06 June 2008

50 Answers to 50 Mormon Answers to 50 Anti-Mormon Questions (answer 11)

Tower To Truth Question:

11. Why did Joseph Smith condone polygamy as an ordinance from God (D. & C. 132) when the Book of Mormon had already condemned the practice (Jacob 1:15, 2:24)

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FAIR Answer:

The critics need to read the next verses. The Book of Mormon says that God may command polygamy, just a few verses later. (Jac. 2:30).

To learn more: Book of Mormon condemns polygamy

Many Biblical prophets had more than one wife, and there is no indication that God condemned them. And, the Law of Moses had laws about plural wives—why not just forbid them if it was evil, instead of telling people how they were to conduct it?

To learn more: Polygamy not Biblical

And, many early Christians didn't think polygamy was inherently evil:
To learn more: Early Christians on plural marriage

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My Response:

This is a lightning rod for most Mormons. And it is one of the few things people know about Mormonism, especially with the Warren Jeffs episode and the events in Texas. Now, Ask 100 people what they know about Mormons, I dare say 95 of them will mention polygamy. However, if you ask 100 Mormons about polygamy, 95 will probably tell you, "Oh, no, the LDS church has NEVER taught that." Well, yes they did, it is documented all over the place, you can find it for yourself. That said, the question becomes "Does the Bible allow for polygamy?" (Oops, I mean "plural marriage")

Let's look at the examples FAIR gives us. At the link titled, "Polygamy not Biblical," they mention Abraham, and his marriage to Hagar. Of course, Hagar gave birth to Ishmael, and we all know how well that turned out. Then they make a little oopsie. They try to use Abraham's marriage to Keturah to support their position. Problem is, when Abraham married Keturah, Sarah had been dead for almost two whole chapters! Sarah died in Genesis 23, Abraham married Keturah in Genesis 25. Then they talk about Jacob, and how he took to himself both Leah and Rachel. Another problem. Jacob was promised by Laban to have Rachel as his wife for seven years of labor. He then worked for seven more years to receive what he was promised.

Now, what FAIR fails to mention about Abraham and Jacob is this: These two men lived long before the Law. Why is this important? It's the same reason Cain could take one of his sisters as his wife (to answer that age-old question).

Well, FAIR mentions Deuteronomy 21:15-17
15 “If a man has two wives, one loved and the other unloved, and they have borne him children, both the loved and the unloved, and if the firstborn son is of her who is unloved, 16 then it shall be, on the day he bequeaths his possessions to his sons, that he must not bestow firstborn status on the son of the loved wife in preference to the son of the unloved, the true firstborn. 17 But he shall acknowledge the son of the unloved wife as the firstborn by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his.”
No doubt, many men still had more than one wife, a practice condemned back in Deuteronomy 17. So, in order to be equitable to the wives who had come to count on their husband for sustenance, God allowed the men to keep these women, but to treat them equally.

Now, let’s get to the main characters in this debate: David and Solomon. The LDS church uses these two men as models for a polygamous lifestyle. They point out 2nd Samuel 12:7-8
7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more!”
They zero in on verse 8, when Nathan tells David that Saul’s wives had been given to him. However, this does not necessarily mean he used them all. As the Keil & Delitzch commentary states,
These words refer to the fact that, according to the general custom in the East, when a king died, his successor upon the throne also succeeded to his harem, so that David was at liberty to take his predecessor's wives; though we cannot infer from this that he actually did so: in fact this is by no means probable, since, according to 1st Samuel 14:50, Saul had but one wife, and according to 2nd Samuel 3:7 only one concubine, whom Abner appropriated to himself.
So while they belonged to David, he did not necessarily use them in the way the LDS church believes.

Yet what does D and C 132 say about David’s wives? Doctrine and Covenants 132:38-39
“David also received many wives and concubines, and also Solomon and Moses my servants, as also many others of my servants, from the beginning of creation until this time; and in nothing did they sin save in those things which they received not of me. David’s wives and concubines were given unto him of me, by the hand of Nathan, my servant, and others of the prophets who had the keys of this power; and in none of these things did he sin against me save in the case of Uriah and his wife…”
This must be one more of those "plain and precious truths" that was removed by the "careless transcribers," because nowhere do we see all these wives given to David by Nathan. Moving on...
Next, we have Solomon. 700 wives. 300 concubines. FAIR says of 1st Kings 11:1-8,
Solomon's wives turned his heart away from, as Deuteronomy cautioned. Nothing is said against the plurality of wives, but merely of wives taken without authority that turn his heart away from the Lord.”
I don’t think anything needed to be said. We have seen, time and again, what happened to men of God who took other wives to themselves.

While God may have permitted polygamy, and may have tolerated it, don’t forget this—that the sins these men committed were no worse than the sins you and I commit every day. But God does not destroy us for them. He gives us a little rope, and we hang ourselves with it. And just as “Those whom God loves, He chastens” (Hebrews 12:6), He also chastened Abraham and Jacob and David and Solomon when they took many wives to themselves.

These LDS claim to be “restoring” the “fullness of the gospel.” But what did Jesus say in the Gospel of Matthew? Matthew 19:5“For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?” Not "wives." So any permission or leniency that God showed toward men who took more than one wife was obliterated by these words of Christ.

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