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10 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

I'll be honest, my conclusions about the morality of the enterprise taken as a whole are different from yours. There isn't a way around that.

I can certainly relate to that. I don't remember exactly when I learned about the concerning, potentially problematic nature of Joseph Smith's polygamy. I think I took in bits and pieces in my youth, until I had a somewhat equivalent understanding of the facts as I do now, with a few exceptions. For instance, one exception was that I accepted the prevailing explanation at the time, that polygamy was needed to care for and protect widows and single women. But what remains now as then is the understanding that, concerning plural marriage, Joseph was dishonest with Emma, with church members, and with the general public. At the time, I was able to reconcile that with the generality that sometimes lying can be necessary for the greater Good.

16 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

I'll also state that a true cultural divisor, in order to be a real divisor and not merely a quirk, must be repellent to the dominant culture. That does not justify the dominant culture's assessment as authoritative. 

I don't disagree with that but that's not really relevant to my point, is it? I said that to be well and good the esoteric behavior must be moral. Of course morality does not depend on its popularity.

19 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

And to fully accept your argument I'd have to adopt suppositions about the authority of divergent moral systems which I do not hold. First and foremost among them is the idea that any morality which is merely socially constructed is truly binding beyond the sense of being a forcible imposition by society upon the individual, coercive in itself and fundamentally deceptive in its claim to authority. 

Where do you stand on Euthyphro's dilemma? Is God God because God is Good, or is Good Good because God says it is Good?

20 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

I'll not say that I would have done everything Joseph did, but I don't consider myself and the fine points of my own social mores (which appear to be manifestly determined by time and place more than any inherent rightness tbh) to be a sufficient metric for judgement. I guess the question is: what do we define as healthy? And are we entitled to enforce that across all times and spaces and societies? And if Joseph acted imperfectly, what does that mean in the aggregate?

To me, it's not really that mysterious. The thing that caused me to see Joseph Smith's actions differently was to experience being lied to, over an extended period of time, about something critical to my welfare. That's when I understood that his actions were worse then merely imperfect.

23 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

O tempora, o mores!

Fiat Lux! :D 

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3 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

Where do you stand on Euthyphro's dilemma? Is God God because God is Good, or is Good Good because God says it is Good?

The first.

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23 minutes ago, katherine the great said:

Just to clarify: You would have or be the concubine? Not that I’m looking, just curious...

I'm flexible. ;)  (Hey, beggars can't be choosers! :D)

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1 minute ago, JLHPROF said:

The first.

Me as well, or as an atheist I just revise it a bit: if there is a God worth worshipping, then that God must be Good. I believe that many theists of all types and atheists of all types can find common ground if the former is similarly prioritized.

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2 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

Me as well, or as an atheist I just revise it a bit: if there is a God worth worshipping, then that God must be Good. I believe that many theists of all types and atheists of all types can find common ground if the former is similarly prioritized.

I would argue that's a fundamental principle of Mormonism.  (Not sure about other Christian sects).
In Mormonism God became God by obedience to law, ie, by being good.
In other faiths God was always God and declared things to be good or evil.

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On 3/29/2021 at 3:41 PM, 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 give Joseph Smith a very wide range of acceptance on polygamy.

1.  Joseph Smith had no role models to look to in how to practice it.  Sure he knew people in the scriptures lived it but there is no instruction there of how to live it.  He was not raised in it.  Did not know anyone to get pointers on what to do and not to do.  It was all trial be fire for him.  Of course he was going to make bad decisions and mistakes.  We all would have made our own bonehead decisions.  Too many people have said they would not have done this or that what Joseph Smith did.   They don't know that.  They were not put in that position.  They are sitting in judgement 180 or so years later in the comforts of their homes, without persecution. They are like sports fans who ridicule the decisions made by a QB after a game.  They point out the mistakes they made.  None of them were on the field. None of them can prove they would have made a better decision during that play.  Hardly any of them are good enough to be a QB but they will criticize the play of the QB of the decisions they made. 

2.  He lived in an environment where few accepted polygamy.  He had to practice it in a hostile environment.  Not even Emma was supportive.  Naturally he was to be a little more secretive and deceptive regarding it.  It is not like those around him presented him an environment of acceptance or understanding to allow more honesty and openness.  I believe that if one wants a person to be honest, they have to provide an environment that promotes honesty.  That includes reacting to things in a mature ways.

Since I have no evidence that I would have practice polygamy any better in the 1830s given the circumstances that Joseph was under, I see little reason for me to criticize or pretend I would have made better decisions.  I don't know that and thankfully I was never put in that position so that people in the year 2021 could pronounce judgment on me for how I handled it.

Edited by carbon dioxide
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16 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

I don't disagree with that but that's not really relevant to my point, is it? I said that to be well and good the esoteric behavior must be moral. Of course morality does not depend on its popularity.

To be well and good the esoteric must be moral, but the question is: whose morality? It is a known fact that cultures often lace morality into their assessments of one another and view differences between them as moral matters. Is the mere presence of the disapproval of the dominant culture sufficient to justify their critique of the separatists? 

17 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

Where do you stand on Euthyphro's dilemma? Is God God because God is Good, or is Good Good because God says it is Good?

A good question. I believe there are moral facts which bind even God, but I don't think highly enough of human social cognition to think that we can really understand them beyond the realm of impulses. Better definition of right and wrong has to come from God. 

10 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

To me, it's not really that mysterious. The thing that caused me to see Joseph Smith's actions differently was to experience being lied to, over an extended period of time, about something critical to my welfare. That's when I understood that his actions were worse then merely imperfect.

That's fair. I haven't had your experiences, of course, and I don't know how I'd react if I did. So I can't factor them into my own evaluative matrix, but I respect that they are in yours and I'm sorry you had that experience. 

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6 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

I would argue that's a fundamental principle of Mormonism.  (Not sure about other Christian sects).
In Mormonism God became God by obedience to law, ie, by being good.
In other faiths God was always God and declared things to be good or evil.

That is one of the most valuable ideas I took from Mormonism. I think that, in hindsight in my life, my path was always more improved if I held fast to the former and hindered if I depended on the latter.

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3 hours ago, JLHPROF said:

I think stating Christ wasn't married is pretty shaky ground for a latter-day saint.  The polygamy speculation comes into play when we look at his potential wives.   His conduct towards multiple women is that of a husband to a wife.

https://www.fairlatterdaysaints.org/answers/Jesus_Christ/Was_Jesus_married

I do believe Jesus was married to multiple wives.  Your link has a quote from Orson Hyde his belief that Jesus was the groom at Cana.  If that was the case, then I am inclined to think it was NOT His first marriage because at that time He was around 30 years old.  I think it probable He was first married between 15 and 20 years of age.  I suppose that it could be possible that the Cana event occurred when He was still a young man.

However, my thoughts have led me to ask how could He have children?  When Jesus was born, half of His genes was from Mary, his mortal mother so that He could have the ability to die, and the other half from His Father so that He could have the capacity for bearing the sins of the world (as only a God could do it).  If His wives bore children of Him, then they would be 3/4 mortal and 1/4 divine.  How does that work?

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5 minutes ago, longview said:

I do believe Jesus was married to multiple wives.  Your link has a quote from Orson Hyde his belief that Jesus was the groom at Cana.  If that was the case, then I am inclined to think it was NOT His first marriage because at that time He was around 30 years old.  I think it probable He was first married between 15 and 20 years of age.  I suppose that it could be possible that the Cana event occurred when He was still a young man.

However, my thoughts have led me to ask how could He have children?  When Jesus was born, half of His genes was from Mary, his mortal mother so that He could have the ability to die, and the other half from His Father so that He could have the capacity for bearing the sins of the world (as only a God could do it).  If His wives bore children of Him, then they would be 3/4 mortal and 1/4 divine.  How does that work?

I'm not convinced his divinity was in his DNA.  I'm not opposed to the idea since I do believe his conception was not by parents in a standard state (his father being resurrected, his mother transfigured at the time).

But if it's true it kind of removes the level playing field the scriptures are so clear to mention.  If he had that little extra boost then his goodness wasn't a matter of progression, a matter of effort, a matter of agency.  He was simply coded to be perfect.  Scripture says he was tempted in all things (Heb 4:15).  Not really a temptation if you're genetically predisposed against sin. 

However, I agree with you on Cana.  I think Joseph F. Smith was probably correct that 1. Jesus was the groom at that wedding and 2. Mary & Martha were possible brides.  And if that occurred when he was almost 30 he was likely married previously, perhaps to the other Mary (Magdalene) who the Gnostic texts state he used to kiss "on the mouth".

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14 minutes ago, longview said:

However, my thoughts have led me to ask how could He have children? 

Early leaders of the Church had thoughts on that too.

""Hidden in the blood of many LDS runs the blood of Israel from numerous directions, including that of the Savior. But it is specifically through the divine blood-right of Christ through Joseph Smith Jr. that all members of the Church are lawful heirs of the promise." - Brigham Young

"There are those in this audience who are descendants of the old Twelve Apostles - and shall I say it, yes, descendants of the Savior himself. His seed is represented in this body of men." - George Q. Cannon

"Did you actually know Joseph Smith? No. Do you know brother Brigham? No. Do you know brother Heber? No, you do not. Do you know the Twelve? You do not, if you did, you would begin to know God, and learn that those men who are chosen to direct and counsel you are near kindred to God and to Jesus Christ, for the keys, power, and authority of the kingdom of God are in that lineage."  - Heber C. Kimball

 

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11 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

I'm not convinced his divinity was in his DNA.  I'm not opposed to the idea since I do believe his conception was not by parents in a standard state (his father being resurrected, his mother transfigured at the time).

But if it's true it kind of removes the level playing field the scriptures are so clear to mention.  If he had that little extra boost then his goodness wasn't a matter of progression, a matter of effort, a matter of agency.  He was simply coded to be perfect.  Scripture says he was tempted in all things (Heb 4:15).  Not really a temptation if you're genetically predisposed against sin. 

I'm inclined to agree with you. I'm not convinced Christ's divinity was in His DNA. I tend to agree with Blake Ostler that divinity consists of union with God and thus Christ was God by virtue of His union with the Father. If He's genetically aligned with the Father that would probably be easier. But I doubt that we're dealing with Percy Jackson-style inherit-mad-powers-from-your-divine-parent mechanics here. 

One thought I've been toying with is that we are sent to the parental combinations we are sent to because their union will permit genetic profiles which suit our premortal personalities. It may be that Christ's premortal personality (being completely unified with the Father and in His very image) could only be paired with a body which had hefty helpings of the Father's genetic profile. There's also the fact that the virgin birth was probably an necessary sign to Mary and Joseph to motivate their care for and raising of their divine Child. 

Edited by OGHoosier
Cleaning up bad stream-of-consciousness grammar and clarifying concepts
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7 hours ago, HappyJackWagon said:

If you want to truly understand how and why polygamy was practiced in the early church and the subsequent reversal...in stages...then keep studying.

If you want to build ore retain your faith in the restoration and the idea of prophets and continuing revelation in a way that you can actually trust to get God's will right, I'd suggest you stop. Obviously some people are able to harmonize the true church history, practices and teachings with their testimonies and current church teachings but I'd suggest they are the minority.

Or you can choose to do either if you choose to look at fallibility in Church leaders as God’s way of ensuring people seek him for a ‘face to face’ rather than relying more on other humans. Even a relatively infallible individual or organization (a few minor mistakes) is easier to pay attention to than working on one’s self to improve communication with God. I also think at times it is easier to trust others than oneself because we are aware of the complicated mess we are while we only see the results in the external behaviours of others, so they seem more capable and confident than we do. 
 

I grew up annoyed for some reason with the idealistic portrayal of leaders in the Church. I don’t remember liking either Joseph or Brigham Young when a child (though I may be projecting later attitudes on my memories here).  As a youth, it turned into disinterest in Joseph as an individual (more interested in what he taught than who he was) and active dislike of Brigham.

It was in fact learning the humanity of Joseph that led to a greater respect and positive feelings for him even while a few times I wish someone had slapped the side of his head with a “what are you thinking!?”.  The use of a hat that was just around to better view the seer stone is one of the most endearing episode to me in that it signals he wasn’t at the time worried about appearances and just went with what would work with the least effort. He didn’t go in for mystical trappings or turn transmission of the text into a big, awe inspiring production.  
 

In terms of polygamy...I don’t know what got it started...was it God initiating it by drawing Joseph’s attention to the Patriarchs or was Joseph’s natural curiosity the trigger of his question to God about whether polygyny was part of the Restoration or something else. But once the question was asked, I do believe God instructed that it would be, at least to the extent that marriages and families were meant to be eternal relationships that would link us all together in God’s family.  And I believe Joseph caught that vision of the Celestial family of God and it became a major motivation in his life that he wanted to create as much as possible on earth for his loved ones and extended Church family...and everyone else eventually. 
 

I also believe Joseph likely made assumptions on what was right and wrong based on biblical stories. I think he likely had an idealized view of the prophets and patriarchs.  But I think it was more the desire to create an extended family of devout, loving, committed to the faith and each other that drove him.  
 

I think one assumption of celestial family linking was the father’s line/relationship was the one that governed other relationships.  Joseph appeared to me to be linking more based on his relationship with the men involved (as husbands, then fathers and brothers) than the women for the most part, but this perception may be a result we know more of men’s stories than women’s from that time, so we don’t know how much interaction he had with women that would develop close friendships and such outside of the girls and women that were part of his household.

Whether God intentionally left Joseph on his own or Joseph just made assumptions, I do think plural marriage was more experiment than following an instruction list from the Lord. I make this assumption based on the order of the choices Joseph made. First, the relationship with Fanny Alger.  It was a natural attempt, just add another marriage relationship like he had with Emma. The secretiveness would be due to uncertainty of the outcome while knowing it was not culturally acceptable nor would Emma like it. 
 

When that marriage blew up in his face, he put off the experiment for quite sometime, but then something drove him to pick it up again and go into overdrive. Maybe he knew his time was limited, only a few more years likely, and given his limited understanding, he may have believed that family relationships needed to be established then as after death new ones were unlikely in his view.  So how to establish a celestial family relationship with other members he wasn’t related to directly as painlessly and quickly as possible?
 

His second set of plural marriages were mostly sealings to the wives of other members.  This allowed for an immediate eternal family connection without having to live as husband and wife in mortality, giving benefit without too much cost I am guessing in his view (Emma would not be upset as much if it was obvious there was still an active marriage between the plural wives and their first husbands nor would society view it as too sordid of word got out).  But it was still too much for others as contrary to the view of what marriage was supposed to mean in Western culture (husband and wife cleaving to each other and no other) and so he switched to sealings to the daughters of his friends, his desired brothers of extended celestial families. 
 

Since he was for most of the latter wives their only husband at the time, the assumption would be it wasn’t just an eternal sealing, but meant for producing children for Joseph’s posterity, not just to be linked into God’s family.  I think a shift from the family relationship being the most important aspect of plural marriage to building up personal kingdoms filled with one’s posterity took place.

The Law of Adoption that sealed men to husbands and wives as father and mother took on some aspects of power where it is reported there were arguments over who was to be the father and who was to be the son. I can’t remember if single women  ever took part in this ordinance, I don’t think so.

not finished...

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RT, if you look at the chart here ( https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Joseph_Smith's_wives ), you can see what I mean by the gap after the failure of the Alger relationship, the rush of marriages in the last few years of his life, the second set being wives of friends and then switching to unmarried daughters and a few sisters iirc. 
 

I don’t have time right now to keep going on how I put together why experiment of plural marriage likely occurred as it did (a desired eternal family linked together by ordinances, the family first consisting of committed members coupled with assumptions coloured with prejudices and cultural practice that ultimately led to imbalance rather balance, but eventually ending up through additional revelation as a web of all righteous and repentant who have lived on earth through the current sealing practices of sealing bio and legal families together in all their parent and child relationships).  
 

So let me know if that was enough to convey my viewpoint of how very fallible can still mean very inspired and worthy to be followed (with the always included seeking personal confirmation for one’s own choices) or if I need to give more detail. 
 

I don’t believe we will always receive inspiration/personal revelation on whether others’ choices were inspired or not. We may only be given revelation on what we need to know to act as a member of God’s family. I don’t think God wants us more focused on what happened or is happening to the other as he wants us focused on what we are experiencing and choosing to do.  I think we can damage our faith if we expect God to answer directly every question we have before we get a chance to ask him in casual conversation when we are sitting around the celestial equivalent of the family reunion campfire.  
 

This doesn’t mean to me we shouldn’t study others’ lives or history, including all the warts as I think not only is it interesting for many, but I believe looking at others helps us figure out options for our own lives that we can then take to God for confirmation or further guidance.  
 

I believe a lot of God’s answers come from just looking around us and using our God given reason and emotional understanding as opposed to direct spiritual revelation (plus the reality is we don’t actually separate out such when we respond anymore than we turn off part of our brain when doing math or swimming, but the whole brain keeps working in healthy individuals).  
 

We just need to be careful to never assume our education is complete, imo, and be willing to be even more compassionate to others as that is the best way to learn compassion for ourselves...which is a necessary component of our ability to change.  We have to see ourselves as worth it to put the effort into change, to accept gifts from others including God, to recognize we are a work in progress and don’t need to get hung up on much of anything because the future is unlimited when we accept God’s help...this the need for compassion for ourselves as well as others. 

Edited by Calm
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1 hour ago, longview said:

However, my thoughts have led me to ask how could He have children?  When Jesus was born, half of His genes was from Mary, his mortal mother so that He could have the ability to die, and the other half from His Father so that He could have the capacity for bearing the sins of the world (as only a God could do it).  If His wives bore children of Him, then they would be 3/4 mortal and 1/4 divine.  How does that work?

Study up on your Greek mythology. It'll help you sort out all the half-gods, demi-gods, minor-gods, sons and daughters of gods, etc ;) 

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57 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

perhaps to the other Mary (Magdalene) who the Gnostic texts state he used to kiss "on the mouth".

Are you referring to the gospel of Phillip? It doesn’t say he kissed her on the mouth. It says he kissed her on her... There’s a hole in the manuscript right there so it’s anyone’s guess.  Cheek, hand, scarf, mouth. No one knows. 

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1 hour ago, Meadowchik said:

Where do you stand on Euthyphro's dilemma? Is God God because God is Good, or is Good Good because God says it is Good?

It's no dilemma at all, it's a linguistic confusion. God is identified and named and DEFINED as the "MOST GOOD" being possible especially in English. The very words even come from the same root. It's like asking if the sky is blue because it's blue or because we call it blue?

In both cases, the answer is simply "yes", ignoring the "or"

 

 

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33 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:
51 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

Where do you stand on Euthyphro's dilemma? Is God God because God is Good, or is Good Good because God says it is Good?

A good question. I believe there are moral facts which bind even God, but I don't think highly enough of human social cognition to think that we can really understand them beyond the realm of impulses. Better definition of right and wrong has to come from God. 

Just thought I would chime in here. Some may be interested in Ross Baron's take on these types of issues: 

http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/cdm/ref/collection/p15799coll16/id/510242

He only skims over the polygamy topic, but I think he captures well the implications of the Divine Command theory of ethics, as well as the unique understanding of that theory held by Latter-day Saints. How well an allegedly divine commandment or revelation complies with our own moral intuitions/sensibilities is an important factor, but certainly not the only factor, in how Latter-day Saints reach conclusions about the source of the said commandment/revelation. Carefully exploring what combination of factors might override our reliance on our own moral intuition (or socially informed moral values) seems to be a very worthwhile endeavor. 

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8 hours ago, Tacenda said:

It's not a normal thing for men to need, hogwash. 

It is normal to want/need*** imo, but since the Church teaches that men can rise above the natural man to something higher, wanting to have sex with multiple partners shouldn’t be a driver behind establishing eternal relationships. 

****People have contradictory needs all the time, think of needing to eat until full or feeling better vs eating until nutritional needs are met rather than emotional or social needs.   There is a need that many have for exciting sex, but the need to have close, solid relationships is likely more important to our personal development. 

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5 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

True. If satisfying his lust is an average man’s motivator, there are easier ways to accomplish it that don’t involve taking on the obligations and burdens of marriage. 

Sexual lust, sure, as long as you don’t care if a society that condemns sex outside of marriage condemns you. 
 

But there is also lust for power over others or for prestige (collecting wives and children can be status symbols as much as money)...unfortunately there are bad reasons to have multiple spouses even if there might be good ones as well. 

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3 hours ago, Tacenda said:

Believe me I do know that the men don't get off easy with many wives! But what I was saying is I don't believe men need polygamy like some apostle said, because then he won't go to the women of the night. I think men are able to live monogamy just fine, and live faithfully. You see I have a lot of respect for men, and most of them are decent and would never have to have multiple partners to have a bunch of sex. 

Yes, ma'am.  :pirate:

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42 minutes ago, Ryan Dahle said:

Just thought I would chime in here. Some may be interested in Ross Baron's take on these types of issues: 

http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/cdm/ref/collection/p15799coll16/id/510242

He only skims over the polygamy topic, but I think he captures well the implications of the Divine Command theory of ethics, as well as the unique understanding of that theory held by Latter-day Saints. How well an allegedly divine commandment or revelation complies with our own moral intuitions/sensibilities is an important factor, but certainly not the only factor, in how Latter-day Saints reach conclusions about the source of the said commandment/revelation. Carefully exploring what combination of factors might override our reliance on our own moral intuition (or socially informed moral values) seems to be a very worthwhile endeavor. 

I didn't know this dissertation existed. 

I have my reading plan for the next few days. 

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1 hour ago, katherine the great said:

Are you referring to the gospel of Phillip? It doesn’t say he kissed her on the mouth. It says he kissed her on her... There’s a hole in the manuscript right there so it’s anyone’s guess.  Cheek, hand, scarf, mouth. No one knows. 

Fair enough.  Thanks for the correction.

Either way it says he loved and kissed her.

Edited by JLHPROF
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2 hours ago, longview said:

However, my thoughts have led me to ask how could He have children?  When Jesus was born, half of His genes was from Mary, his mortal mother so that He could have the ability to die, and the other half from His Father so that He could have the capacity for bearing the sins of the world (as only a God could do it).  If His wives bore children of Him, then they would be 3/4 mortal and 1/4 divine.  How does that work?

If he couldn’t have children, probably not that kind to marry multiple women in a society that valued women most for childbearing and who often needed male children to care for them when husband died. 

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