Okay I'll say it, Polygamy

Public forum to discuss questions about Mormon history and doctrine.
AmyJ
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Re: Okay I'll say it, Polygamy

Post by AmyJ »

Minyan Man wrote: 17 Jan 2024, 08:43 Roy's point number 4.
4. 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.”
I love to do Family History. When I first joined the church, I thought that I wasn't related to anyone who had joined the church. Today, with the software available through BYU, etc, I now know there are many people that I am related to, both living & dead. For the early teachings of the
church regarding polygamy, I'm wondering if they (the leadership) were looking in the wrong direction. Instead of gathering more wives & having
more children, maybe they were being encouraged to appreciate where they came from instead
. There are literally thousands or hundreds of
thousands of people who came before us. I am moved spiritually when I find another who I'm related to. In the process, I wonder what their life
was like & what sacrifices they made along their journey.

Is it possible for someone to receive a revelation & they are looking in the wrong direction?

Or, in the case of polygamy, they have a revelation that gives them the answer they want? or justifies their own desires?
For my .02 cents, I don't think they were "looking in the wrong direction" as much as trying to answer questions/receive revelations empowering themselves (they were refugees of Nauvoo and the American government respectively) and justifying their leadership. They were so busy trying to prove their leadership and that "they were right" that they "didn't get it right" in a lot of things - especially in the domain of male-female relationships and gender performances.

I do think that revelations "justifying their own desires" was assuredly what was happening. I am far less certain that that there was a deliberate component to it. I think that Joseph Smith truly desired a connective social structure based on priesthood sealings - which may or may not have included wives for specific desires. I think that Brigham Young had a more literal take on polygamy, and was more connected to the polygamy process from essentially a breeding righteous children/bloodlines stance (and that he felt himself a solid sire, hence lots of wives).
Roy
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Re: Okay I'll say it, Polygamy

Post by Roy »

AmyJ wrote: 17 Jan 2024, 12:58 I think that Joseph Smith truly desired a connective social structure based on priesthood sealings - which may or may not have included wives for specific desires.
Yes, JS is pretty enigmatic and difficult to pin down on these things. He kept on changing in ways that surprised and frustrated his early followers.

I do believe that he wanted connective social structure with dynastic linkings. Several of his sealings were of this type and includes his sealing to 14 year old Helen Mar Kimball. From my research, I do not believe that this marriage was ever sexually consumated. However, it also does not appear to have been a "spiritual only" marriage and young Helen seems to have been surprised that she was no longer permitted to attend the dances afterwards. The evidence suggests that these marriages/sealings of JS contained both physical and spiritual components and existed along a spectrum.
"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
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nibbler
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Re: Okay I'll say it, Polygamy

Post by nibbler »

This is going to sound harsher than the spirit that I'm delivering it in but I don't know any other way to put it that isn't so blunt. I'm also not singling out your comment Roy, this really applies to most discussions about polygamy that've I've heard over the years.

Abusive behaviors are still abusive regardless of the motives that drive them. Behaviors can still be abusive even when they do not include intercourse.

When discussing polygamy there's always a lot of focus on JS, likely because of the implications the practice of polygamy has on the church he restored. What gets lost is the burden that the practice of polygamy placed on women.

I don't believe god would place such a burden on people that were so faithful.
I kept a diary right after I was born. Day 1: Tired from the move. Day 2: Everyone thinks I'm an idiot.
— Steven Wright
Minyan Man
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Re: Okay I'll say it, Polygamy

Post by Minyan Man »

Roy wrote: 18 Jan 2024, 16:20
AmyJ wrote: 17 Jan 2024, 12:58 I think that Joseph Smith truly desired a connective social structure based on priesthood sealings - which may or may not have included wives for specific desires.
Yes, JS is pretty enigmatic and difficult to pin down on these things. He kept on changing in ways that surprised and frustrated his early followers.

I do believe that he wanted connective social structure with dynastic linkings. Several of his sealings were of this type and includes his sealing to 14 year old Helen Mar Kimball. From my research, I do not believe that this marriage was ever sexually consumated. However, it also does not appear to have been a "spiritual only" marriage and young Helen seems to have been surprised that she was no longer permitted to attend the dances afterwards. The evidence suggests that these marriages/sealings of JS contained both physical and spiritual components and existed along a spectrum.
I agree JS is enigmatic and difficult to pin down. I try to imagine what it was like to live in that time period & going to his wife Emma and revealing
for the first time "I have a revelation" or "I have been inspired" or "God told me"... I know what my wife would of said. It would not have been a
pleasant discussion. Maybe that is the conclusion: it was a different time & place. Similar to traveling to a galaxy far, far away. I cannot justify the
practice or belief that it was inspired using modern day morals. I would of loved the opportunity to talk to, or disagree with JS when this was
first presented. What would the reaction be? I wonder: would there have been any give & take? Assuming there would of been room for open
discussion.

nibbler, I like what you had to say too. Especially "What gets lost is the burden that the practice of polygamy placed on women."
AmyJ
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Re: Okay I'll say it, Polygamy

Post by AmyJ »

Minyan Man wrote: 19 Jan 2024, 07:25 I agree JS is enigmatic and difficult to pin down. I try to imagine what it was like to live in that time period & going to his wife Emma and revealing
for the first time "I have a revelation" or "I have been inspired" or "God told me"... I know what my wife would of said. It would not have been a
pleasant discussion.
I don't think it was a "pleasant discussion" ever:)
I think we see that in the D&C "revelation" regarding swords and Emma.
Minyan Man wrote: 19 Jan 2024, 07:25 Maybe that is the conclusion: it was a different time & place. Similar to traveling to a galaxy far, far away. I cannot justify the
practice or belief that it was inspired using modern day morals. I would of loved the opportunity to talk to, or disagree with JS when this was
first presented. What would the reaction be? I wonder: would there have been any give & take? Assuming there would of been room for open
discussion.
It gets murky for sure... It's unsettling in the sense that it "legalized" for men potentially emotional adultery, physical adultery, financial adultery for sure (though it was marketed as "Re-distribution of resources for entrance to Celestial Kingdom" and was more universal).

We also know that women weren't as empowered/given equal authority in terms of the opportunity to learn, vote, and there were financial limitations on what they could sign on their own accord, and how to get out of abusive situations (if it was even possible).

Sometimes I think that the formation of the Relief Society (with a lot of female autonomy) and the Word of Wisdom (getting tobacco out of Emma's rooms) were "boons" for Emma directly and/or women directly to appease them on some level.

Those forms of "adultery" weren't exactly revolutionary, and "abuse" as we know and define it was pervasive enough that D&C 121 was written to counter it.
Minyan Man wrote: 19 Jan 2024, 07:25 nibbler, I like what you had to say too. Especially "What gets lost is the burden that the practice of polygamy placed on women."
I agree. We are now, 100+ years after the fact, getting an understanding of the burden and trauma that families endured because of polygamy and polygamy-related consequences (primarily the poverty-related consequences of having a part-time father shared with other aunts and cousins).
Minyan Man
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Re: Okay I'll say it, Polygamy

Post by Minyan Man »

What would the church be like today if the practice of polygamy had continued to the present day?

Would it be similar to what the FLDS church is going through?
For example, the need to excommunicate the number of men & incorporate their families into the surviving families?
Meaning the families of the leadership continues to grow. Higher numbers means a higher degree of exaltation.
Roy
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Re: Okay I'll say it, Polygamy

Post by Roy »

Minyan Man wrote: 19 Jan 2024, 15:53 What would the church be like today if the practice of polygamy had continued to the present day?

Would it be similar to what the FLDS church is going through?
For example, the need to excommunicate the number of men & incorporate their families into the surviving families?
Meaning the families of the leadership continues to grow. Higher numbers means a higher degree of exaltation.
Of course, we could not make any predictions with certainty.
However, I do think that it is interesting to imagine what might have been. For example, I look at the Community of Christ (formerly RLDS) and wonder if that might have been the path of the main body of the church if we had stayed east and followed a direct line of prophetic succession.
I also look to the FLDS and wonder about the sort of US vs. THEM paranoia and end times rhetoric that we would have had if if we had dug in our heals over polygamy rather than discarding it. Utah gaining statehood and the LDS church moving mainstream have been very good for us.
"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
AmyJ
Posts: 1241
Joined: 27 Jul 2017, 05:50

Re: Okay I'll say it, Polygamy

Post by AmyJ »

Minyan Man wrote: 19 Jan 2024, 15:53 What would the church be like today if the practice of polygamy had continued to the present day?

Would it be similar to what the FLDS church is going through?
For example, the need to excommunicate the number of men & incorporate their families into the surviving families?
Meaning the families of the leadership continues to grow. Higher numbers means a higher degree of exaltation.
I am maybe going off on a larger side conversation.

"Family" has always been important. JS added to the word "family" when he added "priesthood = authority to tie/create families together".
- This took the "marriage tying together" authority to outsiders (mothers and female caregivers were/are marginalized for tying families together by their own authority ["Priesthood authority is superior"] and fathers/male caregivers are also un-empowered in the family in some circumstances where their obligation to "make family" is super-ceded by a priesthood holder).

- This is the tension that "sealing first" temple marriages had when not all members qualify to be at the temple when the family members are tied together.

- Polygamy was a structure used to tie multiple women (and resulting children) to 1 man in this life, and/or the next life. BY took it to a biological direction, but he is not the only 1 by far.
NOTE: Serial Monogamy in our priesthood structure creates a polygamy loophole for living men, and privileging those priesthood-forged ties (as authority symbols) makes it a challenge to "de-couple" some of those sealings (primarily when the woman wants to).

- "Found Family" contends against this priesthood created family structure (but generally gets overlooked as a tension dynamic because most of the time, the challenge to priesthood authority creating the family is moot). It is kinda also reflected in some of the earlier sealing practices to link individuals to other specific individuals.

- Family "defined by gender and gender-performance" - so identities centered outside the gender role are accidentally contesting the priesthood authority to create/define family (this is the argument against the LGBTQIA populations actually). I don't think it's actually a "procreation argument", I think it's that the priesthood authority is used to tie together families between 1 man and at least 1 woman and their children - anything else (including undefined) cannot be tied together under priesthood authority, and going outside priesthood authority to do so is a challenge to that priesthood authority.
NOTE: Yes, this was the conservative party line. Yes, how it gets applied and (not applied) has become murkier.


I think the main side point is that "the downfall of the family" also equals "the downfall of priesthood authority" - because "priesthood authority" is being used to "preside over families" as a best practice. As it becomes more obvious that "partnership authority" is most important (empowering women and muddling the "what is the priesthood doing" question) and that "family structure is a personal definition" (cohabitation, less personal obligation "because family" , and better boundaries) means that the external priesthood holders don't have the authority (from a pragmatic standpoint) to "define family".
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