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Book Recommendations on Polygamy


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6 hours ago, Nevo said:

Deflating a claim beloved by online apologists.

The claim made by FAIR was the percentage of teen marriages was consistent with the local community standards if Joseph’s marriages were a collection of monogamous marriages rather than the marriage relationships of one man.  This claim is based on census records iirc using wives’ age at time of marriage to men of Joseph’s age at time of marriage. 
 

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A sample of 201 Nauvoo-era civil marriages found that 33.3% were under twenty, with one bride as young as twelve. [4] Another sample of 127 Kirtland marriages found that nearly half (49.6%) were under twenty. [5] And, a computer-aided study of LDS marriages found that from 1835–1845, 42.3% of women were married before age twenty. [6] The only surprising thing about Joseph's one third is that more of his marriage partners were not younger.

Furthermore, this pattern does not seem to be confined to the Mormons (see Chart 12 1). A 1% sample from the 1850 U.S. census found 989 men and 962 who had been married in the last year. Teens made up 36.0% of married women, and only 2.3% of men; the average age of marriage was 22.5 for women and 27.8 for men. [7] Even when the men in Joseph's age range (34–38 years) in the U.S. Census are extracted, Joseph still has a lower percentage of younger wives and more older wives than non-members half a decade later. [8]

Does Hedges present documentation contradicting the above? 
 

https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Polygamy_book/Age_of_wives

Whether something is viewed as common or uncommon tends to be based on arbitrary standard choices, imo, choices on how something is framed (polygamy for example is discussed as currently common by some based on it how often it is legal or is present in a culture, other times framed as uncommon or rare in most places using percentage of marriages).  Some people view anything not a majority or at least 25% as uncommon, more often in my experience less than 10% is seen as uncommon, but there are times when it is less than 1% (such as discussion of some medical disorders in my experience).

As long as someone presents the stats along with the labels “common” or “uncommon”, I don’t see a problem as that allows the person to see the fuller context and evaluate whether they agree with the labels or not.  But I realize that many aren’t as focused on statistical analysis when labeling, so I likely have a minority opinion. :) 

Edited by Calm
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7 hours ago, Calm said:

Does Hedges present documentation contradicting the above?

No. To clarify, Hedges is talking about women marrying in their "mid-teens", not at 18 or 19. His source here is Spencer Fluhman:

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While marriage proposals at age fourteen were not unheard of in the 1840s, they were unusual. Nineteenth-century women married on average earlier than today; early American legal understandings of youthful marriage might baffle modern readers. Borrowing from English common law traditions, American law during the 1840s set the legal age for marriage at twelve for females and fourteen for males. Similarly, pre–Civil War “age of consent” laws set a low standard; not until the 1880s did states begin raising the age of female consent from ten or twelve to sixteen. In rural communities where marriageable women could be scarce, marriage age could dip well below modern conventions—for instance, Martin Harris married his wife Lucy in 1808 when she was fifteen. These cases notwithstanding, the period’s census data reveal that, generally, age seventeen or eighteen marked the younger end of the typical range of female marital eligibility.

— J. Spencer Fluhman, "'A Subject That Can Bear Investigation: Anguish, Faith, and Joseph Smith's Youngest Plural Wife," in No Weapon Shall Prosper: New Light on Sensitive Issues, ed. Robert L. Millet [Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2011], 106–107.

Fluhman cites Todd Compton, “Early Marriage in the New England and Northeastern States, and in Mormon Polygamy: What Was the Norm?,” in The Persistence of Polygamy: Joseph Smith and the Origins of Mormon Polygamy, ed. Newell G. Bringhurst and Craig L. Foster (Independence, MO: John Whitmer Books, 2010).

Compton writes:

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Conservative Mormons have had the tendency to make statements like the following: "marriages of younger girls were not uncommon in the past," as [Craig] Foster writes. It seems to me that there were two problems with this kind of statement. First, it is so general that it doesn't help much. In Foster's statement, "Not uncommon" and "the past" are very broad, vague terms. If we say that marriages at an early age were "common," what does common mean? Ten percent of marriages? Five? Two percent? . . .  Second, often the evidence for such statements comes from cultures very different from nineteenth-century New England and northeastern America (the cultural background for Mormonism). The fact that colonists in seventeenth-century Quebec or gypsies in Serbia arranged marriages for their children in their early teens in not the evidence needed to examine nineteenth-century marriage practice. . . . 

I would like to frame the question in this way: Mormon polygamy, from its earliest beginnings, often included "early marriage" or "very early marriage." Were such early marriage ages typical of nineteenth-century New England and northeastern states culture? Was marriage age in plural marriage lower, equal to, or higher than non-Mormon marriage in northeast America? (186–187)

After reviewing all sorts of data, Compton finds that "very early marriage was rare" in nineteenth-century New England and northeastern states culture. "In mid-nineteenth-century New Jersey, for example, only 1.9 percent of young women married at age 14–16, and most of that group, 1.4 percent, were married at age 16. The percentage married at age 14 (.1) was almost negligible. The incidence of very early marriage in Joseph Smith's plural family, and in later Mormonism, was much higher than that. The IPUMS data I cite show that in the New England and Northeastern states, both in 1850 and 1880, marriage age at 13 to 15 was usually less than or about one percent" (230).

In contrast, Greg Smith calculates that 21.2% of Joseph Smith's wives were age 14–17, while 9.1% were age 18–19.

Edited by Nevo
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2 minutes ago, Nevo said:

No. To clarify, Hedges is talking about women marrying in their "mid-teens", not at 18 or 19. His source here is Spencer Fluhman:

Fluhman cites Todd Compton, “Early Marriage in the New England and Northeastern States, and in Mormon Polygamy: What Was the Norm?,” in The Persistence of Polygamy: Joseph Smith and the Origins of Mormon Polygamy, ed. Newell G. Bringhurst and Craig L. Foster (Independence, MO: John Whitmer Books, 2010).

Compton writes:

After reviewing all sorts of data, Compton finds that "very early marriage was rare" in New England and northeastern states culture. "In mid-nineteenth-century New Jersey, for example, only 1.9 percent of young women married at age 14–16, and most of that group, 1.4 percent, were married at age 16. The percentage married at age 14 (.1) was almost negligible. The incidence of very early marriage in Joseph Smith's plural family, and in later Mormonism, was much higher than that. The IPUMS data I cite show that in the New England and Northeastern states, both in 1850 and 1880, marriage age at 13 to 15 was usually less than or about one percent" (230).

In contrast, Greg Smith calculates that 21.2% of Joseph Smith's wives were age 14–17, while 9.1% were age 18–19.

Thanks for this Nevo, and explaining it definitely wasn't the norm, in those days even.

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39 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

Thanks for this Nevo, and explaining it definitely wasn't the norm, in those days even.

Does anyone argue that it was "the norm"?  I think the argument is over whether it was "accepted".  And an unusual or rare case can still be considered "acceptable".  If you look at each of the marriages as a separate marriage, would they have been accepted?  It looks like the data from Nevo shows that they would be.

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5 minutes ago, webbles said:

Does anyone argue that it was "the norm"?  I think the argument is over whether it was "accepted".  And an unusual or rare case can still be considered "acceptable".  If you look at each of the marriages as a separate marriage, would they have been accepted?  It looks like the data from Nevo shows that they would be.

In my memory bank it came across that it was fairly normal and nothing to get our panties in a twist. 

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1 hour ago, Tacenda said:

In my memory bank it came across that it was fairly normal and nothing to get our panties in a twist. 

Maybe it is a terminology issue.  When I hear "the norm", that tells me it is something that happens fairly often, such as "it is the norm to have hot chocolate in the winter".  But when I hear "normal", that tells me it is something that people won't "get their panties in a twist", such as "it is normal to eat ice cream in the winter".

So, marrying young wasn't "the norm", but it was "normal".  Polygamy, on the other hand, definitely wasn't "the norm" nor was it "normal".  So if Joseph's only wife was 14-15 when they were married, it would have been "normal" but it wasn't "the norm".  In other words, it was acceptable but it wasn't common.  You didn't have to hide your face in society.

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On 2/25/2021 at 12:38 PM, juliann said:

I'm not sure what you mean by Church policy vs what JS was doing. They were one and the same. Don't confuse Utah polygamy, after it became an open practice. 

Hi Juliann, here is something I have difficulty reconciling: D&C 42:22 seems to qualify as Church policy and doctrine limiting a man from taking more than one wife, yet it is widely accepted within the Church that Joseph Smith went, and was going beyond those bounds. Also there are many verses in the Book Of Mormon where prophets railed against plural wives, and believing Saints take these pronouncements to be inspired. These all seem to be at odds with the behavior and private teaching of JS.

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11 minutes ago, Risingtide said:

Hi Juliann, here is something I have difficulty reconciling: D&C 42:22 seems to qualify as Church policy and doctrine limiting a man from taking more than one wife, yet it is widely accepted within the Church that Joseph Smith went, and was going beyond those bounds. Also there are many verses in the Book Of Mormon where prophets railed against plural wives, and believing Saints take these pronouncements to be inspired. These all seem to be at odds with the behavior and private teaching of JS.

D&C 42:22 has no bearing on polygamy.  And the Jacob 2 polygamy verses have been connected specifically to corruption of polygamy by wicked men. 

I find neither to contradict Joseph's teachings or practice.  Righteous polygamists are found throughout scripture.

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15 hours ago, Risingtide said:

Hi Juliann, here is something I have difficulty reconciling: D&C 42:22 seems to qualify as Church policy and doctrine limiting a man from taking more than one wife, yet it is widely accepted within the Church that Joseph Smith went, and was going beyond those bounds. Also there are many verses in the Book Of Mormon where prophets railed against plural wives, and believing Saints take these pronouncements to be inspired. These all seem to be at odds with the behavior and private teaching of JS.

That verse is consistent with current church practice....and certainly the Proc on the Family. There are several ways to go with polygamy. God commanded it, for reasons unknown. JS followed God's command, but didn't get it right. JS thought it would be a good idea and did it thinking God approved. JS is a reprobate and took advantage of a good thing.

The problem is, none of these really work well under examination. It occured in an era where women had limited opportunity and were repressed politically, socially and culturally. And frankly, polygyny doesn't really work in any other condition. I do not judge JS for doing what he did at the time he did. I think it had more to do with working out sealings than anything else but took on a life of its own under BY. For me, it is a matter of trusting in JS while allowing him to be a fallible human. It is something everyone needs to come to terms with on their own because what is available to help truly understand it....doesn't help. 

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17 hours ago, juliann said:

That verse is consistent with current church practice....and certainly the Proc on the Family. There are several ways to go with polygamy. God commanded it, for reasons unknown. JS followed God's command, but didn't get it right. JS thought it would be a good idea and did it thinking God approved. JS is a reprobate and took advantage of a good thing.

The problem is, none of these really work well under examination. It occured in an era where women had limited opportunity and were repressed politically, socially and culturally. And frankly, polygyny doesn't really work in any other condition. I do not judge JS for doing what he did at the time he did. I think it had more to do with working out sealings than anything else but took on a life of its own under BY. For me, it is a matter of trusting in JS while allowing him to be a fallible human. It is something everyone needs to come to terms with on their own because what is available to help truly understand it....doesn't help. 

Thank you for your frank and thoughtful response to my question. 

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On 2/21/2021 at 4:22 PM, JLHPROF said:

Sacred Loneliness is ok but for a better overview and an easier read I'd recommend "Mormon Polygamy" by Van Wagoner.

https://www.amazon.com/Mormon-Polygamy-Richard-Van-Wagoner/dp/0941214796/ref=mp_s_a_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=mormon+polygamy&qid=1613953230&sprefix=mormon+pol&sr=8-2

There are more detailed and nuanced books but it's the best intro.

 

I purchased and have been reading the book you recommended. Much of what I've read so far is disturbing. I hope that in time I'll find peace and understanding about the topic, and in the long run my faith will have a better foundation.

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On 2/21/2021 at 5:40 PM, Hamba Tuhan said:

You'll be fine. The early Saints who were invited/encouraged/commanded to practise plural marriage certainly found the subject sensitive as well! It forced many of them to humbly seek sincere answers to very troubling questions, but the end result was new and/or greatly enlarged knowledge. All best!

Thank you HT, It is my hope to find answers that satisfy my desire for a strengthened faith without hiding from the difficult subject.

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On 2/21/2021 at 7:22 PM, Tacenda said:

I lost my faith over it, so I'm glad you're able to discuss on this board. The members on the board have helped me as I navigate my faith through the various issues. Many have those times of trial and sometimes it makes them stronger.

I'm glad you've been able to work your way through your doubts, and that you found the help you needed here. I know from personal experience these types of doubts are quite painful. I'm mindful of my dependence on the Spirit, and my need of patience, and humility as I go through this process.

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53 minutes ago, 2BizE said:

I believe No Man Knows My History has sent the standard bar for evidence and transparency.

Your settings don't allow me to react to your post, but I assumed you meant this as a joke and I was going to do this:   :lol:

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2 hours ago, 2BizE said:

I believe No Man Knows My History has sent the standard bar for evidence and transparency.

That's funny.

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8 hours ago, Risingtide said:

I purchased and have been reading the book you recommended. Much of what I've read so far is disturbing. I hope that in time I'll find peace and understanding about the topic, and in the long run my faith will have a better foundation.

Just remember it's a history book.  It is subject to error, interpretation, and bias.  (Although it doesn't show it's bias as blatantly as some titles mentioned on this thread.)

And none of them really focus on the spiritual so they aren't going to do much for your testimony either way.  For that you'd be better off reading scripture, prophetic sermons, and testimonies of those who actually lived the law.  Academics aren't exactly known for their spiritual approach.

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Posted (edited)
On 3/5/2021 at 4:32 PM, JLHPROF said:

Just remember it's a history book.  It is subject to error, interpretation, and bias.  (Although it doesn't show it's bias as blatantly as some titles mentioned on this thread.)

And none of them really focus on the spiritual so they aren't going to do much for your testimony either way.  For that you'd be better off reading scripture, prophetic sermons, and testimonies of those who actually lived the law.  Academics aren't exactly known for their spiritual approach.

Hello JLHPROF, and thank you for your insight. I have two questions for you. Do you know if Richard S. Van Wagoner remained an worshiping member of the Church throughout his life? 

What credence do you give to the account given on pages 44-45 of Mormon Polygamy- A History, of the polyandrous activities of Zina D Huntington, Henry B. Jacobs, Joseph Smith, and Brigham Young?

Edited by Risingtide
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1 hour ago, Risingtide said:

Hello JLHPROF, and thank you for your insight. I have two questions for you. Do you know if Richard S. Van Wagoner remained an worshiping member of the Church throughout his life? 

What credence do you give to the account given on pages 44-45 of Mormon Polygamy- A History, of the polyandrous activities of Zina D Huntington, Henry B. Jacobs, Joseph Smith, and Brigham Young?

I don't have any insight on Van Wagoner's faithfulness but he appears to have remained a faithful member based on google.
In his Sidney Rigdon biology he wrote: "As both a fifth-generation Mormon and a rock-ribbed skeptic, I have a spiritual thirst for wholeness: a union with God.  I do not apologize for exposing the warts and double chins of religious leaders.  Fallible men and women are all God has on earth."
I think that's a great self-description. 

For the other question I'm at work but I will review the text when I get home.  I know based on her previous posts @Calm is very familiar with those stories like the Zina/Henry or the Helen Kimball situations. 

Edited by JLHPROF
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3 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

For the other question I'm at work but I will review the text when I get home.  I know based on her previous posts @Calm is very familiar with those stories like the Zina/Henry or the Helen Kimball situations. 

Not sure exactly what is being asked...but here is a good, IMO, presentation on the Zina topic:

https://www.fairlatterdaysaints.org/conference/august-2006/zina-and-her-men-an-examination-of-the-changing-marital-state-of-zina-diantha-huntington-jacobs-smith-young

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12 hours ago, Calm said:

Thank you Calm for the link. I've read it and found it was much more detailed on Zina's life, possible motivations and sealings. It gave me new things to consider and helped me feel more calm about the subject.

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