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When Pondering Polygamy.... Do You Feel


RedSox

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My take is a bit nuanced:

1. Polygamy is not a healthy way of living.

2. I feel that polygamy was likely introduced by JS for far less than nobel reasons (it helped rationalize and "spiritualize" his prior extramarital indugences--Fanny Alger etc.)

3. Later polygamists were only guilty of being fooled or carring on a tradition that they were born into. In most cases they did their level best to make polygamy a wholesome and nobel thing.

I think the word you are looking for is "noble" rather than "nobel" (NO-Bell)

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Personally, I see Polygamy and its practice as a sort of "proof" (my subjective proof anyway) that Mormonism is not constant and it changes according to what is acceptable and what is not in society.

I have to disagree TChild.

Are you trying to say that polygamy was "acceptable" in American culture in 1842 (and was adopted) but wasn't in 1890 (and was dropped)?

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Right now I'm doing research on Mormon fundamentalism. It has been eye-opening to read quotes from Heber J. Grant about the evils of polygamy ("new" polygamy), while he himself was a polygamist. Although I've not read the records from the Smoot hearings, I think that JFS probably struggled to both live and decry polygamy.

Today, many of us are the descendant's of Mormon polygamists. Regardless of that fact, when you think of pre-1904 polygamy, are you disgusted? enthralled? intrigued? ashamed?

For me, I'm somewhat fascinated by the whole idea. It's hard to imagine men and women willingly entering polygamy. In a way, I'm proud of the great amounts of faith that my forebearers had in the principle, but I'm also somewhat horrified by some of the hardships a polygamist life exacted upon plural wives (and sometimes husbands...especially when they were on the lam).

What are your reaction to the practice?

I feel gratitude and admiration for their willingness to obey God under what must have been extremely difficult and trying circumstances.

With the benefit of hindsight, I see plurality of wives, as practiced by our 19th century forebears, as the Lord's means of establishing righteous lineages through which thousands -- and, ultimately, millions -- of our Father's children could be born under the covenant and thereby have a gospel heritage transmitted to them from birth.

Plural marriage in the Church did not -- and could not -- last into perpetuity. But it lasted just as long as it could and needed to for the accomplishment of the Lord's purpose. Early on, despite persecution and prejudice, the Church had a substantial enough membership base to begin to take the restored gospel to all the world. This is largely due to the practice of plural marriage in the mid- to late 1800s.

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How do you define "healthy"?

What is your evidence that polygamy was not/is not "healthy"? Anecdotal evidence won't cut it here (a la "Look at Warren Jeffs! Is that healthy?").

Has some polygamy study been done that I missed?

I don't purport to have a final proof that it is unhealthy. Its an opinion.

Of course, I also don't have final proof that celebacy is unhealthy or even that wife swapping is unhealthy.

But,... I can't help but notice that the numbers don't work out. Don't give me that old "women are more righteous" junk please.

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But,... I can't help but notice that the numbers don't work out. Don't give me that old "women are more righteous" junk please.

How about "Men are pigs"? :P Just poll single women and ask them how many decent guys there are that are marriage material.

However, don't poll them and ask how many would be willing to enter a polygamous relationship. I think we know what the answer would be. <_<

I'm not trying to endorse polygamy. I'm just trying to be a bit flip and to point out that many women would agree that there is an imbalance between decent men and decent women. I'm not sure what men think - I'm guessing most are just looking for some action.

(Note: this is coming from someone who's been married for 17 years and has no idea what the single scene looks like and hopes never to find out. In other words, this is probably an ignorant post.)

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How about "Men are pigs"? :P Just poll single women and ask them how many decent guys there are that are marriage material.

However, don't poll them and ask how many would be willing to enter a polygamous relationship. I think we know what the answer would be. <_<

I'm not trying to endorse polygamy. I'm just trying to be a bit flip and to point out that many women would agree that there is an imbalance between decent men and decent women. I'm not sure what men think - I'm guessing most are just looking for some action.

(Note: this is coming from someone who's been married for 17 years and has no idea what the single scene looks like and hopes never to find out. In other words, this is probably an ignorant post.)

As one who married later in life and who saw far more of the "single scene" than he ever desired to, I would say the observation that decent women outnumber decent men is probably a correct one. This is why assertions like "the numbers don't work out" are overly simplistic and do not take cognizance of the big picture.

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No one is saying that polygamy was properly practiced by everyone. There certainly were abuses and neglect. However, one could say the same thing about marriage in general. Some husbands are loving, respectful, and caring. Others are abusive, cold, and harsh.

This is not news.

Not even to the same extent as polygamy. Really think about it, 1 relationship is difficult enough, try multiplying that by a factor of 18 to 19 times. No doubt a number of these unions were in fact great for all parties involved, but then there were a number of not so great examples of it not working.

I will hand you the fact that by an large a great number of those in these relationships did in fact support the practice, and that could have been for several reasons. The mormons of that era had been subjected to enormous persecution, and simply times were much different then today. But arguing that polygamy was this wonderful experience that everyone was on board with is naive.

As for the sexual dimension, if your claiming that they didn't enter polygamy just for the sex, then I'll agree. But procreation was a huge reason for these marriages. More importantly these relationships were sought after for the post mortal glory that they'd receive through the extended family they created while in their earthly existence.

There is much debate over Josephs marriages. #1 his first wife Emma was not the most willing participant in the polygamy lifestyle. There were a number of these polygamous unions Joseph had that resulted in those wives being "put out" by Emma. The sources that I draw these conclusions come from are both LDS and non-LDS, and not from Anti scholarship. Therefore it's not difficult to understand why those whom are not LDS would doubt the claim that Polygamy was purely holy and without any guile.

Obviously Dave you believe that the revelation comes from God, and it's difficult to separate emotion from discussion in this issue, and you've demonstrated your inability to speak about this subject in a respectful manner.

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What I have found interesting is the spiritual witness that was received by some of these polygamous wives during JS's time. Lucy Walker comes to mind. To claim that polygamy was not from god or to be turned off by polygamy would deny the many witnesses that were received by the women praying about the concept and on whether or not to accept the polygamous sealing.

And I cannot deny these women their spiritual experiences or witnesses. :P

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I have to disagree TChild.

Are you trying to say that polygamy was "acceptable" in American culture in 1842 (and was adopted) but wasn't in 1890 (and was dropped)?

I don't think that Polygamy in the context of a male dominated hierarchial order was acceptable, but the political ramifications for Utah and the church at the turn of the century did create the need to discontinue the practice.

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Obviously Dave you believe that the revelation comes from God, and it's difficult to separate emotion from discussion in this issue, and you've demonstrated your inability to speak about this subject in a respectful manner.

A couple of his comments have been somewhat jovial, but, searching the thread, I see nothing disrespectful from him. You, on the other hand, seem to be implying that one who believes that plural marriage is/was a true principle given by revelation from God is incapable of discussing the matter intelligently. This I find absurd -- and disrespectful.

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Not even to the same extent as polygamy. Really think about it, 1 relationship is difficult enough, try multiplying that by a factor of 18 to 19 times. No doubt a number of these unions were in fact great for all parties involved, but then there were a number of not so great examples of it not working.

I will hand you the fact that by an large a great number of those in these relationships did in fact support the practice, and that could have been for several reasons. The mormons of that era had been subjected to enormous persecution, and simply times were much different then today. But arguing that polygamy was this wonderful experience that everyone was on board with is naive.

As for the sexual dimension, if your claiming that they didn't enter polygamy just for the sex, then I'll agree. But procreation was a huge reason for these marriages. More importantly these relationships were sought after for the post mortal glory that they'd receive through the extended family they created while in their earthly existence.

There is much debate over Josephs marriages. #1 his first wife Emma was not the most willing participant in the polygamy lifestyle. There were a number of these polygamous unions Joseph had that resulted in those wives being "put out" by Emma. The sources that I draw these conclusions come from are both LDS and non-LDS, and not from Anti scholarship. Therefore it's not difficult to understand why those whom are not LDS would doubt the claim that Polygamy was purely holy and without any guile.

Obviously Dave you believe that the revelation comes from God, and it's difficult to separate emotion from discussion in this issue, and you've demonstrated your inability to speak about this subject in a respectful manner.

It is true that some women felt overwhelmed by the experience as well as the men. This would be just plain human. However, this does not imply that the revelation did not come from god or that the practice was wrong. What it does imply is that the human being can loose sight of the eternal perspective within a temporal world.

What I find interesting in the show 'Big Love' is the relationship between the personalities of the wives. But I also find it interesting that in the end, they all realize the internal and eternal perspective of the marriages and the love that they all have for one another.

I am sure that if one would keep this perspective in mind, polygamy would or could be successful and or respectful.

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I am amazed at the saints who were willing to practice polygamy and I'm glad it's not required of me.

Here's something I've been wondering. Wouldn't it be more difficult for a man to abuse seven wives than one wife? You'd think they'd gang up on him.

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No doubt a number of these unions were in fact great for all parties involved, but then there were a number of not so great examples of it not working.

I don't think anyone is disagreeing with you on this point. I'm not.

But arguing that polygamy was this wonderful experience that everyone was on board with is naive.

And your continued use of strawmen in this discussion is annoying. Where has anyone said that polygamy was a "wonderful experience" and that "everyone was on board"? What I've read and stated is that it was extremely difficult and challenging.

As for the sexual dimension, if your claiming that they didn't enter polygamy just for the sex, then I'll agree.

Thank you. That was my point and I'm glad you agree.

But procreation was a huge reason for these marriages. More importantly these relationships were sought after for the post mortal glory that they'd receive through the extended family they created while in their earthly existence.

I agree with that as well.

Obviously Dave you believe that the revelation comes from God, and it's difficult to separate emotion from discussion in this issue, and you've demonstrated your inability to speak about this subject in a respectful manner.

Really? Maybe you should focus more on the beam in your own eye and dispense with the accusations and strawmen. Once you do that maybe you'll find more civil conversation.

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I am amazed at the saints who were willing to practice polygamy and I'm glad it's not required of me.

Here's something I've been wondering. Wouldn't it be more difficult for a man to abuse seven wives than one wife? You'd think they'd gang up on him.

That seems to be true enough. Unfortunately, the human being can be an abusive entity. It is perhaps a part of the human being's imperfection, plus the influence of satan. But when one keeps he eternal principle in mind and when one keeps god's plan and love in the heart, abuse can perhaps be avoided.

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I don't think that Polygamy in the context of a male dominated hierarchial order was acceptable, but the political ramifications for Utah and the church at the turn of the century did create the need to discontinue the practice.

I don't think you're getting my point.

You stated that the LDS practice of polygamy is "proof that Mormonism is not constant and it changes according to what is acceptable and what is not in society."

My point is that polygamy was not "acceptable" in 1842 American culture, thus eliminating the first part of your "evidence" that the church is false because it just goes along with what's acceptable.

I'm sure you have more "evidences" than that, but just wanted to point out that your proof points in this case don't really pan out.

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Pride.

I am not a descendant of polygamists (at least not Mormon that I am aware of), I am actually the first/only in my family to join the Church. But as a bearer of the same priesthood, and as a guy who simply doesn't see anything wrong with polygamy, I am impressed at how far the Church was willing to go for it. It would've been much easier to not accept that way of life, as most wouldn't, but those who did accepted a different life that the rest of the world would hate them for (although they were hated before that too though).

And to a degree, I am almost sad that it was given up (although I understand why). I don't like the idea of trying to be just like the people who have always hated the Church.

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Right now I'm doing research on Mormon fundamentalism. It has been eye-opening to read quotes from Heber J. Grant about the evils of polygamy ("new" polygamy), while he himself was a polygamist. Although I've not read the records from the Smoot hearings, I think that JFS probably struggled to both live and decry polygamy.

Today, many of us are the descendant's of Mormon polygamists. Regardless of that fact, when you think of pre-1904 polygamy, are you disgusted? enthralled? intrigued? ashamed?

For me, I'm somewhat fascinated by the whole idea. It's hard to imagine men and women willingly entering polygamy. In a way, I'm proud of the great amounts of faith that my forebearers had in the principle, but I'm also somewhat horrified by some of the hardships a polygamist life exacted upon plural wives (and sometimes husbands...especially when they were on the lam).

What are your reaction to the practice?

I am dismayed and disappointed it was ever part of the LDS Church. I do not believe it was from God and that Joseph was prepared to abandon it at one point. I believe it was the catalyst that led to his death, much sorrow and suffering for many women, that it was abused at times by those in power and that it almost led to the destruction of the Church. I believe this is why it was finally abandon and that God had nothing to do with it.

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I am dismayed and disappointed it was ever part of the LDS Church. I do not believe it was from God and that Joseph was prepared to abandon it at one point. I believe it was the catalyst that led to his death, much sorrow and suffering for many women, that it was abused at times by those in power and that it almost led to the destruction of the Church. I believe this is why it was finally abandon and that God had nothing to do with it.

Do you also believe it wasn't from God when he gave David his wives?

And what of the suffering of women in monogamous marriages?

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I don't think you're getting my point.

You stated that the LDS practice of polygamy is "proof that Mormonism is not constant and it changes according to what is acceptable and what is not in society."

My point is that polygamy was not "acceptable" in 1842 American culture, thus eliminating the first part of your "evidence" that the church is false because it just goes along with what's acceptable.

I'm sure you have more "evidences" than that, but just wanted to point out that your proof points in this case don't really pan out.

I said "subjective proof". The fact that you have rationalized the practice and its later discontinuence as somehow a God command, is your reasoning, not mine. Polygamy was started in secrecy, and its public knowledge did not seem to be intended. Later, what was supposedly part of the "everlasting covenant" wasn't so everlasting after all was it? All it took for the "everlasting covenant" to end was political pressures, jailtime, and rejection of Utah to be admitted to the union to change the practice. Hardly seems of God to me, but that is just me. You are probably different.

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I think modern believing Latter Day Saints who decry 19th century polygamy as disgusting and immoral dishonor the women who sacrificed so much to follow the commandments of God.

I wish plural marriage was more openly discussed as a divine command in the church so we could openly honor these women for their courage and faith in living the law.

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I think it was a huge sacrifice for all those who took part in it. The husbands had to find ways to support larger families and the wives had to deal with being alone more often. Everyone did their part for the family and everyone did what they did to fulfil what they believed was a commandment from God (and I agree).

I am not sure if I would be willing to live that type of lifestyle, but the longer I am single the more I think....why not. (Just kidding....or am I?) :P

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I am ashamed that I ever defended polygamy. When I read D&C 132, I don't hear God's voice.

"But if [Emma] will not abide this commandment she shall be destroyed...(verse 54)

"I am the Lord thy God, and will destroy [Emma] if she abide not in my law." (verse 54)

The women in the 19th century didn't have the same rights that they do now. They couldn't even vote until 1920. The men had control, especially in Utah where there were no checks and balances. BY was both prophet and governer, like when JS was both mayor of Nauvoo and prophet.

"And again, verily, verily, I say unto you, if any man have a wife, who holds the keys of this power, and he teaches unto her the law of my priesthood, as pertaining to these things, then shall she believe and administer unto him, or she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord your God; for I will destroy her..." (verse 64)

The women were commanded to "believe and administer" or "be destroyed." They really didn't have much of a choice.

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I am ashamed that I ever defended polygamy. When I read D&C 132, I don't hear God's voice.

"But if [Emma] will not abide this commandment she shall be destroyed...(verse 54)

"I am the Lord thy God, and will destroy [Emma] if she abide not in my law." (verse 54)

The women in the 19th century didn't have the same rights that they do now. They couldn't even vote until 1920. The men had control, especially in Utah where there were no checks and balances. BY was both prophet and governer, like when JS was both mayor of Nauvoo and prophet.

"And again, verily, verily, I say unto you, if any man have a wife, who holds the keys of this power, and he teaches unto her the law of my priesthood, as pertaining to these things, then shall she believe and administer unto him, or she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord your God; for I will destroy her..." (verse 64)

The women were commanded to "believe and administer" or "be destroyed." They really didn't have much of a choice.

I think that if you would put the word 'destroy' into a word search for the bible you may get some hits. I don't see as being out of character at all. For some reason, many people seem to always see a kind and loving god. But the god of the old testament is also the god of the new testament. We are not dealing with a duel personality.

However, the word destroy can take on many meanings in the sentences that you quoted. Lets put it this way: If emma would have been faithful to polygamy and went west with the saints what would have been her fate in Utah as the wife of the martyred prophet? She would have achieved much. And although she led a nice and tranquil life with her new husband, he life would have been much more amplified if she went west. By staying behind, it could be argued that she destroyed her potential.

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