“Joseph Smith and Plural Marriage,” Church History Topics
“Joseph Smith and Plural Marriage”
Latter-day Saints believe that monogamy—the marriage of one man and one woman—is the Lord’s standing law of marriage.1 In biblical times, the Lord commanded some of His people to practice plural marriage—the marriage of one man and more than one woman.2 Some early members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also received and obeyed this commandment given through God’s prophets.
After receiving a revelation commanding him to practice plural marriage, Joseph Smith married multiple wives and introduced the practice to close associates. This principle was among the most challenging aspects of the Restoration—for Joseph personally and for other Church members. Plural marriage tested faith and provoked controversy and opposition. Few Latter-day Saints initially welcomed the restoration of a biblical practice entirely foreign to their sensibilities. But many later testified of powerful spiritual experiences that helped them overcome their hesitation and gave them courage to accept this practice.
Many details about the early practice of plural marriage are unknown because participants were asked to keep their actions confidential. The historical record of early plural marriage is therefore thin: few records of the time provide details, and later reminiscences are not always reliable. Saints recounts several important stories relating to the practice of plural marriage by Joseph Smith and other early Latter-day Saints. For further information regarding early plural marriage, see “Plural Marriage in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Gospel Topics Essays, topics.lds.org.