I am a relatively new convert, (10 years), and I am still learning about church history. I believe that Mormon Church is the true church of God on the earth today. I believe that Gordon B. Hinckley is God’s prophet and mouthpiece on the earth today. I believe that Joseph Smith Jr. is a prophet and he did all that it is said he did to restore the church. I know that decisions made in the early history of the church were made to protect those followers who, through the gift of the Holy Ghost, realized the truth when it was presented to them and stepped out on faith and followed the urging of the prophets to go and do whatever was asked of them. I know that members of the Mormon Church do not follow blindly.
Now to my concern. I am listening to a news program about Warren Jeffs. I know that he is not affiliated with the Mormon church, but one reporter put up a picture of Joseph Smith and said that Jeffs was following the early teachings of the then prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and that Smith proclaimed that polygamy was one of the best decisions that was made for the church at the time. I am confused as to the reasoning behind Prophet Joseph’s proclamation
for polygamy. Please help me understand. I value the time and effort you put into bringing the plain truth to light with a keen wit and a no holds barred attitude about what Heavenly Father would have you do to help lead his wondering and wandering children. Seeking greater light and knowledge.
You have brought up two issues that could be addressed. Why is Warren Jeffs associated in the press with the Mormon Church, and what was the reason that the Prophet Joseph Smith initiated in the Mormon Church the practice of polygamy. Let’s comment on them in reverse order.
The organization of the Mormon Church was carried out by the Prophet Joseph Smith under specific and direct instructions from our Father in Heaven. The practice of polygamy has been part of every dispensation of the gospel since the beginning of time. But in each dispensation it has been authorized under very strict and limited conditions by the Lord. It was never a general practice in any dispensation, and anyone who took more than one wife without the Lords’s specific authorization was severely chastised. The calling of a person by the Lord to have more than one wife is associated with the highest principles of the gospel and is related to exaltation in the celestial kingdom of God.
The doctrine and principles of the plurality of wives associated with these elevated principles of righteousness were given to the Prophet by the Lord in 1831, but were not published in the Doctrine and Covenants until 1843. The specific direction of the Lord in this practice in Old Testament times, and the severe punishment for violating the strict restrictions of the practice are alluded to in Section 132 of the Mormon scripture, The Doctrine and Covenants–
Abraham received concubines, and they bore him children; and it was accounted unto him for righteousness, because they were given unto him, and he abode in my law; as Isaac also and Jacob did none other things than that which they were commanded; and because they did none other things than that which they were commanded, they have entered into their exaltation, according to the promises, and sit upon thrones, and are not angels but are gods.
David also received many wives and concubines, and also Solomon and Moses my servants, as also many others of my servants, from the beginning of creation until this time; and in nothing did they sin save in those things which they received not of me.
David’s wives and concubines were given unto him of me, by the hand of Nathan, my servant, and others of the prophets who had the keys of this power; and in none of these things did he sin against me save in the case of Uriah and his wife; and, therefore he hath fallen from his exaltation, and received his portion; and he shall not inherit them out of the world, for I gave them unto another, saith the Lord. (D&C 132:31-39)
When the members of the Mormon Church were driven by mobs from the State of Missouri and other locations, they were led by the second president of the Mormon Church, Brigham Young, to the valleys of the mountains in what is now the State of Utah–at that time a territory of the United States. To further persecute the members of the Mormon Church at that time the legislators passed a law in congress making the practice of polygamy illegal. The Church submitted a test case to the courts, and when the anti-polygamy law was finally upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States the Church formally terminated its practice. This was done to remain compliant with another law of the Lord, given as the 12th Article of Faith of the Mormon Church, as
We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, and in honoring, obeying and sustaining the law.
Reed Smoot was elected to the U.S. Senate from the State of Utah in 1902, and he was subjected to a number of senate hearings challenging the right of a Mormon to hold such a public office. He is reported to have said in one of the hearings that he would rather be a polygamous that doesn’t polyg than a monogamist that doesn’t monog.
And now to your second topic– With the true and living Church of God, restored by the Prophet Joseph Smith, again established on the earth, Satan, the arch enemy of God, has marshaled all his forces to impede its progress and development. No church in modern times has been the object of such diabolical persecution as has the Mormon Church. And as the morals of society continue their precipitous decline, the persecution against God’s Church continues to mount. The circumstance of Warren Jeffs is just one case in point. His notoriety far exceeds the extent of his illegal actions. He is now listed as one of the ten most wanted criminals in the United States–the only non-murderer among the lot. Put his name on the Google search engine and it brings up 157,000 hits!
There is a recent TV series that is built around a polygamous sect in southern Utah. Although, at the beginning of the program a brief disclaimer states that the story is not about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, nevertheless, as I understand, at least parts of the show take place in Salt Lake City, where icons of the Mormon Church are prominently displayed. Further, terminology having nothing to do with the polygamists, but that is specifically and uniquely associated with the Mormon Church, is prominent in the dialogue. Because these false and misleading innuendos that attempt to tie this apostate group to the Mormon Church a number of members of the Mormon Church have written protests to the sponsoring TV station to have the program removed from the air.
But Shirley, there is nothing to fear. The works of God will succeed. His every word, without any exception, will be fulfilled, and the kingdom of God on the earth, embodied in the Mormon Church will survive every criticism and overcome every enemy. It will continue to grow and develop against all this opposition as a social marvel in our wicked society, and will be prepared to receive the Savior when He comes to initiate his great millennial reign on the earth.