Nelly and Abby Discuss Polygamy

Public forum to discuss questions about Mormon history and doctrine.
User avatar
Shawn
Posts: 707
Joined: 07 Jun 2012, 14:22
Location: Utah

Nelly and Abby Discuss Polygamy

Post by Shawn » 16 Sep 2016, 08:58

The Millennial Star had a series called "Nelly and Abby" with fictional women having conversations to teach doctrines. Has anyone read any of them before? Here is part of one of those talks with my favorite parts highlighted. I think John Taylor wrote it, but I'm not sure. The original is HERE.
Nelly.—Dear cousin Abby, I have been very anxious indeed to see you ever since I heard of the New Revelation. I know that nothing has ever come up yet in this Church, (unless it is now) that could stumble you. But I think now, when your John comes to get two or three more wives, you will feel as keenly as any of us; for I know that he has always been your idol; and to see him bestowing his affections upon other, as he has heretofore so exclusively done upon you; now, as sure as your name is Abby—but I won’t say what you may do.... well, George knows better than ever to undertake such a thing with me; but I was going to say, if he ever should, I would just like to pick one or two women for him that I could select.... I would get the ugliest looking women that I could find; I wouldn’t much care if they were black, and if they were to throw the fire-poker at him sometimes. George knows that I love him dearly, be really I—I—don’t see how you ever can submit to it, Abby!...

Abby.—…I appreciate a kind, intelligent, noble husband, that is ordained and anointed like unto Abraham, to be King over innumerable myriads of the human family, so highly, that I shall not make myself a widow or servant throughout all eternity by opposing what God has clearly revealed by all His Prophets, since the world began. The consequence of my opposing the Patriarchal Order of Marriage would be the loss of my husband for all eternity.... But dear cousin, the great question is this—will we unite with the plurality Order of Ancient Patriarchs, or will we consent voluntarily to be doomed to eternal celibacy? This is the true division of the question. One or the other we must choose. We cannot be married to our husbands for eternity, without subscribing to the law that admits a plurality of wives....

Nelly.—…Do you mean to say that a female cannot have any husband for the next world or for all the eternities to come, unless she is agreeable to the same law of marriage by which Sarah and Rachel were governed?

Abby.—Yes cousin I understand it in this light. The promise of God, to multiply Abraham, was made to all who should have the like faith or to all who should have true faith in Jesus Christ, in whatever period of the world they might live…. But I perceive the idea that is running in your mind, Nelly. You want to know if you cannot enjoy the society of your dear George as a husband in the eternal world, without allowing other females to share him with you?

Nelly.—Yes cousin, that is just what I want to know; you have expressed my idea better than I could myself because the idea of not having my husband in all eternity is dreadful.... and then our little Edward and Susan are so fond of their father, that I know we could never endure a separation for eternity. But why cannot I be married to him for eternity, and have him alone to myself?

Abby.—…If your George and you should be alone by the side of such a king as Abraham or Solomon with all his queens and their numerous servants and waiting maids in courtly livery, would he not look like a mere rushlight by the side of such suns, or rather would he be seen at all! I should almost fear that your George would be taken for a servant, and you for a waiting maid.... I have come to the conclusion, Nelly, that the one-wife system not only degenerates the human family both physically and intellectually, but it is entirely incompatible with philosophical notions of immortality; it is a lure to temptation, and has always proved a curse to a people. Hence I see the wisdom of God in not tolerating any such system among the celestial worthies who are to be kings and queens unto God for ever....

…The new Covenant is revealed in order to bless both men and women beyond what they otherwise could be blessed. When Jacob had many wives, he loved each of them more than he could have done so any one of them that he might have had alone without the others. And his wives loved him and each other in the same ratio.... God has determined to bestow His greatest blessings upon the liberal order, and only very stinted favours upon the narrow, contracted order which you seem to desire. In the former order your children are all the lawful heirs of thrones and kingdoms, and in your favourite order they are only the heirs of servile inferiority.

Nelly.—Well I shouldn’t like to have my little darling Ned heir to anything very inferior. I would rather he would have a dozen wives than to be eternally a servant to somebody else….

Abby.—…I hope you are sufficiently sensible that the Lord, by this New Revelation, is determined to save a chosen few, whose garments shall not be defiled, and who will keep themselves unspotted from the world. These few He will make rulers over the rest.
Last edited by Shawn on 19 Sep 2016, 15:50, edited 1 time in total.

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

Re: Nelly and Abby Discuss Polygamy

Post by Ann » 16 Sep 2016, 11:38

I haven't seen this before. It looks like the print version of the "convincing" that a lot of women did. I think "In Sacred Loneliness" had accounts of women, especially some of the older ones - it was part of their purpose, going around Nauvoo putting pressure on reluctant women. At least that required actual women to speak face to face, but a man writing an imaginary conversation between two women to force an outcome? I find that repellant.

That was then. This is now. That's what I want the church to say, to say it's OVER. No qualifiers.

Eternity, full of men AND women who have married more than once, will take care of itself. My $.02.

I don't think it does much good to expect others to be horrified. (I'm trying to get rid of many expectations, since they're a breeding ground for disappointment.) My approach anymore is to just say what I think.
"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

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16851
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: Nelly and Abby Discuss Polygamy

Post by Curt Sunshine » 16 Sep 2016, 17:18

There probably is no reasonable discussion possible about this, frankly.

Everyone typing, "Amen," or, "Yep, it was horrible," is about the only possibility I see.
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: 7315
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: Nelly and Abby Discuss Polygamy

Post by DarkJedi » 16 Sep 2016, 17:36

Yep, it was horrible. :D
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

User avatar
Holy Cow
Posts: 314
Joined: 10 Nov 2014, 17:07
Location: Las Vegas

Re: Nelly and Abby Discuss Polygamy

Post by Holy Cow » 19 Sep 2016, 08:07

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

I've come to lean on the 11th Article of Faith more and more as time goes on. I don't believe polygamy was commanded by God. Maybe Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and John Taylor believed in it. But, I don't have to believe what they believed. I get to choose what I believe. I think it was a disgusting practice, and the manipulation that was often involved used to make me sick. But, now, I'm to the point that it bothers me less because I'm forming my own beliefs, free from what was taught in the past. I can 'stay LDS' and still say that there are many mormon doctrines that I don't accept to be true. It is interesting to see documents like this, but now my reaction is more pity than anger.
My introduction: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=6139

User avatar
DarkJedi
Posts: 7315
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: Nelly and Abby Discuss Polygamy

Post by DarkJedi » 19 Sep 2016, 08:17

Holy Cow wrote:We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

I've come to lean on the 11th Article of Faith more and more as time goes on. I don't believe polygamy was commanded by God. Maybe Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and John Taylor believed in it. But, I don't have to believe what they believed. I get to choose what I believe. I think it was a disgusting practice, and the manipulation that was often involved used to make me sick. But, now, I'm to the point that it bothers me less because I'm forming my own beliefs, free from what was taught in the past. I can 'stay LDS' and still say that there are many mormon doctrines that I don't accept to be true. It is interesting to see documents like this, but now my reaction is more pity than anger.
:thumbup: I feel very much the same way - the 11th AoF does not apply only to those outside the church.
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

Roy
Posts: 6217
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Nelly and Abby Discuss Polygamy

Post by Roy » 19 Sep 2016, 09:31

Abby wrote:If your George and you should be alone by the side of such a king as Abraham or Solomon with all his queens and their numerous servants and waiting maids in courtly livery, would he not look like a mere rushlight by the side of such suns, or rather would he be seen at all! I should almost fear that your George would be taken for a servant, and you for a waiting maid; or if they should, in the galaxy and splendor of 144,00 such suns as Solomon, happen to see you and your George with a king’s coronet upon his head, they might think him short of wedding garments, or that the selfishness of his wife had stinted his growth to such an insignificant, crab-tree size! Besides, a Queen to him that has his hundreds of wives in eternity, with children as numberless as the stars of heaven, would receive intelligence, wealth, honour, children, and dominion, in some measure proportioned to the exaltations of her husband and king; while your George, not having much to look after besides you, could not demand the same measure of wealth, honour, and dominion, because he could use upon you and your little family but a small pittance of what pertains to one moving in a wider and far more exalted sphere. Your intelligence, and that of your children, could not rise higher than the intelligence of your husband. Consequently, you must see yourself and your husband, and your children, continually outstripped in intelligence by all others around you. Your social circle must consequently be very limited at home. And your offspring not be as numerous. The motive which would lead you to retain your husband exclusively to yourself, would contribute to make you comparatively unfruitful, and also vitiate the mental and bodily functions of your offspring, and sow the seeds of death and mortality in their systems... Hence I see the wisdom of God in not tolerating any such system [as monogamy] among the celestial worthies who are to be kings and queens unto God for ever…. God has determined to bestow His greatest blessings upon the liberal order, and only very stinted favours upon the narrow, contracted order which you seem to desire. In the former order your children are all the lawful heirs of thrones and kingdoms, and in your favourite order they are only the heirs of servile inferiority.
This is a fantastically amazing quote to show what I feel is the principle theological justification of polygamy. Honestly, I am excited to have found such a clear and concise description of early Mormon thought on the practice. The anthropologist in me is thrilled. Below is what I have previously written in another thread on justifications for polygamy:
For “greater glory”: “The first commandment was to ‘Multiply’ and the Prophet taught us that Dominion & power in the great future would be commensurate with the number of ‘wives, children & friends’ that we inherit here and that our great mission to earth was to organize a nucleus of Heaven to take with us. To the increase of which there would be no end.”…”When the family organization was revealed from heaven- the patriarchal order of God, and Joseph began, on the right hand and the left, to add to his family, what a quaking there was in Israel.” In Sacred loneliness p. 10-11 “Joseph’s kingdom grew with the size of his family, and those bonded to that family would be exalted with him.” The purpose was “to create a network of related wives, children, and kinsmen that would endure into the eternities…Like Abraham of old, Joseph yearned for familial plentitude.” RSR p 439-440, D & C 132:55

Under this reasoning it would seem that someone with the larger family would achieve greater exaltation. The quickest way to increase your family size was by adding wives and children through sealings. This helps to explain the “law of adoption” whereby grown men would be sealed as sons to GA’s. This also helps to explain why additional women would be sealed to JS after his death that did not have this sort of relationship with him while he was alive. I understand that during the BY Utah period a woman could leave her husband to be sealed to someone else (GA) for the sole reason that the woman felt that her new husband would take her higher in the celestial kingdom than the former. And if the amount of wives in this life is a quick and dirty method of gauging the amount of glory in the next – you could see how this could snowball to the advantage of those that already have many wives. Under polyandry it is possible that both the wife and the original (and still) husband would gain protection and eternal glory by being added to the kingdom/family of the prophet. Some women were promised exaltation to themselves and their ENTIRE HOUSEHOLD for participation.
Polygamy is kingdom or dynasty building and the failure to do it leaves a couple diminished in comparison to those who have been multiplied through the principle. Those members of the monogamous couple "are appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory." D&C 132:16 The monogamous couple cannot become as the Gods, Kings and Queens to "inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths." They cannot be exalted because polygamy IS the functional method for enlarging and multiplying one's personal dominion.
30 Abraham received promises concerning his seed, and of the fruit of his loins—from whose loins ye are, namely, my servant Joseph—which were to continue so long as they were in the world; and as touching Abraham and his seed, out of the world they should continue; both in the world and out of the world should they continue as innumerable as the stars; or, if ye were to count the sand upon the seashore ye could not number them.

31 This promise is yours also, because ye are of Abraham, and the promise was made unto Abraham; and by this law is the continuation of the works of my Father, wherein he glorifieth himself.

32 Go ye, therefore, and do the works of Abraham; enter ye into my law and ye shall be saved.

Going back and reading D&C 132 in light of this information it is clear that the entire document refers to plural marriage as the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. Reading the first half of the revelation to refer to temple marriage and the second half to be some sort of non-essential appendage, appendix, or addendum thereunto, seems to me to be the height of cherry picking/cafeteria Mormonism. What thick irony indeed.
"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

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

Re: Nelly and Abby Discuss Polygamy

Post by Ann » 19 Sep 2016, 09:38

Holy Cow wrote:I've come to lean on the 11th Article of Faith more and more as time goes on. I don't believe polygamy was commanded by God. Maybe Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and John Taylor believed in it. But, I don't have to believe what they believed.
I agree, but it took me a long time, because I was never told I could.
I get to choose what I believe.
:clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:
I think it was a disgusting practice, and the manipulation that was often involved used to make me sick.
Its very hard, espcially difficult in the pre-Internet past, for girls to have any support in thinking this. The recent essays say NOTHING about coercion, about how it was and is wrong, etc.
But, now, I'm to the point that it bothers me less because I'm forming my own beliefs, free from what was taught in the past. I can 'stay LDS' and still say that there are many mormon doctrines that I don't accept to be true. It is interesting to see documents like this, but now my reaction is more pity than anger.
The big problem for the church, I think, is that it puts people who reach this conclusion perilously close to the exit door. There's not much to stop a girl from looking around and thinking, wait, why do I have to do all this processing outside of what the essays, my leaders, my scriptures (Section 132) say? Why the apparent lack of concern, the calcified grip on the status quo?
"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
LookingHard
Posts: 2950
Joined: 20 Oct 2014, 12:11

Re: Nelly and Abby Discuss Polygamy

Post by LookingHard » 19 Sep 2016, 09:42

Holy Cow wrote:I get to choose what I believe. I think it was a disgusting practice, and the manipulation that was often involved used to make me sick. But, now, I'm to the point that it bothers me less because I'm forming my own beliefs, free from what was taught in the past. I can 'stay LDS' and still say that there are many mormon doctrines that I don't accept to be true. It is interesting to see documents like this, but now my reaction is more pity than anger.
I feel much the same way (once I learned the manipulation used I was also just sick). I am deciding what I believe. That is great. I just am struggling with WANTING to stayLDS - or staying identified as LDS. I do like my ward, but I feel very conflicted with sitting in (boring) classes that keep pushing things I don't believe. If I go I come home frustrated or I open my mouth and pull away from other people's beliefs. I am fine with letting people have their faith, but when I don't feel like they want to give me any slack for not "being one" (towing the company line).

User avatar
Shawn
Posts: 707
Joined: 07 Jun 2012, 14:22
Location: Utah

Re: Nelly and Abby Discuss Polygamy

Post by Shawn » 23 Sep 2016, 12:36

One use for this is to make it part of a response to those who say the church will never allow gay marriage. Along with the quote that says "the one-wife system not only degenerates the human family..." the following could be shared:
Monogamy, or restrictions by law to one wife, is no part of the economy of heaven among men. Such a system was commenced by the founders of the Roman Empire… Rome became the mistress of the world, and introduced this order of monogamy wherever her sway was acknowledged. Thus this monogamic order of marriage, so esteemed by modern Christians as a hold sacrament and divine institution, is nothing but a system established by a set of robbers....

Why do we believe in and practise polygamy? Because the Lord introduced it to his servants in a revelation given to Joseph Smith, and the Lord's servants have always practiced it. “And is that religion popular in heaven?” It is the only popular religion there, for this is the religion of Abraham, and, unless we do the works of Abraham, we are not Abraham’s seed and heirs according to promise. (Em. added, Deseret News, August 6, 1862, p. 1, utah.edu)
Those who are acquainted with the history of the world are not ignorant that polygamy has always been the general rule and monogamy the exception. Since the founding of the Roman empire monogamy has prevailed more extensively than in times previous to that. The founders of that ancient empire were robbers and women stealers, and made laws favoring monogamy in consequence of the scarcity of women among them, and hence this monogamic system which now prevails throughout all Christendom, and which has been so fruitful a source of prostitution and whoredom throughout all the Christian monogamic cities of the Old and New World, until rottenness and decay are at the root of their institutions both national and religious. Polygamy did not have its origin with Joseph Smith, but it existed from the beginning. (Em. added, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 11, pp. 127-128, FairMormon)
Some things that are said about gay marriage today were applied to monogamy then.

Post Reply