Forced Polygamy in the modern LDS Church

Public forum to discuss questions about Mormon history and doctrine.
Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16537
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: Forced Polygamy in the modern LDS Church

Post by Curt Sunshine » 28 Jul 2014, 18:13

Free agency isn't being subverted - at least in the eyes of those making the decisions to not cancel sealings. They believe deeply that you will be able to make your own decision in the next life and that sealings aren't binding on people who don't want them to be. If you doubt that, look at how we talk about the vicarious work we do in the temples. It ALWAYS is couched in terms of "if the person accepts the ordinances".

I know you feel differently when what you want now isn't honored, but it's really, really important to understand that the official church position is that NOBODY has their agency subverted by temple ordinances. Why is that important? So you can let go of the bitterness about this and be as charitable as possible to those who have created the policy. They truly don't believe agency is being subverted - and, in fact, believe deeply that they are honoring agency for everyone the best they can in making the policy.

Again, personally, I would prefer a policy that allows each person to make whatever decision they want - but, at the very least, I can understand why it's not how I want it and not get outraged by it - since I don't believe it is binding against my will, anyway. If I really believed it was binding against my will, my reactions would be different - but I don't, and neither do "they".
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

foodoctor33
Posts: 14
Joined: 12 Jan 2014, 02:32

Re: Forced Polygamy in the modern LDS Church

Post by foodoctor33 » 28 Jul 2014, 22:28

That is exactly the issue. If they don't know what is going to happen in the next life... why not honor my agency in this life? The only thing we know is this life. Free will should trump policy especially if it's not doctrinal. I read you last post 3 times and still don't see how my free will is being honored? What am I missing?

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16537
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: Forced Polygamy in the modern LDS Church

Post by Curt Sunshine » 28 Jul 2014, 23:32

First, please understand that I'm not saying you have to agree with what I'm about to write - only that it's important to understand it and try to be as charitable as possible toward the people who have to create the policies that govern issues like this.

I'm not saying every person's will is honored all the time in the here and now - and I really would prefer a policy that allows people to cancel sealings if they want to do so. I'm saying that there are TWO people involved in the cancellation of a sealing - and that, in practical terms, the only way to know both wills are being honored is to get confirmation from both people. If that can't happen (for whatever reason), things get theoretical - and the only way to honor both wills in those situations is to avoid cancelling the sealing in this life and allow God and the individuals to make the decision after death. That approach leaves open possibilities that perhaps can't be imagined in this life.

For example, I can picture a widow who is married to someone (member or not) who refuses to be sealed in the temple - for whatever reason. The widow meets a widower in her exact same situation whom she doesn't love as much as her first husband (and he feels the same way) but who will take her to the temple - so they marry and are sealed. They don't have a great marriage, but it's okay. They die and realize their original spouses (whom they love deeply) have changed their minds and want to spend eternity with them. What would the best solution be for both couples - enforcing the sealing they freely chose or allowing it to be cancelled and performing (vicarious) sealings for each original couple?

I know that is a bit contrived, but it points to two things:

1) There is absolutely no way, in practical terms, for mortal leaders to receive inspiration / revelation for every possible situation. There is no "one true" answer for the innumerable situations that exist and have existed throughout time - and for which differing people hope.

2) What someone wants now might not match what that person will want in the future - so it makes sense, again in practical terms, to have a policy that "honors" that for people and leaves decisions that are SO critical in the hands of God and the people involved.

Finally, we are talking generally about literalists who believe in the eternal power of sealing ordinances - not that they are binding against our will, but that there is some real power in being sealed, even if a specific link in the chain, so to speak, might get broken at some point. The mindset at the top, among mostly literalists, is to maximize sealing links in the here and now and let breaks be formalized by God and the individuals. In other words, they take the view that they would rather sever too few links than sever too many - leaving the severing generally in God's hands, especially since they really do believe that nothing will be forced / no agency will be subverted when all is said and done.

That can be difficult to accept for those who want cancellations that aren't approved - but, again, if you really don't believe you will be forced to remain sealed to someone with whom you don't want to be sealed, it's all moot, anyway, from an eternal perspective.

Sincere question:

Do you believe a sealing that is not cancelled will be enforced against people's will? Do you believe there is forced polygamy (actually having to live with more than one spouse simultaneously against one's will) in our "modern LDS Church" theology?
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

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16537
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: Forced Polygamy in the modern LDS Church

Post by Curt Sunshine » 29 Jul 2014, 00:55

For those who long for the simpler days of Joseph, when simple, authoritative answers to questions were readily available, I hope the following illustrates my problem with that supposition:

Please summarize Joseph's view on marriage in mortality and after as concisely as possible.
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

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16537
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: Forced Polygamy in the modern LDS Church

Post by Curt Sunshine » 29 Jul 2014, 01:22

fooddoctor33, I had a thought tonight that might crystallize better why I don't see any forced polygamy in our modern theology. It might sound at first like apologetics, but it's not. It also might sound so elementary at first as to be meaningless, but I hope by the end the reason I share it will be apparent. As everyone who has participated here for any length of time knows, I try to be very careful in the word choices I make in order to convey exactly the meaning I intend - since I believe precision is really important in lots of our discussions. This comment is meant in that spirit.

1) Polygamy is defined as being married to more than one spouse at a time - but the practical definition simply doesn't contemplate previous marriages that have ended in divorce or death. Thus, someone whose spouse has died and who remarries is not considered to be a polygamist - even someone like Larry King or Elizabeth Taylor.

2) Bigamy is defined as being married to someone while still being married to someone else (two spouses) - who is living. The only difference between the two terms, linguistically, is the number of spouses - two vs. more than two.

However, the two terms are used and understood quite differently in our modern society. The primary difference in how the two terms are understood, generally, is that polygamy always connotes multiple spouses who know about each other, while bigamy is used primarily when the spouses are not aware of each other. (Thus, someone with two wives, for example, generally would be called a polygamist - even though the correct term technically would be bigamist.) Further, polygamy generally is understood to be a situation where someone is actively married to, living with and splitting time with multiple spouses simultaneously and openly, while bigamy generally connotes a situation in which differing locations are involved and there is no formal separation of time and marital activity (and I don't mean just sex) that is understood and accepted by multiple spouses - like there is in polygamy.

I know that is going beyond the strict dictionary definitions, but it's how the words generally are understood in our society.

Mormons who are sealed to more than one spouse in the modern Church don't really fit either of those definitions at all. They aren't living with multiple spouses; they aren't in a relationship in any meaningful way with multiple spouses; they aren't hiding one spouse from the other spouse; they are no different, in practical terms, than anyone else who remarries after the death of or divorce from a previous spouse. The ONLY difference is the possibility that they might be allowed to choose to BECOME polygamous after death, if they choose to do so. They aren't bound to that type of arrangement, so there is no coercion or forced outcome, but it is open to them as a possibility.

Again, that doesn't help the emotions of a situation like yours - but it points to an important difference in our current theology and that which was taught before the Manifesto: that was polygamy; this is merely the possibility for those who hope for it. (and, as I've said in other threads, I know enough people - Mormon and not - who have been married to and loved deeply more than one spouse who would be crushed to have to choose that I can't condemn a theology that leaves it open as a possibility to them, even as I have absolutely no desire whatsoever for it and hope that God really can work it out in the end so that everyone is happy with their situation without it) Those who don't want it after they die won't be held to it, so there is no "real" polygamy for them - and certainly no "forced" polygamy.

That is why church leaders can believe, and make policy reflecting the belief, that multiple sealings don't constitute polygamy automatically - here or there, now or later. In the end, they really do believe it's up to God and the individuals to make the final decision.
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
Sheldon
Posts: 443
Joined: 14 Aug 2013, 13:44

Re: Forced Polygamy in the modern LDS Church

Post by Sheldon » 29 Jul 2014, 09:01

Fooddoctor33 It might help to put the word seal in context. Originally, the word seal did not mean that something is bound together, like the “seal” on a food container. Seal means authority.

Long ago when the king sent out a proclamation, or order, he put his “seal” on it. That made the law binding on those that received it. The seal was a physical stamp usually made in hot wax on the bottom of the paper. That made it official.

So look at it this way. When an ordinance is “sealed” (such as an anointing, or a marriage), when the word seal is used, it means we, acting in God’s name, are putting his stamp of approval on it. We LDS misuse the word seal, and think it as purely a “binding together” word. Look at it as “authority”

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16537
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: Forced Polygamy in the modern LDS Church

Post by Curt Sunshine » 29 Jul 2014, 09:21

I really like that Sheldon - and you said it in so fewer words than I. :oops:
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: 3507
Joined: 22 Oct 2008, 16:27

Re: Forced Polygamy in the modern LDS Church

Post by hawkgrrrl » 29 Jul 2014, 21:26

Not to throw a wrench in, but here goes. Let's get a little D&C 132 polygamy primer in here. Here's how polygamy works, folks:
1) the woman gives herself to the man, not the reverse.
2) once a man marries a woman, she is free to divorce him, but he cannot divorce her, not ever. He is always going to be obligated.
3) because the man is the [insert whatever patriarchal view you like here: protector, provider, priesthood holder] the women he marries have a claim on him for their salvation. That's why a man can never rid himself of a wife unless she voluntarily divorces him. He is the source of her blessings, not the reverse. She is entitled to him, not the reverse. She has a claim on him, not the reverse. And in a very direct way, despite what the church may say now, she needs him, and he doesn't need her specifically.
4) what is the woman to the man? His future priestess (when he becomes a god), his future worshiper. Having more may increase his glory. Not having any means he doesn't have anyone to be his priestess and worshiper. That's the way in which a man can't be saved without a wife.

Now, that's the original view of polygamy. There's your Polygamy 101 course. The problem is that so many things are still tangled up in it, and our current leaders doubtless have differing opinions about what is divine and what is not among the ashes of polygamy. It's one of the key reasons why the temple in general is problematic for women: its foundational premise is tied up with polygamy. It hasn't been fully unwound yet, although I suspect it should be. Personally, I don't believe polygamy is right. It is about the worst idea I've ever heard of honestly. Can church leaders envision an eternity and a temple ceremony without it? I'd love to see that happen, but it's a lot of work to root it out, and I suspect some of them don't know where the baby begins and the bathwater ends.

As to the current predicament, I think it is evidence that some of the Q12 still believe that the sealing ordinance is necessary for women, that allowing men to cancel it when they divorce is unfair to the women, and that they are preserving those women's access to eternal blessings by not letting men cancel their sealings to them. But I would bet dollars to donuts there are differing opinions on this one at the highest levels. Expect changes to happen in the coming years.

foodoctor33
Posts: 14
Joined: 12 Jan 2014, 02:32

Re: Forced Polygamy in the modern LDS Church

Post by foodoctor33 » 30 Jul 2014, 07:48

Wow. Hawkgrrrl. Amazing insight. Amen. Amen. And Ray et al....thank you to for your insights. If we can all agree that none of us really know what the afterlife truly holds, the only thing we can know for certainty is this life. And if we have spiritual rituals like polygamy that we can all agree are personally problematic and we can prove caused significant legal, spiritual, relational problems for the Church and was part of the reason JS was killed......why do we hold on to the offshoots of this? I guess I just can't wrap my heart and brain around the Brethren being so dogmatic and rigid in a belief (polygamy) that is so divisive and not err on the side of the only thing we do know and that is what effects polygamy has on those living NOW. Again, I can't say it loud enough, PEOPLE OVER POLICY!!!!!

I just grew up with this vision and teaching from my parents and local church that the leaders are infallible when it comes to spiritual things. Maybe that is and was naïve of me but that is wha the church peddles. "follow the prophet...follow the prophet...he know the way." we sang all the time. My faith gap grows wider with this personal issue when I see leaders cling to dogma and policy over individuals. I'm the Kate Kelly of spiritual polygamy in a sense. I need a policy answer to a personal issue I know I am right about. I struggle to want to deal with an organization that has anything to do whatsoever with spiritual plural marriage and refuses to honor free will especially when I am not asking for acceptance of a "lifestyle" to have them turn their head to any "sin". If my ex-wife repents...I am at her mercy and am sealed to her. PERIOD. I will die if I here again... "The Lord will sort it out in the end." If this kills my faith NOW....who cares about the end for me...right? Ugggggg. Not only now to I have to recreate my faith to include picking and choosing when the Brethren are speaking and acting as prophets and when they are following policy and just going with their gut. Would be a huge paradigm shift.

I am humbled by all of your time and help with this. I am grateful for this space to verbally throw up and ask for insight....it's a space I need because I can't find it elsewhere to any deep degree.

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16537
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: Forced Polygamy in the modern LDS Church

Post by Curt Sunshine » 30 Jul 2014, 08:11

If my ex-wife repents...I am at her mercy and am sealed to her. PERIOD.


Sincere question:

Has someone actually said that to you?

If so, they are wrong (theologically and morally).
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

Locked