The Mormon church is well known for its equivocations. The new and everlasting covenant of plural marriage is perhaps the best example of Mormon equivocation. Under threat of exile to Mexico the Mormon church officially abolished polygamy in the earthly realm in 1890. However, by virtue of secret temple ceremonies Mormon males like Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, as well as contemporary Mormon leaders remain sealed to multiple wives in the heavenly realm. Thus, the practice of polygamy promoted by Smith – who, by the way, had 27 plural wives, and Young, who had 55 wives and 57 children – was merely transferred to the Celestial Kingdom.
By relegating polygamy to the eternal realm Mormon leaders managed to comply externally with societal norms while still maintaining an eschatological basis for the subjugation of women. Such spiritual sanctioning of polygamy was not only an affront to the value and dignity of women, but stands in direct opposition to Jesus’ teaching that at the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage.
The Mormon practice of polygamy finds its genesis in the teachings and practices of Joseph Smith who, in 1843, received an eternally binding revelation. According to Smith, apart from the practice of polygamy there was no hope of attaining to godhood. The everlasting commandment of polygamy revealed to Smith was considered so binding that Brigham Young ominously declared “If any deny the plurality of wives and continue to do so, I promise you that you will be damned.”
And, of course, the Old Testament clearly reveals the strife and temptations that accompany the practice. Solomon, of course, is the quintessential example of one whose legacy of faithfulness was compromised because of his polygamous behavior. Despite world-renowned wisdom Solomon’s peaceful and prosperous rule ended in idolatrous strife, scandal, and in civil strife as well because the Bible tells us his wives turned his heart after other gods. There is, therefore, absolutely no biblical support for the Mormon practice of polygamy either in this life or the next.