Monday Morning Theological Poll: “But…what will the neighbors think?” Edition [Edited]

Consider the following statement and whether you, and other Mormons, believe it.

Give your answers below. If you have more than one, we understand.

Bonus Poll: I was told that I got the first poll slightly wrong. Here is another, related, possibly corrected poll.

Reponses to more than one poll are welcome, but remember that they are only relevant for time, not for eternity.

Comments

  1. I disagree with the statement, and I think all five of my Mormon friends disagree with this statement.

  2. I’m pretty sure very few Mormons believe that polygamy is necessary to enter the Celestial Kingdom. (I certainly don’t.) We’ve done a pretty good job at reinterpreting D&C 132; heck, the Gospel Doctrine reading assignment includes only those verses that don’t mention polygamy.

    That said, I don’t believe that there will be polygamy in the Celestial Kingdom, though I suspect that some large portion of my fellow-saints would disagree with me on that.

  3. “I’m pretty sure very few Mormons believe that polygamy is necessary to enter the Celestial Kingdom”

    ^ This.

  4. I think most Mormons disagree with that statement because they loathe the idea of polygamy, but secretly fear that the statement might be true. I don’t loathe polygamy, but I disagree with the statement because I think it only makes sense that those who were asked to live it could have that requirement in order to obtain the highest eternal rewards. And I think it’s the obedience/humility dimension, not some virtue tied directly to the practicing of that particular lifestyle, that makes it morally exceptional (i.e., you could get the same eternal spiritual rewards/growth by doing any other thing you were asked to do by God that was of equal difficulty for you). Though some of the more temporal outcomes of polygamy as practiced in the early Church are very interesting and probably not just incidental–my views draw pretty heavily on Thomas Alexander.

  5. Jacob clearly taught that monogamy is the standard unless God commands otherwise. I don’t see how plural marriage would be required there, if it isn’t required here.

  6. Last I had heard, there were degrees of glory in the CK, too, and Plural Marriage, once known as The New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage, is required to get to the highest degree (and oh, by the way, if you turn your back on it, you’re damned. Just sayin’.)

  7. The devil is in the details. Is polygamy required? No. Otherwise D&C 132 would not say “if a man marry a wife…” Instead it would say, “if a man marry wives…” That is enough for me to be confident that having only one wife will not disqualify anyone for the Celestial Kingdom.

    However, polygamous sealings were performed within the temples prior to President Woodruff’s announcement. If those marriages cannot be celestial, then the sealing power was somehow limited or mis-used. Either the church is true and is guided by revelation from Christ or it isn’t. I choose to believe it is and thus, I believe that some in the Celestial Kingdom will practice polygamy.

    So, not a requirement, but it will be there…my thoughts.

  8. Rameumptom–I think most Mormons who do believe the original statement imagine that all the good, righteous people who were never asked by God to live polygamy still go to the Celestial Kingdom–they just don’t have the option of that Celestial penthouse suite where the righteous God-approved polygamists live–that that is a level of extra exaltation that is simply unavailable if you happen to never be asked by God to live polygamy. There’s a subset of those people who believe that at some point in the Hereafter we will all be given the opportunity to live the Principle and so will all have the opportunity to reach the Highest Degree of the Celestial Kingdom. That’s how the people who think polygamy is Really Important get around Jacob.

  9. How would Brigham Young, John Taylor, or other church leaders from that era have answered this poll? How about lay members from that era?

  10. Bryan,
    “If those marriages cannot be celestial, then the sealing power was somehow limited or mis-used.”
    Women can be sealed after death to multiple husbands they had in this life, but we generally don’t believe they get more than one husband, so it appears the sealing power is limited.

  11. CE: I would suspect they would submit to the idea that, if the Lord commands you to and you don’t, you’re damned. So, for the first poll, they would’ve added a “if God commands you to do it” at the end.

  12. My data is entirely anecdotal and comes from a discussion group in my local ward. We discussed Eugene England’s essay on this topic and there was definitely a feeling that Celestial polygamy will be the norm. Further the participants seemed to believe that it may not be a God-imposed necessity but rather the necessity emerges from the numerical ‘fact’ that more women than men will be in the celestial kingdom.

  13. The Other Brother Jones says:

    There could be some splitting of hairs here. I believe there will be polygamy in the Celestial Kingdom, but perhaps not practised by everyone. Therefore it is not a requirement. Certainly it is not a requirement to believe/support/practice polygamy in THIS life in order to qualify in the next. But my understanding is that is was a required part of the restoration of all things, so it must be an eternal principle in smoe way.

    I do not beleive (I need to check my doctrine) that the New and Everlasting Coveneant of MArriage = polygamy. It is the Eternal nature of a temple sealing.

    [forgive my spelling!]

  14. Some modern mormons might believe that actively practicising polygamy now would actually disqualify you from entrance to the Celestial Kingdom! Just joking.

    I agree that polygamy will exist in the CK but it will not, unlike monogamous celestial marriage, be a requirement for exaltation.

    The very first professional anti-mormon that I met in 1991 insisting that we ought to know that the church used to teach that polygamy was required for entrance into the celestial kingdom not merely exaltation within it. I thought then, and still think now, that that ignores too many important scriptural passages.

  15. There will be plenty of time on Earth for this numerical imbalance to be redressed once it will have been revealed that same-sex marriages will also abide in the Celestial Kingdom. I humbly suggest that those LDS who deny the possibility of further revelation on this have lost faith in the power of the Holy Spirit and become one-and-done crypto-Catholics.

  16. I should also point out that I do not think plural marriage will be common, if it is practised at all – I can imagine it will be practised but it would not be in the form in which it was known among the 19C Latter-day Saints.

  17. Dan, has it been revealed to you how these same-sex marriages will have eternal spirit children of their own? I want to be among the first to know how God will handle that issue, since you seem to have the answers already. ;)

    Come to think of it, maybe that answers why we don’t hear much about Heavenly “Mother”….

  18. Ram,
    As you well know, that subject ain’t clear even amongst the heteronormal eternally. I don’t have an inherent problem with Dan’s thesis, although I’ll agree with you that our theology would require expansion to accommodate it. But it probably could do that.

  19. I echo Marie in #4.

  20. Why do you all think the poll is so tightly divided between the last two options in the second poll?

  21. I’m thinking it depends on where one is at. Someone who dwells among very right-wing Mormons would probably think most also think polygamy will be common. Those among the liberal Mormons would see from their liberal friends that perhaps it is not so common.

    I read the second poll as saying “common” as in “frequent.” That does not mean a majority or even a large minority of relationships in heaven will be polygamous. For example, I live in an area of the country where seeing black people is a common occurrence, even though they comprise perhaps 20% of the population.

  22. I find it amusing that so many commenters are playing word games with Section 132 and its very clear and firm requirement for polygamy in the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom. I don’t think most would be as “flexible” in their interpretations when it comes to Matthew chapter 19 and the place of natural eunuchs (gays and lesbians) in the same Kingdom.

  23. John C. (20)- I think it’s so tightly divided because the first rule of polygamy is we don’t talk about polygamy. Thus we don’t know what others think about it.

  24. John C. – part of it is what Mormons you know and what age they are and how much they discuss the gospel. My husband doesn’t discuss this sort of thing much, so he is more influenced by what someday in his ward of his youth said. I, however, tend to discuss things more, so I am influenced more by newer discussions on the subject.
    I have no problem having “no idea” about how much polygamy will be in the CK. Obviously, life in the CK is very different so whenever I imagine polygamy there I assume it doesn’t have any of the problems it would have here on earth. I’m a numbers person, so numbers also play into it.
    I didn’t answer the poll because I don’t have an opinion about it being required or being common. It might be required but I mostly don’t think so (would there really be twice as many women as men?). It might be common or uncommon, and I am vaguely comfortable with the idea of either since it would be heaven so I don’t force myself to choose an opinion.

  25. I find it amusing that so many commenters are playing word games with Section 132

    Hey, we’re not the only ones. See, for example, the link posted in #2 where you will read:

    “In 1998, President Gordon B. Hinckley made the following statement about the Church’s position on plural marriage: ‘This Church has nothing whatever to do with those practicing polygamy.’”

  26. Michael #22, the difference is, we have differing scripture involving polygamy: D&C 132 versus Jacob 2-3. Is it mandatory? Or is monogamy the standard, except when God commands otherwise? Also, polygamy has not been officially practiced by the Church over 120 years.

    This is distinctly different from the scriptural view of homosexuality. There never was a mandate to ever practice it or end the mandated practice of it. In fact, scripture tends to condemn the act/behavior (with it being silent on the issue of genetic traits towards the same). If polygamy is ever done again, it will only be via prophetic revelation. And if we do ever get a change in homosexual behavior acceptance in the church, it also will only be via prophetic revelation.

    So, we have areas of scriptural difference to discuss polygamy with. We really do not have much to go on with the homosexual lifestyle and heaven.

  27. StillConfused says:

    It has been my observation that the whole concept of polygamy causes more people grief (especially women who get the short end of that stick) than any other church doctrine. I personally have never believed in it and I personally don’t think it was something from God so I don’t pay it much mind. But I see women who literally anguish over the thought of their husband being with someone else and them having to be okay with it. I often wonder how many people in their heart of hearts believe that there will be polygamy in heaven. Do they get that warm burning in their bosom that says it is from God?

  28. I think demographically it would be hard to show a majority of Mormons believing that polygamy will either be necessary or common in the CK. My experience is that outside of the West, most Mormons don’t agonize about polygamy the same way I remember people doing in Utah when I grew up there. And I’d be really surprised if even a significant minority of Mormons in Latin America or Africa thought this. So much of our anxiety about polygamy is regionally and historically specific.

  29. observer fka eric s says:

    I think our view of sealings in the afterlife is heavily distorted by mere marriage transactions in mortality. Let’s just assume for the moment that the numbers don’t balance out, so it’s a number issue to get everyone sealed that can. Then what? The implications of being sealed (some words said by the right person) in the eternal sense may not lead to the the same relationship as a sealed “marriage” does in the mortal sense. So whether we are sealed to 1, 2, or 432, my guess is that we do it first and foremost to position one another to progress while, at the same time, forming a massive interconnected family/body of people sealed to each other (“eternal parentage”/”born in the covenant”). I am guessing that I’m probably sealed indirectly to many of you through our parents’ parents’ parents’ . . . sealings (scary isn’t it!). So sealing does not seem to be about what we know in mortality as a marriage relationship (cohabitation, dependence, procreation, pooled limited resources, etc.) It seems more an enabling act for one’s potential going forward to do whatever it is we’ll be doing. Having said that, I don’t think plural marriage is necessarily required. But I also don’t think people will care much to be sealed if asked to and it will be fairly common I guess.

  30. Romney / Hunstman 2012 says:

    My high school American History teacher was a liberal Jewish lady with moxie. Think liberal, middle-aged Jewish princess. I was openly Mormon and pretty much her favorite student.

    When we got to the chapter that dealt with Mormons, my Jewish teacher had a thought-provoking reaction to polygamy. She actually thought it could be fun to be a plural wife. She said it would be fun to have the sister-wife “girlfriends” to hang out with. She said she could see how it would work.

    Food for thought.

  31. So, a majority of poll voters think that plural marriage isn’t required in the celestial kingdom, but they do think that the majority of Mormons think that it will be common in the celestial kingdom’s highest degree. That’s fascinating.

  32. I’m wondering about the definition of “common.” Polygamy will likely exist in the eternities, and if it does, it will be practiced only in the celestial kingdom, but not by a majority of people.

  33. “It has been my observation that the whole concept of polygamy causes more people grief (especially women who get the short end of that stick)”

    Hmmmm. How exactly are you making these observations?

  34. Romney / Hunstman 2012 says:

    When my dad was in the Mormon singles scene in Los Angeles in the ’70s, a fellow Mormon bachelor told him that a Mormon guy didn’t have to marry a perfect girl here on Earth because he would have polygamous wives in the Celestial Kingdom.

    I doubt any Mormon bachelors would say the same thing today.

  35. 22 Michael: “I find it amusing that so many commenters are playing word games with Section 132″

    What word games? Verses 19 & 20 are pretty clear: polygamy not required to become gods. Further, Jacob is pretty clear.

  36. Mostimportantly says:

    I disagree with both statements, but my husband agrees with both. I wonder how common that situation is. We will be sorting it out much much much later I suppose, but I am confident that I am right. Or, if I am wrong, I will at least have veto power.

  37. StillConfused says:

    #33 – Spend some time over at feministmormonhousewives.com and you will see what I mean.

  38. Since I have a very different view of sealing and what it will mean in the hereafter (closer to cs eric’s #29 than anything else mentioned here), I disagree with both statements. I think a majority of Mormons also disagree – and I think it’s a very large majority. We don’t have any scriptural basis for believing it will be required of all, and only a small percentage of the “modern membership” has been asked to to so in mortality.

  39. I believe there will at least be the option of men having multiple wives and women having multiple husbands in the Celestial Kingdom. (See D&C 132:41.)

  40. Anonym,
    That is a lot more equitable than most people imagine it, I think. More power to you, though.

  41. Whatever was said then on the subject could still have been true. I don’t see how back then if the priesthood leadership of the church revealed God wanted you to do something but if you refused when/if it was genuinely God’s will that you could ever achieve “all the father hath” which is promised on the condition of receiving the Lord by receiving his servants.

    That some would extrapolate this revelation then or now to mean it must be practiced always rather than in that time and place for an eternal purpose is not surprising but still mistaken imho.

  42. I personally believe that there will be both monogamy and polygamy in the Celestial kingdom. I am undecided about polyandry, but I lean towards the idea that it will be there. I have no idea which arrangement will be more prevalent among all these.

    I’m not sure which view would be more prevalent among church members today (zero polygamy vs. some polygamy in the Celestial Kingdom). My gut feeling says it would be almost evenly split in a survey.

  43. How about, “I disagree with this statement but I harbor a nagging fear it’s actually true and am therefore prepared to forfeit said glory rather than turn my back on my wife”?

  44. Left Field says:

    I would guess that if there is polygamy in the celestial kingdom, that it will be made up almost entirely of people who sequentially had more than one spouse in mortality, were posthumously sealed, and where all those involved are agreeable to the arrangement.

  45. I disagree that polygamy is required and don’t really know about “most Mormons.” I have heard that a statement that makes me smile off and on something like, “I told my husband that I’ll be fine with polygamy when we get to the Celestial Kingdom as long as I am first wife.”

  46. As far as the numbers go, there will be far more men than women, since more males are born than females, and many more males die young, before the age of accountability, and so go straight to the CK. I believe that both polygyny and polyandry will be practiced in the CK, where we will have fewer limitations on time and attention, but not be required. Since the polls said “polygamy” which means either or both, I voted accordingly. Really, does anyone think polygyny but NOT polyandry would be practiced there? That seems impossible to me because I know that heaven is perfectly fair.

  47. Polygamy certainly WAS a requirement to enter CK according to JS, BY and John Taylor. Many people bet their lives on it. It’s really uncomfortable to think about it.

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