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Why do people oppose polygamy?


Mighty Curelom

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Everyone has a conscience. You know, those internal feelings you get that tell you what's right and wrong; that instinctual "gut feeling" that lets you know what is acceptable and what isn't. Some people even go so far as to claim that these feelings are evidence of God- that God placed these feelings in each and every one of us so that we would know right from wrong.

So why do so many people feel repulsed by polygamy? Why do many people regard polygamy to be on an equal par of sinfulness as homosexuality or adultery? Why would something so glorious, and indeed necessary in some cases, produce a public reaction of disgust?

Abraham Lincoln once said- "When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That is my religion". If polygamy is good, why do people believe it is bad? Are people so totally incapable of discerning good from evil that they percieve something that is good to be evil?

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Our society is engeneered to promote what we feel is good and reject what we feel is bad. To many people, polygamy gives them bad feelings, perhaps becuase they are raised to believe that it's like adultry. It's like racism and taboos. Once a generation learns it it's stuck and not easily routed out. This could explain why God seems to have changed rules a few times. In this dispensation, polygamy was commanded, but Joseph, being raised in a society who does not believe in those things, would most likely have been ashamed of such a commandment. Perhaps he felt that if word got out, people would certainly think he was crazy. In the end he must have swallowed his pride and started practicing it.

Now things would have worked out well, except that those other people raised to reject such a practice on any ground, decided that if they can't conform to society, society(represented by the government) would take their property and jail them, which they would have no right to do considering that it was a rule of religion that was not directly harming non-members. They just wanted it to stop because they were afraid that it was a sexual perversion and their daughters would be harmed(like they believed mormons would go rape them or somthing).

Fear lead to a ban, and that ban was in place. What could God do that wouldn't superceed the agency of them who banned it? He woudl take it back of course. He wouldn't say it's wrong, just that it's not required at the present time.

Unfortuantly, since nobody from the other side would have access to the transcripts, they would naturally conclude Joseph Smith was making it up just to get laid. If they were prepared, the Holy Ghost would have told them what was really going on.

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Polygamy was a difficult test for many saints brigham young parley p pratt and heber c kimball were reluctant to practice it and joseph smith asked why bible prophets practiced it. In the teachings he said they didnt believe in having more than one wife at a time while living. He taught polygamy when it was taught by God and introduced it with reluctance. However he taught that whatever god requires is right though we may not know the reason until long after the event has transpired.

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Maybe the "light of Christ" as found in gentiles without the gospel, is just that much stronger in discerning repugnant behavior than is the companionship of the holy ghost recieved by LDS members with the laying on of hands. Perhaps it is the other way around, and the "light of Christ" just doesn't illuminate the spiritual nuggets like the Holy Ghost can.

What is up calling a member of the Godhead a "holy Ghost" anyway? Why not call him something noble like, "the god of light", or the "eternal companion" or something really cool.

If two members of the church both having the companionship of the Holy Ghost have differing "gut" reactions to polygamy, whose Holy Ghost is right? Is it the priesthood holder higher up on the hierarchial food chain?

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Polygamy was a difficult test for many saints brigham young parley p pratt and heber c kimball were reluctant to practice it and joseph smith asked why bible prophets practiced it.

Since discussing the issue on FAIRboards, I have found that many Christians do not believe that Abraham and Jacob were polygamists.

To me it is quite clear and concise in the Bible that Abraham and Jacob were polygamists.

Some concede that they did practice it, but then they repented or something of the sort and decided to follow God, though there is not evidence of any repentence by Abraham and Jacob for polygamy in scripture.

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Are people so totally incapable of discerning good from evil that they percieve something that is good to be evil?

No, IMO the problem we usually have with discerning good is some combination of:

- not living one's life as worthily as possible

- trying to fit one's own ideas and values in place of what God might tell us (e.g., first two great commandments).

- not seeking to know what we need to know to make good decisions

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You might say that it's not my job to decide what God would or would not do. I disagree. I believe that if there's a God out there, he's given me precisely the tools to decide whether or not something is right and, furthermore, he'll be disappointed if I don't use critical thinking as part of the process.

Interesting take on God - create Him in your own image because you've convinced yourself that He created you in His image, therefore your thoughts are God's thoughts. Or, put a little more subtly (a la Korihor), we prosper (find what we're looking for, God in this case) in this life according to the management (critical thinking, in this case) of the creature (that which is created, King Folly in this case, if indeed the King actually believes in a God other than himself).

But I stray from the question of the string (sorry). Polygyny seems impossible to me, not repulsive. At some level I suppose having sex with tons of women (not talking weight here) is every heteromale's dream. But my intimate, special, one-of-a-kind relationship I have with my own wife - I can't see how that could be shared. If I were to have another intimate female friend, I'd feel just wrong about it, like the special relationship I have with my own wife is less special. If I believed that God actually commanded me to take another wife, I guess I'd follow as a matter/exercise of faith, hoping that by trudging forward with faith I'd find better feelings about the whole thing (sort of like: the pioneers trudging forward through sickness, winter, starvation, frostbite, intense cold, intense heat, and lots and lots of walking (don't see how they could truly sing and walk and walk and walk at the same time) - they had "faith in every footstep" and many who survived found the efficacy of their faith in the zionic society becoming a reality in the desert).

Sorry for the long parenthetical (my wife thinks I live a parenthetical life).

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Why do people oppose polygamy?

I can think of several reasons. I know those who oppose polygamy because as it is practiced today in the US, it can (and does) create voiceless victims. There are things that occur within the practice of polygamy which most of us find truly repugnant. Much of this, however, occurs because polygamy is forced to exist "off the radar" so to speak. If polygamy is taboo, then its practice must be secret - which then creates an environment in which victimization can occur and from which escape can be difficult.

Another issue is that polygamy in its practice requires a different view of marriage than what we tend to view as the ideal. Our culture tends to view the ideal marriage as being an intimacy which is both an emotional co-dependancy and a sharing (which does not allow for secrets). This kind of one-on-one relationship cannot exist within a successful polygamous group where usually the focus is less on personal intimacy and more on progeny and the hierarchy of the spouses. I see challenges with marriages between individuals where one of the spouses (but not both) come from the rigid backgrounds which don't carry modern ideals of marriage (e.g. where one spouse was raised a Mennonite).

There are other things, but I think that conceptually, these are the two areas in which we often find the most unsettling. Other issues deal with is the fact that polygamy tends to enhance gender differences and inequality and so on. And the economic issues raised by the notion of legalizing polygamy are very real. In our society it is difficult enough for new monogamous couples to start and become financially independant let alone for a polygamous family.

Ben

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OH my gosh... do I want to go into this?

(hmmm.... not really... but sort of... <_< )

Lets see... first I don't believe God is a being intervening in human affairs. So I don't even remotely think God told JS to have multiple partners. Just to get that out of the way.

Secondly, has anyone read anything about this history of patriarchy, marriage etc.?

If one believes that Adam and Eve were the first people on earth 6,000 years ago and were married by God then please disregard the rest of this post. :P

I believe that humankind has evolved in amazing ways. One of which is to know the beauty of compassion and romantic love. This is very new and exclusive to the human species... it seems to me that over the course of the last few million years, there is a very clear pattern moving toward the experience and beauty of intimacy, connectedness, deep unity and profound compassion. I see this as an amazing development of our universe.

Now going back into the history of humankind... patriarchal marriage started out as a form of ownership of women. This was not a union of love and compassion and emotional intimacy by any means. Over the last few millennia we have evolved to know the beauty that comes from a deep exclusive, committed relationship, with equal partners enjoying the depth of sharing and love that can be had only when there is equal commitment and sharing.

IMO, modern day polygamy goes against everything that speaks to the beauty and equality of what evolution has been working toward for eons... that of the deepest unity and love that has yet existed. IMO, polygamy leaves women without the emotional closeness and support that is possible... it leaves men without the opportunity to develop the deepest sense of unity and love for which the universe is asking.

Some may say that men can love more than one women... women can love more than one man as well. If the ideal for which evolution is moving is more superficial, primitive, animalistic mating and the degradation of and lack of concern for women then we would not see in the human the ability and desire for a deeper and more complete love and unity. We would not see the human developing the capacity for understanding each other that only comes from deep intimacy.

Polygamy does not allow this deep sharing and love to exist.

It is my opinion that Jesus spoke of this quite clearly.. he understood the development of life and love. It was during this time that the consciousness of many developed to see women in a new way... as something more than property.

I'm out of time or I would address the more practical reasons like the harm and degradation toward women, the lack of a father's attention toward children, the inequality toward women, the lack of physical intimacy for women, the inability for men to provide for numerous families, the inability to emotionally connect with family, the chaotic aspect of multiple families, lack of time and attention to relationships, ohhh and did I mention the degradation toward women?

See... I told you I wasn't sure I wanted to post on this thread...

cool.gif:unsure::ph34r:

~dancer~

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Guest johnny_cat
Some may say that men can love more than one women... women can love more than one man as well. If the ideal for which evolution is moving is more superficial, primitive, animalistic mating and the degradation of and lack of concern for women then we would not see in the human the ability and desire for a deeper and more complete love and unity. We would not see the human developing the capacity for understanding each other that only comes from deep intimacy.

I don't share your belief in the limit of human beings to love and be loved. Most of us have been able to maintain deep, loving friendships with more than one person, and those friendships have nothing to do with superficial, animal, degrading sex. We do innately have the capacity to love more than one person. Your objection seems to be that, once sex is introduced, we cannot maintain love for more than one person. Not being a polygamist myself, I can't say firsthand if this is so. But, given that my physical relationship has not diminished my deep love for either my wife or my close friends, I don't see any reason for believing the way you do.

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MC,

Since you are hitting and running I wil take some time to answer this post from my view. Polygamy is not generally seen as repugnant world wide, only in Euro-centric cultures. We of western belief systems have to realize some women in other cultures welcome another wife to help with the burdens at home. Tribal lifestyles are crushingly difficult at best Let's not assume all would find polygyny all that bad. The repugnance comes from the ideal which states western culture is the best. If we notice the scriptural examples of polygyny, it was the wife's idea to bring other women into the relationship. I believe we need to lose the idea which states "On the 6th day God created me and then created everyone in my image." This is where this discussion began and has pretty much continued all along. This is mfdoeo.

Dr Fatguy

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Maybe the "light of Christ" as found in gentiles without the gospel, is just that much stronger in discerning repugnant behavior than is the companionship of the holy ghost recieved by LDS members with the laying on of hands. Perhaps it is the other way around, and the "light of Christ" just doesn't illuminate the spiritual nuggets like the Holy Ghost can.

What is up calling a member of the Godhead a "holy Ghost" anyway? Why not call him something noble like, "the god of light", or the "eternal companion" or something really cool.

If two members of the church both having the companionship of the Holy Ghost have differing "gut" reactions to polygamy, whose Holy Ghost is right? Is it the priesthood holder higher up on the hierarchial food chain?

the holy spirit does not contradict himself. If something conflicts with the standard works or with what the living prophet says then its not from the holy ghost. The prophet is the only one that recieves revelation for the church so if he says something than we know its from the holy ghost if you have a diffrent reaction than what the scriptures or prophet says you know its not from the holy ghost because god is a god of order and not of confusion and since he is no respector of persons he will not conflict himself.

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I agree with those posters who said western feelings toward polygamy are a result (at least partially) of the culture and society we live in. I'm a moral relativist (*gasp*), so I completely understand that morality is dictated by culture. It's somewhat odd to hear people who espouse a system of absolute morality make such a statement, though.

I was really hoping that more people would focus on the second part of the question which encompases the first-- are God's rules deducible? If so many people believe (and have plenty of justification for their belief) that polygamy is evil, wrong, detrimental to society, etc.-- doesn't that imply that God's laws are completely unknowable and seemingly arbitrary and without justification?

Also mentioned was that no matter the action, any act commanded by God it is by definition Good. By this logic murder is good. Lying is good. Slaughtering women and children is good. Virtually any abhorrant act imaginable is commanded by God in the bible (and BoM). Doesn't this contradict moral absolutism? If any act can be considered good, how can good and evil be said to exist at all?

I don't think the argument "God knows more than we do so what looks evil to us isn't really evil" holds much water. And I also don't buy the argument that Joseph Smith was an unwilling participant who bravely practiced polygamy against his moral sensibilities. From what I've read, JS appeared to relished his position as "king of god's kingdom", and he took advantage of the power he had over his followers. Choosing to instigate polygamy fits in perfectly with JS's megamaniacal personality. It's also a common practice for self-proclaimed prophets and gurus to take multiple wives, so JS is certainly not unique in that respect.

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11 For behold, a bitter fountain cannot bring forth good water; neither can a good fountain bring forth bitter water; wherefore, a man being a servant of the devil cannot follow Christ; and if he follow Christ he cannot be a servant of the devil.

Then why is polygamy as practiced by FLDS and fundamentalists in Colorado City such an obviously unheathly behavior? According to this verse, that which is good CANNOT bring forth 'bitter water". Living a righteous principle CANNOT have the effect of harming individuals or society, yet that is exactly what we see in polygamous communities.

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Guest johnny_cat
Living a righteous principle CANNOT have the effect of harming individuals or society, yet that is exactly what we see in polygamous communities.

The obvious answer from an LDS perspective is that engaging in a practice that is not authorized by God does not constitute "living a righteous principle."

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I was really hoping that more people would focus on the second part of the question which encompases the first-- are God's rules deducible? 

They are, but so many don't want to follow them as they are laid out. OT prophets were commanded and had His power to authorize . . not difficult to see.

Marriage was designed by God to be from Him and His authorized messengers, but men embraced it for themselves. Now so many want to let the government establish rules, if they even follow any rules regarding reproach at all.

If so many people believe (and have plenty of justification for their belief) that polygamy is evil, wrong, detrimental to society, etc.-- doesn't that imply that God's laws are completely unknowable and seemingly arbitrary and without justification?

Your question regarding fruits was a good one . . I agree with the answer Johnny_Cat gave, and also caution us to remember that many of us (men and women) with human failings still don't follow His commandments perfectly.

God's plan for mercy and justice is perfect. God's plan for having all of the righteous who follow His commandments live in happiness is our goal.

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You might say that it's not my job to decide what God would or would not do. I disagree. I believe that if there's a God out there, he's given me precisely the tools to decide whether or not something is right and, furthermore, he'll be disappointed if I don't use critical thinking as part of the process.

--KY

You disagree with the fact that it's not your job to decide what G-d would or wouldn't do, do you?

Saying you are being arrogant and foolish would be an understatement.

The Gospel doesn't revolve around how YOU feel about things. I don't care what you think is right - what the Lord thinks is right is all that matters. And to think that what you feel to be right IS what the Lord thinks is right, based soley upon the Lord giving you the 'tools' to decide, is flat out ridiculous!

He'll be disappointed if you don't listen to the HG on important matters, since that is the way to know the truth - not your 'critical thinking'! Man, are you on your own planet here or something?

So, because YOU 'decided' Pologamy is wrong - it is!? What makes you different from those that see how it could be of G-d? Didn't the Lord give them the 'tools' too? What makes you infallible, while others are in error?

You need to learn how to be a bit more humble. Remember, only the meek and lowly of heart will inherit the Earth.

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But I stray from the question of the string (sorry). Polygyny seems impossible to me, not repulsive. At some level I suppose having sex with tons of women (not talking weight here) is every heteromale's dream. But my intimate, special, one-of-a-kind relationship I have with my own wife - I can't see how that could be shared. If I were to have another intimate female friend, I'd feel just wrong about it, like the special relationship I have with my own wife is less special. If I believed that God actually commanded me to take another wife, I guess I'd follow as a matter/exercise of faith, hoping that by trudging forward with faith I'd find better feelings about the whole thing (sort of like: the pioneers trudging forward through sickness, winter, starvation, frostbite, intense cold, intense heat, and lots and lots of walking (don't see how they could truly sing and walk and walk and walk at the same time) - they had "faith in every footstep" and many who survived found the efficacy of their faith in the zionic society becoming a reality in the desert).

Sorry for the long parenthetical (my wife thinks I live a parenthetical life).

Pologamy might be impossible for YOU, but that doesn't mean for everyone.

I too, have the same feeling as you about my relationship with my wife, I wouldn't want to change that.

Remember, though, it was a calling - not everyone was involved. If the women weren't OK with it - including your own wife - then it wouldn't happen. Remember also, we are here to show obedience in this life. We must do the Lord's will, even if it is hard for us. After this life, though, those things will not be required of us. Our time/trial is in this life only. After we die, we will only have unimaginable joy - if we have been faithful. Why would you think that the Lord would 'force' you to do something you didn't want to do in the next life(s)? Wouldn't that make unimaginable joy impossible, therefore making the scriptures and the Lord a liar?

If you can't handle it, then it won't be for you. But, that doesn't mean it won't be for everyone.

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I was really hoping that more people would focus on the second part of the question which encompases the first-- are God's rules deducible? If so many people believe (and have plenty of justification for their belief) that polygamy is evil, wrong, detrimental to society, etc.-- doesn't that imply that God's laws are completely unknowable and seemingly arbitrary and without justification?

God's laws are incomprehensible, especially at first. He starts off with "thou shalt not murder (shed innocent blood)" (which we mistranslate as a blanket: thou shalt not kill), and then later on in closely following verses the same God says, "if a man do ___________ then kill him ("he shall be put to death")."

As we become more like God (i.e., get filled with more love) then we come closer to understanding the basis for the various commandments which, from our seeing-through-the-glass-darkly perspective, seem arbitrary and capricious, or at least situational, e.g., polygyny is OK for David, Abraham, Solomon, etc. but not OK generally; killing innocent women & children is OK for an overtaking Israel, but not generally; etc. Note that, from God's perspective, "killing" is simply transferring His children from one place to another - nobody is dead to Him (or even from the perspective of the dead; i.e., the person killed is simply born, as it were, into a new life, which we generally believe is far far more favorable than this one). Yet He is upset if that transfer is not according to His specifications. It is those specifications which do not always seem predictable.

Also mentioned was that no matter the action, any act commanded by God it is by definition Good. By this logic murder is good. Lying is good. Slaughtering women and children is good. Virtually any abhorrant act imaginable is commanded by God in the bible (and BoM). Doesn't this contradict moral absolutism? If any act can be considered good, how can good and evil be said to exist at all?

Again, the arbitrary and capricious nature of the God described in the scriptures is only so from our limited human perspective. An exemple of an apologetic but good, in my opinion, explanation of the justification for killing (transferring from this life to the next) the innocent children at the time of the flood: the Earth was so wicked that no child born had a chance of being raised in Truth and Light, so God had them brought over to a better realm. Seems like "killing" to us, but possibly quite "saving" to them (and God). And, more importantly, God isn't a "bad guy" under that kind of explanation. Perhaps similar reasoning could explain why the Children of Israel were to eradicate the conquered (of course, there could be some mistranslation, scriptural addition by later "editors" etc. who have added that whole scenario to the text; Jesus didn't seem to think the Samaritans should've just been killed or ignored).

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The obvious answer from an LDS perspective is that engaging in a practice that is not authorized by God does not constitute "living a righteous principle."

One could argue that even when polygamy WAS authorized by God it still brought forth "bitter water". There are a few books documenting the lives of early mormon women in polygamous marriages which indicate that polygamy, even when authorized by God, is not without it's harmful effects.

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. .Is it ridiculous to think that the Lord has given you the tools to decide??

. .I have to use the tools at my disposal and SO DO YOU. . .

Funny!

You've used your tools to conclude that the Lord thinks Polygamy is OK in some cases. I've used my tools to conclude that Polygamy is not something God would ask of people. Ever.

Fair enough. So in that case the question is how we develop respect and Liberty despite legitimate differences . . things too seldom emphasized and discussed.

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As we all know, you cannot do something that is wrong and feel good about it.

When I first found out about Joseph Smith and his practice of Polygamy, and also to find out that he practiced Polandry, I felt sick to my stomache. To do a sanity check I talked to an LDS friend and asked her about what I found. She to felt sick had felt sick prior to when I found out...thanks to this FAIR site :P

There is NO coincidence. Again, all we have are feelings to verify the Lords will. Polygamy is wrong, sick and NOT from the Lord. I testify this as the Lord is my witness and I have proof. I exhort you to ask the Lord of these things and if you feel sick to your stomache then you know that it is the work of the Devil.

Amen.

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