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Historical Monogamy Doctrine website


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On 12/15/2023 at 6:45 PM, blackstrap said:

I think most would agree that polygamy while Joseph lived was a bit of a mess and eventually became more of a " well regulated procedure " .

On a tangential note, I read somewhere that Brigham was quite lenient when it came to the ladies wanting a divorce in polygamous marriages. Can anyone confirm ? 

Section #83 of the website says this --

 

83 ~ Many of those who did enter into the practice of polygamy left it later on ~

Under official church doctrine of the time, a wife who divorced her polygamist husband would be without any chance of exaltation unless she were to afterwards marry another polygamist, and according to Brigham Young's words specifically, it had to be a higher-ranking church leader who wanted 'to take her on'. Plural wives would also not be legally eligible for any divorce alimony due to their marriage not having been legal (and the church itself also did not require a husband to pay any support to a plural wife who divorces him). Despite this, Brigham Young still had at least ten wives divorce him (four other wives are unaccounted for). Only one of his divorced wives (Eliza Babcock) is reported as having remained in polygamy with another man throughout the remainder of her life. A full list of women detractors amongst the wives of the leadership and other polygamous men would likely not be possible to form due to the unlawful and therefore often undocumented nature of plural marriages. Those women who left their polygamous husbands without later remarrying another polygamist either lost their testimony of the necessity of polygamy for exaltation, or else gave up trying to live worthily of exaltation. 

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22 hours ago, manol said:

Indeed it is!  I hadn't realized that 3 of the first 4 women (other than Emma) he was sealed to were pregnant at the time.  Maybe he was just lazy?  (I'm kidding!)

Seriously, what is your current thinking about Joseph's public denial?  My thinking about it has gone through some convolutions over the years, to the point where I now believe his words and the impression they seem intended to give (I say this because arguably it wasn't a direct denial):

"What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one. I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago; and I can prove them all perjurers."

(1st convolution:  Joseph was breaking a lesser law - "thou shalt not lie" - in order to keep the higher law of plural marriage. 2nd convolution:  Joseph was covering up his adultery and used carefully-chosen weasel-wording to deny without actually denying.  3rd (current) convolution:  Joseph not being deceitful, which unfortunately raises more questions than it answers.)

What do you think of points #3-6 of the website then?

https://historicalmonogamy.wixsite.com/evidenceofdoctrine

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2 hours ago, Calm said:

Portal appears to have been here to advertise the website…disappointing

HI! I'm back again (I've not been on here every day). I did join the forum specifically to ask for opinions about the website (you can see that my account is new) because the only place online I've seen the website discussed is on reddit and I wanted to get some non-reddit opinions. I'm *still* really wanting to hear from people who have read the whole thing. I've not seen the arguments it makes elsewhere, but as far as I can see I do think it to be decently done and I want to hear if others think it to be decent as well. I'm here on no secret mission to get ask people about it, it's a not-secret-at-all mission :) If there are any points of the website that you take issue with do let me know which points those are and why -- I've read it through several times myself and it still seems sound to me.

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54 minutes ago, PortalToParis said:

HI! I'm back again (I've not been on here every day). I did join the forum specifically to ask for opinions about the website (you can see that my account is new) because the only place online I've seen the website discussed is on reddit and I wanted to get some non-reddit opinions. I'm *still* really wanting to hear from people who have read the whole thing. I've not seen the arguments it makes elsewhere, but as far as I can see I do think it to be decently done and I want to hear if others think it to be decent as well. I'm here on no secret mission to get ask people about it, it's a not-secret-at-all mission :) If there are any points of the website that you take issue with do let me know which points those are and why -- I've read it through several times myself and it still seems sound to me.

My apologies for assuming you were the author.  We get them (ones just interested in driving up traffic to their site) on occasion.  I enjoy hearing different views, so like it when new posters show up who like to discuss things.

Edited by Calm
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15 minutes ago, Calm said:

My apologies for assuming you were the author.  We get them (ones just interested in driving up traffic to their site) on occasion.  I enjoy hearing different views, so like it when new posters show up who like to discuss things.

I'm not selling anything or making any commission from the original author for posting it -- but that would be nice as I could use the cash!

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14 hours ago, PortalToParis said:

Section #83 of the website says this --

 

83 ~ Many of those who did enter into the practice of polygamy left it later on ~

Under official church doctrine of the time, a wife who divorced her polygamist husband would be without any chance of exaltation unless she were to afterwards marry another polygamist, and according to Brigham Young's words specifically, it had to be a higher-ranking church leader who wanted 'to take her on'. Plural wives would also not be legally eligible for any divorce alimony due to their marriage not having been legal (and the church itself also did not require a husband to pay any support to a plural wife who divorces him). Despite this, Brigham Young still had at least ten wives divorce him (four other wives are unaccounted for). Only one of his divorced wives (Eliza Babcock) is reported as having remained in polygamy with another man throughout the remainder of her life. A full list of women detractors amongst the wives of the leadership and other polygamous men would likely not be possible to form due to the unlawful and therefore often undocumented nature of plural marriages. Those women who left their polygamous husbands without later remarrying another polygamist either lost their testimony of the necessity of polygamy for exaltation, or else gave up trying to live worthily of exaltation. 

I've never seen Brigham Young nor "official church doctrine" say polygamy-divorce will affect exaltation, at least no more than a regular divorce would be a sin.  Call for References (* a rule in which you either provide original sources or if unable simply retract your statement).

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5 hours ago, Pyreaux said:

I've never seen Brigham Young nor "official church doctrine" say polygamy-divorce will affect exaltation, at least no more than a regular divorce would be a sin.  Call for References (* a rule in which you either provide original sources or if unable simply retract your statement).

Yes sir! You can look through these:

"The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy. Others attain unto a glory and may even be permitted to come into the presence of the Father and the Son; but they cannot reign as kings in glory, because they had blessings offered unto them, and they refused to accept them."
                                                                                                                      Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 11, p. 269

"Now if any of you will deny the plurality of wives, and continue to do so, I promise that you will be damned." Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 3, p. 266

"The Second Way in which a wife can be separated from her husband, while he continues to be faithful to his God and his priesthood, I have not revealed, except to a few persons in this Church; and a few have received it from Joseph the prophet as well as myself. If a woman can find a man holding the keys of the priesthood with higher power and authority than her husband, and he is disposed to take her he can do so, otherwise she has got to remain where she is."    “A Few Words on Doctrine,” speech at tabernacle, October 8, 1861

The "official church doctrine" part would be that polygamy was part of the temple endowment at that time and wives covenanted in the temple to obey their husbands, with penalties for disobedience to the covenants being included then as well.

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On 12/14/2023 at 7:05 PM, Calm said:

While not always reliable, family history records indicate that another daughter, Phebe Clark, was also present and was told the same thing. Phebe was born to Sylvia Sessions after Windsor died and she remarried to Ezekiel Clark. So in Phebe’s case, it could only have been a spiritual relationship supporting that Josephine’s kinship as a “daughter” was also spiritual, not secondary to a physical union.

I hadn't heard this before, so that's really interesting to me, I wonder what "family history records" they're referring to.

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3 hours ago, PortalToParis said:

Yes sir! You can look through these:

"The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy. Others attain unto a glory and may even be permitted to come into the presence of the Father and the Son; but they cannot reign as kings in glory, because they had blessings offered unto them, and they refused to accept them."
                                                                                                                      Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 11, p. 269

"Now if any of you will deny the plurality of wives, and continue to do so, I promise that you will be damned." Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 3, p. 266

"The Second Way in which a wife can be separated from her husband, while he continues to be faithful to his God and his priesthood, I have not revealed, except to a few persons in this Church; and a few have received it from Joseph the prophet as well as myself. If a woman can find a man holding the keys of the priesthood with higher power and authority than her husband, and he is disposed to take her he can do so, otherwise she has got to remain where she is."    “A Few Words on Doctrine,” speech at tabernacle, October 8, 1861

The "official church doctrine" part would be that polygamy was part of the temple endowment at that time and wives covenanted in the temple to obey their husbands, with penalties for disobedience to the covenants being included then as well.

Journal of Discourses 11:269 does not support the claim that "a wife who divorced her polygamist husband would be without any chance of exaltation unless she were to afterwards marry another polygamist"

"... be polygamists at least in your faith, or you will come short of enjoying the salvation and the glory which Abraham has obtained. This is as true as that God lives. You who wish that there were no such thing in existence, if you have in your hearts to say: "We will pass along in the Church without obeying or submitting to it in our faith or believing this order, because, for aught that we know, this community may be broken up yet, and we may have lucrative offices offered to us; we will not, therefore, be polygamists lest we should fail in obtaining some earthly honor, character and office, etc,"—the man that has that in his heart, and will continue to persist in pursuing that policy, will come short of dwelling in the presence of the Father and the Son, in celestial glory. The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy. Others attain unto a glory and may even be permitted to come into the presence of the Father and the Son; but they cannot reign as kings in glory, because they had blessings offered unto them, and they refused to accept them."

Brigham was not telling everyone to practice it, that wasn't possible. Only we should accept our callings, if you were a man of means and your leaders asked you to take in a single woman off the street, such was a calling, instead of being selfish for fear of persecution or ambition of political office. For the 95% of Utah LDS men (100% of all LDS men elsewhere) being a "polygamist" was to merely accept that God instituted it, and be "polygamists in your faith"

"Now if any of you will deny the plurality of wives, and continue to do so, I promise that you will be damned; and I will go still further and say, take this revelation, or any other revelation that the Lord has given, and deny it in your feelings, and I promise that you will be damned. But the Saints who live their religion will be exalted, for they never will deny any revelation which the Lord has given or may give, though, when there is a doctrine coming to them which they cannot comprehend fully, they may be found saying, 'The Lord sendeth this unto me, and I pray that He will save and preserve me from denying anything which proceedeth from Him, and give me patience to wait until I can understand it for myself.'" (Journal of Discourses 3:266.)

He's not telling everyone to do it, but not deny it. Brigham extends this to a denial of any revelation given by the Lord.

“The Second Way in which a wife can be separated from her husband, while he continues to be faithful to his God and his priesthood, I have not revealed, except to a few persons in this Church; and a few have received it from Joseph the prophet as well as myself. If a woman can find a man holding the keys of the priesthood with higher power and authority than her husband, and he is disposed to take her he can do so, otherwise she has got to remain where she is... there is no need for a bill of divorcement... To recapitulate. First if a man forfeits his covenants with a wife, or wives, becoming unfaithful to his God, and his priesthood, that wife or wives are free from him without a bill of divorcement. Second. If a woman claims protection at the hands of a man, possessing more power in the priesthood and higher keys, if he is disposed to rescue her and has obtained the consent of her husband to make her his wife he can do so without a bill of divorcement.” (“A Few Words on Doctrine,” speech at tabernacle, October 8, 1861, see In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith, by Todd Compton, p. 17)

There is nothing in here about polygamy-divorce specifically. I'm barely following that this is merely one method, of at least two, the church avoided the need for a divorce. I'm missing a lot of context. Is this a clerical unsealing?

Edited by Pyreaux
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3 hours ago, PortalToParis said:

I hadn't heard this before, so that's really interesting to me, I wonder what "family history records" they're referring to.

Me too.  I have known family members who change records on whims, for example someone didn’t like the name of her sister who died young, so she ‘corrected’ the family search or ancestry records to turn the actual name into a nickname and gave her sister one she liked better…which pissed off the rest of the family. I don’t know if it got corrected after the family member died herself or not though. 

So I always wonder about claims that are based on “personal knowledge” that are only reported by one person, though unfortunately in many cases that is the most likely scenario. 
 

If I can both focus and remember, I may see if I can find the info on familysearch. 

Edited by Calm
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23 hours ago, Pyreaux said:

 

He's not telling everyone to do it, but not deny it. Brigham extends this to a denial of any revelation given by the Lord.

 

There is nothing in here about polygamy-divorce specifically. I'm barely following that this is merely one method, of at least two, the church avoided the need for a divorce. I'm missing a lot of context. Is this a clerical unsealing?

Those are good inclusions of the quotes that you gave, section #81 of the site has some more quotes you can see. I don't know of there being any "clerical unsealings" for a wife to go to a different man or if it was some kind of "sealing transfer" or if there was no documentation done at all - Brigham Young's first plural wife was legally married to her first husband when they were "spiritually married" according to section point #44 of the site: https://historicalmonogamy.wixsite.com/evidenceofdoctrine

But ultimately my answers are probably not nearly as comprehensive or satisfying or give as much context as if you were to read the site yourself. It has a total of 105 section points, you can start at the beginning and read through the ones that interest you. And you can let me know what you think of it after as I'd still like to hear others' opinions on it.

 

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11 minutes ago, PortalToParis said:

Those are good inclusions of the quotes that you gave, section #81 of the site has some more quotes you can see. I don't know of there being any "clerical unsealings" for a wife to go to a different man or if it was some kind of "sealing transfer" or if there was no documentation done at all - Brigham Young's first plural wife was legally married to her first husband when they were "spiritually married" according to section point #44 of the site: https://historicalmonogamy.wixsite.com/evidenceofdoctrine

But ultimately my answers are probably not nearly as comprehensive or satisfying or give as much context as if you were to read the site yourself. It has a total of 105 section points, you can start at the beginning and read through the ones that interest you. And you can let me know what you think of it after as I'd still like to hear others' opinions on it.

Nah, if #83 is any indication of the whole site, it may be a waste of time. Shotgun tactics like this seems dishonest.

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2 hours ago, Pyreaux said:

Nah, if #83 is any indication of the whole site, it may be a waste of time. Shotgun tactics like this seems dishonest.

There are more sources on the website itself (under the "Sources" and "Timeline" pages, with footnotes on the Sources page too,) as well as more of the context that you were saying you'd be wanting, so you still might like to take a look. I'd hate for you to disregard it just because I presented segments of it to you poorly :)

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35 minutes ago, Benjamin McGuire said:

I did a casual read. Here are three points off the top of my head -

I think that any discussion of Joseph Smith's position on polygamy that doesn't begin with the cultural and societal framework created by the restorationist movement (which early Mormonism is considered to be a part of) will end up going in the wrong direction. For example, you mention the Cochranites, in Point 49, but there is nothing in that point which recognizes the shared theological views and approaches to scriptural interpretation that contributed to the large wave of Cochranites who became Mormons when the Cochranite group began to fall apart after the legal troubles of Jacob Cochrane began. The Cochranites believed that polygamy was a necessary part of the restoration that had to be practiced before the second coming could occur. These views didn't just suddenly vanish when this group converted to Mormonism - and we see those views surfacing in the belief set pushed by Bennett. There are a few places that I noted that you suggest that this was entirely Bennett's invention, but this seems highly unlikely to me.

Also, there isn't enough in there about adoption. While Sam Brown's paper is helpful, I am not convinced that you have even read it (or any of the rest of the relatively large body of literature about the subject). Even though the LDS Church had begun baptisms for the dead early on, they didn't seal anyone to their deceased parents unless the father had been ordained to the priesthood while alive. That policy wasn't changed until 1894 - which meant that until 1894, a huge percentage of sealings performed (and virtually all sealings for dead persons) were sealings of adoption. With the policy change in 1894, there was a huge wave of cancellations of sealings as people had their sealings of adoption cancelled and were sealed to their own parents (previously impossible). And it was between 1870 and 1900 that the structure of the Celestial Kingdom was recreated in Mormon thought (this would shift again in the context of polygamy around 1910 when the three subdivisions of the Celestial Kingdom were first introduced).

My third point is that all of your material on Jacob 2 is a bit problematic. In Jacob 2, the Nephites who were using scripture to justify polygamy were using the passages in the Old Testament that have been traditionally used to require polygamy under certain circumstances, along with the examples of the various people (like David and Solomon) who practiced polygamy. Jacob's response, about the polygamy of David and Solomon uses another section of the Old Testament in which those practices are condemned (Jacob quotes Dt. 17 to this effect). Jacob is quite clear that the commandment to be monogamous comes from Lehi and not from an Old Testament context. The point of all of this? It would be helpful for you to understand the historical views of polygamy that existed historically, and how the arguments for and against were developed. Old Testament laws that required polygamy still survive in some ways in current Jewish law, although most Jewish groups observe Gershom's ban. To provide an example, I was reading material a little while back which discussed the interaction between these laws (and their historical counterparts) and technology allowing for in vitro fertilization. The arguments raised by the D&C over David's and Solomon's polygamy are not that different from similar arguments found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are almost 2,000 years old now. These are not new arguments from that perspective. Again this sort of thing shows me that contrary to your views, these issues shouldn't be viewed in isolation but as part of a much larger (and historic) conversation.

I think that this is a complicated subject. I think that people can always find support for their own personal views on the subject (myself included). I think that there was polygamy with Joseph Smith. I think that it was not well understood - either on the basis of what they were doing or what they thought they were doing. Most of the basis for polygamy has now been removed from LDS theology. We no longer see sealings of adoption as the primary structuring element of the Celestial Kingdom. We no longer have a Celestial Kingdom with infinitely regressive nesting kingdoms as described by Orson Hyde in the 1840s. We no longer hold the restorationist view that there are a fixed number of requirements for the second coming that can be completed by the LDS people as a way of speeding up the arrival date of that event (we now believe in a fixed timetable). I could produce a very long list here - and each of these historical shifts directly or indirectly changed the way that polygamy is viewed (and was practiced) by the LDS Church. My own personal view is that the early practices (which weren't identical to later practices) were performed in the view of it being a limited and necessary part of the restoration. It was never originally intended to be a sort of permanent and widely practiced institution. It grew from there until the practice ended (and not by the second coming as may have been originally intended). By the time that it ended, the reasons for the original beginning of the practice (by Joseph Smith) had also disappeared. In between then and now, distinctions became blurred. It is hard to tell the difference between a sealing of adoption and a polygamous sealing.

I don't feel the need to put the invention of polygamy on Brigham Young (perhaps just its expansion), or to try and protect Joseph Smith from polygamy. I can explain both within my paradigm.

I wonder how you feel so strongly against marriage for underage girls and then, it seems, not speaking out as strongly when JS did the same thing. It feels like you aren't as upset about him doing it vs. the rest of the world. Am I wrong? 

Edited by Tacenda
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29 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

I wonder how you feel so strongly against marriage for underage girls and then, it seems, not speaking out as strongly when JS did the same thing. It feels like you aren't as upset about him doing it vs. the rest of the world. Am I wrong? 

I think I made my point pretty clear. The practice can be bad and still an acceptable occurrence (after all, we had examples provided where we would consider it to be the lesser of two evils). I am not interested in judging the past or those that have engaged in the practice in other contexts. I am interested in judging the practice itself. And if the practice is fundamentally bad, which I believe it is, in taking steps to prevent it from occurring in the present (not only by preventing it from happening, but in trying to prevent any context in which it would be the lesser of two evils). I would find anyone who was attempting to justify child marriage today on the basis that Joseph Smith may have married a young bride to be disgusting. Just as I find anyone today who attempts to justify child marriage because Mary, the mother of Jesus, may have been a child to be equally disgusting. Further, I would never suggest that Joseph did something good if he married a child.

This thread, of course, is not about the ages, but is about the question of monogamy and polygamy in the early LDS context. Between consenting adults, I don't personally have any issues about whatever they want to do.

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8 hours ago, Benjamin McGuire said:

we now believe in a fixed timetable

Could you expand a bit more on this or point me to something that does, please?  I remember getting taught when I was younger about a possibility we might be able to speed up the second coming by becoming true Zion sooner rather than later.  I am wondering if this was a remnant of those beliefs as well as how the fixed timetable is best explained doctrinally.

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8 hours ago, Benjamin McGuire said:

I think that any discussion of Joseph Smith's position on polygamy that doesn't begin with the cultural and societal framework created by the restorationist movement (which early Mormonism is considered to be a part of) will end up going in the wrong direction. For example, you mention the Cochranites, in Point 49, but there is nothing in that point which recognizes the shared theological views and approaches to scriptural interpretation that contributed to the large wave of Cochranites who became Mormons when the Cochranite group began to fall apart after the legal troubles of Jacob Cochrane began. The Cochranites believed that polygamy was a necessary part of the restoration that had to be practiced before the second coming could occur. These views didn't just suddenly vanish when this group converted to Mormonism - and we see those views surfacing in the belief set pushed by Bennett. There are a few places that I noted that you suggest that this was entirely Bennett's invention, but this seems highly unlikely to me.

I'm glad you read it, however briefly! I've had an itch to scratch wanting to discuss it with someone but I guess the two-hours-or-so in length is perhaps too long for many people to want to do. There's an email at the footer of the website for any comments/criticisms/suggestions that you want to send to the original author: historicalmonogamydoctrine@gmail.com

I definitely think it to be more-than-likely that Cochranism played a very big part, but from what I've seen there isn't much solid documented evidence of that, which is perhaps why it wasn't included more in the website. I know that there were Mormon missionaries around Cochranite settlements, and that "spiritual wifery" was originally a Cochranite term, and that Brigham Young also went to a conference around said settlements, and that there were people being converted from Cochranism (but we don't have their names). And from what I can see the Cochranites didn't have much written doctrine survive to where we could now study it, so while I personally think it's too suspicious to just be a coincidence, there probably isn't much in the historical record that others could point to as hard evidence -- I wish there were more!

Quote

Also, there isn't enough in there about adoption. While Sam Brown's paper is helpful, I am not convinced that you have even read it (or any of the rest of the relatively large body of literature about the subject). 

There's certainly a lot that the website doesn't have included in it. It says, "These section points are meant to provide a basic foundational understanding of the narrative of Joseph Smith having not been a polygamist, and the case for plural marriage as a whole to be rejected as doctrine." so there isn't any aspect that is delved into deeply; there's in-depth material listed on the Further Study page like Whitney Horning's books and Michelle Stone's YouTube channel.

9 hours ago, Benjamin McGuire said:

My third point is that all of your material on Jacob 2 is a bit problematic. In Jacob 2, the Nephites who were using scripture to justify polygamy were using the passages in the Old Testament that have been traditionally used to require polygamy under certain circumstances, along with the examples of the various people (like David and Solomon) who practiced polygamy. Jacob's response, about the polygamy of David and Solomon uses another section of the Old Testament in which those practices are condemned (Jacob quotes Dt. 17 to this effect).

I'm not sure what Old Testament passages there are that have been traditionally used to require polygamy; I'm aware of the "marry your brother's widow if your brother dies childless" law, but that just isn't a part of multiple-wives-at-the-same-time polygamy. I understand that the polygamists of Old Testament times would have had reasons they used to justify practicing it, but Jacob quotes the Lord as saying that, whatever their justification, it was still an "abomination" to Him and "ye shall not do like unto them of old."

If more thoughts about it come to you please do share here! :)

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Come back after Christmas, I am just not in the mood for focused reading this month.  This may change after Christmas, may not….but I won’t beat Ben for intelligent analysis.  His background and ability is significantly above my own.

There may be others who stumble across the thread as well, Social is usually for Social stuff…in fact, if you want more discussion I or anyone else can ask the moderators to switch it to the main forum.  Many posters just read those threads and rarely visit Social.

Edited by Calm
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14 hours ago, Calm said:

Could you expand a bit more on this or point me to something that does, please?  I remember getting taught when I was younger about a possibility we might be able to speed up the second coming by becoming true Zion sooner rather than later.  I am wondering if this was a remnant of those beliefs as well as how the fixed timetable is best explained doctrinally.

This is a complicated discussion. There are several key features -

1: The influence of dispensationalism on certain leaders of the Church played a huge role. That dispensationalism affected a number of teachings. Included, for example, is the fact that prior to this influence (whose most effective proponent was Joseph Fielding Smith), there was a strong presence of belief in an old earth type creation (consider Phelps and his billions of years of history of the earth). After the influence of dispensationalism, there is the idea of a seven-thousand year lifespan of the earth, after which it must die and be renewed (included in here is the idea of the baptism of the earth through the flood - which is a highly problematic teaching in its own ways). This seven thousand year framework creates end points - especially if we determine that the last thousand years (the millennial period) comes after the second coming. This leads to the idea (when I was younger) of talking about how, in heavenly terms, we are in the last minutes of the 6th dispensation prior to the millennium. For some sense of the influence of Joseph Fielding Smith on the discussion you can look here. Well over half of the supporting statements come from Joseph Fielding Smith - and these are the ones that deal with the issue of timelines.

Other ideas have come forward to support this - the idea of a fixed number of spirits in the pre-existence intended to come to this earth. We have the disappearance of the ideas of fulfilling prophecies (and restoring specific doctrines and practices) to speed up the second coming. There are remnants of these ideas that remain with the Church, but they have become passive instead of active views. We still discuss the restorationist view of animal sacrifice being practiced once more (and only once). But you can see how even this was taken over into the dispensational views of Joseph Fielding Smith:

Quote

 

President Joseph Fielding Smith further explained that “we are living in the dispensation of the fulness of times into which all things are to be gathered, and all things are to be restored since the beginning. Even this earth is to be restored to the condition which prevailed before Adam’s transgression. Now in the nature of things, the law of sacrifice will have to be restored, or all things which were decreed by the Lord would not be restored. It will be necessary, therefore, for the sons of Levi, who offered the blood sacrifices anciently in Israel, to offer such a sacrifice again to round out and complete this ordinance in this dispensation. Sacrifice by the shedding of blood was instituted in the days of Adam and of necessity will have to be restored.

“The sacrifice of animals will be done to complete the restoration when the temple spoken of is built; at the beginning of the millennium, or in the restoration, blood sacrifices will be performed long enough to complete the fulness of the restoration in this dispensation. Afterwards sacrifice will be of some other character.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 3:94.)

 

And you can see how these ideas all play together. The idea of restoring the earth to its pre-Adamic state implies a shift in belief over the nature of that pre-Adamic state from the earlier beliefs of Talmage and Phelps and others who accepted an old earth history, complete with pre-Adamites, to this idea that the earth was a perfect creation (with no history of this sort, and certainly no evolutionary development), to which it will return once the pre-determined course of its history is completed. The return of animal sacrifice to the temple (but only once) to fulfill the prophecy is the only legacy left in this statement of the restorationist views that came earlier - but it isn't presented as something that can be performed to speed up the second coming - only that it is a necessary requirement. It becomes a "sign of the times" rather than an important precedent (if that distinction makes sense). A early restorationist would understand these prophecies as indicating that the second coming would be delayed until these things (along with all the rest) were completed - and that efforts to complete this would hasten that second coming.

Or consider this difference - the first quote is from Brigham Young, the second from Joseph Fielding Smith, and the third from Bruce R. McConkie:

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Every world has had an Adam and an Eve, named so simply because the first man is always called Adam and the first woman, Eve. And the oldest son has always had the privilege of being ordained, appointed and called to be the heir of the family if he does not rebel against the Father, and he is the Savior of the family. Every world that has been created has been created upon the same principle. They may vary in their varieties, yet the eternity is one: it is one eternal round.

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Perhaps this is the reason Jesus Christ was sent here instead of some other world, for in some other world they would not have crucified Him, and His presence was needed here because of the extreme wickedness of the inhabitants of this earth

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Our Lord's jurisdiction and power extend far beyond the limits of this one small earth on which we dwell. He is, under the Father, the Creator of worlds without number. (Moses 1:33.) And through the power of his atonement the inhabitants of these worlds, the revelation says, 'are begotten sons and daughters unto God' (D&C 76:24), which means that the atonement of Christ, being literally and truly infinite, applies to an infinite number of earths.

We can see the development of an idea over time.

I am not a believer in Joseph Fielding Smith's dispensationalism. And I am not much of a believer in the restorationist views either. When it happens, it will happen - and until then, I expect, every generation will (as they have for a couple of thousand years now) see themselves as the generation for which the second coming will happen. I think that there are any number of arguments we could raise for and against a determinate creation. I tend to think that our creation is more determinate than not - and that whatever plan God has, His understanding is such that he knows the end from the beginning. Whether our decisions are collectively pre-determined, or merely predictable, isn't all that interesting to me at this point in my life. I certainly don't see our society and culture as circling the drain, nor do I anticipate an eminent second coming - not in my lifetime or in the lifetime of my children or even my grandchildren.

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14 hours ago, PortalToParis said:

I definitely think it to be more-than-likely that Cochranism played a very big part, but from what I've seen there isn't much solid documented evidence of that, which is perhaps why it wasn't included more in the website.

I don't think it did, myself. I would say that it is a parallel development. Cochranism is one that we are especially familiar with in the context of the LDS Church because of the connected history, but it wasn't the only other restorationist group to practice polygamy. It wasn't polygamy that encouraged all of the Cochranites to jump to Mormonism with the collapse of their own movement - it was the shared belief set that existed in those fundamental restorationist values, and the fact that Mormon missionaries were in the right place at the right time teaching the right things.

14 hours ago, PortalToParis said:

I'm not sure what Old Testament passages there are that have been traditionally used to require polygamy; I'm aware of the "marry your brother's widow if your brother dies childless" law, but that just isn't a part of multiple-wives-at-the-same-time polygamy.

Actually, Levirate marriage is one of the two passages of scripture most often quoted in the defense of polygamy. The other is the command in Genesis to multiply. At times, after polygamy had been ended in some Jewish communities, divorce was even viewed as mandatory in a marriage with no children, so that a man could marry a woman who could potentially give him children (yes, the practice was sexist in that it assumed that it was a female problem). In communities that still practiced polygamy, a husband with no children could simply take a second wife. The arguments about Levirate marriage (which I believe Jacob references in his text), about procreation, and about the kingship codes in Deuteronomy 17 formed the core scriptural context for the debate over polygamy for European Jews in the middle ages. The reforms put in place by Rabbenu Gershom ended polygamy for northern Jews around 1000 AD, and were generally adopted by modern Israel's marriage laws. Sephardic Jews in Southern Europe continued to practice polygamy, although it was generally regulated through marriage contracts - and this type of stipulation occurs quite frequently - enough that we can see that while it may not have been common, it was a very real and immediate concern. Historically, we see these debates in ways that make the references showing up in Jacob's writings to be almost expected (as I noted earlier, all the way back to the dead sea scrolls). Levirate marriage was not used by early LDS in defense of their own practice. There are a few marriages that would fit that pattern - but the only time that I am aware of that the Old Testament passages were used was in a single post-manifesto instance.

In my reference to the Dead Sea Scrolls, you might find this interesting (it's an online translation of the passage). That part that is most relevant reads (this is the part that justifies David's polygamy when considering the Deuteronomy passage):

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but David had not read the sealed book of the Law in the Ark; for it was not opened in Israel from the day of the death of Eleazar and Joshua and the elders who served the goddess Ashtoret. It lay buried <and was not> revealed until the appearance of Zadok. Nevertheless the deeds of David were all excellent, except the murder of Uriah and God forgave him for that.

The sealed book (our Book of Deuteronomy) was supposed to have been rediscovered in the temple by the priest Hilkiah, described in 2 Kings 22:8-11. But this still sounds very similar to the D&C passage, doesn't it (even if it draws a different conclusion about the whole Bathsheba affair).

At any rate, what I find interesting about all of these connections is that early Mormonism still engages the same texts and ideas that have been at the center of debates about polygamy in a Judeo-Christian context for thousands of years. This tells me several things about the historical record - that they were dealing with a subject because they felt there was a need for it. That they were dealing with a subject that was in fact polygamy and the practice of it in a practical context. And that they were dealing with a practice that had historically recognized arguments for and against.

In all of this, I personally think that early Mormonism saw polygamy as something that was akin to animal sacrifice in the temple - a thing to be restored, but not necessarily to be widely practiced or permanently instituted. But, with the death of Joseph Smith before he could really implement much of what he envisioned, and the close connection between polygamy and temple sealing, I think that its role was misunderstood, and it was later understood as not merely a restoration but as a necessary part of the practice of Mormon religion (at least until the practice ended). The end of polygamy was made easier (at least doctrinally) by the progressive dismantling of a number of things that supported the practice - the different views of the organizational structure of the Celestial Kingdom, the elimination of other forms of sealings in the temple and the introduction of family sealings as the primary type of sealing, and so on. Even the subdivision of the Celestial Kingdom helped shift the doctrinal challenges associated with the end of polygamy. I believe that the initial instigation of polygamy was probably (at least theologically) unnecessary, and that the expansion to the Church as a whole was probably never intended by Joseph Smith. At the same time, I also think that there was an expectation on the part of Joseph Smith that the second coming was going to happen some time before we got to the 20th century ... and that this would have made all of the other stuff largely irrelevant.

At any rate, its difficult to really dig very deep into the many different aspects of these issues in a context like this forum - and once you do, its easy to see why there are so many different opinions about it ...

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