Polygamy is a difficult subject for many people in the West. The practice of having multiple wives is undisputed in parts of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia (source). I think the West, mostly populated by Christians, is critical of polygamy because of it's historic belief in chastity. Today many westerners do not practice chastity but they are quick to rally against those who live in legally accepted marriages consisting of two or more wives because they don't want to face the reality of their own relationships.
Polygamy is a hardship for men financially. Supporting two or more families is expensive. For this reason polygamy is decreasing in Muslim countries as the economy becomes more tied to money. (ibid) Latter-day Saint families practiced polygamy in obedience to prophetic direction. One reason for this practice was to increase the Latter-day Saint population. (Source) The Latter-day Saint religion stopped endorsing polygamy when laws were enacted by Congress forbidding marriages and published their decision to desist in their scriptures as an official declaration. (source)
I do not pretend to understand all the reasons why polygamy was restored as a gospel truth by Joseph Smith and then officially forbidden. Some aspects of polygamy are logical and others are not. However, in an eternal view of life there is a reason why polygamy makes sense.
I have a great aunt who was a spinster all her life until later in life she married. Her husband had been married about four times before he married her. With some of his previous spouses, he had children and with some he did not. Some of his previous spouses had also previously been married. He was never married to more than one wife at a time.
When this man dies and goes to heaven, can you imagine a just God telling him that he must pick a wife and the children from that union to keep while the others are no longer his? This is a dilemma. Many good and honorable people have married more than one time in this mortal life.
It makes sense that God honors the marriages that were formed on Earth and allows men to keep all their wives and children. For women who married multiple times, and have multiple families, the choice will be theirs as to which husband to keep. For logistical reasons, every woman can't keep every marriage she ever had and also every man keep every marriage he ever had. Some marriage bands will be dissolved. What happens to the children who have parents, step-parents and adopted parents? Honestly I don't know how God will organize families justly but I'm sure that he will not allow the chaos of this mortal life to continue.
The scriptures say that "all things are done in wisdom and order." (Mos 4:27)
Polygamy will exist in heaven because men who had multiple wives in this earth life may continue to live with all of them. Polygamy will exist in heaven because families are an integral part of God's plan for his children. The family structure will provide a basis for organizing all the children of God.
I honor those who live within the bounds of marriage in chastity whether they are monogamous or polygamous. Marriage is a divinely appointed relationship. I have some ancestors who lived in polygamous marriages and other who did not. I owe my life and blessings to those who came before and I honor my family members past and present.
Image source: flickr