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Article by Benjamin E. Park Re: Dc 132


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This seems to be a statement that looks good on paper, but isn't really born out by fact. Personally, I can go 3 or 4 minutes between thoughts about polygamy if I try hard enough

But women went into hiding as well and it wasn’t the men taking their children with them. It is one more indication of how male focused our history is. We still talk about polygamy as if it was a rich

A thousand eyerolls at yet another thread about women's experiences analyzed, related, and determined by ..... men. 

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7 hours ago, Kenngo1969 said:

 It's easy for you to indict the early Saints and President Woodruff for not "standing for the word of God" and for "bow[ing] down to governments and to mere men."

It's not an either/or.

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12 hours ago, Islander said:

Brother, all I am saying is that there are thousands in the pews at church today whose faith has not been tested. In many parts of the world calling yourself a christian puts a target in your back. Would you be a christian if your home would be in danger of being fire bombed, or your children threatened and harassed in school and you fired from your job? American saints have lived in a bubble far too long to the point, that I am not sure if they truly have what it takes to make it thru the narrow gate that leads to eternal life. By far, we have avoided persecution for over a hundred years. And bending our knee to the government to avoid persecution is the wide and broad way to perdition.

As far as the rest, I have not such lofty ideals, brother. I just want to serve my Lord and my God. 😉

There aren’t any seats in the pews at all right now

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22 hours ago, smac97 said:

Sure.  That's understandable.  There are a few reasons for this, I think.

First, there are the "prurient" and "gotcha" elements.  Discussions of polygamy - particularly online, and particularly involving critics of the Church - very often veer into lurid, voyeuristic territory.  Latter-day Saints are not going to be comfortable with critics speculating/fantasizing about the sex lives of polygamists.

You can't put much past some folks, but this seems like an overstatement that makes Ben Park's overstatement seem understated.  

22 hours ago, smac97 said:

  Keeping such discussions tactful, respectful, moderate, and so on is quite difficult when one side of the discussion is bound and determined to make the discussion - and the lives of the long-deceased individuals being discussed - as sensationalized and racy as possible.  Brian and Laura Hales are, in my view, at the forefront of handling these sensitive issues.  They do so with candor, but also with tact and respect.  

Sure there are some who can discuss it.  But, of course, i'm talking about the majority, the average, the regular.  

22 hours ago, smac97 said:

The "gotcha" element is also pretty strong.  Imagine some online stranger approaching an observant Jew and says "Hey, I'm curious about the Jewish practice of Metzitzah b'peh, which is where the Mohel 'uses his mouth to suck blood away from the baby’s circumcision wound as part of the circumcision ritual.'  How 'bout we have a long frank discussion about that?"  I think the Jewish fellow would likely feel "a condition of discomfort" about such a proposed discussion.

I chuckle at this comparison, smac.  Nice try but silly.  

22 hours ago, smac97 said:

Second, the concept of polygamy is sociologically "icky."  I have a lot of compassion and empathy for people who are not comfortable with the concept of polygamy.  I'm not particularly comfortable with it.  I do not understand it.  So much of the Restored Gospel comports with my general, gut-level sense of "right" and "wrong," but polygamy . . . doesn't.

Great.  That's all I"m referring to.  And it appears you too fall in the same camp.  

22 hours ago, smac97 said:

However, neither does animal sacrifice.  Neither does Nephi slaying Laban.  Neither does the slaying of Nehor.  Neither do the deaths described in 2 Kings 2 ("Go up, thou bald head...").  And so on.  There are all sorts of things in play here.  Context matters.  A lot.  Historical context.  Social/cultural context.  Scriptural context.  Gospel context.  So does accuracy in conveyed information.  So do my personal life experiences, as well as the importance of properly characterizing those experiences as finite, blinkered, and not altogether accurate (rather than definitive, perfected and utterly, pristinely correct).  Such contextualization takes some real time and study and effort.  I think most Latter-day Saints are just not situated to have in-depth discussions about such a difficult, complex and subjectively "icky" topic. 

That's the thing...it's not so complex.  It's pretty simple.    

22 hours ago, smac97 said:

Third, the concept of polygamy is difficult to discuss because it is not only sociologically "icky," it's also sacred.  The Church enacted polygamy by revelation, and ended it by revelation.  It's a part of the Restored Gospel.  D&C 132 is still there.  Not disavowed. 

Calling something sacred it a copout, as I see it.  But I grant some people really don't want to discuss it or look into it.  

22 hours ago, smac97 said:

Fourth, not only is the doctrine of polygamy tough to accept, its practice in the 19th century had some substantial problems.  "Love thy neighbor" is straightforward and hard to criticize.  "Enter into a polygamous marriage" has a lot more moral ambiguity about it.  People, both those who were called upon to practice polygamy and those of us who look back on that practice, had/have some quite legitimate concerns about it, as I've commented previously here:

Of course.  

22 hours ago, smac97 said:

Fifth, I think few Latter-day Saints are sufficiently informed about the particulars and nuances of the 19th century practice of polygamy, such that they feel comfortable entering into a candid discussion about it.  We know the general parameters, but few are familiar with, say, the particulars of Joseph Smith's polygamy.  Not being sufficiently prepared to address such matters in an adversarial discussion, I think most Latter-day Saints are understandably uncomfortable about having such discussions.

No doubt.  many members are quite comfortably ignorant about the religion's history.  

22 hours ago, smac97 said:

I'm sure there are other factors out there, as well.

I'm not sure we need to go looking for hypothetical dealbreakers.

Yep.  See above for some reasons why.

I don't agree with you on this.  I think most informed Latter-day Saints take the revelations "seriously."  But I think most of us do not find it particularly relevant to us.  We are not called upon to practice it.  We are likewise not commanded to perform animal sacrifices.  That doesn't mean we don't take the biblical descriptions of it "seriously," just that it's not particularly relevant to us in the here and now.

Thanks,

-Smac

Of course I disagree.  Most I"ve seen, do not in any sense take the claimed revelations on the matter of polygamy seriously.  They fear the idea, and prefer to pretend it never was.  No big deal, like you say, it's icky and makes everyone uncomfortable.  Most members would leave the Church, try to stay while ignoring it, is Nelson came out tomorrow saying, as per God's direction, the Church must practice polygamy again.  It'd be interesting, for instance, if men in leadership started marrying women, some already married to men, and each continued to marry a woman, on average, once a month going forward.  Interesting from an outsiders perspective, I guess.  But disastrous to society and the whole concept of that which is decent and good.  

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On 5/14/2020 at 2:15 PM, Robert F. Smith said:

For those who are presentists, the legacy of polygyny will always be disturbing.  To their way of thinking, all past behavior must be separated from then contemporary cultural norms, and instead judged entirely in light of our modern cultural values.

What were the contemporary cultural norms in 1843?

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Well, when they passed same sex marriage it was only a matter of time. They tried, but The church knows a losing battle when they see it. 

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53 minutes ago, CA Steve said:

When one looks at the extensive efforts undertaken in Nauvoo to hide the fact they were practicing polygamy, it is clear they themselves realized they were not in line with contemporary cultural norms.

Certainly they realized they were not in line with contemporary norms. However, no one was saying that they were. In the full context of the post Robert was critiquing presentism in general and the erroneous belief that one's contemporary cultural norms represent an exhaustive and universally valid moral code. Robert's following sentence clarifies that he is talking about presentism in general, as he references the Abrahamic patriarchs.

For me, the legacy of polygamy has helped me realize that cultural moral intuitions aren't necessarily right. It is a lesson I esteem highly. 

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Posted (edited)
On 5/14/2020 at 12:15 PM, smac97 said:

Here:

I'd like to see some documentation/scholarship about the Church "until recently work{ing} hard to cease any attempts to soften the state’s polygamy laws."

The article goes on to recite the Church's history of polygamy relative to Utah obtaining statehood.  Then...

He then goes back to 1843 and describes the origins of D&C 132.  He includes a lot of interesting stuff, but no citations.  Then...

I wonder if this is editorializing on Park's part, or if he has historical evidence to back up the purported significance of OD-1 being a "'declaration,' rather than a revelation."  I'm skeptical of this point, and of the idea that it "reflected ... anxiety."  This seems to be mindreading and editorializing.

I don't think this is accurate.  I think the Church has done pretty good at contextualizing the practice of polygamy.  Not glossing over.  Not ignoring altogether.

More:

The lack of revelatory provenance for the priesthood ban is, in my view, a pretty big distinction between it and polygamy.  Park seems to agree:

Yep.

I think it would be pretty hard to "revoke" D&C 132, or the authorized practice of polygamy.

This seems rather an overstatement.  I'm not persuaded that polygamy causes a "state of constant anxiety" in the Church.

Thoughts?

Thanks,

-Smac

Nary a mention of Jacob 2:30? That verse (canonized revelation in the words of God himself) calms my anxiety level down to about zero.

Edited by Bernard Gui
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Posted (edited)
On 5/15/2020 at 9:05 AM, Islander said:

Would you be a christian if your home would be in danger of being fire bombed, or your children threatened and harassed in school and you fired from your job? American saints have lived in a bubble far too long to the point, that I am not sure if they truly have what it takes to make it thru the narrow gate that leads to eternal life. By far, we have avoided persecution for over a hundred years. And bending our knee to the government to avoid persecution is the wide and broad way to perdition.

Isn’t the bubble the promise God made in the Book of Mormon about the inhabitants of this land?

Edited by Bernard Gui
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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

Isn’t the bubble the promise God made in the Book of Mormon about the inhabitants of this land?

Yes, until the people choose iniquity and fall under the dread twin interdicts of 2 Nephi 1:7 and Mosiah 29:27. 

We may be approaching that point even now. And though the righteous will be preserved or at least taken home to God, they will have to endure some suffering when the Lord's outstretched arm once more overshadows the nations. 

The Church has not, in my view, chosen iniquity. But the members of the Church are vulnerable to societal ills and will still likely suffer some, even though the Lord can blunt the edge and ease the pain. Hopefully we are prepared for it. 

Edited by OGHoosier
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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, CA Steve said:

When one looks at the extensive efforts undertaken in Nauvoo to hide the fact they were practicing polygamy, it is clear they themselves realized they were not in line with contemporary cultural norms.

Correct.  Attempting to practice plural marriage in those days was fraught with high risk, and probably doomed to failure.  On the other hand, if one is engaged in a restoration of ancient practices, then the question becomes how far may one go in such a restoration?  Early Mormons eventually had to actually leave the USA, and effectively establish their own separate "great basin kingdom," but which would only have a limited time in which to establish itself as a separate ethnic group.  In all of that, the Mormons saw themselves as engaged in patriarchal norms.  Attacks from normative Western values at that point necessarily had to be brought against not only Mormon practice, but also against the norms of Holy Writ, including the great Patriarchs and against God Himself.

No anthropologist attacks the Patriarchs for polygyny.  That would be silly.  Instead they try to accurately describe ancient practices and norms.  They are dispassionate in their evaluations.  So should we be.

Most of us would consider it bigotry to attack Ultra Orthodox Jews or the Amish for wearing very old fashioned clothes and speaking in an odd dialect of German.  The state has sometimes gone after them for not abiding by modern cultural norms.  In the case of the Amish, for example, the State of Pennsylvania tried to force them to send their children to high school, but that is not Amish practice.  It was fought all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Amish won.  Just on the merits alone, the Mormons should have won their case to permit the continued practice of polygyny (Reynolds v USA), but bigotry prevailed.  It was siimply a bridge too far.  Today is another story, when non-traditional marriage is being permitted by the Supreme Court.

@Thinking had essentially the same question.

Edited by Robert F. Smith
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1 hour ago, juliann said:

A thousand eyerolls at yet another thread about women's experiences analyzed, related, and determined by ..... men. 

Men had experience of polygamy as well as women.  The thread is about the legality of polygamy and it seems to me that it is men who suffered much of the consequences of it being illegal.   They were the ones who went into hiding and who were imprisoned.  Their experiences of polygamy as illegal and now decriminalised are surely just  as valid as women's. 

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This podcast goes into how women feel about polygamy as members in the church. 

 

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Posted (edited)

The pros and cons of the LDS practice of plural marriage are among those things that are done to death here, but I believe we can’t really understand it while ignoring Jacob 2:30. That is a major flaw in Park’s article, IMO. 

Edited by Bernard Gui
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9 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

The pros and cons of the LDS practice of plural marriage are among those things that are done to death here, but I believe we can’t really understand it while ignoring Jacob 2:30. That is a major flaw in Park’s article, IMO. 

I think he includes it, though not explicitly, when he says, "The passages that explicitly justify polygamy, on the other hand, are often glossed over or ignored altogether, "

I do believe the large problem here, for the Church in today's world is the contradictory nature of scripture, and the subsequent use of scripture by the Church as the word of God.  Mormons aren't the only believers out there picking and choosing, ignoring or pretending.  Scripture only carries sway, it seems, when used as a means to confirm talking points, or highlight general, often universal, morals. Their minor use of defining doctrine appears shallow as the larger more influential definer of doctrine is stories told in conference.  

I think the big flaw of Park's article is his glossing over the very problematic elements of polygamy as practiced by Joseph.  Its likely of no concern to most members who know Joseph married sisters, as allowed by Emma.  It is far more troubling to learn that two of those sisters were already married to Joseph without Emma knowing.  Also, the promise to stop only to secretly marry again behind Emma's back is troublesome.  And that Joseph practiced it in direct contradiction to the revelation on the matter, as did Brigham and others afterward, is also an interestingly problematic element, as it pertains to the modern world.  

 

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15 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

I think he includes it, though not explicitly, when he says, "The passages that explicitly justify polygamy, on the other hand, are often glossed over or ignored altogether, "

I do believe the large problem here, for the Church in today's world is the contradictory nature of scripture, and the subsequent use of scripture by the Church as the word of God.  Mormons aren't the only believers out there picking and choosing, ignoring or pretending.  Scripture only carries sway, it seems, when used as a means to confirm talking points, or highlight general, often universal, morals. Their minor use of defining doctrine appears shallow as the larger more influential definer of doctrine is stories told in conference.  

I think the big flaw of Park's article is his glossing over the very problematic elements of polygamy as practiced by Joseph.  Its likely of no concern to most members who know Joseph married sisters, as allowed by Emma.  It is far more troubling to learn that two of those sisters were already married to Joseph without Emma knowing.  Also, the promise to stop only to secretly marry again behind Emma's back is troublesome.  And that Joseph practiced it in direct contradiction to the revelation on the matter, as did Brigham and others afterward, is also an interestingly problematic element, as it pertains to the modern world.  

 

Off topic, but the scriptures in the Bible are often ignored, such as if a prophet's revelations do not come true, then they are a false prophet.

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33 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

Off topic, but the scriptures in the Bible are often ignored, such as if a prophet's revelations do not come true, then they are a false prophet.

I don't know that it's that far off topic.  It's definitely worth a consideration on the matter.  Was Joseph's revelation on polygamy a result of false prophecy?  If so, how would we so determine?  

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On 5/16/2020 at 4:41 PM, juliann said:

A thousand eyerolls at yet another thread about women's experiences analyzed, related, and determined by ..... men. 

This was what I was thinking after going through the first page....helllo...hello....????  I am amazed at what men know and the reasons for it.  

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, stemelbow said:

I think he includes it, though not explicitly, when he says, "The passages that explicitly justify polygamy, on the other hand, are often glossed over or ignored altogether, "

I believe that’s what I said. We can’t understand it by glossing over or ignoring altogether Jacob 2:30. 

Edited by Bernard Gui
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15 minutes ago, Bernard Gui said:

I believe that’s what I said. We can’t understand it by glossing over or ignoring altogether Jacob 2:30. 

That passage was always certainly odd enough to make an argument, I guess.  

"I command these people to be polygamists so I can raise up seed unto me."

"Aren't you raising up seed unto you without polygamy?"

"No.  Only when I command it.  Or I guess I can otherwise, but it's easier."

"Ok.  I didn't realize you interfered with our agency in order to do things, like, raise up seed unto you?"  

"I interfere sneakily so it doesn't appear I interfere."

"But having us be polygamists isn't a sneaky thing.  People notice that kind of crazy stuff."

"it'll work.  Don't you worry."

"Thanks.  I guess you know what you're doing.  Although I hear women will have more children, as it were, if they aren't stuck in a polygamist relationship."

"me raising 'em up has little to do with more seed."

"Ok.  So you need us to be polygamists, so you can raise up seed?  But if we weren't polygamists you couldn't raise up seed or it makes it too hard on you?  And we come off looking like crazies in all of this?  I don't think this will work."

"It won't work with questioning doubters like you.  I need some real believers.  Let's rescind what I said and we can all just carry on pretending that monogamy is good.  I'll wait for another era to raise up seed unto me.  curses upon you, I never knew you."

"Oh....welll...there you go.  I thought people were finicky.   

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, stemelbow said:

That passage was always certainly odd enough to make an argument, I guess.  

"I command these people to be polygamists so I can raise up seed unto me."

"Aren't you raising up seed unto you without polygamy?"

"No.  Only when I command it.  Or I guess I can otherwise, but it's easier."

"Ok.  I didn't realize you interfered with our agency in order to do things, like, raise up seed unto you?"  

"I interfere sneakily so it doesn't appear I interfere."

"But having us be polygamists isn't a sneaky thing.  People notice that kind of crazy stuff."

"it'll work.  Don't you worry."

"Thanks.  I guess you know what you're doing.  Although I hear women will have more children, as it were, if they aren't stuck in a polygamist relationship."

"me raising 'em up has little to do with more seed."

"Ok.  So you need us to be polygamists, so you can raise up seed?  But if we weren't polygamists you couldn't raise up seed or it makes it too hard on you?  And we come off looking like crazies in all of this?  I don't think this will work."

"It won't work with questioning doubters like you.  I need some real believers.  Let's rescind what I said and we can all just carry on pretending that monogamy is good.  I'll wait for another era to raise up seed unto me.  curses upon you, I never knew you."

"Oh....welll...there you go.  I thought people were finicky.   

I must question the applicability of your reading. 

Jacob 2:30 is significant in that God makes it clear that He possesses the authority to authorize and forbid polygamy. From the get-go it is clear that polygamy is within the spectrum of possibilities that God considers. That is why it is significant to this discussion. However, the text of Jacob 2:30 occurs in a specific context, which context must be remembered. 

Jacob 2:30 reads as follows, emphasis mine:

Quote

For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.

A principle objection to this passage is the modern statistics which suggest that polygamy decreases the amount of children an individual woman would bear relative to the children she would bear if in a monogamous marriage. I contend that that objection is irrelevant under the circumstances in which Jacob taught this passage. 

Jacob was speaking to a small Nephite colony which was surrounded by those that did not share their religious and cultural beliefs. Increasing the total population of the area was not a concern, rather the concern was with raising up seed unto the Lord, ie within the Nephite religion. Under such circumstances, polygamy could indeed be beneficial for raising up more seed unto the Lord. It would ensure that no Nephite women married outside the faith while increasing the reproductive output of Nephite men. If Nephite men were to marry women from outside the Nephite colony and raise those children in the Nephite tradition, it would indeed raise up more seed unto the Lord.  The Lord expressly connects the actions of the iniquitous Nephites to those of David and Solomon in Jacob 2:24-26. David and Solomon "sought many wives and concubines," whereas there were almost certainly not enough women in the Nephite colony to make the seeking of "many wives and concubines" possible. Solomon in particular was famous for looking outside Israel for wives and concubines. Clearly the iniquitous Nephite men were doing just that: taking wives and concubines from outside the Nephite colony while the cries of the betrayed daughters of the Nephites ascended up to God. It was exactly this practice, likely to increase the population of Nephites, which the Lord declined to permit. 

In my opinion, this passage is perfectly sensible when read in context. Jacob and the Lord were speaking unto the Nephites at this point in time. I can't speak for @Bernard Gui, but I don't think this passage is relevant to the present debate because it gives the Lord's rationale for modern polygamy. I think it is relevant because it establishes the Lord's authority to command and revoke polygamy. 

Edit: I forgot to ask this because I got carried away in the context of Jacob 2, but how does issuing a commandment interfere with agency? The Lord commanded some people to participate in polygamy...much as He commands us all to do some things all the time and never do other things. Agency is not imperiled by the presence of a commandment or lack thereof. 

Finally, you read this as saying that the Saints can't or aren't raising up seed to the Lord outside of polygamy. I think that's a really selective reading and don't consider it valid. 

Edited by OGHoosier
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