Loyal to the Word NOTE: This article deals specifically with the idea of polyandrous relationships in the eternities, and has no reference whatsoever to any polyandrous relationships entered into by Joseph Smith, which would only remain so on earth and would not endure as such in the eternal worlds


Against Polyandry


Loyal to the Word



This question is often asked by members of the Lord’s Church:


Why can a woman only be sealed to one husband, but a man can rightfully be sealed to multiple wives?


         Members of the Church ask this question in relation to temple sealings and plural marriage or polygamy. The word “polygamy” is an umbrella term for more than one marriage partner. We can further subdivide polygamy into two different subcategories: polygyny (more than one wife), which is the accepted method of marriage for members of the Church regarding their temple sealings, and polyandry (more than one husband). The former is acceptable if a member of the Church married his wives before 1890, or if a man becomes a widower and becomes sealed later to another woman in a subsequent marriage. The latter, polyandry, is never recognized in the temple or in the doctrine of eternal marriage. Why? It is not uncommon for members of the Church, particularly women, to have genuine concerns with this issue, and often they feel miffed that such an exclusion exists. However, when this topic is pondered on with some reasonable thinking, some very excellent reasons come to mind as to why things should be this way. Seven reasons will be outlined:


1) REPRODUCTIVE EFFICIENCY. Marriage is principally for the purpose of reproduction. That is not its only purpose, of course, but it is the principal purpose. The scriptures teach this when they say, “it is lawful that a man should have one wife [and may be lawful to have more], and they twain shall be one flesh, and all this that the earth might answer the end of its creation; And that it might be filled with the measure of man, according to his creation before the world was made” (D&C 49:16-17, emphasis added). In other words, the earth was created for families, and marriage is the proper way of starting a family. The purpose of marriage in the afterlife is the same as here, that is, to beget children, since those who are married in the celestial kingdom will have “a continuation of the seeds forever and ever” (D&C 132:19).

         This logically brings things down to a question of biology and practicality. If a woman is married to five men, how many children can she have at once? The answer? Only one (unless there are multiples born - a freak occurance). No amount of diligence at attempts at reproduction will alter or speed up this scenario. Now consider if a man has five wives, how many children could he potentially have all at the same time? Five at once. And if the man has a hundred wives that means a hundred children, all in the span of 9 months or so. For purely reproductive purposes, polyandry makes no sense at all, and only appeals to the carnal, sexual desires of the woman. Polygyny, on the other hand, has a very practical reproductive purpose to it if the object is to have as many children as possible by the same man, in other words, the “continuation of the seeds forever and ever” (D&C 132:19).


2) PATERNITY. Another way polyandry is unnatural is that it destroys the children’s confidence in who their father is. How could you tell, short of DNA testing, who the father is? With polygyny, both the parents are obviously identified for each and every child. It therefore follows that polyandry is quite an unnatural way to live, while polygyny can be a legitimate family practice.


3) AN ABUNDANCE OF WOMEN IN THE CELESTIAL KINGDOM. It is a strong possibility that when all is said and done, there will be more women worthy of exaltation than there are men. This assertion is based purely on the general character of men versus women. What shall the disproportionate amount of women do with no marriage partner? Salvation in the celestial kingdom requires “the new and everlasting covenant of marriage” (D&C 131:4). In order for the larger proportion of women to obtain their eternal crown, and not be damned by a statistical anomaly not of their doing, they must be sealed to righteous men who already have a wife or wives. As a numbers problem, this would be the only solution within the constraint of marriage being essential for exaltation. In short, we may suppose that more women will be saved than men and will need marriage.


4) MAXIMIZING THE INFLUENCE OF RIGHTEOUS FATHERS. Polygamy, specifically polygyny, can be helpful in raising up a righteous posterity. The Lord said “For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people [to take multiple wives]” (Jacob 2:30). In other words, if the Lord wants to generate a large portion of righteous people in a hurry, he will command plural marriage. To illustrate, just think: If a man the caliber of Brigham Young was your dad, what would the chances be of you also being exceptionally righteous? Very good, compared to being born into the home of an average person, or even an average member of the Church. And if such a man has 50 children, then that results in that many more exceptionally righteous people in society, people who might not have been of the same quality had they had a father of inferior spirituality. That is no doubt a major reason why the leading Brethren of the Church were privileged to take as many wives as they did. It was to build up a people of faith and integrity.


5) THE EXCELLENT QUALITY OF MOTHERLY NURTURING. As far as the women’s role, children need the rearing of their mother. No man can successfully fulfill or replace the role of a good mother. If the mother is not available to tend to the needs of the children, but there is an abundance of father figures, as in the case of polyandry, this would be an inferior scenario for the development of the children. With polygyny, there is an abundance of mothers to help raise the children, and plenty of motherly nurturing occurring, which is certainly a superior situation. If we learn anything about parenthood from the Book of Mormon, it is the importance of motherly influence (see Alma 56:47-48).


6) HEAD OF THE HOUSEHOLD. If there was more than one father in the family relationship, and the family dwelt together as such, or had family relations under that pattern, the very fundamental question arises: Who is the head of the household? The man “by divine design” (Family Proclamation) is meant to be the head of the family. As the scriptures teach, “the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man.... Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man” (1 Cor. 11:3, 9). The woman is the nurturer in the family and the “help meet” to the man (Gen. 2:18; Moses 3:18; Abr. 5:14), not the head of the family itself. There can be more than one helper, or help meet, but there cannot be more than one head or chief executive. To suggest that there can be does not make logical sense. And if there were, there would be constant competition between the men as far as who has authority to make decisions and who is actually in charge of the family. There is no way that such an arrangement could very well work in practical application. This is probably the reason for the extreme rarity of polyandrous marital living among the cultures of the world, whereas polygyny is very common across cultures.


7) TO WHOM SHOULD THEY PRAY? If a sealing to more than one man were permitted for women, once the group became exalted, then what? Upon becoming exalted, the man in the celestial marriage becomes a god and has the same relationship to his spirit offspring which we have to our God and Father in Heaven (D&C 132:19). If there were more than one man sealed to a woman, who would be the “Father in Heaven” to whom the spirit children of this union would pray during their mortal probation? There would be more than one Father in Heaven! This is a bizarre scenario which clearly wouldn’t work if the same laws would apply to the exalted couple as have always applied to gods (and they certainly would). With multiple Heavenly Mothers, this situation is of no consequence, since we are not commanded to pray to or explicitly worship, per se, our Heavenly Mother.


         It can be seen, therefore, that there are very sound reasons for the Lord to not sanction the unnatural and awkward lifestyle of polyandry in the eternities. It goes completely against his plan and would have no purpose or legitimate reason for existing.



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