New Essay on Polygamy! (update, a 2nd one posted also)

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Curt Sunshine
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Re: New Essay on Polygamy! (update, a 2nd one posted also)

Post by Curt Sunshine » 22 Oct 2014, 17:23

They are exactly what I expected in many ways and better than I expected in some ways. I don't think they are worse than I expected in any particular way - not what I hoped in an ideal world, but I can accept them for now.

There is NO way the Church is going to condemn polygamy completely (not just because it was instituted by Joseph, but also because so many early saints believed so passionately in it, even many who struggled with it), so I don't hold out any hope for that. As much as I don't like some things (particularly the angel with the drawn sword aspect, even though I think someone subject to visions could have been a good person, had such a vision and have had it not be revelation from God), I am not surprised, disappointed, upset or any other negative reaction about these essays. I think they went as far as they could go right now - and I'm really glad they are worded as carefully as they are. I think that is a good sign that the people who wrote and authorized them understand these are difficult issues and that there are conflicting ways to view them.

These and others would have been worded very differently when I was a young adult, and I an happy for that change in orientation.
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Re: New Essay on Polygamy! (update, a 2nd one posted also)

Post by GBSmith » 22 Oct 2014, 18:28

Interesting that Fanny Alger was mentioned. Also the "law of Sarah". A wife must be asked if she agrees to another wife but if she doesn't, the husband can do it anyway. I can see this as another way to get things out in the open but for me it just confirms what I already believed.

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Re: New Essay on Polygamy! (update, a 2nd one posted also)

Post by GBSmith » 22 Oct 2014, 18:52

From the second essay :
In this legal setting, President Smith sought to protect the Church while stating the truth. His testimony conveyed a distinction Church leaders had long understood: the Manifesto removed the divine command for the Church collectively to sustain and defend plural marriage; it had not, up to this time, prohibited individuals from continuing to practice or perform plural marriage as a matter of religious conscience.
?

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Re: New Essay on Polygamy! (update, a 2nd one posted also)

Post by NewLight » 23 Oct 2014, 05:11

I got to agree with journeygirl on this one – blech :sick: . But on the positive side, they are finally publishing something about it, though it still does not honestly discuss it. To me, the overall tone of the essays seems to be aimed at TBMs who are beginning to be exposed to polygamy by Google and folks like us as a means for them to say “See, yeah, polygamy happened and it was all guided by God”. I guess I'm not sure the Church could have gone any further discussing it with the array of membership we have and the hand they have been dealt with this issue. Still, I hope they disclose more on their own as more people find out about polygamy through reputable sources on the Internet.

Any in depth study of “the principle” can't help but make one see what a mess it was. I'll admit that this is one of my hot buttons. But seriously, the blessings promised the Kimballs if their fourteen year old daughter married Joseph?! As I recall, the angel with the drawn sword was to get Zina (already married to Henry) to marry Joseph. That seems like complete manipulation to me and is uncharacteristic of the God who I personally have come to know.

This is a very hard issue for me because of my personal experience at a fairly young age. I lost my first wife when she was only 23. She had a terminal disease and as we discussed what I would do after she died, this painful topic came up in our conversations. For a long time, she did not want me to get married in the temple after she died, but within the last few weeks of her life, she gave her permission. She wanted me to be happy in the rest of my life and she knew that in our LDS lifestyle, that any “good Mormon girl” that could be a future wife to me would require a temple marriage. I was deeply touched that she would see my anguish and give that type of permission when she struggled with it too. If that isn't an act of true love, I don't know what is. I am approaching my 25th anniversary with my second wife who I married in the temple - a wonderful woman who amazes me daily.

That is not the end of the story with what was going on at the time I was soon to be losing my first wife – there is more to it that is just, well, it confirms what a mess polygamy is to me. During the time she was in and out of the hospital, she had a very kind nurse that we got close to. This happened over the course of a few years. The nurse was not much older than us and LDS . She had lost her husband who she married in the temple. In the LDS church, we all know that temple ceremonies only allow men to marry multiple times and not women. She was remarried to another LDS man outside the temple of course and I know it was difficult for her to think about it. Would the kids she planned to have be hers in the eternities?? What a hard thing to ponder!

I do not believe polygamy is inspired or anything of the like in the 19th century or now. There is simply too much suffering associated with it to comprehend. I hope the church continues to morph on this topic and reaches a point when it can truly provide some comfort to those in pain from it. The essays are a good first step.

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Re: New Essay on Polygamy! (update, a 2nd one posted also)

Post by LookingHard » 23 Oct 2014, 05:38

NewLight, I can certainly see how this topic is extra poignant to you. I hope you find peace.

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Re: New Essay on Polygamy! (update, a 2nd one posted also)

Post by SilentDawning » 23 Oct 2014, 10:33

The church has a lot of embarrassing stuff to deal with. Its amusing to me that at one time plural marriage was hard core doctrine. Now, in the essays it is something about which we don't know a lot. The comment that God told us to plural marriage but not how to practice it seems like the 'blame it on frail humanity' argument that gets used conveniently to explain questionable prophet behavior. I also think its a brilliant piece of likely fiction that JS had the angel and sword expedience. Its as if he knew his sex with teenagers was wrong and said 'I never wanted this plural partner thing...it was forced on me!!'

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Re: New Essay on Polygamy! (update, a 2nd one posted also)

Post by Roy » 23 Oct 2014, 11:01

GBSmith wrote:From the second essay :
In this legal setting, President Smith sought to protect the Church while stating the truth. His testimony conveyed a distinction Church leaders had long understood: the Manifesto removed the divine command for the Church collectively to sustain and defend plural marriage; it had not, up to this time, prohibited individuals from continuing to practice or perform plural marriage as a matter of religious conscience.
?
From the first essay regarding the denials -
The statements emphasized that the Church practiced no marital law other than monogamy while implicitly leaving open the possibility that individuals, under direction of God’s living prophet, might do so.
This is difficult. It appears to excuse having two different rules systems. One set of rules for general membership that prohibits polygamy and another set of rules for individuals that either through "religious conscience" of "direction of God's living prophet" become exceptions to the rule.

We do not want to call it dishonest but is it? If it was ok for the church then to obfuscate the truth by twisting the meaning of words or adding a wink and a nod - what would make it unacceptable today?

Would this fall under the general recent blanket admissions that "God has always had to work through imperfect individuals" and "there have been some actions of church leaders that are not in agreement with our standards." ?
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Re: New Essay on Polygamy! (update, a 2nd one posted also)

Post by Heber13 » 23 Oct 2014, 11:11

SD,
I'd probably say "puzzling" more than "embarrassing" history.

Certainly the overall story is strange to go from "I didn't want to but God told me I had to" (which not just JS, but most others seemed to be stating in their journals), to the Manifesto saying God is prohibiting. Such a paradox indeed.

However, when you look at the details and progression of events over the timeline of 80+ years (a long timeline)...I can see the sensible approach and reject the critics who rashly paint the picture it was sex driven or just plan lunacy. I also reject the idea it is the heavenly order of things. I just don't believe either extreme.

The interesting part of the story was the spiritual experiences were not just Joseph Smith and not isolated to one teenage person. The revelatory process was repeated by Joseph with other women of various ages, and then was repeated by others, not just one man, but by other men and the women who struggled to accept it and received their confirmations to live it. While you can't use the scientific process to evaluate spiritual things...there is an element to me confirming it wasn't about Joseph and teenage girls.

Then to see the church members fight so hard to live it and then be asked to abandon the practice, is interesting to me God would do such a thing.

To me, there is so much of the story that is about how revelation works, apart from polygamy itself, and even less about sex or control.

All churches have a past to deal with. All governments, and companies, and of course...all individuals do too. The church is no exception, and the essay stresses how difficult it is to understand. I don't think I ever will understand it. It's puzzling to me.

Better the church own up to it and call it what it is, then try to be apologetic about it and think they can explain it.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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Re: New Essay on Polygamy! (update, a 2nd one posted also)

Post by Heber13 » 23 Oct 2014, 11:22

Roy wrote:We do not want to call it dishonest but is it? If it was ok for the church then to obfuscate the truth by twisting the meaning of words or adding a wink and a nod - what would make it unacceptable today?
No, Roy...I don't think it's acceptable. It seems dishonest and non-compliant. The only reason the church is openly presenting it now on the website is there is no legal action that could be taken now about it. If there was a legal repercussion of the government confiscating church property today by admitting these discretions of the past, they wouldn't publish it.

It seems it is more Machiavellian "the end justify the means" thinking.

That's problematic to me. I don't think it is acceptable by anyone.

Maybe its not honest or acceptable. But is it honorable?
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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Re: New Essay on Polygamy! (update, a 2nd one posted also)

Post by nibbler » 23 Oct 2014, 13:49

It's good that they are starting to address the issue. A week ago I couldn't really tell you what the position of the church was on Joseph Smith having multiple wives. There really wasn't a clear, official stance that I knew of. There are even books that suggest that he never practiced polygamy. So one small step for church...

I can also see how they would sweat the release of these and the other articles. I appreciate that they have to be worded carefully due to the sensitive nature of the subject and in consideration of members that may have built up faith around something that may not necessarily have been true. I also understand how those same careful words can be a trigger for other people that feel like the careful wording is another dodge. It'll be cool to see how this all pans out over time.
NewLight wrote:As I recall, the angel with the drawn sword was to get Zina (already married to Henry) to marry Joseph. That seems like complete manipulation to me and is uncharacteristic of the God who I personally have come to know.
The interesting thing here... the angel with a sword thing might be a bit more plausible with the first plural wife, it becomes less and less plausible with subsequent plural wives. The first plural wife? Sure, that's a hard line to cross and maybe there needs to be a little motivation to cross it. Assuming Zina was the fourth plural wife, why would Joseph need that extra motivation to cross some line he had already crossed multiple times before? To say nothing of god's gift of agency (both JS and the women). It's easier to simply reject the notion that an angel actually threatened JS with a sword.

Edit:
You know how many wives you have to have to restore the principle of plural wives? Two. At least that's all you'd have to have to comply with a principle that god is all but forcing on you... but I appear to be a minimalist. :D

This is reminding me of a scene from Office Space:
I need to talk about your wives.
Really? I have a wife. I, uh,
Well, ok, one is minimum, ok?
Ok.
Now, it's up to you whether or not you want to just do the bare minimum. Well, like Solomon, for example, has 700 wives. And a terrific smile.
Ok. Ok, you want me to marry more?
Look. Joseph.
Yeah.
People can get religion anywhere, ok? They come to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the atmosphere and the attitude. That's what the wives are about. It's about fun.
Ok. So, more then?
Look, we want you to express yourself, ok? If you think the bare minimum is enough, then ok. But some people choose to have more and we encourage that, ok? You do want to express yourself, don't you?
Yeah. Yeah.
Great. Great. That's all I ask.
Ok.
--- 100 years later ---
You know what, God, if you want me to marry 700 women, like your pretty boy over there, Solomon, why don't you just make the minimum 700 wives?
Well, I thought I remembered you saying that you wanted to express yourself.
Yeah. You know what, yeah, I do. I do want to express myself, okay. And I don't need 700 wives to do it.

That was a joke, hope it landed. I don't mean to be insensitive on a controversial issue or equate women with pieces of flair. Back to your regularly scheduled program:
Last edited by nibbler on 23 Oct 2014, 18:55, edited 2 times in total.
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