165 years ago today - Jul 14, 1855

[Brigham Young]

I have a few words to say concerning one item of doctrine, that I seldom think of mentioning before a public congregation; I refer to the doctrine pertaining to raising up a royal Priesthood to the name of Israel's God, for which purpose the revelation was given to Joseph, concerning the right of faithful Elders, in taking to themselves more than one wife. I frequently hear from others that this doctrine is laughed at and ridiculed; I heard yesterday of its being laughed out of doors, even jeered and sneered out of a Bishop's house. I am not personally cognizant of any one jeering at and deriding this doctrine; still, I hear that there are some few who are opposed to it. Once in a while sentiments reach my ears which sound very curious and strange, and when I hear them, I do really wish that some were possessed of better sense; I will, therefore, tell you a few things that you should know. God never introduced the Patriarchal order of marriage with a view to please man in his carnal desires, nor to punish females for anything which they had done; but He introduced it for the express purpose of raising up to His name a royal Priesthood, a peculiar people. Do we not see the benefit of it? Yes, we have lived long enough to realize its advantages. Suppose that I had had the privilege of having only one wife, I should have had only three sons, for those are all that my first wife bore, whereas, I now have buried five sons, and have thirteen living. It is obvious that I could not have been blessed with such a family, if I had been restricted to one wife, but, by the introduction of this law, I can be the instrument in preparing tabernacles for those spirits which have to come in this dispensation. Under this law, I and my brethren are preparing tabernacles for those spirits which have been preserved to enter into bodies of honor, and be taught the pure principles of life and salvation, and those tabernacles will grow up and become mighty in the kingdom of our God. ... This law was never given of the Lord for any but his faithful children; it is not for the ungodly at all; no man has a right to a wife, or wives, unless he honors his Priesthood and magnifies his calling before God. I foresaw, when Joseph first made known this doctrine, that it would be a trial, and a source of great care and anxiety to the brethren, and what of that? We are to gird up our loins and fulfil this, just as we would any other duty. (High wind and clouds of dust prevented speaking for several seconds.) It has been strenuously urged by many, that this doctrine was introduced through lust, but that is a gross misrepresentation. (A thick cloud of dust prevented speaking for about two minutes.) This revelation, which God gave to Joseph, was for the express purpose of providing a channel for the organization of tabernacles... I know quite a number of men in this Church who will not take any more women, because they do not wish to take care of them; a contracted spirit causes that feeling. I have also known some in my past life, who have said, that they did not desire to have their wives bear any children, and some even take measures to prevent it; there are a few such persons in this Church. When I see a man in this Church with those feelings, and hear him say '"I do not wish to enlarge my family, because it will bring care upon me,'" I conclude that he has more or less of the old sectarian leaven about him, and that he does not understand the glory of the celestial kingdom. ... It is not through lust that men and women are to practise this doctrine, but it is to be observed upon righteous principles; and, if men and women would pay attention to those instructions, I would promise, in the name of the Lord, that you would never find them lustful in their dispositions, and you might watch them as closely as you pleased. Plurality of wives is not designed to afflict you nor me, but is purposed for our exaltation in the kingdoms of God. If any man had asked me what was my choice when Joseph revealed that doctrine, provided that it would not diminish my glory, I would have said, '"Let me have but one wife;'" not because it is not a great comfort to me to have children, but if I have not children I know them not. Some of these my brethren know what my feelings were at the time Joseph revealed the doctrine; I was not desirous of shrinking from any duty, nor of failing in the least to do as I was commanded, but it was the first time in my life that I had desired the grave, and I could hardly get over it for a long time. And when I saw a funeral, I felt to envy the corpse its situation, and to regret that I was not in the coffin, knowing the toil and labor that my body would have to undergo; and I have had to examine myself, from that day to this, and watch my faith, and carefully meditate, lest I should be found desiring the grave more than I ought to do. You will probably wonder at this, and that such should have been my feelings upon this point, but they were even so. Now if any of you will deny the plurality of wives, and continue to do so, I promise that you will be damned; ...

[Journal of Discourses. Liverpool, England, 1853-86. 3:264-268, quoted in The Complete Discourses of Brigham Young, Ed. Richard S. Van Wagoner, Smith-Pettit Foundation, Salt Lake City (2009), http://bit.ly/BY-discourses]

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