Are "Fundamentalist Mormons" Truly Fundamental?

Another new doctrine taught by "fundamentalist Mormons" is that plural marriage is required for exaltation. It is true that between 1852 and 1890, Mormon Church leaders emphasized the need to practice polygamy. However, none of them ever taught that every man in heaven is a polygamist or that all men must marry more than one wife to be exalted. Monogamy was the only marital standard in the Book of Mormon, which Joseph Smith said was the "most correct" of any book on earth.

Another unique doctrine among "fundamentalist Mormons" is the idea that the more wives a man marries in mortality, the greater his eternal reward in heaven.  Lorin Woolley declared: "To be the head of a Dispensation, 7 wives [are] necessary. [To be the head of] the Patriarchal Order must have 5 wives. [To be] President of the Church -- 3 wives [are necessary]." Warren Jeffs is said to have more than seventy wives, and it is known that he married several of his father's (Rulon Jeffs) wives shortly after his father's death in 2002. Most fundamentalists seem to hold true to this notion. In contrast, early Church leaders never taught that a man gains an eternal advantage by acquiring as many wives as possible.

"Fundamentalist Mormons" often promote their teachings as the "old time religion" practiced by founder Joseph Smith. However, if he were to visit them today, it is probable that he would identify the numerous fundamental teachings that are ignored and the multiple new ideas that he never taught and lovingly, but firmly, command them to repent and return to the Church he founded.

Brian Hales is a Utah-based anesthesiologist and expert on polygamous break-offs from the LDS Church. Read more about him at MormonScholarsTestify.

6/15/2010 4:00:00 AM