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Zeal without knowledge...

Many, having a zeal not according to knowledge, have, no doubt, in the heat of enthusiasm, taught and said many things which are derogatory to the genuine character and principles of the Church.

-  Prophet Joseph Smith

- Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 80

In recent history, we Latter-day Saints have been zealous in our defense of traditional marriage – judging any marriage other than one between one man and one woman to be “counterfeit”.

In the April 2017 issue of Ensign - a magazine owned/published by the LDS church - Elder Larry Lawrence equates same-sex marriage with worthless, counterfeit money:

"Counterfeits bear a resemblance to the real thing in order to deceive unsuspecting people. They are a twisted version of something good, and just like counterfeit money, they are worthless...

...Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God, but same-sex marriage is only a counterfeit. It brings neither posterity nor exaltation. Although his imitations deceive many people, they are not the real thing."

 

Source: April 2017, Ensign, "The War Goes On", by Elder Larry Lawrence

But are we guilty of having zeal without knowledge? In our zealous defense of marriage, are we hurting others while being blind to our own history? Worse yet, are we guilty of perverting the genuine character and principles of the Church, as they were introduced and taught by the prophet Joseph Smith?

Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

Matthew 7:5

The "beam" in our eye...

Beginning in the 1830’s, the Prophet Joseph Smith began to secretly practice plural marriage – marrying at least 33 other women & girls before his death in 1844. In 1843, the revelation on plural marriage was finally written down and recorded in what is now Doctrine & Covenants Section 132, a canonized LDS scripture still used today.

Is Plural Marriage a Requirement for Exaltation?

We have an abundance of statements by church apostles & prophets of the time indicating that plural marriage was more than merely a temporary principle to be practiced by the early Saints. Here are just a few...

William Clayton (Joseph’s scribe) wrote:

 
“After the revelation on celestial marriage was written Joseph continued his instructions, privately, on the doctrine, to myself and others, and during the last year of his life we were scarcely ever together, alone, but he was talking on the subject, and explaining that doctrine and principles connected with it.

 

From him I learned that the doctrine of plural and celestial marriage is the most holy and important doctrine ever revealed to man on the earth, and that without obedience to that principle no man can ever attain to the fulness of exaltation in celestial glory.”

 

Source: Journal of Discourses Volume 21, Discourse 02

Joseph F. Smith declared:

 

“Some people have supposed that the doctrine of plural marriage was a sort of superfluity, or non-essential to the salvation or exaltation of mankind. In other words, some of the Saints have said, and believe, that a man with one wife, sealed to him by the authority of the Priesthood for time and eternity, will receive an exaltation as great and as glorious, if he is faithful, as he possibly could with more than one. I want here to enter my solemn protest against this idea, for I know it is false.”

 

Source: Journal of Discourses Volume 20, Discourse 04

The Prophet Brigham Young boldly declared:

 

"The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy."

 

Source: Journal of Discourses 11:269

As same-sex marriage now is, monogamous heterosexual marriage once was...

Not only did LDS Prophets & Apostles proclaim that plural marriage was necessary for exaltation – they also taught that monogamy was a “social evil” and the “foundation for prostitution” and that it (monogamy) would have “no part in the economy of heaven.

Here are just a few statements from early church leaders about monogamy:

“We do not want them to force upon us that institution of monogamy called the social evil. We won’t have their meanness, with their foeticides and infanticides, forced upon us.”

 

- President John Taylor

 

Source: October 1879 General Conference  (em. added)

This law of monogamy, or the monogamic system, laid the foundation for prostitution and the evils and diseases of the most revolting nature and character under which modern Christendom groans…”

 

- Apostle Orson Pratt

 

Source: Journal of Discourses, Vol. 13, p. 195  (em. added)

Monogamy, or restrictions by law to one wife, is no part of the economy of heaven among men. Such a system was commenced by the founders of the Roman Empire.... Why do we believe in and practise polygamy? Because the Lord introduced it to his servants in a revelation given to Joseph Smith, and the Lord's servants have always practiced it.

 

Source: Deseret News, August 6, 1862, p. 1, column 4  (em. added)

"...if a man has no divine right to marry two wives or more in this world, then marriage for eternity is not true: and your faith is all vain, and all the sealing ordinances and powers, pertaining to marriages for eternity are vain, worthless, good for nothing; for as sure as one is true the other also must be true. Amen."

 

- Apostle Orson Pratt

 

Source: Journal of Discourses, vol. 21, p. 296

"Those who are acquainted with the history of the world are not ignorant that polygamy has always been the general rule and monogamy the exception. Since the founding of the Roman empire monogamy has prevailed more extensively than in times previous to that. The founders of that ancient empire were robbers and women stealers, and made laws favoring monogamy in consequence of the scarcity of women among them, and hence this monogamic system which now prevails throughout all Christendom, and which has been so fruitful a source of prostitution and whoredom throughout all the Christian monogamic cities of the Old and New World, until rottenness and decay are at the root of their institutions both national and religious."

 

- Prophet Brigham Young

 

Source: Journal of Discourses, Vol. 11, pp. 127-128 (em. added)

“Celestial marriage is for the fullness of the glory of god. It is the crowning glory. A man has no right to one wife unless he is worthy of two…. There is no provision made for those who have had the chance & opperternity [sic] and have disregarded that law. Men who disregard that law are in the same situation as if they broke any other law. They are transgressors.”

 

- Apostle Francis M. Lyman

 

Source: Quoted in Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy, p. 97

“They are a poor, narrow-minded, pinch-backed race of men, who chain themselves down to the law of monogamy, and live all their days under the dominion of one wife. They ought to be ashamed of such conduct, and the still fouler channel which flows from their practices; and it is not to be wondered at that they should envy those who so much better understand the social relations.”

 

- Apostle George Albert Smith

 

Source: Journal of Discourses, Vol. 3-4, p. 291  (em. added)

In 1890, under immense pressure from the United States government, President Willford Woodruff relented and pronounced an end to polygamy in an effort to save the church.

But despite the public renouncement of plural marriage, church leaders continued to authorize secret plural marriages for another 14 years

Will the doctrine of plural marriage ever come back?

During a joint First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve meeting on 2 April 1891, President Woodruff prophesied that:

the principle of plural marriage will yet be restored to this church, but how or when I cannot say.

Lorenzo Snow also reaffirmed this belief that the principle would be restored when he counselled Brigham Young Jr., "God has removed this privilege from the people, and until he restored it, I shall not consent to any man taking a plural wife."

 

 

Source: Quoted in Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy, p. 158

Can we put down our stones?

Given our own church’s changing beliefs on which type of marriage is the right kind in God’s eyes – perhaps we ought to refrain from accusing others of having “counterfeit” marriage. It wasn’t too long ago that LDS prophets and apostles were accusing couples in monogamous heterosexual marriages of participating in a “social evil” and deeming it a lesser form of marriage.

 

Whatever one may believe about what is or is not right in God’s eyes – what purpose does it serve to call anyone else’s marriage or love counterfeit? Elder Larry Lawrence – why do you feel the need to call someone else’s marriage worthless or equate it to darkness? Unless you yourself are without sin, put the stone down, Elder Lawrence.

One last thing...

Once you’ve set down your stone, Elder Lawrence, will you do me a favor? Will you find a gay man, woman, boy or girl and use your own back to shield them from the stones that are being hurled at them?

 

If you don’t know where to find them, let me know. I know a few of them personally. Many of them are tired and hurting – their bodies covered with scars from years of verbal rocks being hurled at them by religious leaders like yourself.

 

You don’t have to agree with or condone their lifestyle – but would you be willing to withhold your judgements, cross the road to them, and offer to bandage any wounds you or others have inflicted?

 

The Good Samaritan, Luke 10: 30

 

Audio: I Don’t Belong Here (“Creep”) as featured on Infant on Thrones Podcast

Personal Note/Invitation to Elder Lawrence

In the unlikely event that you do see this website and do indeed wish to talk to me, it shouldn't be too hard to find me. I am a member in the Baldwin Park Ward of the Settler's Park Stake in Meridian, Idaho. Get a hold of my bishop, he'll most likely know who you're referring to. Let's sit and chat - not argue - but chat.