The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints published an essay on polygamy Monday. It comes in the wake of last week’s federal court ruling decriminalizing polygamy in Utah.
In part, the essay says “Latter-day Saints do not understand all of God’s purposes for instituting, through His prophets, the practice of plural marriage during the 19 century.” But one reason was to increase the number of children born into faithful Latter-day Saint homes.
The essay calls polygamy a “religious principle that required personal sacrifice” for the “25 to 30 percent” of the church who practiced it. Once outlawed by Congress, Latter-day Saints tried to avoid prosecution until the church strictly prohibited polygamy in 1904.
The essay does point out that the modern church has benefited in “innumerable ways” from the early practice of polygamy and it praised those who lived the principle.
Jan Shipps, a non-Mormon expert on LDS history, praised the essay and said it was mostly likely developed before the federal court ruling.
“To do a piece of excellent work like this… it takes more than 24 hours to do it,” Shipps said.
Shipps sees the essay as part of the LDS effort at transparency about its past.