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Yme

What If Polygamy Never Happened

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Well, from an evolutionary perspective there is no greater payoff than having lots of progeny. Strictly biologically speaking, a huge percentage of what males do is ultimately geared toward that single goal of passing along our genetic information. A leader wanting to instill loyalty could do worse than devising a system that rewards his most loyal of followers by marrying them to lots of women and ensuring them an ever-increasing brood. Even if you don't believe it was used that way, do you at least acknowledge that it could be used that way?

But in the case of the kingdom of God, the scriptural purpose of an "ever-increasing brood" is altruistic: to have the wherewithal to take the gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue and people so that the covenant of Abraham can be filled in that all the nations (families) of the earth are blessed.

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The same can be said of Warren Jeffs and his church (FLDS?)

That's true. So what? Maintenance of a distinctive group identity is good for groups that want to survive, but that doesn't mean that it's the only value or that all groups equally deserve to survive. I was looking at it from a neutral sociological perspective, and it seems to me indisputable that the LDS Church has a clearer sense of identity and boundaries than does the United Methodist Church or, more directly relevantly, the Community of Christ (aka the RLDS). All in all, that's arguably (and, from the LDS perspective, certainly) a good thing.

so I'm not sure I follow your point here. If you are saying that it was a positive influence on getting the Lds Church where it is today, why is so little said about it publicly by the Lds church today?

I'm not sure I follow your implication that the importance of a sociological factor in the past history of a church correlates in an obvious, neat, and direct way with the attention that should be devoted to that factor in the church's teachings for today. There are certainly more important topics for sermons and religious instruction in today's Anglican/Episcopal churches, for example, than the marital history of Henry VIII -- yet, without that history, there would be no Anglican/Episcopal churches.

If it was so important in creating a distinctive "culture", should it not be an important issue to be discussed and explained openly to existing members and potential members in official church sources?

You write as if plural marriage were wholly ignored in the Doctrine and Covenants and various Church manuals, and passed over in complete silence by Church classes. It is not.

That said, the teaching of Church history is only a very small part of the mission of the Church. The study and writing of Church history is, on the whole, left to what Arrington and Bitton call the "unsponsored sector" -- that is, to various scholars (at BYU and elsewhere), to a number of publishers, and to journals like BYU Studies, the Journal of Mormon History, the Utah Historical Quarterly, and the like. This is true not only of the narrow topic of plural marriage, but with regard to virtually every other topic in the much, much wider area of Mormon historiography.

When one goes to the "History of the Prophets" page of the Lds Church website, not one of the wives from prophets who practiced polygamy is mentioned (except for Emma Smith) while all of the monogamous marriages are set out as a "special event" in the lives of prophets who did not practice polygamy. It seems, at least in an official capacity, the Lds Church seems to take an opposite view and would rather distance itself from this heritage. It would seem more logical to conclude that, because of this, the Lds church does not see it as benefiting a "distinctive culture".

It seems to me far more plausible to conclude that, because it has had to deal with polygamous schismatics ever since the Manifesto, the Church wishes to give as little aid and comfort to apostates and potential apostates as it can.

Also, what about the distinctive nature of the RLDS (Church of Christ?). They seemed to survive and become their own distinctive culture without practicing polygamy.

I addressed that very topic in the post above, to which you're responding.

Finally, what "specifically" did polygamy provide to the Lds doctrine that would not have been provided via monogamy? Why was it needed in the first place? Everything I have seen and read clearly shows it had nothing to do with there being more females than males in the lds population. It just seems to me, unless you adopt a "persecution complex" perspective, that polygamy only caused problems with respect to the acceptance of the Lds Church (both then and now) without providing it any real doctrinal or reproduction benefits.

I don't claim to be privy to the entirety of God's thoughts on this matter, so can't really give you a definitive answer.

However, it seems to me that, if God really cared primarily for popularity and public relations, he would have told his Son not to give grotesque and off-putting advice to "eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood," which led directly to the apostasy of many of his disciples (see John 6), and he would never have permitted the shameful execution of his Son as a convicted criminal (a stumblingblock to the Jews, and foolishness to the Greeks, as Paul himself remarks in 1 Corinthians 1:23-25). Perhaps God has other priorities?

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Joseph Smith's role as prophet of the Restoration was to receive the revelation instituting plural marriage, teach it to others, and set the example by living it himself.

Hounded constantly by his enemies and cut down in the prime of life, Joseph never had opportunity raise up numerous posterity by means of plural marriage. Had his enemies allowed him to live, and had he gone west with the Saints, there can be little doubt he would have been as prolific as his brethren to whom he taught the principle.

I think there is quite a bit of doubt, actually. Seeing as it's next to impossible to get many apologists to admit that JS ever had anything but platonic relationships with his wives. These apologists don't seem to think that JS would have ever consummated a plural marriage.

However, as I've asked many time, and have never received an answer, where did the practice change between JS and BY? At what point did God come down and declare to BY that it is now ok to consummate these marriages where JS never could?

To me, this is the single biggest flaw in the "JS sealings were strictly platonic" argument.

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That's true. So what? Maintenance of a distinctive group identity is good for groups that want to survive, but that doesn't mean that it's the only value or that all groups equally deserve to survive. I was looking at it from a neutral sociological perspective, and it seems to me indisputable that the LDS Church has a clearer sense of identity and boundaries than does the United Methodist Church or, more directly relevantly, the Community of Christ (aka the RLDS). All in all, that's arguably (and, from the LDS perspective, certainly) a good thing.

I agree with you that the LDS church has a better internal identity. But I would disagree that it has much of an external identity. There really isn't much difference in the minds of the layman about the different sects of Mormonism. LDS, FLDS, CoC, etc, are all just Mormons to the majority of the general population.

Perhaps God has other priorities?

Yeah, and they certainly don't include "bring as many souls back to Him as possible". If this were in his top 10, you'd think he'd do a little better PR job in instituting his one true religion.

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I think there is quite a bit of doubt, actually. Seeing as it's next to impossible to get many apologists to admit that JS ever had anything but platonic relationships with his wives. These apologists don't seem to think that JS would have ever consummated a plural marriage.

Interesting that none of these "many apologists" ever seem to show up on message boards such as this one. Pretty much every apologetic argument I've seen is to the effect that there is not enough information to state definitively one way or the other.

However, as I've asked many time, and have never received an answer, where did the practice change between JS and BY? At what point did God come down and declare to BY that it is now ok to consummate these marriages where JS never could?

This is a question with a false premise: that it is the position of the Latter-day Saints that God forbade Joseph Smith ever "to consummate these marriages." I know of no evidence of such a directive.

To me, this is the single biggest flaw in the "JS sealings were strictly platonic" argument.

At this point, the "strictly platonic" argument seems to be a straw man at which you are jousting. If that's what you would prefer to do, have at it; I won't distract you.

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There may have been no lds church if not for polygamy. Polygamy gave the lds church a clear distinction among the other christian sects. Also, polygamy was one of the main revelations received by JS at that time and continued with BY. It spoke to the hearts and minds of the lds for the simple reason, it signified that the lds church was revelatory in nature. And in the end, that is what it is all about: that god continues to speak to his people.

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I would disagree that it has much of an external identity. There really isn't much difference in the minds of the layman about the different sects of Mormonism. LDS, FLDS, CoC, etc, are all just Mormons to the majority of the general population.

I don't believe that I ever said anything about "external identity."

Yeah, and they certainly don't include "bring as many souls back to Him as possible". If this were in his top 10, you'd think he'd do a little better PR job in instituting his one true religion.

I don't think -- and I hope you'll pardon me for saying this -- that you're really in a position to know. He has, in fact, said otherwise (at Moses 1:39, for example), and I tend to trust him on that. But you may or may not be aware of precisely what is entailed in the overall project. God may possibly know more. Just a thought.

Incidentally, I don't know, either, where you're coming up with this "platonic" stuff. I sometimes pay attention to what Mormon "apologists" say, and I really haven't encountered the point of view that you've taken to task here.

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I don't believe that I ever said anything about "external identity."

Fair enough.

I don't think -- and I hope you'll pardon me for saying this -- that you're really in a position to know. He has, in fact, said otherwise (at Moses 1:39, for example), and I tend to trust him on that. But you may or may not be aware of precisely what is entailed in the overall project. God may possibly know more. Just a thought.

Yeah, either that, or He doesn't exist...one or the other...

Incidentally, I don't know, either, where you're coming up with this "platonic" stuff. I sometimes pay attention to what Mormon "apologists" say, and I really haven't encountered the point of view that you've taken to task here.

No? You are telling me that you have never, ever heard an apologist say that all of JS sealings were strictly platonic? May I ask, do you believe that JS consummated his sealings? Maybe not all, but some of them?

Edited to add: Just looked on page 1 and there is a thread going on right now titled, "Platonic Sealings, Why?". Curious seeing as DCP hasn't really encounted that point of view here....yet it deserves a thread all it's own??? Hmmm....

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Yeah, and they certainly don't include "bring as many souls back to Him as possible". If this were in his top 10, you'd think he'd do a little better PR job in instituting his one true religion.

Well, what do you, Scottie, believe God's top 10 priorities are? I would say that the #1 would be to bring as many as possible back into His presence as possible and this is in view that God won't force anybody to Heaven.

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Interesting that none of these "many apologists" ever seem to show up on message boards such as this one. Pretty much every apologetic argument I've seen is to the effect that there is not enough information to state definitively one way or the other.

Again, as with DCP, you are telling me that you have never heard an apologist say that all of JS' sealings were platonic? And, if I may ask you the same question, do you believe JS had sex with his wives?

For crying out loud, there is a thread on page 1 right now titled, "Platonic Sealings, Why?"!! If this is such a non-issue, why does it have it's own thread???

At this point, the "strictly platonic" argument seems to be a straw man at which you are jousting. If that's what you would prefer to do, have at it; I won't distract you.

Not necessarily a straw man, more of a de-railment.

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Yeah, either that, or He doesn't exist...one or the other...

I'm just finishing a fun book by Antony Flew, There Is a God.

Until he announced that he had become a theist in 2004, Flew was almost certainly the foremost philosopher of atheism in the English-speaking world.

No? You are telling me that you have never, ever heard an apologist say that all of JS sealings were strictly platonic?

I may have. Can't say never. It's not a major "apologetic" argument. I'm not responsible for every position taken by every Mormon in the chapel foyer or on the internet.

May I ask, do you believe that JS consummated his sealings? Maybe not all, but some of them?

It's possible that some of the marriages were consummated. Even probable. I don't really care. It's not an issue for me.

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** Insensitive and tacky post deleted **

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Again, as with DCP, you are telling me that you have never heard an apologist say that all of JS' sealings were platonic?

All of them? I honestly don't recall seeing an "apologist" assert such a thing. More to the point, which apologist has said that Joseph was forbidden from ever consummating any of his plural marriages? This goes to the matter of whether Joseph, given the time and opportunity, would have been as prolific in his posterity as any of the Brethren who were allowed to go west, settle the Great Basin, and practice their religion relatively free from oppression for a period of time.

And, if I may ask you the same question, do you believe JS had sex with his wives?

Who knows? Who cares? Not really relevant to the point I restated above.

For crying out loud, there is a thread on page 1 right now titled, "Platonic Sealings, Why?"!!

Have you looked closely at that thread? At this writing, there are no "apologists" on there arguing that Joseph Smith was forbidden from ever consummating any of his plural marriages. The thread certainly wasn't started by any such "apologists."

If this is such a non-issue, why does it have it's own thread???

Perhaps because there are others who enjoy combating the same straw man that you apparently do.

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Perhaps because there are others who enjoy combating the same straw man that you apparently do.

StrawmanPoster.jpg

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Perhaps because there are others who enjoy combating the same straw man that you apparently do.
Riiiiight....we start threads just because we imagined that apologsts say JS never had sex with his wives....gotcha...

I honestly wonder if I'm reading the same board as you guys are. First no apologists ever say that other members get a spiritual confirmation of the few truths their religion has, now no apologists ever say that JS' sealing were platonic...next you'll be telling me that apologists never argued that horses=tapirs.

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Riiiiight....we start threads just because we imagined that apologsts say JS never had sex with his wives....gotcha...

I honestly wonder if I'm reading the same board as you guys are. First no apologists ever say that other members get a spiritual confirmation of the few truths their religion has, now no apologists ever say that JS' sealing were platonic...next you'll be telling me that apologists never argued that horses=tapirs.

Surely you know how to use an electronic search function. Can you come up with an instance of even one "apologist" arguing here that Joseph Smith was forbidden from ever consummating any of his plural marriages?

StrawmanPoster.jpg

I like it!

At lunch, I was pondering whether I could come up with an image of Ray Bolger's portrayal of the Scarecrow from "The Wizard of Oz" to use as an icon.

But this is good too.

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At lunch, I was pondering whether I could come up with am image of Ray Bolger's portrayal of the Scarecrow from "The Wizard of Oz" to use as an icon.

But this is good too.

Go here and do a search for whatever type of image: http://images.google.com/

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Surely you know how to use an electronic search function. Can you come up with an instance of even one "apologist" arguing here that Joseph Smith was forbidden from ever consummating any of his plural marriages?

Sure, I'll find some quotes for ya...

But first, stop avoiding the question I posed to you. Do YOU think JS had sex with his wives?

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Sure, I'll find some quotes for ya...

Lest you waste both your and my time, it has to be to the effect that Joseph Smith was forbidden from ever consummating any of the marriages, not just speculation that some of the sealings may have been platonic.

But first, stop avoiding the question I posed to you. Do YOU think JS had sex with his wives?

I didn't avoid the question. I said, "Who knows? Who cares?" That's pretty much all I have to say on the matter, except to echo DCP and say that it wouldn't bother me one way or the other.

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But first, stop avoiding the question I posed to you. Do YOU think JS had sex with his wives?

He definitely had sex with Emma, so the answer is a resounding "YES!!!!!"

Next question!

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I think there is quite a bit of doubt, actually. Seeing as it's next to impossible to get many apologists to admit that JS ever had anything but platonic relationships with his wives. These apologists don't seem to think that JS would have ever consummated a plural marriage.

However, as I've asked many time, and have never received an answer, where did the practice change between JS and BY? At what point did God come down and declare to BY that it is now ok to consummate these marriages where JS never could?

To me, this is the single biggest flaw in the "JS sealings were strictly platonic" argument.

Using the word "apologist" as you do in a broad ad hominem generalization is disingenous.

I admit that some members would rather pretend that Joseph Smith didn't have any real plural marriages and others who forcefully assert that all though he was sealed to other women, he did not consumate any plural marriages. Those are not what I would classify as apologists.

There is some annectotal evidence that seems to indicate that he did cosnumate at least one or more of them and had at least one child by a plural wife, but there is also some stong annecdotal evidence that he did not consumate some of them. All personal opinions aside, there however is not any unimpeachable evidence that he did or did not, the key word there being unimpeachable - that is, there is no confirmation and plenty of reasons to be skeptical of of the evidence both for and against.

I tend to believe that J.S. probably did consumate some, but probably not all, of those marriages. I think most serious students of the topic also believe that he at least consumated some of those marriages. But that is opinion, and no matter how logical it seems to you or me, absent evidence, opinion is not fact.

If one cannot offer facts, then what can one honestly say? Only that there are no known facts in the matter. And for that honesty, you hoist the apologist on a pillory because he does not admit to what you see as obvious, despite the absence of fact. For all you know, the apologist may be of the same personal opinion, but for the sake of historical accuracy understands the necessity of relating only the facts - for if he fails to do so, another will apply a history razor against him.

As I said, I tend to agree with you in principle, J.S. probably did consumate some of those marriages. I have no problems with that and it doesn't present any kind of a challenge to my understanding of the sealing and marriage principles taught by the church. I do however take umbrage to your generalization on apologists.

(edit: I see I need to type faster as Scottie has already been called on the carpet for this)

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I honestly wonder if I'm reading the same board as you guys are. First no apologists ever say that other members get a spiritual confirmation of the few truths their religion has, now no apologists ever say that JS' sealing were platonic...next you'll be telling me that apologists never argued that horses=tapirs.

I want to apologize, from the bottom of my heart, for my all-too-frequent failure (and that of other "Mopologists") to give you the answers your paradigm predicts and demands.

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I want to apologize, from the bottom of my heart, for my all-too-frequent failure (and that of other "Mopologists") to give you the answers your paradigm predicts and demands.

So much for painting-by-the-numbers polemics.

Go here and do a search for whatever type of image: http://images.google.com/

I went there and immediately found a great Ray Bolger image. Alas, it had errors when I tried to paste it.

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I think there is quite a bit of doubt, actually. Seeing as it's next to impossible to get many apologists to admit that JS ever had anything but platonic relationships with his wives. These apologists don't seem to think that JS would have ever consummated a plural marriage.

However, as I've asked many time, and have never received an answer, where did the practice change between JS and BY? At what point did God come down and declare to BY that it is now ok to consummate these marriages where JS never could?

To me, this is the single biggest flaw in the "JS sealings were strictly platonic" argument.

Wow, is that ever a strawman! As far as I know, there is no "'JS sealings were strictly platonic'" apologetic argument. There is no apologetic point defended by that. Rather, it is simply an observation of the apparent fact that no one has been able to find any offspring that were sired by Joseph in a polygamous marriage. I don't think any apologists really care whether his marriages (for the most part) were platonic or not.

(Edit: I really should read all the intervening posts before posting, because I see that this point was already beat to death before I got here.)

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