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When Do You Believe Latter Day Polygamy Began?


Free Agent

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I know we have discussed this quite often. Briefly, for me, always thinking polygamy started when the Saints headed west, there weren't enough men to go around, etc sat well with me. Then, as I have recently started to delve into church history, I learned that wasn't the case. Many here have faulted those of us who weren't aware of this fact, telling us we should have taken it upon ourselves to research this out. That being said, imagine my surprise this evening while reading some other sites and being redirected to the 1998 Larry King interview of President Hinckley. (I wish I could give you the link, but I am such a newbie at doing that stuff). You can go to www.mormoncurtain.com and scroll down till you see the video link.) Anyway, I remember watching that interview when it aired. I thought President Hinckley always conducts himself so well. But why is he saying polygamy started when "our people went west". No wonder so many of us didn't even think to research the Joseph Smith era and polygamy. And further, there is absolutely no way Pres. Hinckley doesn't know this, so why is he, dare I say, lying? I don't mean disrespect by that, but my faith in honesty is a little bit rocked here.

Thoughts?????

Free Agent

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The open practice of plural marriage started in the West. The difficult ealry days of the practice of plural marriage began when the Lord told Joseph Smith to do it, and when Joseph had struggled through and became obedient. Nothing inconsistent in the history or in President Hinckley's statement.

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I don't think the conversation was asking when the "open" practice started. Whether it was difficult or not in the early days should not matter, it is the TRUTH. President Hinckley states "When our people came west they permitted it on a restricted scale." That is what I believed. That is what I shared with others. And I imagine it is what many members of the church still believe unless they are prompted to delve into the matter. It doesn't sit right with me. Sorry.

Free Agent

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Pretty much everything is west of where the Church began (upstate NY), and so they had already begun a more general westward migration when they were in Nauvoo, even if it isn't thought as West in modern times. If your going to criticize him for something, I would do it more for being so vague about it, but not outright lying. He didn't say it began in the 1850s or after the beginning of settlement in Utah. He made a a very vague statement. And with that said, I for one don't blame him. This country has a very upside-down view of individual rights, particularly in regards to religion, which is manifested in the still-standing stygmatization of Mormons as polygamists in spite of the fact that it has been almost 120 years since the First Presidency called to end the practice.

Still, I don't worry about this because there is nothing wrong with polygamy.

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I don't worry about polygamy either, but I do have concerns with truthfulness. Again, way too convenient an explanation. President Hinckley should not be vague on this. When he said headed west, most people conjure up the migration to Utah. We certainly don't refer to heading west in the church and imply it means from when the immigrants landed and headed to Nauvoo. Heading west means going to Salt Lake. I don't think something of such magnitude, on national television, our prophet should be vague and leave wiggle room for misunderstanding.

Just my feelings.

Free Agent

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I have to disagree. At this point in time, the less time we can spend talking about polygamy - the better. Nothing will be gained from it because the rest of this country still wants to crucify us, and are still looking for excuses to do so. Even if not in an as directlyphysical way as in the past.

The more you can gloss over and get past it, the better. The Church's mission is not to recount it's history from the 1830s on. It is to put forward the Gospel of Christ TODAY. Getting into the kind of detail we love to on here doesn't serve that goal.

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No Touch,

I know polygamy isn't part of the three fold mission of the Church, however, our 13th Article of Faith, which I am sure you are aware of, stresses honesty in all of our dealings. The Church may not owe the general public explanations on this matter, but when its own members are stressing disbelief at finding out how and when and why the roots of polygamy, I think we deserve a better answer than what has been given. The facts have all but been swept under the rug to the general membership and now with the advent of the internet members are finding out the truth. For some members, its not a big deal, but for others, like myself, it smacks of deceit. For many people knowing all there is to know about the church and its history is a process they go through to gain their testimony. This certainly doesn't help when it isn't dealt with head on, IMO.

Free Agent

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Free Agent, if you are concerned about the truth, please ask God what He wants you to know about the subject.

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Charity,

It's a little late for that, I think. I prayed about this years ago and decided it was something I could accept, based on the explanation that has been perpetuated through the years. Now I know about when and how it started and that we, as a Church, seem to dodge the bullet in answering the question. I don't think I can ask God to take that knowledge out of my head. I've said this before, it boils down to integrity. We push that mantra as a church, the importance of a man's word. Personally, if and when I am asked anything about polygamy from here on out, I will not hesitate to share the truth. I will know then that I have done my duty, I have been honest and not left any room for shock or misinterpretation down the road.

Free Agent

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Maybe God can take the misinformation you have stored up there out of your heard.

What is dishonest about what I said about plural marriage?

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Charity,

I don't want to paint you as a dishonest person. It may just be your perception of what should be shared versus mine. I just feel that above all else, honesty is the best policy. We find strength in our trials of adversity. If Joseph struggled so much with this, why not share that? I don't believe, as No Touch suggested, that we need to gloss over it and get on with it. That philosophy may work for some, but not for me and not for many people on these boards and elsewhere.

Free Agent

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Charity,

It's a little late for that, I think. I prayed about this years ago and decided it was something I could accept, based on the explanation that has been perpetuated through the years.

Just because you didn't know the truth doesn't mean it was hidden or others didn't know. I found out about it soon after I joined the church at age 14 some 40 plus years ago. Are we going to have another the-church-wasn't-truthful thread when the knowledge was there for anyone to find. You would have to have been very sheltered not to have heard of the infamous "No Man Knows My History."

Polygamy is not practiced now, has not been for over a hundred years and the principle is not something you can explain in an interview on national tv. It truly did not become well known until the migration west, which technically began when the Saints moved to Missouri.

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No Touch,

I know polygamy isn't part of the three fold mission of the Church, however, our 13th Article of Faith, which I am sure you are aware of, stresses honesty in all of our dealings. The Church may not owe the general public explanations on this matter, but when its own members are stressing disbelief at finding out how and when and why the roots of polygamy, I think we deserve a better answer than what has been given. The facts have all but been swept under the rug to the general membership and now with the advent of the internet members are finding out the truth. For some members, its not a big deal, but for others, like myself, it smacks of deceit. For many people knowing all there is to know about the church and its history is a process they go through to gain their testimony. This certainly doesn't help when it isn't dealt with head on, IMO.

Free Agent

I find it amazing LDS still talk about polygamy. Joseph said to burn the revelation. Emma did not accept it and was not destroyed - but Joseph was.... It has a rotten history. It was rotten to quite. It is rotten today among those who hold to it and put the rest of the LDS Church in an extremely bad light. People laugh about it you know?, don't you???

Today would be a good day to drop the matter as past generations dropped the Adam/God doctrine.

It cannot be true or a commandment of God. One man and one woman is the commandment of God.

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Then.. i would like to propose/suggest that you take that strong desire for honesty, and apply it as a Member Missionary! <_<

You clearly know what it's like to find out the oddities later on, and that will serve to your benefit.

People in the Church are just that, mortal men, and are never infallible - to expect such would be placing a HUGE burden upon them to always be right, or to always have the answers to every question someone will have; such an expectation would be hugely unfair, in my opinion. Were I a leader in the Church or just a regular member who is doing his best to make his way doing what he feels is right, I would NOT want people to expect such high things out of me - someone who makes mistakes all the time.

So.....maybe....in the Spirit of Honesty, move past the faults of people and just go teach the honest truth of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as you've come to understand it.

You don't at all have to like how some people masquerade truth and then drop the bombshell in the future, but you would be doing a great service to converts and people who are ready to hear the message by making sure they hear it.

:P

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I find it amazing LDS still talk about polygamy. Joseph said to burn the revelation. Emma did not accept it and was not destroyed - but Joseph was.... It has a rotten history. It was rotten to quite. It is rotten today among those who hold to it and put the rest of the LDS Church in an extremely bad light. People laugh about it you know?, don't you???

Today would be a good day to drop the matter as past generations dropped the Adam/God doctrine.

It cannot be true or a commandment of God. One man and one woman is the commandment of God.

People laugh at us in western cultures. Polygamy itself has a rich history in the world. Our value system is warped anyway. People would laugh and say how bad polygamy is but many people don't seem to mind if a guy like Hugh Hefner is living with multiple girlfriends. Lets face it. Our culture is more accepting of Hugh Hefner than a guy having two or three wives today. Besides, polygamy comes right from Old Testament times. So people should blame the Lord for commanding and allowing it and people like Abraham, Jacob, and Moses who practiced it.

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It cannot be true or a commandment of God. One man and one woman is the commandment of God.

Sorry to disappoint you but even if we don't practice it the church does teach it was a true commandment. Most of us are glad it's not practiced today as it would be very difficult, but then most of the people in Joseph's day wished it wasn't a commandment even though they were obedient to it. You can denounce it all you like but it doesn't change the facts.

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Member Missionary? I already have my mission to LDS Members, thank you!:-)

If LDS could ever get over Joseph and get into Jesus they would be a huge force for God on the earth!!!:-)

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If LDS could ever get over Joseph and get into Jesus they would be a huge force for God on the earth!!!:-)

The LDS are very into Jesus and are a huge force for God on the earth. It is actually the non-Lds who bring up Joseph all the time.

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Deborah,

Just because you knew the truth about polygamy doesn't mean we all did/do. Please, let's not turn this into the "you should have known this; it was your responsibility...". I have heard about the Fawn Brodie book, but because of the controversy surrounding it, never picked it up. Imagine that. Silly me. Being told to stay away from controversial material in my conversion and from every point thereon, I don't know why you find that hard to believe. Also, Deborah, I didn't fault President Hinckley for not explaining the principle of polygamy on national tv, only for getting the information that he did choose to share as not as forthcoming as I would have liked to have seen.

Neighbor,

Don't know why you find it surprising that we still talk about polygamy in our church. Why? Because its uncomfortable? It's true, it happened. So there are splinter groups that still practice it. They aren't a part of the Mormon Church, I know that. We don't practice it today. But I'm wondering why you think it can't be true or a commandment of God. It's in the D & C, still practiced in the temples today (sealings to multiple women). I have never said I was against polygamy, just the fact that we don't share the whole truth of it.

Gillebre

For 26 years I was the ultimate member missionary. I cannot be that now and not feel compelled to share the whole truth if I am asked certain questions by either investigators or fellow members. I won't gloss over inconvenient issues because it may drive someone away. That compromises my integrity.

Just my thoughts,

Free Agent

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The LDS are very into Jesus and are a huge force for God on the earth. It is actually the non-Lds who bring up Joseph all the time.

Nice try Deborah:-) I've been to services too many times with my wife to think Jesus is more a focus of topic at your church than Joseph and Brigham are:-)

Give Jesus a chance. He never gave one false doctrine.

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Free Agent,

President Hinckley's interviews seem to come up a lot here. When on a show like Larry King, it is better to answer in short, easy to digest sound bites. The general public is not going to sit through a historical discourse about the beginnings of polygamy or the subtle nuances of the doctrine.

It is not the church's purpose to teach history. That is the purpose of a historian. The church's purpose is the three fold mission of the church. I believe it is a relevant fact that plural marriage was not practiced by the church until they moved out west. It was practiced by Joseph Smith much earlier, but not opened up to the general membership.

With that said, there is an interesting foot note in Richard Bushman's "Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling" pg. 624. (I'm sorry for quoting this source so much, but I just finished reading it)

According to Mosiah Hancock, his father learned about plural marriage from the Prophet in 1832. Hancock, Autobiography, 61.

Brigham Young is quoted as saying that Joseph and Cowdery had the doctrine revealed to them while translating the Book of Mormon - locating it in 1829. Walker, Diary, 1:349 (July 26, 1872).

Joseph Bates Noble put it during the time whn the Bible was being revised, between 1831 and 1833. Bachman, "Plural Marriage," 61.

Lyman Johnson, who knew Joseph well while the Smiths stayed at his parents' house in Hiram, Ohio, in 1831 and 1832, told Orson Pratt that "Joseph had made known to him as early as 1831 that plural marriage was a correct principle." Latter-day Saints' Millennial Star, Dec. 16, 1878, 788.

William Phelps wrote to Brigham Young in 1861 that in 1831 Joseph had advocated marriage to Native American women as second wives on the same basis. Bachman, "Plural Marriage," 68-70.

In 1905, Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner said that Joseph had told her in 1842 that God had commanded him in 1834 to take her as a plural wife. "He said I was the first woman God commanded him." Lightner to Emmeline B. Wells, Summer 1905, Lightner Collection.

The evidence for an early revelation on plurarl marriage is summarized in Compton, In sacred Loneliness, 26-27.

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I find it amazing LDS still talk about polygamy. Joseph said to burn the revelation. Emma did not accept it and was not destroyed - but Joseph was.... It has a rotten history. It was rotten to quite. It is rotten today among those who hold to it and put the rest of the LDS Church in an extremely bad light. People laugh about it you know?, don't you???

Today would be a good day to drop the matter as past generations dropped the Adam/God doctrine.

It cannot be true or a commandment of God. One man and one woman is the commandment of God.

We can talk about any commandment that God gives His children. We are not ashamed of Christ. And we don't care what the rest of the world erroneously thinks. People can laugh all they want. They laughed at Jesus. They mocked Him. Do you want to be with that group?

One man and one woman is commanded of God at times. Plural marriage is commanded of God at other times. I take it you don't believe the Bible. Else how do you explain Abraham, Jacob, Moses among others?

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