The Book of Mormon and Polygamy
Critics use the Book of Jacob to show that the Book of Mormon condemns the practice of polygamy:
- 24 Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord. 25 Wherefore, thus saith the Lord, I have led this people forth out of the land of Jerusalem, by the power of mine arm, that I might raise up unto me a righteous branch from the fruit of the loins of Joseph. 26 Wherefore, I the Lord God will not suffer that this people shall do like unto them of old. 27 Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none; 28 For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts. 29 Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes (Jacob 2:24-29).
Critics go on to claim that Joseph Smith ignored this restriction by introducing the doctrine of plural marriage.
Source(s) of the criticism
Critics generally refrain from citing the very next verse:
- 30 For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things (Jacob 2:30 ).
The Book of Mormon makes it clear that the Lord may, under some circumstances, command the practice of plural marriage:
- Jacob 2:30 is the key verse for understanding why Mormons believe that Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and other nineteenth-century Mormons were justified in their practice of polygamy, but that this is the exception to the Lord’s law, not the rule…. Mormons believe that the period when polygamy was publicly sanctioned (1852–1890)—and the longer period in which it was privately approved (the early 1830s to 1904)—were exceptions to God’s basic law that Jacob spelled out in verse 27.
The Book of Mormon endorses monogamy as the proper lifestyle, unless God commands his people otherwise. It is understood, as the Lord Himself explains it, that the reason the Lord sometimes commands plural marriage is to “raise up seed unto Himself.”
- [back] Jana Riess, The Book of Mormon: Selections Annotated & Explained (Woodstock, VT: Skylight Paths Publishing, 2005), 82.