Allow me to correct the language regarding polygamy used by the Washington Post in reporting this story (“The Mormon church finally acknowledges founder Joseph Smith’s polygamy”), to make it more accurate: The Mormon Church is finally acknowledging that founder Joseph Smith had as many as forty adulterous relationships.
The reality is that Joseph went so far as to have his manufactured “god” threaten his true wife, Emma, with destruction if she didn’t accept the extra women her husband had his eyes upon (though he was also clear to say she was not free to add extra husbands)—and those threats are still a part of LDS “Scripture” today, in Doctrine and Covenants Section 132:52,54:
“And let mine handmaid, Emma Smith, receive all those that have been given unto my servant Joseph, … And I command mine handmaid, Emma Smith, to abide and cleave unto my servant Joseph, and to none else. But if she will not abide this commandment she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord; for I am the Lord thy God, and will destroy her if she abide not in my law.”
It somewhat surprised me LDS authorities never deleted or changed this section, following their abandonment of polygamy in the late 19th Century for Utah to become a State. There are nearly 4000 changes between the original Book of Mormon and today’s version, and wholesale deletions and insertions in the D&C, so it’s not like there wasn’t precedent for doing so (though the vast majority of contemporary Mormons have no idea this is so–but I do have the originals of all of their “scriptures” and could document every change).
I find the timing of this disclosure interesting, in that it follows not long after Federal Judge Clark Waddoups began the process of striking down polygamy laws in Utah here in 2014. Perhaps the hierarchy is preparing the ground for a reintroduction of the practice among leaders?
After all, verse 4 of Section 132 still says:
“For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant [of polygamy], then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.”
I don’t expect such a radical change to happen immediately, but time will tell. Changing the legal definition of marriage will produce the societal consequences so many warned about, before this is over.
[See also, “Anti-‘Homophobes’ Are Haters: Wishing Evil On Orson Scott Card.”]
Full Disclosure: My “adoptive family” where I spent many days to avoid the warfare in my own home during high school was LDS. I also dated a Mormon young lady for nearly a year-and-a-half subsequent to that.
During that time, I began studying Mormonism, and was very intrigued by the story. Once becoming a Christian, I realized that if historic Christianity were true, then these dear friends were in danger.
Those were the days that birthed one of my “life phrases”: Truth has no fear of contradiction. I sought to challenge my beliefs, because all I cared about was making as sure as possible that I wasn’t the one being deceived, and to equip myself to speak with others.
I studied, and studied, and studied… and have amassed a library on LDS history and theology, and ended up regularly teaching on pseudo-Christian religious movements for more than a decade, though that’s largely gone dormant in favor of other endeavors in recent years.
All of that to say I don’t pop off here to show superior knowledge, or pass along half-baked accusations with no basis. Everything I wrote above I can document. My desire is to see people set free from the treadmill of works-based religion, into the free and glorious good news of what God has done to show His love for us in Jesus Christ—the real Jesus, not the “brother of Lucifer” Mormon version. Peace.