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The timeline and reasons of how the idea of polygamy evolved into practice is perplexing. It is causing me doubt how scriptures are to be obeyed, and how to trust the revelatory process. Let's look at the pattern Joseph Smith followed:
March 1830 - Joseph Smith publishes the Book of Mormon (supposedly scripture) which contains commandments from God. The only discussion of polygamy is found in Jacob 2, which clearly condemns the practice. However, there is a provision given for exceptions: only to 'raise up seed' if God commands it.
The Gospel Topics Essay on Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo states that "After receiving a revelation commanding him to practice plural marriage, Joseph Smith married multiple wives and introduced the practice to close associates." The only revelation I know of on polygamy came in July 1843 (D&C 132), yet Joseph Smith had married 22 (by some count) additional wives by July 1843.
2 Big Questions:
1. What revelation did Joseph Smith receive (per the mentioned Gospel Topic Essay) before the D&C 132 revelation that told him to practice polygamy, despite the Book of Mormon's 1830 prohibition (with exception)?
2. In light of the Jacob 2:30 provision for the allowance of polygamy to "raise up seed unto me..." why are there no (known) children that emerged from Joseph Smith's plural wives? Joseph apparently did not use polygamy to 'raise up seed.'
By Bernard Gui
In Helaman 13, Samuel the Lamanite gives dire prophetic warnings to the Nephites from the walls of Zarahemla. He predicts their destruction will come in 400 years as the result of wickedness, rejecting the Prophets, pride, and seeking after wealth. He warns,
Then he says,
1. Is anyone aware of other literary references to such notions as slippery treasure, tools, swords, etc., especially in the Early Moden English time period?
2. This is often used by BoM critics as evidence Joseph Smith was writing from his experience with the treasure-seeking atmosphere in early 19th-century upstate New York. Does the EModE theory that Joseph was not the author of the BoM text but was reading someone else’s words, whatever their source, resolve this issue?
I want to respond to a couple of statements made by Julianne from the now closed "Weed" thread, because she absolutely nails it. She is spot on and I think the discussion at this level needs to occur before any progress can be made on the SSM issue.
Speaking as a straight, white, man, I recognize that I come to the traditional church teachings of priesthood, sealing, polygamy/polyandry, and SSM from a certain privileged position. The church's teachings and practices benefit me and they always have. Even though there is little to no evidence for how celestial families will actually be organized and function in the CK I used to think I had it all figured out. Obviously, I thought, marriage is essential to have legal physical intimacy which is necessary for creating offspring with one or multiple wives. Yet there is no firm teaching about how spirits are created. Are they born like a baby is born into mortality? There is no evidence or teaching for that, but it is widely assumed. That assumption then justifies polygamy while discrediting polyandry and even SSM. After all, if the entire purpose is to create spirit offspring and it is thought that it happens in a way similar to creating biological offspring, then it makes sense. But that is ALL based on assumptions.
Based on these assumptions many are willing to condemn others to lives (and possibly even an eternity) of loneliness.
So (we) don't even know what the afterlife looks like. It is unknown. Yet we think (we) have enough information to condemn and judge others, and since most of us come at it from positions of privilege, we are in the position to enforce our dogma upon the less privileged. The church is not unique in behaving this way. It is how society has always worked. But recognizing the assumptions for what they are and being humble about how much we really don't know, can help society improve.
Julianne also stated...
How can one categorically dismiss SSM when there is little to nothing known about family organization in the next life, even regarding a variety of heterosexual family organizations. Which sealings will be valid? Polygamy/polyandry? Only those which benefit men? Who are the children sealed to? There is a lot of "The Lord will work it out" mentality, which is fine because it acknowledges a lack of understanding and knowledge. The problem comes when one then loses all humility and attempts to define how family relationships will or will not work for other people. I agree with Julianne that the polygamy/polyandry topic is closely tied to the SSM topic and must be ironed out.
So maybe this can be a thread that can be commented on instead of derailing other threads when this subject comes up.
*Julianne, I hope I didn't misunderstand or misrepresent you. I really appreciated where you were trying to take the discussion.
Knowing the background of the Lucy Walker story (if you don't, I can not emphasize enough the need to understand the story - resources below), I am curious how those who both know the story and who are faithful to the restoration and Church authority answer the following question.
Do you take the position that Joseph deceived Lucy Walker about God commanding him to take her as a plural wife, or do you subscribe to a God whose morality has him commanding a man in a father/daughter dynamic to change his relationship with this 16 year old girl living in his home effectively as his foster daughter into a husband/wife dynamic? I am also open to other perspectives that hold some other ground but wood tool answers will not be acceptable in this post (have faith, God will work it out on the other side, go pray about it and get your own answer knowing people get competing answers)
The question is not how does someone other than yourself come down or arrive at a perspective on this question but rather where do you personally come down on this question. I am deeply hoping that you wont avoid all-together or avoid using the mechanism that you know by the spirit that the Church is true hence you don't concern yourself with such conundrums. Instead what is your personal take on this historical issue.
While this historical story has been largely ignored, I think it is the most important story in all of Mormonism. bigger than the Book of Abraham, bigger than Helen Mar Kimball and Fanny Alger, bigger than first vision accounts, and Race and Priesthood.