Plural Marriage Month

It’s now October and that means three things. First, General Conference is just a few days away. Second, Halloween is almost here! Yes, you’ll have to forgive my indulgence in the holidays of Babylon. But Halloween is my favorite. Thirdly it is the one hundred twentieth anniversary of the issuance of the Manifesto, and you know what that means. That’s right. Its Plural Marriage Month! And that means all this month I will be posting articles about Plural Marriage. There may be a few articles on other topics but the majority will be Plural Marriage. So gather your wives to the computer screen and enjoy.

To start us off I want to post the just some basic information about Plural Marriages. Firstly I’m going to talk about my word usage. I rarely if ever use the word polygamy to refer to Plural Marriage. The reason is because it is just so inaccurate. Plural Marriages are covenants with Heavenly father and sealed by the Holy Spirit. Polygamy is broad, all encompassing term to refer to a man having more than one wife and also a woman having more than one husband. The term polygamy does not bring to mind the sealings or covenants but just the relationships.

So when I refer to civil relationships I may use the term polygamy, or polyandry, or polygyny. But when I am referring to the “New and Everlasting Covenant” I will use the term Plural Marriage. I would ask that if you make comments on any of these subjects you will use the same terminology just so we can all be on the same page.

Why is that important? It is important because, as mentioned above, there is a difference between Plural Marriage and polygamy. This will be important to understand when we start talking about when polygamy is allowed and when Plural Marriage is allowed.

So just what is the difference. Polygamy is defined by my WordPerfect 12 dictionary as, “the practice or custom of having more than one wife or husband at the same time.” Polygyny is a type of “polygamy in which a man has more than one wife.” Polyandry is a type of “polygamy in which a woman has more than one husband.” These definitions mention nothing of civil marriages or sealings. They are just general terms to refer to these relationships.

Plural Marriage is based on polygamy but the relationships are sealed by the Holy Spirit and thus are in force after this life. The term Celestial Marriage comes from Plural Marriage and were often used interchangeably. Hopefully you understand why I make the distinction.

On to the principles:

Basic Principles

After having researched the practice of Plural Marriage in the early church I found the following points of this principle. And in fact this principle is different than I thought it was. So I present you with the following:

Basic Information:

Celestial Marriage is a new and an everlasting covenant and authorized through the law of the priesthood.(D&C 132:4, 58, 59)

Celestial Marriage includes monogamous marriages sealed by the priesthood and Holy Spirit of promise(D&C 132:19).

Celestial Marriage must be accepted by those who receive it.(D&C 132:3)

If a person receives this law but does not obey it they will not be permitted to enter into God’s glory.(D&C 132:4)

The New and Everlasting Covenant of Celestial Marriage which includes Plural Marriage will never be taken from the Earth by the Lord.(John Taylor, September 27, 1886 revelation)

Celestial Marriage does not require legal acceptance of polygamy, or polygyny to be practiced. In cases where legal trouble may arise Plural Marriages may be kept secret.(see entire history of authorized Plural Marriages 1833-1907)


Purposes of Celestial Marriage:

            To raise up righteous seed unto the Lord.

            To fulfill the blessings of Abraham.(D&C 132:30, 31)

To ensure all righteous women have a righteous husband.(Journal of Wilford Woodruff; Brigham Young speaking; February 4, 1851)

            To put away the social evils of the world(Quoting Joseph Smith, reference incomplete)



            Celestial Marriage Ceremonies should be performed in the temple, but may be performed outside of the temple.(see entire history of authorized Plural Marriages 1833-1907)

            In the case of a first marriage the couple kneels across the alter from each other. They make sacred covenants to each other. A Plural Marriage is just the same except that the first wife is to the left of the husband/groom. The first wife gives the plural wife to her husband by taking the plural wife’s right hand and placing it in the right hand of the groom. The covenants between the plural wife and the groom are the same.(The Seer, Vol. 1, No 2, pp. 31-32; February, 1853)



Celestial Marriages can be performed by proxy sealing a living woman to a dead husband for eternity. The living woman is sealed for time only to the proxy and through him raise seed for the dead husband.

Separations in Celestial Marriage:

In Plural Marriage there is no divorce. But there are two ways in which a sealing can be removed without divorce. First, a man forfeits his covenant with a wife or wives, by becoming unfaithful to God and the priesthood. In this case that wife or wives are free from him without a bill of divorcement. Second, if a woman claims protection at the hands of a man possessing more power in the priesthood and higher keys, if he has a desire to make her his wife and has obtained the consent of her husband, she can do so without a bill of divorcement.(Brigham Young, October 8, 1861)


Concubinage is part of the New and Everlasting Covenant.(D&C 132:1, 37-39)

Concubine as used in the Holy Scriptures means “associated wife.”(J.D., Vol. 23:225-233; Erastus Snow)

Concubinage is entered into by a man and a woman making a solemn covenant or mutual vow(George Q. Cannon). There is not need for a ceremony to enter into a concubinage.(Wilford Woodruff)

Concubinage may be used as a means for members to still practice Plural Marriage while the Manifesto is in effect. This is because a concubinage does not require a ceremony nor church authorization. This is a “plan whereby men and women can live together under sacred ordinances and vows until they can be married.”(George Q. Cannon)


If a concubinage is entered into to raise a righteous posterity men are justified in doing so.(Willford Woodruff)

Solemn Covenant:

A vow of concubinage would include(Willard Richards):

            – Taking each other by the hand.

            – Doing so of your own free will.

            – Mutually acknowledge each other as husband and wife.

            – Do so in a covenant not to be broken for time of for eternity.

            – With a vow of love and fidelity(D. Michael Quinn)

– Do so for all intents and purposes as though the seal of the covenant had been placed upon the couple for time and all eternity.

            – Call upon God, the angels, and each other as witnesses.

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2 Responses to Plural Marriage Month

  1. Justin says:

    I enjoyed this post, and found many things of interest. Thanks for putting this together.

  2. Spencer says:

    The last point fascinates me. Concubinage is without ceremony, but acknowledged before “God, angels, and each other as witnesses” for time and eternity?

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