The Polygamy Problem

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Curt Sunshine
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Re: The Polygamy Problem

Post by Curt Sunshine » 28 Jul 2009, 16:35

As I've said elsewhere, I have major problems with the practice of polygamy - but not the principle of communal selaing and a "council of the Gods" perspective that creates "intelligent, spiritual life" without "sexual activity". If polygamy is what it took to get us to be able to begin to see that eternal possibility, I'm OK with it - as much as I have major problems with its temporary practice. If the eternal perspective I've just described is wrong, I see it as nothing better than a botched attempt to break free from social constraints.

I REALLY like the council of the Gods theology, especially since it has such enormous and good implication for issues with sexual orientation, so I can accept temporary polygamy as the Church was figuring out its theology.

I also think that it created Mormonism as a separate ethnic group in a way - and that has both positive and negative aspects.
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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.

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jmb275
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Re: The Polygamy Problem

Post by jmb275 » 28 Jul 2009, 16:44

Bruce in Montana wrote:**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.**
Sword please!! ;) (fixed)
Last edited by jmb275 on 28 Jul 2009, 17:18, edited 1 time in total.
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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Re: The Polygamy Problem

Post by Pappanoon » 28 Jul 2009, 16:47

One thought that has occurred to me regarding polygamy is that it seems to require exactly the same sacrifices and attributes required to live the united order. For example, if we could rid ourselves of selfishness, unrighteous dominion, greed, jealousy, coveting, unbridled passion, etc. – all things I see as being a prerequisites to living the united order – would we still have a problem with polygamy? If so, why? What is it that would bother us so much about it under these circumstances? (Assume for a moment that it was actually commanded of God. Then answer that question.)

Taking this one step further, if we believe these kinds of attributes are required in order to live in the celestial kingdom (or heaven in general), then would we find polygamy as repugnant there as we do here?

Just thoughts…
I maintain ‘simple faith’...which is faith without understanding of the thing believed, is not equal to intelligent faith,...hence the duty of striving for a rational faith in which the intellect as well as the heart has a place. B.H. Roberts

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Tom Haws
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Re: The Polygamy Problem

Post by Tom Haws » 28 Jul 2009, 17:04

jmb275 wrote:[quote="Bruce in Montana"I begin by explaining the practice/commandment and spiritually marrying a young lady living in our house.**
Sword please!![/quote]

It seems to me, jmb, that while your good humored response appears reasonable to many people, it might appear simply spineless (taking the sword, spineless?) or faithless to, say, Bruce. I do think your feelings and beliefs about it are much deeper, and I hope that it is taken as a sincere effort to defuse tension rather than as flippancy.

I would like to express my own feeling that with the vision I currently have of goodness, love, the Golden Rule, and the whole meaning of the scriptures pointing to one great truth, if I had an angel appear to me three times with a drawn sword commanding me to practice polygamy, I would have serious doubts about his homeland, if you know what I mean. In the event I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt, I would ask my wife what she thought of it, and I would give serious consideration to the morality of having children outside the law and likely outside my ability to parent properly.

I guess what I am saying is the spirit of the prophets is and should be subject to the prophets. When all is said and done, we are all accountable to the golden rule. All revelation can be measured against that measuring stick. That includes Joshua at Jericho, George A. Smith at Mountain Meadows, Joseph in Nauvoo, and Nephi at Laban's drunken side.
Last edited by Tom Haws on 28 Jul 2009, 23:06, edited 1 time in total.
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just me
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Re: The Polygamy Problem

Post by just me » 28 Jul 2009, 17:10

Pappanoon, I see what you're saying. You must realize that I never had a problem with polygamy when I believed it came from God. Actually, I would have no problem "sharing" my DH with my disabled sister. But, I also never really read D&C 132 that closely either.

However, I do not see how polygamy requires the same sacrifice of men as it does women. It is not a "great equalizer." It actually creates classes of people. Women are prizes. The more power and "authority" a man has the more wizes (LOL that was a typo but I'm leaving it) he gets.

I love the concept of concecration because it truly is intended as an equalizer. How can I see my brother lack and I not share? I love that!

Coveting your neighbor's wife is very selfish.
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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Re: The Polygamy Problem

Post by jmb275 » 28 Jul 2009, 17:16

Tom Haws wrote:It seems to me, jmb, that while your good humored response appears reasonable to many people, it might appear simply spineless (taking the sword, spineless?) or faithless to, say, Bruce. I do think your feelings and beliefs about it are much deeper, and I hope that it is taken as a sincere effort to defuse tension rather than as flippancy.
It was meant in jest to diffuse tension as you said. I guess I should have put a smiley face on it or something. I have been accused of lacking proper smiley faces on my posts before (I think Heber pointed this out to me once). Anyway, I don't really believe the story about the angel. It would appear to me that the story about the angel has been aggrandized, and possibly even invented after the fact. Maybe I learned this in Compton's work, but I don't recall (can someone help me out, MormonHeretic perhaps?).

But yes, maybe I do qualify as faithless! :D
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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Re: The Polygamy Problem

Post by Pappanoon » 28 Jul 2009, 18:11

just me wrote: However, I do not see how polygamy requires the same sacrifice of men as it does women. It is not a "great equalizer." It actually creates classes of people. Women are prizes. The more power and "authority" a man has the more wizes (LOL that was a typo but I'm leaving it) he gets.
Having been happily married for almost 25 years myself, that part of it seems quite clear to me. Just the "honey-do" list alone could kill even the most valiant of husbands. :)

Seriously though, if it just involved the sexual part of things, I might agree with you. But having known many polygamists myself, there's a whole lot more to it than just the sex part. Just think of your monogamous marriage. (Actually don't know if you're married or not.) What are the most difficult aspects of a monogamous marriage? I think every problem a couple has in monogamy would only be aplified in polygamy. They wouldn't necessarily be different problems. I think they would be mostly the same problems, just magnified.

As I read what I'm writing it sounds like I'm heavily in favor of "the principle." It really doesn't sound all that fun to me either. But I do feel like most people don't look at all of the aspects of it. As George Q. Cannon put it:

"The opinion which some entertain who take their views from the slanderous reports published about us is that we are a licentious people, who take wives to gratify lust. Such persons, if reasonably honest, are soon made to reflect and to modify their views by asking them a few questions. A prominent gentleman with whom I recently conversed, entertained that opinion. I said to him, after conversing a little while: Sir, you believe the People of Utah are bad and licentious, and that they degrade women by their system of plural marriage. Let me ask you, if their purposes were only sensual, have they any occasion in this day to marry women? Could they not accomplish sensual ends much easier, cheaper and without creating any especial remark by not marrying women and not caring for and educating and legitimatizing their children? There are practices which prevail in society and which are not unpopular if a certain degree of secrecy be observed which a licentious people could avail themselves of, without the trouble, care, expense and responsibility of marriage. What is the crime of which the people of Utah are accused? It is of marrying women! It is not that of seducing or debauching them. ... Not one word of condemnation, nor penalty of any character, is proposed for the seducer, or the vile betrayer of female innocence; he is to walk up to the polls and vote unchallenged; but the man who marries women, and maintains them honorably and virtuously, sustaining family and parental relations in all purity and sacredness, is to be disfranchised and visited with other pains and penalties! You will perceive, therefore that the “Mormon” people are either not a licentious people or they are the most foolish in the world. "

I think he makes a couple of decent points.
I maintain ‘simple faith’...which is faith without understanding of the thing believed, is not equal to intelligent faith,...hence the duty of striving for a rational faith in which the intellect as well as the heart has a place. B.H. Roberts

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Re: The Polygamy Problem

Post by Pappanoon » 28 Jul 2009, 18:32

jmb275 wrote: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.
Your comments about post 1830 revelations is interesting. I've attached a Word doc showing when each revelation in the D&C was published. It's interesting to see how it hit a pinnicle and then declined after 1831. Is this because JS didn't receive as many revelations after this time or because he simply didn't share as many of his revelations with others after this time? I think most of those that knew him well would say it was the latter. Who knows?
I maintain ‘simple faith’...which is faith without understanding of the thing believed, is not equal to intelligent faith,...hence the duty of striving for a rational faith in which the intellect as well as the heart has a place. B.H. Roberts

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Re: The Polygamy Problem

Post by just me » 28 Jul 2009, 18:51

Pappanoon wrote: Having been happily married for almost 25 years myself, that part of it seems quite clear to me. Just the "honey-do" list alone could kill even the most valiant of husbands. :)
:lol: Just go on a mission, no worries!
Pappanoon wrote: Seriously though, if it just involved the sexual part of things, I might agree with you. But having known many polygamists myself, there's a whole lot more to it than just the sex part. Just think of your monogamous marriage. (Actually don't know if you're married or not.) What are the most difficult aspects of a monogamous marriage? I think every problem a couple has in monogamy would only be aplified in polygamy. They wouldn't necessarily be different problems. I think they would be mostly the same problems, just magnified.

As I read what I'm writing it sounds like I'm heavily in favor of "the principle." It really doesn't sound all that fun to me either. But I do feel like most people don't look at all of the aspects of it. As George Q. Cannon put it:

"The opinion which some entertain who take their views from the slanderous reports published about us is that we are a licentious people, who take wives to gratify lust. Such persons, if reasonably honest, are soon made to reflect and to modify their views by asking them a few questions. A prominent gentleman with whom I recently conversed, entertained that opinion. I said to him, after conversing a little while: Sir, you believe the People of Utah are bad and licentious, and that they degrade women by their system of plural marriage. Let me ask you, if their purposes were only sensual, have they any occasion in this day to marry women? Could they not accomplish sensual ends much easier, cheaper and without creating any especial remark by not marrying women and not caring for and educating and legitimatizing their children? There are practices which prevail in society and which are not unpopular if a certain degree of secrecy be observed which a licentious people could avail themselves of, without the trouble, care, expense and responsibility of marriage. What is the crime of which the people of Utah are accused? It is of marrying women! It is not that of seducing or debauching them. ... Not one word of condemnation, nor penalty of any character, is proposed for the seducer, or the vile betrayer of female innocence; he is to walk up to the polls and vote unchallenged; but the man who marries women, and maintains them honorably and virtuously, sustaining family and parental relations in all purity and sacredness, is to be disfranchised and visited with other pains and penalties! You will perceive, therefore that the “Mormon” people are either not a licentious people or they are the most foolish in the world. "

I think he makes a couple of decent points.
I agree that we can't say that it is always and only about physical gratification. That is just as false as saying it is not about that.
But when I read the accounts of the sister wife locked out in the snow who froze to death, or one of Parley P. Pratt's wives whose sister wives refused to share with her (she taught all the Pratt children and never received payment) or the wives of BY whose hearts were broken because they were neglected or Jacob Huntington who felt like he had to give up his wife to 2 prophets and was so lonely or the man who was made a eunich because a leader wanted his beloved it paints a pretty sorry picture. Add that to the fact that only the first/legal wife has any legal recourse in case of divorce and Utah had like the highest divorce rate in the country.
As for this legitimizing children, so many of them had to lie about their name and who daddy was.

The polygamist man is NEVER equal to his women. The more wives you have the more power and dominion you have. How is this a great equalizer? I really can't see how it helps rid people of selfishness.
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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Re: The Polygamy Problem

Post by Bruce in Montana » 28 Jul 2009, 19:39

"The polygamist man is NEVER equal to his women. The more wives you have the more power and dominion you have. How is this a great equalizer? I really can't see how it helps rid people of selfishness."

Let me try it this way. I have a very good friend...let's call him "Jim". Jim is 45ish and a drywall finisher by trade. He has two wives, one 43 and one in her late 30's. His first wife has 9 kids, the other wife has 5. Wife #1 is a reflexologist, she makes good money providing services to group homes...Wife #2 is in real estate. These ladies depend on each other to watch each other's younger children, as well as the older kids, and have more free time than a monogamous couple would with either the 9 kids or the 5....I know it's kinda strange if you've never seen it but it works out that way.

"Jim", on the other hand, works his patoot off. We live in some of the best flyfishing country on the continent and Jim doesn't even own a fishing rod. He simply does not have time. I've never seen a man with as little free time as him.
He gives all he has, and every minute he has, to his wives and children.
It is truly a refiner's fire to learn to understand the wants and needs of another individual as he does in his marriages but he pulls it off.

On the other hand, Brigham Young said that this principle would damn more people than it would save (or something akin to that) It's not easy and it's not for the weak.

Power and dominion? Hardly.
If his attitude was selfish, he could just have a monogamous marriage and a girlfriend or two...or maybe a monogamous marriage and some extra income for nicer cars and nicer homes...or maybe a decent fishing pole and some time to use it. :)

When done correctly, I don't think it's an equalizer at all. It's a liberator for women. Admitedly, there are many who don't do it correctly.
That is the difference between celestial plural marriage and just plain old polygamy/bigamy IMHO.

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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