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drums12

What if Joseph didn't practice plural marriage?

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I was talking to a close friend the other day who believes in the Restoration, the Book of Mormon, etc.  He is very disillusioned with the modern Church for various reasons.  As I mentioned my difficulty reconciling plural marriage, he said "but there is no proof Joseph Smith practiced polygamy.  There are affidavits in which he denied it.  There are no contemporary documents from his lifetime."  I didn't wish to argue the point, but I think he is wrong.  To my thinking, his belief requires a conspiracy of epic proportions.  Dozens of early Saints would have to have been in on the lie.  

Still, let's just assume for a moment that he is correct.  What are the implications for the modern Church?   Would not Brigham Young and his successors have been adulterers, and thus unworthy to hold the Priesthood?  What about eternal marriage?  How do we separate the idea of eternal marriage from section 132, which clearly teaches plural marriage?  Any other implications?  

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1 minute ago, drums12 said:

I was talking to a close friend the other day who believes in the Restoration, the Book of Mormon, etc.  He is very disillusioned with the modern Church for various reasons.  As I mentioned my difficulty reconciling plural marriage, he said "but there is no proof Joseph Smith practiced polygamy.  There are affidavits in which he denied it.  There are no contemporary documents from his lifetime."  I didn't wish to argue the point, but I think he is wrong.  To my thinking, his belief requires a conspiracy of epic proportions.  Dozens of early Saints would have to have been in on the lie.  

Still, let's just assume for a moment that he is correct.  What are the implications for the modern Church?   Would not Brigham Young and his successors have been adulterers, and thus unworthy to hold the Priesthood?  What about eternal marriage?  How do we separate the idea of eternal marriage from section 132, which clearly teaches plural marriage?  Any other implications?  

I think the biggest implication is the effect that it had on the Church (net effect, generations later, like ripples radiating outward in a pool from a rock dropped in). This is the primary stated reason for it in Journal of Discourses: to raise righteous seed, and to consolidate fatherhood and patriarchy into chosen hands (not volume or number of seed, as people sometimes assume). Even today, with all of our generations of converts, if you ask people in a class to raise their hand if they have polygamy in their heritage, an overwhelming majority raise their hands. Even today. Even  first generation converts often find that they had polygamist Mormons several generations back. 

For all of the complaints about nepotism and inbreeding among the upper leadership of the Church, that is a tangible legacy of polygamy (almost all of the general authorities are related in many ways). I think the greatest benefit cannot be quantified: spiritual power and blessings through generations. I think to a large extent, we ride on those coattails, even today. 

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42 minutes ago, rongo said:

I think the biggest implication is the effect that it had on the Church (net effect, generations later, like ripples radiating outward in a pool from a rock dropped in). This is the primary stated reason for it in Journal of Discourses: to raise righteous seed, and to consolidate fatherhood and patriarchy into chosen hands (not volume or number of seed, as people sometimes assume). Even today, with all of our generations of converts, if you ask people in a class to raise their hand if they have polygamy in their heritage, an overwhelming majority raise their hands. Even today. Even  first generation converts often find that they had polygamist Mormons several generations back. 

For all of the complaints about nepotism and inbreeding among the upper leadership of the Church, that is a tangible legacy of polygamy (almost all of the general authorities are related in many ways). I think the greatest benefit cannot be quantified: spiritual power and blessings through generations. I think to a large extent, we ride on those coattails, even today. 

The implications you have mentioned is real of course..then where are the seeds of Joseph?  The one person who brought forth the polygamy is without offspring from wives that were for this said purpose. 

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50 minutes ago, drums12 said:

I was talking to a close friend the other day who believes in the Restoration, the Book of Mormon, etc.  He is very disillusioned with the modern Church for various reasons.  As I mentioned my difficulty reconciling plural marriage, he said "but there is no proof Joseph Smith practiced polygamy.  There are affidavits in which he denied it.  There are no contemporary documents from his lifetime."  I didn't wish to argue the point, but I think he is wrong.  To my thinking, his belief requires a conspiracy of epic proportions.  Dozens of early Saints would have to have been in on the lie.  

Still, let's just assume for a moment that he is correct.  What are the implications for the modern Church?   Would not Brigham Young and his successors have been adulterers, and thus unworthy to hold the Priesthood?  What about eternal marriage?  How do we separate the idea of eternal marriage from section 132, which clearly teaches plural marriage?  Any other implications?  

There is contemporary evidence to support Joseph's practice of polygamy.  Not as much as some people would like, but the William Clayton journals are one piece, Cowdery's accusation in the Fanny Alger affair, Hyrum Smith comments.  There are other evidences as well.  All reputable historians that I'm aware of agree that Joseph practiced polygamy, I can't think of any reputable historians who don't agree that he practiced it.  

Of course the practice increased in visibility in the Utah era particularly after the 1852 public announcement of the practice and the way that church leaders evangelized the message of polygamy as being superior to monogamy.  

You might find this book interesting, I haven't read it yet as it just got released, but its a pretty in-depth analysis of D&C 132 and there have been a few interviews with the author recently.  

https://www.amazon.com/Textual-Studies-Doctrine-Covenants-Revelation-ebook/dp/B079X4ZCLD/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1523982604&sr=8-1&keywords=william+v.+smith+polygamy

 

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52 minutes ago, rongo said:

I think the biggest implication is the effect that it had on the Church (net effect, generations later, like ripples radiating outward in a pool from a rock dropped in). This is the primary stated reason for it in Journal of Discourses: to raise righteous seed, and to consolidate fatherhood and patriarchy into chosen hands (not volume or number of seed, as people sometimes assume). Even today, with all of our generations of converts, if you ask people in a class to raise their hand if they have polygamy in their heritage, an overwhelming majority raise their hands. Even today. Even  first generation converts often find that they had polygamist Mormons several generations back. 

For all of the complaints about nepotism and inbreeding among the upper leadership of the Church, that is a tangible legacy of polygamy (almost all of the general authorities are related in many ways). I think the greatest benefit cannot be quantified: spiritual power and blessings through generations. I think to a large extent, we ride on those coattails, even today. 

I agree that polygamy has had a ripple effect on the church and its membership.  Lindsey Hansen Park who created the Year of Polygamy podcast is fond of making comments about how pervasive the impact of polygamy is on everything we do in the church throughout our history and in the contemporary church.  Carol Lynn Pearson wrote a compelling book about how we're haunted by the ghosts of polygamy in our theology and she gathered statements and experiences from many women who today are impacted by how Mormon cosmology envisions a future polygamous heaven and how hurtful this idea is for many women in the contemporary church.  

The legacy of polygamy may have some positive benefits, but I believe the negatives by far outweigh any positives and unfortunately these negative impacts continue forward as church leaders neglect articulating an charitable path forward.  

https://www.yearofpolygamy.com/

https://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Eternal-Polygamy-Haunting-Hearts/dp/0997458208/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1523983252&sr=8-1&keywords=ghost+of+eternal+polygamy

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11 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

Carol Lynn Pearson wrote a compelling book about how we're haunted by the ghosts of polygamy in our theology and she gathered statements and experiences from many women who today are impacted by how Mormon cosmology envisions a future polygamous heaven and how hurtful this idea is for many women in the contemporary church.  

The legacy of polygamy may have some positive benefits, but I believe the negatives by far outweigh any positives and unfortunately these negative impacts continue forward as church leaders neglect articulating an charitable path forward.  

I get that the doctrinal/Church practices legacy of polygamy is traumatic for some. 

Me, I think we are greatly blessed, spiritually and otherwise, because of this legacy. 

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1 hour ago, drums12 said:

I was talking to a close friend the other day who believes in the Restoration, the Book of Mormon, etc.  He is very disillusioned with the modern Church for various reasons.  As I mentioned my difficulty reconciling plural marriage, he said "but there is no proof Joseph Smith practiced polygamy.  There are affidavits in which he denied it.  There are no contemporary documents from his lifetime."  I didn't wish to argue the point, but I think he is wrong.  To my thinking, his belief requires a conspiracy of epic proportions.  Dozens of early Saints would have to have been in on the lie.  

Still, let's just assume for a moment that he is correct.  What are the implications for the modern Church?   Would not Brigham Young and his successors have been adulterers, and thus unworthy to hold the Priesthood?  What about eternal marriage?  How do we separate the idea of eternal marriage from section 132, which clearly teaches plural marriage?  Any other implications?  

I think the only implication is that others practiced what Joseph Smith revealed/restored, so they could not have been out of line (adulterers) on that point. The notion that he didn't practice it only means he chose not to abide by his own revelations. If he was out of line by not practicing it, at least his successors were in line and the Restoration continues forward.

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1 hour ago, drums12 said:

I was talking to a close friend the other day who believes in the Restoration, the Book of Mormon, etc.  He is very disillusioned with the modern Church for various reasons.  As I mentioned my difficulty reconciling plural marriage, he said "but there is no proof Joseph Smith practiced polygamy.  There are affidavits in which he denied it.  There are no contemporary documents from his lifetime."  I didn't wish to argue the point, but I think he is wrong.  To my thinking, his belief requires a conspiracy of epic proportions.  Dozens of early Saints would have to have been in on the lie.  

Still, let's just assume for a moment that he is correct.  What are the implications for the modern Church?   Would not Brigham Young and his successors have been adulterers, and thus unworthy to hold the Priesthood?  What about eternal marriage?  How do we separate the idea of eternal marriage from section 132, which clearly teaches plural marriage?  Any other implications?  

I believe your friend is correct.

Joseph practiced multiple sealings.

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51 minutes ago, Jeanne said:

The implications you have mentioned is real of course..then where are the seeds of Joseph?  The one person who brought forth the polygamy is without offspring from wives that were for this said purpose. 

This is true, despite Emma having been pregnant 11 times in her life, so what are the odds that of all the women sealed to him would never have a child by him. It is clear that he knew of polygamy (the commandment) since the early days of the Church, but he was a polygamist, I am not sure how others viewed it. BY, once out West, practiced it openly. Joseph did so secretly, and would have been inclined to deny it, as he knew it would lead to his death, and did. But Emma knew, despite later denials of the practice, and knowing she still (35 years later) passed away with the name of Joseph whom she loved still, calling out to him.

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1 hour ago, drums12 said:

I was talking to a close friend the other day who believes in the Restoration, the Book of Mormon, etc.  He is very disillusioned with the modern Church for various reasons.  As I mentioned my difficulty reconciling plural marriage, he said "but there is no proof Joseph Smith practiced polygamy.  There are affidavits in which he denied it.  There are no contemporary documents from his lifetime."  I didn't wish to argue the point, but I think he is wrong.  To my thinking, his belief requires a conspiracy of epic proportions.  Dozens of early Saints would have to have been in on the lie.  

You are correct, Adam.  The actual historical case for Joseph Smith introducing and practicing plural marriage (and other non-traditional sealing practices) is overwhelming.  Even the RLDS Church (which was bitterly opposed to it) had to accept that fact, and it caused a major change in the nature and name of that Church as a consequence.  The RLDS First Presidency had their History Commissioner, Richard Howard, publish a detailed historical paper on the subject, thus ending the debate.  However, despite careful genetic testing, we have so far been unable to find even one instance in which Joseph Smith begat a child by one of his plural wives.  That is quite odd since he was clearly fertile during that entire period.

1 hour ago, drums12 said:

Still, let's just assume for a moment that he is correct.  What are the implications for the modern Church?   Would not Brigham Young and his successors have been adulterers, and thus unworthy to hold the Priesthood?  What about eternal marriage?  How do we separate the idea of eternal marriage from section 132, which clearly teaches plural marriage?  Any other implications?  

As pointed out by Martin Luther, plural marriage is biblical and cannot be condemned from a biblical perspective.  So Brigham and other practitioners would not necessarily be adulterers any more than the thousands of years of Jews and Muslims who have practiced plural marriage.  It is simply not legal in many jurisdictions today, and that is what makes it formally bigamy or adultery in some civil courts.  For example, it is illegal in modern Israel.  It will likely become legal in the USA in the near future, just as same-sex marriage is now legal.  That doesn't mean that everyone will want to practice it -- modern American culture finds it distasteful and complicated.  Monogamy is difficult enough as it is.

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If he didn’t he would still be a prophet of God. And Brigham Young in the 12 still would’ve succeeded him

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28 minutes ago, Bill "Papa" Lee said:

This is true, despite Emma having been pregnant 11 times in her life, so what are the odds that of all the women sealed to him would never have a child by him. It is clear that he knew of polygamy (the commandment) since the early days of the Church, but he was a polygamist, I am not sure how others viewed it. BY, once out West, practiced it openly. Joseph did so secretly, and would have been inclined to deny it, as he knew it would lead to his death, and did. But Emma knew, despite later denials of the practice, and knowing she still (35 years later) passed away with the name of Joseph whom she loved still, calling out to him.

Were other women sealed to Joseph..lose babies.  We have some implications that those marriages were indeed real in husband/wife way...but there was some help from Dr. Bennett at times wasn't there?  Why?  What does Emma's pregnancies imply other than Joseph was able to plant seed?  I did feel bad for Emma in so many ways.

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8 minutes ago, Jeanne said:

Were other women sealed to Joseph..lose babies.  We have some implications that those marriages were indeed real in husband/wife way...but there was some help from Dr. Bennett at times wasn't there?  Why?  What does Emma's pregnancies imply other than Joseph was able to plant seed?  I did feel bad for Emma in so many ways.

I don't believe the bolded and underlined portion at all, and there is no evidence of this (to my knowledge). 

 

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My gggrandfather performed the first recorded plural marriage for Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, as the prophet's bishop (and the wife was also his sister in law).  There is no question that JS did participate.

But I don't see that it would make any difference if JS had not personally done it or even hadn't preached it, as we believe in new revelation.   What God did not reveal to JS, just means it wasn't important in his time, or he  wouldn't listen to the call.   Wouldn't mean that it wasn't God's will, if not then, at least in the prophet's time who did reveal it.

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10 minutes ago, rongo said:

I don't believe the bolded and underlined portion at all, and there is no evidence of this (to my knowledge). 

 

I didn't think you would...but that is okay.  Thank you for your response.

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15 minutes ago, Jeanne said:

.but there was some help from Dr. Bennett at times wasn't there?  Why?  What does Emma's pregnancies imply other than Joseph was able to plant seed?  I did feel bad for Emma in so many ways.

Not a shred of evidence that Bennet aborted JS's children from plural wives, although there is evidence that he practiced "spirtual wifery" --- which JS saw as simple adultery and not at all the plural marriage that JS was teaching (which says something about Bennet's character) ---and did have tools to perform abortions and did perform them for those who shared his pursuits.

It is only JS critics who extrapolate (and conflate) what Bennett was doing with what JS was doing (and to the extent JS felt it necessary to keep it secret gave critics an excuse for the extrapolation).

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4 minutes ago, rpn said:

Not a shred of evidence that Bennet aborted JS's children from plural wives, although there is evidence that he practiced "spirtual wifery" --- which JS saw as simple adultery and not at all the plural marriage that JS was teaching (which says something about Bennet's character) ---and did have tools to perform abortions and did perform them for those who shared his pursuits.

It is only JS critics who extrapolate (and conflate) what Bennett was doing with what JS was doing (and to the extent JS felt it necessary to keep it secret gave critics an excuse for the extrapolation).

I didn't say Dr. Bennett aborted..who knows?  But he had a book that helped women prevent pregnancies..at least that is what I am aware of.  I am sure that there were lots of ways to prevent pregnancies..but why prevent...when you are trying to have seed in generations to come? 

Edited by Jeanne

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2 hours ago, rongo said:

Even today, with all of our generations of converts, if you ask people in a class to raise their hand if they have polygamy in their heritage, an overwhelming majority raise their hands. Even today. Even  first generation converts often find that they had polygamist Mormons several generations back. 

This argument seems to get brought up a lot, but I don’t find it persuasive.  Through generations of intermarriage, you would expect to find a high proportion of members (especially those living in the West) to have some  polygamy in their heritage, even if it were just two out of their 10 possible ancestors.

What If a greater number of people in your classroom scenario raised their hands if they had an ancestoral line that never practiced polygamy (assuming both lines traced back to early Mormonism)?  Would that be evidence that monogamous marriages produced more righteous offspring?

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Just now, omni said:

This argument seems to get brought up a lot, but I don’t find it persuasive.  Through generations of intermarriage, you would expect to find a high proportion of members (especially those living in the West) to have some  polygamy in their heritage, even if it were just two out of their 10 possible ancestors.

What If a greater number of people in your classroom scenario raised their hands if they had an ancestoral line that never practiced polygamy (assuming both lines traced back to early Mormonism)?  Would that be evidence that monogamous marriages produced more righteous offspring?

No, it wouldn't. I just find it striking that numbers of LDS --- including first generation converts --- with LDS polygamous heritage continue to remain extremely high. 

You are correct that with each passing generation, the chances of lineages crossing into polygamous LDS lines increase. It's sort of like how the further you get from Abraham (or anyone else alive at his time), the more cemented it becomes that he/they are lineal ancestors of everyone. 

It has been interesting in my town of ca. 50,000. I'm from the third wife of John W. Hess, and I've had multiple stake members who are from various of his eight wives. One of my young women's presidents likes to brag to me that she's from the 8th wife --- the 16 year-old trophy wife he paraded around in his old age. Again, I think that the impact is far, far more spiritual and cultural legacy than it is numerical. 

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4 minutes ago, Jeanne said:

I didn't say Dr. Bennett aborted..who knows?  But he had a book that helped women prevent pregnancies..at least that is what I am aware of.  I am sure that there were lots of ways to prevent pregnancies..but why prevent...when you are trying to have seed in generations to come? 

There were a lot of myths about preventing pregnancies, but not a lot of stuff that actually worked.  That's why so many women had so many pregnancies back then (and not so long ago).  For example, in the east end in London in the early 1960s local midwives delivered about 100 babies a month (on average).  The birth control pill became legal in 1963.  By the late 1960s the midwives were delivering about 4-5 babies a month.  Now, some of that difference had to do with more and more women going to the hospital to deliver but much of it was because of new reliable birth control.

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23 minutes ago, Jeanne said:

I didn't say Dr. Bennett aborted..who knows?  But he had a book that helped women prevent pregnancies..at least that is what I am aware of.  I am sure that there were lots of ways to prevent pregnancies..but why prevent...when you are trying to have seed in generations to come? 

CFR please

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On 4/17/2018 at 8:34 AM, drums12 said:

I was talking to a close friend the other day who believes in the Restoration, the Book of Mormon, etc.  He is very disillusioned with the modern Church for various reasons.  As I mentioned my difficulty reconciling plural marriage, he said "but there is no proof Joseph Smith practiced polygamy.  There are affidavits in which he denied it.  There are no contemporary documents from his lifetime."  I didn't wish to argue the point, but I think he is wrong.  To my thinking, his belief requires a conspiracy of epic proportions.  Dozens of early Saints would have to have been in on the lie.  

Still, let's just assume for a moment that he is correct.  What are the implications for the modern Church?   Would not Brigham Young and his successors have been adulterers, and thus unworthy to hold the Priesthood?  What about eternal marriage?  How do we separate the idea of eternal marriage from section 132, which clearly teaches plural marriage?  Any other implications?  

Just so I'm clear, your friend analyzed all the claims Joseph Smith made during his life (or claims made about Joseph Smith's life) and he thinks polygamy is the one that has the least evidence?

Edited by cinepro
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3 hours ago, rongo said:

I get that the doctrinal/Church practices legacy of polygamy is traumatic for some. 

Me, I think we are greatly blessed, spiritually and otherwise, because of this legacy. 

I have multiple polygamous ancestors on both sides of my family, so its safe to say that I wouldn't be here today without the practice.  However, I find the practice extremely problematic from just about every angle I can view it.  Just because something good (my existence) is a result of bad practices of the past, doesn't mean those bad practices are moral. 

The existence of amazing humans everywhere that are conceived as a result of rape, incest, and coercive relationships, doesn't excuse these actions as morally good or spiritually uplifting. 

I can respect that my ancestors made sacrifices and believed that they were following a higher law by obeying church leaders who taught that polygamy was God's will.  But respecting this dynamic doesn't in turn make me believe the practice is a blessing for our current church.  I can imagine a much better legacy without polygamy ever having been a part of Mormonism.   

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The symbolism around Abraham's family partially answered the polygammy / polyandry questions for me - we know what a handmaid is, we know Mary was a handmaid, that she was a virgin, and that she later married Joseph - that sums up the "law of Sarah" (with her handmaid) for me.  Yes, Sarah eventually had Isaac, but she experienced the test... Abraham did not kill Isaac, but experienced the test.

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28 minutes ago, cinepro said:

Just so I'm clear, your friend analyzed all the claims Joseph Smith made during his life (or claims made about Joseph Smith's life) and he things polygamy is the one that has the least evidence?

I don't know if he thinks it has the least evidence...we didn't discuss things like the Book of Abraham if that's what you're getting at.

 

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