Do Mormons Have Multiple Wives: Understanding Modern LDS Marriages

Plural marriage in Mormonism, initiated by Joseph Smith following divine revelation, was practiced in Nauvoo and continued under Brigham Young until the 1890 Manifesto by Wilford Woodruff, which led mainstream LDS Church to adopt monogamy.

Historical Context of Plural Marriage

The practice of plural marriage, commonly known as polygamy, has a significant historical context within Mormonism, involving revelations to Joseph Smith and a series of legislative acts that impacted the practice.

Revelation to Joseph Smith and Practice in Nauvoo

Joseph Smith, the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, claimed to have received a revelation from God that reinstated the practice of plural marriage, an ancient principle he attributed to figures like Abraham from the Bible.

Smith formally introduced the concept to close associates in Nauvoo, Illinois, where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often known as the LDS Church) was headquartered in the early 1840s.

During this period, some church members entered into plural marriages, a practice that was initially kept secret.

Polygamy After Brigham Young and the 1890 Manifesto

After the death of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young became the second president of the LDS Church and continued the practice of plural marriage, particularly as the church members migrated to Utah Territory.

Opposition in the United States to polygyny grew, resulting in the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act and the Supreme Court case, Reynolds v. United States.

The pressure culminated in President Wilford Woodruff issuing the 1890 Manifesto, which led to the official end of the practice among mainstream Latter-day Saints.

However, some fundamentalist groups split from the LDS Church, continuing the practice into the 20th century and beyond.

Contemporary Church Teachings and Perceptions

A modern church with a diverse congregation discussing and debating the topic of Mormons and multiple wives

This section explores the current official teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regarding monogamy, as well as addressing common misconceptions about the practice of polygamy among Mormons.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Stance on Monogamy

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often referred to as the Latter-day Saints or simply the Church, has a clear stance on marriage.

They uphold that marriage should be between one man and one woman.

This doctrine reflects a commitment to monogamy and has been in place since a manifesto was issued by Church President Wilford Woodruff in 1890, which led to the end of the practice of polygamy in the Church.

Since then, any member found practicing polygamy is excommunicated.

Misconceptions and Clarifications about Mormons and Polygamy

Despite historical associations, contemporary Mormons do not practice polygamy.

Polygamy — marrying more than one woman — was a practice that ended in the late 19th century.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints frequently encounters the need to clarify this point, especially in the context of the fact that some groups that broke away from the Church continue the practice outside of the mainstream Latter-day Saint movement.

These groups are not associated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which maintains its commitment to monogamous marriage as not only a religious tenet but also a necessary tenet for the eternal blessings of the family unit.

Misunderstandings may also arise from the Church’s historical ties to polygamy, but the official stance and teachings have changed to reflect a monogamous approach to marital relationships.