The Lord is the Bridegroom
“Prepare ye the way of the Lord, prepare ye the supper of the Lamb, make ready for the Bridegroom” (D&C 65:3).
Isaiah 62:5 states that “as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.”
“John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled” (John 3:27-9).
“And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast” (Matthew 9:15).
“And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days” (Mark 2:19-20).
“And he said unto them, Can ye make the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days” (Luke 5:34-5).
“And angels shall fly through the midst of heaven, crying with a loud voice, sounding the trump of God, saying: Prepare ye, prepare ye, O inhabitants of the earth; for the judgment of our God is come. Behold, and lo, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him” (D&C 88:92).
“Yea, let the cry go forth among all people: Awake and arise and go forth to meet the Bridegroom; behold and lo, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Prepare yourselves for the great day of the Lord” (D&C 133:10; see also 113:19).
The voice of the bridegroom can symbolize the voice of the Lord
“Then will I cause to cease from the cities of Judah, and from the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride: for the land shall be desolate” (Jeremiah 7:34).
“For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will cause to cease out of this place in your eyes, and in your days, the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride” (Jeremiah 16:9).
“Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones, and the light of the candle” (Jeremiah 25:10).
“And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived” (Revelation 18:23).
“The voice of joy, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the voice of them that shall say, Praise the Lord of hosts: for the Lord is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: and of them that shall bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord. For I will cause to return the captivity of the land, as at the first, saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 33:11).
Becoming symbolically “married” to the Lord
Joseph Smith prayed to the Lord, “That thy church may come forth out of the wilderness of darkness, and shine forth fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners; And be adorned as a bride for that day when thou shalt unveil the heavens” (D&C 109:73-4).
So if the Church symbolizes the bride, and the Church is made of many members, we have many people being “married” to Christ, in a spiritual sense. One Bridegroom, many brides.
“In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage]” (D&C 131:2). On a literal level, God in His foreknowledge knows that more women will be worthy of exaltation than men.
“The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son . . . Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:2, 8-14). JST Matthew 22:14 adds, “wherefore all do not have on the wedding garment.”
“Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 25:1-13).
“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels” (Isaiah 61:10).
“I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. . . . And there came unto me one of the seven angels . . . and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God” (Revelation 21:2-3, 9-10).
In addition to the spiritual symbolism of one Bridegroom and many brides, there are literal examples of plural marriage.
Some examples of plural marriage in the Bible
“Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife” (Genesis 16:3).
“Jacob rose up, and set his sons and his wives upon camels” (Genesis 31:17).
“Ashur the father of Tekoa had two wives, Helah and Naarah” (1 Chronicles 4:5).
“Jerahmeel had also another wife, whose name was Atarah” (1 Chronicles 2:26).
“Shaharaim begat children in the country of Moab, after he had sent them away; Hushim and Baara were his wives” (1 Chronicles 8:8).
“Abijah waxed mighty, and married fourteen wives, and begat twenty and two sons, and sixteen daughters” (2 Chronicles 13:21).
“Joash did that which was right in the sight of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest. And Jehoiada took for him two wives; and he begat sons and daughters” (2 Chronicles 24:2-3).
“Now there was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim, of mount Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephrathite: And he had two wives” (1 Samuel 1:1-2).
“David took him more concubines and wives out of Jerusalem, after he was come from Hebron: and there were yet sons and daughters born to David” (2 Samuel 5:13).
“Of the nations concerning which the Lord said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines” (1 Kings 11:2-3).
“Gideon had threescore and ten sons of his body begotten: for he had many wives” (Judges 8:30).
Plural marriage is not for the lustful
Brigham Young said the following:
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. . . .
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. . . .
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. . . .
The spirits which are reserved have to be born into the world, and the Lord will prepare some way for them to have tabernacles. Spirits must be born, even if they have to come to brothels for their fleshly coverings, and many of them will take the lowest and meanest spirit house that there is in the world, rather than do without, and will say, “Let me have a tabernacle, that I may have a chance to be perfected.”
The Lord has instituted this plan for a holy purpose, and not with a design to afflict or distress the people; hence, an important and imperative duty is placed upon all holy men and women, and the reward will follow, for it is said, that the children will add to our honor and glory.
It hurts my feelings when I see good men, men who love correct principles and cling to the counsels of the Church, who have lived near to God for years and have always been faithful, with not a child to bear up their names to future generations, and I grieve to reflect that their names must go into the grave with them. . . .
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. . . .
It has been strenuously urged by many, that this doctrine was introduced through lust, but that is a gross misrepresentation.
This revelation, which God gave to Joseph, was for the express purpose of providing a channel for the organization of tabernacles, for those spirits to occupy who have been reserved to come forth in the kingdom of God, and that they might not be obliged to take tabernacles out of the kingdom of God.
We are commanded to overcome all our lustful desires, also our pride, selfishness, and every evil propensity that pertains to the flesh, to keep the commandments of God, and all the commandments pertaining to the holy Priesthood.
It is important that we get a victory over our earthly passions, and learn to live by the law of God.
I am aware that care and other duties are greatly increased, by the law which I am remarking upon; this I know by experience, yet though it adds to our care and labor, we should say, “Not my will, but thine, O Lord, be done.” . . .
The Lord intended that our family cares should be greater; He knew they would be, yet He is able to bless us in proportion. . . .
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 practice 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. . . .
But the Saints who live their religion will be exalted, for they never will deny any revelation which the Lord has given or may give, though, when there is a doctrine coming to them which they cannot comprehend fully, they may be found saying, “The Lord sendeth this unto me, and I pray that He will save and preserve me from denying anything which proceedeth from Him, and give me patience to wait until I can understand it for myself.”
Such persons will never deny, but will allow those subjects which they do not understand, to remain until the visions of their minds become open. This is the course which I have invariably pursued, and, if anything came that I could not understand, I would pray until I could comprehend it. Do not reject anything because it is new or strange, and do not sneer nor jeer at what comes from the Lord, for if we do, we endanger our salvation. It is given to us, as agents to choose or refuse. (Journal of Discourses 3:264-7)He also said, “the one wife system would not have disagreed with me at all. If the prophet had said to me, ‘Brother Brigham, you can never have but one wife at a time.’ I should have said, ‘glory, hallelujah, that is just what I like.’ But he said, ‘you will have to take more than one wife, and this order has to spread and increase until the inhabitants of the earth repent of their evils and men will do what is right towards the females.’ In this also I say, ‘glory, hallelujah’” (Ibid., 12:262).
“Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none; For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts. Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes. For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things” (Jacob 2:27-30).
“God commanded Abraham, and Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to wife. And why did she do it? Because this was the law; and from Hagar sprang many people. This, therefore, was fulfilling, among other things, the promises. Was Abraham, therefore, under condemnation? Verily I say unto you, Nay; for I, the Lord, commanded it. . . . David also received many wives and concubines, and also Solomon and Moses my servants, as also many others of my servants, from the beginning of creation until this time; and in nothing did they sin save in those things which they received not of me. David’s wives and concubines were given unto him of me, by the hand of Nathan, my servant, and others of the prophets who had the keys of this power; and in none of these things did he sin against me save in the case of Uriah and his wife” (D&C 132:34-5, 38-9).
Plural marriage in the future
“And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach” (Isaiah 4:1).
On a symbolic level, the “one man” is Christ, and these people desire to take upon themselves the name of Christ, becoming His disciples. The righteous are worthy to be one with the Lord in a spiritual sense.
On a literal level, plural marriage may be implemented in the future.
However, when a spouse becomes unable to have children, abstinence would be the way to conquer lust and develop the highest level of chastity/purity.