MARRIAGE AND MORALS IN
An Address Written By
Parley P. Pratt
of the Twelve Apostles of the
Saints, and Chaplain to the Council of the
IN JOINT SESSION OF THE LEGISLATURE, IN THE
MR. THOMAS BULLOCK,
Chief Clerk of the House.
MARRIAGE AND MORALS IN
Mr. President and Gentlemen:
At the opening of the present session of our annual Legislature I had the honour of being unanimously chosen Chaplain of the Council.
I was then and there laid under a solemn oath to faithfully perform the duties of this high and holy calling to the best of my abilities, and was also solemnly charged by the honorable President, Mr. Kimball, not merely to be fervent in prayer during the session, but also to contribute my mite in moulding the moral and social institutions of our common country.
In accordance with these sacred responsibilities placed upon me, I have, with some pains, prepared this address, which I am extremely happy in having the privilege of laying before you; not merely, or principally for your sakes; but for the sake of the people of our Territory our nation, and the world.
As our young and rising Territory is about preparing to enter upon her sovereignty as a free and independent republic, and to assume her place amid the family of American States, it becomes her citizens, and especially those engaged in founding her institutions, to purify themselves and to come together with pure hearts and clean hands; and clothed with light as with a garment, lay a constitutional foundation, and make or adopt such laws as will tend to purify and exalt the people,--establish righteousness and peace, and multiply and perpetuate a nation of freemen in the highest degree of moral, intellectual and physical development.
No time-serving, or mere temporary policy should enter into our composition, or influence us for one moment. We act, not merely or principally for ourselves or the living age; but for untold millions of posterity, and for ages yet unborn; who doubtless will be influenced by our institutions, and mould their morals, manners, precepts, and even their consciences more or less after the pattern we set them.
A wholesome moral atmosphere, and a conscience purified and enlightened by the Spirit of Truth are indispensably necessary to a permanent national growth, and to the strength and perpetuity of institutions.
The All-wise Creator, the God of Nature, has implanted in the human heart certain affections, which, under proper culture and direction, give rise to family ties; hence the necessity and importance of the moral and social relations and the institutions for their proper direction and government.
Tis natureís universal law, and the just and great commandment with blessing; that each and every species should multiply and fill the measure of its creation. Hence the growth of families,--the germs of nations:--and hence, as we before observed, the necessity of laws founded in wisdom, to guard, as it were, the fountain and issues of life.
In short moral and social affections and institutions are the very foundation of all government, whether of family, church or state. If these are perverted, or founded in error, the whole superstructure is radically wrong, and will contain within itself the seeds of its own decay and dissolution. These facts are not only self-evident, but are according to all experience:--being exemplified in the decadence and dissolution of nations and empires of old; as well as in the general weakness and corruption of characteristic of men and things in more modern times.
The Prophet Isaiah, in looking through the vista of long distant years, at length beholds the vision of modern "christendom," or of the corruptions growing out of Roman sway. He exclaims: Isa. 24, 5, "The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws; changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant."
We here inquire: What laws were transgressed? What ordinance was changed? and what everlasting covenant was broken the effect of which would defile the very earth under its inhabitants? This leads us back, in our researches, to the earliest institutions, laws, ordinances, covenants, and precedents or record touching marriage and the moral and social relations.
If we find laws, statutes, covenants and precedents emanating from God; sworn to by himself to be everlasting; as a blessing to all nations:--if we find these have to do with exceeding multiplicity of the race, and with family and national organization and increase:--if such institutions are older than Moses, and are found perpetuated and unimpaired by Moses, and the prophets Jesus and the Apostles, then it will appear evident, that they were intended to be perpetual: and that no merely human legislation or authority, whether proceeding from emperor, king, or people has a right to change, alter, or pervert them.
It will then remain to be shown by whom these institutions were changed or perverted: the direful effect of such change upon the nations; and the only course left for those who would survive the crash of nations and the wreck of worlds.
Our object, gentlemen, is to urge upon the statesmen and people of, at least one state or government of our earth to avoid the rock and quicksands on which so many have made shipwreck to restore the laws, the ordinance, and the everlasting covenant of our God; that her citizens may be purified and preserved by the same; and her institutions, being founded in truth, may be perpetuated for ever.
I beseech, therefore, honorable
gentlemen to hear me patiently. Abraham, the friend of God, lived in Asia
upwards of four hundred years before the law of Moses
was written on tables of stone, or thundered from
And again: Genesis 17th
chap., verses 1st to 8th: "And when Abram was ninety
years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him: I am the
Almighty God: walk before me and be thou perfect, and I will make my covenant
between me and thee, and I will multiply thee exceedingly. And Abram fell on
his face: and God talked with him saying, as for me, behold my covenant is with
thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any
more be called Abram; but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many
nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will
make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee, and I will establish my
covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations, for
an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And
I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the
land wherein thou art a stranger, all the
In the foregoing promises it is evident that there is an everlasting covenant, touching multiplicity of our species, government-making, or the raising up of families and nations, and their exceeding prosperity and increase:--a covenant everlasting and unchangeable in which all nations should be blessed, if they were ever blessed at all.
In connection with this covenant we have reason to believe that God would reveal laws, statutes, and institutions which would be productive of the greatest possible increase of a wise, healthy, and virtuous posterity.
In the precedents recorded of Abraham and his posterity two principles are conspicuous as being subservient to the carrying out of these ends: viz.:--First:--A plurality of wives:--Secondly:--An entire prohibition of all sexual intercourse except upon the principle of marriage:--a breach of which was considered a capital offence, punishable with death. God provided Abraham with Sarah, Hagar, Keturah, and several other wives not named. By this means he became the father of many nations, and his seed was multiplied exceedingly.
God also gave to Jacob, Abrahamís grandson, four wives:--viz.:
Leah, Rachel, Bilhah, and Zilpha; by which means he became the father of twelve tribes. The history of these things is so conspicuous in the Book of Genesis that we need not quote chapter and verse.
Now after Abraham had obtained all these wives, and had raised up children by them, the Lord bears testimony in the 26th chapter of Genesis, verse 5th, saying:--"Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws." Here then, we have demonstration that a man living four hundred years before the law of Moses was given, had statutes, commandments, and laws given him of God; and that he kept them.
These laws evidently included polygamy or plurality of wives, from the fact that he had them, as a means of carrying out the promise of exceeding multiplicity. Here then, the matter is set for ever at rest, that polygamy is included in the ordinance of marriage, and in the everlasting covenant and laws of God: and that, under proper regulations, it is an institution holy, just, virtuous, pure, and, in the estimation of God, abundantly calculated to bless, preserve, and multiply a nation.
Hence the laws of some of our States,
which recognize polygamy as a crime, are at once both
unscriptural, and unconstitutional, as well as immoral. Common law in
Having demonstrated the fact of an everlasting covenant made with Abraham and his seed, including plural marriage, and certain laws designed to multiply and bless many nations, and to be a blessing to all the families of the earth, we will not enquire after the penal laws touching morality, or the intercourse of the sexes.
The first intimation we will notice of this subject is found in Genesis 20th chapter: as follows:-- "And Abraham journeyed from thence towards the south country and dwelt between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar. And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, she is my sister: and Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, behold thou art but a dead man for the woman which thou hast taken, for she is a manís wife. But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation? Said he not unto me, she is my sister? and she, even she herself, said, he is my brother: in the integrity of my heart, and the innocency of my hands have I done this.
And God said unto him in a dream, yea I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart: for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her. Now therefore, restore the man his wife; for he is prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: but if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou and all that are thine." Here we have the law of God revealed by his own mouth about four hundred years before the law of Moses was given: making death the penalty of adultery.
This penal law then, was part and parcel of the laws, statutes and covenants under which Abraham and his neighbours lived, and it seems to have been an ancient and general law handed down by the fathers, to which Abimelech was no stranger; he did not plead his ignorance of the law, but the innocency of his intentions, and his ignorance of the true circumstances.
Again, Genesis, chapter 34: records a case of fornication, committed by Shechem the son of Hamon, the Hivite, prince of the country, with Dinah, the daughter of Jacob, the grandson of Abraham; and how punished. Two of the sons of Jacob, viz.: Simeon and Levi, took their swords and slew this fornicator and all the men about him, who had been accessory to the seduction of their sister, or who had consented thereto: and they took their goods for a spoil. They may in this case have superseded the bounds of the law; but still it goes to show with what abhorrence these sons of a chaste and plural marriage held the crime of fornication.
We will now enquire whether the law of Moses, or the gospel ever changed the covenant of Abraham;, or disannulled the law of marriage, or the penalty of death affixed to adultery and fornication.
For this purpose we shall trace the subject down through the different ages and dispensations, bringing a few instances out of many, illustrative of the subject. But first of all we will take the direct testimony of the Apostle Paul, found in Galatians, 3rd chapter, and 17th and 18th verses inclusive, which read thus:--
"That the blessing of Abraham might come on the gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; though it be but a manís covenant yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth it, or addeth thereto. Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made, he saith not, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ,--the law (of Moses) which was four hundred and thirty years, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, (of Moses), it is no more of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise."
Again,--verse 29th, Paul says to the gentiles:--"If ye be Christís, then are ye Abrahamís seed, and heirs according to the promise." Here we have the most direct and positive testimony, in the New Testament, that the covenant and promise made to Abraham were intended for all time, and for the believing gentiles, and all true Christian people; and that they were entirely distinct from the law of Moses, and were never disannulled, or changed, either by Moses or Christ. Hence we affirm that the law of plural marriage, and death as a penalty of adultery and fornication, has been in force, through all time, and through every dispensation, from Abraham till the present: and that of right it should be of force among all truly Christian nations:--that the carrying out of these holy laws in righteousness would greatly multiply and bless a nation:--and that the breach, or change of them, would corrupt the world, and defile the very earth with abominations.
But, let us now come to historical illustrations. In the 25th chapter of Numbers we have an account of Zimri, a prince in Israel who committed fornication with Cosbi, the daughter of Zur, a prince of Midian: and how Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron, the priest, took a javelin and trust them both through the body, and slew them: and how the Lord staid the plague on account of this act; and rewarded Phinehas with an everlasting covenant of priesthood, for his zeal in this punishing the crime of fornication.
We should remember too that Moses, who was himself a polygamist, both in practice and as a legislator, was the prophet and legislator, under whose administration this crime was thus severely punished.
In the first book of Samuel, chapter 1st, we find an account of Elkanah, and his two wives, Hannah and Peninnah; and of Samuel, the son of this pluralist, who was a promised child, devoted to the service of God and brought up in the holy temple. To this child came the word of the Lord against the house of Eli the priest, saying: (1st Samuel, 3rd chapter verses 11th and 14th.)
"Behold I will do a thing in
Here seems to be certain sins which the
ordinances of remission could never cleanse. God swore that neither sacrifice
nor offering should ever atone for them. What were these sins committed by the
sons of Eli? the answer is found in the 2nd
chap. of 1st Samuel. They, as priests, robbed the sacrifices, and
committed whoredoms with the women who came to the tabernacle:--
this they did repeatedly and would not repent. In the 4th chapter of
said book, we find the record of the fulfillment of the words of the young
Samuel the son of Elkanah, the polygamist was blessed as a holy prophet, to denounce death upon adulterers.
We next will notice a case of adultery
committed by David, king of
Thus saith the Lord, behold I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I
will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbor, and he
shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. For thou didst it secretly:
but I will do this thing before all
Here again we find death the penalty of adultery; but in this instance God in his mercy spared his life because it was a first offence, and because he sincerely repented. But he punished him very severely, in the death of his child,--in taking his wives from him, and in denouncing rebellion and war in his own house.
In this instance as in all the former cases the same God who punishes adulterers with such severity declares in favor of polygamy, and expressly reveals the fact that he himself gave into Davidís bosom the wives of his master, Saul.
These few instances drawn from the Old Testament must suffice to show that Moses and the prophets did not alter the law of marriage, or the penal laws against adultery, etc., as existing in the everlasting covenant made with Abraham.
We next enquire whether Jesus Christ or his Apostles ever altered or abolished these laws. John, Chap. 8--verses 3 to 7, reads thus:--"And the scribes and pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery, and when they had set her in the midst, they say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us that such should be stoned; but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down and with his finger wrote on the ground as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them: He that is without sin among you let him first cast a stone at her." If Jesus had wished to abolish or alter this item of the law, this was a timely opportunity-a point in hand: but so far from this, he ordered the woman to be immediately stoned, provided there was one virtuous man among all her accusers who was himself so pure as to be worthy to execute the law; but as none were found in that age of degeneracy, she went unpunished; but was strictly admonished to sin no more.
Again:-1st Corinthians Chap. 5th, verse 5th. The Apostle Paul in reference to a person in the church who had committed fornication, exhorted the saints:--"to deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."
This destruction of the flesh must have had reference to the death of the body; the man having justly forfeited his life, in accordance with the law of God. And the spirit being saved in the day of the Lord Jesus, must have had an allusion to the great day of his second coming: thus showing that the fornicator, under the light of the gospel, had forfeited his life in this world, and his salvation in the world to come, for at least eighteen hundred years.
Thus, under all dispensations, whether Patriarchal, Mosaic, or Christian, the penalty annexed to unlawful sexual intercourse appears to be the same: growing out of a fixed and unchanged law of God:-a wise provision:-a bright cherub with a flaming sword, as it were, to guard the chaste and sacred fountain or issues of life.
It is true Jesus Christ and his
Apostles, so far as their writings have come to us, have not dwelt on practical
plurality in their own age, for the best of all reasons, Judea was then a Roman
province, under Roman laws, which were opposed to polygamy. On this account the
Jews had greatly degenerated; they had corrupted their way and perverted the
pure institutions of their more virtuous fathers. Hence John the baptist and
Jesus Christ reproved them sharply, calling them a generation of vipers
"an evil and adulterous generation, who had made void the law of God by their
traditions." But one thing is certain Jesus Christ and his Apostles always
approved of Abraham. Isaac and Jacob and the holy prophets of old;-bore
testimony of their virtue and faithfulness, and represented them as honorable
fathers of the faithful, and members or rulers in the
Jesus said on one occasion to the
Jews:--"if ye were Abrahamís seed ye would do the works of Abraham."
On another occasion he said:--"Many shall come from the east, and from the
west, and from the north, and from the south and shall sit down with Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob in the
Paul and the apostles exhorted the saints to be like Abraham, the father of the faithful, whose children they were through the gospel: and if children then heirs to the same covenants of promise.
Now we have already shown that the
promises made to Abraham, to which the New Testament saints were heirs,
included exceeding multiplicity of children, and consequently of wives, as the
means of carrying out the same. But, lest any might mistake this point of the
covenant and promises, Jesus Christ himself has set it for ever at rest. He
said:--Luke 18th chap.verses 29-30. "Verily I say unto you
there is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or
children, for the
Men, brethren, and fathers:--In this review we have proved:--
First:--An everlasting covenant made with Abraham, in which
all nations should be blessed:
Secondly:-That one main feature of this covenant pertained to the exceeding great multiplicity of our species, and to the organization, perpetuity and growth of families, nations and kingdoms:--
Thirdly:--That God, being the best judge of the means of multiplying, appointed a plurality of wives, for good and holy men, as a principal means of multiplying their seed, and forbade on pain of death, all sexual intercourse, except that sanctioned by the holy laws of marriage:--
Fourthly:--That the covenant and laws pertaining to marriage and virtue, or the moral and social relations of the sexes, as held by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were never altered or disannulled either by Moses or the prophets, Jesus Christ or the Apostles; consequently that this covenant, and the laws, penalties, and promises there unto pertaining, are, or by right ought to be, still of force.
Fifthly:--That all nations were to be blessed in these covenants and institutions; and that the gentiles were to become fellow heirs of the same by the gospel; through which they became the seed of Abraham:--
And, sixthly:--That to transgress these holy laws, change this ordinance, or break this everlasting covenant, would, according to Isaiah the prophet, "defile the very earth, under the inhabitants thereof." We next enquire:--What power has been guilty of such innovations? "Who has transgressed the laws,--changed the ordinance,--broken the everlasting covenant?"
This we charge home upon
Every so-called Christian nation, including even Protestant England the American States, has retained, at least, this one trait of her superstitions and abominations. They have either permitted or licensed whoredoms; and strictly prohibited a plurality of wives. They have punished lightly, or not at all, that which was, under all dispensations, by the law of God considered a capital offence-a crime unto death: and have made a crime, and annexed a heavy penalty to that which, according to the Bible, was never recognized as a crime at all, either by God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, angels, prophets, or apostles. Yea,--fellow citizens, the laws of some of our States, I am ashamed to tell it, would recognize as illegitimate the children of Abraham and Jacob; would take from them their wives; thus tearing asunder what God hath joined together; and would doom those holy patriarchs, themselves, to hard labor and solitary confinement within the walls of a prison for years; and then suffer their wives and children to prostituted with impunity:--, and then, as if to crown the climax of inconsistency, such an order of impunity;--and then, as if to crown the climax of inconsistency, such an order of things, taken together, would be called "Virtue," and such institutions be dignified by the name of "Christianity." Such institutions have filled "Christendom" with whoredoms, her cities with abominations, and the world with disease and rottenness; till the words of Isaiah have been fulfilled:--"The earth is defiled under the inhabitants thereof."
For instance, look at
Look at the census of Europe, and even
of our older States of this
Thus the laws of modern
"Christendom," borrowed from
shall the righteous do? We reply:--Restore the law of God,--the new and everlasting
covenant. Let every good citizen of both sexes marry at a proper age: bless
them and say:--"Be fruitful and multiply." Make death the penalty for
fornication and adultery:--thus throwing a shield around our families and
sacred domestic institutions. Let the monogamic law, restricting a man to one
wife, with all its attendant train of whoredoms, intrigues, deductions,
wretched and lonely single life, hatred, envy jealousy, infanticide,
illegitimacy, disease and death, like the millstone cast into the depths of the
sea-sink with Great Babylon to rise no more. Let every man and woman be virtuous, pure, holy filling the measure of their creation. And let us go to, and fill
these mountains; the States, North of their creation. And let us go to, and
fill these mountains; the States, North and
Let our sons become the sons of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, and obedience to the gospel; let his law be indelibly engraven on the tablet of their hearts: let them be early indoctrinated in every principle of virtue and honor; that each may be a conservatory of chastity, and wield a savory influence in every circle of his acquaintance. Let them learn to respect themselves as sons of God: and the other sex as sisters,--daughters of the Highest,--holy vessels, eternal beings, destined as companions and co-workers in the great science of life. Let them be taught to aspire, by every principle of honor and integrity, to the patriarchal throne, as heads of families and saviors of men.
Let our daughters also obey the ordinances of God, and receive and cultivate the gift of the Holy Ghost, in every good and pure affection Let them early understand the true relationship they are destined to sustain to the other sex:--Let them be taught to respect them as brothers, worthy of their confidence and affection-worthy to become their savior and head, as Christ is the head of the church. Let them be taught to respect and revere themselves, as holy vessels, destined to sustain and magnify the eternal and sacred relationship of wife and mother:--to be the ornament and glory of man; and to share with him a never fading crown, and an eternally increasing dominion.
In short let us educate our sons and daughters in all that is holy, and true, and virtuous, and pure, and lovely, and of good report: let us gradually and carefully develop in them the true affections and attributes of their nature; let us cultivate every intellectual and moral sense and faculty within them, and lead them gently onward in the great science of life and exaltation;--that, when time shall be no more, we may rejoice with the untold millions of our posterity in the eternal mansions.
by J. Sadler, 1, Moorfields,