Many people are unfamiliar with what actually takes place during a worship service in a chapel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Research also shows that there are many people who feel that they are not welcomed inside an LDS chapel to worship with Latter-day Saints to be able to observe for themselves that Mormon worship is focused on the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is often the basis for misunderstandings among communities where Latter-day Saints live and leads many to believe that the close-knit ties of the Latter-day Saint community is both clannish and secretive. Part of this misconception may be caused by the differences between worship services in LDS chapels and temple worship. All are invited to attend services in LDS chapels, but only those members of The Church of Jesus Christ who are deemed worthy and hold a valid temple recommend are permitted to enter the sacred temple – the House of the Lord.
The infographic below is an excellent comparison of worship in an LDS chapel and temple worship.
You are invited to worship with a local LDS congregation
Perhaps one of the most talked about former practices of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often misnamed the “Mormon Church”) is the practice of plural marriage or Mormon polygamy. Plural marriage existed to varying degrees in the Church from 1831 to about 1904. It was officially ended in October 1890 with this declaration from then-President Wilford Woodruff at a session of General Conference: “Inasmuch as laws have been enacted by Congress forbidding plural marriages, which laws have been pronounced constitutional by the court of last resort, I hereby declare my intention to submit to those laws, and to use my influence with the members of the Church over which I preside to have them do likewise” (Official Declaration 1). President Woodruff’s declaration, later referred to as the Manifesto, was unanimously accepted by the membership of the Church at that conference. In 1904, finding that some plural marriages had continued to be performed primarily in Mexico and Canada, President Joseph F. Smith called for a prohibition of plural marriage which was also unanimously accepted. Since that time, the Church has not allowed those entering into plural marriage after that time to obtain and/or retain membership.
Latter-day Saints (Mormons) have always believed in monogamy as the standard of God for his children, with Mormon polygamy being the exception to the rule, but only at God’s direct command. In the Book of Mormon, the Lord teaches that “there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none; For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women” (Jacob 2:27–28). Paul taught the same doctrine in the ancient church when he taught the Corinthians to “let every man have his own wife, and every woman have her own husband” (1 Corinthians 7:2).
Yet, the practice of plural marriage is not without precedent. Abraham, the great patriarch, fathered many nations through the practice of plural marriage (Genesis 16:1–3). Jacob, Abraham’s grandson, who would later be known as Israel, also practiced plural marriage (Genesis 29:23–30). King David and King Solomon each had dozens of wives that were condoned by the prophets of the day, so long as they were rightfully acquired.
A small percentage of Mormons practiced Mormon polygamy (plural marriage) for a period of about sixty years. In each case, the marriages required the approval of both the prophet of the day and the wife or wives of the man being married. Plural marriages were not taken lightly, and those asked to participate often sought and received comfort and confirmation of the doctrine through heartfelt prayer. People were not overly enthusiastic about the idea, but when a command came from God, they obeyed.
The Church website includes this statement about the end of plural marriage (Mormon polygamy):
Influenced by rumors and exaggerated reports, the United States Congress, beginning in 1862, enacted a series of laws against polygamy that became increasingly harsh. By the 1880s many Latter-day Saint men were imprisoned or went into hiding.
In 1889 in the face of increasing hardships and the threat of government confiscation of Church property, including temples, Wilford Woodruff, President of the Church at the time, prayed for guidance. He was inspired to issue a document that officially ended the sanction of plural marriage by the Church.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has not practiced plural marriage for more than 100 years. Current Church leaders have taught that the family is ordained of God, that marriage is between one man and one woman, and that children are entitled to be reared by a father and mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity (The Family: A Proclamation to the World). Gordon B. Hinckley, who was president of the Mormon Church until his death in 2008, emphasized that “Even in countries where civil or religious law allows [the practice of a man having more than one wife], the Church teaches that marriage must be monogamous and does not accept into its membership those practicing plural marriage.”
Mormon polygamy is still a sensitive issue which is focused on by the media at large. Those practicing plural marriage today, however, are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Plural marriage is an excommunicative offense; thus, those who practice it either never were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or they are no longer members. Confusion continues to arise because many of those practicing polygamy today refer to themselves as Mormons, which is yet another reason Latter-day Saints are trying to educate the public and media regarding the use of that term.
Reasons for the commandment of the practice of Mormon polygamy have never been given. Yet, it is understood that it is only acceptable when it is explicitly commanded by God for His people to live that law. Because members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe in obeying the law of the Lord, they follow His commandments, even in the face of great persecution and adversity.
Any groups or individuals who teach or practice plural marriage today are not members of nor affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Learn more about Mormon Polygamy
Dallin Kimble is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“Mormon”). He is a devoted husband and father of two, a freelance writer, a leader is his local town and a graduate student of Public Administration at Arizona State University. More of his writing can be found on his blog at principlesofthegospel.blogspot.com.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often mistakenly called the Mormon Church by others) is frequently accused of not being a Christian church. This seems a bit silly if one looks at the church’s name, which itself focuses on Jesus Christ. While Mormonism as a religion does not subscribe to many of the typical Christian creeds, such as the Trinity being made up of one, incorporeal, unknowable being, Jesus Christ is truly at both the center and the head of the Mormon Church.
Mormons believe that Jesus Christ is literally the Only Begotten Son of God, which is what He proclaimed to the world He was. He was more than just a good man; He was the unique combination of mortal and immortal being that was required to bear the sins of the world through an eternal atonement. He was one with God in purpose, but was and is a separate being. He was the chosen Messiah, prophesied of throughout the Old Testament, though He came to save the world from sin and was not (at that time) the political leader the Jews looked to, to liberate them from Roman rule.
Jesus Christ was born to a wonderful, worthy earthly mother and to her husband, who acted as a father to Jesus while He was on this earth. He was raised among the Jews, but learned through the Spirit the things of God. When He was called to His ministry at age 30, He worked mighty miracles in the name of God. He healed the sick, raised the dead, brought comfort to the trodden down, and brought hope to those who were in despair. He continues to do these things and to work mighty miracles through His servants who are on the earth today who exercise the power of God through the holy priesthood.
Before Jesus Christ was crucified, He suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane for the sins and sorrows of the world. Upon the cross, He completed another step in the Atonement. With His resurrection, He gained power over death and freed the rest of mankind from its grasp. All of us will be resurrected eventually, our souls being eternally reunited with our bodies. He made this possible.
When Jesus returned to His apostles after His resurrection, He spent 40 days with them teaching them, giving them the priesthood power, and instructing them in leading the church He organized. Eventually this organization and authority were both lost. The apostles were all killed, taking that priesthood power with them. Because of the wickedness of men who desired to take over the church and to incorporate worldly teachings into it, the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ was lost from the earth. So many things were lost and changed over time that a new restoration was needed.
In 1820, a young man who had been chosen of God to accomplish this restoration was moved by the Spirit to enter a grove of trees to pray. He prayed to know which church he should join, because he was confused by all their different teachings. In response to his plea, he received a remarkable vision. God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to this young man, Joseph Smith, and told him that the fulness of the gospel no longer existed upon the earth. Over the next ten years, more heavenly messengers appeared to Joseph teaching him and preparing him to be instrumental in the hands of the Lord. Joseph Smith was called to be the first prophet the earth had seen in nearly two thousand years. He was given the keys of the ancient priesthood by those who had last held them: John the Baptist, Peter, James, John, and Elijah.
The Lord Jesus Christ’s hand was upon Joseph Smith for his whole life, guiding and protecting him. Joseph was led to the brass plates, which he was told to translate, also through the power of God, and which was published as the Book of Mormon. This record contained the history of some of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas. These groups of people had been led to the New World by the hand of God. The record shows their dealings with Jesus Christ and is another testament that Jesus is the Son of God. It restored to the earth many beautiful, simple truths which had been lost from the Bible.
Jesus Christ is the Lord of this earth. He is the Son of God and atoned for the sins of the whole world. If we believe in Him, and if we follow His commandments, we may qualify for the cleansing and healing power of His atonement. We can become perfected in Him, through this marvellous power, but not by any another way.
Jesus Christ continues to lead His church today, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and continues to make His will known through a living prophet, the president of the church. While The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not claim to be the only church on the earth with truth, it is the only church with the fulness of the truth. It is led by the hand of Jesus Christ Himself. He lives. He will come again to the earth and will rule and reign forever.