By Cordell and Janice Vail
04 April 2004
A weekly email gospel message for the descendents of Ammon and Winona Vail
Why is polygamy in the Bible?
Why is polygamy in the Bible?
OK, I am going to stick my neck out here and tell you what Janice and I learned one night, while teaching a couple who were very closely associated with anti-Mormon's, about why there was polygamy in the church at one time, They agreed to meet with us every Sunday night for a few weeks to talk about the Church. At the time we started meeting with them they did not tell us that they were also meeting every Wednesday night with Gerald and Sandra Tanner (who are very famous or infamous anti-Mormons). The Tanners fed them a lot of questions to ask us. Every question they ever ask us we were given the inspiration to know how to answer while they were asking the question. This was the first question they asked us. That first night they started out the conversation by saying that unless we could explain polygamy we just as well not continue the conversation.
Here is the impression that came to us to answer their question.
We asked them if they believed the Bible to be the word of God. They said they did.
We asked them if they believed that the stories in the Bible were actual historical accounts or just stories. They said they believed that they actually happened and that they were historically correct.
We asked them if they believed that there were prophets in the Old Testament who could talk to God. They said they believe that there were and that they could in fact talk to God like Moses did.
We asked them if they believe that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were among those prophets. They said that they believed they were.
We asked them if the believed that Abraham talked to God. They said that they believed that he did.
We asked them if they believed that Jacob was the father of the 12 tribes. They were not that familiar with the Old Testament stories but did believe that he was a prophet.
We asked them if they knew the story of Abraham and Sarah and how she was 90 before she had a child. They were familiar with that story.
We then asked them if they knew who Hagar was. They did not. So we opened the scriptures and read Genesis 16:2-3 where it says that because Sarah could not have children she gave her Egyptian maid as his wife. They were pretty surprised.
We then asked them how many wives Abraham now had. The were pretty shocked and said 2.
We talked quite a bit about the Arabic people and how Hagar was the mother of that nation of people.
We then talked about how Sarah finally had a baby at age 90 which they remembered.
We talked about Isaac and how Abraham almost sacrificed him but then the Angel stopped him and Isaac then lived to have the twin sons Jacob and Esau. They remembered that story.
We then asked them if they knew the story of Jacob and how he married Rachel. They did not know that story.
So we opened the Bible to Genesis showed them story about how Jacob worked 7 years for Rachel and then they remembered the story for Christian Sunday School classes when they were younger. Just to make sure we had the story correct we read the rest of that story in Genesis chapter 29. It says that Jacob loved Rachel so much that he gladly worked 7 years for her but when they got married the custom was that oldest daughter was to be married first so at the wedding the brides face was veiled and after he found out that Laban tricked him and it was actually Leah he worked 7 years for. So he worked 7 more years before he could actually have Rachel. They were pretty surprised to learn the details of the story.
We then asked them again how many wives Jacob now had. They said two.
We then showed them in the Old Testament in Genesis chapter 29 where Jacob actually also married the hand maddens of Leah and Rachel who's names were Bilhah and Zilpah. We then show them in the Genesis how those 4 women became the mothers of the 12 tribes. They were very surprised now to see this detail in the history of the Old Testament.
We again asked them how many wives Jacob now had. They said 4
We ask them again if they felt that Abraham and Jacob were prophets of God. They said yes but you could tell that the answer was different now or more thoughtful.
We asked them if they still felt that Abraham and Jacob talked to God and they said yes.
We asked them if they thought that God had commanded Abraham and Jacob to have more than one wife and they said they guessed that God had.
We then said, "SO YOU SEE THE QUESTION IS NOT WHETHER POLYGAMY IS RIGHT OR WRONG, IT IS WHETHER GOD COMMANDED IT."
Then using the logic of the book, "The Book Of Mormon, Key To Conversion" we said:
So now if we talk about Joseph Smith we need to first find out if he is a prophet of God. If he was then the question is not whether polygamy was right or wrong but only "IF GOD COMMAND HIM TO LIVE IT" like he did Abraham and Jacob. The way to know if Joseph Smith is a prophet or not is to read the Book of Mormon.
They said, "OK, lets talk about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon". A few months later we had a baptism.
This lesson plan of course is not intended to be the DOCTRINAL STAND OF THE LDS CHURCH, it is just our opinion. But we have used this logic many, many times in missionary lessons since then.
NOTE: Nothing in any of these Sunday Sermons is intended to represent the official doctrines of the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are strictly instructions and teachings from Cordell and Janice Vail to their family.
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