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Zina Diantha Hunington Jacobs


Teancum

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Teancum said: And I am sure most, if not all, were convinced, or convinced themsleves, that this was of God.

So what? The question is really was such behavior godly and really of God? It seems that it flew in the face of the morals, both biblical, religous and cultural, of the day. How do we determine it was really of God? What standards can we use to judge.

Good question, Teancum. You are right; this is what it boils down to for most people. (With the notable exception of the "everything the Mormons do is evil" crowd. There is no rationality with them.)

Before I share how I've handled this issue, let me get one thing out of the way: There is no doubt that polygamy and polyandry flew in the face of that day's morals. It was, after all, Victorian America.

This is where "how I've handled it" comes to play. I don't see polygamy (or polyandry) as primarily a moral issue. I see it as an obedience issue. I believe that God can command, and has at various historical times commanded, changes in the marital structures of His people. To our mortal understanding, such changes seem incongruent with our view of what God could, should, or might do. (This is particularly true in today's age where the predominant view of God is warm and fuzzy.) You can see this reaction throughout many of the responses on various message boards concerning polygamy; they boil down to "God wouldn't do that!"

The rational answer to such an assertion is that God can do anything He wants, and--if scriptural record is to be trusted--has done whatever He wants at sundry times. When God commands man, then religious belief of most denominations dictates that man is under obligation to obey. The list of obedient people throughout history is quite long in any religous tradition--think of Abraham, Joseph, Enoch, Noah, Lehi, Nephi, Stephen, Peter, Paul, Joan of Arc, etc., etc. The list could go on and on, but the point remains--normal people heeded what they understood to be God's will and went against what society expected of them, often putting themselves in great danger.

So we are left with a God who can and does command His children and, in turn, expects obedience regardless of how society will react to that obedience. Since God could, therefore, command a change in marital structures and expect obedience, the next logical question is how do we determine that the command really comes from God.

Fortunately, we have the records of many early Saints so we can learn how they made that all-important decision. We have the records of many men, telling how they received their personal witness of "the principle." We also have the record of many women explaining how they received their witness, as well.

In the case of the men and, more often, with the women, the answer came through personal revelation. Some heard voices; some saw messengers; others received confirmation in different ways. The point is that God, who is able to command, didn't leave the people alone and without the personal witness they needed to overcome their strong Victorian moral indoctrination. (I don't use the word "indoctrination" pejoratively.) It is hard for us to imagine today how difficult it must have been for any of these people to practice polygamy. I believe that it was only through their strong desire of obedience to God and the receipt of an overwhelming, undeniable personal witness that they were able to go against that ingrained training and actually accomplish what God did command.

Critics, of course, are quick to frame most discussions of polygamy in a "predator vs. victim" context. They generally dismiss all male polygamists as manipulative, ego-driven, and lustful. They are almost as quick to dismiss the women as weak, subservient, and wronged. Such characterizations, however, are not borne out by the diaries of most of the Saints who lived through polygamy's inception and establishment.

Were there exceptions? Were some men actually manipulative, ego-driven, and lustful? Were some women weak, submissive, and wronged? No doubt; individual cases can be located and cited. This should not be surprising, and it should not cause one to dismiss polygamy (or polyandry) any more than one would do away with monogamous marital relationships because of those who satisfy their lusts, exercise coercion, or practice abuse in any form.

This is why I said what I did earlier--when we understand what God can do and how people can (and did) receive a witness that God, indeed, wanted it, then we are left with imperfect people muddling through trying to do what they firmly believe to be right. We are left, in the analysis, with people just like us; we all have to face those same sort of challenges and determinations in our lives.

Teancum said: Islamic susicide bombers believe they are godly. Do you apply the same "well this is just what they believed so it is A OK?" I am sure you do not.

You are right on two counts--they no doubt believe they are godly and no, I don't think they are.

I believe your point, however, boils down to the same thing that I already discussed--how do we know that our "call to obedience" is really from God? The only way that I know of is through an unmistakable personal witness, as already described. I personally doubt if suicide bombers have received such a witness for what they do. (This, of course, is personal belief on my part. I can't speak for suicide bombers and what motivates them, and I don't know of too many that we could ask--else they wouldn't be suicide bombers.)

Teancum said: I believe in order to determine the divine call of those who claimed to be God's prophets and apostles there must be some bar to judge by.

When one receives a personal revelatory witness--which all are promised that they can receive--that would seem to be an easy jump over whatever judgment bar one might wish to set.

Teancum said: The fruits from the Zina example is bad fruit at least judged by the norm of the day and the norm from then until now.

What, exactly, are the fruits? And how, without omniscience, do we judge whether the fruits in the historical record are better or worse than what the alternative might have been? This, I believe, is where faith has to kick in; there is no other way to approach it because we aren't omniscient.

Teancum said: The fruits of Nauvoo plural marriage seem rather rotten as well. Emma, Willima Law, William Marks, and on and on certianly thought so.

Yes, as I already mentioned earlier in this thread, polygamy (and polyandry) was a huge challenge for many in the Church. It continues to be so for many people, even though we no longer are called upon to practice it. But then, again, do we know, without omniscience, what would have happened to the Church had it not been practiced? I certainly don't, but I can look at other religious movements of the day and extrapolate what could have happened without some huge, lightning-rod, galvanizing principle that forced the Church to pull together in relative isolation.

For the early Christians (just after Christ's resurrection) the principle they faced was practicing Messiah-worship in a land where religious freedom was not allowed. The result was organizational oppression that forced the early Christians together. The LDS, in like manner, faced organizational oppression that forced them to develop and solidify their own culture, and polygamy seems to have been the catalyst--the huge devotional principle--that made that happen.

Other contemporaneous religious movements of Joseph's day didn't have such a catalyst, and they generally never reached "critical mass" to form into a self-sustaining and sustainable movement.

Is this a "fruit" of polygamy? I think so. Is it justification for the practice of the principle? Only God can answer that, and I am content to leave it in His hands.

Teancum said: I guess I used to be able to say, oh well, that was then this is now. But I find that ever more diffiuclt for me.

I hope that you now understand that I don't say "that was then and this is now." Determining what God wants us to do, and then being obedient to it no matter how hard it is, is very much "now."

Teancum said: And indeed this is troublesome. Very troublesome for me.

Understood. Does any of what I've written help?

-Allen

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Hello awyatt,

Brackite said: Scott, why would a rational woman leave a monogamous husband who loved her and especially her children to marry a polygamous man who already had at least 12 wives when BY took Zina as another wife of his. IMO, there must have been some Religious Manipulation or Religious Motivation and reason BY gave to Zina in order for her to live as his wife.

Unfortunately, the way you've chosen to answer the question you've posed says more about your preconceptions than it does about any of the people being discussed, and it doesn't shed much light on what really went on.

-Allen

I believe that there is a family tradition among Zina

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Hello awyatt,

Please try not to stereotype the apologists. It only serves to make them cranky. :P

Oh, I am not trying to stereotype all the LDS Apologists here. What I meant to state that a few of the LDS Apologists on this discussion thread, such as Nighthawke and a couple of LDS Apologists here on this discussion thread here, have been trying to vilify Henry Jacobs who was a very faithful Church Member. Nighthawke

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I'm still waiting for an explanation how Jews living in 590BC knew Christian doctrine better than Christians know today? To live the Law of Moses at the same time as the Law of Christ?  This has been verified by the best Judaic scholars.

Can you name them?

Ray, how 'bout starting a new thread specifically for this topic? -Dunamis

No worries, I'll eventually get around to it.

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I have studied this subject for years, and I certainly do not claim to be an expert or to even have more than a rudimentary understanding of it, but I'd like to thank the participants of this thread for their demeanor. I think this thread is easily the most edifying discussion I've ever seen on this difficult subject. Thanks to Allen, Rollo, and Teancum for maintaining a deep and civil discussion between opposite points of view.

For discussion purposes, I'd like to separate my thoughts, in the hopes of making them a bit more coherant.

1. Plural marriage was God's will.

Deciding what is God's will and what isn't God's will occupies entire centuries of philosophers and religious leaders alike. Is Islamic jihad God's will or simply an example of man's inhumanity to man? Were the Crusades God's will or a manifestation of man's insatiable greed? Was 9/11 God's will or one instance of a power struggle involving ancient disagreements over property? Some people seem to think God's will is easy to discern. I'm not so sure.

So how can we tell if something really is God's will? Teancum's question about Islamic suicide bombers is a case in point. Their belief that their mission is God-ordained is unshakable, however unrealistically the rest of the world sees their mission, even when the rest of their lives manifest a pretty good connection with reality. The same could be said of the early Saints' belief in plural marriage. They had a pretty good grasp of the reality of their world, and then their world tilted sideways, at least in part because of rumors of plural marriage among their leaders.

Deciding what is God's will and what isn't, even with the supposed 20/20 vision of hindsight is a difficult task, and never absolutely agreed upon. So what can we cling to, as a steadfast way of discerning God's will? As far as some LDS are concerned, God's will is what is canonized in our scriptures.

And that is where I have a problem with the recorded accounts of multiple people gaining a personal revelation about plural marriage. The timeline doesn't match the recorded accounts.

The practice of plural marriage did not see the light of day until 1852. The revelation that became Sec 132 was recorded in 1843, but it was not publically voted upon until 1852. Prior to that time, the practice was very much an underground practice, only a few of the leaders participated, and as far as the public was concerned, member and nonmember alike knew little if anything more than unsubstantiated rumors which were often rigorously denied by the same leadership that was secretly practicing it. IOW, it wasn't blatant, wasn't public, and wasn't for general consumption.

IOW, it was not doctrine, was not even close to being canonized, and could not have been either doctrinal or canonized, because it was kept a secret. LDS doctrine has always undergone the sustaining process. How could anything be sustained as doctrine, if it's a secret? That which is God's will, according to LDS tradition, is canonized (which is why so many people have problems with the pre-1978 practices regarding the priesthood). By definition, there can not be any secret doctrine, because secrets cannot be canonized, since canonization is a public process. So how could any members be given a spiritual confirmation for a doctrine that wasn't a doctrine?

Members could not have "believed" in it, could not have "received their personal witness" about it, could not have received a testimony of it as doctrine, because until 1852, it was not doctrinal. It didn't become doctrine until years after they were already in Utah. How could any member gain a testimony of it Nauvoo, since it didn't officially exist?

Although I'm more than willing to allow others the same claim to personal revelation as I claim for myself, as others are skeptical of my own personal revelations, I am skeptical of the personal revelations of those who claim God told them to practice plural marriage, before plural marriage was a doctrine, or even a publically discussed tenet.

2. God's hand in the tribulations.

Approaching this from the opposite side, if LDS plural marriage was not God's will but on the contrary was a product of Joseph's mind, then a case can be made that all of the tribulations of the Saints, including the expulsion from Nauvoo, the difficulties on the trek West, the problems with the US gov't, etc were a result of God's displeasure with the Saints and the leaders' following Joseph's practice of plural marriage. And further, that God was not pleased with the Saints until Wilford Woodruff listened closely enough to pen the Manifesto and put a stop to the practice of plural marriage. And then the heavens opened, and the Saints were blessed to not be wiped off the face of the earth, as some of God's children had been when he was displeased with them. They repented of their sin and they were spared.

here are those who maintain that the mob in Carthage were guided by the hand of God, because God was overwrought with Joseph and made good on his promise that no prophet would ever be allowed to lead the Saints astray. The argument can be made that all of the suffering afterwards could be laid at the door of men who, in their pride and stubbornness over plural marriage, led the Saints down the garden path into apostacy, and it took Wilford Woodruff to lead them back out again.

It's all a matter of how one approaches the issue. Was it God's will that the Saints practice plural marriage? Or did God find it to be a stink in his nose and a sore trial to his ears, that he was forced once again to hear the cries of the women praying to heaven about what God had declared, generations prior in the Book of Mormon, an abomination in his eyes? Did God guide the hand of Brigham, in leading the Saints to safety? Or did he guide the hand of Presidents Buchanan and Lincoln and the rest of the US government, in freeing the Saints from the bondage under which they toiled? Were the Saints persecuted because it was God's will that they be chastized for living plural marriage? Or were the Saints persecuted because it was God's will that they live plural marriage?

Troublesome indeed.

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"The principle of plural marriage is honorable, it is a principle of the Gods--it is heaven-born. God revealed it to us, among other things, as a saving principle; we have accepted it as such, and we know it is of him for the fruits of it are holy. Worthy men and women of old practised it, even the Savior himself traces his lineage back to polygamic parents. "

- Sister Zina D. Young from her impromptu address at a mass meeting of ladies held in Salt Lake City, Nov. 16, 1878.

After living her entire life based on the Principle, I'm not at all surprised Zina says this. She may be an expert on plural marriage Zina style (and an interesting foray into polyandry), but that has no bearing on the truthfulness of the Principle. Just because she says she believes plural marriage was of God doesn't mean it actually was from God. That just means Zina believed it was. She gambled her entire eternal existence on her belief. However, whether her gamble paid off is not known.

Prophets have been wrong before. Women giving impromptu speeches in Salt Lake City have been wrong before. After 160 yrs, Zina's ardent testimonial notwithstanding, the jury's still out on this one.

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Hello awyatt,
Please try not to stereotype the apologists. It only serves to make them cranky. :P

Oh, I am not trying to stereotype all the LDS Apologists here. What I meant to state that a few of the LDS Apologists on this discussion thread, such as Nighthawke and a couple of LDS Apologists here on this discussion thread here, have been trying to vilify Henry Jacobs who was a very faithful Church Member. Nighthawke

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The relationship betweem Henry & Zina ended so she had the right to choose Brigham Young over him. Zina never chose between Joseph & Henry that wasn't the purpose of the ceremony. I see no reason to feel troubled with sealing or her ending her relationship with Henry. Should not the matter be between her & God & not some human overeaction to plural marriage.

Doctrine & Covenants section 132 is either a revelation of God, or it isn't. But that document is the authority for Brigham Youngs polygamy. James Whitehead one of Joseph's secretary's in Nauvoo reported to Joseph's son that he had seen the original document & it had no reference to modern polygamy. It may have had reference to plural sealings but nothing more nothing less. This raises questions about the authenticity document published in 1852 as a revelation of Joseph Smith Jr. was it his or Brigham's work.

If D.&C. 132's a fake William Law lied in the Expositor about seeing references to modern polygamy in the revelation Joseph had on ancient polygamy & sealing. The Nauvoo Expositor was slander as Joseph Smith had charged.

Of course Jame's Whitehead could have lied to Joseph Smith 3rd when questioned about the item. But to be fair to him he could have been right about tampering with the original.

I doubt if Henry had divorced Henry because people hate plural marriage that the reaction would be any more positive. It was still plural marriage which ignored human laws as lesser than God's laws.

I have a suggestion instead of deciding yourself that Joseph Smith erred in the sealing why not ask God in prayer about the actions of that man of God? I am sure Joseph Smith Jr. was a good enough man that he never would have intended to violate God's or man's marriage laws. Zina was not Joseph Smith's real wife but made a legal & fake agreement with him that was not intended to be treated as a real marriage.

Contrary to what people think as long as long as a married man takes a second wife with the understanding it was not really an arrangement for life that's not illegal. Even if he felt wife for the eternities as long as the sealing is not a bonified earthly case of polygamy I believe the U.S. consitution can be read as protecting it. The laws against polygamy held consitutional only had to do with genuine earthly polygamy. But if you add non-sense understandings that sexuality, other marital priveleges wasn't allowed in life then has a real plural marriage been contracted? I doubt it should be considered illegal under U.S. law because it had parties agreeing to anything the laws were written to prevent.

In any case the claim of Joseph Smith being a polygamist did get to the U.S. courts after Joseph's death. The Judge in the case after carefully listening to two purported wives(affidavits from other purported wives) decided based on U.S. law that Joseph Smith Jr. was not guilty. The claim of Joseph Noble that Louissa Beaman was married to Joseph Smith in 1841 was rejected in the Judges decision. The case has been reprinted & is for sale at http://www.restorationbookstore.org for those interested. If the key plural wives can be rejected as Joseph's wives then how could William Law's claim's be anything but slander. He abused freedom of speech & Joseph made a good decision to have the public irritant removed.

Sincerely,

Dale

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I am aware that there were a few biographies later written that described Zina and Henry Jacobs marriage as unhappy. I am also aware that Zina did testified very late her in life in the Temple lot case that her marriage to Henry Jacobs was unhappy. However, while Zina and Henry may have had a couple of unhappy moments in their marriage, I don
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Well, if here marriage to Henry Jacobs was truly unhappy, then why doesn't she to really indicate it in her Nauvoo diary of 1844-1845???

I can think of several reasons. Is it rational to demand that a diary have specific information? To maintain your opinion you have to turn Zina into a woman who lies under oath. I am finding this position increasingly troublesome because it singles out women as being either stupid, dishonest, incompetent...or all three. In other words...the exact thing that we thought we had finally escaped in the modern era.

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He abused freedom of speech & Joseph made a good decision to have the public irritant removed.

Dale:

Assuming for the moment that JS, as mayor of Nauvoo, had the power to shut down the Nauvoo Expositor as a "public nuisance," he had no right to order the destruction of private property (i.e., the printing press, typeset, etc.). This is part of what got him in so much hot water and led to his arrest and incarceration in Carthage.

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he had no right to order the destruction of private property (i.e., the printing press, typeset, etc.). This is part of what got him in so much hot water and led to his arrest and incarceration in Carthage.

And what did "rights" look like in that era? This was obviously an unwise action...but if this is what got him in so much "hot water"...why didn't those who did the same (and worse) to the Mormons meet the same fate?

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And what did "rights" look like in that era? This was obviously an unwise action...but if this is what got him in so much "hot water"...why didn't those who did the same (and worse) to the Mormons meet the same fate?

Private property rights were a big deal in early America (which is why such rights play an important role in the U.S. Constitution and state constitutions). Americans were fiercely independent about their individual rights and private property. That's why, even in JS's day, it was very difficult for any government authority (in this case, JS as mayor of Nauvoo) to go in and destroy private property (it also didn't help that the mayor had a personal stake in what the Expositor was publishing).

I agree that even in America, some citizens are more equal than others -- i.e., early Mormons were not treated on par with other citizens and wrongly suffered at the hands of the government and society. But, as they say, "two wrongs don't make a right," which is why JS was wrong to order the destruction of private property. Of course, this action led to his arrest and ultimate murder, so in 20/20 hindsight the Expositor incident should have been handled differently. If JS had to do it over again, I'm quite sure he would not have ordered the destruction of the printing press and typeset. But that's "water on the bridge," as it were ....

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The relationship betweem Henry & Zina ended so she had the right to choose Brigham Young over him. Zina never chose between Joseph & Henry that wasn't the purpose of the ceremony. I see no reason to feel troubled with sealing or her ending her relationship with Henry.

That's the problem, Dale. According to the records, Zina never ended her relationship with Henry. She never divorced him. Zina was crosswise to the standards in which she lived, crosswise to Sec 132, even in Utah. Sec 132 says nothing about a wife taking more than one husband.

Utah's divorce laws were very liberal; why didn't Zina ever divorce Henry? It's not like she didn't have the opportunity. It's not like she didn't have the means. Was there some reason she didn't think it was necessary to ever divorce Henry?

Has anyone ever studied polyandry in the early Church in depth to see how many women lived it? That would be an interesting read.

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Private property rights were a big deal in early America (which is why such rights play an important role in the U.S. Constitution and state constitutions). Americans were fiercely independent about their individual rights and private property. That's why, even in JS's day, it was very difficult for any government authority (in this case, JS as mayor of Nauvoo) to go in and destroy private property (it also didn't help that the mayor had a personal stake in what the Expositor was publishing).

I agree that even in America, some citizens are more equal than others -- i.e., early Mormons were not treated on par with other citizens and wrongly suffered at the hands of the government and society. But, as they say, "two wrongs don't make a right," which is why JS was wrong to order the destruction of private property. Of course, this action led to his arrest and ultimate murder, so in 20/20 hindsight the Expositor incident should have been handled differently. If JS had to do it over again, I'm quite sure he would not have ordered the destruction of the printing press and typeset. But that's "water on the bridge," as it were ....

From Dallin H. Oaks:

The event that focused anti-Mormon hostilities and led directly to the Martyrdom was the action of Mayor Joseph Smith and the city council in closing a newly established opposition newspaper in Nauvoo. Mormon historians
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RT:

It was the destruction of private property in the Expositor office that caused the real problems for JS, more so than shutting down a newspaper (invoking the freedom of the press you mentioned). This is my recollection only, and I could be wrong, but I'd have to go back and look at Oaks's book.

You are correct in your recollection of what Oaks said, but not in your conclusions:

The destruction of the press was not the cause of JSJr.'s "real problems" which led to his assassination, but it was indeed the pretext seized upon by his enemies to justify the assassination.

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That's the problem, Dale. According to the records, Zina never ended her relationship with Henry. She never divorced him. Zina was crosswise to the standards in which she lived, crosswise to Sec 132, even in Utah. Sec 132 says nothing about a wife taking more than one husband.

Utah's divorce laws were very liberal; why didn't Zina ever divorce Henry? It's not like she didn't have the opportunity. It's not like she didn't have the means. Was there some reason she didn't think it was necessary to ever divorce Henry?

Has anyone ever studied polyandry in the early Church in depth to see how many women lived it? That would be an interesting read.

I think it's possible (and I haven't researched or analyze this idea, so be kind to me - it's just a thought) that:

The early Saints may have viewed the godly authority to "bind on earth" and "loose on earth" to have come with the restoration of the gospel. Perhaps they/she thought her prior marriage to Henry did not need to be dissolved because, in her/their view, it was never an authorized marriage in the eyes of God?

It seems to me, given the Puritan culture of the early Saints, that - whatever the reason - it must have made sense to Zina or she would have pursued a civil divorce from Henry. She was an intelligent, thinking woman - let's give her some credit.

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He abused freedom of speech & Joseph made a good decision to have the public irritant removed.

Dale:

Assuming for the moment that JS, as mayor of Nauvoo, had the power to shut down the Nauvoo Expositor as a "public nuisance," he had no right to order the destruction of private property (i.e., the printing press, typeset, etc.). This is part of what got him in so much hot water and led to his arrest and incarceration in Carthage.

This is a classic example of "presentism" where destruction of a press seems incredible to us today, yet in those days there were 18 other printing presses destroyed about the same time as the Nauvoo press. Indeed a couple of years earlier the LDS press was destroyed. Seems like it was "the thing to do" back then. Anyways, what happened in those 18 others cases? Arrests? Incarcerations? Murders?

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