Polygamy question

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mormonheretic
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Re: Polygamy question

Post by mormonheretic » 29 Jul 2013, 23:23

Ann, I did listen to the DBMormon interview, and I listened to the one at Mormon Stories as well. I've also heard Brian speak several times at Mormon History Association, Sunstone, and FAIR. I will say that DBMormon seemed to be rooting for Brian in the interview, and the interview did seem to try to put a more positive spin than the John Dehlin interview. I enjoyed both interviews, but I think I did enjoy John's interview a bit more. John's seems a little more objective than DBMormon's, but I did enjoy both interviews.

Having said that, I think I do agree with your overall impression. At Sunstone a few years ago, Brian made the claim that there were no polyandrous marriages. In the Q&A, I asked him about an unusual situation in Utah where a non-LDS family was travelling through Utah and converted. They had children (2 girls if memory serves), but could have no more children because the man had been injured or something like that. Many women of the day told her that she should divorce her husband since he could no longer father children. They decided to consult Brigham Young to see what they should do.

In the New Testament, if a man dies with no children, his brother is supposed to marry the wife and raise seed up to the dead brother. This is called a levirate marriage. Brigham Young said to Sister Richardson
“If I was imperfect and had a good wife I would call on some good bror. to help me that we might have increase, that a man [her husband] of this character will have a place in the Temple, receive his endowments and in eternity will be as tho nothing had happened to him in time.”76 According to Young, her husband’s sterility would not bar him from the most important temple ordinances, and his eternal reward would not be adversely affected. As for having additional children, Mary Ann could be married in a civil ceremony to another man who would father her children. By being sealed for eternity to Edmund, Mary Ann as well as all her children, would belong to him.

The couple eventually accepted the plan, but only reluctantly.
(I blogged about it in more detail at http://mormonheretic.org/2009/11/08/sur ... es-part-3/ You really should read the whole story, it is amazing!!

I related the story (minus the names because I couldn't remember them.) Hales finished the story for me and stated that he had pretty good evidence that this wasn't true polyandry, because the Richardsons were divorced while Sister Richardson got pregnant twice with Frederick Cox as the father. After giving birth to the 2 sons, the Richardsons remarried and raised the boys as their own.
For about twenty years Cox did not see his sons. When he did, he shook their hands heartily, looked at them and listened to them unceasingly during their visit, but never mentioned the relationship between them.80
To me, this seems like a pretty good case of polyandry, but Hales insists that because they were legally divorced, it is not polyandry--in that she was sexually monogamous to consecutive men--she wasn't having sex with both men in a three-way or anything. Well, I guess technically Hales is right, but in my mind, if the divorce was always assumed to be temporary, arguing that it was serial sexual monagamy instead of polyandry is splitting hairs a bit. It seems like he is arguing the point a bit too hard.

I purchased his 3 volume set, but have only read about 2 chapters of vol 3 so far. There seems to be a big deal about a "scrape" vs "affair" that I don't really understand why he is making such a distinction. I even had Don Bradley stop by and give his 2 cents, but I'm not clear what the significance of the disctinction that Hales/Bradley are making. See the comments at http://mormonheretic.org/2013/03/10/bri ... -polygamy/

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Re: Polygamy question

Post by mormonheretic » 29 Jul 2013, 23:37

I just want to add that in reviewing my post on the Hales volumes, I came across this passage.

"As I read the evidence, prior to the angel’s third visit…the Prophet had only two, or possibly three plural wives with whom he had sexual relations: Fanny Alger in Kirtland (Chapters 4-5), Louisa Beaman (Chapter 9), and possibly Agnes Moulton Coolbrith Smith, the widow of his brother Don Carlos…"

So Hales is making the case that Joseph only had sex with 3 wives (Emma would be 4), and that sex was a much more minor aspect of polygamy than others would have you believe. I haven't read the books, but I'm sure that Compton disagrees with Hales about there being only 3 that had sex with Joseph.

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Re: Polygamy question

Post by Roy » 30 Jul 2013, 09:36

mormonheretic wrote:So Hales is making the case that Joseph only had sex with 3 wives (Emma would be 4), and that sex was a much more minor aspect of polygamy than others would have you believe. I haven't read the books, but I'm sure that Compton disagrees with Hales about there being only 3 that had sex with Joseph.
What is the point of this distinction? Are we just trying to prove that JS didn't have sex with every underage girl and old maid to whom he was sealed? Are we trying to infer that if JS was a lech then he would have had sex with everyone?

If I remember correctly JS at one point had some concerns about the state of adulterers and in answer to his prayer JS was told that he wasn't an adulterer. I like the scenario where JS develops strong feelings (love?) for a young woman (Fanny Alger) that lives in the Smith household and enters into a relationship with her. He feels so guilty about it that the idea of polygamy is developed out of his subconscious to assuage his guilt.

In this scenario - every woman that JS was sealed to that he didn't have intimate relations with would tend to legitimize the women that he did in fact desire and had sex with. Are we doing the same thing today? Defending polygamy in general because not every sealing was motivated by sexual desire? Are we only responding to those that would accuse JS of pedophilia?

P.S. I'm not an expert in polygamy and would welcome additional input into my theory.
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Re: Polygamy question

Post by Curt Sunshine » 30 Jul 2013, 12:25

I agree, Roy. Justifications are not merely explanations; there always is an agenda behind them.

I don't care if there was a sexual component with a specific, small number of women; I don't like that there was such a component with any of them. I do like, however, that it appears to have evolved and become something other than traditional polygamy / marriage (that, focused on communal / dynastic sealing, it didn't have a sexual component) toward the end of his lifetime - which is one of the reasons why I don't like that it developed into classic polygamy under Brigham Young.

I can explain polygamy, and even some of the demographic benefits of it as the Church solidified into almost a separate ethnic entity, but I don't defend it. I think it might have been inevitable, but that doesn't mean I have to believe it was God's command or ideal. In the end, this is one of those "philosophies of men, mingled with scripture" for me - and, to me, it fits the allegory of the vineyard in Jacob 5 as wild fruit that needed to be pruned from the tree.
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Polygamy question

Post by mackay11 » 30 Jul 2013, 16:32

Urghhh... Sometimes church history sucks.

I'm doing pretty well these days and coming to terms with a new paradigm of lower expectations from a prophet.

But some of this makes me want to vomit. I especially struggle with BY.

And if I were to tell my wife 'it's ok honey, I only had sex with 2 or maybe 3 other women, not 33,' I'd still get a frying pan to the side of my head and a suitcase to pack.

Poor Emma.

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Re: Polygamy question

Post by mormonheretic » 30 Jul 2013, 19:59

I am certainly not here to defend polygamy. I can't speak for anyone else, but I'll do my best to try to speak for others. In answering the questions,
What is the point of this distinction? Are we just trying to prove that JS didn't have sex with every underage girl and old maid to whom he was sealed?
Yes, this is exactly what I think that Brian is doing. Not only that, but one thing about Brian is that he states that no critics of Joseph have attempted to apply the theological justification of plural wives/celestial marriage/polygamy. That is the one ground-breaking thing that Brian attempts to do is to fully detail the theology in Volume 3. Hales is arguing that the theology is a lot more than just sex, and he is using the point that sex was much more infrequent than critics have alleged.

I hope that quote I gave above is in context. As I think about it, there is a rumor that Eliza Snow was pushed down the stairs by Emma and miscarried. I don't know Brian's position on that, but I believe Hales thinks the rumor is false. There is also another rumor that Emma was upset when Joseph married the Partridge sisters. According to the rumor, Emma was furious to learn that these sealings were more than spiritual sealings. When Emma found Joseph intimate with one of the sisters, Emma threw a fit. Once again, I don't know how Hales handles this story. But as I read the quote again, Hales mentions a 3rd angel, so perhaps these other incidents are after this 3rd visit, or perhaps Hales discounts them as simply false rumors.
Are we trying to infer that if JS was a lech then he would have had sex with everyone?
I don't know who "we" are, but certainly there are many critics that allege that Joseph was lecherous with an over-active libido. Certainly Hales, Bushman, and others believe that there is more to the story than simply sex. But critics try to make it all about sex.

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Re: Polygamy question

Post by Ann » 30 Jul 2013, 23:13

What is the point of drawing distinctions between Joseph- and Brigham-style polygamy when the church maintains that it's ALL righteous and justified? The approved discussion ends there.
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Re: Polygamy question

Post by Brown » 31 Jul 2013, 00:10

I've been listening to the BoM on mp3 lately and I couldn't help but notice how often a king or group was rebuked by the prophets or God for having multiple wives.
Jacob 2: 24

Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.


Jacob 1:15

15 And now it came to pass that the people of Nephi, under the reign of the second king, began to grow hard in their hearts, and indulge themselves somewhat in wicked practices, such as like unto David of old desiring many wives and concubines, and also Solomon, his son.


Jacob 2:27

27 Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none;


Mosiah 11:2

2 For behold, he did not keep the commandments of God, but he did walk after the desires of his own heart. And he had many wives and concubines. And he did cause his people to commit sin, and do that which was abominable in the sight of the Lord. Yea, and they did commit whoredoms and all manner of wickedness.

Jacob 3:5

5 Behold, the Lamanites your brethren, whom ye hate because of their filthiness and the cursing which hath come upon their skins, are more righteous than you; for they have not forgotten the commandment of the Lord, which was given unto our father—that they should have save it were one wife, and concubines they should have none, and there should not be whoredoms committed among them.

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Re: Polygamy question

Post by Meh Mormon » 31 Jul 2013, 07:17

Ray Degraw wrote:I don't care if there was a sexual component with a specific, small number of women; I don't like that there was such a component with any of them. I do like, however, that it appears to have evolved and become something other than traditional polygamy / marriage (that, focused on communal / dynastic sealing, it didn't have a sexual component) toward the end of his lifetime - which is one of the reasons why I don't like that it developed into classic polygamy under Brigham Young.
I agree with this Ray. Polygamy turned into something that it wasn't supposed to be. It also started out as something that it wasn't supposed to be but it developed into what I think was what the Lord had in mind. Did Joseph and Brigham make mistakes regarding polygamy? Most certainly. That being said, if it ever was brought back and I was asked to take a second wife, my temple recommend would be on the Bishop's desk before he finished the question.

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Re: Polygamy question

Post by Roy » 31 Jul 2013, 09:15

mormonheretic wrote:I am certainly not here to defend polygamy. I can't speak for anyone else, but I'll do my best to try to speak for others. In answering the questions,


What is the point of this distinction? Are we just trying to prove that JS didn't have sex with every underage girl and old maid to whom he was sealed?

Yes, this is exactly what I think that Brian is doing. Not only that, but one thing about Brian is that he states that no critics of Joseph have attempted to apply the theological justification of plural wives/celestial marriage/polygamy. That is the one ground-breaking thing that Brian attempts to do is to fully detail the theology in Volume 3.
Thank you, MH and Ray, for providing fair answers to my questions. As far as the theology, that has always been somewhat vague. Isn't it that the greater the size of the family that is attached to a man the greater the glory of that man in the eternal worlds. Then on the flipside there was a kind of reflected glory for being attached to such a rising star individual. I believe this is reflected in the adoption of adults as children and the provision during the BY period that a woman could ask to leave her husband to be married to someone that would take her further glory wise. Additional input would be appreciated.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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