A starting point for those curious about studying the Mormon Church’s former practice of polygamy is to investigate Joseph Smith’s teachings justifying it. By understanding the doctrinal environment into which the practice was introduced, observers today may better comprehend the decisions and behaviors of the participants. Joseph Smith began discussing the “restoration” of polygamy in the early 1830s, but it was not until he produced a theology that incorporated its practice into the much larger concept of eternal marriage and the Abrahamic covenant that it began to be embraced by the early Saints.

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