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Polygamy Not Just About Children


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So, I was baptized on January 30 2011 and my experience with the LDS is short. My calling is compassionate services, and I do a fair amount of visiting, taking to the doctor, and other things. I know several members whose relatives were polygamists, and I am not hearing the negative stories. There are negative stories but from FLDS roots.

I am also seeing some elderly who are living alone. From the record, how were the elderly treated during polygamist times? It continued a long time and people had to be coerced into abandoning the practice. So, if it was so bad why did they have to be forced? Are we talking some sort of sinister psychology here? I doubt it.

I'm 66 and alone. I would have preferred to spend my last years in a home with a family doing dishes, laundry and pushing children on a swing so mom(s) could spend their time going to college, working, or doing activism. Read up on Susan B Anthony and what she had to say about polygamist Mormon women.

I have looked into being a nanny or a live in maid. That is what I was doing when I met the sisters in Kirtland, Ohio. Do people not do these things more because they just can't get along? Gee, I was living with a young Jewish woman and an Agnostic, and I was Muslim, paying 2/3 the rent and food costs.

Will economic times finally force us to live outside ourselves, or shall we simply perish from selfishness?

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Being a live in nanny sounds like a good selection for those so inclined.

When I was in my deepest, most bereft state, Heavenly Father took me to Painesville, Ohio. I was Shia Muslim, and in that area, there are no Shia. My stepfather was inactive Amish. He did the Amish culture part, not the religion part. I could not connect with the Amish. They were too suspicious; saw me, a Muslim woman as more distasteful than an Englisher. I just wanted to understand.

It was while returning to Painesville, that I drove through Kirtland and encountered the Mormon Sisters. They saved my life in the most literal way possible

Mormons are the gentlest people I have ever encountered. I must try to repay the kindness that was extended to me in the name of Heavenly Father.

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excellent question, and one which many will have to face.

So, taking what BY said in the Journal of Discourses, volume 11 in context, I believe it is possible and entirely permissible to have spiritual polygamy, soul to soul. Why is it that we seem to see marriage as simply husband/wife? What is the Mormon take on Jesus Christs words, Mt 22:30 "In the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage." Can this be the spiritual polygamy that BY spoke of? I am not telling others what to think, I am just asking questions; trying to understand the purpose of Mormons castigating themselves over trying to find a better way to live?

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I loved your post Ellen.

I think it's always far too easy to apply my paradigm to every other living person. Why would any woman want to be a second wife. They must have been coerced into it.

My wife isn't active - doesn't really even consider herself Mormon - and has been vehemently against polygamy until she read the book by an FLDS family. I can't remember their name but they got quite a lot of PR from the book last year (or the year before).

In reading she came to see that it was an arrangement that they celebrated and enjoyed. She let go of her disdain for polygamy in principle. As Brigham Young once said (which I think I got from Kevin):

There is one principle I wish to urge upon the Saints in a way that it may remain with them—that is, to understand men and women as they are, and not understand them as you are.

http://en.fairmormon.org/Journal_of_Discourses/8/8

Remarks by President BRIGHAM YOUNG, made in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, April 6, 1860. REPORTED BY G. D. WATT

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"Patriarchal marriage, or plurality of wives" doctrines was revealed by JS and it was a calling. Even those highly placed in the Church, e.g. John C. Bennett, who tried to practice polygany on their own were disciplined (take note, Alan). The man had to be issued the calling to take multiple wives and that call had to originate from JS. Once in Utah territory, LDS priesthood holders were expected to take multiple wives more generally, but it was still formally issued as a calling into "the practice". Most men did not. The most repeated statistics I recall say that well under a quarter of the men, church-wide, entered into polygany, with by far the most numerous segment only taking a second wife, in order to "be obedient". BY on at least one occasion castigated the priesthood for failing to live the spirit of the law, and set three wives as the barest minimum for compliance with the spirit of the law. Reluctance was that much of a problem.

During the c. two generations that plural marriage was "core" to the Church, the numbers of men and women were roughly equal. In the more remote settlements the lack of available women was a growing problem as they were snapped up by the more prominent priesthood holders of the area, leaving many young men without wives. This pressure to marry was thus made more difficult (the FLDS have actively driven young men out of their communities to attempt a restored balance of genders, upon the most trumped up pretexts leading to "unworthiness"). The entire "system" is unnatural.

Mormon women settled down under their lot. "Romantic" marriage was never part of it, and those women who had the most trouble with polygany were those who wanted a man to themselves, who would show regular affection and form a romantic relationship. That was the "Victorian age" of romantic love after all! As they aged, the established wives had to contend with being ignored even more by the husband, who took younger wives, naturally enough. There was a lot of injustice resulting from this neglect, and the women had to fend for themselves in many situations where the husband's resources were inadequate to care for a large, extensive family, often spread across the territory. BY's situation is notorious in this regard, and many of his wives got by on very little, making up the lack by their own efforts, often helping each other out, because the "the man" was not to be seen, often for months or even years at a time. Such was Mormon polygamy.

Being human, the women did their best to accept their fate, and considered as part of that survival mentality the central assertion that it was commanded by God's prophet, as the core reason for obeying the command to plural marriage. But most women were unhappy with that aspect of their religion. That is why there was virtually no reaction in the tabernacle when the "Manifesto" was read out in general conference of 1890. The vast majority of those listening were silently saying, "Thank God, it's about time." And the same vast majority were almost all monogamous LDS....

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I loved your post Ellen.

I think it's always far too easy to apply my paradigm to every other living person. Why would any woman want to be a second wife. They must have been coerced into it.

My wife isn't active - doesn't really even consider herself Mormon - and has been vehemently against polygamy until she read the book by an FLDS family. I can't remember their name but they got quite a lot of PR from the book last year (or the year before).

In reading she came to see that it was an arrangement that they celebrated and enjoyed. She let go of her disdain for polygamy in principle. As Brigham Young once said (which I think I got from Kevin):

http://en.fairmormon..._Discourses/8/8

Remarks by President BRIGHAM YOUNG, made in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, April 6, 1860. REPORTED BY G. D. WATT

In volume 11 of the Journal of Discourses, BY has further statements about polygamy, and mentions spiritual polygamy, and it has caused me to think a lot about what he intended. Maybe it is posible to be spiritually polygamous in a sense and not even live in the same home?

Why am I thinking of this issue? I am old, divorced and no man in their right mind would have me. Perhaps it is simply meditation about the qualities that God wants to cultivate in us?

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"Patriarchal marriage, or plurality of wives" doctrines was revealed by JS and it was a calling. Even those highly placed in the Church, e.g. John C. Bennett, who tried to practice polygany on their own were disciplined (take note, Alan). The man had to be issued the calling to take multiple wives and that call had to originate from JS. Once in Utah territory, LDS priesthood holders were expected to take multiple wives more generally, but it was still formally issued as a calling into "the practice". Most men did not. The most repeated statistics I recall say that well under a quarter of the men, church-wide, entered into polygany, with by far the most numerous segment only taking a second wife, in order to "be obedient". BY on at least one occasion castigated the priesthood for failing to live the spirit of the law, and set three wives as the barest minimum for compliance with the spirit of the law. Reluctance was that much of a problem.

During the c. two generations that plural marriage was "core" to the Church, the numbers of men and women were roughly equal. In the more remote settlements the lack of available women was a growing problem as they were snapped up by the more prominent priesthood holders of the area, leaving many young men without wives. This pressure to marry was thus made more difficult (the FLDS have actively driven young men out of their communities to attempt a restored balance of genders, upon the most trumped up pretexts leading to "unworthiness"). The entire "system" is unnatural.

Mormon women settled down under their lot. "Romantic" marriage was never part of it, and those women who had the most trouble with polygany were those who wanted a man to themselves, who would show regular affection and form a romantic relationship. That was the "Victorian age" of romantic love after all! As they aged, the established wives had to contend with being ignored even more by the husband, who took younger wives, naturally enough. There was a lot of injustice resulting from this neglect, and the women had to fend for themselves in many situations where the husband's resources were inadequate to care for a large, extensive family, often spread across the territory. BY's situation is notorious in this regard, and many of his wives got by on very little, making up the lack by their own efforts, often helping each other out, because the "the man" was not to be seen, often for months or even years at a time. Such was Mormon polygamy.

Being human, the women did their best to accept their fate, and considered as part of that survival mentality the central assertion that it was commanded by God's prophet, as the core reason for obeying the command to plural marriage. But most women were unhappy with that aspect of their religion. That is why there was virtually no reaction in the tabernacle when the "Manifesto" was read out in general conference of 1890. The vast majority of those listening were silently saying, "Thank God, it's about time." And the same vast majority were almost all monogamous LDS....

What you say does not make me against it in principle. If what you are saying is fact, then I would be opposed to it. The birth rate world wide of males to females is roughly equal, so I can see how available wives would get sucked up quickly. I feel confident, however, were the demographic situation otherwise, at least a temporary polygamy, of a type, may ease suffering.

The situation I lived in while I was in Ohio was similar, in some respects, to polygamy perhaps. I learned from it.

So, you are saying that the origin of the pressure to end polygamy came from disgruntled members? That is how it should be I suppose. Better than than interference from without.

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When I was in my deepest, most bereft state, Heavenly Father took me to Painesville, Ohio. I was Shia Muslim, and in that area, there are no Shia. My stepfather was inactive Amish. He did the Amish culture part, not the religion part. I could not connect with the Amish. They were too suspicious; saw me, a Muslim woman as more distasteful than an Englisher. I just wanted to understand.

It was while returning to Painesville, that I drove through Kirtland and encountered the Mormon Sisters. They saved my life in the most literal way possible

Mormons are the gentlest people I have ever encountered. I must try to repay the kindness that was extended to me in the name of Heavenly Father.

Thank you Ellen. Most of us try to be Christlike but some of us can also be less than Christlike at times. I find my frustrations occasionally causing me problems. Again thank you and just keep at it.

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I loved your post Ellen.

I think it's always far too easy to apply my paradigm to every other living person. Why would any woman want to be a second wife. They must have been coerced into it.

My wife isn't active - doesn't really even consider herself Mormon - and has been vehemently against polygamy until she read the book by an FLDS family. I can't remember their name but they got quite a lot of PR from the book last year (or the year before).

In reading she came to see that it was an arrangement that they celebrated and enjoyed. She let go of her disdain for polygamy in principle. As Brigham Young once said (which I think I got from Kevin):

http://en.fairmormon..._Discourses/8/8

Remarks by President BRIGHAM YOUNG, made in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, April 6, 1860. REPORTED BY G. D. WATT

Canard78 This is the problem that causes most faith crisis. It is the imposition of personal paradigms on other times and people and then blame them for not measuring up or someone else for not telling us sooner.

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Being a live in nanny sounds like a good selection for those so inclined.

What would be nice would be if it was considered more of an option by those who aren't wealthy, but could afford room and board at least (assuming the individual has some savings/income for spending money), but in this day and age we don't consider it as an option for middle class and lower, yet if we met individuals who mesh well with our families, why not adopt them as live in grandparents, whether they help out with expenses or with work?
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the women had to fend for themselves in many situations where the husband's resources were inadequate to care for a large, extensive family, often spread across the territory. BY's situation is notorious in this regard, and many of his wives got by on very little, making up the lack by their own efforts, often helping each other out, because the "the man" was not to be seen, often for months or even years at a time.

Much of which was caused by persecution by the federal government that drove the men (and sometimes women so they couldn't be forced to testify against their husbands) into hiding or put them in jail.
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So, you are saying that the origin of the pressure to end polygamy came from disgruntled members? That is how it should be I suppose. Better than than interference from without.

Plural marriage was a much smaller practice, not quite dying out, but diminishing greatly when the feds stepped up their persecution. They probably strengthened the commitment to the Principle for many and helped prolong its popularity. If they had left LDS alone, I suspect we might still be practicing plural marriage (unless the Lord had reasons to withdraw it which he might have) by only among very few percentagewise in special circumstances.
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What would be nice would be if it was considered more of an option by those who aren't wealthy, but could afford room and board at least (assuming the individual has some savings/income for spending money), but in this day and age we don't consider it as an option for middle class and lower, yet if we met individuals who mesh well with our families, why not adopt them as live in grandparents, whether they help out with expenses or with work?

I have long said the true measure of charity is not how much money we donate to fast offerings and other charities but rather or not we are able to bring the needy into our homes and family circles and share with them on an intimate basis. When we right the check we are done but when we bring them in close we not only share our money but ourselves.

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Thank you Ellen. Most of us try to be Christlike but some of us can also be less than Christlike at times. I find my frustrations occasionally causing me problems. Again thank you and just keep at it.

Thank you. I must say that I am no angel, having just come through a severe depressive cycle and was quite ungracious to everyone for a few days. I well know that I must keep busy or my mind begins to circle the drain. It is no one's responsibility but mine.
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Plural marriage was a much smaller practice, not quite dying out, but diminishing greatly when the feds stepped up their persecution. They probably strengthened the commitment to the Principle for many and helped prolong its popularity. If they had left LDS alone, I suspect we might still be practicing plural marriage (unless the Lord had reasons to withdraw it which he might have) by only among very few percentagewise in special circumstances.

I respect it as a private matter. Knowing what I do now, were I still married, I would be open to taking in, permanently or temporarily another woman or man with children. From a co-dependency point of view, one would need to be quite careful. We don't think of it now days, but if we got mixed up in a big war, like WWII and lots of the men were gone, I would like to think that no Mormon families and others by discretion would be neglected.
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We believe the scripture that says people are not married in heaven means that marriages have to be established in mortality. This will be done by temple work during the millenium for those who never had the opportunity on earth. (As I write this, I don't know how all the ends will be resolved, but before the earth is transformed and receives it paradisiacal glory, everything will be worked out.)

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On my mission to Africa, I heard many complaints from the righteous sisters that they wished polygamy was still allowed. I don't know if this is common across all of Africa/3rd World Countries/or the Church in general, but in our mission righteous priesthood holders were tough to come by and many sisters simply did not have any legitimate options. Many told me they would love to be a plural wife for the opportunity to raise righteous children in the Gospel. That perspective definitely burned into my mind and gave me an idea of what perhaps Joseph was envisioning, despite how messy it can be in actual practice.

If we could make every man upon the earth get him a wife, live righteously and serve God, we would not be under the necessity, perhaps, of taking more than one wife. But they will not do this; the people of God, therefore, have been commanded to take more wives. (BY, JD 16:166, 9/31/1873)
The Prophet taught Dominion & pow[e]r in the great Future would be Comensurate with the no. of ‘Wives Childin & Friends’ that we inheret here and that our great mission to earth was to Organize a Neculi of Heaven to take with us. To the increace of which there would be no end. (Benjamin Johnson to Gibbs, Apr.-Oct. 1903, 30; cf. Matt. 25:14-30.)
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