Since the issuance of the Manifesto by President Wilford Woodruff on September 25, 1890, discontinuing the practice of plural marriage by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, intensive efforts have been made by dissenters to show that authority to practice polygamy has secretly continued to the present day. Claiming that the Church departed from its original teachings when it discontinued the practice of plural marriage and that the Manifesto was adopted merely as an act of appeasement, "fundamentalists" have attempted to show that the doctrine of plural marriage was revealed to the Latter-day Saints as an irrevocable decree, essential to the highest exaltation in the world to come. They further claim that since the time of Joseph Smith a special "higher priesthood" organization has secretly functioned independent of the Latter-day Saint Church through which authority to solemnize plural marriages has continued to the present day. Asserting that the practice of plural marriage is still a "vital part of the religion of the Latter-day Saints," and that men are commanded to obey God's laws "in total disregard of the laws of man which might conflict therewith." "Fundamentalists" conclude that it is not within the power of the Latter-day Saint Church or the Federal or State Government to prohibit plural marriages.
A consideration of this position indicates that only after a unique interpretation of certain carefully selected excerpts from Latter-day Saint Church history and in some instances a complete fabrication of events, can evidence be found for the contention that the practice of plural marriage is still a "vital part of the religion of the Latter-day Saints."
On the other hand, a review of the history and doctrine of the Church indicates, that no provisions were made for a succession of authority from Joseph Smith independent of the present Latter-day Saint Church leadership; that the practice of plural marriage was not dogmatically regarded as an irrevocable decree or an essential to the highest exaltation regardless of circumstances; and that the suspension of the practice of plural marriage was accomplished by the same authority by which the practice was introduced.
College and Department
Religious Education; Church History and Doctrine
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Jessee, Dean C., "A Comparative Study and Evaluation of the Latter-Day Saint and "Fundamentalist" Views Pertaining to the Practice of Plural Marriage" (1959). All Theses and Dissertations. 4828.
Church of the Firstborn of the Fulness of Times LeBaronites, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Fundamentalists, Mormons, Polygamy, Mormon Church, Succession in the presidency