John A. Widstoe writes on why plural marriage was practiced in the early Church.

Mar 1943
John A. Widtsoe

John A. Widtsoe, "Evidences and Reconciliations: lxiv. Why Did the Church Practice Plural Marriage in Earlier Days?" Improvement Era 46, no. 3 (March 1943): 161, 191

Improvement Era
John A. Widtsoe
Reading Public

The simple truth, and the only acceptable ex- planation, is that the principle of plural marriage came as a revelation from the Lord to the Prophet Joseph Smith for the Church. It was one of many principles so communicated to the Prophet. It was not man-made. It was early submitted to several of his associates, and later, when safety permitted, to the Church as a whole. The members of the Church had personal testimonies of the divine calling of the Prophet Joseph Smith. They had individually accepted the gospel as restored through the Prophet. When he announced a doctrine as revelation coming from above, the people, being already convinced of the reality of Joseph's prophetic calling and power, accepted the new doctrine and attempted to put it into practice. Members of the Church who were permitted to take plural wives, did so because they believed that they were obeying a commandment of God. That faith gave them strength to meet the many problems arising from plurality, and to resist the encroachments of enemies upon their sacred right of freedom of religious belief and practice. We do not understand why the Lord commanded the practice of plural marriage. Some have suggested that it was a means of trying and refining the people through the persecution that followed. Certainly, one must have had faith in the divine origin of the Church to enter it. Another suggested explanation is based upon the doctrine of pre-existence. In the spirit world are countless numbers of spirits waiting for their descent into mortality, to secure earth bodies as a means of further progress. These unborn spirits desired the best possible parentage. Those assuming plural marriage almost invariably were the finest types in the community Only men who were most worthy in their lives were permitted to take plural wives; and usually only women of great faith and pure lives were willing to become members of a plural household. (It should be remembered that permission to enter the system was granted only by the President of the Church, and after careful examination of the candidate.) However, this is but another attempted explanation by man of a divine action. It may be mentioned that eugenic studies have shown the children of polygamous parents to be above the average, physically and mentally. And the percentage of happy plural households was higher than that of monogamous families. The principle of plural marriage came by revelation from the Lord. That is the reason why the Church practiced it. It ceased when the Lord so directed through the then living Prophet. The Church lives, moves, and has its being in revelation.

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