Official Mormon Church doctrine on marriage today does not allow plural marriage – also known as polygamy.
Here’s a link to their official statement on the subject. The Mormons are officially known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or LDS.
And that’s great! But the deeper you dig, the more you learn the chilling things it leaves out. There’s more on that coming right up.
So can a Mormon have multiple wives?
According to LDS church doctrine, Mormon men can have only one wife.
So where did the Mormon practice of polygyny (polygyny specifically means one husband with multiple wives) come from?
And why do LDS splinter groups continue to practice polygyny? Are there Mormon women with multiple husbands? What does the LDS church teach on the matter? And does it agree with the Bible?
How Many Wives Can a Mormon Have?
According to early LDS church practices dating back to the 1840s, men could marry two or more women.
Apparently, Joseph Smith (the founder of the LDS movement) had a revelation about polygamy after his brother died.
Smith came up with a specific teaching based on a vision that he had of his brother in heaven. Thus he developed a teaching that specifically states that families would only be together in paradise if they go through a “sealing”.
Sealings were certain religious rituals in which women were joined to a Mormon (LDS) man so that they could be in heaven after they die.
The idea was that this rite gave men the power to help save their loved ones, so that they could be reunited after death.
Pretty convenient, isn’t it?
If you were a Mormon man, just look at all those women you could bring into heaven by making them your wife! You would be doing a good turn and have lots of fun while you were at it!
That’s probably why Mormonism enjoyed more male than female converts during this period. I guess the idea of having multiple wives and it being religiously right was appealing to certain men.
However, this whole polygyny thing among the LDS leaders stirred up some controversy among church members -and especially outside the church where there were local riots over the practice.
This led to Smith instructing Mormon men to be craftier when engaging in polygamous relationships, especially concerning the whole “sealings” ritual.
The US Supreme Court Renounces Polygamy (Polygyny)
Once the Civil War was over, Christians in the US Federal government went after the sinful practice of polygamy.
They didn’t approve of what the LDS church was doing and in 1878 the court issued an official statement that condemned polygamy (including polygyny) as “an offence against society”.
Long story short – polygamy became a federal offense.
This led to the general demonization of Mormon men among Americans. They were viewed as sexual predators who satisfied their lustful desires by hiding behind religious rites.
LDS missionaries were even attacked by gangs when they ventured out to the South back in the 1880’s over the practice.
And let’s be straight – the US court had every Biblical reason to reject polygamy.
This whole “sealings” nonsense was nothing but a pagan practice that men like Smith came up with, most likely to have an excuse for their polygamous relationships.
One thing that is clear to any student of the Bible; the God of the Bible doesn’t approve of polygamy.
While the Bible describes the practice, it never prescribes polygamy. And in fact, the Bible clearly prescribes monogamy -marriage between one man and one woman.
Can Mormons Have More Than One Wife at a Time?
Mormons can only have 1 wife at a time as polygamy (or polygyny in this case) is strictly forbidden for any LDS members.
This means that Mormons can’t have multiple wives. But as already mentioned, this wasn’t always the case.
Before the Federal court intervened, Mormons used to engage in polygamy, especially their leaders such as Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.
In fact, polygamy was only eliminated from the Latter-day Saints Church in 1890 when Wilford Woodruff (then president of the LDS church) officially announced the Woodruff Manifesto that this practice would be dealt with once and for all.
Woodruff had a revelation from God about the practice. This revelation came shortly after the Supreme Court decision came down and the US government began liquidating LDS church properties.
Interesting timing isn’t it -that Woodruff would happen to hear from God after the government began enforcing the court’s order?
This was the only logical thing to do if Mormons were to adhere to the US law.
Basically, anyone who had more than 1 wife would be expelled from the church. No ifs ands or buts.
Even though the Latter-day Saints Church no longer sanctioned polygamy, some Mormons continued to have multiple wives but not in the main LDS church.
Today some LDS breakaway denominations like the Fundamentalist LDS (FLDS) still practice polygyny. Remember -this is an offshoot group. It’s not the main Latter Day Saints church.
Here’s a recent video on the practice. It’s still happening -mostly in secret- in America.
It seems pretty clear that the reason “Mormon fundamentalism” exists is so these men can legitimize their sexual lusts and take part in polygyny.
And the practice continues today. Right here in the USA.
Polygamy and polygyny are currently prohibited in the LDS Church
Even if some Mormons still practice polygyny, the LDS Church is officially 100% anti-polygamy.
This was further solidified by some of the more modern church presidents like Gordon Hinckley. He specifically distinguished the LDS Church from Mormons who practice polygyny.
Church members who are found to have multiple wives are excommunicated – the harshest form of punishment within the LDS Church.
Of course, polygamy in general is a violation of civil law. So it makes sense that the Latter-day Saints would want to make sure that they have nothing to do with any unlawful practices.
Does the Book of Mormon Teach Monogamy?
Another reason why Mormons can only have 1 wife is what’s written in their equivalent to the Bible – the Book of Mormon.
The non-Biblical LDS Book of Mormon says in this passage (Jacob 2:27):
“For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none;”
The Holy Bible clearly agrees with this:
“Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well.” 1 Timothy 3:12 ESV
“If anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination.” Titus 1:6 ESV
And if you think that our Heavenly Father only instructs church leaders to marry one wife, you’re wrong.
His standard for marriage is monogamy and other Scripture examples prove it. Here’s what Jesus himself said on the subject:
“He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Matthew 19:4-6 ESV
Notice the clear use of the singular “wife” here.
Although Latter Day Saints see quite a few things differently from the actual living word of God (the Bible), their religious text still has one thing right – God’s position regarding marriage.
But if we dig a little deeper, we find this isn’t all the LDS “scriptures” have to say on the subject. What you’re about to see is the “scriptural” justification the LDS fringe groups use to continue the practice of polygyny.
Why Do Mormons Have Multiple Wives?
Mainstream Latter Day Saints used to have multiple wives before 1890 because of a supposed revelation given to one of the early church leaders Joseph Smith.
This was recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants section 132 which is part of the LDS scriptures. (D&C 132:58-66 still gives specific “laws governing plural marriage” and it is still on the official LDS church website as of 12/18/2022)
As previously mentioned, Smith was the father of the LDS movement who claimed to have received a direct word from God regarding polygamy.
According to the revelation that he received, this practice was not prohibited, but actually authorized by God Himself.
You will never find commands in the Bible regarding plural marriage. They are only found in D&C 132:58-66.
This revelation Joseph Smith claimed to have received mentions how the Lord justified Abraham, Isaac, David and Solomon among others as all of them had multiple wives.
But does this proves that God approves of polygamy and polygyny then? No, it doesn’t.
When men of God in the Bible had multiple wives and concubines it was never for a good reason. And it was never at God’s command.
Most of the time it revealed the issue of sexual lust.
And it never worked out well. Any kind of plural marriage situation is not what God intended for mankind.
God’s laws are good. And they are for our benefit.
Regardless, there’s something even more striking in this revelation “given” to Smith:
“D&C 132:15–20, Celestial marriage and a continuation of the family unit enable men to become gods;”
When you click on the link above and go to the LDS website, you see that it plainly says “Celestial marriage and a continuation of the family unit enable men to become gods.”
Then when you go on to verse 20, you read:
20 Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them. D&C132:20
What’s the first commandant again? “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3 ESV).
And what lies did the serpent use in the garden when it deceived Adam and Eve?
“For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:5 ESV
It’s easy to see how wicked, pagan and new-age the Joseph Smith revelation is.
I’m not sure what entity gave Smith the green light to engage in polygamy, but it most definitely wasn’t the the only Living God – the God of the Bible.
How Many Husbands Can a Mormon Woman Have?
Mormon women can only have 1 husband. Polygamy (plural marriage) isn’t permitted and even back in the days it was actually polygyny (men with multiple wives) that was practiced.
Polygyny was what early LDS Church leaders like Joseph Smith practiced i.e. they had more than a single wife.
But there’s no mention of women having multiple husbands in the Doctrine and Covenants. Apparently, this part of polygamy wasn’t that appealing to Latter-day Saints who began this practice back in the 19th century.
Nonetheless, it doesn’t matter if we’re talking about men with multiple wives or women with multiple husbands.
Both are wrong and not what the Lord intended for us.
We’re given clear instructions regarding this subject right at the very beginning of the Word of God:
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24 ESV
Note that the word “wife” is clearly stated in the singular and not in the plural form.
Sure, there were men of God in the Old Testament like King David who had more than a single wife.
But God didn’t add this to the the Bible so that we may also engage in polygamy.
Such instances are given to us as an example of what lust and sinful desires in general can do to us.
Scripture shows us what polygamy really does – it causes harm as it stems from lust, which is one of the primary aspects of our sinful nature.
Let me remind you what caused David to “engage in polygamy”:
“So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her.” 2 Samuel 11:4 ESV
He saw that she was beautiful and lust sparked the flame of sin, which led to all kinds of problems for David – one of the mightiest men of God in the Bible.
Later, we find out David paid a dear price for his lust. And so it was with every example of polygamy in the Bible.
It always brought trouble.
The problems caused by LDS polygamy were caused by people not following the clear teaching of the Holy Bible – the true word of the Living God.
But let’s not forget that there are a lot more differences between Christians and Mormons.
Mormons have a distorted view on many Biblical truths, mainly due to the fact that they rely on non-Biblical teaching stemming from their Book of Mormon.
But there are no multiple truths regarding marriage and whether or not you should have multiple wives.
There is only one truth. And it is found in God’s word in the Holy Bible.
Mormons aren’t allowed to have more than one wife and neither is anybody else.
The Lord intended marriage to be sacred and undefiled:
“Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” Hebrews 13:4 ESV
Our Creator wants us to become one flesh with our husband or wife:
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Ephesians 5:31 ESV
We’re not intended to have multiple spouses to be joined together – to become one flesh.
God’s word is clear on the Creator’s plan for marriage. It’s for one man and one woman.