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Recent events highlight confusion of polygamy

A practice that ended more than 120 years ago still misunderstood

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  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    Dec. 26, 2011 9:47 p.m.

    If you want to find a secular explanation for the end of polygamy focus on the US Supreme Court allowing Idaho to ban anyone who was in a church that approved of polygamy from voting.

    To say "Utah wanted to join the US" is misleading at best. Utah was under US control with thousands of Utah men sent to jail for the crime of not renouncing their wives when called before courts. If the men had renounced their marriages in court, as a few did, they would be let free.

    There are two issues in post-manifesto polygamy. The Manifesto did not clearly forbid the practice in places that did not send those who did so to jail. It was not until about 1906 the Church unilaterally ended all new polygamy, and only in about 1909 that the Church began to excommunicate people for polygamy.

    On the other hand those who had made sacred covenants to treat various women as their wives could not break such covenants. They continued to recognize, support and fulfil all God's commands with their wives. Wilford Woodruff made it clear that those who abandoned their wives would face discipline for it.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    Dec. 26, 2011 9:41 p.m.

    The claim that Brigham Young denounced monogomy per se is false. Any of his statements that are read out of context to imply this actually consist of denouncing the way many people in the United States practiced monogomy who would keep mistresses of frequent houses of ill repute while prosecuting Mormons for recognizing their wives and supporting their children.

    Men such as Anthon H. Lund who never had more than one wife were called to the Quorum of the 12 at the time that polygamy was in existence.

    People need to read the statements about "monogomy" as actually denouncing of false monogamists who had illicit relations, and also to consider them in the context of men who had illegitimate children who they abandoned sending other men to jail for visiting with their children and supporting them.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    Dec. 26, 2011 9:37 p.m.

    The Church exists in countries where polygamy is legal, yet it will still excommunicate Church members in those countries for practicing polygamy.

    Those who insist that polygamy is doctrinal really, really, really need to reread the Book of Jacob. Jacob makes it 100% clear that polygamy is only permissible when the Lord commands it. The governments of men decriminalizing or even giving full recognition to polygamy would not constitute the Lord commanding it.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    Dec. 26, 2011 9:34 p.m.

    The Church clearly does not teach or endorse teaching in favor of polygamy.

    While Sister Hudson's views are also not endorsed by the Church, they seem very much in line with the text of both the Doctrine and Covenants and the Book of Mormon.

    What is clear is that the Church excomunicates people for having multiple wives, seeking unsuccessfully another wife, or advocating that polygamy should happen.

  • Kevin J. Kirkham Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 8, 2011 11:48 p.m.

    sharrona - Appoint Elders in every town as I directed you if anyone is above reproach, the husband of ONE wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery) or insubordination. (Titus 1:5,6 NIV)

    KJK - Ive used that verse, along with 1 Tim. 3:2, to show that polygamy was practiced in the early Church. If it wasnt practiced but was instead banned, why would such a statement limiting a man to one wife be needed? Since the Church hadnt been overwhelmed by pagan Greek influence which practiced monogamy, it was still very Jewish which allowed polygamy.

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    Aug. 8, 2011 3:26 p.m.

    Thanks for your explanation Bill. I respect your testimony of polygamy given that you had to work through the details of it. Too many members don't want to know the details and want to place the entire concept as high up on their shelf as they can. It is clear that I don't have the same conviction about this principle that you do but I respect your journey to gain a testimony of it.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Aug. 8, 2011 12:30 p.m.

    This insight finally allowed me to get past the critics and the other personal feelings of it. It was many years later that I understood the phrase, restitution of all things. This small phrase finally let me understand that the things Joseph Smith brought forth were just not something brand new but things that were done long before the Savior's mission on earth. Remember the Savior stated I didn't come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. Everything in the Law of Moses had something to do with the coming of the Savior and the sacrifice he would make.

    I really at time would wonder today that if polygamy was allowed to be practiced if we would have as many single mothers taking care of families and the problems our society has. For many years the saints thrived in Utah under the law of Polygamy and grew. What would be the results today? We don't know nor can we speculate because it is currently done with the Lord's administration of divine power to do so. We can see what happens when it is not as depected by the FLDS and other places. It will be practiced in the Millineium.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Aug. 8, 2011 12:23 p.m.

    Idaho Coug: Your questions has allowed me to ponder as to how I understand polygamy. I will answer it that I became comfortable with the details of how it was practiced and then gained a testimony of the concept. As I have stated before I come from a line that has polygamy in it. In fact, my great grandmother was I believe the second wife. My ancestors helped to settle the four corners area.

    I've read many of the journals that were written and many of the things put in. There was a great deal of sacrifice required for one who practiced the law of polygamy. It wasn't easy nor was it exceptionally hard. From what I gained I was able to see that the family did fine under the leadership of my great grandfather, a true man of faith. Once I understood that and how it worked, that one had to be called to the practice, not just allowed, I gained a greater insight into how it was practiced. It was with this that I finally understood that for it to work as it did, could only have been ordained of God, not man.

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    Aug. 8, 2011 9:38 a.m.

    Bill - I respect how you view this. However, you must know as a long time member that many, many active, faithful members have a real struggle with it - particularly with statements that make clear it will be practiced again.

    You said - "Some say he did it in secret but Emma stated before her death that SHE knew it was ordered by the Lord."

    I think Emma made some very contradictory statements and seemed to be very torn about this to say the least. Before her death she told her sons Joseph did not practice it at all. This lead to them traveling to Utah and doing extensive research and interviews to try to learn for themselves. No matter what one thinks of LDS plural marriage, it cannot be denied that it caused a great deal of pain for many and Emma probably leads that list.

    Bill, I respect that someone like you has a firm testimony of the place of this practice within the Resoration. But I wonder if you have had to become comfortable with the details of how it was practiced or if you simply have a testimony of the concept and ignore the details?

  • The Vanka Provo, UT
    Aug. 8, 2011 8:55 a.m.

    Bill,

    I sincerely wish you could simplify and whitewash the whole LDS polygamy issue the way you are trying to do.

    But it isn't working, just as the coverups, misleading testimony before Congress, secret ceremonies, and contradictory affidavits perpetrated by early Church leaders failed to make polygamy into a socially, much less morally, acceptable practice.

    From the 1830's well into the early 1900's, polygamy was a scourge on the LDS Church/movement. An attempt to coverup Joseph Smith's polygamy (and some alleged adultery) was the reason the Nauvoo Expositor was illegally destroyed as a "public nuisance". Polygamy was the reason most Apostles and other prominent leaders apostatized from the Church. Polygamy was largely the reason why Joseph and Hyrum were killed in Carthage. Polygamy was the main hurdle to Utah statehood. Justifying polygamy influenced Church leaders to twist facts and contradict revelations. Mormon polygamy is still in the news today, and is still a black eye on Utah, the LDS Church, and American history.

    I dare say, if not for polygamy, the LDS religion might have grown to become the largest religion in the United States by now, competing in numbers and acceptance with Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Aug. 8, 2011 8:41 a.m.

    Bill in Nebraska: David's Sin with Bathseba Led to Psalm 51, a couple verses: Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. 6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place.(Original sin nature)

    Solomon's wives led to the fall and dividing of Israel.

    Appoint Elders in every town as I directed you if anyone is above reproach, the husband of ONE wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery) or insubordination. (Titus 1:5,6 NIV)

    (John C.)Bennett was the most intimate friend of Joseph for a time. He boarded with the prophet. He told me once that Joseph had been talking with him about his troubles with Emma, his wife. He asked me, said Bennett, smilingly, what he should do to get out of the trouble ? I said, This is very simple. GET A REVELATION that polygamy is right, and all your troubles will be at an end. (Dr. W. Wyl, Mormon Portraits: Joseph Smith The Prophet His Family and His Friends, 61-62).

  • nick humphrey kent, WA
    Aug. 8, 2011 3:22 a.m.

    can a mormon man today be eternally married to more than one woman? (answer: yes. if a man's wife dies, he may be married for "time and all eternity" to a new woman, *in addition to his dead wife*). "eternal" polygamy is still practiced.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Aug. 7, 2011 8:50 p.m.

    Alt314: As stated above. Man's law has no bearing at all on God's laws or principles. Polygamy was practiced in the Old Testament. David's only crime in his marriages was the one Bathseba. None of the others were wrong in the least. The reason this one was wrong was because the Lord didn't give her to him. He took her as a matter of lust and he then when feeling guilty had her actual husbank killed. Solomon did the same in that he took women who were not given to him.

    Polygamy was practiced by Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses plus others. Read the quotes above and you will see how polygamy actually stands.

    Those who are adamant against this and are current members of the Church need to really do a self evaluation. Polygamy was ordered by the Lord in this dispensation and then taken away. It WAS part of the RESTORATION of all things. It was taken by revelation just as it was given. Joseph Smith practiced it. Brigham Young practiced it. Some say he did it in secret but Emma stated before her death that SHE knew it was ordered by the Lord. It was correct principle.

  • Mom of 8 Hyrum, UT
    Aug. 7, 2011 6:23 p.m.

    Does it seem that of the postings here more men defend polygamy, while women are trying to demonstrate there are ways around it?

    As a woman, I personally hope there is. Or I'm going to have to have a MIGHTY change of heart on the other side . . .

  • Jared Northern, FL
    Aug. 7, 2011 4:09 p.m.

    FDRFan: "I do not see how you can read Jacob 2 and have a different view from Hudson's."

    In Jacob 2, what is condemned is having concubines. Also, having multiple wives without them being given to you by God is condemned. Nowhere is polygamy condemned.

  • jans Pickerington, OH
    Aug. 7, 2011 4:06 p.m.

    People, you do realize that polygamy is legal in many countries where the LDS church has members - and they don't allow members to practice it there, nor do they allow the baptism of people practicing it in these countries where it is legal. Just food for thought.

    I love how so many commenters on here are "experts" about what was thought and said and intended all those years ago. But then again, many people are pretty sure they know exactly what the Founding Fathers and every other historical person of influence thought or meant as well.

    As for me, I am keeping my eyes and ears on the modern prophet, and those that follow him. We are a church of continuing revelation. Deal with it.

  • Ann Amberly Greenbelt, MD
    Aug. 7, 2011 10:43 a.m.

    Two comments:

    1) The JOD is not considered LDS doctrine. LDS doctrine, according to the Church's own official statement of 4 May 2007, is that which is consistently and currently taught in official Church publications, including the scriptures, declarations and proclamations, and the Articles of Faith. Any contemporary member of the Church running his life off the JOD is going to end up believing in things that the Church has disavowed as doctrine.

    2) Remember that deceased women may be sealed to more than one man in the temple. Kind of makes you think, doesn't it?

  • The Vanka Provo, UT
    Aug. 7, 2011 10:09 a.m.

    Neanderthal,

    You are mistaken.

    The Edmunds-Tucker Act made polygamy (or polygamous cohabitation) a felony in 1882. LDS Church leaders continued to violate of that Act for 8 years before Woodruff received a revelation ending polygamy in 1890.

    Woodruff issued The Manifesto and it was sustained in General Conference in October, 1890.

    Utah became a state in 1896 and elected representatives to Congress. But Congress refused to seat polygamists Roberts and Smoot. Congressional investigations and hearings followed. Based on evidence to the contrary, a US Senate Committee declared the 1890 Manifesto "a Deception".

    For 13 years after the 1890 Manifesto, the First Presidency of the Church, individually or as a unit, published 24 denials that plural marriages were being performed. A Second Manifesto had to be issued by President Joseph F. Smith and sustained in April General Conference, 1904.

    Historians have documented at least 250 polygamous marriages that were secretly and illegally conducted by LDS Church apostles after Woodruffs 1890 Manifesto. Apostles such as John H. Smith, Abraham O. Woodruff, John W. Taylor and Matthias F. Cowley performed many secret plural marriages, the latter two of whom were not removed from the Apostleship until 1905 as a result.

  • Mint Julip KAYSVILLE, UT
    Aug. 7, 2011 7:58 a.m.

    @Neanderthall
    "That's because much of Brigham's polygamous relationships were to women beyond childbearing age."

    Then how is he justified? In LDS scripture, polygamy is for the raising up of a righteous seed and plural wives should be virgins (I'm not saying all of his weren't, but some were widows). Before you reply with the caring-for-women argument, census records show there were more male saints than female at this time. Also, God never offers us this reasoning in all his detailed revelations regarding polygamy.

    You are caught right in the problem I was illustrating.

    Did Joseph have physical relations with other men's wives? You say no, that these were spiritual relationship only. In that case, Joseph's behavior contradicts what his revelations say about polygamy.

    Did he have physical relations with Helen Mar Kimball? You neglect this point in your counter. She didn't need to be taken care of. At 14, her parents were doing that.

    As for Joel Ricks, statistically polygamy means fewer offspring. Joel's wive's offspring would have to be more than those women would've had in monogamy, not more than Joel would have had in monogamy.

  • Miss Piggie Miami, Fla
    Aug. 7, 2011 12:36 a.m.

    @Utes Fan: "Too many people believe too easily that polygamy will be re-introduced by the Church soon..."

    Possibly true... but by Muslims. Muslim men can have up to four wives. They seem to do quite well with it. Has helped their religion grow to well over 1.5 billion members since about 700 AD.

  • lds4gaymarriage Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 7, 2011 12:08 a.m.

    lds4gaymarriage said - "If polygamy becomes legal in the US (which I hope it does), the Church will NOT embrace it. It has worked too hard to shed the polygamist image in order to have greater acceptance in society."

    Idaho Coug
    Then why in the world does the Church still allow men to be sealed to multiple women in the case of death or divorce of a previous wife? It makes no sense to work so hard to shed the image of something that we continue to practice in a spiritual sense. No one is making us do that. It is a continuation by choice. The principle is still practiced to the extent it can legally. If legal restrictions were relaxed it makes sense that Church practices would revert back in response.

    LDS4
    Because BELIEVING one will have additional wives in heaven is FAR FAR less offensive than ACTUALLY HAVING them in mortality for all to see. ATL134 is right. The Church is VERY sensitive about its public image. It wants to distance itself from Jeffs. It'd just give antis more ammo to claim that we're not Christian. No one is champing at the bit for it.

  • Neanderthal Miami, Fla
    Aug. 7, 2011 12:07 a.m.

    @atl134: "If you look at the number of Brigham Young's wives versus his children you get a ratio so small it puts his wives on par with the lowest birth rate nations at present."

    That's because much of Brigham's polygamous relationships were to women beyond childbearing age.

    ----------------------

    @Mint Julip:

    "The problem the church has with polygamy is that God condones it in their scripture for raising up righteous seed."

    You should look at polygamist Joel Ricks descendents. Fills two volumes of 1,000 pages each.

    "However, DNA results so far have not been able to link descendants to Joseph Smith."

    Most all of his kids died. And he died at age 33.

    "Then you throw in the fact that many of his wives were already married to righteous men capable of bearing children."

    They were married for the eternity... not for this life.

    ---------------------------

    @sharrona: "Polygamy continued despite the promise to abandon it."

    Cohabitation continued but not marriages. The problem the men faced was to decide whether or not to kick all the wives out but one to comply with the law. So they didn't.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Aug. 6, 2011 10:18 p.m.

    To Vanka and others:

    "Plural marriage is NOT essential to salvation or exaltation. In our day, the Lord summarized by revelation the whole doctrine of exaltation and predicated it upon the marriage of one man to one woman. (D&C 132: 1-8). There after he added the principles relative to plurality of wives with the express stipulation that any such marriages would be valid only if authorized by the President of the Church. (D&C 132: 7, 29-66)"

    "All who pretend or assume to engage in plural marriage in this day, when the one holding the keys has withdrawn the power by which they are performed, are guilty of gross wickedness." Earthly law has no bearing on the eternal perspective thus yes the LDS Church does practice polygamy but only when sealing dead males/females to other spouses after their deaths. It doesn't happen for the living, therefore the so call law of man does not carryover to the life beyond this life. Also, "obviously the holy practice will commence again AFTER the second coming of the Son of Man and the ushering in of the millennium. (Isa 7)"

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 6, 2011 9:14 p.m.

    @idahocoug
    [lds4gaymarriage said - "If polygamy becomes legal in the US (which I hope it does), the Church will NOT embrace it. It has worked too hard to shed the polygamist image in order to have greater acceptance in society."

    Then why in the world does the Church still allow men to be sealed to multiple women in the case of death or divorce of a previous wife? It makes no sense to work so hard to shed the image of something that we continue to practice in a spiritual sense. ]

    The reason why... is if the church reinstituted polygamy even in a completely optional sense... potentially hundreds of thousands of members would leave the church. Hundreds of thousands of potential converts would choose not to join. I do not see the church taking such an unpopular stance. Even with Prop 8 one would notice that in future votes like Maine's vote on gay marriage... the church dramatically scaled back on the issue.

  • DeepintheHeart Lewisville, TX
    Aug. 6, 2011 8:31 p.m.

    The headline to this article is certainly accurate. There is indeed confusion about polygamy today in and our of the Church. There is no question that we are currently, as a Church, forbidden to practice polygamy or plural marriage, as commonly understood (we're not talking about serial monogamy and temple sealings.) But take it on faith, hopefully backed up by prayer and study, that the Manifesto was God's will for this Church then and now. Before receiving the revelation on polygamy, it is doubtful whether Joseph or anyone else would have speculated on its issuance or its removal. We're in the same boat today. We don't know what the Lord will reveal in the future, only that He will reveal what he wants us to do. Speculating gets us nowhere.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Aug. 6, 2011 8:22 p.m.

    Utes fan: I disagree with the F.A.I.R. response on Polygamy in heaven.

    We(Mormons) believe marriage is an earthly ordinance and must be done here. We believe those who were sealed in the Temple here on earth, and live faithful to their covenants with God, continue their family relationships in Heaven. John Walsh ,Fair LDS. Wrong,

    For when the DEAD rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage. In this respect they will be like the angels in heaven,(Mt 22:30 NLT). No marriage in heaven because Angels are heavenly beings Created by God (Psalm 148 2,5 )&( Col 1:16) Angels do not procreate, sexless.

    And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home Fallen angels(devils)Not pre mortal beings. (Jude 1:6 NIV )

    Paul on polygamy Appoint Elders in every town as I directed you if anyone is above reproach, the husband of ONE wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery(Jeffs) or insubordination. (Titus 1:5,6 NIV)
    JS real reason for HIS polygamy revelaion to follow.

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    Aug. 6, 2011 6:58 p.m.

    lds4gaymarriage said - "If polygamy becomes legal in the US (which I hope it does), the Church will NOT embrace it. It has worked too hard to shed the polygamist image in order to have greater acceptance in society."

    Then why in the world does the Church still allow men to be sealed to multiple women in the case of death or divorce of a previous wife? It makes no sense to work so hard to shed the image of something that we continue to practice in a spiritual sense. No one is making us do that. It is a continuation by choice. The principle is still practiced to the extent it can legally. If legal restrictions were relaxed it makes sense that Church practices would revert back in response.

    Hellooo said - "And, the female members of the church, which were a majority..."

    It is interesting how apolegetic falsehoods are repeated. Utah census records show that there were almost always more men than women. The oft repeated idea that women are more righteous than men is without basis. I think we are very good at latching on to things that justify our beliefs and repeating them until they become facts.

  • The Vanka Provo, UT
    Aug. 6, 2011 6:56 p.m.

    Furthermore, If you think there is confusion over polygamy today, this BYU professor has not even scratched the surface.

    Not only did Joseph Smith teach that "the New and Everlasting Covenant of [Plural] Marriage" was necessary for exaltation and the raising up of a righteous generation prior to the Lord's second coming, he also taught that early Church leaders were commanded by Jesus to marry plural Native American wives so as to fulfill prophecy about the Lamanites and Nephites.

    On July 17, 1831, W.W.Phelps transcribed a "revelation" that read in part:

    "It is [Jesus Christ's] will, that in time, ye should take unto you wives of the Lamanites and Nephites, that their posterity may become white, delightsome, and Just, for even now their females are more virtuous than the gentiles."

    (compare this with the 1830 version of 2 Nephi 30:56).

    When asked how that was to take place, Joseph replied:

    "In the same manner that Abraham took Hagar and Keturah; and Jacob took Rachel, Bilhah and Zilpah;"

    Yet no confirmed offspring of Joseph Smith are yet found among Native Americans. Another questionable prophecy about polygamy.

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    Aug. 6, 2011 6:16 p.m.

    when practiced righteously and under commandment from God there is nothing wrong with polygamy,

    When practiced outside of commandment from God it accounted as unrighteousness.

    It does not matter the reasons.

    It does not matter what Richard Bushman thinks or wrote,

    it does not matter what church leaders opinions on the practice,

    It does not matter what commentors on here think,

    It does not matter if Vanka knows if you are following the commandments of God,

    When commanded of God it is righteousness,

    God has not currently commanded anyone to practice polygamy.

    When he does so it will come through his prophet, and he will make it possible with laws of the land.

    All this bickering is a waste of time.

  • Vanka Provo, UT
    Aug. 6, 2011 5:29 p.m.

    If you think there is confusion over polygamy today, this BYU professor has not even scratched the surface.

    Not only did Joseph Smith teach that "the New and Everlasting Covenant of [Plural] Marriage" was necessary for exaltation and the raising up of a righteous generation prior to the Lord's second coming, he also taught that early Church leaders were commanded by Jesus to marry plural Native American wives so as to fulfill prophecy about the Lamanites and Nephites:

    On July 17, 1831, W.W.Phelps transcribed a "revelation" that read in part:

    "It is [Jesus Christ's] will, that in time, ye should take unto you wives of the Lamanites and Nephites, that their posterity may become white, delightsome, and Just, for even now their females are more virtuous than the gentiles." (compare this with the 1830 version of 2 Nephi 30:56).

    When asked how that was to take place, Joseph replied:

    "In the same manner that Abraham took Hagar and Keturah; and Jacob took Rachel, Bilhah and Zilpah;"

    Yet no confirmed offspring of Joseph Smith are yet found among Native Americans. Another questionable prophecy about polygamy.

  • Utes Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 6, 2011 5:11 p.m.

    @sharrona

    The key word in my statement is "all". I never said that there would NOT be some polygamy in eternity, given that men/women being sealed to multiple spouses has already taken place. I only stated that it is not doctrine now that ALL righteous men would be polygamists. This satisfies Orson Pratt's statement. They, then, were commanded to accept it. We, now are not.

    For the rest of your post, see the FAIR article by Marc A. Schindler, "Doesn't Matthew 22:23-30 Contradict the LDS Doctrine of Eternal Marriage?"

  • lds4gaymarriage Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 6, 2011 5:07 p.m.

    If polygamy becomes legal in the US (which I hope it does), the Church will NOT embrace it. It has worked too hard to shed the polygamist image in order to have greater acceptance in society. Just because polygamy is legal doesn't mean that it will gain wide spread acceptance.

    If I'm ever asked to practice polygamy, I hope it'll be my wife having an additional husband. hahahaha. I could use the help with all of the honey-do's and get some relief from having to go on all of the trips to the craft and fabric stores. I could use a break. Let some other guy get nagged at for a change.

    All joking aside, I think polygamy, when practiced correctly, makes both men and women more humble and less selfish. It makes men focus more and more on being responsible and less about their own wants. Women are forced to share and be less selfish. Those who can pull it off (the Browns) are better people than I am.

    Will there be universal polygamy in the Celestial Kingdom? Maybe, but the people who make it there will be the kind of people that can make it work.

  • Vanka Provo, UT
    Aug. 6, 2011 4:54 p.m.

    DN editorial staff don't like us to post the truth. Let's try again with some edits:

    Vanka | 4:28 p.m. Aug. 6, 2011
    Provo, UT
    Comments such as those by WayneDe highlight a peculiar dilemma.

    On the one hand, the claimed justification for polygamy was explained to Levi Hancock (Fanny Alger's uncle): "Brother Levi, the Lord has revealed to me that it is his will that righteous men shall take Righteous women even a plurality of Wives that a Righteous race may be sent forth uppon the Earth preparatory to the ushering in of the Millenial Reign of our Redeemer" (Levi Hancock's biography, quoted in Bushman, p. 326).

    D&C 132 confirms plural wives were to guarantee "a continuation of the seeds forever and ever. Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue;" (v.19-20).

    On the other hand, Joseph apparently fathered NO confirmed children by his 30+ plural wives.

    Why would Joseph obey a command to take plural wives, to raise up posterity, and yet fail to produce a posterity by them?

    No "faithful" explanation for polygamy holds up to reasonable scrutiny.

  • Hellooo Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 6, 2011 4:39 p.m.

    Interesting how when a person has difficulty with a concept that they can not accept or understand, they begin to belittle those that don't. I would suggest more tolerance for the institution of polygamy, as it an accepted practice within the fastest growing religion (Islam) in the world. Intellectual efforts like this one described in the article are good. Conclusion's about its efficacy without reading, hearing or studying the actual presentation seem premature and to a large extent bias. Many were blessed within the LDS Church by this practice. And, the female members of the church, which were a majority and were given the right to vote before other women in the USA, did not vote to ban the practice even though it was presented on the ballot. So, lets just allow the LDS religious freedom with their beliefs as they are adhered to today, and regret the discrimination that were heaped on them by we non-members and non-believers in the past.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 6, 2011 3:45 p.m.

    @give me a break
    "Because plural marriage was not practiced universally in the Church and men were scarce, there was no shortage of women needing a home. "

    Census reports show there was a majority of men in the Utah territory/state until the 20th century. There was no scarcity of men.

    @Quayle
    "And if we as a people ever forget this, we'll be as dead as the protestants or evangelicals."

    And people wonder why the LDS church is not liked by a large subset of the population...thankfully at least I'm aware that most LDS members don't think this way.

    @Brian mackert
    "read the first few verses of D&D "

    Can I be an elf? (heh, sorry, had to say it).

  • WayneDe MONROVIA, CA
    Aug. 6, 2011 3:03 p.m.

    Thank you for clearly stating that the divinely authorized practice of polygamy is the exception to Gods usual commandment of monogamy (see Book of Mormon Jacob 2: 26-30).

    I have seen a number of internet comments lately equating Joseph Smiths practice of polygamy to Warren Jeffs. I disagree. For those who are interested in reading further on this topic I suggest the following 3 sources: 1) Joseph/Polygamy/Marriages to young women on the Fair website, 2) Wikipedia: List of the wives of Joseph Smith Jr., 3) Wikipedia: Children of Joseph Smith Jr.. In the main Wikipedia article on Joseph Smith, it is interesting to note that while Joseph and his first wife, Emma, had 7 children, as of 2011, DNA testing had provided no evidence that Smith had fathered any children by women other than Emma."[Footnote: 424].

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Aug. 6, 2011 2:29 p.m.

    Utes fan: all righteous men will become polygamists some day. That is not doctrine,wrong. Check p.578 Mormon doctrine.

    "...if plurality of marriage is not true or in other words, if a man has no divine right to marry two wives or more in this world, then marriage for eternity is not true, and your faith is all vain, and all the sealing ordinances, and powers, pertaining to marriages for eternity are vain, worthless, good for nothing; for as sure as one is true the other also must be true." (JOD 21:296). Orson Pratt

    At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like(as)the angels in heaven (Matthew 22:30 NIV). As Angels (aggelos,32)
    (Psalm 148 2*,5 Greek Septuagint) Verse 2,all his *angels; praise him, all his heavenly hosts. 5. Let them praise the name of the LORD], for at his command they(angels) were Created.
    Col 1:16, For in him all things(including angels) were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.

  • Utes Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 6, 2011 2:17 p.m.

    @Brian Mackert

    "Yours Sir is a modern concept & not a concept shared or understood by those to whom this revelation was presented"

    ------------
    That hardly means that we are obligated to accept polygamy as an eternal principle today. We are under no obligation to do so.

    Section 89 is the Word of Wisdom which was understood at that time as more of a recommendation. The more strict interpretation and commandments came later. If I were to apply the understanding given in 1833 regarding the Word of Wisdom for today, then occasional wine would be OK. That is obviously not acceptable today. Using the same logic for polygamy, I am not required to accept it in order to receive my exaltation. If so, then all of us in the Church today would be under condemnation for not accepting polygamy as an eternal principle for us. But God doesn't condemn us today for not accepting it. God cannot require us to accept a principle that he has not commanded us to accept.

    There is nothing wrong with God giving different commandments to different times. Ancient commandments included circumcision. Do you accept that for today? Of course not. Same with polygamy.

  • Mint Julip KAYSVILLE, UT
    Aug. 6, 2011 1:36 p.m.

    The DN denied my first attempt at this statement, here it is again, in a less direct manner. Hopefully that will work.

    Hudson's comparison between Mormon polygamy practices and the story of Abraham and Isaac would work better if God stopped Joseph Smith before he married any plural wives.

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    Aug. 6, 2011 1:20 p.m.

    I have been critical of many things about LDS history and teachings here online. But after reading this article and these comments I realize it is just my way of dealing with a great sense of loss. The Church used to be my foundation. The surety and safety that if I just do and believe X I will achieve Y.

    But today that surety and foundation has been rocked and that has created a huge loss that I am still struggling to get my head around. The LDS history of plural marriage is one of the central things that caused my LDS foundation to crumble.

    I respect people like Hudson who do what enables them to be able to accept this and other issues of LDS history/doctrine and maintain their testimony. But as I read her remarks I had such a sad, empty feeling reinforcing my conviction that God DID NOT ask Joseph Smith to do the things he did that caused so much pain to individuals and almost destroyed the Church.

    I respect Hudson's views but find them illogical and requiring an absolute dismissal of the actual history of LDS polygamy.

  • Brian Mackert OMAHA, NE
    Aug. 6, 2011 12:12 p.m.

    @Utes Fan

    My family history in the LDS Church goes back to D&C 132's presentation to the High Council by Hyrum Smith. My 4th Great Grandfather was a council member when it was presented. I can tell you that they didn't see a distinction between eternal / celestial marriage & plural marriage, they were the same thing. Yours Sir is a modern concept & not a concept shared or understood by those to whom this revelation was presented to first hand from Joseph Smith Jr. himself.

  • texlds Dallas, TX
    Aug. 6, 2011 12:08 p.m.

    Vanka wrote, "How can you say that God really told Joseph to engage in polygamy, but God did NOT tell Warren Jeffs? Or Brian David Mitchell?

    Everybody agrees we should obey God's commandments. The trouble is, God seems to always be a no show when we are looking for him to publicly verify that he gave this or that commandment?"

    Your premise is that you can or should be able to find in this life some person or some institution or - some public verification - to which you can lash yourself so you won't ever have to make and stand on your own discernment or judgment.

    There is no such certainty. You have to make a call for yourself. Others have to make the call for themselves. That it. Make your call. Others make theirs.

    no fit in SG wrote, "and some of "the answers" the LDS did have, changed to fit better into doing their recruitment."

    I'm sorry you felt tricked. But really, if you accepted the message of modern revelation and didn't understand that meant things can and will change, then you perhaps didn't think through the implications when you joined. It is what it purports to be.

  • Midway Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 6, 2011 11:25 a.m.

    @Utes Fan

    "The full text of her presentation is available on her website"
    -------------

    Do an internet search for the following:

    "Polygamy" V.H. Cassler SquareTwo, Vol. 3 No. 1 (Spring 2010)

  • Wyoming Jake Casper, WY
    Aug. 6, 2011 11:21 a.m.

    Our great Celestial leaders give us a principle or commandment to live and we ball it all up so badly that no one can easily (or even with great effort) tell what is true and good. Most humans living or dead have never had a chance to know the mind of deity. We LDS believe that Gods mind has and is being revealed to us if we properly will earn it, but even we don't seem to get much. Why is fulfilling Gods wishes as he intends so incredibly difficult? I suppose part of the reason is the interference being gushed out from the opposition.

  • Utes Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 6, 2011 11:14 a.m.

    @Brian Mackert

    "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 glory.(D&C 132:3-4)"

    ----------
    This is referring to eternal marriage, which can be accomplished with one man and one woman. We are not rejecting it by not having more than one spouse.

  • Rebecca Kimbel EUREKA, CA
    Aug. 6, 2011 10:47 a.m.

    When it comes to polygamy, Muslims blame Abraham, Christian and Jewish polygamists blame King David, and western polygamists blame early Mormons. ALL of them blame someone that lives 150 to 2000, years before they were born for what THEY are doing TODAY. In a real world, every adult is responsible for their own behavior, not history or a church they admit they don't even belong to.
    The human rights violations in polygamy today are the responsibility of those who do them and no one else. There is no justification for taking away the freedom of women in the name of freedom of religion, no matter how one interprets scriptures.

    Valerie Hudson is a wise woman and has my deepest respect. Rebecca Kimbel

  • Utes Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 6, 2011 10:38 a.m.

    I attended this presentation and it was excellent. I am sure others might have some concerns with Hudson's logic. The full text of her presentation is available on her website - I would encourage those who might criticize her presentation as briefly summarized here to read the full text first.

    Hudson makes a good point, in that there are many assumptions being made today by active members about the LDS Church and doctrine of polygamy and the future of it. Too many people believe too easily that polygamy will be re-introduced by the Church soon, or in the Millenium, or even in the Celestial Kingdom. While Hudson allows the possibility of this, to claim that it WILL be so is simply nothing more than speculation. I know a guy in my own ward who had to convince his wife that she will have to accept that he will have multiple wives in the Celestial Kingdom. What non-sense to me. Why subject my wife to that? I wouldn't. Some people are even hesitant to join the Church because of the propaganda that some have made that all righteous men will become polygamists some day. That is not doctrine.

  • FDRfan Sugar City, ID
    Aug. 6, 2011 10:32 a.m.

    Utter Nonsense
    I'm laughing, but not at Cats.

  • greenman108 Petaluma, CA
    Aug. 6, 2011 10:32 a.m.

    the article says polygamy stopped after a church elder had a revelation.

    isnt it also true, that officially polygamy was stopped, as a bargaining chip, when Deseret wished to become a state within the Union of these United States of America?

  • Brian Mackert OMAHA, NE
    Aug. 6, 2011 10:28 a.m.

    Apparently the BYU Prof didn't bother to review the first few verses before giving such a scholarly review. I guess she & FAIR think Mormons will believe anything said with an authoritative tone.

    Therefore, prepare thy heart to receive and obey the instructions which I am about to give unto you; for all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same.

    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 glory.(D&C 132:3-4)

  • Brian Mackert OMAHA, NE
    Aug. 6, 2011 10:22 a.m.

    Seriously? This from a Prof @ BYU & a memeber of FAIR? Should we expect anything less from that combo? Clearly she didn't bother to read the first few verses of D&D 132 before giving such a scholarly review of the prophecy!

    "Therefore, prepare thy heart to receive and obey the instructions which I am about to give unto you; for [b]all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same[/b].

    For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and [b]if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory[/b]." (D&C 132:3-4)

  • no fit in SG St.George, Utah
    Aug. 6, 2011 10:18 a.m.

    Forty years ago, when I moved to Provo so my husband could attend BYU, the LDS talk of polygamy made me so terribly uncomfortable! I won't even try to talk about the Temple stuff, as you may not put my comment in, anyway.
    So much about the LDS Church is questionable. Unfortunately, my emotions took over after a horrendous death of a loved one and I was baptized into the LDS Church. I failed to do my research when, after asking missionaries question after question about the LDS Church and it's history, I was told "that is something we do not know the answer to and we go by our faith". No Internet back then like there is now for me to do the quick and thorough research.
    Basically, I felt tricked, which was my own fault.
    I have found after forty years, that there are still no answers to my questions, and some of "the answers" the LDS did have, changed to fit better into doing their recruitment. My opinion.of course.

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    Aug. 6, 2011 10:04 a.m.

    Dear Xcribe: There were also serious political reasons why it ended. That is a fact. The Church had done everything possible to live by this commandment at great sacrifice. When it became untenable, the President of the Church pleaded with the Lord for guidance and was told that this burden was now lifted.

    I admit it requires faith to accept that. But, polygamy had fulfilled its purpose and was now abandoned for a higher law that would allow the Church to go forward and not be destroyed by the U.S. Government. God is also a smart politician. He accomplishes his work while not violating the free agency of mankind. Under the political climate of the time, the Church could not survive and go forward. It was abolished and the Church was able to grow and prosper. This was a relief to the vast majority of the membership. This was not something that anyone enjoyed. Most members hated it. It was a terrible sacrifice and burden.

  • Vanka Provo, UT
    Aug. 6, 2011 9:53 a.m.

    To Give Me A Break,

    According to Richard L. Bushman (and many other scholars), what you wrote about polygamy is completely false.

  • Quayle Dallas, TX
    Aug. 6, 2011 9:43 a.m.

    "In the Lord's eyes monogamy is not a sacrifice, but a blessing. But polygamy is a sacrifice. When God does command polygamy, he understands it is a sacrifice of the joy that would be there for his children if they could live the higher law "

    Boy, where to begin. Joseph Smith said that whatever the Lord commands is right. Thus to the person receiving the command, there is no higher law or lower law or regular law, there is only one law: what God just commanded.

    And Joseph Smith made it clear that God's law can not be circumscribed or contained within a boundary, so it cannot be discussed in the form of a rule and an exception, as Hudson misguidedly does. One day God says build up, and another day He says destroy.

    So that the current command is the only issue, and it can change tomorrow. God's law is fluid - not static, but fluid. If a person adheres to the current command, they will receive supreme joy, not some lesser form of joy - supreme joy.

    And if we as a people ever forget this, we'll be as dead as the protestants or evangelicals.

  • Give Me A Break Pullman, WA
    Aug. 6, 2011 9:38 a.m.

    Interesting perspectives.

    I do not see how we can understand life or judge behaviors as they existed 150 years ago. But one thing we can understand for certain: a great gulf separates plural marriage as practiced by 3-6% of the LDS faithful during the 1800's, and polygamy as practiced by 100% of the FLDS today. Among the many differences are these:

    1) There were no "lost boys" in the LDS Church. No one was kicked out because they were male. Because plural marriage was not practiced universally in the Church and men were scarce, there was no shortage of women needing a home.

    2) The practice of plural marriage was not instituted "to please" the husband. In the vast majority of cases, the husbands did not ask for additional wives, and in many cases, they did not choose.

    3) Many 1800's LDS plural marriages were solely for the responsibility of support, rather than for propagation.

    Finally, more women will see heaven than men. If the LDS are so off-base - then don't look for them in heaven. If they are spot-on however and their marriages are eternal, be thankful righteous women will have a home.

  • toshi1066 OGDEN, UT
    Aug. 6, 2011 9:29 a.m.

    Polygamy ended because Utah wanted to join the United States and the US forbade the practice.

  • eagle651 Chino Valley, AZ
    Aug. 6, 2011 9:28 a.m.

    Its only a matter of time; if gay-marriage are now becoming the "law of the land" its only time that polygamy will be legalized again and become the "law of the land".
    It seems the Lord approved this kind of union and then stepped out of the picture, leaving up to us to deal with the issue.
    Polygamy seems to have caused a decay in the one to one spiritual marriage and created a portal for human interpretation.
    Wives desiring to become sister wives, mothers offering up young daughters to older men and men gathering up females for own use, all in name of their religion.
    It is up to the women to put an end to this kind of practice and find true love in the Lord.
    The Mormon Church will always be blamed for polygamy because if the narrow mindedness of people, and there are plenty of them.

  • xscribe Colorado Springs, CO
    Aug. 6, 2011 9:19 a.m.

    @Cats: Are you sticking with that explanation of why polygamy ended within the church? If you say so!!

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    Aug. 6, 2011 8:50 a.m.

    Polygamous wives were NOT cast off unless they chose to be which some did. In fact, no one stopped practicing polygamy after the manifesto. What stopped was new marriages being entered into. There were those who didn't believe the Church that polygamy had ended. They were shocked when they got excommunicated by entering into new polygamous marriages.

    I think Hudson's analysis is excellent. It is clear in Jacob 2 that polygamy is an abomination that is forbidden by God unless it is "commanded." It is clear that the Church needed to grow and be populated during the 19th century. When the purpose for polygamy had been fulfilled, it was abolished and rightly so. It was a terrible burden and sacrifice which caused endless heartache to many.

    There are those who wish to cling to the idea that polygamy is some eternal principle that is required for exaltation. It is NOT. That has been made abundantly clear by Brigham Young as well as numerous other General Authorities.

    Unfortunately, we are still suffing the repercussions from 19th century polygamy. I'm really sick of it.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Aug. 6, 2011 8:45 a.m.

    Hudson said,The practice ended in 1890 after LDS Church President Wilford Woodruff received a revelation.

    Polygamy continued despite the promise to abandon it. In 1899, then Apostle Heber J. Grant President would plead guilty to unlawful cohabitation and be fined $100. In 1906, sixth LDS President Joseph F. Smith "pleaded guilty before Judge M. L. Rictchie in the District Court Friday to the charge of cohabitating with four women in addition to his lawful wife." He was fined $300, the maximum allowed by law. (Salt Lake Tribune, 11/24/1906).

    "This doctrine of eternal union of husband and wife, and of plural marriage, is one of the most important doctrines ever revealed to man in any age of the world. Without it man would come to a full stop; without it we never could be exalted to associate with and become god..." JOD 21:9). 1879, Joseph F. Smith

  • Vanka Provo, UT
    Aug. 6, 2011 8:42 a.m.

    This comment complies:

    I don't know of anyone who would disagree with the statement: If God tells you to marry multiple spouses, then you must do it.

    The problem is who can verify that God told them to do something?

    How do you know that God told Joseph Smith to "marry" Fanny Alger, and to keep that relationship secret from Emma, and to engage in that relationship about 10 years prior to any official revelation was published about God's commandment for polygamy?

    How can you say that God really told Joseph to engage in polygamy, but God did NOT tell Warren Jeffs? Or Brian David Mitchell?

    Everybody agrees we should obey God's commandments. The trouble is, God seems to always be a no show when we are looking for him to publicly verify that he gave this or that commandment.

    It seems we are always given God's word by the very people who stand to benefit from the commandments being given!

  • Mint Julip KAYSVILLE, UT
    Aug. 6, 2011 8:14 a.m.

    The problem the church has with polygamy is that God condones it in their scripture for raising up righteous seed. However, DNA results so far have not been able to link descendants to Joseph Smith. Also, many members don't like the idea of him having relations with Helen Mar Kimball or his other young brides. Then you throw in the fact that many of his wives were already married to righteous men capable of bearing children. Also, census records that show that polygamous relationships produced fewer offspring than monogamous.

    This leaves the church scrambling for a new defense and so far, I have seen nothing that comes close to making sense. This article is a perfect example of that!

  • Bountiful Boy ALEXANDRIA, VA
    Aug. 6, 2011 8:09 a.m.

    These perspectives make sense only if we choose to totally ignore the thousands of doctrinal statements earlier LDS leaders preached about the essential centrality and eternal nature of polygamy.

    Besides that, this simplistic perspective leaves out the stories of the hundreds of polygamous wives who became cast off wives when the practice was called to a halt. I suspect their stories - if told - would give us pause when we so glibly explain that the practice of polygamy was "ended" in 1890.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 6, 2011 7:58 a.m.

    @FDRfan
    "During the time of my mission almost all of the missionaries were descendants of polygamous marriages. To me that was the purpose of the exception. "

    If you look at the number of Brigham Young's wives versus his children you get a ratio so small it puts his wives on par with the lowest birth rate nations at present. Polygamy did not increase child-bearing since 3 wives would be able to raise more children with 3 men then with just one.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 6, 2011 7:56 a.m.

    "No such punishments are noted for those who practice monogamy."

    Brigham Young and others have said things about monogamy the way homosexuality is talked about today. Even that it (monogamy) was what destroyed Rome. It sure wasn't made very clear in the 1800s that there's nothing wrong with monogamy.

  • FDRfan Sugar City, ID
    Aug. 6, 2011 7:30 a.m.

    I do not see how you can read Jacob 2 and have a different view from Hudson's. During the time of my mission almost all of the missionaries were descendants of polygamous marriages. To me that was the purpose of the exception. Also apparent to me is that in the next life, procreation will not be driven by hormones but by participating in God's work and glory.

  • RG Buena Vista, VA
    Aug. 6, 2011 7:05 a.m.

    I agree with GiantSquid in that this explanation is lacking somewhat. Here's why: Even today, if a man marries a woman for eternity, and she dies, he can marry another woman for eternity. In the next life, he presumably will have two wives. This is not a rare occurrence either. Perhaps polygamy is the exception in this lifetime, but I couldn't say the same for the next life.

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    Aug. 6, 2011 6:43 a.m.

    If polygamy were legalized in the United States the Church would be the first to jump on the bandwagon. It's Church Doctrine. It's part of the new and everlasting covenant and an integral part of founding of the Church. In reality it's the defining Doctrine that binds the entire thread of Mormon existence into a complete package.

  • GiantSquid salt lake, utah
    Aug. 6, 2011 6:03 a.m.

    That explanation did not make any sense whatsoever and is not accurate.

    The bottom line is that the LDS church does believe in polygamy, although not currently in this life.

    Also, it is quite accurate to say that a splinter group(B) is related if it formed entirely out of another group(A) that retained most of the of the original beliefs of group A.