Sunday Evenings with the Doctrine and Covenants. Section 132. Part 1: Introduction.

This begins a series of posts on Doctrine and Covenants Section 132, Joseph Smith’s July 12, 1843 revelation on marriage. (Part 2 is here.)

Introduction

Perhaps the most controversial revelation in the current Doctrine and Covenants is section 132. It’s (mainly external) controversy stems from its deification ideas and its (more broadly controversial) explicit promotion of plural marriage, polygamy. The revelation seems referenced in Joseph Smith’s sermons near its delivery and its appearance in 1843 divided church leaders and members who saw or heard its contents.

The revelation has an interesting textual history and rather complex internal structure with several interwoven themes. But it is fundamentally about polygamy: its justification, purpose, regulation, and salvific force.

But we move ahead of the story. The textual analysis will also very briefly treat these impact issues.

Delivery

William Clayton, confidant and scribe of Joseph Smith, observes the following in his second Nauvoo diary under the date July 12, 1843:

Wednesday 12th This A.M, I wrote a Revelation consisting of 10 pages on the order of the priesthood, showing the designs in Moses, Abraham, David and Solomon having many wives & concubines &c. After it was wrote Prests. Joseph & Hyrum presented it and read it to E[mma]. who said she did not believe a word of it and appeared very rebellious. J[oseph] told me to Deed all the unincumbered lots to E[mma] and the children He appears much troubled about E[mma].

Physical Structure of the Original Manuscript

Ten pages probably refers to ten half-foolscap pages or possibly pages cut from a blank ledger book (not an unknown practice). If Clayton wrote from Joseph Smith’s dictation, his usual unhurried writing might suggest lines containing roughly 11-13 words with perhaps 30-33 lines on such a page. This gives an estimate of perhaps 3,900 words on ten full pages, assuming Clayton means to say 10 pages of writing and not ten leaves written on both sides. Doctrine and Covenants section 132 at present contains about 3,300 words, suggesting either that the revelation as written was longer than present, that Clayton was somewhat less compact in his writing style than on other observable locations (for example, compare his writing of April 7, 1844 on loose pages to his journal for April 2, 1843), or that the leaves were sized somewhat differently than assumed above. Part two will consider manuscripts of the revelation.

William Clayton’s 1874 Affidavit on Delivery of the Revelation

Clayton left an affidavit about his July 12, 1843 experience which is much longer than his brief diary entry (this is not terribly out of character for Clayton judging by the way he noted happenings in his diaries and how he reported events by official assignment). Of course, the content of the affidavit requires us to consider what he chose to write: namely defending current Mormon practice against critics who denied Joseph Smith engaged in and began polygamy in Mormonism.

Here is Clayton’s affidavit:[1]

On the morning of the 12th of July, 1843, Joseph and Hyrum Smith came into the office in the upper story of the ‘brick store,’ on the bank of the Mississippi River. They were talking on the subject of plural marriage. Hyrum said to Joseph, “If you will write the revelation on celestial marriage, I will take it to Emma, and I believe I can convince her of its truth, and you will hereafter have peace.” Joseph smiled and remarked, “You do not know Emma as well as I do.” Hyrum repeated his opinion and further remarked, “The doctrine is so plain, I can convince any reasonable man or woman of its truth, purity or heavenly origin,” or words to their effect. Joseph then said, “Well, I will write the revelation and we will see.” He then requested me to get paper and prepare to write. Hyrum very urgently requested Joseph to write the revelation by means of the Urim and Thummim, but Joseph, in reply, said he did not need to, for he knew the revelation perfectly from beginning to end.[2]

Joseph and Hyrum then sat down and Joseph commenced to dictate the revelation on celestial marriage, and I wrote it, sentence by sentence, as he dictated. After the whole was written, Joseph asked me to read it through, slowly and carefully, which I did, and he pronounced it correct. He then remarked that there was much more that he could write, on the same subject, but what was written was sufficient for the present.

Hyrum then took the revelation to read to Emma. Joseph remained with me in the office until Hyrum returned. When he came back, Joseph asked him how he had succeeded. Hyrum replied that he had never received a more severe talking to in his life, that Emma was very bitter and full of resentment and anger.

Joseph quietly remarked, “I told you you did not know Emma as well as I did” Joseph then put the revelation in his pocket, and they both left the office. The revelation was read to several of the authorities during the day. Towards evening Bishop Newel K. Whitney asked Joseph if he had any objections to his making a copy of the revelation; Joseph replied that he had not, and handed it to him. It was carefully copied the following day by Joseph C. Kingsbury. Two or three days after the revelation was written Joseph related to me and several others that Emma has so teased, and urgently entreated him for the privilege of destroying it, that he became so weary of her teasing, and to get rid of her annoyance, he told her she might destroy it and she had done so, but he had consented to her wish in this matter to pacify her, realizing that he knew the revelation perfectly, and could rewrite it at any time if necessary.

The copy made by Joseph C. Kingsbury is a true and correct copy of the original in every respect. The copy was carefully preserved by Bishop Whitney, and but few knew of its existence until the temporary location of the Camps of Israel at Winter Quarters, on the Missouri River, in 1846.

After the revelation on celestial marriage was written, Joseph continued his instructions, privately, on the doctrine, to myself and others, and during the last year of his life we were scarcely ever together, alone, but he was talking on the subject, and explaining that doctrine and principles connected with it. He appeared to enjoy great liberty and freedom in his teachings, and also to find great relief in having a few to whom he could unbosom his feelings on that great and glorious subject.

From him I learned that the doctrine of plural and celestial marriage is the most holy and important doctrine ever revealed to man on the earth, and that without obedience to that principle no man can ever attain to the fulness of exaltation in celestial glory.[3]

Now, I say to you, as I am ready to testify to all the world, and on which testimony I am most willing to meet all the Latter-day Saints and all apostates, in time and through all eternity, I did write the revelation on celestial marriage given through the Prophet Joseph Smith, on the 12th of July, 1843.

When the revelation was written there was no one present except the Prophet Joseph, his brother Hyrum and myself. It was written in the small office upstairs in the rear of the brick store which stood on the banks of the Mississippi river. It took some three hours to write it. Joseph dictated sentence by sentence, and I wrote it as he dictated. After the whole was written Joseph requested me to read it slowly and carefully, which I did, and he then pronounced it correct.

The same night a copy was taken by Bishop Whitney, which copy is now here (in the Historian’s office) and which I know and testify is correct. The original was destroyed by Emma Smith.

I again testify that the revelation on polygamy was given through the prophet Joseph on the 12th of July, 1843; and that the Prophet Joseph both taught and practiced polygamy I do positively know, and bear testimony to the fact.

— William Clayton, 1874

Clayton’s journal entry hints at the strained relationship between Joseph and Emma at the time, and her confused and angry feelings over Joseph’s marriages.[4] For instance, she found two letters from Eliza R. Snow in Joseph’s coat pocket. In anger, she asked Clayton if he was the delivery service. For some time, Emma had been working in the background to prevent or disrupt plural unions when knowledge and opportunity arose. At the same time she felt vulnerable to disgrace and insecurity and hence avoided direct public action.[5]

The July 12 revelation was not the end of marriage revelation from Joseph. For instance, he tells Clayton the following on September 15, 1843:

Prest.J. told me he had lately had a new item of law[6] revealed to him in relation to myself. He said the Lord had revealed to him that a man could only take 2 of a family except by express revelation and as I had said I intended to take Lydia he made this known for my benefit. to have more than two in a family was apt to cause wrangles and trouble. He finally asked if I would not give L[ydia] to him I said I would so far as I had any thing to do in it. He requested me to talk to her.[7]

One question that has always surrounded the revelation is its actual date. I do not mean that the July 12 dictation date is in dispute. I refer to the commonly quoted idea that this revelation is somehow connected to Joseph Smith’s Bible revision effort. There may be something to this, but as we will see in future installments, this revelation is modern: it is a product of 1843. Not perhaps of July 12, but almost certainly it was largely known by Joseph Smith and most probably referenced by him to members of his inner circle. Indeed, the revelation’s preamble makes this a near certainty I believe. But enough of that until part 5.

In part 2, I’ll look at the surviving manuscript copies of the revelation.

—————
[1] The original may be found in the Joseph F. Smith papers: miscellaneous files, MS 1325, CHL (LDS Church History Library).

[2] Clayton’s reference to Urim here is important for a number of reasons. First, it illustrates the fact that Joseph’s use of revelatory instrumentality had never really ceased, as is often suggested. Urim and Thummim was a catch-all term in early Mormonism for all these objects, not just the spectacles associated with the Book of Mormon. The title for these objects, Urim and Thummim, was perhaps first suggested by W. W. Phelps. The fact of Joseph’s continuing use of these stones probably accounts for Latter-day Saint stories, hopes, and guesses about his successors using such things, though there is little or no evidence that they did. (For an interesting use of Urim in 1835, see Newel K. Whitney collection Box 6, fd 19, LTPSC, BYU.)

[3] Clayton’s claims here are verified by his own diary. Joseph Smith focused a lot of his time with Clayton on polygamy, and the angst both men felt over the domestic strains it fostered (the male centeredness of these reports is of course evident). Additionally, there is no doubt that both Clayton, Joseph and the others involved in the practice engaged in sexual activity with their multiple partners. Of course, Joseph had more wives than anyone in town and it appears that the linkage aspect was more important to him than sex in most cases. I’ll talk a little bit about Joseph’s marriages later, but this series is focused on the revelation, not on the background relationships. That story is much wider and longer than is possible to treat in this format. One of the most useful ways of understanding female viewpoints in the enterprise is correspondence between husbands and wives. One fascinating example is the new digitized correspondence between Joseph F. Smith and his wives. [In that vein, see the article by Lisa Olsen Tait, "The 1890s Mormon Culture of Letters and the Post-Manifesto Marriage Crisis: A New Approach to Home Literature," BYU Studies Quarterly 52/1 (2013):98-124.]

[4] The following day, Clayton was called to a meeting of Joseph and Emma who had come to some agreement over their differences. Joseph hoped to keep her from leaving him by offering stability tied to city property. Clayton’s journal August 13.

[5] For example, Clayton journal August 21, 23, 1843. In the meantime, Clayton was having his own drama over polygamy with one wife fending off or ambivalent about an ignorant suitor or confused/upset “in laws” and so on. Joseph made promises of support but had to be careful over his own situation. Meanwhile, Joseph’s sermons are in part a direct reflection of this stormy background, meant to support those in the know, and perhaps prepare others. For his July and August sermons see here. In particular, Clayton’s interpretive account of the August 27 sermon.

[6] “Law” or “Priesthood” or “order of the priesthood” were often, as in the July 12 revelation, code words for plural marriage, and as Clayton saw it, that law had to be lived if it was “revealed” to a man or woman (meaning, apparently, that the subject was introduced to the practice and invited to participate) see the sermon in note 5. The text of the revelation suggests this and lies at the foundation of 19th century Mormon claims that the highest heaven was closed to those who rejected the practice.

[7] Clayton was already married to two of the Moon sisters (Margaret ["M" in his diary] and Ruth). The regulation was either unknown or ignored in later instances of marriages where several daughters and a mother might be married to the same man (not the father). This was a rare situation however, and really irrelevant to the 1843 period. The object of these relationships was to enlarge one’s kingdom in heaven by two processes: more children by the (possible) larger number of pregnancy producing conjugal encounters, and more connection to the families of the wives. At this point the idea of “spirit children” in heaven had a different meaning than we give it now, at least for Joseph apparently. So that “increase” had a more complex meaning. I’ll look at this further as we move through the text of the revelation. Lydia was reluctant to marry Joseph, but apparently comfortable about Clayton. Ultimately she married Clayton’s younger brother James who died at Winter Quarters. Lydia’s genealogy is badly deformed in church records, mostly because of the way the families involved treated her mother’s marriages.

Comments

  1. Very interesting, I look forward to the series!

  2. This is great, WVS. Very useful.

  3. Perplexed says:

    I wonder whether the ‘facts’ presented in this article (link below) are useful or baloney – especially in relation to ‘timing’ of the revelation:

    http://puremormonism.blogspot.com.au/2010/06/why-im-abandoning-polygamy.html

  4. Kevin Barney says:

    Outstanding.

  5. Perplexed, nice insertion of a charge that Joseph never practiced polygamy and that the LDS Church was in open apostasy throughout Brigham Young’s tenure as president. Any article that starts with, “Like all good Latter-day Saints of my generation, I’ve always been a committed polygamist” . . .

    Interesting post, WVS.

  6. Perplexed says:

    @Ray, the ‘pure mormonism’ article got under my skin because I have never heard much of what that article stated. In fact, it ticked me off. There are so many claims in it that are so enormously contrary to the conventionally researched wisdom. I’m not trying to make spurious or specious arguments. I’m actually genuinely challenged and want to understand better.

    In particular, I struggled with the PM guy because ppl like Bushman and Givens have never so much as suggested anything in history to corroborate him. Yet part of me wants to believe it b/c it would make life so much easier around the polygamy issue.

    Anyway, not trying to be provocative. It’s not in my nature. Trying to make sense of things that confuse me is, though, and I’m hoping for something to guide me here.

    Thanks
    Still Perplexed

  7. Perplexed, as we go along, I’ll try to continue to cite some primary contemporary sources.

  8. J. Stapley says:

    Love it.

  9. Thanks for the clarification, Perplexed.

  10. Thanks, Edje, Kevin and all.

  11. From pages 7-8:

    The most intractable problem associated with the early development of polygamy, instead, was something else. One curious bit of evidence simply did not make sense. William Marks, president of the Nauvoo Stake high council and a man of unquestionable honesty and integrity, emphatically insisted that Joseph Smith had approached him in the spring of 1844,
    shortly before his martyrdom, and had said: “This doctrine of polygamy or Spiritual-wife System, that has been taught and practiced among us will prove our destruction and overthrow.” According to Marks, Smith went on to say that he had been “deceived, in reference to its practice,” that it was “wrong,” and that Marks should go to the high council and prefer
    charges against all who practiced the doctrine, while Joseph would “preach against it, with all my might, and in this way we may rid the church of this damnable heresy.”

    Apart from this remarkable statement from a man of unimpeachable honesty, there is evidence from both LDS and RLDS sources that Joseph Smith may indeed have talked about abandoning polygamy near the end of his life. In Mormon Enigma, a superb biography of the Mormon prophet’s wife Emma Hale Smith, Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery
    refer to the minutes of an 1867 meeting within the RLDS church in which a man named Hugh Herringshaw stated that he had “heard Joseph tell the 12 that they must abandon polygamy and turned to Brigham Young and asked if he was willing to do so. Young said he had been asleep. Then Joseph spoke upon the matter as only he could talk denouncing the doctrine of polygamy. Brigham replied that he and Taylor had determined what course they would pursue.” A year earlier, in 1866, Brigham Young had conceded in a carefully qualified statement, “Joseph was worn out with it, but as to his denying any such thing I never knew that he denied the doctrine of polygamy. Some have said that he did, but I do not believe he
    ever did.”
    I believe that these and other reports that could be cited accurately reflect the tenor of statements made by Joseph Smith during the last months of his life. If Smith did indeed talk to Marks and to his closest associates among the Twelve about possibly stopping polygamy, such statements are extraordinary in the context of 1844 Nauvoo.

    http://www.dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/Dialogue_V26N04_19.pdf

  12. Jeff, I’ll give a few more contemporary sources as we go along. Despite later claims about Joseph and polygamy, I think the contemporary evidence is hard to impeach. There was considerable RLDS mediated testimony about Joseph never being involved with, or renouncing polygamy. LDS response was even more robust. In any case, Joseph initiated the practice and was clearly committed to it during the period of the revelation. It seems highly unlikely that he repudiated one of his own revelations, or that he failed to communicate anything to his private secretary, probably the one most familiar with his activities and sayings. But finally, the series here is really about the revelation. Look for part 3 for a few more credible references.

  13. Thanks WVS for your efforts in this. It is quite simply impossible as a non historian without access to any source material to make heads or tails of various claims either way. I look forward to part 3.

  14. Nothing to add except that this is great stuff and that I look forward to future instalments.

  15. Thanks, Aaron.

  16. I recently have been reading a collection of essays on polygamy called “The Persistence of Polygamy,” which is quite good. Among other things, it contains an excellent chapter on Section 132 by Newell Bringhurst. http://www.amazon.com/The-Persistence-Polygamy-Joseph-Origins/dp/193490113X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1376926839&sr=8-1&keywords=the+persistence+of+polygamy

    I personally have serious doubts about the divine origins of section 132. Further, Joseph’s implementation of this practice is questionable on a number of different levels. The fact that he sent his brother to deliver this revelation to his wife instead of having the courage to do it himself seems inexcusable to me.

  17. J. Stapley says:

    EFF, it wasn’t that he sent Hyram. It was that Hyram asked for the revelation so that he could take it to Emma. JS was apparently incredulous that it would help. He was right. And there is no question that Nauvoo polygamy is a mess. It was. But I suggest reading something like Sam Brown’s In Heaven as It Is on Earth. Having some broader context is very helpful.

  18. J. Stapley: I am aware of the fact that Hyram requested the written revelation so that he could take it to Emma (and I have read Brown’s book). This, however, does not in my opinion excuse Joseph—Emma’s husband—from realizing that it was his job, not his brother’s, to present such a controversial practice to Emma. Is it any wonder that Emma reacted as she did? I know no woman who would have reacted differently. Joseph’s handling of this situation is every bit as shameful as his behavior with Fanny Algier and his surreptitious liaisons with various women in Nauvoo. I’m sorry but in order for me to turn a blind eye to such conduct, I would have to abandon many of my beliefs regarding the nature of our Father in Heaven.

    Maybe Section 132 was divinely inspired. I don’t know for certain, but I have my doubts. But as to the manner in which it was implemented and practiced by some of the Church leaders, to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln’s moral assessment of slavery, if that wasn’t wrong, then nothing is wrong.

  19. EFF, it’s not like Emma was ignorant of the practice or that she hadn’t already consented to have Joseph take other women as wives prior to the July 12 revelation. She varied in her position on the matter. This was a low point. Hyrum was a convincing voice and Emma had yielded to his mediation/explanation/assistance before this. As far as the text itself is concerned, I think there are more nuanced and useful ways of looking at it.

  20. EFF, as WVS said, this wasn’t the first time Joseph and Emma had talked about it.

    If it had been the first time, I would agree with your criticism. It wasn’t, so I don’t.

  21. J. Stapley says:

    As a side and personal note, as far as polygamy revelations go, I much prefer the 1842 revelation. I wish it would have been swapped in for the 2013 edition of the scriptures.

  22. I know that this wasn’t the first time that Emma had been told about polygamy, but I still believe that Joseph should have presented the revelation to Emma instead of his brother. At the very least, they should have done it together.

    Apart from that, the clandestine manner in which he circulated this revelation and his efforts to conceal his dalliances from the woman to whom he had made a promise of fidelity were undoubtedly a source of endless mortification to Emma. I realize that this is a complex topic, but as I said before, even if there is some divine basis for the practice of plural marriage, its implementation by Joseph and others is very difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile with the teachings of the Savior regarding the manner in which we should treat our fellow man (and woman).

  23. EFF, for what it’s worth, I don’t disagree with the core stance of your last comment – and I’m not arguing otherwise. I’m just saying that I think your first comment didn’t reflect what you just shared in your last one.

    It’s probably best for us to let this drop now.

  24. it's a series of tubes says:

    even if there is some divine basis for the practice of plural marriage, its implementation by Joseph and others is very difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile with the teachings of the Savior regarding the manner in which we should treat our fellow man

    EFF, that’s fair enough – but the same could be said about a certain interaction between Nephi and Laban, or those between the Israelites and Caananites cf. Deuteronomy 20:16-18, or any number of other purportedly “divinely commanded” actions…

  25. J., wait for part 13. (grin)

  26. I concede your point, Ray. And WVS, I anxiously await your part 13, my triskaidekaphobia notwithstanding.

  27. Joseph Smith did not teach nor practice polygamy or anything like unto it, despite the accusations of former close associates. William Clayton is not a credible source. Clayton had motive and opportunity to lie about Joseph Smith’s involvement. Clayton himself was tangled-up in polygamous relationships and stood to gain by attaching the practice to Joseph Smith. Clayton’s accusations did not surface until long after Smith’s death, giving Clayton time to weave a plausible story, since Clayton controlled many of Joseph’s records and found cover from other high-placed authorities also entangled in polygamy, with no one to challenge his account.

    Joseph Smith testified to the world that he was innocent, even until his death. This is HIS testimony. Why are you so slow to believe Joseph’s own testimony, but so quick to accept the testimony of his accusers? We should be defending Joseph Smith because that is his testimony, and his testimony is borne out by the evidence for those courageous enough to sift through the uninformed chatter and really treat him as innocent until proven guilty, and not the other way around. Moreover, his wife testified that he was innocent until her death many years later. Hyrum Smith also testified of his and Joseph’s innocence regarding these accusations. Both of them fought arduously against polygamy. How is it that you have found a place where you can accept Joseph and Emma and Hyrum as liars and cowards, when there is abundant evidence to the contrary for all of them?

    Are you going to find the courage to stick by Joseph and defend him against this defamation? Or are you just going to carry along and echo the defamation, finding ways to turn everything moral upside-down to accommodate it? The accusations against Joseph are not just polygamy. He is accused by the same after-the-fact sources of polyandry—marrying women already married to other living husbands. He is also accused in the same manner of coercive relations with underage girls as young as 14. These accusations against Joseph also imply that he lied repeatedly publicly to cover up secret and unlawful practices (polygamy was illegal in the state in which he lived), and that he hypocritically excommunicated members found to be practicing the very thing he supposedly did in secret. Would you have Joseph working a secret doctrine in the dark while grossly misleading the entire church publicly, which resulted in the huge turmoil after his death that divided the saints? Do you suppose that, had Joseph lived long enough, one day he was just going to pop up to the stand and tell everyone to disregard everything he ever said to them before and say “now rejoice in the blessed cover-up!”???

    I believe anyone who promotes this false narrative of Joseph Smith’s guilt regarding polygamy will be held accountable at the judgement. This issue is one of those issues that separates the wheat from the chaff. Only the pure in heart shall see God. Joseph Smith was one of those very few who have seen God. Joseph Smith is not a worker of secret combinations, and God is never the coordinator of ANY secret combinations—those are of the devil.

  28. WVS: Why do you assume that Joseph Smith lied (and Emma Smith lied and Hyrum Smith lied) and everyone else was telling the truth? That is the assumption you make, whether or not you realize it.

  29. Welcome to BCC, dx!

  30. RockiesGma says:

    This terrible woe called polygamy has been a desolating scourge of women’s lives since men began to rule and reign. It mocks holiness and oneness in marriage. It is profoundly harmful to the mental, emotional and spiritual health of women. Nothing good comes from it– raising up a righteous seed can be done through monogamy with far healthier mothers and fathers, and thus, children. And righteous seed comes through missionary work.

    But there is great poverty in polygamy. My ancestors barely existed, and even then by the mothers going to work and not staying home to raise their children. My foremothers were poor in spirit. They were poor in health. They were poor in joy. But they did have abundant sorrow, loneliness, and despair.wAhooe the wives grew old and ugly (as dis the husband), and with so little in the way of temporal goods, the husband sought a new, younger wife — spending precious resources on her until she was old and ugly, too.

    Polygamy is old and ugly. It is unholy in every, single way. Even a billionaire could not provide what a wife deserves and needs. Every moment, touch, and encounter with another wife are moments, touches and encounters that are stolen from the first. She is robbed. Put aside. Denied. Hurt. And most definitely, harmed. She is emotionally abandoned while he physically and emotionally gratifies himself with another. His covenant, loyalty, and fidelity are broken. She is no longer his one, true love.

    This is evil. This is un-sacred and un-holy. It is an abomination of desolation, and it is unspeakably cruel.

  31. I agree, RockiesGma – except when it isn’t.

    I don’t mean that flippantly, and I don’t mean to dismiss your comment in any way. I have ancestors (and college friends from other countries) whose experiences were radically different from each other – some being like you described and others not being like you described (lying all long the spectrum). I don’t believe it will exist for everyone in the next life, and I don’t intend to live it now or then.

    However, given the histories of my own ancestors, I simply can’t condemn it as sweepingly and universally as some can.

  32. RockiesGma says:

    Hi Ray….Can you a least acknowledge that one spouse going to others robs the first of his time, thoughts, fidelity, emotion, touch and affection that he is giving to others, robbing her? Can you acknowledge that this is cruel and harmful to the first? Can you discern how unhealthy this is to that one marriage, which is supposed to be holy? Can you acknowledge that no amount of sisterhood compares to the loss of intimacy within the marriage?

    Can polygamy work at some abiding level? Yes. Should it? In obvious ways, No? It harms women in immeasurable, generational ways. It only, ever works in the lowest of ways because women abide it — because if they don’t, they are further branded as “selfish, unholy, without the spirit, shrewish, evil, and apostate.” Thus, we see that further harm is done to women. They are abandoned and condemned either way they choose. While the men continue to find a fresh face, a young body, and gratification to their bodies, minds, and egos. Women suffer and sacrifice. Men glory.

    There is no way to successfully praise or honor polygamy. We may do so to the women who endured. But that is honestly, the only praise and honor worthy to be given.

  33. RockiesGma: I agree 100%. Polygamy is a strictly inferior practice to monogamy. It was only ever tolerated (suffered) by God, it was never sanctioned by Him, let alone initiated by Him. The Bible shows us how this practice led to all of the ills that you have outlined. Anyone who tries to wrest the Bible into an advocacy for that inferior practice does not understand the scriptures and does not have the right spirit. The Book of Mormon warns against false interpretation of the scriptures for this purpose, but the evil spirit has deceived them to twist even that plain admonition.

    Ray: Break the cycle. Your ancestors and friends were unfortunately misguided if they lived/believed polygamy, regardless of the extent to which it visibly affected their lives. You do not have to leave the door open because of their faults. God will sort it out—His house is in order and has been since the foundations of the world. The many machinations in which men and women entangle themselves in this world do not confound God’s plan. All of the marriages, divorces, relationships, etc. do not undo or rearrange the plan before the foundations of the world and the nature of the creation. This fact was made clear by Jesus in the New Testament.

    In accord with those and other scriptures, I believe that just as Adam and Eve were created uniquely for each other to fill the measure of their creation, and Noah’s family of monogamists were chosen to reboot the human family (and two-by-two every living creature entered the door), we can be assured that in the next life everyone will be united to their proper counterpart designated from before the foundation of the world. Some will have a relationship here continued, others who never found the right one in this life will not be forsaken, and relationships that do not accord with the creation plan, however seemingly nice here, will dissolve. There is no need to rely on inventions and arrangements of men to account for your ancestors’ fate.

    God approves of and encourages monogamy as the best institution for raising righteous families. He has tolerated other arrangements in certain cases despite the evil it brings, to bring about other purposes, just as He tolerates other sins because men are sinners. Nevertheless, God hates hearing the sorrow and the mourning of his daughters under the evils of polygamy, Yes, those problems necessarily occur under that system. So, although He sometimes tolerates it to persist, He never causes or commands it to be so. Those occurrences result from the mistakes and sins of men and thus it becomes a curse to them, and men have tried to excuse and justify those sins on appeal to authority from God. They are not justified. Those who engage in the practice are turned over to judgment and will be accountable for their choices and for the mourning of his daughters.

  34. I am not a traditional defender of polygamy and never will be.

    I have said what I have said, and I have no desire to continue this conversation.

  35. RockiesGma says:

    Wow, dx….. I wish your last comment was the voice of the church. This would help us all. Thank you.

  36. “He never causes or commands it to be so.” I think those who were charged with restoring the gospel to the earth in our dispensation would disagree with you.

    If you have a personal testimony otherwise, then more power to you, but you should realize that without authority nobody is under obligation to believe your words.

    I’m not saying anti-polygamy proponents are necessarily wrong, but to make assumptions that it cannot be done in righteousness, or that there is no possible way that it could ever be a righteous eternal principle, to me is a bit narrow-minded and lacking in imagination.

    If it hurts you, leave it alone. What is right in the afterlife will exist there, what is wrong will not. Do not fool yourself that on the basis of mortal logic alone we can know with any degree of certainty what is and what is not eternal according to the mind and will of God.

  37. I’m enjoying your research. I am however with Emma and Rockies Gma on polygamy. I find it repugnant. Universally.

  38. WVS, in the Clayton affidavit above is the bold text meant to be illustrative of Clayton “defending current Mormon practice against critics who denied Joseph Smith engaged in and began polygamy in Mormonism.” ?

  39. Kurt, the bold segments just emphasize some points I want to refer to in later parts of the series.

  40. dx: wow! I’ve never thought about it that way. It seems so clear and brings me peace. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  41. it's a series of tubes says:

    we can be assured that in the next life everyone will be united to their proper counterpart designated from before the foundation of the world

    This is a bold statement, directly contradicted by a fairly recent prophet…

    http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=706

  42. I believe we can be assured that everything will be done in a way that will bring as much happiness and joy as possible to each of God’s children. Otherwise, I can accept that, “We see through a glass, darkly,” and leave the details in the hands of God.

  43. Billy the Law says:

    How a person can defend polygamy, and the misdeeds of those that practiced it, and still feel like their integrity has not been compromised is a great mystery to me. To defend polygamy and then admit that one could not live it today is cowardly and dishonest. To do so is to hold a standard over others that one would hold over themselves.

    The practice of polygamy distorts many of the treasured doctrines in Mormonism including agency and the divinity of the family unit. Can a person really accept that Jesus spoke so harshly against adultery in one dispensation and then in the next told Joseph to, without Emma’s consent (or possibly knowledge), go and propose to young and married women or else his life and station would be forfeited? Really? How can a person read the story Zina and Henry Jacobs and not be disgusted and brought to tears? How can anyone read section 132 and not at least admit the possibility that its origin was a lustful person and not God? Terrible things have been done in the name of God and polygamy as practiced in Nauvoo and Utah was one of those terrible things.

    All that said, I do think those that defend polygamy do so out of necessity rather than a sincere belief in the practice. To admit that section 132 is not divinely given is to open up the possibility that Joseph fabricated other parts of Mormonism as well. This is a step many can’t take because the of the devastation that would follow. Just remember that faith is a belief in things that not seen which are true; delusion is belief in something despite the preponderance of evidence to the contrary.

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