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New Gospel Topic Essays - Polygamy


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For those who find polygamy icky, no evidence of Joseph's wrongdoing is too sketchy.

 

And no twisting of facts to fit is too much effort.

 

In the end, Joseph did NOTHING wrong with Fanny, Helen or any other woman.  And I for one can't wait until the day he's vindicated against the scandalmongers who bend the truth.

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Todd Compton views sexuality in the case of Helen Mar to be ambiguous. Brian Hales concludes "The lack of evidence does not prove the lack of sexual relations, but several observations support that Helen’s marriage to Joseph Smith was not consummated."

The best we can say is that Helen's marriage likely did not include sexual relations, though determining this would be impossible. I will add that an eternity only sealing goes against the requirement to raise up seed to the Lord and contradicts the church's essay when it states:

However, the intent could have been more like a betrothal as was done in Utah with young brides, they would have the sealing, spend a few more years with their parents and then move in with their husband, with the marriage going 'into effect' at that time.

Otoh, any woman sealed to Joseph Smith who later married and had children would be "raising seed" in the sense that the children would be seen as belonging to Joseph and his sealed wife in the eternities. So any children Helen had were considered at the time as belonging to her and Joseph, not her husband Brother Whitney (can't remember his first name). So it does not go against that requirement. (this last observation was sort of pointed out to me by a friend a few days ago, though he used it for the polyandrous marriages)

Edited by calmoriah
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Over the last few days since the essay I've been thinking about the same question. Why?

I don't see God in the black priesthood/temple ban and I'm glad that the church has almost entirely disavowed it.

I also don't see God in Polygamy. I'm glad the church essay has opened up to the reality of it. I hope that one day they will take the next step and disavow it too.

The more I study, ponder, pray and consider the question of polygamy the more it leads to a simple conclusion:

There was no commanding angel

There was no drawn or flaming sword

There was no revelation behind section 132

There was no divine mandate for polygamy

We don't have to wrestle with why God would command this. He didn't.

 

But Canard, did you ever "wrestle?"

 

Isn't that "conclusion" the very same opinion you started with?

 

There are two non-intersecting groups of people discussing Mormon polygamy today: those who recognise that it was an authentic religious principle from the very outset, and the terminally clueless.

 

Regards,

Pahoran

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A stupid interjection here that has nothing to do with the topic, but please indulge me for a moment. When asking for a source, what does CFR stand for? I know it's a request for a source, but what do the letters stand for?

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Call for reference

Pretty cool, huh? Shows how smart we are on this board! :P

(I say this as possibly the one who asks the most for it though in my case it is most often because I do want to read more about something and while I can google, I feel people should be willing to teach along with pontificating, so I do a bit of pushing)

Edited by calmoriah
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Call for reference

Pretty cool, huh? Shows how smart we are on this board! :P

(I say this as possibly the one who asks the most for it though in my case it is most often because I do want to read more about something and while I can google, I feel people should be willing to teach along with pontificating, so I do a bit of pushing)

LOL thanks for the explanation. Now I've learned a new acronym.

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If all the bad things said about Joseph and polygamy are true, then why did Emma stay with Joseph and deal with it?

I don't know why she stayed with him unless it was for financial security or something, or to keep their children from being traumatized, but after he died, Emma chose to join the RLDS Church, and did not follow Brigham Young to Utah. I'm not sure if this was because of polygamy, or if it was based on the fact that the RLDS Church believed that only descendants of Joseph Smith should lead the Church.

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I just do not understand the obsession with this.

It's what forever changed my life and threw me into a faith crisis since being unaware of JS' s polygamy, pretty naive I know.

It changed my life from bliss to bleak, my personality changed, I'd never once believed the church was untrue as far back as I can remember.

To go from one day to the next with a completely different belief does a number. All my years of trying to live up to covenants made in the temple (30 years), and trying to do everything asked of me, to then discovering the church isn't what you thought it was, has a way of affecting someone.

And not being able to leave it alone at the expense of my family. Makes one just a little ticked and obsessed, not a good combination.

Edited by Tacenda
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Wasn't she threatened with destruction if she didn't support him?

 

I think Emma will be fine.

 

Before Joseph left for Carthage, Emma asked him for a blessing. Joseph told her to "write out the best blessing [she] could think of and he would sign the same on his return." Among the "desires of [her] heart," she recorded the following: 

 

"I desire the Spirit of God to know and understand myself, that I desire a fruitful, active mind, that I may be able to comprehend the designs of God, when revealed through his servants, without doubting. I desire a spirit of discernment, which is one of the promised blessings of the Holy Ghost. . . . I desire with all my heart to honor and respect my husband as my head, ever to live in his confidence and by acting in unison with him to retain the place which God has given me at his side. . . . Finally, I desire that whatever may be my lot through life that I may be enabled to acknowledge the hand of God in all things" (quoted in Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery, Mormon Enigma: Emma Smith, 2nd ed. [urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1994], 190–191).

 

Joseph always regarded Emma as "the choice of [his] heart." According to a later account, "when one of his wives spoke to him in a complaining manner of Emma, the Prophet turned to her and said, 'If you desire my love you must never speak evil of Emma'" (Lucy M. Wright, "Emma Hale Smith," Women's Exponent 30, no. 8 [15 December 1901], 59). 

 

If Section 132 threatens Emma with destruction, it also hints at her redemption:   

 

It seems that one of the main points of section 132 is to assure Joseph that he and Emma will be exalted together, that despite the wedge plural marriage had driven between them, the Lord will weld them eternally. . . . [T]he law of exaltation is set forth in Doctrine and Covenants 132:7, 19–20, and the historical record shows that Joseph and Emma met its terms and conditions precisely. They made and entered the covenant on May 28, 1843, and received the confirming ordinance section 132 refers to as "most holy" on September 28, 1843 (v.7).

Though neither Joseph nor Emma was flawless after meeting the conditions on which the Lord will exalt them, neither committed the unpardonable sin verse 27 describes. Emma was never excommunicated, her ordinances never voided. She gave her children faith in the Book of Mormon but blamed Brigham Young for plural marriage. It seems as if the Lord spoke verse 26 specifically to set Joseph's mind at ease about Emma's eternal destiny. Perhaps that knowledge was the "escape" Joseph needed in order to make the extreme "sacrifices" for plural marriage that contributed to his death (v. 50; see D&C 135).

— Steven C. Harper, Making Sense of the Doctrine & Covenants: A Guided Tour through Modern Revelations (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2008), 488–489.

 

Edited by Nevo
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It's what forever changed my life and threw me into a faith crisis since being unaware of JS' s polygamy, pretty naive I know.

It changed my life from bliss to bleak, my personality changed, I'd never once believed the church was untrue as far back as I can remember.

To go from one day to the next with a completely different belief does a number. All my years of trying to live up to covenants made in the temple (30 years), and trying to do everything asked of me, to then discovering the church isn't what you thought it was, has a way of affecting someone.

And not being able to leave it alone at the expense of my family. Makes one just a little ticked and obsessed, not a good combination.

I've had a lot, a lot, of experience with trauma, and Mental Illness. Judging by what I have read about him, he could have been Bi-polar, or something else. That does not mean that God could not have used him, and did.  And, in reading the Bible, there are those who God used, but got punished for wrong doing. Look at Adam, Moses, Solomon, Balem, and others. And none of them, especially David was perfect.

 

I have difficulty with polygamy because of Jacob 2. And there is a similar statement from God in the Qur'an. So clearly, one wife was God's preference. When I was first in Islam, polygamy was a normal thing. I was once asked to be 2nd wife, but did not do it. It is not likely that any of us will experience it.

 

The church has some very nice people who try to please God in it. Please do not lose sight of that.

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I remember reading once, can't remember which leader, said polygamy was a way to stop men from committing adultery and from going to prostitutes, maybe they used a different word for it. But makes me wonder, why this belief? Didn't men have more self control back then?

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I remember reading once, can't remember which leader, said polygamy was a way to stop men from committing adultery and from going to prostitutes, maybe they used a different word for it. But makes me wonder, why this belief? Didn't men have more self control back then?

It was not seen in most cultures as a self control thing, but part of being men.  Rite of passage for a young man to get taken to a prostitute.  It was typical of upper class men to have mistresses.  Wives were for heirs, status and property (as in hoping she had a rich daddy).  Mistresses were for fun.

 

Men who moved around a lot would pick up a wife in one part, move on and get married again, etc. etc.  Women needed a men in most cases to survive.  

 

So there was an attitude that men would be attracted to more than their wives, especially if they didn't marry for love.  Don't see a lot of self control in many sectors of our cultures these days.  The idea of a man being a virgin at his marriage is even more laughable to most people than a woman being a virgin.  And while it is usually expected in the past at least that becoming a mother tames a woman, often the trope for men is a pregnant or kid preoccupied tired wife is a reason to go out and look for more congenial company.

 

In a plural family, the wife has the assurance that she still knows where her husband is, that hopefully family dynamics are the women help each other instead of compete for resources and any children are legitimate and a blessing, not a catastrophe.

 

And if the wife is mistreated, she has other options of getting an easy divorce to marry another man who she can see how he treats his wives, a divorced woman in other communities is most often viewed with a huge stigma that probably only a lot of money or status could overcome.

Edited by calmoriah
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I think Emma will be fine.

Before Joseph left for Carthage, Emma asked him for a blessing. Joseph told her to "write out the best blessing [she] could think of and he would sign the same on his return." Among the "desires of [her] heart," she recorded the following:

"I desire the Spirit of God to know and understand myself, that I desire a fruitful, active mind, that I may be able to comprehend the designs of God, when revealed through his servants, without doubting. I desire a spirit of discernment, which is one of the promised blessings of the Holy Ghost. . . . I desire with all my heart to honor and respect my husband as my head, ever to live in his confidence and by acting in unison with him to retain the place which God has given me at his side. . . . Finally, I desire that whatever may be my lot through life that I may be enabled to acknowledge the hand of God in all things" (quoted in Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery, Mormon Enigma: Emma Smith, 2nd ed. [urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1994], 190–191).

Joseph always regarded Emma as "the choice of [his] heart." According to a later account, "when one of his wives spoke to him in a complaining manner of Emma, the Prophet turned to her and said, 'If you desire my love you must never speak evil of Emma'" (Lucy M. Wright, "Emma Hale Smith," Women's Exponent 30, no. 8 [15 December 1901], 59).

If Section 132 threatens Emma with destruction, it also hints at her redemption:

Nevo, you are one of the most reasonable, balanced AND well-read participants of the bloggernacle.

Are you actually Terryl Givens or Richard Bushman in disguise?

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It was not seen in most cultures as a self control thing, but part of being men. Rite of passage for a young man to get taken to a prostitute. It was typical of upper class men to have mistresses. Wives were for heirs, status and property (as in hoping she had a rich daddy). Mistresses were for fun.

Men who moved around a lot would pick up a wife in one part, move on and get married again, etc. etc. Women needed a men in most cases to survive.

So there was an attitude that men would be attracted to more than their wives, especially if they didn't marry for love. Don't see a lot of self control in many sectors of our cultures these days. The idea of a man being a virgin at his marriage is even more laughable to most people than a woman being a virgin. And while it is usually expected in the past at least that becoming a mother tames a woman, often the trope for men is a pregnant or kid preoccupied tired wife is a reason to go out and look for more congenial company.

In a plural family, the wife has the assurance that she still knows where her husband is, that hopefully family dynamics are the women help each other instead of compete for resources and any children are legitimate and a blessing, not a catastrophe.

And if the wife is mistreated, she has other options of getting an easy divorce to marry another man who she can see how he treats his wives, a divorced woman in other communities is most often viewed with a huge stigma that probably only a lot of money or status could overcome.

Are you saying that the best justification for polygamy is: "Men are just monkeys wearing shoes"?

I can't get my head around your post? Is this what you believe to be right or what other people self-rationalise?

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I don't know why she stayed with him unless it was for financial security or something, or to keep their children from being traumatized, but after he died, Emma chose to join the RLDS Church, and did not follow Brigham Young to Utah. I'm not sure if this was because of polygamy, or if it was based on the fact that the RLDS Church believed that only descendants of Joseph Smith should lead the Church.

It's my impression Emma was never fully onboard with the RLDS Church.

 

She did not come to Utah largely because there was considerable friction between her and Brigham Young with regard to disposition of assets (sorting out what belonged to the Church and what belonged to Joseph's estate) and other factors.

 

I do believe she stayed with Joseph because she loved him and accepted him as a prophet, despite her ambivalence about and ultimate rejection of the principle of plural marriage.

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And no twisting of facts to fit is too much effort.

 

In the end, Joseph did NOTHING wrong with Fanny, Helen or any other woman.  And I for one can't wait until the day he's vindicated against the scandalmongers who bend the truth.

A single rep point hardly does this post justice.

 

So ...

 

:clapping: :clapping: :clapping: :clapping: :clapping:

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JLHPROF, on 30 Oct 2014 - 5:09 PM, said:

And no twisting of facts to fit is too much effort.

In the end, Joseph did NOTHING wrong with Fanny, Helen or any other woman. And I for one can't wait until the day he's vindicated against the scandalmongers who bend the truth.

A single rep point hardly does this post justice.

So ...

:clapping: :clapping: :clapping: :clapping: :clapping:

That's interesting on two counts, but I'll try to just focus on the one.

Negative statements of fact when it comes to history are very hard to maintain. Did Joseph do anything wrong with any woman? We simply wouldn't know. Let God judge. But there is a story when he could not translate because he presumably unfairly, unrighteously fought with Emma. Surely he repented of that and that should not be held against him, but it seems silly to think he did nothing wrong to another woman, ever.

Better said we don't know that Joseph did anything wrong to a woman that deserved God's eternal punishment, so we should not claim we do know. No?

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That's interesting on two counts, but I'll try to just focus on the one.

Negative statements of fact when it comes to history are very hard to maintain. Did Joseph do anything wrong with any woman? We simply wouldn't know. Let God judge. But there is a story when he could not translate because he presumably unfairly, unrighteously fought with Emma. Surely he repented of that and that should not be held against him, but it seems silly to think he did nothing wrong to another woman, ever.

Better said we don't know that Joseph did anything wrong to a woman that deserved God's eternal punishment, so we should not claim we do know. No?

 

Oh, if you want to get down to the nitty gritty I'm sure you're right.

But I am very comfortable saying that Joseph Smith was as morally chaste and absent any fornication and adultery as our Lord and Savior was.  He was human (and was probably tempted in ways the Savior never was) but I don't believe for one second that his ACTIONS were anything less that pure.  He may have had to pray for grace when he saw a pretty girl, but I'm sure he received that grace.

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Oh, if you want to get down to the nitty gritty I'm sure you're right.

But I am very comfortable saying that Joseph Smith was as morally chaste and absent any fornication and adultery as our Lord and Savior was.

I'm not. I know my heart and where I've been. I'd think I'm closer to Joseph's level of chasteness than I am to Jesus'.

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Oh, if you want to get down to the nitty gritty I'm sure you're right.

But I am very comfortable saying that Joseph Smith was as morally chaste and absent any fornication and adultery as our Lord and Savior was. He was human (and was probably tempted in ways the Savior never was) but I don't believe for one second that his ACTIONS were anything less that pure. He may have had to pray for grace when he saw a pretty girl, but I'm sure he received that grace.

As chaste and pure as Jesus?!

He would probably disagree:

“Many think a prophet must be a great deal better than any body else... I love that man better who swears a stream as long as my arm, yet deals justice to his neighbors and mercifully deals his substance to the poor, than the smooth-faced hypocrite. I do not want you to think that I’m very righteous, for I am not. There was one good man, and his name was Jesus”

Joseph Smith

(Documentary History of the Church, 5:401).

Sermon Delivered on 21 May 1843

http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=1123

Partial quote:

http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=aba167700817b010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&hideNav=1#footnote11

Your eulogising and near-deification of Joseph makes it difficult to give your broader arguments any credibility.

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