus that it does mean that. ...

Journal of Discourses, Vol.20, p.31, Joseph F. Smith, July 7, 1878

The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter
into polygamy. Others attain unto a glory and may even be permitted to
come into the presence of the Father and the Son; but they cannot reign
as kings in glory, because they had blessings offered unto them, and
they refused to accept them.

Journal of Discourses, Vol.11, p.268 - p.269, Brigham Young, August 19, 1866

President John Taylor went to the Lord in the True Order of Prayer and
asked the Lord concerning His mind and His will concerning continuing
practice of plural marriage in the LDS Church? The voice of the Lord
came to President Taylor saying - "My son John: You have asked me
concerning the New and Everlasting Covennant (sp?) and how far it is
binding upon my people. Thus saith the Lord All commandments that I give
must be obeyed by those calling themselves by my name unless they are
revolked (sp?) by me or by my authority and how can I revoke an
everlasting covenant. For I the Lord am everlasting and my everlastinf
(sp?) covenants cannot be abrogated nor done away with; they stand
forever. Have I not given my word in great plainness on this subject?
Yet have not great numbers of my people been negligent in the observance
of my law and the keeping of my commandments, and yet I have borne with
them these many years and this because of their weakness because of the
perilous times. And furthermore it is more pleasing to me that men
should use their free agency in regard to these matters. Nevertheless I
the Lord do not change and my word and my covenants and my law do not.
And as I have heretofore said by my servant Joseph all those who would
enter into my glory must and shall obey my law. And have I not commanded
men that if they were Abraham's seed and would enter into my glory they
must do the works of Abraham. I have not revoked this law nor will I for
it is everlasting and those who will enter into my glory must obey the
conditions thereof, even so Amen."

John Taylor Papers, Church Historian's Office, Sept. 27th, 1886,
Centerville, Utah - Unpublished Revelations Vol. 1, Collier,1979...

Now if any of you will DENY THE PLURALITY OF WIVES and continue to do
so, I promise that you will be DAMNED; and I will go still further, and
say that this revelation, or any other revelation that the Lord had
given, and deny it in your feelings, and I promise that YOU WILL BE DAMNED.

Brigham Young, Deseret News Nov. 14, 1855
Patriarchal marriage involves conditions, responsibilities and
obligations which do not exist in monogamy, and there are blessings
attached to the faithful observance of that law, if viewed only upon
natural principles, which must so far exceed those of monogamy, as the
conditions responsibilities and power of increase are greater. This is
my view and testimony in relation to this matter. I believe it is a
doctrine that should be taught and understood.

Journal of Discourses, Vol.20, p.30, Joseph F. Smith, July 7, 1878

But one thing I will name, and that is in regard to plural marriage. A
great many men say--"Oh, well, I can get along, I can live, and I
believe I shall only have one wife." Well, that is your privilege,
nobody compels you to take more than one; but with the commandment of
the Lord before us like a blaze of light, can we disregard it and serve
him acceptably? If we can, then why not retain those laws and
commandments in heaven, and not send them down here to earth? These
commandments are sent for our good, for our salvation and exaltation.
Here is a woman who, in speaking of celestial marriage, says, "It will
do very well for others, but it will not do in my house;" "it may do
very well for somebody else, because her feelings are not quite so fine
as mine, she has been differently raised from what I have." I do not
know that the Lord will pay any particular respect as to how we are
raised, and how fine and delicate our feelings may be, or how coarse and
uncultivated they may be. I believe that if we submit to the law of
heaven, that law has power to refine us and to fit us for immortality
and eternal life. That is my opinion. Now hear this good sister, she
says--"It will not do for me, I am not going to submit to it." Another
sister says--"I am willing to submit to the law of Christ." Let these
two sisters come together and talk over the law of marriage, and see
whether their spirits will run together. They will no more run together
than water and oil will unite. ... I am thankful for this privilege of
saying a few words. I hope I have done no harm, and that I have not said
anything that is contrary to the will of God, or to the feelings of the
pure in heart, for they are just as sacred to me as the law of God, and
I do not want to unnecessarily offend the ungodly; but I am not so
particular to spare or shield them. I want to tell the truth, and bear a
faithful testimony. I have been in this Church about forty-three
years--almost from the beginning, for I was baptized into the Church on
the 31st of October, 1831, and ordained the same day and sent to preach
the Gospel, and more or less, most of the time since, I have been
engaged in that work.

Journal of Discourses, Vol.16, p.236, Orson Hyde, October 5, 1873

God has given us a revelation in regard to celestial marriage. I did not
make it. He has told us certain things pertaining to this matter, and
they would like us to tone that principle down and change it and make it
applicable to the views of the day. This we cannot do; nor can we
interfere with any of the commands of God to meet the persuasions or
behests of men. I cannot do it, and will not do it.

I find some men try to twist round the principle in any way and every
way they can. They want to sneak out of it in some way. Now God don't
want any kind of sycophancy like that. He expects that we will be true
to Him, and to the principles He has developed, and to feel as Job
did--"Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him." Though other folks
would slay us, yet we will trust in the living God and be true to our
covenants and to our God. These are my feelings in relation to that
matter. We have also been told that "it is not mete that men who will
not abide my law shall preside over my Priesthood," and yet some people
would like very much to do it. Well, they cannot do it; because if we
are here, as I said before, to do the will of our Father who sent us,
and He has told us what to do, we will do it, in the name of Israel's
God--and all who sanction it say Amen--[the vast congregation responded
with a loud "Amen."]--and those that don't may say what they please.
[Laughter.] If God has introduced something for our glory and
exaltation, we are not going to have that kicked over by any improper
influence, either inside or outside of the Church of the living God. We
will stand by the principles of eternal truth; living we will proclaim
them, and dying we will be true to them, and after death will live again
in their enjoyment in the eternal worlds. That is my feeling; so I don't
feel very trembly in the knees, and I do not think you do, generally. I
see sometimes a disposition to try to ignore some of the laws which God
has introduced, and this is one of them. People want to slip round a
corner, or creep out in some way. There is something very creepy about
it. There was a man in former times we are told, came to Jesus by night.
His name was Nicodemus. He was one of those persons who did not like the
daylight. I have known some people who would want to be baptized in the
evening, or get into some corner that they might not be seen. Well,
there is not much to such folks. Jesus was very unpopular, quite as
unpopular as we are, in His day. Nicodemus was a prominent man among the
Jews, and he thought it might injure his reputation if he was seen
visiting that Nazarene, to get instruction from Him, so he crawled in at
night. Jesus talked quite plainly to him, as you can read for
yourselves; but we find some folks of a similar kind now creeping
around. They have not the manhood to stand true to their colors and to
their God. Some folks think that we polygamists are very much indebted
to our brethren who are monogamists to help to steady the ark, (God save
the mark!)--(Laughter.)--to help to save us, and that we need such men
in the Legislature, etc., and to fill our various offices. Well, I won't
tell you all I think about some of these things, but I do think we are
all of us dependent upon God our Heavenly Father, and if He don't take
care of us we shall not be taken care of; if His arm is not extended in
our behalf we shall have a poor showing; but if God is with us, we ask
no odds of the world, for He governs the destinies of the human family.
He puts down one man and exalts another. He dethrones one king or
president as the case may be, and sets up another, and He rules as He
pleases among the nations of the earth and all the children of men,
although they don't know it. We live in Him, we move in Him, we have our
being from Him. We are not dependent very much upon the monogamists
about any of these things. You need not plume yourselves very much in
these matters; and I will tell you, if you want to get along smoothly,
you had better find among your various neighbors, when you have some
matter of difficulty to settle, some of these polygamists and ask a
little counsel at their hands. They will be able to advise you about
many things, especially if they are men of God, humble men, living their
religion and keeping the commandments of God.

Journal of Discourses, Vol.25, p.309, John Taylor, October 6 and 7, 1884

Some of you may enquire--"Had not a surviving brother the right to
reject that law of God?" He had, if he was willing to place himself
under its penalty. I will quote you the penalty, and then you can see
whether he could get away from polygamy or not. One penalty was that he
should be brought before the Elders and that the widow whom he refused
to marry, according to the law of God, should pluck his shoe from off
his foot, and should then spit in his face, and from that time forth the
house of that man should be denounced as the house of him that hath his
shoe loosed, a reproach among all Israel. Instead of being a man of God,
and a man to be favored by the people of God; instead of being a man
such as the Christian world would now extol to the heavens because he
rejected polygamy, he was a man to be scorned by all Israel. That was
the penalty. Was that the only penalty? I think not. Read along a little
further, and it says--"Cursed be he that continues not in all things
written in this book of the law." Oh, what a dreadful penalty that was,
compared with being reproached by the whole people! Oh, what a fearful
curse upon a man that refused to become a polygamist, and would not
attend to the law of God! A curse pronounced by the Almighty upon him,
also the anathemas of all the people as well as from God! The word of
the Lord was that all the people should say amen to this curse. Now, if
I had lived in those days, I should not have considered it very
desirable to bring myself under the curse of heaven, and then have the
curse of all the twelve tribes of Israel upon my head. I should not have
liked it at all. I would rather have gone into polygamy according to the
command, even if it had subjected me to a term of five years in a

God has told us Latter-day Saints that we shall be condemned
if we do not enter into that principle; and yet I have heard now and
then (I am very glad to say that only a few such instances have come
under my notice,) a brother or a sister say, "I am a Latter-day Saints,
but I do not believe in polygamy." Oh, what an absurd expression! what
an absurd idea! A person might as well say, "I am a follower of the Lord
Jesus Christ, but I do not believe in him." One is just as consistent as
the other. Or a person might as well say, "I believe in Mormonism, and
in the revelations given through Joseph Smith, but I am not a
polygamist, and do not believe in polygamy." What an absurdity! If one
portion of the doctrines of the Church is true, the whole of them are
true. If the doctrine of polygamy, as revealed to the Latter-day Saints
is not true, I would not give a fig for all your other revelations that
came through Joseph Smith the Prophet; I would renounce the whole of
them, because it is utterly impossible, according to the revelations
that are contained in these books, to believe a part of them to be
divine--from God--and part of them to be from the devil; that is
foolishness in the extreme; it is an absurdity that exists because of
the ignorance of some people. I have been astonished at it. I did hope
there was more intelligence among the Latter-day Saints, and a greater
understanding of principle than to suppose that any one can be a member
of this Church in good standing and yet reject polygamy. The Lord has
said, that those who reject this principle reject their salvation, they
shall be damned, saith the Lord; those to whom I reveal this law and
they do not receive it, shall be damned. Now here comes in our
consciences. We have either to renounce Mormonism, Joseph Smith, Book of
Mormon, Book of Covenants, and the whole system of things as taught by
the Latter-day Saints, and say that God has not raised up a Church, has
not raised up a prophet, has not begun to restore all things as he
promised, we are obliged to do this, or else to say, with all our
hearts, "Yes, we are polygamists, and believe in the principle, and we
are willing to practice it, because God has spoken from the heavens."

Old Father Abraham will come up with his several wives, namely Sarah,
Hagar and Keturah and some others mentioned in Genesis; and besides
these all the holy prophets will be here on the earth. I do not think
there will be any legislation against polygamy.

By and by they will build a polygamous city, and it will have twelve
gates, and in order to place as much honor upon these gates as possible,
they will name them after the twelve polygamist children that were born
to the four polygamous wives of Jacob; and these good old polygamists
will be assembled together in this beautiful city, the most beautiful
that ever had place on the earth.

By and by some Christian will come along, and he will look at these
gates and admire their beauty, for each gate is to be constructed of one
immense splendid pearl. The gates are closed fast and very high, and
while admiring their beauty he observes the inscriptions upon them.
Being a Christian he of course expects to enter, but looking at the
gates, he finds the name of Reuben inscribed on one of them. Says
he--"Reuben was a polygamous child; I will go on to the next, and see if
there is the name of a monogamous child anywhere." He accordingly visits
all the twelve gates, three on each side of the city, and finds
inscribed on each gate the name of a polygamous child, and this because
it is the greatest honor that could be conferred on their father Jacob,
who is in their midst, for he is to sit down with all the honest and
upright in heart who come from all nations to partake of the blessings
of that kingdom.

"But," says this Christian, "I really do not like this; I see this is a
polygamous city. I wonder if there is not some other place for me! I do
not like the company of polygamists. They were hated very badly back
yonder. Congress hated them, the President hated them, the cabinet hated
them, the Priests hated them, and everybody hated them, and I engendered
the same hatred, and I have not got rid of it yet. I wonder if there is
not some other place for me?' Oh yes, there is another place for you.
Without the gates of the city there are dogs, sorcerers, whoremongers,
adulterers and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. Now take your choice,

Journal of Discourses, Vol.17, p.229, Orson Pratt, October 7, 1874

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