Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Polygamy Issue Part 3: The LDS Church's 2013 Statement on Polygamy and My Response Because My Response is Important - Okay, Not Really

The church has planned 13 different statements (I don't know what else to call them so I'll refer to them as statements which is probably wrong) relating to problems within church doctrine that members have discovered since they've been able to investigate for themselves. Thank you internet.

The latest is on polygamy.

Here it is and my comments. Bear with me, it's long. So was polygamy. I am not a scholar nor do I pretend to be one, so forget about jumping back and forth with footnotes. This is a blog, not a college paper. So back up on my statements are on your own time.

For the statement in full you can read it at this website. But to get my brilliant insights you can stick around here.

To clarify, the statement is in italics, my comments are not. And only parts of the statement that I'm addressing is here because anything else is superfluous. See, I stuck a big word in there.

The Bible and the Book of Mormon teach that the marriage of one man to one woman is God’s standard, except at specific periods when He has declared otherwise.

Ah, no they don't. The footnotes given go to a place in the BOM that condemns polygamy (more on that later) and the Bible has examples of polygamy but no declaration of God saying it's okay although there are lots of examples of dysfunctional families living polygamy. In fact I read all the scriptures last year and I didn't find anything in any of the scriptures (except  D&C 132) which has God commanding polygamy. Even in the D&C there's a part that says one man one wife.

In accordance with a revelation to Joseph Smith, the practice of plural marriage—the marriage of one man to two or more women—was instituted among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the early 1840s. 

 The "revelation" is section 132 in the Doctrine and Covenants. As far as I know there were no witnesses to Joseph getting this revelation. You would think that something this earth shattering would have witnesses. And he didn't tell anyone about it until after he could no longer deny that he was practicing it.

In 1890, the Lord inspired Church President Wilford Woodruff to issue a statement that led to the end of the practice of plural marriage in the Church.

Yeah, except look at this following paragraph.

 On an exceptional basis, some new plural marriages were performed between 1890 and 1904, especially in Mexico and Canada, outside the jurisdiction of U.S. law; a small number of plural marriages were performed within the United States during those years.

So the Manifesto did not end plural marriage in the church. In fact just read it through and see how it actually says that they were not performing plural marriages. Which statement tells the truth? That one, or the current one? It appears that Wilford Woodruff had a little problem with telling the truth.

In 1904, the Church strictly prohibited new plural marriages. Today, any person who practices plural marriage cannot become or remain a member of the Church.

Except in the temple. Men can marry as many women as they want in the temple. Women can't. A woman has to get a sealing removed before she can remarry in the temple. A man can have as many wives sealed to him as he was married to on earth. So if he's like Mickey Rooney who had eight wives or something like that, he can be sealed to all of them. The only exception to a woman being sealed to more than one man is if she's dead and she had several husbands and no one knows which one to seal her to. In that case, they seal her to everyone but she has to choose which one in heaven. Men don't have to make that choice.

This essay primarily addresses plural marriage as practiced by the Latter-day Saints between 1847 and 1890, following their exodus to the U.S. West and before the Manifesto.
Latter-day Saints do not understand all of God’s purposes for instituting, through His prophets, the practice of plural marriage during the 19th century. 

Maybe because God didn't.

The Book of Mormon identifies one reason for God to command it: to increase the number of children born in the gospel covenant in order to “raise up seed unto [the Lord]” (Jacob 2:30).

Read Jacob 2. Here I'll give you a moment.

Are you done yet?

This scripture talks about how awful polygamy is and how wrong Solomon and David were and how much it hurts God's daughters and people better stop doing it.

No where does it say "but you guys can do it if you want."

I have no idea how anyone got that out of verse 30. I suppose someone with authority justified his polygamous ways by saying "this is what this means" and because he had authority and was a man everyone said "okay. You must know because you're a man with the priesthood."

But it doesn't actually say that polygamy is okay. You would think it would be as plain as the rest of the scripture that says emphatically that it isn't.

Yet Mormons ignored the plain and simple and forthright and the "don't do that" and put an interesting twist on a scripture that can be interpreted in other ways.

God even warns women not to get involved with married men in verse 28.

I don't know how plainer it can be.

The following is an example which I made up.

"Johnny, your sister came crying to me that you hit her. You can't hit her. It's wrong and it hurts her and it hurts me when you hurt her."

"But Mom..."

"I said you can't do it and I mean it."

"But if you said I could do it, then could I do it?"

"Yes, but I wouldn't say that. I said that you can't."

"But I could if you said I could."

"Yes, but Johnny, I said you can't."

Johnny runs away shouting to his brother, "Hey Marty, Mom said we could hit our sister!"

Plural marriage did result in the birth of large numbers of children within faithful Latter-day Saint homes.

I"m sure there would have been large numbers of children without polygamy. I bet there would have been more. Think about it. Wouldn't ten monogamous couples produce more children than one man trying to impregnate ten women? With a monogamous couple she doesn't have to share him with other women so the chances of getting it pregnant is greater because she's having sex more often.

If producing a large population were the reason for polygamy then why was there only Adam and Eve?  Where were Debby, Kathy and Maggie? And why didn't  Noah and his sons have more wives? Wouldn't populating a world where everyone has died be important?

 It also shaped 19th-century Mormon society in other ways: marriage became available to virtually all who desired it; 

 Well, except for young men who saw the young women married off to old guys. Kind of hard to get one wife when the leaders were grabbing all the young women.

inequality of wealth was diminished as economically disadvantaged women married into more financially stable households;7 

And then were left to fend for themselves as single mothers. Yes, it's so much more financially stable to be a single mom than to be single and not have children.

and ethnic intermarriages were increased, which helped to unite a diverse immigrant population.

What? Didn't Brigham Young rail against intermarriage? Even recently, as in very recently the church has said not to mix race. No I don't have a link. You'll have to look it up. It was in a recent young men's manual.

 Plural marriage also helped create and strengthen a sense of cohesion and group identification among Latter-day Saints. Church members came to see themselves as a “peculiar people,”

Of course it did. You have to unite when you're in misery. You have to have people buoy you up and tell you you're doing the right thing. You have to create an us against them mentality to survive when you're doing something that's weird and goes against every other religion in the country you reside in and every other social norm. It's a way to keep yourself separate.

And yes, you do become peculiar.

Besides, no one wants you in their society. You might take one of their daughters. Duh.

 covenant-bound to carry out the commands of God despite outside opposition, willing to endure ostracism for their principles.

Perhaps the opposition happened because the outside world recognized that it was wrong and cared enough about their children to not want them to get caught up in this.

For these early Latter-day Saints, plural marriage was a religious principle that required personal sacrifice. 

No kidding. And my heart goes out to them. Somehow though I don't think that sacrificing for God is supposed to be so nightmarishly painful. Sacrifice is supposed to bring you greater blessings and fill you with something more than what you give up. Giving up a faithful marriage is not a good sacrifice.

 Accounts left by men and women who practiced plural marriage attest to the challenges and difficulties they experienced, such as financial difficulty,

 What happened to the financial stability mentioned earlier in this document?

 interpersonal strife, and some wives’ longing for the sustained companionship of their husbands.

 You mean women wanted to actually have a relationship with their husbands? What a novel idea! And maybe when there's a disagreement she might want more footing rather than him being able to walk away and find comfort in someone else's arms. She will always lose in that situation because he has no reason to work things out.

And what could women who are sharing a man possibly be fighting about? Hmmm.

But accounts also record the love and joy many found within their families.

 I'm sure that mothers loved their children. And I'm sure that women got to the point where they banded together in their misery. And I'm sure that siblings loved each other. And I'm sure that a man would have a favorite wife and she felt more special than the others (although not as special as a woman in a monogamous relationship).

They believed it was a commandment of God at that time and that obedience would bring great blessings to them and their posterity, both on earth and in the life to come. 

Of course they did. They trusted their prophet. Just like the Saints trust their prophet now. LDS people are taught to believe in their prophet and that he will never lead them astray. So if the prophet says it's a commandment, then it's a commandment.

While there was much love, tenderness, and affection within many plural marriages, the practice was generally based more on religious belief than on romantic love.

 You mean like when a teenage girl is told she has to marry a middle-aged man with several wives when she actually is in love with the teenage boy down the street?

 Church leaders taught that participants in plural marriages should seek to develop a generous spirit of unselfishness and the pure love of Christ for everyone involved.

 In other words - Women, shut up and do as your told by your husband.

During the years that plural marriage was publicly taught, all Latter-day Saints were expected to accept the principle as a revelation from God.

 Revelations from God cannot be questioned. We don't want anyone questioning things. That would lead to people thinking. We don't want that.

Not all, however, were expected to live it.

 Kind of hard when there weren't enough women for every man to have a dozen each.

 Indeed, this system of marriage could not have been universal due to the ratio of men to women.


 Church leaders viewed plural marriage as a command to the Church generally, while recognizing that individuals who did not enter the practice could still stand approved of God.

Actually that's not what Brigham taught. He said something about men not going to the celestial kingdom unless he had several wives. You'll have to look this one up on your own.

  Women were free to choose their spouses, whether to enter into a polygamous or monogamous union, or whether to marry at all.

 Really? This part of D&C 132 relating specifically to plural marriage:

And I command mine handmaid, Emma Smith, to abide and acleave unto my servant Joseph, and to none else. But if she will not abide this commandment she shall be bdestroyed, saith the Lord; for I am the Lord thy God, and will destroy her if she abide not in my law.

That was just God joshing around? You mean Emma had a choice? Well I guess accepting what Joseph was doing or getting destroyed is a choice. Not a good choice, but a choice. But from what I understand Emma didn't even know Joseph was doing it for awhile. She never actually chose to enter into polygamy, forced or not. Joseph did that on his own.

And really what kind of choice does a woman have when she's told she'll be destroyed if she doesn't agree to marry Uncle Larry? Especially if she's been raised to believe that's the only way to have a marriage?

That's the part of the scripture that doesn't sound like the Lord at all. It sounds like a power hungry guy using his power and authority to get what he wants and what he wants is women in his bed. Many did it before, and many did it since. Like David Koresh.

In Joseph's case he was smart enough to get men to agree with him so it wasn't just him doing it.

I honestly believe that God loves us more than this and he would never violate free agency by telling someone that if they didn't do something horrible they would be destroyed.

This is religious abuse at it's worst and in this day it would be considered rape. And no, I'm not kidding about that. In fact this whole point makes steam come out of my ears so let's move on.

Some men entered plural marriage because they were asked to do so by Church leaders, while others initiated the process themselves; 

I'm sure they were inspired - by parts of their anatomy.

all were required to obtain the approval of Church leaders before entering a plural marriage.

It makes it easier to convince a young woman or the parents of a young woman to allow the marriage when they can say "the prophet commanded it."

The passage of time shaped the experience of life within plural marriage. Virtually all of those practicing it in the earliest years had to overcome their own prejudice against plural marriage and adjust to life in polygamous families. 

 You mean the prejudice that says "this is wrong." You mean that part of you that tells you when something is wrong. You mean the Holy Ghost, your conscience, your intuition, your gut, your intellect, your traditions, your upbringing, your every fibre of being that tells you something is wrong. They had to overcome that prejudice?

The task of pioneering a semiarid land during the middle decades of the 19th century added to the challenges of families who were learning to practice the principle of plural marriage.

So did the fact that no one knew where their husband was.

 Where the family lived—whether in Salt Lake City, with its multiple social and cultural opportunities, or the rural hinterlands, where such opportunities were fewer in number—made a difference in how plural marriage was experienced. It is therefore difficult to accurately generalize about the experience of all plural marriages.

It's difficult to accurately generalize about the experience of all marriages.

Still, some patterns are discernible, and they correct some myths. Although some leaders had large polygamous families, two-thirds of polygamist men had only two wives at a time.

 Only two? Yes, that makes it so much better. He's only cheating on his first wife with one woman instead of several.

Church leaders recognized that plural marriages could be particularly difficult for women.

Well, I'm glad they recognized that. ESPECIALLY SINCE IT SAYS THAT IN JACOB 2! You know, that scripture that says "DON'T DO IT!"

 Divorce was therefore available to women who were unhappy in their marriages; remarriage was also readily available.

 In fact marriages among the early pioneers were pretty much disposable. People were marrying and divorcing and remarrying all over the place. And they say that we're in a bad state of marriage now?

 Women did marry at fairly young ages in the first decade of Utah settlement (age 16 or 17 or, infrequently, younger), which was typical of women living in frontier areas at the time.

 I understand this is not true. I could be wrong.

 Almost all women married, and so did a large percentage of men. 

You mean the men who were allowed to marry? The ones who managed to snag a wife that a married man didn't want?

In fact, it appears that a larger percentage of men in Utah married than elsewhere in the United States at the time. 

Let's do the math. There are 100 men and 200 women. (Random numbers even though it was probably closer to even). If 50 men marry 4 wives each that leaves 50 men without wives. So in the rest of the states more than half the men never married? 

The experience of plural marriage toward the end of the 19th century was substantially different from that of earlier decades. Beginning in 1862, the U.S. government passed laws against the practice of plural marriage. Outside opponents mounted a campaign against the practice, stating that they hoped to protect Mormon women and American civilization. For their part, many Latter-day Saint women publicly defended the practice of plural marriage, arguing in statements that they were willing participants.

Of course they did. What else were they supposed to do? They had to protect their marriages. They may have fully believed that polygamy was right because that's the only belief they were ever taught. They didn't want to have the stigma of being a mistress and having their children being considered bastards under the law. They didn't want to be condemned by their church. Of course they defended it. There wasn't another option.

After the U.S. Supreme Court found the anti-polygamy laws to be constitutional in 1879, federal officials began prosecuting polygamous husbands and wives during the 1880s. Believing these laws to be unjust, Latter-day Saints engaged in civil disobedience by continuing to practice plural marriage and by attempting to avoid arrest.

A lot of husbands abandoned their wives leaving them without any income. Civil disobedience is not an avoidance of arrest. Civil disobedience often requires an arrest to prove a point.

So with all these priesthood holders in hiding did they give the priesthood to women? Nope. Remember, women don't need the priesthood. (I say this with my eyebrows raised.)

 When convicted, they paid fines and submitted to jail time.

You mean there's a choice not to when you're convicted of a crime?

 To help their husbands avoid prosecution, plural wives often separated into different households or went into hiding under assumed names, particularly when pregnant or after giving birth.

That's right. Hide the women in their shame.

By 1890, when President Woodruff’s Manifesto lifted the command to practice plural marriage, 

 Hold it. A command? Didn't it say earlier in this document that there was a choice?

For many who practiced it, plural marriage was a significant sacrifice. Despite the hardships some experienced, the faithfulness of those who practiced plural marriage continues to benefit the Church in innumerable ways. Through the lineage of these 19th-century Saints have come many Latter-day Saints who have been faithful to their gospel covenants as righteous mothers and fathers, loyal disciples of Jesus Christ, and devoted Church members, leaders, and missionaries. 

 You mean those people wouldn't be faithful if they hadn't been born in polygamous families? Don't we teach that we lived in the pre-existance and we are all meant to come to earth? According to LDS doctrine, these people would have been born anyway and most likely into LDS families. In fact, maybe there would be more LDS people because there wouldn't be the stain of polygamy attached and more people would have joined.

On another point of this, coming from those polygamous families we also have the fundamentalist groups and all the problems that has created. Warren Jeffs for instance and all those young women forced into marriages and those young men thrown out of their families. They trace their history to the same source.

My ears are steaming again.

Although members of the contemporary Church are forbidden to practice plural marriage, modern Latter-day Saints honor and respect these pioneers who gave so much for their faith, families, and community.

They gave far more than they should have and I'm sure the majority of them were righteous people trying to do what God wanted them to.

Yes, we honor them, by pretending that it didn't happen. We honor them by leaving the wives of Brigham and Joseph and John and Wilford and the other prophets out of the church manuals.  We honor them by denying there were so many of them.

I find it hypocritical that a church that is so conservative and has such a strong stance against pre-marital sex, "petting",  masturbation, homosexuality, pornography and even how women dress, still defends adultery, child-rape, sexual abuse, and religious/spiritual abuse and puts it under the title of plural marriage.

I know that's a strong statement. I let it stand.


  1. Amen! Ah, to your commentary.

  2. Excellent. Very well spoken.

  3. You kicked some ass here, girl. Admire your passion. I, too, think this "statement" is a complete joke and, such is the heat it will generate, will need to be replaced by a more honest "statement" sooner rather than later. And then another "more complete statement" etc. because these guys just refuse to tell the whole truth.

  4. Here is a link to a quote from Spencer W. Kimball saying that you should not inter marry written in 1982. http://www.mormonstudies.net/html/kimball/ir_marriage.html

    I loved your commentary, you hit the nail right on the head.

  5. Thank you for the link Mark. Here's a quote from it.

    "We are unanimous, all of the Brethren, in feeling and recommending that Indians marry Indians, and Mexicans marry Mexicans; the Chinese marry Chinese and the Japanese marry Japanese; that the Caucasians marry the Caucasians, and the Arabs marry Arabs."

    I don't think I need to comment on it since it already tells it all.

    I found this interesting as well - "For a wealthy person to marry a pauper promises difficulties."

    In other words, the poor marry the poor and stay there and the rich marry the rich and stay there. Each class to it's own. We wouldn't want poor people to get uppity. Sounds elitist.

    So if an LDS girl gets to BYU through scholarships and hardwork and she meets the son of a dentist, then they shouldn't marry because her parents live in a rented trailer.

  6. Thank you for pointing out the inconsistencies of the essay. Your breakdown of the points is well done. Either they didn't think through their words too much or they were counting on the automatic nodding of heads instead of people actually analyzing and critiquing the veracity of the content.

  7. So are you saying LGBT relationships should be illegal?

  8. Kelly, I didn't make a comment on that one way or another. No, I don't think LGBT relationships should be illegal. I don't think that has anything to do with this subject.

  9. GREAT comments! It is pretty plain that the whole reason that Brigham Young wanted polygamy to continue was due to power in terms of lineage. Polygamy ensured that men who held high offices in the Church had more children (i.e. "posterity") than others. The article was painting a false picture when it spoke of polygamy being the source of more LDS members. As you pointed out, more children would have been born overall if monogamous marriages had been the norm. What polygamy did was ensure that certain family lines had a large posterity.

  10. I find it really interesting when the old Section 101 was present in the D&C. It was added while Joseph was alive, D&C revised while Joseph was alive and only removed a year or so before Brigham Young died.

    Somewhere in that long period of time someone, like a prophet, could have said "STOP THE PRESS!" and have gotten that section removed if for some reason it didn't accurately represent God's view on Polygamy at the time.

    They didn't.

    Would that represent being honest in all your doings?
    Would that be in keeping with the oath and covenant of the priesthood? Think about the consequence if not.