Polygamy in the Bible…

The “Biblical Appeal to Precedent” is one of the most common justifications LDS use for Joseph Smith introducing the practice of Polygamy.  But I don’t find the argument that “they did it in the Bible” to be convincing.  Here’s why:

– The prophets of the Bible may have been committing error in their practice.

– The Bible may be incorrectly reporting the details of their polygamy.

– The Prophets of the Bible never denied their polygamy, or kept if from their first wives (that we know about, of course).

– The Prophets of the Bible never took women who were married to other men. Obviously, the incident with David and Bathsheba comes to mind, and we know how God felt about that.

– The polygamy of the Bible may have been a cultural practice only, such as slavery. The fact that God apparently tolerated something thousands of years ago doesn’t necessarily argue for its status as a doctrine or divinely instituted practice.

I think it’s interesting to read about Biblical polygamy, but when I consider Joseph Smith’s practice of the practice, I find it largely irrelevant (other than suggesting a possible inspiration for Joseph’s institution of the practice in the first place.)

So if you insist on trying to explain why Joseph Smith introduced polygamy, please stick with the only answer you can be sure about:  Joseph Smith thought God had commanded him to do it.  Anything beyond that and you may find yourself in argumentatively dubious waters.


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4 Responses to Polygamy in the Bible…

  1. frank

    i did not know how to contact you so iam using this means. i read but do not post on the fair message board. i am a nevermo but with tbm family so i keep up with mormon apologetics stuff.
    i just read your post on the fair board quoting the wentworth letter and js’s revelations from moroni etc on the jaredites/nephites ‘history’ in america.
    you have just blown away/upset a lot of tbm applecarts on lgt /meso america etc. thank you!
    i wonder if any will reply.
    btw has anyone in the farms/fair crowd ever tried to dismiss the wentworth letter material you cited?
    i do not know how they could.
    keep up all you do – hopefully the truth will begin to set some disillusioned/ naive/unknowning mormons free.
    thanx again and blessings

    frank mcleskey
    fairfax station, va

    • Cinepro

      You can see the apologetic responses in that thread. As with many apologetic arguments, the degree to which you find it convincing may be directly related to your desire to find it convincing.

      As a disillusioned, naive, unknowing mormon, I echo your hope 🙂

  2. Brotherton

    I find the LDS use of the Old Testament to defend Mormon polygamy very interesting. They only believe the Bible to be God’s word “as far as it is translated correctly” and it remains vague at best on God sanctioned or commanded adultery. LDS are supposed to believe the Book of Mormon to be the more correct and pure form of scripture but ignore the condemnation in Jacob 2 of the Old Testament Prophets who had plural wives and concubines.

    • Cinepro

      It is definitely tricky to defend plural marriage with an appeal to the Bible. I’m just glad Joseph Smith didn’t restore the Old Testament practice of slavery. That could have been really awkward.

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