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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.'
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.
Elder Quentin L. Cook opens Black Church Leadership Summit
Mormon Newsroom YouTube bit
Transcript of Elder Cook's remarks
Highlights for me: Mentions meeting Bernice King while (both) attending the Pope (sweet); affirming LGBT rights in the society (nice); that (unlike many churches of the day) blacks (the few) and whites worshiped together in the same early Mormon Church (let's not forget that; beautiful); 'battle' and 'attack' imagery (I really challenge that, not how I see the world, but I find it fascinating that our religious, in fact human, struggle continues to be encapsulized that way); his challenge to the challenge to the colonial narrative (cool, it's time; although let's not overdo it, colonial narrative, not to mention colonialism, is alive and well and still doing damage); continued affirmation of the Church's very specific stance on religious freedom (what it means and what it looks like) (ok); reiterating the Church's persecution foundation (what?! sigh; let's DO forget that).
And this spectacular quote from the Prophet Joseph.
///A few months before he was killed by a mob in 1844, our prophet, Joseph Smith, taught that moral agency was essential for each individual: “God cannot save or damn a man only on the principle that every man acts, chooses and worships for himself; hence the importance of thrusting from us every spirit of bigotry and intolerance towards a man’s religious sentiments, that spirit which has drenched the earth with blood.” ///
My hero. (The Prophet, not Elder Cook )
Lots more in the talk . . .
The issue of polygamy was brought up in another thread and one poster argued that it was a system that was inherently unequal towards women. From an external 21st century viewpoint, this seems true. One husband with many wives appears to be a situation where the one man has more authority, power, what-have-you over each individual wife. For example, a man with four wives would seem to be a set-up where each wife is only a 1/4 of the relationship.
I'm wondering how posters here view this, not only as it was practiced in the 19th century, but how polygamy will be practiced in the celestial kingdom. Is polygamy simply a natural outgrowth of patriarchy? In particular, sisters, how do you feel about the prospect of sharing your husband with many other women in the celestial kingdom? Or am I misunderstanding LDS doctrine concerning this?
The Catholic Church is patriarchal insofar as it limits the priesthood to men, and we agree with you that in this mortal life gender roles have a part to play. However, the division of gender isn't inherent in our understanding of heaven, so I think the LDS view here is unique and I'm interested in not only the official doctrines, but the thoughts and feelings of those who believe it.