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If you were not reading carefully, you may have missed an extraordinary bit of commentary by Elder Quentin L. Cook in the July 2020 Ensign. Speaking about how Church history can be a source of strength and inspiration, Elder Cook stated [I’ve added some highlights]:

Plural Marriage
I want to make three points about plural marriage. First, it's clear that there was a lot of sacrifice in plural marriages. There was a lot of love and unity, but there was also sacrifice, and parents in those marriages taught their children to sacrifice. Many of the children of those plural marriages took the gospel of Jesus Christ across the world and blessed many lives.
Second, there were some, such as Vilate Kimball, who received their own personal revelation—before they even knew fully about what was coming—that this doctrine came from God.
And third, in the senior councils of the church, there's a feeling that plural marriage, as it was practiced, served its purpose. We should honor those who Saints, but that purpose has been accomplished.
Now, there are unanswered questions. But I want you to know that we have a loving Heavenly Father who has a perfect plan, that His plan is one of happiness, and that we have a Savior who did everything for us. We can trust in Them.

It is quite remarkable to reflect on what is being said here. Polygamy was a SACRIFICE, it was OF GOD, and its PURPOSE WAS ACCOMPLISHED. It is really wonderful to have this clarified by an apostle of the Lord! Polygamy wasn't a reward; it was a sacrifice. The sacrifice was decreed of God, but it's over. The purpose was accomplished, and if so, there is no need to "restore" the practice. And notice the "there's" in green highlight indicating that this judgment is from the current leaders at the most senior level in the Church.

Yes, there are some unanswered questions, the foremost being the continued current practice of serially sealing multiple women to one man, and sealing the children of a subsequent husband to a wife’s first husband to whom she is sealed. We’ve explored that topic in SquareTwo (here and here), and can’t help but feel there will be change in this practice in the future, possibly in the form of permission for living women to be sealed to more than one man in this life (as dead women are allowed). Perhaps I am reading too much into Elder Cook’s conclusion, “We can trust in Them,” but if polygamy is first and foremost a sacrifice, it’s hard to see how it could be the heavenly way of life. That has a lot of implications for how we should view polygamy in a doctrinal sense, and also for how we view it in a policy sense.

In sum, I am very grateful for Elder Cook’s brief remarks, and grateful these were published in the Ensign. I think this is a hugely significant step forward for the Church! Hallelujah!



Full Citation for this Article: Cassler, V.H. (2020) "A Brief Note on Elder Quentin L. Cook’s Polygamy Comments, July 2020," SquareTwo, Vol. 13 No. 2 (Summer 2020), http://squaretwo.org/Sq2ArticleCasslerPolygamyComments.html, accessed <give access date>.

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COMMENTS: 1 Comment

I. Kathy Bence

I admire Valerie’s efforts, insights, and patience on this topic. 
 
Unfortunately, after 40 years of being troubled by this confusing teaching, my patience is growing thin.  I know that we can trust God, but I never had to trust or even imagine God sanctioning eternal polygamy as a Protestant. Only when I learned about it from this Church several years after I was baptized did I struggle with trusting God’s goodness.   I think our male leaders need to understand the perspective of some women and need to clarify  what has caused harm for so long, rather than just acknowledge that we are left with unanswered questions.
 
Vilate Kimball may have received personal revelation on this matter.  I cannot know. But the Church’s Guide to the Scriptures says:

“We are born with a natural capacity to distinguish between right and wrong because of the Light of Christ that is given to every person. This faculty is called conscience. Like other faculties, our consciences may be deadened through sin or misuse.”

In the Church’s historical narratives of women and men being invited to join a plural marriage relationship, there was usually an initial revulsion when the plural marriage principle was introduced. Could it be that some of these early Saints believed this was wrong probably because their conscience, or the light of Christ, told them so? And that women, who especially in those days were seen as the gatekeepers of appropriate sexual intimacy, may have felt the strongest initial revulsion to this practice?  Or that the conscience of those living this practice was eventually deadened? 
 
Joseph Smith said, “It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the character of God.”  Sorting out this plural marriage mischief matters because the clearer our understanding of God and His eternal plan for us, the nearer we can feel to Him.  Since I have come to believe God never endorsed plural marriage, I have been better able to trust God.