The Polygamy Problem

Public forum to discuss questions about Mormon history and doctrine.
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Sam Spade
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The Polygamy Problem

Post by Sam Spade » 27 Jul 2009, 22:17

And yes I know it should be polyandry.

Reading the posts on this site over the past few weeks and with my long time experience in the Church it's pretty easy to see that polygamy is one of the major reasons people have issues with the LDS Church. I'm sure you've all noticed that whenever people ask each other (on this forum, other forums, in person, on twitter - where ever) What is your biggest problem with the LDS Church the top answer is usually Polygamy. This got me to thinking: What exactly makes polygamy a problem for you?

For me polygamy, by itself, isn't really that big of an issue - not that I personally would EVER want more than one wife (keeping one woman happy with a sleeze like me is enough thank you very much). Now that fact that Joseph lied about polygamy to Emma that's where I have a problem. So, for the rest of you out there: Why is polygamy a problem for you?

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just me
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Re: The Polygamy Problem

Post by just me » 27 Jul 2009, 22:33

The lying.

It's more complicated than that. After coming to the belief that polygamy was NOT commanded by God I have a huge problem with D&C 132. My God does not destroy women on a whim. It is very incongruent with other scriptures.

But, in a way, the fact that JS never publicly taught polygamy makes me all the more firm in my conviction that it was not commanded by God. Was he or was he not a coward? I don't know, but I feel like he would have publicly proclaimed polygamy if it was commanded.
Most of us, sooner or later, find that at critical points in our lives we must strike out on our own to make a path where none exists.~Elaine Pagels

Ultimately, you are the path-the path begins and ends with you.~Stephan Bodian

He who think he knows, doesn’t know: He who knows he doesn’t know, knows.~Sanskrit proverb

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Sam Spade
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Re: The Polygamy Problem

Post by Sam Spade » 27 Jul 2009, 22:39

Thanks just me. Hope to hear from more of you.

But let me just say that I'm not putting this up hear as a "lets all bash the church" post. I was just curious about it. I was sitting here thinking, you know this is really why I have a problem with it and I got curious... do other people feel the same way? If not, what are their views and opinions? I really don't want people to read this and think I'm just trying to get a bunch of negative posts. I suppose all I'm really trying to do is satisfy my curiosity.

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jmb275
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Re: The Polygamy Problem

Post by jmb275 » 27 Jul 2009, 23:01

Yes, it's the lying that bothers me quite a bit as well. Also, I'm going to wait for hawkgrrrl's comment on this, and I will state my agreement preemptively. She has fairly strong opinions on this issue (something about kicking people's teeth in or something) ;) . I usually get a good chuckle out of her disdain for polygamy!!

Also, to be honest to myself, I think there's a bit of the stereotypical alpha male syndrome going on with Joseph and polygamy. I ultimately think it likely that Joseph came to view himself as a philosopher king, and succumbed to Nietzche's pious lie idea. IMHO, much of his behavior, post 1830, can be viewed and understood in this light.

The BoM is something I still cannot completely explain away, so I have considered the possibility that The BoM is what it claims to be, but Joseph quickly fell into error after its publication and subsequent formation of the church. After all, that's why the 3 witnesses left, not too mention many many others. In this vein, most of what occurred after 1830 becomes rather irrelevant, to be taken on its own merit alone. But that's just an idea.
I am like a huge, rough stone rolling down from a high mountain; and the only polishing I get is when some corner gets rubbed off by coming in contact with something else, striking with accelerated force against religious bigotry, priestcraft, lawyer-craft, doctor-craft, lying editors, suborned judges and jurors, and the authority of perjured executives, backed by mobs, blasphemers, licentious and corrupt men and women--all hell knocking off a corner here and a corner there.
- Joseph Smith, (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 304)

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spacious maze
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Re: The Polygamy Problem

Post by spacious maze » 28 Jul 2009, 01:05

It is just plain wrong and every soul on earth knows it.

Does anyone here actually believe D&C 132 to be a true revelation? As I recall, JS recited the revelation, given to him years before, from memory.

Well, after reading the JS biography, Rough Stone Rolling, I had a better view of the early members' views on polygamy. And what a surprise, they were appalled. The D&C revelation uses threats of death upon those that don't obey the commandment of plural marriage, and JS used similar threats on the women who tried to refuse his proposals("the gates will be closed to you" ect..). What's important is the fact that human's do not like it when their loved-one is involved with another. JS placing God's stamp on it doesn't change anything other than allowing a pitiful submission by a few weak and scared members.

So my problem with polygamy is the same problem that all 34-50 of JS's wives had, and the same problem JS's wives' husbands had, and JS's wives' fathers had. Why would God command something that the Holy Spirit screams against?

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silentstruggle
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Re: The Polygamy Problem

Post by silentstruggle » 28 Jul 2009, 05:18

My concern and suspsicion is that in practicing a form of sexual dominance, Joseph Smith was acting in a manner common to many leaders of charismatic sects. There is very often an insatiable sexual component to the charismatic kinds of leaders. I think at its root was a need to make 'acceptable' the desires and actions he took, starting with Fanny Alger, by making it something biblical.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: The Polygamy Problem

Post by Curt Sunshine » 28 Jul 2009, 06:01

Sam, I agree this is hard for many memebrs to understand and reconcile. As is my tendency, I like to honor the comments of others in past threads on the same topic, so I would like to ask everyone to read and comment on the existing thread about polygamy. There are some really good comments there, and I hate to see them missed by starting all over again.

That thread is: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=27

Thanks, everyone.
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

Poppyseed
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Re: The Polygamy Problem

Post by Poppyseed » 28 Jul 2009, 08:18

For me, the stuff about Joseph lying to Emma or the going around behind the churches back......this doesn't really bother me in terms of my testimony. It bothers me just because I expected more from his as a prophet and a man of Christ. But, I have to remember that this servant of God was really a boy in many ways. He didn't have the wisdom of a long life and years of marital experience to draw from. I think the Lord did give him wisdom and qualify him for the work, but I think these historical account simply shows that the boy didn't know how to handle this commandment of the Lord. I think he did the best he could, but left much to be desired. And I wonder if any of the 20 something boys I have known could have done any better.

My concern lies with the principle of polygamy rather than the practice itself. I can see that God uses lots of "practices" to teach us or to accomplish immediate earthly needs. But when we start saying that everyone in the highest degree of the CK will be involving polygamy, then my heart starts to break. Doing the will of God in the flesh....disciplining myself to some unpleasant devotion....well, that is one thing. But this makes me feel that my worth as a woman is in question. That the comforts of the men....that the dominion of the men is more important. I feel that I am a tool of the Lord, not a beloved daughter. I have enough trouble with the good ole boys club in the church. Not looking forward to continuing that in the here after.

Now I know that this doesn't square with all the other stuff the church teaches about the worth of souls and the constant battle the church has seemed to fight to get women to understand that they are equally loved and valued by God. It is just that polygamy throws a huge wrench in this effort.

At the end of the day, I don't think we understand what it will really be like on the other side and I know that the church has stopped explaining the Lord's mind on the issue. Perhaps it doesn't matter anymore. Maybe this was never the will of the Lord. But if it wasn't then it throws a huge question over credibility of the prophet. So, either the prophet is imperfect, or God isn't the God I need him to be.
“Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.” --old Chinese proverb

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just me
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Re: The Polygamy Problem

Post by just me » 28 Jul 2009, 08:35

Well said, Poppyseed.
Most of us, sooner or later, find that at critical points in our lives we must strike out on our own to make a path where none exists.~Elaine Pagels

Ultimately, you are the path-the path begins and ends with you.~Stephan Bodian

He who think he knows, doesn’t know: He who knows he doesn’t know, knows.~Sanskrit proverb

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Bruce in Montana
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Re: The Polygamy Problem

Post by Bruce in Montana » 28 Jul 2009, 10:38

Just to submit a little food-for-thought, could we look at it from Joseph's point of view as he described things...

**OK. I'm commanded to put this practice in place, probably as early as 1831 or so. I know what hardship this is going to bring others as well as myself. I also know my wife better than anyone and know that she absolutely won't accept this.
I'm approached through the years 3? times by heavenly messengers, one with a drawn sword, telling me to implement this practice with severe threats if I don't. I don't want to, or know how, but I begin by explaining the practice/commandment and spiritually marrying a young lady living in our house.**

I don't blame him for lying to Emma. I'm not sure that telling her a truth that he knew she couldn't accept would have any postive outcome. I mean...what was he supposed to do? He couldn't put off the practice anymore and he didn't want to hurt his wife. I absolutely don't blame him for lying to the public either. That only served to protect the people from the certain persecutions that would result.

The way us fundamentalist-types view it is that the commandment was first given to select members of the priesthood...later it became a law of the Church but, with the manifesto...it went back to being a law of the priesthood. We view it as a new and everlasting covenant...not a temporary practice until political/social pressures get to intense.
We, of course, recognize a separation between the priesthood and the Church that the Church does not.

All that aside....I do wish the Church would be more forthcoming regarding this history. It's sad to see people leave the Church over something that might be understood if it were brought to the forefront instead of covered up. What good does it do to get increased membership if they are going to leave when they find out historical facts?

My 2 cents...
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
-William S.

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