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New Book on Polygamy


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https://religionnews.com/2021/07/29/can-the-lds-talk-honestly-about-polygamy-a-new-book-could-help/

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Can the LDS talk honestly about polygamy? A new book could help.

The unknowns about eternal polygamy are ‘answered with speculation and myths, creating undue fear and angst,’ says the author of a new book.
July 29, 2021

 
Ten years ago, as I finished up teaching a Relief Society lesson, in which I discussed The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints’ history of polygamy, my local Relief Society president came up to me and whispered, “You know, the Holy Spirit left the room the moment you said the ‘p’ word.”

Huh.  That seems a bit . . . much.  I've had no corollary experience.  Polygamy isn't a regular or emphatic part of lessons or discussions at Church, but there isn't anything particularly secretive or taboo about it, either.

What have your experiences been?  Is mention or discussion of polygamy verboten?

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The idea that a word could cause the Holy Spirit to flee in terror still makes me stammer — which is just what I did that day in response to the Relief Society president.

Oh, how things have changed. Today most of us own that polygamy was practiced by church members before it was outlawed in Utah in 1890. We should also be able to admit that its theological framework is still found in the church in many places. Talking about it shouldn’t be discouraged.

But I'm not sure it merits much emphasis, either.  

We don't dwell on animal sacrifice, or circumcision, or other particulars of the Law of Moses, either.  These are just as much a part of our doctrine and religious heritage.

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The church seems to agree, at least so far as to publish through Deseret Book a new tome called “Let’s Talk About Polygamy” by LDS church historian Brittany Chapman Nash. At a slim 134 pages, this little book delves deeper into the practice than its size lets on, hitting the points that every church member should know.

But they generally don’t. Even with the church-sponsored Gospel Topics essays on the subject and various historic works, including those in the church-sponsored Joseph Smith Papers, far too many members still believe that polygamy is an unspeakable word or maintain that Smith never practiced it.

Thoughts?  Is this an accurate characterization?

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Nash’s little book fills that informational void nicely. At its very beginning, she defines the practice, explaining that what went on among early LDS leaders’ families was actually polygyny (the taking of multiple wives), not polygamy (the taking of multiple spouses), but that polygamy is the more common term.

The book relates the history of the practice in the early church and its messy untethering process at the dawn of the 20th century. Nash wonderfully includes many women’s voices of the time in describing their reasons for embracing polygamy or rejecting it, and she explains the polygamous sealing process, which today’s temple sealing ceremony obviously echoes, even though the sealings are now done monogamously.

She also makes plain why so many early members felt they had to ascribe to the practice: Brigham Young, among others, taught that those men who were to be elevated to the highest degree of heaven and become Gods were those who entered into polygamy. Later, Wilford Woodruff, the LDS president who ended it, tried to soften Young’s dictum by explaining that men only needed to marry one other woman, not many multiples of women like so many high church leaders were doing at the time.

The book busts the myth that not many Mormons practiced polygamy, explaining that although the numbers aren’t exact because existing records are incomplete, taking Manti, Utah, as an example, at its height, just over 40% of its population was in polygamous households.

Sounds like a good book.

Thanks,

-Smac

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Apparently people don't realize that just because they're uncomfortable or don't like the subject doesn't mean the spirit left. 🙄

If Joseph never had the spirit when someone said something unpleasant or he was uncomfortable we'd be missing a chunk of the D&C.

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4 minutes ago, Bernard Gui said:

At last! The truth comes to light. Mormons can no longer hide their past!

They still can be selectively vague.

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39 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

They still can be selectively vague.

Not I. Are you?

Edited by Bernard Gui
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The only discussion I recall having about Polygamy is will a woman have to share her husband in the next life and that led to the idea that we believe in polygamy but don't practice it like they did in the 1800's and 2/3 of the current First Presidency are sealed to 2 women. 

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1 hour ago, smac97 said:

Ten years ago, as I finished up teaching a Relief Society lesson, in which I discussed The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints’ history of polygamy, my local Relief Society president came up to me and whispered, “You know, the Holy Spirit left the room the moment you said the ‘p’ word.”

Too much information. It wouldn’t be too difficult to dox that RS President. 

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48 minutes ago, Duncan said:

The only discussion I recall having about Polygamy is will a woman have to share her husband in the next life and that led to the idea that we believe in polygamy but don't practice it like they did in the 1800's and 2/3 of the current First Presidency are sealed to 2 women. 

Yes, and which one gets the short end of the stick in the end? Sorry Wendy! You're the odd woman out.

My wife is named Wendy, by the way, and she loves it that President Nelson is married to a Wendy. 

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2 hours ago, Stargazer said:

Yes, and which one gets the short end of the stick in the end? Sorry Wendy! You're the odd woman out.

My wife is named Wendy, by the way, and she loves it that President Nelson is married to a Wendy. 

It’s the title of one of my favorite Beach Boys songs. 
 

 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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Well then, the church must have carefully planned for the Come Follow Me lessons for section 132 to fall on a second Sunday this year (it's scheduled for November 8-14, for Individuals and Families, and Sunday School), so that the "Spirit would not leave" when plural marriage is discussed in those lessons in a classroom setting.  (It should be the priesthood / Relief Society lesson on the second Sunday).   Plural marriage / polygamy is discussed in both of the lesson plans.

 

Edited by InCognitus
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32 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

If it’s the Association hit you’re talking about, bro, that’s “Windy,” not “Wendy.”

The Beach Boys tune is the only one J know about that’s titled “Wendy.”

Oh yeah, Windy, not Wendy.  I actually knew that at one time (everyone SHOULD know it's Windy), but it's easy to make the name association (no pun intended). 

Edited by InCognitus
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34 minutes ago, InCognitus said:

Oh yeah, Windy, not Wendy.  I actually knew that at one time (everyone SHOULD know it's Windy), but it's easy to make the name association (no pun intended). 

Windy is the one with stormy eyes that flash at the sound of lies and with wings to fly above the clouds. 
 

Wendy is the one who broke her boyfriend’s heart when he thought they had their love down pat. 

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7 hours ago, InCognitus said:

Well then, the church must have carefully planned for the Come Follow Me lessons for section 132 to fall on a second Sunday this year (it's scheduled for November 8-14, for Individuals and Families, and Sunday School), so that the "Spirit would not leave" when plural marriage is discussed in those lessons in a classroom setting.  (It should be the priesthood / Relief Society lesson on the second Sunday).   Plural marriage / polygamy is discussed in both of the lesson plans.

 

I like the Mercy Thompson link in they've put in there.  Very well written.

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In my experience little to nothing we ever brought up about plural marriage in lessons or discussion at the ward level.  Certainly what references the LDS teaching manuals made to plural marriage was limited and brief and said nothing about how it was rolled out in Nauvoo and the (unseemly) way it was adopted.  

It seems to me it is clear that this is difficult subject to broach and one that causes many members the most concern about the early history of the Church, Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, etc. Delving into it in details is an ugly affair and tough for many to walk away with the idea that God was really behind it.  

As a believing member who knew quite a lot about plural marriage an the history behind it for quite sometime before I rejected the claims of the LDS Church I would say it is likely the one that started my conclusions that it was likely Joseph Smith was not what he clamed.  Even with the not well known gospel topic essays it is not something the Church really wants to spend much time with.

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13 hours ago, Stargazer said:

Yes, and which one gets the short end of the stick in the end? Sorry Wendy! You're the odd woman out.

My wife is named Wendy, by the way, and she loves it that President Nelson is married to a Wendy. 

Have you ever showed her my response to one of your, "My wife, Wendy" posts of, "President Nelson, is that you?" ;) :D

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16 hours ago, smac97 said:

https://religionnews.com/2021/07/29/can-the-lds-talk-honestly-about-polygamy-a-new-book-could-help/

Huh.  That seems a bit . . . much.  I've had no corollary experience.  Polygamy isn't a regular or emphatic part of lessons or discussions at Church, but there isn't anything particularly secretive or taboo about it, either.

What have your experiences been?  Is mention or discussion of polygamy verboten?

But I'm not sure it merits much emphasis, either.  

We don't dwell on animal sacrifice, or circumcision, or other particulars of the Law of Moses, either.  These are just as much a part of our doctrine and religious heritage.

Thoughts?  Is this an accurate characterization?

Sounds like a good book.

Thanks,

-Smac

I don't know much about how various Church members in that long ago past accepted the idea of polygamy/polygyny, and I would like to know more, but I don't think a book like this will provide much reliable information about that.  I've read a lot of information about this issue from many sources and the Holy Spirit hasn't confirmed much about that to me, so for me it's just a lot of he said/she said while not being certain of what or who I should believe.  We still accept the idea that a man can be married and sealed to more than one woman and most of us, I believe, don't believe that is bad.  So while I have some questions about how pioneers of the past regarded this issue, I don't know of many sources who I would trust to give truthful answers.  Prophets who I know are prophets are the only people I would believe when talking about people of long ago history.

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8 minutes ago, bOObOO said:

Prophets who I know are prophets are the only people I would believe when talking about people of long ago history.

:huh: Not sure about this statement at all.
I think I'd trust contemporary statements over a current opinion, even a prophetic one.

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5 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

:huh: Not sure about this statement at all.
I think I'd trust contemporary statements over a current opinion, even a prophetic one.

Maybe I didn't phrase that very well.  I'll try again:  When talking about people (or when the subject matter is people) of long ago history, prophets who I know are prophets are the only people I would believe.  Mortals living today weren't even there.

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7 minutes ago, bOObOO said:

Maybe I didn't phrase that very well.  I'll try again:  When talking about people (or when the subject matter is people) of long ago history, prophets who I know are prophets are the only people I would believe.  Mortals living today weren't even there.

I haven't looked at the book, but I would expect a church historian to be using contemporary, first person sources rather than using modern opinions on the subject.  If you're interested in the subject I would give it a look through before rejecting it sight unseen.

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16 minutes ago, ksfisher said:

I haven't looked at the book, but I would expect a church historian to be using contemporary, first person sources rather than using modern opinions on the subject.  If you're interested in the subject I would give it a look through before rejecting it sight unseen.

Contemporary first person sources are not always telling the truth.  That is the premise I always work under.  Anyone can tell a lie or just mistakenly get the facts wrong, even if they have good intentions and are trying to tell the truth.

That's why, for me, I only trust God and whoever God tells me is telling the truth, and when God tells me someone is telling the truth, saying what he would say or agree with, that makes that person a prophet, or prophetess if a woman.

So that means, to me, that unless this woman who wrote this book was writing it as a prophetess, writing new scripture about people of that long ago past who were speaking or writing as prophets and prophetesses, she is not likely saying anything new that I haven't already read.  I have read a lot already, and historians who just rehash what people in the past said are not necessarily telling the truth when just reiterating what those people then said.  Do you think she has more to say than you've already read?  Why read her book if most likely she isn't saying anything new that has already been said and that you have most likely already read?

Edited by bOObOO
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27 minutes ago, bOObOO said:

Contemporary first person sources are not always telling the truth.  That is the premise I always work under.  Anyone can tell a lie or just mistakenly get the facts wrong, even if they have good intentions and are trying to tell the truth.

That's why, for me, I only trust God and whoever God tells me is telling the truth, and when God tells me someone is telling the truth, saying what he would say or agree with, that makes that person a prophet, or prophetess if a woman.

So that means, to me, that unless this woman who wrote this book was writing it as a prophetess, writing new scripture about people of that long ago past who were speaking or writing as prophets and prophetesses, she is not likely saying anything new that I haven't already read.  I have read a lot already, and historians who just rehash what people in the past said are not necessarily telling the truth when just reiterating what those people then said.  Do you think she has more to say than you've already read?  Why read her book if most likely she isn't saying anything new that has already been said and that you have most likely already read?

So it sounds like the book isn't for you.

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