In all of Joseph Smith's teachings, did he ever preach that exaltation requires plural marriage? Sometimes observers, including most “Mormon fundamentalists,” voice the idea that he did, concluding that all exalted women will be required to share their husbands in the future world. Eugene England wrote of this fear expressed by “many Mormons,” who seem to believe “that the highest form of marriage in the celestial realm is what is technically called polygyny, plural wives for a single husband.” One former Church member Janis Hutchinson recalled: “I was teaching the gospel doctrine class, that they would one day have to live polygamy and the wife of one of the members of the Bishopric came over and sat on the couch and shed bitter tears over the fact that she knew she could not share her husband with anybody else… she suffered over this.” Margaret Toscano, who was excommunicated for her feminist writings, asserted that some LDS women are “worried they’re going to be forced into polygamy in the next life.”
One Church member, Shane LeGrande Whelan, was excommunicated “when he refused to stop advertising and selling” his book, More Than One: Plural Marriage, A Sacred Heritage, A Promise for Tomorrow.  After reading Church history, Whelan concluded: “Whether we are commanded in this life or the next, the Lord has made it clear that participation in plural marriage will be a requirement for those seeking exaltation in the celestial kingdom. This may require a change in thinking for millions of members in the LDS Church who feel that living a righteous life in monogamy is sufficient.” “It is clear that all marriages continued in heaven will involve participation in plural marriage. Whether instituted in this life or the next, it will be a part of our eternal existence.”
While Whelan and others are entitled to their opinions, their fears and observations still do not answer the question whether Joseph Smith ever taught that exaltation requires plural marriage. In fact, the answer appears to be "yes" and "no," depending upon the scope of the reply. When, in the early 1830s, he first learned that plural marriage could be acceptable to God, he was not then permitted to practice it. The Prophet reported that a few years thereafter he was commanded to marry polygamously. In Nauvoo in the early 1840s the directive expanded to other Church members. Individuals who learned of the new principle were expected to comply or face condemnation. For them, the answer was “yes.” In 1892, Lorenzo Snow, recalled:
The people had the most implicit and perfect confidence in Joseph Smith, and when he gave a revelation, whether it was accepted or not, it didn’t make any difference with some, for they had the most perfect confidence in him, so they would accept it and act upon it whether the church as a church had acted upon it by accepting it did not make any difference…
It would be binding upon such as knew of it… If that revelation is presented to me, and there is a half a dozen men and women and it is presented to them, it would be a law to them, and be binding upon them, and any other part of the church that had knowledge, - distinct and definite knowledge of it, - but I do not think it would be binding upon any other part of the church other than that which had knowledge of its existence…
Joseph had a perfect authority to give revelations and the people were under obligations to receive them.
Church members were commanded to obey as they learned of the principle; disobedience brought condemnation. This commandment continued after Joseph Smith's death and became Church doctrine in 1852 when it was openly taught. This expectation continued until 1890 when it was removed through the "one" man holding the sealing keys. In other words, for Latter-day Saints living between 1852 and 1890, obedience required the practice of plural marriage. During this period, celestial marriage required polygamy and section 132 was sometimes interpreted as referring strictly to plural marriage, rather than eternal marriage. For example, on October 6th, 1885, John Taylor observed:
Upwards of forty years ago the Lord revealed to His Church the principles of celestial marriage. The idea of marrying more wives than one was as naturally abhorrent to the leading men and women of the Church at that day as it could be to any people. They shrank with dread from the bare thought of entering into such relationships. But the command of God was before them in language which no faithful soul dare disobey.
"For, behold I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my gory. *****
And as pertaining to the new and everlasting covenant, it was instituted for the fullness of my glory; and he that receiveth a fullness thereof, must and shall abide the law, or he shall be damned, saith the Lord God."
Damnation was the awful penalty affixed to a refusal to obey this law. It became an acknowledged doctrine of the Church.
Daniel H. Wells, Second Counselor to Brigham Young in the First Presidency in 1875, explained:
It [plural marriage] was a doctrine of the church that when male members came to a thorough understanding of the revelation on the principle of plural or celestial marriage, and other circumstances being favorable, if they failed to obey it they would be under condemnation, and would be clipped in their glory in the world to come. The circumstances that would excuse a person would be physical incapacity and the like. The revelation [D&C 132] says that they to whom this revelation shall come and who can and will not obey it shall be damned. The doctrine was enjoined upon all male members of the Church whose circumstances were favorable to their taking a plurality of wives.
An LDS author wrote in the Millennial Star in 1877: "If the 'Mormons' were ever so unwilling to become polygamists [in the past], they [now] have no choice in the matter. God has commanded and they must obey. If there was not a single word or example to be found in the Bible in it favor, still they must observe its practice. It is in no sense optional with them. It is as much as integral part of their faith as baptism for the remission of sins, or the laying on of hands for the bestowal of the Holy Ghost."
For Latter-day Saints between 1840s and 1890, celestial marriage was equivalent to plural marriage and the two terms were sometimes used interchangeably. It did not matter what God's followers in previous millennia had been commanded. Marital standards embraced by the children of Israel, New Testament Christians, or Book of Mormon peoples, were not applicable to the Saints of the Latter-days during that period.
In light of the above discussion, a better question for Latter-day Saints today is: "Did Joseph Smith teach that exaltation requires plural marriage regardless of when or where a person lived on earth and that all exalted men are polygamists?” In light of all available evidence, the answer is "no."
No documentation has been located that Joseph Smith ever preached that all men, irrespective of the time and place they existed on earth, must practice plural marriage in order to be exalted. Neither did he teach that all men in the Celestial Kingdom are polygamists. No matter how some wish to interpret the Prophet's dictated revelation on celestial marriage (now D&C 132), it promises godhood to monogamous couples who are sealed by proper authority and live worthily (D&C 132: 19-20). In addition, verse 61 states that if a man desire a plural wife and proper sealing authority is available, then he may go forward if properly authorized. However, no penalty is listed if he does not desire a second wife. If all men in the celestial kingdom are polygamists, it is surprising that a statement to that effect was not included in that revelation.
Brigham Young taught: "It [plural marriage] is a principle that always has existed and that always will." He didn't say it was a "commandment that always has existed..." It is a principle that may be commanded, permitted or not permitted. In 1855, Brigham referred to it as a "duty." Years later he instructed: "I will now give you, in short, my opinion with regard to plural marriage. It is of God, and He has revealed it from the Heavens and made it obligatory upon the Saints in the last days." In an 1875 discourse he acknowledged: "It [polygamy] is the commandment of the Lord to us," but he did not say that it was a commandment to all men who ever live on earth.
In 1892 President Woodruff was asked “if Joseph Smith had ever taught you at Nauvoo or anywhere else during his lifetime, that in order for a man to be exalted in the hereafter, he must have more than one wife?” To which he responded: “I don’t know that I ever heard him make use of that expression or use that form of expression.” When queried: “Did Joseph Smith teach you that a man must have more than one wife to be exalted,” Nauvoo polygamist and apostle’s wife, Bathsheba Smith responded: “I never heard of that.”
When Joseph C. Kingsbury was asked if Joseph Smith taught him “that a man could not be exalted in the hereafter unless he had more wives than one,” Kingsbury replied: “No sir. He did not teach me that. He did not say anything about that.” Kingsbury also recalled: “I heard it preached from the stand that a man could be exalted in eternity with one wife.”
Subsequent priesthood authorities up to 1890, including Brigham Young, John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff, were always adamant that the Latter-day Saints were then required to comply. During that period from 1841 to 1890, sealing keys were available through the presiding apostle on earth to seal plural marriages (see D&C 132:7). However, even throughout those years, no priesthood leader ever proclaimed in unambiguous language that every man in the celestial kingdom is a polygamist, no matter when and where he lived on earth. No such sweeping and all inclusive declaration concerning the absolute requirement of plural marriage for all males who come to this earth has been found. If such a doctrine were orthodox and true, it is strange that priesthood leaders, in all of their hundreds of discourses that mentioned plural marriage, never made an explicit pronouncement to that effect.
In 1832, Joseph Smith taught a general principle, that to receive God's blessings, His followers must be obedient to the works required of them at their particular time and place:
You have no right to claim the promises of the inhabitants before the flood; that you cannot found your hopes of salvation upon the obedience of the children of Israel, when journeying in the wilderness; nor can you expect that the blessings which the apostles pronounced upon the churches of Christ, eighteen hundred years ago, were intended for you: Again, if others' blessings are not your blessings, other's curses are not your curses; you stand then in these last days, as all have stood before you, agents unto yourselves, to be judged according to your works.
It appears that between the 1840s and 1890, Church leaders were reticent to admit that polygamy was not always required by God. Priesthood leaders generally said little about righteous Book of Mormon monogamists or New Testament Saints who had but one wife. However, when pressured to identify distinctions in God’s commandments to different peoples, priesthood authorities demonstrated their clear knowledge of Joseph Smith’s instructions that polygamy may be commanded or not commanded according to divine will. Joseph F. Smith, son of Hyrum Smith, explained: “It [plural marriage] is applicable to all gospel dispensations, when commanded and not otherwise, and neither acceptable to God or binding on man unless given by commandment.” Similarly, speaking in 1883 to the Saints at Bear Lake, Idaho, John Taylor acknowledged: “[God] has told us about our wives and our children being sealed to us, that we might have a claim on them in eternity. He has revealed unto us the Law of Celestial Marriage, associated with which is the principle of plural marriage.”
Wilford Woodruff recorded in his journal on February 12, 1870, that a Church member, John Holement “made a long speech upon the subject of polygamy. He contended that no person could have a Celestial glory unless he had a plurality of wives.” In response, President Brigham Young clarified that “there would be men saved in the Celestial Kingdom of God with one wife...”
On February 10, 1873 in the Salt Lake School of the Prophets a question was raised regarding the truthfulness of the statement: “That no man who has only one wife in this probation can ever enter Celestial Kingdom.” Wilford Woodruff “expressed disagreement and John Taylor said ‘he did not believe [it].’” In 1884, First Presidency Counselor, George Q. Cannon, stated that, “He believed there would be men in the Celestial Kingdom that had but one wife.” First Presidency Counselor John Henry Smith recalled in 1900 that APresident Young once proposed that we marry but one wife."
For Utah Latter-day Saints, statements made between 1842 and 1890, when plural marriage was taught as a commandment, can be quoted out of context to create the appearance that Church leaders taught that all men in the Celestial Kingdom are polygamists. In 1866, Brigham Young made a statement, very popular with "Mormon fundamentalists": “The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy. Others attain unto a glory and may even be permitted to come into the presence of the Father and the Son; but they cannot reign as kings in glory.” The question arises: “Was he making a statement that applied to all men universally, no matter when they lived to earth, saying they had to be polygamists if they were ever to ‘reign as kings in glory?’” Or was he speaking specifically of that time and place?
Earlier in the same discourse President Young acknowledged the more general commandment: “If you desire with all your hearts to obtain the blessings which Abraham obtained, you will be polygamists at least in your faith, or you will come short of enjoying the salvation and the glory which Abraham has obtained.” Brigham Young pointed out that plural marriage, which constitutes one principle associated with celestial marriage, must be faithfully accepted by all exalted beings, whether they practice it or not.
Another similar text comes from the 1878 discourse of Apostle Joseph F. Smith:
Some people have supposed that the doctrine of plural marriage was a sort of superfluity, or non-essential, to the salvation or exaltation of mankind. In other words, some of the Saints have said, and believe, that a man with one wife, sealed to him by the authority of the Priesthood for time and eternity, will receive an exaltation as great and glorious, if he is faithful, as he possibly could with more than one. I want here to enter my solemn protest against this idea, for I know it is false.
The same question arises. Was Apostle Smith declaring that all men, irrespective of when and where they lived on earth, were required to enter plural marriage to be exalted? Toward the beginning of his talk, he clarified the scope of his declaration, part of which was quoted above:
There is a great deal said about our plural marriage by the outside world, and sometimes it is referred to by the Latter-day Saints at home. I fancy sometimes that not only is the world without knowledge in relation to this principle, but many of those who profess to be Latter-day Saints are far from possessing a correct understanding of it.
In the first place, it is a principle that savors of life unto life, or of death unto death; therefore it is well for those who have embraced the Gospel to obtain a knowledge in relation to this matter. It is a principle that pertains to eternal life, in other words, to endless lives, or eternal increase. It is a law of the Gospel pertaining to the celestial kingdom, applicable to all gospel dispensations, when commanded and not otherwise, and neither acceptable to God or binding on man unless given by commandment, not only so given in this dispensation, but particularly adapted to the conditions and necessities thereof, and to the circumstances, responsibilities, and personal, as well as vicarious duties of the people of God in this age of the world. God has revealed it as a principle particularly suited to the nature of the work we are called to perform, that it might be hastened to its consummation. It is a righteous principle not an unrighteous one.
Despite the popularity of these quotations in Mormon fundamentalist literature, it does not appear that Brigham Young or Joseph F. Smith asserted that all mortal men must practice plural marriage to be exalted. Nor did their comments prohibit the "one" man holding the sealing keys from declaring inspired counsel discontinuing the practice at some future date. Joseph F. Smith explained that it was acceptable at that time because it was then “suited to the nature of the work [they] were called to perform.”
Sometimes authors mention specific quotations that refer to both, celestial and plural marriage, but isolate the reference, making it appear as if it was strictly referring to plural marriage. Todd Compton wrote: “The doctrine of plural marriage was of central importance to Smith for religious doctrinal, ecclesiastical, and emotional reasons. William Clayton, his scribe and companion in Nauvoo, wrote that the Mormon prophet spoke of little else in private in the last year of his life.” Similarly, Carmon Hardy stated: "William Clayton, said that during the last year of Joseph's life they were seldom together alone when the prophet did not talk about the subject [of plural marriage]." Descriptions, like these, imply that discussions of polygamy, multiple wives, and female relations may have dominated Joseph Smith's private conversation during the last year of his life. However, this view is problematic. The William Clayton quotation referred to by both Compton and Hardy reads:
“After the revelation on celestial marriage [D&C 132 given July 12, 1843] was written, Joseph continued his instructions, privately, on the doctrine to myself and others and during the last year of his life we were scarcely ever together, alone, but he was talking on the subject, and explaining that doctrine and principles connected with it. He appeared to enjoy great liberty and freedom in his teachings, and also to find great relief in having a few to whom he could unbosom his feelings on that great and glorious subject.
“From him I learned that the doctrine of plural and celestial marriage is the most holy and important doctrine ever revealed to man on the earth, and that without obedience to that principle no man can ever attain to the fullness of exaltation in celestial glory.” (Italics added.)
Reviewing Clayton’s actual citation demonstrates that celestial marriage combined with "the doctrine and principles connected with it," not exclusively plural marriage, were the focus of the Prophet’s constant discussions. To assume that Joseph Smith "spoke of little else in private" besides "plural marriage" interprets Clayton's statement too narrowly. It also ignores the fact that the doctrines and principles associated with celestial marriage, as discussed in chapters seven through ten, might require multiple conversations to explain their meaning, which appears to better correlate to Clayton’s description.
 Throughout this text I will refer to “Mormon fundamentalists” as a title, rather than a description. “Mormon fundamentalists” are similar to fundamentalist groups that have attached themselves to other religions such as Islam, Catholicism, and the Jewish faith in that they selectively emphasize a few fundamentals while ignoring many others. For example, “Mormon fundamentalists” do no missionary work although preaching the gospel to non-members was much more fundamental to Joseph Smith than polygamy. “Mormon fundamentalists” prefer the name, “Fundamentalist Mormons.” While I mean no disrespect, I do not believe they qualify through theirs works to be so addressed. See Brian C. Hales, Modern Polygamy and Mormon Fundamentalism: the Generations after the Manifesto, Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2006, 451-78.
 See for example Lynn Matthews Anderson, “Buttons, Or, Her Strength Is In Her Principles,” (From the Personal Oral History of Donelle Lou Clawson Phelps), Sunstone 16 (July 1993) 5: 65.
 England, Eugene. “On Fidelity, Polygamy, and Celestial Marriage.” In Multiply and Replenish: Mormon Essays on Sex and Family. Edited by Brent Corcoran. Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1994, 105. Reprinted from Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 20 (Winter 1987) 4: 138-54.
 Quoted on Lifting the Veil of Polygamy, Living Hope Ministries, DVD, 2007.
 Quoted by Lisa Miller, “Beliefwatch, Ever After,” Newsweek, September 3, 2007, 13.
 Martha Sonntag Bradley, “Out of the Closet and into the Fire: The New Mormon Historians’ Take on Polygamy,” in Excavating Mormon Pasts: The New Historiography of the Last Half Century, Newell G. Bringhurst and Lavina Fielding Anderson, ed.Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2004, 321.
 Shane LeGrande Whelan, More than One: Plural Marriage, A Sacred Heritage, A Promise for Tomorrow Bountiful, Utah: Zion’s Publishers, 2001, 153.
 Shane LeGrande Whelan, More than One: Plural Marriage, A Sacred Heritage, A Promise for Tomorrow Bountiful, Utah: Zion’s Publishers, 2001, 208.
 Lorenzo Snow, deposition, Temple Lot transcript, respondent’s testimony (part 3), page 126, questions 284-297.
 John Taylor and George Q. Cannon, "Epistle from the First Presidency," Woman's Exponent, 14 (Oct 15, 1885) 10:74. First Presidency Counselor Joseph F. Smith did not sign because he was on a mission.
 Daniel H. Wells, "Local and Other Matters… The Reynolds Trial," Deseret New Weekly, 24 (Dec 15, 1875) 46:732.
 A Milton Musser, "Polygamy," Millennial Star, 39 (June 25, 1877) 26:407.
 For a Mormon fundamentalist perspective claiming celestial and plural marriage should always be considered synonymous, see Anne Wilde, An Essential for Exaltation: Celestial Plural Marriage Essential for the Highest Degree of the Celestial Kingdom, Salt Lake City: Pioneer Press, 1998.
 Some Mormon fundamentalist authors have written that Lehi and his families were in fact polygamists, but after arriving in America, whoredoms arose causing the Lord to withdraw the privilege. (See Joseph W. Musser, Celestial or Plural Marriage, 22; Joseph Musser, [editorial], Truth 3 (April 1938):177-83; see also Joseph Musser, “The Book of Mormon and Polygamy,” 15:297.) However, this is incorrect. The abominations of the Nephites occurred after Lehi’s death (2 Ne. 4:12) and after Nephi’s death as well (Jacob 1:12). When Lehi’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren transgressed by taking plural wives, Jacob called the perpetrators to repentance saying: “the commandment of the Lord, which was given unto our father” was “that they should have save it were one wife and concubines they should have none” (Jacob 3:5). The chronology shows that Lehi was given the commandment to have one wife decades before his grandchildren would experiment with polygamy. In their defense they sought to excuse themselves, not because the Lord had permitted their grandparent Lehi to practice polygamy, but “because of the things which were written [upon the brass plates] concerning David and Solomon his son” (Jacob 2:23). In response, Jacob quoted the Lord: “For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife and concubines he shall have none” (Jacob 2:27). If plural marriage is required for exaltation, God’s commandment to Lehi of monogamy, which continued throughout the entire Book of Mormon, is puzzling.
 Elden J. Watson, Brigham Young Addresses, 1865-1869, A Chronological Compilation of Known Addresses of the Prophet Brigham Young, Salt Lake City: Elden J. Watson, 1982, 5:155; italics added.
 "We are to gird up our loins and fulfill this [plural marriage principle], just as we would any other duty." (Brigham Young, July 14, 1855, Journal of Discourses, 3:265.)
 Elden J. Watson, Brigham Young Addresses, 1865-1869, A Chronological Compilation of Known Addresses of the Prophet Brigham Young, Salt Lake City: Elden J. Watson, 1982, 5:33.
 Brigham Young, “Remarks,” October 27, 1875, Deseret News Weekly, 24:619; italics added.
 Wilford Woodruff, deposition, Temple Lot transcript, respondent’s testimony (part 3), page 66, question 698.
 Bathsheba Smith, deposition, Temple Lot transcript, respondent’s testimony (part 3), page 319, questions 590-91.
 Joseph Kingsbury, deposition, Temple Lot transcript, respondent’s testimony (part 3),, page 225, questions 1028-1029.
 Joseph Kingsbury, deposition, Temple Lot transcript, respondent’s testimony (part 3), page 205, question 600.
 Joseph Smith, "To the Honorable Men of the World," Evening and Morning Star 1 (August 1832) 3: 22.
 See for example, George Q. Cannon, November 1st, 1891, Collected Discourses, 2:294.
 Joseph F. Smith, July 7, 1878, Journal of Discourses, 20:26; italics added.
 John Taylor, (no date) 1883, Journal of Discourses, 24:229; emphasis mine.
 Scott G. Kenny, ed., Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 1833-1898, typescript, 9 vols., Midvale, Utah: Signature Books, 1983-85, 6:527; February 12, 1870.
 Salt Lake City School of the Prophets, minutes, February 10, 1873, CHL.
 Scott G. Kenney, ed. Wilford Woodruff’s Journal: 1833-1898. Typescript. 9 vols. Midvale, Utah: Signature Books, 1983, March 9, 1884, 8:235.
 John Henry Smith, quoted in Anthon H. Lund, Diary, January 10, 1900; John P. Hatch, ed., Danish Apostle: The Diaries of Anthon H. Lund, 1890-1921, Salt Lake City: The Smith-Pettit Foundation, 2006, 72.
 Brigham Young, August 19, 1866, Journal of Discourses, 11:269. In 1875, excommunicated Church member Fanny Stenhouse recalled: “We were told that in the other world Polygamy should be the only order of marriage, and that without it none could be exalted in glory.” (Fanny Stenhouse, "Tell It All": The Story of a Life's Experiences in Mormonism. Hartford: A. D. Worthington & Co., 1875, 140.)
 Brigham Young, August 19, 1866, Journal of Discourses, 11:268-269; italics mine.
 Joseph F. Smith, July 7, 1878, Journal of Discourses, 20:28.
 Joseph F. Smith, July 7, 1878, Journal of Discourses, 20:26-27; italics added.
 Joseph F. Smith, July 7, 1878, Journal of Discourses, 20:27; italics added.
 Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith. Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1997, 10; see also 636.
B. Carmon Hardy, Solemn Covenant: The Mormon Polygamous Passage. Urbana: University of Illinois, 1992, 7. See also B. Carmon Hardy, Doing the Works of Abraham: Mormon Polygamy, Its Origin, Practice, and Demise, Norman, Oklahoma: Arthur H. Clark, 2007, 68.
 Andrew Jenson, "Plural Marriage," Historical Record 6 (July 1887): 226; see also George D. Smith, An Intimate Chronicle; The Journals of William Clayton, p. 559.