Polygamy, also known as plural marriage or plurality of wives, remains one of the most controversial practices in the Mormon Church even though Mormons have not practiced it for over a century. Since 1890, the Mormon Church has officially disavowed polygamy as a practice and currently excommunicates any Mormon who practices it. Today, most so-called Mormon polygamists have no association with the Mormon Church and many, if not most, have never been members of the Mormon Church. Some groups who have split off from the Mormon Church have continued the practice of polygamy, but their modern practice differs markedly from polygamy as practiced by the Mormon Church from the 1840s to the 1890s.
President Gordon B. Hinckley, current Prophet and President to the Mormon Church, stated the following about polygamy in the Church’s October 1998 general conference:
“I wish to state categorically that this Church has nothing whatever to do with those practicing polygamy. They are not members of this Church. Most of them have never been members. They are in violation of the civil law. They know they are in violation of the law. They are subject to its penalties. The Church, of course, has no jurisdiction whatever in this matter.
“If any of our members are found to be practicing plural marriage, they are excommunicated, the most serious penalty the Church can impose. Not only are those so involved in direct violation of the civil law, they are in violation of the law of this Church. An article of our faith is binding upon us. It states, ‘We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law’ (Articles of Faith 1:12). One cannot obey the law and disobey the law at the same time.
“There is no such thing as a ‘Mormon Fundamentalist.’ It is a contradiction to use the two words together.” (see full statement)
Mormonism today does not practice polygamy, but neither does it claim that its past practice of polygamy was wrong. It was commanded by God through living prophets and forbidden by God through living prophets. The following will discuss various aspects of polygamy as practiced and taught by the Mormon Church.
The Origins of Polygamy among the Mormons
The Doctrinal Basis for Mormon polygamy
The Practice of Polygamy among the Mormons
The Discontinuation of Polygamy
Key texts regarding Mormon Polygamy
The Revelation on Celestial Marriage
Letter of Joseph Smith to Nancy Rigdon
The Public Announcement of Polygamy by Apostle Orson Pratt
Speeches by Various Mormon Leaders about Polygamy
The 1890 Manifesto
The 1904 Manifesto
Scriptural passages pertaining to polygamy