[Looks like marriage is in the air. For more info on what the heck is going on here, click here.]
The modern church has plenty of embarrassing historical specters hanging around, but few haunt it the way polygamy does. The church has tried to distance itself from the practice in the past century, but with mixed results. If you ask most Mormons today whether or not they believe it's proper to practice polygamy, they'll tell you no. But if you ask them whether or not it's a correct principle, they'll say yes.
In fact, the practice of polygamy is an excommunicable offense, and has been for many decades. This has not always been the case, howeverpolygamy was once, deservedly (and still is, erroneously), the chief distinguishing characteristic of Mormonism in the minds of most Americansand many Saints believe it may not always be the case in the future. They look forward to the day when the moral and political climate in the United States and other nations has cooled enough to permit the church to reinstitute the practicethough the more reasonable of these don't expect it to happen until Christ's Millennial reign on Earth. (Note that I specified "the more reasonable.")
So, what is polygamy, and how did the practice arise?