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Joseph Smith Polygamy


Ron

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Over the last year my testimony has taken a big hit.

A small part of my crisis was finding out about Joseph Smith and his plural marriages.

The most troubling is the Polyandry and also the young teenage girls.

I've read arguments that there is no proof that he had sexual relations with the really young girls or in the Polyandrous relationships.

The question that keeps nagging is if Joseph Smith didn't intend to have sexual relations (or thought it was wrong to do so) he would/should have made it clear to the parties involved (including parents and current husbands) that sex wasn't intended.

I would hope there would be a record somewhere of Joseph Smith letting someone know that the relationship wasn't intended to be sexual, to "avoid the appearance of evil".

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Ron:

Why? Does it bother you that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Moses, David, and possibly Jesus were poligamists? It is not helpful to apply late Western Civilization morality to ancient peoples.

During the early 19th Century is was quite common for older men to have "teenage" brides. In many states until very recently a female could be married as young as 12/13. The term teenage was not used until much later. You simply went from child to adult. The problem comes when you try to impose late 20th/early 21st Century morality on 19th Century people.

Then why don't you believe them? If there is no proof in a court of law. You can not be convicted.

Everything I've seen says that was the their understanding. Not a whole lot of information survives today.

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Over the last year my testimony has taken a big hit.

A small part of my crisis was finding out about Joseph Smith and his plural marriages.

The most troubling is the Polyandry and also the young teenage girls.

I've read arguments that there is no proof that he had sexual relations with the really young girls or in the Polyandrous relationships.

The question that keeps nagging is if Joseph Smith didn't intend to have sexual relations (or thought it was wrong to do so) he would/should have made it clear to the parties involved (including parents and current husbands) that sex wasn't intended.

I would hope there would be a record somewhere of Joseph Smith letting someone know that the relationship wasn't intended to be sexual, to "avoid the appearance of evil".

Just curious about a couple of things: Were you under the impression that Joseph did not practice plural marriage at all? If so, what was your take on D&C 131? Did you think God would issue a command to men to practice plural marriage and not require it of Joseph himself?

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Just curious about a couple of things: Were you under the impression that Joseph did not practice plural marriage at all? If so, what was your take on D&C 131? Did you think God would issue a command to men to practice plural marriage and not require it of Joseph himself?

So, then, Scott, is it your position that those polygamous marriages would likely be sexual, and that would be part of what you perceive to be God's command regarding them?

If it were completely non-sexual, why even call it a "marriage?" Why not an adoption?

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Just curious about a couple of things: Were you under the impression that Joseph did not practice plural marriage at all? If so, what was your take on D&C 131? Did you think God would issue a command to men to practice plural marriage and not require it of Joseph himself?

So, then, Scott, is it your position that those polygamous marriages would likely be sexual, and that would be part of what you perceive to be God's command regarding them?

If it were completely non-sexual, why even call it a "marriage?" Why not an adoption?

So, then, Scott, is it your position that those polygamous marriages would likely be sexual, and that would be part of what you perceive to be God's command regarding them?

Not necessarily. And frankly, I don't see why you would feel compelled to jump to that conclusion.

If it were completely non-sexual, why even call it a "marriage?"  Why not an adoption?

If they were intended to be valid in the hereafter and not in mortality, they would still be marriages in the same sense that any other marriage for eternity would be a marriage.

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Over the last year my testimony has taken a big hit.

A small part of my crisis was finding out about Joseph Smith and his plural marriages.

The most troubling is the Polyandry and also the young teenage girls.

I've read arguments that there is no proof that he had sexual relations with the really young girls or in the Polyandrous relationships.

The question that keeps nagging is if Joseph Smith didn't intend to have sexual relations (or thought it was wrong to do so) he would/should have made it clear to the parties involved (including parents and current husbands) that sex wasn't intended.

I would hope there would be a record somewhere of Joseph Smith letting someone know that the relationship wasn't intended to be sexual, to "avoid the appearance of evil".

"Oh what a tangled web we weave, when at first we practice to ________"

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Not necessarily. And frankly, I don't see why you would feel compelled to jump to that conclusion.

No jumping involved.

5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?

6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.--Matthew 19:5-6

If it were completely non-sexual, why even call it a "marriage?"  Why not an adoption?

If they were intended to be valid in the hereafter and not in mortality, they would still be marriages in the same sense that any other marriage for eternity would be a marriage.

Are you asserting that the doctrine of eternal marriage in LDS belief is non-sexual?

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Not necessarily. And frankly, I don't see why you would feel compelled to jump to that conclusion.

No jumping involved.

5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?

6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.--Matthew 19:5-6

That passage applies as well in the hereafter as it does in mortality.

If it were completely non-sexual, why even call it a "marriage?"
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Are you asserting that the doctrine of eternal marriage in LDS belief is non-sexual?

No. And again, I'm perceiving some mental gymnastics on your part.

That would be, then, a product of your perception and not reality.

There are some very real and substantive questions being addressed here.

I don't recall how long you've been LDS, or how old you are, but certainly in my lifetime, it wasn't always taught that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy, at least not to the extent that is known or acknowledged today (that Brigham Young did was indeed taught in my youth, but the exact number of wives might have been downplayed).

It was never taught or implied, in my experience in the LDS Church, however, that any polygamous relationships were non-sexual.

I had ancestors who went to prison for the practice of polygamy, and certainly in my own family trees, those relationships were not only sexual, but fruitful.

If mental gymnastics are happening, it appears to be on the part of those who seem not to recognize or remember when different things were taught within the LDS Church.

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Hi Ron... Welcome to the board... :P

I've read arguments that there is no proof that he had sexual relations with the really young girls or in the Polyandrous relationships.

Short of DNA proof of offspring there is nothing that could really prove JS had sex with the girls or already married women, not to mention the single women he "married."

Have you read, "In Search of Lonliness?" It may give you a sense of what was involved in these relationships.

<_<

~dancer~

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Are you asserting that the doctrine of eternal marriage in LDS belief is non-sexual?

No. And again, I'm perceiving some mental gymnastics on your part.

That would be, then, a product of your perception and not reality.

There are some very real and substantive questions being addressed here.

I don't recall how long you've been LDS, or how old you are, but certainly in my lifetime, it wasn't always taught that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy, at least not to the extent that is known or acknowledged today (that Brigham Young did was indeed taught in my youth, but the exact number of wives might have been downplayed).

It was never taught or implied, in my experience in the LDS Church, however, that any polygamous relationships were non-sexual.

If mental gymnastics are happening, it appears to be on the part of those who seem not to recognize or remember when different things were taught within the LDS Church.

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Ron:

So, you were not aware of polygamy in the early LDS Church??

What is it that disturbs you about it? Does it also disturb you that the Patriarchs of the Bible practiced it and there were definatly children involved there?

What is it about sex that makes you uncomfortable? You realize we do not practice celebacy like the RCC do?

Are you aware that until the early to mid 1900's that the average age of girls getting married was 14 and that the legal age in many states until WW2 was 12 or 13? I believe there are still 3 states left wheere a girl can get married at 14 with parental permission. Here is a link to a website that shows the age of sexual consent around the world today-- some places are as low as 12 years old!! http://www.ageofconsent.com/ageofconsent.htm

Why do people constantly think their beliefs and standards are the ones that should have been in force thoughout history?

Does no one study history anymore?

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If it were completely non-sexual, why even call it a "marriage?" Why not an adoption?

You are a catholic and stating that we shouldn't call it marriage if it is non-sexual. But in your own religion Nuns are frequently called THE BRIDE OF CHRIST. Why not just "Adopted by Christ". I'm POSITIVE they have not had sexual relations with our LORD.

Peace,

Adam

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Hey mnn...

Are you aware that until the early to mid 1900's that the average age of girls getting married was 14 and that the legal age in many states until WW2 was 12 or 13?

This is not what I have read... I'm not one to always want everything documented but I am curious about this... where did you get this average age for marriage?

Thanks...

:P

~dancer~

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If it were completely non-sexual, why even call it a "marriage?" Why not an adoption?

You are a catholic and stating that we shouldn't call it marriage if it is non-sexual. But in your own religion Nuns are frequently called THE BRIDE OF CHRIST. Why not just "Adopted by Christ". I'm POSITIVE they have not had sexual relations with our LORD.

Peace,

Adam

Do you think the two are comparable?

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There is not enough data to go on to give an informed answer, one way or the other.

Indeed, in all of the noise, dust and smoke kicked up around this issue, there is probably only one sure fact: that the claim that Joseph instituted plural marriage to appease his lust is completely false and unsupportable, and reflects only upon the character of the accuser.

That said, it seems reasonable to suppose that sexual relations occurred in at least some of the plural marriages.

It is almost certainly not the case for Helen Mar Kimball, the nearly 15-year-old bride that anti-Mormons find so titillating.

Also, Joseph, having no husbands at all, did not practice polyandry. In the cases where he was sealed to women who were (and remained) married to living husbands, these "eternity-only" sealings, as they were called, entailed no conjugal rights.

One of the things that muddies the waters about these sealings is that the women involved regarded their subsequently born children as being "really" Joseph's. However, this was a religious belief, not a biological reality; they believed that, since they were sealed to Joseph and the sealing was and remained in force, any lawful children they afterwards had were born into that covenant. Anti-Mormons, being totally ignorant of Mormon things, casually assume that any references to paternity by these ladies could only be biological. Note that these ladies said the same things to children born long after Joseph's death, what time he could not possibly be implicated biologically, given that gestation in the 1840's and 50's had the same duration as it does today.

The records of this period are very fragmentary, a fact that some who have no scruples exploit to the maximum.

JLH,

you wrote:

"Oh what a tangled web we weave, when at first we practice to ________"

There, at last, is a subject on which you can justly claim to be an expert.

Regards,

Pahoran

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Scott: Just curious about a couple of things: Were you under the impression that Joseph did not practice plural marriage at all? If so, what was your take on D&C 131? Did you think God would issue a command to men to practice plural marriage and not require it of Joseph himself?

Yes prior to about a year ago I was under the impression that Joseph Smith did not practice plural marriage while living. Somehow I got the idea that they were just sealings to him after he was killed. On my mission I just categorized rumors about his Polygamy as Anti-mormon lies.

I agree its not unusual that Joseph Smith practiced plural marriage if it was indeed a commandment, the unusual part is that I didn't find out it was true until now (i'm 32 years old). I've talked to relatives who are also life long active members and they hadn't realized it either so I'm not the only one who was ignorant.

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If it were completely non-sexual, why even call it a "marriage?" Why not an adoption?

You are a catholic and stating that we shouldn't call it marriage if it is non-sexual. But in your own religion Nuns are frequently called THE BRIDE OF CHRIST. Why not just "Adopted by Christ". I'm POSITIVE they have not had sexual relations with our LORD.

Peace,

Adam

Do you think the two are comparable?

Do you reserve for yourself the right to make literalist readings of the Bible?

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I don't remember ever being led to believe other than that Joseph Smith obeyed the commandment pertaining to plural marriage as well as teaching it to others.

Is it your position or belief, then, that those relationships were sexual?

Is it problematic for you if they were?

I'm having difficulty determining exactly where you stand here regarding the sexual nature of polygamous marriages in the early LDS Church, including those contracted by Joseph Smith.

What's more I highly doubt you could show me anything from the official curriculum materials of the Church either present (they're virtually all availble on line at the Church's official Web site ) or past that would lead anyone intentionally to believe otherwise.

As recently as 1998, a Relief Society manual was published in the LDS Church depicting Brigham Young as having only one wife. This was reported in the Salt Lake Tribune in a story by the Associated Press:

Mormon church manual paints polygamist Young as monogamist

Officials says it is not meant to be a biography of the leader

By Vern Anderson

The Associated Press

April 4, 1998

SALT LAKE CITY - Valeen Tippetts Avery, a professor of history at Northern Arizona University, had never met the perplexed young woman who came knocking at her door.

Newly married to a Mormon, the student had been reading up on the faith and attending its women's auxiliary. She was confused now, and someone had suggested she talk to Avery.

''Dr. Avery,'' she said, ''I just got the new Relief Society manual, which is about Brigham Young, and he only has one wife.''

Avery, a Mormon who knew the pioneer leader had 55 wives, couldn't explain why the lesson manual being used since January by male and female church members in 22 languages paints America's most famous polygamist as a monogamist.

But she had some advice.

''The Mormon church is trying to say to the new people coming into the church, as well as to the larger American society, that there was nothing questionable in the Mormon past,'' Avery told the woman. ''And if you want answers to these kinds of sticky questions, you're not going to find them inside accepted Mormon manuals and doctrines.''

The absence of any mention of polygamy is just one of the criticisms being leveled at the manual, the first of a projected series based on selected teachings of presidents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

''Homogenized pap,'' snorts historian Will Bagley. ''I think it really shows a contempt for the intelligence of the members.''

''Whoever compiled the manual is extraordinarily embarrassed by the church's second president,'' says Ron Priddis of Signature Books.

''It's a religious tract, not history,'' scoffs historian Nancy J. Taniguchi.

''This isn't about Brigham Young. It's about what somebody in the church Correlation Department thinks is Brigham Young,'' says Glen Hettinger, a lawyer and amateur church historian in Dallas.

Church officials say the barbs are unfairly aimed at a work that never was intended as a portrait of the colorful, controversial colonizer who brought the Mormons west to establish a theocratic empire. Instead, they say, it is a highly selective compilation of Young's teachings on a variety of gospel topics seen by church leaders as relevant today.

''We're introducing Brigham Young to a church member throughout the world who is not familiar with the historian's perspective, so it's not a biography. It's not a history,'' said Craig Manscill, chairman of the writing committee that produced the 370-page work.

Not the intent

''Those who believe that this is a historical account of Brigham Young, or an all-inclusive book of his teachings, or something to learn more about Brigham Young the man, the statesman, the great colonizer and so on - that was never the intent,'' said Ronald L. Knighton, managing director of the church's Curriculum Department.

Rather, the focus was the gospel of Jesus Christ ''as taught through the mouth and sermons of that great president of the church,'' he said.

Within months of assuming the church presidency in March 1995, Gordon B. Hinckley told the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to begin updating the curriculum of the adult male priesthood quorums and of the Relief Society, both of which had always been separate.

Soon, a writing committee was formed, using ''Discourses of Brigham Young,'' a 1954 compilation of Young's teachings by Apostle John A. Widtsoe, as the primary source for a new priesthood manual. A few months later, church leaders decided the manual would be used by both men and women and added women to the writing committee.

Widtsoe's work, narrowly winnowed from the hundreds of Young speeches contained in the multivolume ''Journal of Discourses,'' had served to spruce up and sanitize the rough-and-ready frontier prophet for modern audiences. Widtsoe eliminated many of the cantankerous, contradictory, humorous and hyperbolic rantings for which Young was known and widely beloved, together with doctrines he espoused that the church no longer did.

Polygamy, which church founder Joseph Smith secretly established as ''the new and everlasting covenant of marriage'' and which Young publicly championed, was dropped 13 years after his death in 1877 and appears nowhere in the Widtsoe index or the new manual.

Also missing from the manual are Young's theories that Adam was God the Father and that Eve was just one of God's wives, the rest having been left on other worlds. Blood atonement was another casualty.

Quotes altered

Worse than a glaring lack of context, though, say critics who have closely compared statements in the manual to Young's sermons, are the resulting misrepresentations of his ideas.

''I'd say that about 10 percent of the quotes are overtly lifted out of context, with about another 10 percent that are more subtly altered. In addition, about 5 percent have been abbreviated to avoid offense regarding race, nationality, gender and so on,'' Priddis said.

Bagley is perhaps the most vociferous in his disdain for the new manual, which he sees as a misguided attempt ''to pass Brigham Young off as a 20th century Mormon,'' as ''this defanged creature.''

Young as Hinckley

The ill-considered result, he said, is ''Brigham Young as Gordon B. Hinckley.''

Knighton acknowledges the work is ''a cut and paste of doctrine,'' but ''not to misrepresent or try to interpret.''

''We'd ellipse occasionally as the brethren would counsel - most of those ellipses, or many of them, came from the First Presidency's reading - but it was not an intent to capture full discourses,'' he said.

The absence of polygamy - even in a chronology of Young's life that mentions his first wife - should not be surprising, Manscill said, because the church dropped the practice in 1890.

''Was it in the material that we reviewed? Oh, it was there. And did we ellipse in certain places? Of course we did. But we were following what our leaders had asked us to do,'' he said, ''meaning that this was the (current) doctrines.''

Ronald K. Esplin, director of the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Church History at Brigham Young University and a Young scholar, would have preferred a more historically seasoned manual. But he recognizes church leaders need to cater to first-generation Mormons who require a steady diet of basic gospel principles.

''No doubt the concerns for a worldwide curriculum are not ones that satisfy lifelong, fifth-generation Wasatch Front Latter-day Saints,'' he said. ''That's been true for quite some time and it's probably even more true right now.''

As far as it being taught whether the marital relationships of Joseph were non-sexual, it should hardly come as a surprise that the subject never came up in any of the classes I was in during my youth.

Were you surprised to learn, at any point in your life, that any of the polygamous marriages into which he entered were with women currently married to other men, or with women as young as fourteen?

Since you brought it up, perhaps I could ask at what age you joined the Church and how old you were when you fell away.

Sure. I was born into the LDS Church into the covenant (BIC), with pioneer ancestry, and converted to Catholicism in adulthood.

I am still a member of record of the LDS Church, although they are well aware that I converted to Catholicism many years ago.

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I don't remember ever being led to believe other than that Joseph Smith obeyed the commandment pertaining to plural marriage as well as teaching it to others.

Is it your position or belief, then, that those relationships were sexual?

I agree with Pahoran (see his post above) that there is not enough data on which to take an informed position.

Is it problematic for you if they were?

No. why should it be?

I'm having difficulty determining exactly where you stand here regarding the sexual nature of polygamous marriages in the early LDS Church, including those contracted by Joseph Smith.

I find your confusion puzzling, when I have been very clear and upfront. See, for example, my above responses.

What's more I highly doubt you could show me anything from the official curriculum materials of the Church either present (they're virtually all availble on line at the Church's official Web site ) or past that would lead anyone intentionally to believe otherwise.
As recently as 1998, a Relief Society manual was published in the LDS Church depicting Brigham Young as having only one wife.
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AM,

you wrote:

As recently as 1998, a Relief Society manual was published in the LDS Church depicting Brigham Young as having only one wife.

No it didn't.

Of course, I do understand why you say it did.

You say that because that's what all the anti-Mormons say. Why should you be any different?

The fact is that the manual in question, which was used in both Relief Society and Priesthood for two years, was not in any regard a "history book;" it was a compilation of Brigham's teachings. It didn't mention plural marriage because that subject is not relevant today.

Subsequent manuals have featured the teachings of John Taylor and Joseph F. Smith. These likewise did not mention their plural marriages, but each included a one-sentence explanation of that fact, in response to the false accusations levelled by terminal nit-pickers over the Brigham Young manual.

At the same time the Brigham Young manual was in use, the Seminary and Institute Church History materials included ample material on plural marriage.

This is a discussion that has been had at considerable length, AM. The accusers and adversaries of the Saints rather comprehensively lost.

You may, if you wish, try to relitigate it; I've heard that self-flagellation is a Catholic practice, and I rather enjoy a slam dunk.

Regards,

Pahoran

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