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Plural marriage– or a man being married to more than one wife– is an uncomfortable topic. And some might wonder how to tell if a person who practices plural marriage (in the scriptures, in Church history, or even now) is doing something wrong.
So today let’s dive in to three telltale traits of a plural marriage that is NOT accepted by God.
To do this we’re going to take a deeper look into the marriages of King David and King Solomon, a father and son who both had many wives and concubines. In fact, the scriptures tell us that King Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. Was this really okay with God? Let’s find out!
Solomon was a wise, wonderful, and righteous king who happened to be given plural wives by God. He helped to build a permanent temple to God and served Him well by serving the Israelites well.
Unfortunately, later in life Solomon turned away from God by making marriages of political alliance that were NOT accepted by God. Why?
First: Solomon married outside of the covenant.
Initially God gave Solomon wives from the Israelites. These were covenant marriages according to God’s plan. But in 1 Kings 11 we find out that “Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites. . . ”
These marriages to foreign women were OUTSIDE of the covenant and were therefore not approved by God.
A plural marriage is not accepted by God when it is outside of God’s covenant.
Second, God did not command Solomon to participate in these plural marriages.
God commanded Moses, and Abraham, and Jacob, and even Solomon and David to take multiple wives. However, Solomon and David both married women whom the Lord did NOT command them to marry.
Doctrine and Covenants 132:38 says, “David also received many wives and concubines, and also Solomon and Moses my servants. . . and in nothing did they sin save in those things which they received not of me’.”
A plural marriage is not accepted by God when God does not command it in advance!
Third, an authorized prophet of God must approve of the marriage.
Currently there are some people who are practicing plural marriage. Some of them even say that God has commanded them to live that way. Because this type of relationship might seem healthier and more permanent than the out of wedlock relationships we often see, we might wonder if it’s okay.
But a key component of plural marriage is that it must be authorized by God’s living prophet. During the time of David he had many wives and concubines which the Lord said, “. . . 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 (D&C 132:39)
All of David’s marriages that were authorized by the prophet Nathan were also approved by God. But his plural marriage to Bathsheba– which was not approved by the prophet Nathan– was also not approved by God.
A plural marriage is not accepted by God when it is not approved by God’s living prophet.
So how can you tell if a plural marriage IS accepted by God?
First, the marriage must be IN the covenant. Second, it must be commanded by God. And third it must be approved of by God’s authorized, living prophet.