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I feel that I need to believe that what Joseph Smith taught and practiced regarding polygamy was inspired by God. Even though we no longer are required to live it, I still feel bound to believe God directed Joseph Smith in introducing it into the theology and practices of the Church. The alternatives as I think about it are:

1.God gave JS a very vague idea that it was to be practiced and Joseph himself filled in the details. In this I would find some fault in God's management of a practice that had such monumental consequences for Joseph and the restored church. 

2. Joseph Smith went rogue, maybe confusing his thoughts and desires with heavenly inspiration. 

I'm very open to other ideas I have yet to fully consider.

I believe Brigham Young and others followed and taught what Joseph taught.

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4 minutes ago, Risingtide said:

I feel that I need to believe that what Joseph Smith taught and practiced regarding polygamy was inspired by God. Even though we no longer are required to live it, I still feel bound to believe God directed Joseph Smith in introducing it into the theology and practices of the Church. The alternatives as I think about it are:

1.God gave JS a very vague idea that it was to be practiced and Joseph himself filled in the details. In this I would find some fault in God's management of a practice that had such monumental consequences for Joseph and the restored church. 

2. Joseph Smith went rogue, maybe confusing his thoughts and desires with heavenly inspiration. 

I'm very open to other ideas I have yet to fully consider.

I believe Brigham Young and others followed and taught what Joseph taught.

I like your commentary. As with so much in history (if not all of it?), we'll probably not arrive at a definitive answer. I am comfortable enough believing that God gave the general idea and Joseph filled in the details mixed with a little of his own uninspired thoughts and desires. I don't fault God for any of it. If I were to, I would by force of logic be pulled into faulting him for literally every calamity that has beset mankind.

 

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Well of course if we believe and have a testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God we have to believe it was inspired of God. God did allow it in the past. 
There is however the human factor and the statement made by Joseph Smith himself that a prophet is only a prophet when he is acting as such. 
Was he acting as a true prophet when he introduced the concept of plural marriage? This was a major doctrine involved in the restoration of the Church so I certainly hope he was acting as a prophet.

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2 minutes ago, Vanguard said:

I like your commentary. As with so much in history (if not all of it?), we'll probably not arrive at a definitive answer. I am comfortable enough believing that God gave the general idea and Joseph filled in the details mixed with a little of his own uninspired thoughts and desires. I don't fault God for any of it. If I were to, I would by force of logic be pulled into faulting him for literally every calamity that has beset mankind.

 

I don't think alternative #1 is plausible. I don't think God was lax in directing JS. Maybe God felt it necessary for the Saints to adopt practices that would inevitably lead to conflict and anger with the nation forcing the Saints to move time and time again, and eventually flee the US where for a time they could practice the religion with less disturbance .

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13 minutes ago, JAHS said:

Well of course if we believe and have a testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet of we have to believe it was inspired of God. 

Yes, I see no real alternative.

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1 hour ago, Risingtide said:

I feel that I need to believe that what Joseph Smith taught and practiced regarding polygamy was inspired by God. Even though we no longer are required to live it, I still feel bound to believe God directed Joseph Smith in introducing it into the theology and practices of the Church. The alternatives as I think about it are:

1.God gave JS a very vague idea that it was to be practiced and Joseph himself filled in the details. In this I would find some fault in God's management of a practice that had such monumental consequences for Joseph and the restored church. 

2. Joseph Smith went rogue, maybe confusing his thoughts and desires with heavenly inspiration. 

I'm very open to other ideas I have yet to fully consider.

I believe Brigham Young and others followed and taught what Joseph taught.

I think 1 is closer, but I think the details Joseph filled in were administrative or practical, that is to say the way he went about practicing the commandment.
Things like courtship, living arrangements, policies and procedures may or may not have been inspired or may have been just Joseph/Brigham figuring things out.  And these seem to be the areas that caused most of the difficulties.

But I don't think the doctrinal details, the ordinance, the law, the revelation were "filled in".  That is the part that came from God in my opinion and belief.  As with most of God's commands we get to figure out the details.
 

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I believe prophets are not perfect and have often confused their own will or even the will of past prophets, with divine direction.

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41 minutes ago, Risingtide said:

I don't think alternative #1 is plausible. I don't think God was lax in directing JS. Maybe God felt it necessary for the Saints to adopt practices that would inevitably lead to conflict and anger with the nation forcing the Saints to move time and time again, and eventually flee the US where for a time they could practice the religion with less disturbance .

I'm not sure I follow. So are you suggesting the practice of polygamy was a solely a product of Joseph's thoughts and desires (option #2)?

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1 hour ago, Risingtide said:

I feel that I need to believe that what Joseph Smith taught and practiced regarding polygamy was inspired by God. Even though we no longer are required to live it, I still feel bound to believe God directed Joseph Smith in introducing it into the theology and practices of the Church. The alternatives as I think about it are:

1.God gave JS a very vague idea that it was to be practiced and Joseph himself filled in the details. In this I would find some fault in God's management of a practice that had such monumental consequences for Joseph and the restored church. 

2. Joseph Smith went rogue, maybe confusing his thoughts and desires with heavenly inspiration. 

I'm very open to other ideas I have yet to fully consider.

I believe Brigham Young and others followed and taught what Joseph taught.

Personally, I would take a step back and identify what the Lord has said what need to believe. That certainly simplifies life on one hand and opens up an incredibly abundant life of the other, with the Spirit personally confirming both.

“The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.” (Joseph Smith)

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9 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

I think 1 is closer, but I think the details Joseph filled in were administrative or practical, that is to say the way he went about practicing the commandment.
Things like courtship, living arrangements, policies and procedures may or may not have been inspired or may have been just Joseph/Brigham figuring things out.  And these seem to be the areas that caused most of the difficulties.

But I don't think the doctrinal details, the ordinance, the law, the revelation were "filled in".  That is the part that came from God in my opinion and belief.  As with most of God's commands we get to figure out the details.
 

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Yesterday I finished reading the book you recommended: Mormon Polygamy by Richard Van Wagoner and I've started reading In Sacred Loneness by Todd Compton. The reading has been unsettling, but I feel I need to address the doubts the topic always raised in my mind when it comes up. I've worried those doubts were a dam to greater faith. 

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18 minutes ago, Vanguard said:

I'm not sure I follow. So are you suggesting the practice of polygamy was a solely a product of Joseph's thoughts and desires (option #2)?

I'm not sure. We are told we can receive answers on maters like this through the Spirit. I'm praying for that conformation. I hope this and other doctrine are exactly what God directed, but I'm not sure and I'm troubled by much of what I've read on the subject.

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22 minutes ago, CV75 said:

Personally, I would take a step back and identify what the Lord has said what need to believe. That certainly simplifies life on one hand and opens up an incredibly abundant life of the other, with the Spirit personally confirming both.

“The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.” (Joseph Smith)

Thank you for your advice. Nearly all of Christendom agrees with those fundamental principles, and I do as well, but I feel a need to accept the teachings of the church that reach beyond those fundamentals.

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39 minutes ago, Risingtide said:

I feel that I need to believe that what Joseph Smith taught and practiced regarding polygamy was inspired by God. Even though we no longer are required to live it, I still feel bound to believe God directed Joseph Smith in introducing it into the theology and practices of the Church. The alternatives as I think about it are:

1.God gave JS a very vague idea that it was to be practiced and Joseph himself filled in the details. In this I would find some fault in God's management of a practice that had such monumental consequences for Joseph and the restored church. 

2. Joseph Smith went rogue, maybe confusing his thoughts and desires with heavenly inspiration. 

I'm very open to other ideas I have yet to fully consider.

I believe Brigham Young and others followed and taught what Joseph taught.

The commandment to practice eternal plural marriage proved to be an Abrahamic test, not only for the prophet Joseph Smith but for all who would ever become members of the restored Church since the dats when polygamy was first commanded. I have no doubt that if plural marriage had never been introduced that the Church would have rapidly become much more popular early on and that the Church would have many more members than it has today.

I recently learned that before William Law totally separated himself from the Joseph Smith that he begged him, with tears freely flowing down face, that if Joseph would just give up on the idea of plural marriage that the Church would be able to grow very rapidly without the hinderance of all the bad press that would ensue due to all the negative “baggage” that would come along with with polygamy. At the same meeting Law’s son, who was there to witness what transpired, said the prophet was equally sorrowful, crying his eyes out as well, but saying there was nothing he could do to reverse course because the Lord commanded him to do it..

Many will ask where is the wisdom in the Lord commanding the practice of plural marriage when he knew there would be far less opposition to the restored Gospel and that the Church would able to grow at a much faster rate without it? But what has happened as a consequence to its introduction is that each member, and each potential member, has to face his or her own Abrahamic test, to wit  Is the restored Church of Jesus Christ really true in spite of the negative first impressions that come along with a practice so at variance with the acceptable societal and cultural norms of the day? The controversy serves as a hurdle that forces the inquirer after truth to engage with the task at hand much more deliberately and seriously.

This particular modern-day challenge is not unlike the challenge that was faced by the enquirers after truth in an earlier day. Would a loving and compassionate God really as an old man to offer up his beloved son in a child sacrifice that appeared outwardly to be most abominable? And remember, the sacrifice was only arrested after God knew for certain that Abraham was actually going to go through with it: something no doubt very traumatizing to both father and son, nevertheless required of God as a supreme test of fait.

Think of it: If Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac occurred in our day, and he was caught by the police at the instant the knife was coming down, you can bet your bottom dollar Abraham would either be locked up in prison for the rest of his life or spend the rest of his days confined in an institution for the criminally insane. Nonetheless proselytizes to Judaism and pagan converts to Christianity would somehow have to get over this formidable hurdle before they could be convinced to convert.

Bottom line? The Church today might truly be far less popular than it otherwise might have been without polygamy, but the potential converts have to rely much more on the revelations of the Spirit convince them to join rather than thinking joining is a good idea because the organization is popular with the world.

As it is, faithful Latter-Day Saints are are required to bear the crosses of the world because the Church is unpopular and ridiculed. And I have no doubt that before the Lord returns there will be many who will abandon the Church because they will find the scorn, mockery and persecution of the world to be too much to tolerate. As a consequence, they will let go of the rod of iron and wander off into forbidden paths. Being able to bear the shame of the world will be one of the great tests that will determine if a soul is worthy of the fullness of eternal life.

 

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2 hours ago, Risingtide said:

I feel that I need to believe that what Joseph Smith taught and practiced regarding polygamy was inspired by God. Even though we no longer are required to live it, I still feel bound to believe God directed Joseph Smith in introducing it into the theology and practices of the Church. The alternatives as I think about it are:

1.God gave JS a very vague idea that it was to be practiced and Joseph himself filled in the details. In this I would find some fault in God's management of a practice that had such monumental consequences for Joseph and the restored church. 

2. Joseph Smith went rogue, maybe confusing his thoughts and desires with heavenly inspiration. 

I'm very open to other ideas I have yet to fully consider.

I believe Brigham Young and others followed and taught what Joseph taught.

Why do you feel you have a need to believe that JS's plural marriage practice was inspired by God?

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11 minutes ago, Teancum said:

Why do you feel you have a need to believe that JS's plural marriage practice was inspired by God?

Because Joseph Smith claimed it came from God, and if that isn't true it is evidence of a false claim of prophesy.

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3 minutes ago, Risingtide said:

Because Joseph Smith claimed it came from God, and if that isn't true it is evidence of a false claim of prophesy.

Perhaps rather than trying to force yourself to believe evaluate it on its merits to see if you really think God commanded and revealed this.  This can be risky but the search for truth often is.

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19 minutes ago, teddyaware said:

The commandment to practice eternal plural marriage proved to be an Abrahamic test, not only for the prophet Joseph Smith but for all who would ever become members of the restored Church since the dats when polygamy was first commanded. I have no doubt that if plural marriage had never been introduced that the Church would have rapidly become much more popular early on and that the Church would have many more members than it has today.

...

As it is, faithful Latter-Day Saints are are required to bear the crosses of the world because the Church is unpopular and ridiculed. And I have no doubt that before the Lord returns there will be many who will abandon the Church because they will find the scorn, mockery and persecution of the world to be too much to tolerate. As a consequence, they will let go of the rod of iron and wander off into forbidden paths. Being able to bear the shame of the world will be one of the great tests that will determine if a soul is worthy of the fullness of eternal life.

 

Thank you for your very thoughtful response. You may have the opinion that my reluctance to accept many of the doctrines surrounding the practice of polygamy come from a need to be accepted by the wider world or avoid its mocking. I don't believe that is a fair reading of my motivations. Rather I find in many of the details of the history of polygamy in the Church a repulsive quality. It feels wrong and unholy and if anything offends my conscience of what I think is right and true. The same of course would be true if my bishop or stake president told me to take some drastic action such as killing someone, which I assure you I would refuse. But should the Holy Spirit guide me to to accept a principle I found objectionable by my own lights I expect my mind would be converted. 

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15 minutes ago, Teancum said:

Perhaps rather than trying to force yourself to believe evaluate it on its merits to see if you really think God commanded and revealed this.  This can be risky but the search for truth often is.

I can't force myself to believe it. It doesn't seem to work that way for me. My hope is that the Holy Spirit will confirm that what Joseph Smith and later prophets taught about polygamy is true. Not that that conformation leaves me on easy street.

On its merits by my own lights which are admittedly limited it seems a mistake that polygamy was taught and practiced.

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56 minutes ago, teddyaware said:

The commandment to practice eternal plural marriage proved to be an Abrahamic test, not only for the prophet Joseph Smith but for all who would ever become members of the restored Church since the dats when polygamy was first commanded. I have no doubt that if plural marriage had never been introduced that the Church would have rapidly become much more popular early on and that the Church would have many more members than it has today.

I recently learned that before William Law totally separated himself from the Joseph Smith that he begged him, with tears freely flowing down face, that if Joseph would just give up on the idea of plural marriage that the Church would be able to grow very rapidly without the hinderance of all the bad press that would ensue due to all the negative “baggage” that would come along with with polygamy. At the same meeting Law’s son, who was there to witness what transpired, said the prophet was equally sorrowful, crying his eyes out as well, but saying there was nothing he could do to reverse course because the Lord commanded him to do it..

Many will ask where is the wisdom in the Lord commanding the practice of plural marriage when he knew there would be far less opposition to the restored Gospel and that the Church would able to grow at a much faster rate without it? But what has happened as a consequence to its introduction is that each member, and each potential member, has to face his or her own Abrahamic test, to wit  Is the restored Church of Jesus Christ really true in spite of the negative first impressions that come along with a practice so at variance with the acceptable societal and cultural norms of the day? The controversy serves as a hurdle that forces the inquirer after truth to engage with the task at hand much more deliberately and seriously.

This particular modern-day challenge is not unlike the challenge that was faced by the enquirers after truth in an earlier day. Would a loving and compassionate God really as an old man to offer up his beloved son in a child sacrifice that appeared outwardly to be most abominable? And remember, the sacrifice was only arrested after God knew for certain that Abraham was actually going to go through with it: something no doubt very traumatizing to both father and son, nevertheless required of God as a supreme test of fait.

Think of it: If Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac occurred in our day, and he was caught by the police at the instant the knife was coming down, you can bet your bottom dollar Abraham would either be locked up in prison for the rest of his life or spend the rest of his days confined in an institution for the criminally insane. Nonetheless proselytizes to Judaism and pagan converts to Christianity would somehow have to get over this formidable hurdle before they could be convinced to convert.

Bottom line? The Church today might truly be far less popular than it otherwise might have been without polygamy, but the potential converts have to rely much more on the revelations of the Spirit convince them to join rather than thinking joining is a good idea because the organization is popular with the world.

As it is, faithful Latter-Day Saints are are required to bear the crosses of the world because the Church is unpopular and ridiculed. And I have no doubt that before the Lord returns there will be many who will abandon the Church because they will find the scorn, mockery and persecution of the world to be too much to tolerate. As a consequence, they will let go of the rod of iron and wander off into forbidden paths. Being able to bear the shame of the world will be one of the great tests that will determine if a soul is worthy of the fullness of eternal life.

 

I'll just leave this here: https://fs.blog/2017/05/confirmation-bias/

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1 hour ago, Risingtide said:

Thank you for your very thoughtful response. You may have the opinion that my reluctance to accept many of the doctrines surrounding the practice of polygamy come from a need to be accepted by the wider world or avoid its mocking. I don't believe that is a fair reading of my motivations. Rather I find in many of the details of the history of polygamy in the Church a repulsive quality. It feels wrong and unholy and if anything offends my conscience of what I think is right and true. The same of course would be true if my bishop or stake president told me to take some drastic action such as killing someone, which I assure you I would refuse. But should the Holy Spirit guide me to to accept a principle I found objectionable by my own lights I expect my mind would be converted. 

I’m certain that when all the facts are in the prophet Joseph Smith will be vindicated. One of the reasons why many of the mysteries of the kingdom of God are withheld from the children of men is because if they are not spiritually prepared to receive them much more harm is done than good. Just as problematic is the fact that when the spiritually immature learn of the mysteries their first impulse is to reject what they’re hearing as being evil and not of God. The apostle Paul explained this strange phenomenon as follows;

12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of STRONG MEAT.

13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised TO DISCERN BOTH GOD AND EVIL. (Hebrews 5)

In verse 14, Paul is clearly testifying that only those who are mature spiritually are able to receive the mysteries of the kingdom without it doing them serious harm. Why? Because only the spiritually mature are able to discern between good and evil, a clear indication that the stronger meat doctrines of the kingdom can easily be misconstrued by spiritual novices to be things not of God. This is the reason why the prophet Joseph Smith once said he dared not reveal all he knows because even his most stalwart defenders would become his most bitter enemies.

For example, the only reason why God commanding Abraham to ritually sacrifice his son is accepted by believers so readily today is because those of the Abrahamic Tradition have been hearing this account repeated matter of factly for millennia. But you can be sure that if Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac didn’t occur until the present day that it would be condemned by virtually all believers as an evil and sick invention of a devilishly deranged mind. All of Abraham’s protestations of innocence, due to the fact that God commanded him to do it, would fall on deaf ears as multitudes would scream, “crucify him!”

 

 

 

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26 minutes ago, teddyaware said:

I’m certain that when all the facts are in the prophet Joseph Smith will be vindicated. One of the reasons why many of the mysteries of the kingdom of God are withheld from the children of men is because if they are not spiritually prepared to receive them much more harm is done than good. Just as problematic is the fact that when the spiritually immature learn of the mysteries their first impulse is to reject what they’re hearing as being evil and not of God. The apostle Paul explained this strange phenomenon as follows;

12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of STRONG MEAT.

13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised TO DISCERN BOTH GOD AND EVIL. (Hebrews 5)

 

Hi Teddy, you make a reasoned point, and maybe I'm to immature to take meat. Never the less I've been led to understand we can go to God for answers. It's my hope that He will lead me to understand what on my own I find beyond my means.

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1 hour ago, teddyaware said:

Yours is confirmation bias as well.

Have I presented any reasoning, whatsoever, in this thread so far? Nope.

The "I know you are, but what am I?" defense to my criticism of your logic is just silly.

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1 hour ago, teddyaware said:

I’m certain that when all the facts are in the prophet Joseph Smith will be vindicated. One of the reasons why many of the mysteries of the kingdom of God are withheld from the children of men is because if they are not spiritually prepared to receive them much more harm is done than good. Just as problematic is the fact that when the spiritually immature learn of the mysteries their first impulse is to reject what they’re hearing as being evil and not of God. The apostle Paul explained this strange phenomenon as follows;

12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of STRONG MEAT.

13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised TO DISCERN BOTH GOD AND EVIL. (Hebrews 5)

In verse 14, Paul is clearly testifying that only those who are mature spiritually are able to receive the mysteries of the kingdom without it doing them serious harm. Why? Because only the spiritually mature are able to discern between good and evil, a clear indication that the stronger meat doctrines of the kingdom can easily be misconstrued by spiritual novices to be things not of God. This is the reason why the prophet Joseph Smith once said he dared not reveal all he knows because even his most stalwart defenders would become his most bitter enemies.

For example, the only reason why God commanding Abraham to ritually sacrifice his son is accepted by believers so readily today is because those of the Abrahamic Tradition have been hearing this account repeated matter of factly for millennia. But you can be sure that if Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac didn’t occur until the present day that it would be condemned by virtually all believers as an evil and sick invention of a devilishly deranged mind. All of Abraham’s protestations of innocence, due to the fact that God commanded him to do it, would fall on deaf ears as multitudes would scream, “crucify him!”

 

 

 

Well if Nephi (cutting off Laban's head) and Abraham can be vindicated I assume Joseph Smith will be also.

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3 hours ago, Risingtide said:

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Yesterday I finished reading the book you recommended: Mormon Polygamy by Richard Van Wagoner and I've started reading In Sacred Loneness by Todd Compton. The reading has been unsettling, but I feel I need to address the doubts the topic always raised in my mind when it comes up. I've worried those doubts were a dam to greater faith. 

I think Compton portrays things, even true things, in their worst possible light at times.  Just be mindful of that.

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