In August, Rudger Clawson was imprisoned for continuing to cohabit with wives that he married before the Morrill Act. In , the Edmunds—Tucker Act allowed the disincorporation of the LDS Church and the seizure of church property; it also further extended the punishments of the Edmunds Act. In July of the same year, the U. Attorney General filed suit to seize all church assets. The church was losing control of the territorial government, and many members and leaders were being actively pursued as fugitives.
Without being able to appear publicly, the leadership was left to navigate "underground". Following the passage of the Edmunds—Tucker Act, the church found it difficult to operate as a viable institution. After visiting priesthood leaders in many settlements, church president Wilford Woodruff left for San Francisco on September 3, , to meet with prominent businessmen and politicians. He returned to Salt Lake City on September 21, determined to obtain divine confirmation to pursue a course that seemed to be agonizingly more and more clear.
As he explained to church members a year later, the choice was between, on the one hand, continuing to practice plural marriage and thereby losing the temples , "stopping all the ordinances therein," and, on the other, ceasing plural marriage in order to continue performing the essential ordinances for the living and the dead.
Woodruff hastened to add that he had acted only as the Lord directed:. I should have let all the temples go out of our hands; I should have gone to prison myself, and let every other man go there, had not the God of heaven commanded me to do what I do; and when the hour came that I was commanded to do that, it was all clear to me. The final element in Woodruff's revelatory experience came on the evening of September 23, The following morning, he reported to some of the general authorities that he had struggled throughout the night with the Lord regarding the path that should be pursued.
The result was a word handwritten manuscript which stated his intentions to comply with the law and denied that the church continued to solemnize or condone plural marriages. The document was later edited by George Q. Cannon of the First Presidency and others to its present words. On October 6, , it was presented to the Latter-day Saints at the General Conference and unanimously approved.
While many church leaders in regarded the Manifesto as inspired, there were differences among them about its scope and permanence. Contemporary opinions include the contention that the manifesto was more related to an effort to achieve statehood for the Utah territory. As a result, over plural marriages were performed between and It was not until , under the leadership of church president Joseph F. Smith , that the church completely banned new plural marriages worldwide. The ambiguity was ended in the General Conference of April , when Smith issued the " Second Manifesto ", an emphatic declaration that prohibited plural marriage and proclaimed that offenders would be subject to church discipline.
It declared that any who participated in additional plural marriages, and those officiating, would be excommunicated from the church. Those disagreeing with the Second Manifesto included apostles Matthias F. Cowley and John W. Taylor , who both resigned from the Quorum of the Twelve.
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Cowley retained his membership in the church, but Taylor was later excommunicated. Although the Second Manifesto ended the official practice of new plural marriages, existing plural marriages were not automatically dissolved. Many Mormons, including prominent church leaders, maintained existing plural marriages into the s and s. In , the First Presidency learned that apostle Richard R. Lyman was cohabitating with a woman other than his legal wife. As it turned out, in Lyman had begun a relationship which he defined as a polygamous marriage.
Unable to trust anyone else to officiate, Lyman and the woman exchanged vows secretly. By , both were in their seventies.
Lyman was excommunicated on November 12, , at age The Quorum of the Twelve provided the newspapers with a one-sentence announcement, stating that the ground for excommunication was violation of the law of chastity. Over time, many of those who rejected the LDS Church's relinquishment of plural marriage formed small, close-knit communities in areas of the Rocky Mountains. These groups continue to practice "the Principle". Petersen coined the term " Mormon fundamentalist " to describe such people.
Today, the LDS Church objects to the use of the term "Mormon fundamentalists" and suggests using the term "polygamist sects" to avoid confusion about whether the main body of Mormon believers teach or practice polygamy. Mormon fundamentalists believe that plural marriage is a requirement for exaltation and entry into the highest level of the celestial kingdom. These beliefs stem from statements by 19th-century Mormon authorities including Brigham Young although some of these leaders gave possibly conflicting statements that a monogamist may obtain at least a lower degree of "exaltation" through mere belief in polygamy.
The Toxic Language of Polygamy Culture
For public relations reasons, the LDS Church has sought vigorously to disassociate itself from Mormon fundamentalists and the practice of plural marriage. Mormon fundamentalists themselves embrace the term " Mormon " and share a religious heritage and beliefs with the LDS Church, including canonization of the Book of Mormon and a claim that Joseph Smith is the founder of their religion. Although the LDS Church has abandoned the practice of plural marriage, it has not abandoned the underlying doctrines of polygamy.
According to the church's sacred texts and pronouncements by its leaders and theologians, the church leaves open the possibility that it may one day re-institute the practice. It is still the practice of monogamous Mormon couples to be sealed to one another.
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However, in some circumstances, men and women may be sealed to multiple spouses. Most commonly, a man may be sealed to multiple wives: if his first wife dies, he may be sealed to a second wife. A deceased woman may also be sealed to multiple men, but only through vicarious sealing if they are also deceased. As early as the publication of the Book of Mormon in , Latter Day Saint doctrine maintained that polygamy was allowable only if it was commanded by God.
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The Book of Jacob condemned polygamy as adultery,  but left open the proviso that "For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise, they shall hearken unto these things. According to this view, the Manifesto and Second Manifesto rescinded God's prior authorization given to Joseph Smith. However, Bruce R. McConkie controversially stated in his book, Mormon Doctrine , that God will "obviously" re-institute the practice of polygamy after the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
In the case where a man's first wife dies, and the man remarries, and both of the marriages involve a sealing , LDS authorities teach that in the afterlife, the man will enter a polygamous relationship with both wives. Under LDS Church policy, a man whose sealed wife has died does not have to request any permission beyond having a current temple recommend and an interview with his bishop to get final permission for a living ordinance, to be married in the temple and sealed to another woman, unless the new wife's circumstance requires a cancellation of sealing.
However, a woman whose sealed husband has died is still bound by the original sealing and must request a cancellation of sealing to be sealed to another man see next paragraph for exception to this after she dies. In some cases, women in this situation who wish to remarry choose to be married to subsequent husbands in the temple "for time only", and are not sealed to them, leaving them sealed to their first husband for eternity.
As of , however, women who have died may be sealed to more than one man. In , the LDS Church created a new policy that a woman may also be sealed to more than one man. A woman, however, may not be sealed to more than one man while she is alive. She may only be sealed to subsequent partners after both she and her husband s have died. Proxy sealings, like proxy baptisms, are merely offered to the person in the afterlife, indicating that the purpose is to allow the woman to choose the right man to be sealed to. A man who is sealed to a woman but later divorced must apply for a "sealing clearance" from the First Presidency in order to be sealed to another woman.
Receiving clearance does not void or invalidate the first sealing. A woman in the same circumstances would apply to the First Presidency for a "cancellation of sealing" sometimes called a "temple divorce" , allowing her to be sealed to another man. This approval voids the original sealing as far as the woman is concerned.
Divorced women who have not applied for a sealing cancellation are considered sealed to the original husband. However, it is generally believed that even in the afterlife the marriage relationship is voluntary, so no person could be forced into an eternal relationship through temple sealing that they do not wish to be in. Divorced women may also be granted a cancellation of sealing, even though they do not intend to marry someone else.
In this case, they are no longer regarded as being sealed to anyone and are presumed to have the same eternal status as unwed women. According to church policy, after a man has died, he may be sealed by proxy to all of the women to whom he was legally married while he was alive. The same is true for women; however, if a woman was sealed to a man while she was alive, all of her husbands must be deceased before she can be sealed by proxy to them.
Church doctrine is not entirely specific on the status of men or women who are sealed by proxy to multiple spouses. There are at least two possibilities:. Critics of polygamy in the early LDS Church claim that plural marriages produced unhappiness in some wives. Critics of polygamy in the early LDS Church claim that church leaders established the practice of polygamy in order to further their immoral desires for sexual gratification with multiple sexual partners. Others conclude that many Latter-day Saints entered into plural marriage based on the belief that it was a religious commandment, rather than as an excuse for sexual license.
For instance, many of the figures who came to be best associated with plural marriage, including church president Brigham Young and his counselor Heber C. Kimball , expressed revulsion at the system when it was first introduced to them. Young famously stated that after receiving the commandment to practice plural marriage in Nauvoo , he saw a funeral procession walking down the street and he wished he could exchange places with the corpse.
He recalled that "I was not desirous of shrinking from any duty, nor of failing in the least to do as I was commanded, but it was the first time in my life that I had desired the grave, and I could hardly get over it for a long time. He was later shocked to learn that he was to marry a younger woman.
Critics of polygamy in the early LDS Church claim that church leaders sometimes used polygamy to take advantage of young girls for immoral purposes. Smith studied men who took plural wives in the early years of the Latter Day Saint movement, and found that two of the girls were thirteen years old, 13 girls were fourteen years old, 21 were fifteen years old, and 53 were sixteen years old.
However, it seems that Brigham Young attempted to stamp out the practice of men being sealed to excessively young girls. In , he stated, "I shall not seal the people as I have done. I would not seal them to him. They would not be equally yoked together. Many get their endowments who are not worthy and this is the way that devils are made. As the type of polygamy practiced is primarily polygyny, critics of the early LDS Church argue that polygamy may have caused a shortage of brides in the early LDS community,  citing quotes by church leader Heber C.
Kimball who is purported to have said addressing departing missionaries :. Brethren, I want you to understand that it is not to be as it has been heretofore. The brother missionaries have been in the habit of picking out the prettiest women for themselves before they get here, and bringing on the ugly ones for us; hereafter you have to bring them all here before taking any of them, and let us all have a fair shake. On another occasion, he said "You are sent out as shepherds to gather sheep together; and remember that they are not your sheep The first quote above is not attested in any Mormon source, but first appeared in a derisive article in the New York Times on May 15, The principle of plurality of wives never will be done away.
Some sisters have had revelations that when this time passes away and they go through the veil every woman will have a husband to herself. I wish more of our young men would take to themselves wives of the daughters of Zion and not wait for us old men to take them all ; go-ahead upon the right principle young gentlemen and God bless you forever and ever and make you fruitful, that we may fill the mountains and then the earth with righteous inhabitants.
The precise number who participated in plural marriage is not known, but studies indicate a maximum of 20 to 25 percent of Latter-day Saint adults were members of polygamist households. One third of the women of marriageable age and nearly all of the church leadership were involved in the practice.
Critics of polygamy in the early LDS Church have documented several cases where deception and coercion were used to induce marriage,  for example citing the case of Joseph Smith who warned some potential spouses of eternal damnation if they did not consent to be his wife.