Plural Marriage and Families in Early Utah

Public forum to discuss questions about Mormon history and doctrine.
User avatar
Life_Journey_of_Matt
Posts: 92
Joined: 11 Feb 2013, 12:23
Location: Kansas

Re: Plural Marriage and Families in Early Utah

Post by Life_Journey_of_Matt » 18 Dec 2013, 17:43

Thank you for keeping me in check Ray. I have edited the post you referenced, but I must add that I think many, many people have been hurt BADLY by polygamy, though I admit most of the documented cases have come from splinter groups who have abused it even further than we probably ever did.
"So oft in theologic wars / The disputants, I ween, / Rail on in utter ignorance / Of what each other mean / And prate about an Elephant / Not one of them has seen." -- from "The Blind Men and the Elephant" by John Godfrey Saxe

"The faith that stands on authority is not faith. The reliance on authority measures the decline of religion, the withdrawal of the soul." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

My ongoing story: http://precariousironrod.com/

User avatar
Life_Journey_of_Matt
Posts: 92
Joined: 11 Feb 2013, 12:23
Location: Kansas

Re: Plural Marriage and Families in Early Utah

Post by Life_Journey_of_Matt » 18 Dec 2013, 18:18

And then there's this:
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. Women were free to choose their spouses, whether to enter into a polygamous or monogamous union, or whether to marry at all.
Do you guys think everyone REALLY felt they were free to choose? I just know that there are so many in the church (including myself until recently) who feel they really shouldn't even turn down a church calling.

I'm sorry everyone, I should probably just go meditate until I cool down. I don't know why this is bugging me so much. :(
"So oft in theologic wars / The disputants, I ween, / Rail on in utter ignorance / Of what each other mean / And prate about an Elephant / Not one of them has seen." -- from "The Blind Men and the Elephant" by John Godfrey Saxe

"The faith that stands on authority is not faith. The reliance on authority measures the decline of religion, the withdrawal of the soul." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

My ongoing story: http://precariousironrod.com/

Ann
Posts: 2576
Joined: 09 Sep 2012, 02:17

Re: Plural Marriage and Families in Early Utah

Post by Ann » 18 Dec 2013, 19:00

Life_Journey_of_Matt wrote:
Do you guys think everyone REALLY felt they were free to choose?
(
No.
"Preachers err by trying to talk people into belief; better they reveal the radiance of their own discovery." - Joseph Campbell

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

"Therefore they said unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said unto them, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes...." - John 9:10-11

User avatar
journeygirl
Posts: 231
Joined: 04 Apr 2013, 19:12

Re: Plural Marriage and Families in Early Utah

Post by journeygirl » 18 Dec 2013, 20:00

What I've been wondering about recently is the idea that God commanded it, and that he has commanded it in the past. I had always been taught that polygamy was a part of restoring the full gospel. I have gone through parts of the Bible however, and do not see evidence of God having commanded it. The most obvious time for him to have done so would have been with Adam and Eve. When could having more women and quickly growing the population been more important? Also, after the flood with Noah, instead of bringing multiple wives with him, he brought his sons and their wives.

Where we do see polygamy in the Bible, it seems to be the opposite of what God wanted. Abraham and Sarah were promised seed, but through their lack of faith they brought Hagar into the marriage. That went really badly. With Jacob, his father in law tricked him into marrying two women, and then the fighting of those women led to two other wives. I don't see how God had a hand in that. Does God trick people to obey his commandments? Does he use jealousy to get his purposes fulfilled?

David and Solomon had many wives, but they were kings and not prophets. Ghangis Khan had many wives for goodness sakes. It doesn't appear to have religious connections but is cultural or power based. I know there are many men who are mentioned as having multiple wives in the Bible, and although it doesn't seem to be something they are punished for, I don't think God commanded it in any of these cases. He seems to allow for people's customs or traditions. This is mostly just in the old testament though. The new testament seems much more aimed at having one wife as the ideal.

For this reason, I don't believe God instituted polygamy at any time.

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16831
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: Plural Marriage and Families in Early Utah

Post by Curt Sunshine » 18 Dec 2013, 20:15

Do you guys think everyone REALLY felt they were free to choose?


Everyone? Surely not.

Lots of women? Yes. There is documentation of women saying no to proposals, and the majority of active members never were involved. Thus, mathematically, most members absolutely were free to choose "in early Utah".

Again, I'm not defending it by saying that - but we have to be very careful to be as accurate as possible when dealing with such a highly emotional subject.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

User avatar
DarkJedi
Posts: 7219
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: Plural Marriage and Families in Early Utah

Post by DarkJedi » 19 Dec 2013, 07:29

Ann wrote:
Life_Journey_of_Matt wrote:
Do you guys think everyone REALLY felt they were free to choose?
(
No.
Me either. I think if polygamy were still practiced a temple recommend question would be "Do you have a testimony of the law of polygamy and do you live it inasmuch as you have been commanded." And I think if anyone expressed doubts about it the TR would be in jeopardy - like other things in our time. So, yes, we have our free agency and are free to choose whether to obey or disobey any commandment - with a price. Such strings do not make us totally free.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

GBSmith
Posts: 975
Joined: 24 Apr 2010, 08:51

Re: Plural Marriage and Families in Early Utah

Post by GBSmith » 19 Dec 2013, 09:02

DarkJedi wrote: So, yes, we have our free agency and are free to choose whether to obey or disobey any commandment - with a price. Such strings do not make us totally free.
I guess I don't see this as any different than any decision or choice we make about anything. Every action has consequences. The free part is that you get to make the choice but you don't get a pass on what comes next. But total freedom? That's an interesting concept but not something you see in the real world.

Roy
Posts: 6151
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Plural Marriage and Families in Early Utah

Post by Roy » 19 Dec 2013, 11:12

journeygirl wrote:I know there are many men who are mentioned as having multiple wives in the Bible, and although it doesn't seem to be something they are punished for, I don't think God commanded it in any of these cases.
Super great post journeygirl. I couldn't agree more. I see Joseph as originally trying to get back to the primitive religion of the early saints. In his quest, Joseph latched on to a custom that was common in the time of the Partriachs. The pure concept of the restoration would be to go back to how things were before. I don't think that it quite worked out that way but i do believe that was the idea.
"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

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16831
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: Plural Marriage and Families in Early Utah

Post by Curt Sunshine » 19 Dec 2013, 11:25

I have said for a long time that I view Joseph as more of an Old Testament prophet than anything else.

I also look at the totality of Mormon history so far and am fascinated by the parallels with Judeo-Christian history - on a much shorter, more condensed time frame. That, however, is a topic best approached outside this thread. Maybe someday I will write a post about it.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

User avatar
hawkgrrrl
Site Admin
Posts: 3533
Joined: 22 Oct 2008, 16:27

Re: Plural Marriage and Families in Early Utah

Post by hawkgrrrl » 19 Dec 2013, 12:05

I think Joseph saw himself as the head of a great dynasty. Polygamy was part of that. Parts of the temple ceremonies are based on the anointings of kings. All of these point to the idea of being literally spiritual royalty.

Having said that, I see polygamy as a fallen human state throughout history that served to subjugate women because they were not viewed as equals and men wanted multiple sex partners - whether Joseph or Abraham practiced it, it's a lifestyle that harms and oppresses women and benefits men.

Post Reply