Jump to content
Seriously No Politics ×

Plural Marriage was Essential for Exaltation.


Ray Agostini

Recommended Posts

Avatar Wrote:

"Anything God commands us to follow is necessary for exaltation."

That has never been the problem, the problem is, when that info is coming from prophets. I have seen it pointed out 50 times already on this board that prophets are human and can make mistakes.

I would think someone who is omnipotent would know that this method isn't the most effective route to deliver soul saving information.

Link to comment

Juliann,

You speak well of Compton's book. Do you agree with his assessment that "one finds that in actuality Mormon polygamists, both female and male, were generally sincere, intensely religious, often intelligent and able, and men and women of goodwill. Nevertheless, my central thesis is that Mormon polygamy was characterised by a tragic ambiguity...it was a social system that simply did not work in nineteenth-century America..." (Introduction, p.xiii)

He then goes on to explain why it did not work - essentially because women were left alone, "in sacred loneliness".

As one remarked: "I was aware now that my mother's early married life must have been humiliating and joyless on many occasions because of her position as a second wife." (Ibid.)

They often did not speak or write about how they really felt. Is that surprising considering the requirements of polygamy? And those who did speak out were either brave or rebellious.

Link to comment

When I read these scriptures Brigham Young comes to mind. Listen to what he says of the tears and weeping of the women in polygamy:

>"Now for my proposition; it is more particularly for my sisters, as it

>is frequently happening that women say they are UNHAPPY. Men will say,

>'My wife, though a most excellent woman, has NOT SEEN A HAPPY DAY SINCE

>I TOOK MY SECOND WIFE,' 'No, NOT A HAPPY DAY FOR A YEAR,' says one;

>and another HAS NOT SEEN AHAPPY DAY FOR FIVE YEARS. It is said that

>women are tied down and abused: that they are misused and have not the

>liberty they ought to have; that many of them ARE WADING THROUGH A

>PERFECT FLOOD OF TEARS,...

What are those women complaing about? Isn't this supposed to be the great plan of happiness? :P

Link to comment

Hi,

Life's tough.

Sincerely,

Dale

Link to comment
You speak well of Compton's book. Do you agree with his assessment that "one finds that in actuality Mormon polygamists, both female and male, were generally sincere, intensely religious, often intelligent and able, and men and women of goodwill. Nevertheless, my central thesis is that Mormon polygamy was characterised by a tragic ambiguity...it was a social system that simply did not work in nineteenth-century America..." (Introduction, p.xiii)

He then goes on to explain why it did not work - essentially because women were left alone, "in sacred loneliness".

As one remarked: "I was aware now that my mother's early married life must have been humiliating and joyless on many occasions because of her position as a second wife." (Ibid.)

They often did not speak or write about how they really felt. Is that surprising considering the requirements of polygamy? And those who did speak out were either brave or rebellious.

There are a few things that I don't agree with...of course. As to whether it "worked" I think you would have to have a control group of blissfully happy never separated ...even though men were routinely sent off on missions...monogamous couples who never experienced any of the travails that Compton is sometimes a little too quick to turn into a polygamy issue. Nighthawke has identified some pretty startling things that I think Compton didn't think through too well....such as not letting the reader know that there was a famine going on as he relates how wives were forced to rely on their sisters or brothers. There is one quote that he just plain misread.

That being said...it had to be less than pleasant. I bought a letter from a polygamous wife (from the later era) who snipes at the other wife and says that if there was ever a woman happy in polygamy she had never met her. I have my own family stories. But I still think it is insulting to say these women, some who kept life long diaries, were cowards. The divorce rates do not support the notion that women kept quiet! Nor do their outtings with Elizabeth Stanley in the early era. At some point it is going to be necessary to stop the simplistic explanations and patronizing dismissals of what these women said, wrote and maintained to their deaths.

Link to comment

That being said...it had to be less than pleasant.  I bought a letter from a polygamous wife (from the later era) who snipes at the other wife and says that if there was ever a woman happy in polygamy she had never met her.  I have my own family stories.  But I still think it is insulting to say these women, some who kept life long diaries, were cowards.  The divorce rates do not support the notion that women kept quiet!    Nor do their outtings with Elizabeth Stanley in the early era.  At some point it is going to be necessary to stop the simplistic explanations and patronizing dismissals of what these women said, wrote and maintained to their deaths.

I don't know if anyone else said it, but I certainly never said they were "cowards". Because one soldier wins the Congressional Medal of Honor doesn't mean his fellow soldiers were cowards. It's just that he was extremely brave. The women who spoke out had mostly left Mormonism anyway. And by "speaking out" I don't mean necessarily being uncouth or loud; it could just be honestly recording their feelings for posterity.

I don't know who couldn't be moved by the awful experience of Vilate Kimball, or Henry Jacobs on the male side. Vilate Kimball agonised over what was happening, first to her, then to her daughter Helen. Now I understand Helen came to terms with all this later (fortunately, if I can be insensitive, because her polygamous husband Joseph was martyred, and she was then free), but the agony Vilate had to go through is evident. Vilate counseled other women in polygamy:

"her comfort must be wholly in her children; that she must lay aside wholly all interest or thought in what her husband was doing while he was away from her" and be as "pleased to see him when he came in as she was pleased to see any friend."

Or Emmeline B. Wells:

"O, if my husband could only love me even a little and not seem to be perfectly indifferent to any sensation of that kind," she wrote in her 30 September 1874 diary. "He cannot know the craving of my nature; he is surrounded with love on every side, and I am cast out. O my poor aching heart when shall it rest its burden only on the Lord.� Every other avenue seems closed against me." On their twenty second wedding anniversary she wrote in her diary, "Anniversary of my marriage with Pres. Wells. O how happy I was then how much pleasure I anticipated and how changed alas are things since that time, how few thoughts I had then have ever been realized, and how much sorrow I have known in place of the joy I looked forward to."

But listen to Zina Huntington Jacobs, "adjusting" her life to polygamy:

"They expect too much attention from the husband, and because they do not get it, or see a little attention bestowed upon one of the other wives, they become sullen and morose, and permit their ill-temper to finally find vent." Zina felt that "a successful polygamous wife must regard her husband with indifference, and with no other feeling than that of reverence, for love we regard as a false sentiment; a feeling which should have no existence in polygamy."

I don't know how anyone can call this "normal" or even "happy", or "well adjusted".

I haven't been trying to judge these women, only to understand how they really felt. I have never suggested they were "weak". Their individual stories were never told until the late 20th century (in books like Compton's), as was the case with much of the history of women, which was why historians like Leonard J. Arrington tried to rectify this lacuna in LDS history. History has been strongly male dominated. Twentieth century Mormon women did not have to endure polygamy, so it's relatively easy for them to peruse the records and assess from the comfort and safety of monogamy. But if they had to go through what women in the 19th century did, I wonder what their feelings would be?

I can give you one example from a sister I knew. She boldly declared that if she had to live polygamy she would do it happily. She had seven children and felt her marriage was secure, so she could indulge in the ideology without actually having to endure it. Then, her husband, who was formerly a bishop, actually did take a liking to another woman in our local ward. My information is that when she found this out she tried to open her car door one night while travelling with her husband, as they were talking about this, and fling herself on to the road while travelling at some 60 miles per hour. That is the reality. They are now divorced.

So what do I think of these women? I think they are the real heroes (heroines) of 19th century Mormonism. And I think their stories have still not been fully told. But you know what really changed my perspective on polygamy? Having two daughters. In a practical way they have given me more understanding of what women really want from life, information and understanding I could never find by reading 100 volumes extolling the "virtues" of polygamy.

Link to comment

My response, from my comfortable 21th century marriage, is that if polygamy is the way of things in the CK, then I want no part of the CK. If I have to enter into a polygamous marriage in order to have my exaltation, then I'll pass. If God hates me that much, then I feel no compunction to trust in him. God does not treat his beloved children like that, although his children may indeed treat each other like that, and often do. Polygamy is a product of men thinking women are possessions, and has nothing whatsoever to do with God.

By their fruits shall ye know them, and the fruits of LDS polygamy are legion: loneliness, sorrow, emotional starvation, deceit, dishonesty, sacrifice, depravity, unrighteous dominion, and enslavement. Powered by secrecy, it was born in lies and died by force, eventually withering in shame. It is a sad blight on the history of the church and the country.

My spouse is descended from the 2nd wife in a polygamous marriage on one side and several polygamous wives on the other. Their journals are enough to break the iciest heart. They lived hell while on this earth, because they were told their eternal salvation depended on their sacrifice. To be consigned to live that sacrifice forever is simply unthinkable. That they were deluded and misled is a terrible thing. Were I to allow myself to be similiarly misled would only compound their sorrow.

Link to comment
By their fruits shall ye know them, and the fruits of LDS polygamy are legion: loneliness, sorrow, emotional starvation, deceit, dishonesty, sacrifice, depravity, unrighteous dominion, and enslavement. Powered by secrecy, it was born in lies and died by force, eventually withering in shame. It is a sad blight on the history of the church and the country.

WOW!

My Sister had all that in a 13 year mononogmous union... Go figure!?

:P

Link to comment
By their fruits shall ye know them, and the fruits of LDS polygamy are legion: loneliness, sorrow, emotional starvation, deceit, dishonesty, sacrifice, depravity, unrighteous dominion, and enslavement. Powered by secrecy, it was born in lies and died by force, eventually withering in shame. It is a sad blight on the history of the church and the country.

WOW!

My Sister had all that in a 13 year mononogmous union... Go figure!?

:P

Which is why 50% of marriages end up on the rocks, Zak. Again, man's hand. If women had been in power for millenia, you could blame women, but they haven't, so I'm afraid man will have to shoulder the blame. Man perverted the relationship God set up from the beginning, starting with the earliest prophets, and Joseph perpetuated it. When you grab all the glory, you shoulder all the blame too. You will find no fingerprint of women on LDS polygamy; Joseph thought that one up all by himself.

Link to comment
Some of the sisters radically defended polygamy, saying that debauchery occurred in the world when men had no option but monogamy. That's nonsense. IMO "debauchery" is better than ensalving a dozen women to one man, at least that way the women can choose, but under theocratic polygamy they are threatened with hellfire if they do not share.

First and foremost, the Internet (at this time) has no real answers re: plural marriage as practiced by The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints in its early history. What you will find are excerpted passages about plural marriage "for sensational effect." (See Compton's My response to the Tanners' use of my book.)

I disagree with you that "debauchery" is better than enslavement--plural marriage provided plural wives rights to property, support, and name of the man to whom she was married. Debauchery provided nothing--abandonment, shunning by society and bast*rd offspring.

If I were you I would pay closer attention to the sisters who "radically defended polygamy", since they are the ones who lived it/practiced it. For you to just dismiss what they said as "nonsense" puts you in the same camp as the critics who condemned, persecuted them and were chiefly responsible for their "loneliness" in a desert that nobody wanted but were only too happy to leave behind on their way to greener and richer pastures.

Link to comment
I don't know who couldn't be moved by the awful experience of Vilate Kimball, or Henry Jacobs on the male side. Vilate Kimball agonised over what was happening, first to her, then to her daughter Helen. Now I understand Helen came to terms with all this later (fortunately, if I can be insensitive, because her polygamous husband Joseph was martyred, and she was then free),
Link to comment
Juliann,

You speak well of Compton's book. Do you agree with his assessment that "one finds that in actuality Mormon polygamists, both female and male, were generally sincere, intensely religious, often intelligent and able, and men and women of goodwill. Nevertheless, my central thesis is that Mormon polygamy was characterised by a tragic ambiguity...it was a social system that simply did not work in nineteenth-century America..." (Introduction, p.xiii)

He then goes on to explain why it did not work - essentially because women were left alone, "in sacred loneliness".

As one remarked: "I was aware now that my mother's early married life must have been humiliating and joyless on many occasions because of her position as a second wife." (Ibid.)

They often did not speak or write about how they really felt. Is that surprising considering the requirements of polygamy? And those who did speak out were either brave or rebellious.

Except that the "tragic ambiguity" here isn't Mormon polygamy, but that "the nineteenth century regularly gave women an unfair measure of hardships. Moreover, Mormon women at midcentury faced displacement and harsh pioneering, endured with difficulty by monogamous [and] plural wives." (Anderson & Faulring. FARMS Review, Vol. 10, Issue 2.)

"After I read the book, I wondered if a study of a random sample of thirty-three pioneer women, monogamous or polygamous, which covered approximately the same time period as for the wives of Joseph, would reveal similar stories of hardship, suffering, and trial, simply because of the difficult nature of carving out a civilization in a harsh wilderness. I also wondered if many monogamous wives were equally "neglected" in pioneer Utah. " (Bachman, FARMS Review, Vol. 10, Issue 2.)

Link to comment

This statement was made in direct reference to the women complaining about polygamy. I can post the rest of the statement that goes into more detail. Yes, they were hungry so why were they taking more wives if there was already lack of food. More wives mean more starving mouths to feed. I would be complaining if I was starving and then my husband adds another wife to the table too.

No it was not made in direct reference to the women complaining about polygamy. It was made to all women. Brigham is referring to the sisters, not only to sister-wives or plural wives. "Now for my proposition; it is more particularly for my sisters, as it is frequently happening that women say they are unhappy."

And if the men did not take these women as plural wives who would provide for them? It's not like they could go and land a receptionist's position downtown dontcha know? In point of fact, several women (for example Emmeline B. Wells) went to the man seeking marriage. And many first wives chose their husband's plural wife(ves) since a married man "courting" women wasn't seen as being proper.

Link to comment

This statement was made in direct reference to the women complaining about polygamy.  I can post the rest of the statement that goes into more detail.  Yes, they were hungry so why were they taking more wives if there was already lack of food.  More wives mean more starving mouths to feed.  I would be complaining if I was starving and then my husband adds another wife to the table too.

No it was not made in direct reference to the women complaining about polygamy. It was made to all women. Brigham is referring to the sisters, not only to sister-wives or plural wives. "Now for my proposition; it is more particularly for my sisters, as it is frequently happening that women say they are unhappy."

And if the men did not take these women as plural wives who would provide for them? It's not like they could go and land a receptionist's position downtown dontcha know? In point of fact, several women (for example Emmeline B. Wells) went to the man seeking marriage. And many first wives chose their husband's plural wife(ves) since a married man "courting" women wasn't seen as being proper.

It's called FEEDING THE POOR. Not having sex with the poor. Why do you have the means to provide for someone as a wife only but not as somebody to give service to? We already know there were more men than women so why were they not allowed the chance to marry some of them? Who says they were any less worthy of those women? Is my husband not worthy of me because he's not an apostle? My husband is a very good man who follows the Lord.

Link to comment
No wonder some of Brigham's wives and others were starving. That's called abuse.

Good grief.

It's called a famine. Did you not read the historical background I provided?

Times did get much better and we find Susa Young Gates, daughter of Brigham Young, writing:

Food and meal-times in the Lion House were necessarily exact as to time and measured as to servings. Plenty of milk, vegetables, and fruit, but careful helpings of meat and desserts. Simple as it was, the food was of the very best quality, and the cooking could not have been excelled by any foreign chef. All father's wives were excellent cooks.

A monthly credit was issued to each wife, in proportion to the number of her children and her own needs.

After that, when purchases were made of dress goods, hats or shoes, the quality and price were equalised, but each one might choose for herself colours or styles. Thus were obviated opportunities for friction on financial matters, and any wife knows justice in domestic financial propositions is quite as important to happiness as justice in social and moral relations.

- Susa Young Gates, The Life Story of Brigham Young [New York: Macmillan, 1930], 328 - 329, 354.

And Brigham didn't sleep with all of his wives:

It is generally understood that my father had nineteen wives; but of that number some were widows and wives in name only, to whom father gave a home.

- Susa Young Gates, The Life Story of Brigham Young [New York: Macmillan, 1930], 354.

Link to comment
It's called FEEDING THE POOR. Not having sex with the poor. Why do you have the means to provide for someone as a wife only but not as somebody to give service to? We already know there were more men than women so why were they not allowed the chance to marry some of them? Who says they were any less worthy of those women? Is my husband not worthy of me because he's not an apostle? My husband is a very good man who follows the Lord.

And what if the women didn't want to marry any Tom, **** or Harry out there just because he had the right chromosome? Do the statistics show if these other men were even LDS or just non-member miners, or non-member soldiers, et cetera...?

Are you suggesting that after trekking thousands of miles across the United States, because of their faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ now established in the tops of mountains and having reached Zion, having sacrificed and toiled and lost loves ones along the way, they should've just settled for anyone?

Link to comment
Yes, they were hungry so why were they taking more wives if there was already lack of food.  More wives mean more starving mouths to feed.  I would be complaining if I was starving and then my husband adds another wife to the table too.

I think it would be wise to stop and do some math before you continue with this line of reasoning. :P One more time...... single women, married women...plural wives need to eat. Are you with me so far? If a woman is married to Bob, she needs to eat! If a woman is married to John...she needs to eat! If a woman is not married....she needs to eat! It doesn't matter if 20 women marry a coyote...they all need to eat!

You seem to be under the impression that women of that era did not work. They all did. But they worked at minium wages unless they were midwives. If you can allow yourself to just consider something that is not negative...marriage did provide women, especially the single immigrant women coming in a share in some assets and property, no matter how small.

It is always of great fascination that those like you never think saying plural marriage was extremely difficult and unpleasant is enough. You have to demonize the practice with obviously manufactured complaints like this one. Why?

Still waiting for that control group of 19th century frontier women who lived outrageously fun lives.

Link to comment

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...