This posting has three main points that interrelate. First, and as we enter into the sequester to test whether this nation, or any nation so conceived can long endure (great, now we're slipping into Lincoln), I note for the record that the United States Department of Interior is the only federal agency mentioned in official scripture of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Pretty cool, no? It comes in Official Declaration No. 1, found at the end of the Doctrine & Covenants (Well, right before OD2, the official end at least for now).
The context is that LDS Church President Wilford Woodruff refers to a report to the Secretary of the Interior making certain claims about the practice of plural marriage among the Mormons. Why the Secretary of the Interior? Because one of the charges of the Department is to oversee U.S. territories (43 U.S.C. § 1458) - which still happens with the few remaining that we have - principally, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, even Puerto Rico could be considered as such. But each of these has a very complicated history of their legal status - as does Utah, for that matter.
Of course, so does [or did] plural marriage. The second point of this post is to note the new revisions to LDS Scripture, now on-line, and to be available in physical form (as books of scripture) later this summer. In particular, there is a new historical and theological heading to OD1 to help explain the history of plural marriage in the LDS Church:
The Bible and the Book of Mormon teach that monogamy is God’s standard for marriage unless He declares otherwise (see2 Samuel 12:7–8 and Jacob 2:27, 30). Following a revelation to Joseph Smith, the practice of plural marriage was instituted among Church members in the early 1840s (see section 132). From the 1860s to the 1880s, the United States government passed laws to make this religious practice illegal. These laws were eventually upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. After receiving revelation, President Wilford Woodruff issued the following Manifesto, which was accepted by the Church as authoritative and binding on October 6, 1890. This led to the end of the practice of plural marriage in the Church. [New Heading to Official Declaration 1 in the D&C]I'm sure this language was carefully crafted and prepared by hard work and inspiration. There is a lot more that could be said, whole books have been written on this subject. What I especially like is the line "This led to the end of the practice of plural marriage in the Church." [emphasis added]. This was a process.
So my third point is to explain a little from my own family history about that process. From what I can tell of the records, the several practitioners of plural marriage in my family (not all from that era lived "the principle," but enough for my existential concerns) did not enter into any plural marriage after the First Manifesto (OD1 above). And if I ever discover that someone did - so be it. My 2nd Great-Grandfather, George C. Wood of South Bountiful, continued to live with and have children by his two wives after "serving" in the Territorial Penitentiary from 1896-90. I think he had a little extra family time coming to him to compensate.
|South Bountiful Sunday School, NE corner of 1500 S and 800 W (Onion Street) about 1915|
So, what to conclude: 1) The Church continues to progress and perfect itself - it's a process. 2) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints no longer practices plural marriage - any who do so and claim connection to Joseph Smith's teachings are not part of our church. 3) Grandpa Wood was a good guy.
Other postings on this blog about George C. Wood are:
Prison with Picture
Defense of Religion
Context from his Journal
Seeing the Temple
Execution of Murderer
I have two sources for identifying individuals in photo standing in front of what appears to be the South Bountiful Meeting House. They are not consistent so it is best to compare both sources and make the best determinations. My Grandfather, Glen Wood Peterson, is marked in this photo, second row, and left of center in a white shirt. His brother Joseph Peterson is the tow-headed boy four to the left leaning around the other boy. George C. Wood with the long beard in the back row is identified with the writing in pen. His first (plural) wife, Adelaide Ridges Wood, is in front of him to the right.
- “First Ward North of Salt Lake Taken about 1915” [from LDS Church History Library (CHL) Wood Family files] “Names Verified by: Lucile Schulthies Stahle, Alice Mills Rackman & Naomia Mae Salter Harden” [The last being my Great Grandmother Addie May Wood Peterson's younger sister.]
Back Row L. to R. Andrew Gwynn, Oscar Wood, Harry Samuel Salter, Fred Cleverley, Nellie Wood, Wilford C. Wood, George C. Wood Jr., George C. Wood Sr., Willard Wood, John C. Wood, Bro. Lemperley, Milford Mills, Amasie Howard.
- “Bountiful Sunday School Abt. 1915” [from back of framed photo in Bountiful Historical Museum]
Front: Lawrence Gwynn, William Luker, LeRoy Cleverly, Florence Luker, Ruth Peterson, Neva Gwynn, Mae Salter, Joseph Wood, Ruth _____, James Platt, ______?, Stella Cleverly, _______ Lemperly.