Mormonism and polygamy/Relationship to the modern Church

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Relationship of polygamy to modern Mormonism

Summary: Critics or ill-informed commentators often try to make it appear as if modern polygamist groups continue to have Church connections. Some often call upon the Church to "stop" the polygamist activities of such groups.

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Question: Does the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) have any association with polygamist groups?

Some modern groups practicing polygamy have their origins in the Church established by Joseph Smith, however, they no longer recognize the authority of LDS Church leaders

Critics of the Church or ill-informed commentators often try to make it appear as if modern polygamist groups continue to have Church connections. Some often call upon the Church to "stop" the polygamist activities of such groups. The media may sometimes portray modern polygamist groups as "fundamentalist Mormons," but this does not mean that the Church has any influence over their doctrine or practices. Only civil officials have any jurisdiction in this matter.

The Church declares that the Lord does not sanction the practice of plural marriage at present, but such teachings are not believed by polygamist break-off groups.

Some modern groups practicing polygamy have their origins in the Church established by Joseph Smith. However, they have broken away from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and no longer recognize the authority of LDS Church leaders.

The modern Church has nothing whatever to do with those practicing polygamy

President Gordon B. Hinckley 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).[1]


Question: Why did Bruce R. McConkie say that polygamy would be practiced again before the Second Coming?

The Church has no position on whether polygamy will ever be reinstated

Bruce R. McConkie in Mormon Doctrine said "The holy practice will commence again after the Second Coming of the Son of Man and the ushering in of the millennium." [2] Elder Bruce R. McConkie, therefore, believed that it would. Others believe not. In any case, the book Mormon Doctrine is not an official publication of the Church.

The Church official website responded to the question, "Is polygamy gone forever from the Church?" by saying:

We only know what the Lord has revealed through His prophets, that plural marriage has been stopped in the Church. Anything else is speculative and unwarranted. [3]


Notes

  1. Cited in "Polygamy: Questions and Answers With the Los Angeles Times," lds.org, 31 May 2006. off-site. Please follow this link for further discussion of this topic.
  2. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine (Salt Lake City:Bookcraft, 1958; second edition, 1966), 578.
  3. "Polygamy: Questions and Answers With the Los Angeles Times," (31 May 2006) off-site (last accessed 15 January 2009).