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My mission manual - about Polygamy


Ron

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I dug up my old mission manual and found a section about "Handling Objections". I can remember reading it on my mission and it was the basis for my skewed version of reality regarding LDS early polygamy.

10.  All I know about Mormons is that they practiced polygamy.  I can't accept that, especially when the scriptures are clear on that point.

Answer:  The Lord in ancient times has commanded some of his servants to have more than one wife.  David, Solomon, Jacob, and Abraham were some of them. (See Gen. 16:3-4;25:1-2;29:23-25;2 Samuel 12:7-8; 1 Kings 11:1-3)  Paul said, "to the pure all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure."  (Titus 1:15)  Plural marriage is a principle of God when he thus commands it.  In the early days of the church, God granted that it was lawful to have more than one wife in certain circumstances.  We are not certain why the Lord commanded in this revelation that the Church should practise polygamy.  However, some history would tell us the following:  Less than 2% of all the LDS men were able to do this.  It was based according to their righteousness and their ability to handle more than one wife in a mature way.  In the early period of the Church of Jeuss Christ of Latter-Day Saints an unusual condition prevailed.  More women than men joined the church.  This was true of the period at Nauvoo and for a number of years after the arrival of the Saints in Utah.  It remained true so long as converts made up the mass of Church membership.  The saints were as isolated a people as if they had been on an island of the sea.  Marriage outside the church was discouraged.  There were not enough men to go around.  Back in this period of time, women did not hold down jobs as they do in today's world.  It would have been impossible for a single woman to support herself financially.  Many women must live and die singly, deprived of the opportunity for development wihch marriage and a home brings.  The alternative to all of these circumstances was the God-given practice of plural marriage.  The church has not practised polygamy since 1890 (over 95 years ago) and anyone now involved is excommunicated from the church.

This doesn't seem to jibe with some of the stuff I have learned recently on the internet including FAIR apologetic articles.

My questions is in what parts of the paragraph are watered down, which ones are true, and which parts are outright false information (if any).

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None of it is false, and none of it is watered down.

T-Shirt

That there were more women than men in the early LDS Church has been completely refuted:

"The implied assumption in this theory, that there have been more female than male members in the Church is not supported by existing evidence. On the contrary, there seems always to have been more males than females in the Church...The United States census records from 1850 to 1940, and all available Church records, uniformly show a preponderance of males in Utah...This theory is not defensible since there was no surplus of women."- LDS Apostle John A. Widstoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, 1960, pages 390-392 (emphasis mine)

Here are the census records for Utah from 1850 to 1900 inclusive: :

Utah population:

                      1850 total 11,380      male 6,046          female 5,334

                      1860 total 40,273      male 20,255        female 20,018

                      1870 total 86,786      male 44,121        female 42,665

                      1880 total 143,963    male 74,509        female 68,454

                      1890 total 210,779    male 111,975      female 98,804

                      1900 total 276,749    male 141,687      female 135,062

By the way, the source of the quote from Ron's missionary manual is as follows:

"In the early days of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an unusual condition prevailed. More women than men joined the church...There were not enough men to go around...The alternative was plural marriage."--William E. Berrett, The Restored Church, 1956, p.250)

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Here are the census records for Utah from 1850 to 1900 inclusive:

And do your statistics show how many of these men were faithful Latter-day Saints? How many were non-members?

Such critics conveniently forget that that a significant portion of territorial Utah male population was comprised of soldiers, government workers and miners. Or that only faithful and observant Mormon men would have been allowed to enter into plural marriage.

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Such critics conveniently forget that that a significant portion of territorial Utah male population was comprised of soldiers, government workers and miners. Or that only faithful and observant Mormon men would have been allowed to enter into plural marriage.

Apostle Widstoe is a critic?

Here's his statement again, in case you missed it the first time:

"The implied assumption in this theory, that there have been more female than male members in the Church is not supported by existing evidence. On the contrary, there seems always to have been more males than females in the Church...The United States census records from 1850 to 1940, and all available Church records, uniformly show a preponderance of males in Utah...This theory is not defensible since there was no surplus of women."- LDS Apostle John A. Widstoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, 1960, pages 390-392 (emphasis mine)
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It comes across as a total sales job to me.

Here's what I understood on my mission:

The reason for Polygamy was simple to satisfy at condition where there were too many women who desperately needed husbands and a stable home environment. What a wonderful idea!

Here's the reality I know now:

The founder and prophet Joseph Smith started Polygamy in secrecy and wasn't even honest with hiw own wife. His first Polygamous wife was a young teenage girl who was staying at their home at the time (already being taken care of) and Joseph married her in secret. Some of his other wives were widows but most were single young ladies several being teenagers and one was 14 years old. In some cases there was extreme religious and social pressure placed on the girls being told that it was Gods will that they marry Joseph.

Also many of his wives were married to other men at the time, some of them active church members. He even got married to someone elses wife while they were out of the country on a mission! There is no direct evidence that he had sexual relations with other mens wives, but Joseph Smith never told anyone that they weren't intended to be sexual so the opportunity was there if he wanted to do it.

And don't forget, now that you know this reality you probably don't want to mention any of this in church or at best you'll be looked at as a weird intellectual or worst an evil apostate.

And last of all there were more men than women in Utah at the time so there were likely some men who had trouble finding a wife because there weren't enough women to go around.

Quite a different picture. I'm so angry about this.

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Quiz-

Missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are sent to:

A ) Preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.

B ) Get Baptisms by fooling people

C ) Have lengthy apologetic discussions about Polygamy in early Illinois and Utah.

:P

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One other little point... :unsure:

This is completely false.

It would have been impossible for a single woman to support herself financially.

<_<

Many women were not supported at all by their polygamous husbands.

Many women did indeed work because they HAD to to support themselves and their children.

It is also silliness to suggest that to help a woman (or anyone) who could not provide for themselves one had to marry them. :P

~dancer~

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It is also silliness to suggest that to help a woman (or anyone) who could not provide for themselves one had to marry them

That's pretty much the brunt of it right there. i don't have anything to add. that's a gmebreaker right there. i just want to see it posted again

It is also silliness to suggest that to help a woman (or anyone) who could not provide for themselves one had to marry them

Ahhhhhh! Critical thinking freshness!

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One other little point... :unsure:

This is completely false.

It would have been impossible for a single woman to support herself financially.

<_<

Many women were not supported at all by their polygamous husbands.

Many women did indeed work because they HAD to to support themselves and their children.

It is also silliness to suggest that to help a woman (or anyone) who could not provide for themselves one had to marry them. :P

~dancer~

No it is not. In the beginning, it was impossible for a single woman to support herself financially. It was the American frontier remember, there were no jobs.

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It is also silliness to suggest that to help a woman (or anyone) who could not provide for themselves one had to marry them

That's pretty much the brunt of it right there. i don't have anything to add. that's a gmebreaker right there. i just want to see it posted again

It is also silliness to suggest that to help a woman (or anyone) who could not provide for themselves one had to marry them

Ahhhhhh! Critical thinking freshness!

Critical thinking? More like an error, see "presentism".

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Quite a different picture. I'm so angry about this.

You remind me of a poster we had around here for awhile called Moxy. Also seemed mad about polygamy.

You may find it interesting to look up previous threads Moxy participated in.

Be sure not to miss the last one.

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Hi NH... :P

I wrote...

It is also silliness to suggest that to help a woman (or anyone) who could not provide for themselves one had to marry them.

No it is not. In the beginning, it was impossible for a single woman to support herself financially. It was the American frontier remember, there were no jobs.

I guess I wasn't clear enough...

I'm suggesting that there are people who could not work and support themselves... say the elderly, the sick, the afflicted, the mentally or physically handicapped. I'm thinking that good and decent people did their best to help those who were unable to support themselves without needing to marry them.

All those scriptures about helping the poor and the needy, the elderly and the sick... they didn't say one had to marry them to be of help...

<_<

~dancer~

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Quite a different picture. I'm so angry about this.

Ron, did you read the links I posted on the other thread? or are you just going to let the Anti-arguments stand as 100% true.

We are told to study it out for ourselves and then ask God, Have you done that? or are you really just looking for an excuse? Be honest with yourself when you answer that.

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Utah population:

                      1850 total 11,380      male 6,046          female 5,334

                      1860 total 40,273      male 20,255        female 20,018

                      1870 total 86,786      male 44,121        female 42,665

                      1880 total 143,963    male 74,509        female 68,454

                      1890 total 210,779    male 111,975      female 98,804

                      1900 total 276,749    male 141,687      female 135,062

Just a thought, but maybe the extra wives in each household were not reported in the census. Note how the reported male/female ratio plummets from 53.1% in 1890 to 51.2 % in 1900 perhaps show less concealment of additional wives.

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It comes across as a total sales job to me.

Here's what I understood on my mission:

The reason for Polygamy was simple to satisfy at condition where there were too many women who desperately needed husbands and a stable home environment.  What a wonderful idea!

Here's the reality I know now:

The founder and prophet Joseph Smith started Polygamy in secrecy and wasn't even honest with hiw own wife. His first Polygamous wife was a young teenage girl who was staying at their home at the time (already being taken care of) and Joseph married her in secret.  Some of his other wives were widows but most were single young ladies several being teenagers and one was 14 years old.  In some cases there was extreme religious and social pressure placed on the girls being told that it was Gods will that they marry Joseph.

Also many of his wives were married to other men at the time, some of them active church members.  He even got married to someone elses wife while they were out of the country on a mission!  There is no direct evidence that he had sexual relations with other mens wives, but Joseph Smith never told anyone that they weren't intended to be sexual so the opportunity was there if he wanted to do it.

And don't forget, now that you know this reality you probably don't want to mention any of this in church or at best you'll be looked at as a weird intellectual or worst an evil apostate.

And last of all there were more men than women in Utah at the time so there were likely some men who had trouble finding a wife because there weren't enough women to go around.

Quite a different picture.  I'm so angry about this.

Well now you're familiar with what the critics have said about Polygamy and your "curiosity being excited on the question of Polygamy" are you ready to hear "how we viewed it"? (Helen Mar Kimball, April 1886)

p.s. Why do threads on plural marriage always end up getting split into several threads? Can't we for once keep everything together in one thread? It makes it difficult to follow.

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I wasn't addressing Elder Widtsoe's comment, only pointing out that raw census figures are not very useful in this instance.

Unless of course they had shown more women than men in Utah at the time and then they would have been incredibly useful raw census figures.

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Ave Maria,

Let's take your 1880 statistics. First of all, the number of women should be 69,454 and not 68,454. You can check this at the United States Census bureau. Add your numbers up and you will see they do not equal the total.

That being said, according to the Utah Commission, an entity set up by the US government, Utah was about 80% Mormon, which means that 28,792 people were non-Mormon. We don't know the break down between men and women among the non-members, but I think it is safe to say that the non-members would have been overwhelmingly men due to the reasons why non-Members would be coming to Utah. Non-Momon families were not generally immigrating to Utah in 1880 Being very conservative, if 70% (I think it was probably much higher) of the non-Mormons were male, that would make 20,155 male and 5,758 female. This would make the Mormon numbers to be 54,354 male and 63,696 female.

As was pointed out, raw statistics don't mean very much.

In addition, if there were in fact more marriage age men than women in the Church, you should be able to show that there were substantial numbers of men who never married for lack of available women, and this simply is not the case.

And, the quote at the beginning of this thread very clearly stated that the reason for polygamy was unknown. The rest of the quote was simply offering possibilities. He did not say that Utah the Church having more women was the reason for polygamy. You might want to reread it more carefully

T-Shirt

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Ave Maria,

Let's take your 1880 statistics. First of all, the number of women should be 69,454 and not 68,454. You can check this at the United States Census bureau. Add your numbers up and you will see they do not equal the total.

That being said, according to the Utah Commission, an entity set up by the US government, Utah was about 80% Mormon, which means that 28,792 people were non-Mormon. We don't know that break down between men and women among the non-members, but I think it is safe to say that the non-members would have been overwhelmingly men due to the reasons why non-Members would be coming to Utah. Being very conservative, if 70% of the non-Mormons were male, that would make 20,155 male and 5,758 female. This would make the Mormon numbers to be 54,354 male and 63,696 female.

As was pointed out, raw statistics don't mean very much.

In addition, if there were in fact more marriage age men than women in the Church, you should be able to show that there were substantial numbers of men who never married for lack of available women, and this simply is not the case.

And, the quote at the beginning of this thread very clearly stated that the reason for polygamy was unknown. The rest of the quote was simply offering possibilities. He did not say that Utah the Church having more women was the reason for polygamy. You might want to reread it more carefully

T-Shirt

I read it, and also your response, which was:

None of it is false, and none of it is watered down.

T-Shirt

Apostle Widstoe's comments were relevant in response to that.

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In the 1980s, Susan Easton Black compiled the records of every individual known to have joined the Church from 1830 to 1848 and published it in 52 volumes in 1984. During that time women in the Church significantly outnumbered men (the most common name in the Church was Mary and most of the members lived in Britain). I do not expect that the ratios remained constant afterwards, but at the time polygyny was instituted women did outnumber men in the Church.

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