Thursday, June 26, 2008

Descendants of Polygamy

My wife and I are descendants of polygamists and we are proud to be! We will also be the first to tell you that today polygamy is wrong, it is a sin. But more on that subject later. Let's look at some of my family's heritage.

My wife descends from George Reynolds and his second wife Mary Ann Tuddenham. In total, Reynolds had three wives. He is somewhat historic in nature, as he agreed to be offered up by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the test case for religious freedom concerning polygamy in a case taken to the United States Supreme Court. Reynolds lost and ended up spending one year and seven months in prison, being released in 1881. In 1890 he was called to the Quorum of the Seventy by church President Wilford Woodruff. He died in 1909.

I descend from Wilford Woodruff and either his third or forth wife Sarah Brown. I'm not really sure which because he married both of them on the same day! Woodruff had five total wives. He was President of the LDS Church from 1887 until his death in 1898. Much of the church's history throughout the 1800s is written due to his meticulous journal writing. On May 17, 1888 Woodruff dedicated the Manti, Utah temple. You may also notice on my side bar that this is where my wife and I were married and sealed for time and all eternity. On September 24, 1890 President Woodruff received a revelation for the church commonly referred to as "The Manifesto", officially ending the practice of continued plural marriages.

My children therefore descend from the person who was the Supreme Court test case to defend polygamy on religious grounds and they descend from the person who acting as the mouthpiece of God ended polygamy! On top of that, they descend from polygamous wives of each of these men!

You can tell that I am very proud of my heritage. I think it's rather entertaining.

However, earlier I wrote that "polygamy is wrong, it is a sin". I stand by this statement. Today polygamy is a sin. For the people of the Book of Mormon it was a sin. For Abraham it was not (plus further clarification here). But how could this be true if "Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever"? (New Testament | Hebrews 13:8). It is true because although Jesus Christ is always the same a completely perfect being with a resurrected body, at times his laws to mankind have changed. For example Jesus said that the Law of Moses was fulfilled in him:
17 ¶ Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. (New Testament | Matthew 5:17 - 18)
4 Behold, I say unto you that the law is fulfilled that was given unto Moses.
5 Behold, I am he that gave the law, and I am he who covenanted with my people Israel; therefore, the law in me is fulfilled, for I have come to fulfil the law; therefore it hath an end.
6 Behold, I do not destroy the prophets, for as many as have not been fulfilled in me, verily I say unto you, shall all be fulfilled.
7 And because I said unto you that old things have passed away, I do not destroy that which hath been spoken concerning things which are to come.
8 For behold, the covenant which I have made with my people is not all fulfilled; but the law which was given unto Moses hath an end in me (emphasis added).
9 Behold, I am the law, and the light. Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life. (Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 15:4 - 9)

Christ had begun to teach mankind the higher law, beginning with the Beatitudes. Certainly they questioned the contradiction in their hearts. It was no longer "an eye for an eye". Rather Jesus taught: "Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also" (New Testament | Matthew 5:39).

During Christ's time his gospel was originally only taught to the Jews. That changed too. Peter was given the revelation through a dream, as described in Acts 10, to teach the gospel to the gentiles as well as the Jews.

Jesus had earlier taught Peter about the concept of his church being led by revelation when he said to him: "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (New Testament | Matthew 16:17 - 18). In answering the question in reference to this verse "What rock?", the prophet Joseph Smith taught: "Revelation" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 274, qtd. in Mormon Doctrine, 2nd Ed. p. 646)

It was revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith that plural wives were an acceptable practice, as recorded in Doctrine and Covenants Section 132. I will not deny this nor will I call if by any false name. It was the will and mind of God, just as it was his will to rescind the law in 1890 through the Prophet Wilford Woodruff.

I testify unto that the heavens are opened! Not only are we able to receive our own personal revelations pertaining to only ourselves, but the true church of Jesus Christ, his kingdom on Earth, is truly led by a Prophet who is authorized to and does receive revelation for and in behalf of all people on this Earth. These things I know and I share in Jesus' name. Amen.

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