Sunday Evenings with the Doctrine and Covenants. Section 132. Part 11: Escape Clause.

This is part 11 of a series of posts on Doctrine and Covenants Section 132, Joseph Smith’s July 12, 1843 revelation on marriage. See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10. The followup post is here.

Verse 64 below again speaks to the dynamic between Joseph and Emma. The “destroyed” meme recurs. That Joseph is the male object here is clear, since he “holds the keys of this power” and only one at a time exists according to previous text in the revelation. Get on board Emma. That’s the major message.

64 And again, verily, verily, I say unto you, if any man have a wife, who holds the keys of this power, and he teaches unto her the law of my priesthood,[1] as pertaining to these things, then shall she believe and administer unto him, or she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord your God; for I will destroy her; for I will magnify my name upon all those who receive and abide in my law.

65 Therefore, it shall be lawful in me, if she receive not this law, for him to receive all things whatsoever I, the Lord his God, will give unto him, because she did not believe and administer unto him according to my word; and she then becomes the transgressor; and he is exempt from the law of Sarah, who administered unto Abraham according to the law when I commanded Abraham to take Hagar to wife.

66 And now, as pertaining to this law, verily, verily, I say unto you, I will reveal more unto you, hereafter; therefore, let this suffice for the present. Behold, I am Alpha and Omega. Amen.

The necessity of consulting wife #one is stated (and called, somewhat ironically, the law of Sarah), but that is obviated here. It’s just that her opinion does not matter in the sense that the male partner still must, should, take more wives, if commanded to do so. Joseph is not giving up his other wives, and the “law of Sarah” (Sarah gives Abraham a wife) only works if Sarah is willing. If not, too bad for Sarah it seems. “she becomes the transgressor”. Emma evidently took this to heart, at some point, since by September 1843, Joseph seems to be back in her good graces. William Law’s tales at least, suggest that Emma believed the revelation and believed she was in jeopardy.[2]

Keep in mind that Joseph had already married quite a number of his wives without consulting Emma. Perhaps this is the context for verse 58. Or, perhaps this is simply new regulation for Joseph, no more wives without telling Emma. Joseph’s wife-taking is certainly significantly curtailed after the revelation.

The importance of a textual authority for all of this cannot be overestimated, even if it remained essentially hidden for nine years. After 1852, anyone could appeal to the revelation, though it was not canonical until 1880. Later Utah practice doesn’t mention the “law of Sarah” explicitly, indeed, advice to prospective plural husbands suggests that Brigham was first of the list to see. Then the parents of the women, then the woman herself. (Turner, Brigham Young, 240.)

Next time: A summary, a philosophy, a bold new text: for the sake of Bill McLellin.

—————–
[1] Emphasis added. Again, the meaning of “the law” is polygamy, not eternal marriage. The revelation offers the possibility of those two meanings, mainly because it is a compound of texts, not a single text. A three hour dictation of the 66 verses suggests it was a struggle to put it all together, and I think once again, not really meant for public consumption.

[2] This “law of Sarah” builds on the Abraham story of Genesis, but while the reasons for Sarah’s delivery of her “handmaid” to Abraham are somewhat parallel to Joseph’s reasons for taking other wives, in fact the July 12 version of Sarah’s Rules don’t invite the (symbolic) “Sarah” to “cure” her infertility by giving another wife to her fertile husband. The July 12 version requires “Sarah” to give assent to her husband’s taking new wives to spread his seed far and wide (theoretically, at least) and rewrites Old Testament text in the process. The meaning of the law of Sarah in the revelation appears to be simply that wife “number one” assents to further marriages—or else. (No “law of Sarah” seems to apply to subsequent wives, in the sense that assent to the addition of other wives is not required of them.)

One may argue that the symbolic Sarahs “give” other wives to their husbands for procreation purposes–engineering a wider posterity in the earth–and coherently, the original Sarah in the Genesis story might engage this practice because she was unable to fulfill the Edenic imperative (although the story hints at a much broader cultural background). But in Joseph’s case, this turned-on-its-head law of Sarah didn’t effect his plurality much, unless one believes that the Partridge sisters became cast-offs because of this law somehow.

The Woodruff doctrine pushes off both sorts of Sarah-angst (can’t have children-must have children / must engage plurality-can’t engage plurality) into eternity for post-1894 Latter-day Saints, no matter which of the Mormon protologies are embraced.

Comments

  1. WI_Member says:

    This breaks my heart. How am I supposed to believe that a loving Heavenly Father commanded this?

  2. I’m with WI_Member. Why would a loving Heavenly Father cause that must heartache to women? The whole thing is so disgusting I struggle to sing Praise to the Man.

  3. These are the three toughest verses of this revelation for me.

  4. Large segments of the revelation closely match public sermons by Joseph Smith. Personally, I accept it as Divine revelation. Other parts, like these verses, were meant as personal text to Emma. It is not completely obvious what the dynamic was between Joseph and Emma at this period, but I totally sympathize with seeing this text as paradoxical and troubling in a number of respects. Stick around for the rest of the series though.

  5. As a teenager, I always thought that it made sense that since Emma was Joseph’s wife, and sealed to him, that marrying a non-member (since she couldn’t be sealed to another member) was a wise choice. As I learned of Brigham’s feelings/animosity towards Emma, her desire not to go Est made even more sense. I always wished though, that she had written more, after some time had past, of her views of the gospel.

    It wasn’t until I read some of the writings of Emma’s son Joseph, that I realized that there are indications as to how Emna felt, and what parts of the restored gospel were most important. Away from Brigham and most of the Saints, she raised her son/children to be the prophet/leaders of the restoration, as she understood it. Her children were too young, at the time their father died and Brigham left, to have put together the theology and understanding of the restoration gospel, without Emna being their main teacher. I also realized that while they made different choices, Emma and Eliza, both had stronger ties to the gospel as Joseph taught it, before Brigham added his thoughts and interpretations. I am not a scholar, and have not read as much of the writings of the original organizers of the RLDS church, but those I have read, have given me insight into Emma, and those who saw Joseph’s teachings in similar ways to how Emma did.

    For those of you who know more, am I way off base? It seems that this series of discussions has helped coalesce my earlier thoughts when reading those Emma-inspired writings.

  6. WVS, I really appreciate your research. Thanks for giving this section such an exhaustive treatment.

    It seems to me that there are two Abrahamic Tests: for Abraham-the sacrifice of the his son. For Emma-polygamy. If the idea was to test these great souls one can hardly think of a more poignant way.

    As I sing Prsise to the Man, I think of Emma too.

  7. I don’t understand everything. But I do take note that verse 66 says more was to be revealed. We essentially have one section on a complex law. It is no wonder we don’t fully understand what was being implemented.

  8. Thomas Parkin says:

    I think one of the great things about so much scripture is that it has the capacity to shock us into asking the question: who is this God? Instead of the assumption that we know anything on the subject, this question seems to the right place to start.

  9. Many times, the Lord has spoken to me in ways that cause pain and heartache, both through blessings and through personal revelation.

    Pain is not always bad, nor unloving. Assuming that pain, emotional or physical pain, is automatically bad is a modern fallacy that undermines our growth. I, for one, have no trouble reconciling this commandment to Emma with the loving God I know and worship. God often asks hard things of those who are prepared to submit their will to His.

    That is what I learn most from this account.

  10. WI_Member says:

    If this was an Abrahamic test for Emma, where was her ram in the thicket? If I am correct, Joseph asked Heber Kimball to give his wife Vilate to him. In the end, Joseph said it was just a test and they really didn’t have to go through with it. And why go through the pretense of offering Emma a choice if Joseph had already gone ahead without her knowledge, and her consent/dissent meant nothing?

  11. doctordoctorstein2013 says:

    I’m generally just a lurker here, but thought I’d drop in on this thread because D&C 132 was the deal-breaker for me. If there’s one single reason I don’t believe, it’s the words “if she will not abide this commandment she shall be destroyed.” The voice (we are told) is the voice of God, but the hands are the hands of Joseph. The passage’s meanness, its threatening nature, its whiff of “bill of attainder”–pretty much everything about it strikes me as beneath God, though not, apparently, at least at this point in his life, as beneath Joseph. I’m with WI_Member on this one.

  12. If this was an Abrahamic test for Emma, where was her ram in the thicket?
    Precisely. This has always been my question. It’s an issue I have had to shelf again and again. Some days I’m just not sure the shelf can hold it up.

  13. These versus have done more harm to lds women in all aspects than perhaps anything else. It negates a daughter of god’s worth in the eyes of lds men, especially her husband. It causes self doubt about her own worth as a individual in the eyes of god and the church even to this day!!

    There was as others said “no ram in the thistles test”. This was a threat to Emma’s salvation and perhaps existence if she did not comply and thereby to all other lds women “counseled” to follow “or else”.

    Wether modern day lds women want to acknowledge and admit it, these threats at some level are present in their subconscious. Women simply saying “well God will change my heart after I die so I can accept polygamy” is just so damn sad on so many levels!

  14. I always understood ‘she shall be destroyed’ as a reference to the same type of thing outlined in verse 26, i.e. ‘destroyed in the flesh’ and to being ‘delivered unto the buffetings of Satan’. To me it seems then that this is an implicit acknowledgement that Emma had reached such a state of righteousness, that then for her to openly disobey that which God has commanded would necessarily bring about this condemnation – yet if she “commit no murder wherein [she] shed innocent blood, yet [she should ultimately] come forth in the first resurrection, and enter into [her] exaltation”.

    Likewise, I think Joseph Smith would have been destroyed if he would have rejected living the law (and quick tangent, I also believe Joseph was indeed destroyed because he disobeyed the spiritual prompting to not go back to Nauvoo–something that might be an honest mistake for most of us, but Joseph had reached such a high level of righteousness/understanding that this left him open to the buffetings of Satan and destruction of the flesh). But I don’t think that is the case for all people or that this has some sort of universal application that can come to any person at any time, but rather only to those who have reached a level of righteousness such that to whom much is given much is required.

    I think God was merciful to Emma in part through the death of Joseph, that she was released from the obligation to abide by this law or otherwise be destroyed in the flesh. She was able to raise her children and die at a much older age, and in my opinion will yet come forth in the first resurrection to enter into her exaltation alongside Joseph. I say praise to the man and woman who made possible the glorious restoration.

  15. Sometimes there is a ram. Sometimes is a bitter cup.

  16. Posted two months ago: “A Very Short Tribute to Emma Smith” (http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2013/08/a-very-short-tribute-to-emma-smith.html)

  17. I admit that using the an “Abrahamic test” comparison for Emma is not a perfect way to understand these hard verses or this hard doctrine. It just helps me. Abraham had a Ram to deliver him in the end, Emma (and the Father) did not. I think we can do much better to commend Emma for her example amidst these trials and pain.

    SteveF I really like your thoughts about the possible context of “Destroy”. In one if these earlier posts I believe WVS explored the thought that the revelation as it sits now would be different had Joseph been able to prepare it for publication. The word “destroy” to us means one thing with our lens but maybe to Joseph and Emma it meant something more like SteveF suggests.

  18. RockiesGma says:

    Gosh, Emma losing her husband is a pretty painful way to “be relieved of having to abide polygamy or be destroyed.”

    Several times in these discussions, someone points out the harm these cruel words do to Emma and to all women in the church. Yet those who believe the revelation to be from God never address those comments. Why not?

    I’d really like to know why pro-polygamy people won’t answer the very thoughtful questions or address the comments made regarding psychological harm to women and conflict in marriages because of this section of the D&C. Please explain. Even better, please address the comments of those who have labored in study and prayer pointing out how harmful this form of marriage is. I appreciate the in-depth posts and commentary on historical facts that are pro-plural marriage. But how can we not recognize and address the clear problems, destructiveness, and harm this has caused? Why is the rest of the truth always swept under the proverbial rug? What good did plural marriage ever accomplish in any dispensation, but especially this one? What good fruit came forth? What harm did it cause and still causes? What bad fruit did it bring forth? What possible joys in the marriage comes to the many wives? What sorrows? What joys come to the husband? What sorrows? How does this commandment make the wives more Godly? How does it make the husband? How does it corrupt the wives? The husband? What are the short term and long term effects on the marriage for the wives? The husband? And then let’s go back and ask these questions regarding the many children.

    The Lord commands us to study things out in our mind with real intent, and to ask if it be right. Joseph and Brigham both feared that the members would just assume they, the prophets, were right all the time because they’re….well….prophets. I did this for the first 2/3 of my life. But there is great wisdom in the Lord’s council. Are we really studying this revelation well if we do not study it prayerfully from every angle?

  19. RockiesGma, I’m not sure I would quite qualify under the label of “pro-polygamy”, but I do believe D&C 132 is a revelation from God, so maybe I can offer a partial response. I think the reason several people do not respond to those comments pointing out the pain and suffering that Emma endured and that the women of the church endured/endure is because people recognize that these pains are legitimate and real. What more is there to say then yes it was and is a hard thing, particularly with our limited knowledge on the subject? There may be good things that can be said, but I believe the silence is an acknowledgement that the statements pointing out the pain then and now are fair. Or at least that’s what I think.

    I liked most of your questions, and I would also like to see these things more openly discussed, to look back and see the good and bad fruits, the pains, joys, hardships, endurance, and blessings. As for the theological issues, I look forward to the day when more light and knowledge is revealed on the subject, because it is clear that our understanding is very limited which makes intellectual and public reconciliation impossible only using what we know through public revelations. Individuals might obtain personal revelation on the subject to understand these things better for themselves, but personal revelation not yet revealed to the church ought to remain personal, and therefore publicly there will remain holes in the theology until further light and knowledge is given through the proper channels when we are collectively prepared to receive it.

  20. How many children did Brigham have? I think 50+
    Grandchildren?
    How about Wilford? Taylor?
    Although you might argue the net children per mother was not different than society at large, how might your upbringing be different as the child of an apostle in an undeveloped “new” country?

    Is there a possibility a fledgling church, potentially exposed to rampant apostasy within a generation or two like the one Christ setup was made stronger due to the sacrifice of women who brought children into a family of prophets and apostles? Would likewise others who endured such a sacrifice also potentially raise of a great generation of faith?

    I don’t suggest this as a complete answer. But it does inform part of my thoughts, and when the eternal implications of this righteous posterity is considered it’s effects are far reaching. Surely women, and men too albeit it to a lesser degree, sacrificed much. Surely we’re happy those days are passed. But I don’t curse them or belittle them. It stands as yet another feat of our ancestors that I feel inadequate to measure up in my own sacrifice.

  21. DonQ – the “believing blood” argument smacks of self-justification. It’s not enough that these leaders took all the wives, they had to boast about it too. That’s just like the FLDS leaders, BTW. I don’t see how that isn’t just greed and self-justification, very human failings. If the “blood” itself is truly better (genetically superior children result from these fathers), then that’s really the only benefit they are getting because polygamous fathers of 50+ children don’t have anything resembling a personal relationship with 90% or more of their children. The wives are creating the home environment absent any father’s influence. It bears zero resemblance to the families we sing about today.

  22. it's a series of tubes says:

    the very thoughtful questions or address the comments made regarding psychological harm to women and conflict in marriages because of this section of the D&C

    RockiesGma, I’ve appreciated your comments in this thread. I’d like to hear your thoughts on the numerous other instances in scripture where following God’s commandments seems very likely to lead to psychological harm or familial conflict…

    Matthew 10:34-37
    Deuteronomy 7:1,2 (and 20:16,17)
    Genesis 22:2-12
    1 Nephi 4: 10-13

    It seems clear that “does it hurt?” is a faulty measuring stick for determining if something is a commandment of God.

  23. conrad,
    Clearly we believe in some degree about our heritage. I’m a child of God has significance because we believe we’re…children of God. However, I’ve said nothing of sacred DNA.

  24. Sometimes there is rain. Sometimes it is a bitter cup. Sometimes it’s just plain Koolaid, and the adversary is pouring it.

    Sometimes we deify men when they are only prophets. And then we pick and choose which of their ideas we want to bury as though they had never occurred (handing over scads of power to John C. Bennett, Adam-God pseudo doctrine, the irresponsibility that led to financial disasters, the Deseret Alphabet, and virtually every pig-headed thing certain early polygamists had to say about their personal spryness spring to mind), and which of them we want to canonize.

    Sometimes we take the most heinous failed idea of all, and clasp it tightly to our communal chest, gasping for air and grasping at straws as we write volume upon volume of lame excuses for why God really did want this heinous thing.

    And maybe, just maybe, the horror and revulsion that so many feel toward a certain idea is the Holy Spirit bearing witness to their souls that the idea is, indeed, heinous. Maybe, as children of God, we’re supposed to be intelligent enough to get that.

  25. …or maybe it is simply the result of cognitive dissonance resulting from a lack of knowledge. I think the dissonance is very understandable, and I am sorry you and others who share your perspective feel so negatively towards these things. Yet there are others who feel differently, and I am just one among a great many of both men and women past and present who have received a personal witness through the Spirit that this revelation and principle was/is of God, with this there is no gasping for air or grasping for straws necessary.

  26. RockiesGma says:

    Tubes: the two OT passages you reference, along with all the others in the OT are the old covenant and lesser laws given to a hardened and stiff-necked people who would not accept the greater law.

    The one in Matthew comes from the new covenant…a greater law that teaches the hardened and apostate Jews that there will be turmoil in those families that don’t want to change to new laws that teach turning the other cheek and forgiving 7×70, rather than getting revenge for an eye for an eye as the multi-millennia old covenant taught. His sword is a figurative one of righteousness that signifies cutting through the old covenenat with exactness and establishing the new one. All of Christ’s new covenant teaches peace, forgiveness, walking two miles for someone who asks only one mile, no more slaughter of innocent animals to signify the innocent Savior’s soon-to-be crucifixion. The new covenant teaches LOVE with capital letters. It is a gospel of peace and comfort. “come unto me all ye that are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

    Nephi 4:10-13: the killing of Laben was not commanded by the Holy Ghost, in my opinion. It was commanded by the adversary in disguise. Nephi was young. He had testified just prior to his brothers that the Lord could slay tens of thousands, then why not Laban and his fifty? Indeed, why not? Laban was passed out drunk. By the time he came to in the morning or later, he would have been hung over. By the time he got his act together to make chase, the brothers and Zoram were long gone. There was no need to kill him. I also do not believe God teaches to not kill and murder, and then says to go ahead and kill and murder. If he believes a people need to be destroyed, along with women and children and infants, He is capable of sending plagues, storms, earthquakes and other acts of nature. Why would He command mortals who are striving to become Godly to do such ungodly acts? I love Nephi very much and do not condemn him. But I believe he made a serious mistake by taking Laban’s life. Also, Nephi lived under the old covenant and old laws. The new was not to come forth for 600+ years. Is there any passage of scripture since the new law and covenant were given where God commands someone to wipe out a whole people, or even take the life of one?

    In the Latter-day? We defend polygamy by saying there had to be a restoration of all things. Yet “an eye for an eye” was not restored. The old covenant and it’s lesser law was done away with the new covenant and greater laws. Polygamy IS a lesser law and a curse to a hardened people. When studying the old and new covenants, studying the fruits — good and bad — of each, we can clearly list only one possible good fruit of plural marriage which is more children to one man. I say this is a possible good fruit because the accounts of polygamy in our day tell of fathers having close relationships to but a few of the many. Fatherhood was sorely lacking. My direct ancestors didnt even live in the same state their father lived in. They knew him by infrequent visits, and even those ceased when their mother was no longer fertile. The youngest wives’ children didnt know their father because he was old and died. Further, the list of bad fruit from this form of marriage is extensive. Yet, the fruits of monogamy are extensively good. We are commanded under the new covenant to become one. When enough couples butcher this holy sacrament of marriage, the Lord leaves us to our folly and the lesser laws.

    The early Saints rejected the Law of consecration. Not all, but most. It was too much for them. Brigham Young went on a mission to the east and spent a year among a polygamous sect. He wrote Joseph of it’s positives. When he returned, he brought many polygamous converts with him. Joseph was also very young and inexperienced. He taught that revelations come from God, the Devil, and from our own minds. I firmly believe there was so much turmoil and conflict in Kirtland and beyond that the Lord left the Saints to their own folly. Plural marriage in our day brought forth no good fruit, except possibly a greater number of children per man. But the harm brought to the women and their multiple marriages negates that possible good fruit. Thus, I believe Joseph received this revelation regarding polygamy from the dark side or from his own mind. I love and admire him. But I believe he made several mistakes.

    In monogamy, for those who strive to keep the commandment to become One, the fruits of goodness, joy, peace, satisfaction, growth, happiness, and godliness from within the marriage relationship are too many to list. Therefore, I share my spiritual confirmations that monogamy is the higher law, the godly form of marriage, and that plural marriage is a lesser law and even a cursing to those who cannot abide the greater laws.

    Surely exaltation is governed by the greatest of all laws. We aren’t even to the terrestrial Zion level as yet. From my experience, most LDS couples are not actively nourishing their marriages or earnestly striving to become One. I would hope we don’t give up on the godliness of monogamous marriage.

  27. RockiesGma says:

    SteveF: you are always so respectful in your comments. I admire that very much.

    You said silence to the questions regarding the suffering and inequality of polygamy is an affirmation of such. Did I understand you correctly? I’ve never heard of not answering questions as being an affirmation. Rather, I’ve always thought it meant I don’t have an answer, or I’m ignoring the question(s), or I’m on the fence. I’ve never felt validated, let alone affirmed by silence. In fact, it makes me feel the opposite.

  28. Haha, I’m laughing because this parallels some communication issues I’ve run into in my own marriage. It could be just me or perhaps this is a more common male vs female communication style thing, but I can recall several times when my wife has brought forth an issue and I find myself nodding my head in agreement and feel that settles the matter, whereas my wife seems to feel that my relative silence means I think she’s overreacting or wrong in something she said. In the beginning, I was baffled by such reactions. Or even more frequently, if there’s an aspect of our marriage that is going well, I feel no need to bring it up, and the silence means to me that everything is going absolutely great; but for my wife she feels that prolonged silence means that something is wrong since in her mind I would be saying positive things or expressing affirmation if everything was going well. I’ve tried to work on this because I think my wife is right that it is good to verbally express to a person or people when when you find that things are going well and to verbally validate when you agree with a person’s thoughts, I think this is a very Christ-like thing to do, although I still forget to do this from time to time.

    So to me, yes, the silence meant validation, but I believe you are right that it would be better and more correct if I or others chimed in to let you know that. Thanks for the reminder. I do think there was a significant amount of pain, suffering, and hardship that came as a result of law of polygamy, and I think it is fair and even important to point that out.

  29. it's a series of tubes says:

    Nephi 4:10-13: the killing of Laben was not commanded by the Holy Ghost, in my opinion. It was commanded by the adversary in disguise.

    Thanks, at least we are clear about where we disagree. Given that your opinion facially contradicts the express statement in that passage, I don’t think further discussion on the topic is likely to be productive.

  30. it's a series of tubes says:

    old covenant and lesser laws given to a hardened and stiff-necked people who would not accept the greater law.

    It’s funny, that’s not how Abraham is described in any scripture, whether before or after Christ. Hmmm, in a parable Christ even referenced his bosom as a place where the righteous dwelt. The most recent canonized reference to him, D&C 138:41, refers to his presence in the celesial kingdom and calls him the “father of the faithful”.

    Tough to square that circle, isn’t it?

  31. RockiesGma says:

    Tubes: not at all on squaring things up. You need to put in the decades of study to be able to discuss old and new covenant. Christ,Himself, said the old law was for a hardened people. Abraham fulfilled the old law he lived his mortal life under. As did Nephi. As did Elijah. As did Alma, et al…….. The Savior gave Joseph the fullness of the gospel in the very early years. The church as a whole failed to accept it and live it. So He chastened them, to it away, and gave them the lesser law. It’s all right there to see and learn. Just as in the old law and Old Testament times, the law of tithing came into application rather than the law of consecration. Polygamy was only allowed under the lesser law. There is no plural marriage taught by Jesus in the gospels, nor in the new covenant. The Nephites were not allowed it precisely because of the pain and suffering of His fair daughters, even in the old law and covenant.

    If ever there was a small group of people you’d think needed a seed raised up to the Lord it would be Lehi’s and Ismael’s families in the promised land. Yet they were forbidden because of pain and suffering to women! Holy cow! Imagine that!! It was not allowed because of the sorrow it brings women.

    I notice you cherry pick one or phrases I wrote. Laban being killed by a prompting not from God. What about Nephi’s own testimony that the Lord could slay tens of thousands, then why not Laban and his fifty? Have you ever thought bought that paradox? Have you prayed about it? Have you labored over it prayerfully for several years? Or do you just take every incident as pure and right? Do you not take the commandment to study the scriptures very deeply? It’s okay if you don’t, but to say we have nothing to discuss as you easily dismiss my study and prayers so condescendingly isn’t nice at all. I hope you’ll reconsider and address the other remarks I made to your own scriptural passages.

    God only asks painful things if it leads to greater godliness. Can you show any possible godliness in marriage that comes from the pain and suffering of polygamy? Please be specific. I would really appreciate it.

  32. RockiesGma says:

    SteveF: hey, thanks. Bless Sister F. For helping you get the female perspective.

    Actually, I don’t need validation regarding polygamy. I have had that generously from the Lord. What I would like/love to see is men answering sincerely the difficult questions that must be asked….and addressed….when discussing polygamy. It seems we say this was hard for Emma to accept, or we can see how it would be hard for any woman to accept, but……it’s commanded of God, so you must accept it, questioning isn’t righteous, you can’t be exalted without it, you’ll love your sister wives up there, you’ll see it differently, and so on. But we do not address the hard questions of the realities that of the fruits of this form of marriage, nor all the other things pointed out about in this thread. I would very much like several people to address the fact that it fractures intimacies in marriage — how the husband is no longer required to become One with his wife, he gains in abundance, indulgence and variety…..but each wife must be fulfilled with less and less time, etc. etc. How can this be desirable for exalted women?

    All other gospel laws and principles clearly show their benefit, goodness, worth, happiness, joy, and desirability. We can discern their value and godliness as part of the plan of Happiness. Yet polygamy shows the exact opposite for women. It seems we must deeply study anything that is this different from the established pattern of God.

  33. Gma
    No one needs to answer it. Is between you and the Lord. If your satisfied with what you’re answer is I’m not seeing why your beating a disowned horse that belonged to a neighbor that died over 100 years ago. Shall we dig up the carcass, burn it and scatter the bones to the four quarters of the planet?

    No one teaches the things you claim. If you hear someone teach it rather than a private conversation /pondering, and even then… It’s probably best to say that person really is going beyond the teachings of the modern day apostles. We should look to the Lord’s servants for our direction and look to what they are being asked to teach by the Lord and do the same in our own teachings.

    I don’t hear these things being taught by anyone in authority.

  34. DQ, do you consider the Doctrine & Covenants and temple ceremonies authoritative?

  35. SteveF, no, no cognitive dissonance here. CD would require a conflict between multiple accepted beliefs, and I had it in full measure in my youth when I bought the idea of prophetic infallibility. But no more.

    I remember distinctly the day that I received a spiritual witness that I need not worry about the issue of polygamy, and it gave me a great degree of comfort for several years. I believe that witness was a gift of spiritual triage from loving Heavenly Parents. They bound my wounds and comforted my soul, allowing me to grow and progress in the gospel. As I matured and sought additional knowledge, the old wounds began to ache, driving me to my knees again and again, as I tried to find some sense of self worth in this universe that was built by and for men, but was populated by a nameless, faceless, infinitely large mass of eternal wombs.

    Does a universe like that make any sense at all? No, it does not. And when I finally developed the charity to see all prophets, past and present, as human beings with human failings, and stopped requiring of them a standard of perfection that no mortal can achieve, the dissonance disappeared and I was able to say of plural marriage, “Well, that experiment went poorly.”

    Nevertheless, this “dead horse” that DQ accuses us of beating is still a problem because it remains in our scriptures, and in our temples. And now that my children are grown and gone, with families of their own, I see that old serpent rearing its venomous head and causing damage within their marriages. Entitled men who see their wives, not as their one and only, but as their first of many, who never completely bond with them as they hold something in reserve. They were never instructed to give themselves, and they don’t. I see it everywhere I look in the church, but it’s especially heartbreaking in my own children. And section 132 gives them license to do it.

    In every congregation I see men with fuzzy boundaries and porn addictions who are unable to completely close the door on window shopping, partly because they have sanctioned expectations of eternal harems. I see young women who study the scriptures and suddenly realize, with horror, what their futures may hold.

    If that horse is truly dead, then it needs to be hauled away, because the stink is overwhelming and poisonous.

  36. it's a series of tubes says:

    You need to put in the decades of study

    :) OK, it’s clear there’s nothing productive left to say in light of overwhelming rhetoric like this… and so as they say on Shark Tank – for that reason, I’m out.

  37. OldJen says, “[Men] who never completely bond with them as they hold something in reserve. They were never instructed to give themselves, and they don’t. I see it everywhere I look in the church…”

    Either you have serious issues of misandry, or you’re too quick to judge things you can’t possibly know. You’ve now taken your personal concerns and questions and extended them in a way that makes the entire church into an embodiment your concerns. Such a lack of charity makes discussion impossible.

  38. WI_Member says:

    So can anyone please tell me why a woman is required to give herself to her husband, but a husband is not required to give himself to his wife? If this has nothing to do with polygamy, then what other reasons are there? I’m so tired of hearing that men and women make the same covenants. We don’t. The language is different.

  39. WI_Member, someone else asked me that exact question earlier this year, so I asked a friend who was in her 80’s what that wording meant to her, figuring it might be something different to an older generation. She said that her grandmother explained that the “give” and “take” wording reflected a time when women had far less power and autonomy – when women regularly were given by someone else (like a father) and taken by someone else either without their consent or without any personal choice. She said that being able to choose to “give herself” to someone before that person could “take her” was an empowering concept – that such a construct put the outcome in the hands of the woman.

    I think there are issues with that view in terms of many instances of polygamy, but I had never considered it the way she explained it to me – and, outside polygamy, I can see why women in a different time would appreciate the wording.

  40. OldJen, you’re seriously blaming the problem of pornography in the Church on the old institution of polygamy?

    How can you possibly reconcile this with the fact that 86 percent of Church members find polygamy morally reprehensible? More members find polygamy wrong than find abortion wrong. More members — twice as many — find polygamy wrong than those who find drinking alcohol wrong. Almost four times as many find polygamy more wrong than divorce. (Pew Study: Mormons in America.)

    It’s really starting to sound like some of the commenters on this thread may be living in a fantasy world spun out of the threads of their own concerns with the history of the Church. So what else can we blame on polygamy? Global warming? Ring around the collar?

  41. Anon,
    Old Institution Of Polygamy > porn addiction? No, of course not.
    D&C 132 > expectation of eternal polygyny > fuzzy boundaries > “window shopping” > weirdly rationalized porn viewing? Yes, absolutely, *in some instances*, and I stand by that claim. Didn’t think I would need to spell the progression out in detail.

    Citing the Pew Study is all well and good on a very superficial level. Surely you understand how inherently flawed such studies are? “Mr. Brown, do you find polygamy morally reprehensible?” “Why, yes! Yes I do! Who wouldn’t? I’m no polygamist!” If there were some way to get a completely unbiased, truthful answer from the minds of active Mormon men (and there is not) to this question, “Brother Brown, do you believe that you will have more than one wife in the eternities?” I am certain that the numbers would be reversed.

  42. No, OldJen, the numbers would not be reversed. I pretty much can guarantee that 86% of active Mormon men alive today do not believe they will have more than one wife in the eternities. That percentage might say that some men will have more than one wife (especially men who truly have loved and been sealed to more than one woman), but only a very small percentage would say that they personally will have more than one wife.

    Even the most staunch defenders of polygamy tend to see it as a requirement for a specific time and a specific people, and most members believe it will not be the eternal norm. Just to bolster that point, the VAST majority of members don’t believe that God, the Father, has multiple wives. They believe in Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother.

  43. That is true especially outside the Intermountain West, where there is no personal ancestral tie to polygamy, and for converts with ties to the Church that began in the mid-late 1900’s and later.

  44. While it makes for interesting discussion, I am not sure that what individual members believe is actually very relevant here. The fact of the matter is that our church–our scriptures and our most sacred ceremonies–still advocate polygamy, in the eternities if not in the present time. And until that is addressed, in an official capacity and not just with a note in lesson manuals that says “if someone brings up polygamy, change the subject,” there are going to be a lot of women who have to spend their entire lives pushing aside fears that their eternal reward is going to be a horrible surprise.

  45. I concur with Ray. This ultra-negative view of Mormon men is disheartening to me to say the least, and I’ve found it difficult to even respond. As I grew up and have lived in Utah my whole life save for my mission (although I have also traveled quite a bit around US and many other countries for sports) I’ve had the opportunity to rub shoulders with quite a few lds men and learn about their views, and I have never met a single person, not one, who has shared the views you believe to be so common. Since there are adulterers, even murderers, and pretty wicked people in general that can be found in the church in the fringes, I do not doubt there will be some people who abuse principles like those found in D&C 132 in sinful ways – but such abuses/thoughts are repulsive to my very nature, and the general idea would be repulsive to every LDS man I’ve ever discussed the subject with.

    If you have the unfortunate opportunity to find someone who holds such views, I agree with RockiesGma that such people are unworthy of celestial marriage. But please to not project this wickedness on the rest of us.

  46. The default now is to seal everyone to everyone, and the common response is, “God will work it all out in the end.” I guess it all boils down to how we see God – as a merciful Being who will not force anything on anyone that person doesn’t want or as a Being who dictates what will happen, despite personal choice, desire, revulsion, etc.

    I don’t mean to make light of anyone’s feelings in saying that. I’m just saying that if someone believes in a God who will not make them live a life of misery, there is plenty in our theology that supports that view.

    I really don’t care all that much about what others believe when it contradicts what I believe. I expect differences of opinion, but I believe what I have chosen to believe. I try to learn from others, even those whose views are diametrically opposed to mine (even hardcore, rabid anti-Mormons can teach me some things I wouldn’t consider on my own), but, in the end, my faith is my faith, regardless of what others believe – and my faith tells me nobody will be forced into a polygamous relationship in the eternities against their consent. I think the vast majority of members agree with that belief, including the current top leadership, so I think what members believe is more than just relevant to these discussions.

  47. I do want to say, in response to SteveF that my experience with Mormon men has been entirely the positive experience you describe. And I want to believe the things Ray describes, which is what makes this passage of scripture so very troubling. When I was a young mother, dealing with a lot of stress in being apart from my husband for weeks at a time due to his work, and living in a foreign country away from the familiar things of my youth, I began questioning my faith and found myself very troubled by the polygamist history of the church. I shared my concerns with a church leader, who encouraged me to read D&c 132. Even growing up the daughter of a bishop, I had somehow managed never to read these words, or not to notice them. And when I read the scripture telling me that women who do not accept polygamy will be destroyed, it opened a flood gate of doubts and fears. Suddenly I looked around the church I had always lived happily in and realized that women, while talked of glowingly, were nowhere in any official message from God except as property of men–I noticed our absence in the scriptures, I noticed the differences in our temple vows, I noticed the absence of a Heavenly Mother figure and I suddenly thought “DOES God love me? DOES He want my happiness? Or do those promises only apply to men?” And I still haven’t fully reconciled that. It’s been almost ten years now. And I am growing tired. I am finding myself drawn to belief systems that don’t require me to just…hope that things are different than the actual documents of the religion show them to be.

  48. I respect that, Nona. I really do. I hope you find peace in whatever way it comes. I simply believe it can come in the LDS Church, particularly given the type of God in whom we believe. Part of my peace (most of it, really) has come from accepting that my view of God is more important than my view of the imperfect tools he is forced to use, including myself.

    I believe all of us see through a glass, darkly (even our prophets), and all of make mistakes (even our prophets), and all of us sin and come short of the glory of God (even our prophets), and all of us are held accountable to the dictates of our own consciences (even our prophets), and God’s grace is sufficient for all his children (even our prophets), and that, in the end, we will be blessed for our faith, no matter its shape and content (even our prophets). I don’t believe you have to accept polygamy to have the highest reward possible. I believe you simply have to try to live your beliefs and allow others the same privilege, whatever form that takes, as charitably as you can, whatever degree that is.

    God bless you on your journey.

  49. Thanks, Ray.

  50. WI_Member says:

    Ray, thank you for sharing your understanding of this difficult issue. I am not trying to argue or be a troublemaker, I really am trying to understand how this all fits with a loving Heavenly Father and Mother who would not force something (polygamy) on unwilling women. But I keep coming back to Emma and how marriages were contracted behind her back, against her will, with threats of her destruction if she did not go along with it. To me, that sounds very much like force. I look at the transcripts of the Reed Smoot hearings that admit that the wife’s consent meant nothing. I can see how it may be argued that additional wives knew, to some degree, what they were getting into, but this was forced onto first wives who had no idea that the rules could (and would) change. And it’s not like they could simply choose to divorce and walk away. They were dependent on their husbands for everything.

    To me, the fear is that God can change the rules at any time. If Emma, who was called an elect lady, a priestess, and sacrificed so much even prior to the institution of polygamy, could be forced into such an awful situation then why not women today or in the future? It does happen now….men may be sealed to more than one living woman. I know that was discussed earlier. I think of the Hans Mattsson situation where the church representatives Richard Turley, in a frustrated admission, said as much, that we do believe in polygamy. So that is where I come from, fear.

  51. WI_Member, fwiw, I am ambivalent about polygamy, for reasons not all of which need to be spelled out here. The “angel with a drawn sword” vision and the theological coercion are not things I personally can accept right now. I simply was sharing what someone expressed to me about the “give and take” aspects of the marriage vows – and I would love it if the wording was changed to reflect our modern sensibilities and perspectives.

    Changes, both minor and major, have occurred in the past to aspects of temple ordinances (often to make them more compatible with current understanding), so I would love to see more changes for the same reason.

    I really do think that the overall topic is much more complicated that many members think, but I tend to over-analyze lots of things, so YMMV. Having said that, I simply don’t believe in a God who will change the rules arbitrarily – or change the eternal rules in any significant way. I believe in mortals doing the best they can to implement what they see and believe, so I believe major changes are a result of evolving human understanding – including regressions in some cases. I think that’s one reason we are told not to lean on the arm of flesh; I just think we interpret that too narrowly, sometimes.

  52. SteveF, you commented earlier on this post, “I am just one among a great many of both men and women past and present who have received a personal witness through the Spirit that this revelation and principle was/is of God…” so I’m not quite sure how you claim to not know anyone who shares those views. My views *are not* that Mormon men are terrible. I have not said that at all. My point is that the relic of polygyny in our scriptures and temples can, and often does have detrimental effects on church members. I wish it were not so.

    Ray, I want to believe the way you do more than you can imagine, but personal and professional experience has made that impossible. I do currently live within the Mormon corridor, and admit that that may color my views, though the first time I was referred to as a man’s plural wife was in Hawaii in 1979. The most recent time was a week ago. I have heard the divinity of polygamy taught in gospel doctrine classes multiple times, and as recently as 4 years ago. I, and many women that I know, have had more negative experiences with leftover bits and pieces of the principle than you might fathom, but we usually don’t talk about them with men. I was going to list a bunch of them, but realize that really would cast mormon men in a negative light, and that certainly is not my intention. Mormon men are amazing! ;) The effects of a belief in polygamy are not.

  53. I also respect that, OldJen, since it is your personal experience. May you find peace, as well, however that can happen.

  54. Yes I have met lds people who believe that polygamy can be a righteous principle with a purpose if God commands it – as Ray said, “as a requirement for a specific time and a specific people”. Those I have spoken with tend to see this as a minority circumstance and exception to the norm, and almost always express that they themselves would *not* personally want to live it. I was not suggesting I haven’t come across these types of thoughts. But for sake of clarity, what I meant is that I have never met an LDS man who holds any of the beliefs in the following list or engages in any of the behaviors in the following list due to those beliefs:

    1) Entitled men who see their wives, not as their one and only, but as their first of many
    2) who never completely bond with them as they hold something in reserve [due to polygamy]
    3)They were never instructed to give themselves, and they don’t (side note: most people I know, especially men, don’t even realize that the wording is even different in the first place in the sealing ceremony, let alone use it to justify not serving/giving themselves fully to their spouse–I don’t even see how such justification could be possible given what we are consistently taught by our leaders about how to treat our spouses in marriage and the need to become one)
    4) [People who think that] section 132 gives them license to do it
    5) congregation[s of]…men with fuzzy boundaries and porn addictions who are unable to completely close the door on window shopping, partly because they have sanctioned expectations of eternal harems
    6) expectation of eternal polygyny > fuzzy boundaries > “window shopping” > weirdly rationalized porn viewing

    I concede that even though I have not had personal experience with anybody like this, such wickedness may exist out there, and it sounds like you have had the displeasure of encountering this in some places. But, if there was a significant portion of men who were like this, I find it highly unlikely that I would not have come across even one in my lifetime.

    I disagree that a belief that polygamy is of God and a righteous uplifting principle that blesses his children when it has been commanded, necessitates bad effects. People might abuse and use a righteous principle for wicked ends, but that does not make the principle itself bad nor the root cause of those evil ends.

  55. Question on the sealing concerns. Is the Holy Ghost subservient to us?
    We have to make ourselves worthy to receive it right? Likewise consider the oath and covenant of the priesthood where one receives all the Father has by receiving the Lord, and we receive the Lord by receiving his servants. In either case is one of these subservient to the one who has to make themselves worthy to do the receiving?

    I don’t think you have a leg to stand on if you think receive turns a woman (or the Lord, or the HG, or the apostles) into property when you consider the way the word is used in the context of our faith. There’s more that could be said, but it too would likely be picked apart so why say it? In fact, I wonder if this is just how the Lord feels when it comes to withholding further light on many issues.

  56. WI_Member says:

    DonQ, both husband and wife receive each other. Only the wife gives herself. I am asking why the disparity.

  57. Well, Don, now that you’ve set yourself up as God on the issue…and a God weary of these women and their troublesome concerns…I’m reluctant to continue the conversation, but…I did have a couple of comments/clarifications, so I’m going to stick around just a bit longer.

    First–the inequity in the marriage covenants isn’t really the thing that bothers me. I don’t love it, but I can follow your line of thought there, and I feel like my own personal marriage is so entirely equitable that I have no qualms there. For me it is the endowment ceremony and the way that I never get to covenant with God, but instead with my husband. It makes me feel like God doesn’t want to talk to me. And I just can’t seem to get over that.

    WI_Member summed up my fears EXACTLY when she said “To me, the fear is that God can change the rules at any time.” That is the problem right there. And it’s not just polygamy. I mean, if God can take the thing most precious to me–the love of my husband–and just throw it away, what is to stop Him from demanding…ANYthing? It makes Him feel entirely untrustworthy and unreliable and really really scary.

    Additionally on the “God won’t force anyone to live polygamy” line–a major problem with that is that I have many times heard people say, as a comfort, that God won’t force you to choose, but also that it may be required of some people in order to reach the highest degree of glory, which by the way, is also the only part of Heaven where you get to remain united with your family. So…accept sharing your husband or live without him altogether. Doesn’t seem like a very lovely choice.

  58. RockiesGma says:

    DQ: you say no one teaches it. This proves you do not study on your own what’s readily available on pro-LDS history sites. You only know the Sunday School version which is very superficial. Yet, by your own words this form of marriage is very complex. If that works for you, no problem.

    But this subject IS very complex and it. Still.Haunts.the.Women.of.this.Church!

    It is terribly uncharitable to not answer the important questions of the whole principle of plural marriage. I’ve not gone beyond what the Apostles teach on this subject because they do not teach anything at all. They avoid it like the plague…….because it has a very dark underbelly and is full of sorrow, pain, and harm. It’s very questionable on many fronts. Why should they deal with it when we need to deal with missionary work, welfare, service, tithing, and temple work?

    But then someone, many someone’s does a blog post or a series of them on this subject. And folks such as your good self make supportive comments that further torture these women. You don’t mean to. But it still happens. And lesson manuals just do not tell the whole story.

    It’s absolutely critical for the whole story to be told and for hard questions to be considered. You cannot answer them, and that’s ok. But someone needs to answer them, because so, so many men secretly or openly and eagerly await “many hot babes” as expressed above in their exaltation. And their wives have already been deeply hurt by these comments made at home over the years. Many women withhold their full love and expression of it to try to protect themselves from this future “threat.”

    So it’s not a dead horse by any means. Please don’t become mean and condescending because you’re being told more than you wish you knew. Leave the blog if it bothers you. Try being your wife and living under this black umbrella your whole mortality and your husband’s hoped for eternity.

    This problem alone…..this reality for many women…….is evidence of the long-term effects of polygamy.

    ” 22 And now I make an end of speaking unto you concerning this pride. And were it not that I must speak unto you concerning a grosser crime, my heart would rejoice exceedingly because of you.. 23 But the word of God burdens me because of your grosser crimes. For behold, thus saith the Lord: This people begin to wax in iniquity; they understand not the scriptures, for they seek to excuse themselves in committing whoredoms, because of the things which were written concerning David, and Solomon his son. For behold, I, the Lord, have seen the sorrow, and heard the mourning of the daughters of my people in the land of Jerusalem, yea, and in all the lands of my people, because of the wickedness and abominations of their husbands.
    32 And I will not suffer, saith the Lord of Hosts, that the cries of the fair daughters of this people, which I have led out of the land of Jerusalem, shall come up unto me against the men of my people, saith the Lord of Hosts….35 …Ye have broken the hearts of your tender wives because of your iniquity, and lost the confidence of your children, because of your bad examples before them; and their sobbings ascend up to God against you.”

    So, DQ, if you don’t want to find my words credible, I trust you find the Lord’s most worthy from Jacob 2. He states quite clearly that polygamy is a grosser crime than pride. That’s pretty gross.

  59. RockiesGma says:

    SteveF: you said you believe this is a righteous principle and does not cause harmful effects.

    This just staggers my mind. I’ve listed multiple harmful effects from readily available journals and histories online. How can you possibly not see the harm this causes? The Lord, Himself, describes it in Jacob 2!

    My goodness…..brethren……what’s up with not accepting the truth? By doing this, you completely negate the female perspective. You negate what women have suffered. You make it sound like our perspective is unfounded and exaggerated, or overly dramatic. YOU don’t know men who express comments we’ve heard, so it’s only a few fringe guys who want to live it someday.

    But that doesn’t even matter. You’re still not getting it!!! (Not yelling here but my iPad doesn’t underline.)

    It’s in our canon.
    It’s has hurt every generation who ever lived it. (Read the OT and BoM.)
    It’s prophesied to return.
    There are quotes by latter-day prophets that it is required for exaltation.
    It’s in our canon!
    We uphold it as from God.
    It hurt every single couple who entered into it. (Read the OT and BoM)
    It hurts women today — and not a few and not the fringe. Many women sweep it under the rug or shelve it or don’t know all the facts. But for many, just ask…..it’s a deep and abiding fear.
    It’s an on-going threat for the future.
    It’s part of our canon.
    It’s part of the sealing ceremony. When you study where the ceremony came from, you learn that women give themselves and men receive them, but don’t give themselves back because this would preclude them from receiving further wives. the sealing ceremony was about and for polygamy.
    And we absolutely believe if God has changed things in the past, He can change them again, and if you don’t get on board you’re not a righteous person! You’re weak. You don’t trust God. You’re not worthy. Good enough. Etc. Look what we think of anyone who turns down a Primary calling?
    And don’t forget, it’s in our canon, ever looming with threats of being destroyed.

    I don’t know, maybe trying to help anyone discover the whole story or the female perspective is just futile. Ray: I love, love your perspective. But with utmost respect, your perspective is like mine — we have no power or authority that our perspectives count. This form of marriage is in our canon and we teach it is of God by revelation….. Accept or be destroyed. That’s the perspective that counts — the only one we consider binding! That’s the horror, the fear, the harm, and the destruction done to women. Until it’s de-canonized, it will not end. And de-canonization is not an option. They only did that to the Lectures on Faith.

    Can’t you brethren see this? Please say you understand and you get it. And if you do, try answering some of the questions.

  60. RockiesGma says:

    And whoever said something about picking this apart, this is called study and learning. Every negative stated is fact. If you study it out as commanded to do, you, too will learn these facts. But it isn’t picking apart what is real and true.

  61. What RockiesGma said.^^

    Like it or not, as long as it is part of our canon and in our temple ceremonies, it is doctrine, and those who search will find it.

    My husband, hands-down one of the finest and most intelligent people on this planet, never really noticed any of it for his first 35 years of temple attendance. Quite an accomplishment, really, as I’m sure most here would expect that I pointed out every problem at every opportunity, and they would be correct :). His non-perception all changed, however, the day we accompanied our daughter through the temple for her endowment, and he was horrified. Interesting how it doesn’t really matter until it *really* matters.

  62. Ditto to my husband beginning to see the church in a whole new light now that we have a daughter. Suddenly “my issues” seem a whole lot “less emotional” when he thinks about her internalizing these things which she will!

  63. RockiesGma, you’ve misunderstood what I said. I thought I made it clear before that I acknowledge there have been hardships and pain past and present because of polygamy. What I said was that I think when commanded and done correctly, it can be done in righteousness to the blessing of all parties involved, and the principle in and of itself does not necessitate bad effects. To me a large portion of the bad effects are attributable to incomplete knowledge, human frailty, mortal imperfections, mistakes, poor implementation, and even outright unrighteousness.at times.

    I find your interpretation of the history and theories behind the principles marriage and overall theological framework to be too narrow in scope. You have framed the purpose of marriage in large measure to be about what men and women *get* out of the marriage, but I think a lot changes simply by looking at marriage as what parties are supposed to *give*. From the male perspective, think how much was required to even attempt to adequately give and provide for the temporal, physical, emotional, and social needs of the many wives and children that were a part of his family. From the perspective and responsibilities to give and provide for the family, I think a case could be made for how incredibly difficult and burdensome this responsibility was for the fathers so commanded to live this law. Your framework paints past lds men involved in the practice as selfish and indulgent, but I think this is an unfair portrayal of those honestly doing the best they could with the understanding they had. Like OldJen, you also seem to feel that there are a great many LDS men who are likewise selfish and indulgent, but as I pointed out this does not match my personal experience at all, and I take offense to the suggestion that my thoughts and motives could be so incredibly base. In short what you have presented falls flat for me, and only tells a tale of hardship for women and almost completely passes over the hardship faced by the males involved, and nearly completely disregards the many testimonies of those involved concerning the good and blessings they felt they received from living the law. To primarily focus on the pain of women (while a this is a very important part of the story) at the expense of everything else, for me skews the reality and leaves me feeling incomplete.

    However, as I alluded to earlier, I feel that given the current light and knowledge revealed to the church, it is impossible to reach full intellectual and public reconciliation on the topic, to truly explain the theology, righteousness, blessings, and Godly purposes of this principle. To me it is like asking someone to explain relativity and/or quantum mechanics only using Newtonian physics, it is simply impossible. Yet just because time dilation is impossible to explain using only Newtonian physics, it does not mean that time dilation is therefore an untrue principle; rather it is a true principle regardless if it can be explained or not.

    Likewise I feel there are many holes in our current light and knowledge that makes a full explanation and reconciliation behind the doctrine of polygamy impossible. (Things that may significantly alter the way portions of the endowment are currently presented, for example.) Or in other words, I don’t think it is possible for me to give you an adequate explanation to all your questions given only what has been openly revealed. Yet, just because it is currently intellectually inexplicable given what we can discuss, does not make it an untrue or unrighteous principle, it may simply mean that there is yet to be further light and knowledge given that will fill in gaps and provide a new framework and lens that all may finally be understood to a perfect satisfaction. And I believe this is the case in regards to polygamy. To me, a great thing about revelation is that we can know a truth before being provided a perfect framework for intellectual understanding.

    I respect your opinion and understanding on the matter, and allow you your ideas and explanations as you see fit. So I ask that I also be allowed my own, to be allowed to trust the dictates of my own conscience without it being called out as being necessarily evil or said to be intentionally disregarding the facts. I certainly don’t think this is the case. How can anyone else know my mind and heart on the matter, or know the meaning of my personal revelation? I just don’t think they can. And so until greater public light and knowledge is given, we must allow for a diversity of opinions on the matter, and allow God to reveal to the Church greater light and knowledge on the subject when and how He sees fit.

    One thing I think we agree on however, is that if there are people using these principles and ideas for selfish ends, that they are engaging in great wickedness and will most definitely reap what they sow. (Also, fyi, my personal belief is that God and those of us who qualify will each eventually only have one eternal (as in infinite) marriage companion–so I’m guessing our opinions likely align on that major point as well).

  64. Gma says “I’ve not gone beyond what the Apostles teach on this subject because they do not teach anything at all. They avoid it like the plague”

    I prefer to take my queue from them. I’m loyal to them and likewise loyal to their predecessors. My loyalty to them is a reflection of my desire to be loyal to the Lord, who called them. I do not believe I can do that by making rhetorical war with his servants past or present.

    In that light, you clearly go beyond what the Apostles teach, because you acknowledge they avoid it. I too would avoid it. And I see that this isn’t bearing any fruit and will bow out. All I’d ask is that you consider what the Apostles teach today because that is what God wants for us here and now.

    The author of this post is digging into history from an approach to learn something “interesting” but opening wounds in the process. Perhaps echoing Packer and tweaking it that not all study of history is useful…not to say this whole series is wrong, but clearly dwelling on it opens wounds for some and is the cause of contention. I’m not saying it should never have been written, but I suppose from my perspective I would have kept my interesting study and thoughts to myself. Again, not because I think we should avoid studying history or searching for truth in it, but because this public format puts complex issues on display that really aren’t what we need. Once again, looking to the Apostles and what they teach right now is what we need.

  65. “Again, not because I think we should avoid studying history or searching for truth in it, but because this public format puts complex issues on display that really aren’t what we need.”

    DQ, I agree. Probably time for you to bow out then.

  66. DQ, I agree with your sentiment of the need to be loyal to our prophets and apostles. I’m responding because in your last paragraph you seem to be conflicted about your opinion, and I thought I might offer some thoughts from the perspective of one who also feels the need to be loyal to the leaders at our head.

    I agree that what we are being taught is a good signal as to what is most important for the church to be learning/understanding as a whole right now. However, this says nothing of unique personal needs nor do I believe these things are a comprehensive whole of every worthy endeavor that pertains to personal growth. If we assume that we ought never to seek things not currently and expressly taught by our leaders, I think such a principle really restricts and narrows a great many and important opportunities for growth. That alone signals that something may be off.

    We are to learn by study and by faith, to study it out in our mind and our heart. I find studying church history to be a very worthy endeavor in this process, particularly history as it relates to canonized revelation to aid us in our understanding of those revealed words. And as the public at large are not all trained or practiced historians, it is helpful to people like me to learn from those who are in these matters, and so I appreciate when these things are publicly shared – I feel they are very valuable in my personal growth. I don’t think because this may not be a top priority for what the church needs to hear as a whole, and therefore is not taught directly by the brethren, makes it incompatible with what the brethren would find as worthy and righteous endeavors. I think rather that they would commend such activities. I think on reconsideration, you may agree.

  67. RockiesGma says:

    SteveF: I apologize if I misunderstood you. I’m sorry you feel I did. But……what hardships for men? I ask sincerely. In all my study I’ve read of immense poverty….of husbands cutting off older wives “who’ve had their day” to spend precious little income on the new and younger wives. I’ve read of immense poverty while funds are spent on jewelry or expensive coaches to escort a new girlfriend being courted to the theatre. I’ve read of wives going to work to support themselves because funds do not come from the husband who continues to add more wives. I’ve read of mothers going without dinner so her children could eat. I’ve read of wives going years without visits from the husband. I’ve read of husbands leaving for missions to England coming home to surprise the old wive that there’s a new one and “she better get used to it.”

    Please……do not think you can speak of only a very, very few public proclamations of it’s goodness and be telling the whole story.

    Then husbands did not come close to hardship the way their wives did. Wives just stopped hoping for emotional, mental, physical, social, and spiritual fulfillment through their husbands because their time was so divided.

    They just couldn’t do it. No man in mortality can fulfill the needs of one wife, let alone many. Women have to go without. They try to fill voids through other relationships: friends, children, sister wives —all outside the marriage covenant. It negates Oneness in a marriage.

    See, you keep promoting it’s goodness and possible happiness. You state you believe it’s from God. That’s your definite right and blessing to do so. But if you can feel this way…….you do not understand or in any way validate the common female perspective. Remember, if Sister F. was falling in love with multiple younger men — imagine her righteously flirting, holding hands, kissing, then marrying and you having to take the young man’s hand and give him to her knowing what was to come that night — try not to be tortured by that and their cozy closeness in the ensuing days. You say I dwell on baseness. I’m sorry you feel that way, but it’s the reality of couples who fall in love and marry. It’s not base, so much as biological. But it’s the clear and only way to create posterity. And no matter how righteous a man and woman are……that intimate act emotionally and physically rips the heart out of any spouse left behind.

    Emmiline Wells, general RS Pres. lamented in her journal that she would give anything if her plural husband could love her the way she loved him. He was mayor of SL at the time. He had no time for her other than a very brief checking in. Was he bad? I’m sure he didn’t think so. It depends on how the Savior looks at how sincerely he tried, as it is for all of us. But there is no way any sound person can look at Emmiline’s lamentation and say her marriage was good…..or that it made her happy…..or that they were any semblance of One.

    Sister Kimball wrote of being a little girl when her father began courting his second wife. She wrote of her innate feeling that something was very wrong. She saw her Mom’s sorrow as he laughed and joked with the new woman, Sister Kimball’s sister. Even her sister couldn’t take the pain out of him falling in love with someone else. Yet she was required to abide it and forever love only him.

    You wish to acknowledge the so-called positive perspective. Again, that’s your privilege. But that perspective is at best very incomplete and at worst an illusion. Sorry…..but it is. That’s the real truth. Have you read the full histories and journals of any of these people? And until you are willing to deal with the questions I’ve asked in the last two posts, any of you…..you are dealing with a very lopsided, unrealistic understanding of this form of marriage. And whenever anyone tries to point out these other points and realities, everyone is quick to jump on criticizing the messenger as too narrow in perspective, too broad in painting men as having abundance of romance, warping the harmful and destructive fruits of polygamy, and being a fringe person representing a small fringe of men and women.

    Okay…..I get that because that’s how it’s always been so yeah, I get it. Let’s just deal with the scriptures I quoted above. Nephites who needed posterity as much as early latter-day members were commanded not to do it. The Lord condemned David and his son for doing it. Sara got Abraham to participate in a moment of despair. You know the Jacob/Rachel/Leah mess. It has only caused heartache and still does. And don’t forget Brigham’s year among polygamists, some of whom he brought back with him.

    But it’s in our canon and upheld by men who believe it can be “done righteously” which I assume means without sorrow, pain, full Oneness and fulfillment for each wife, and you’ve
    answered ALL the questions and concerns…..and most of all, you believe it’s fair. And it’s okay that it says accept or be destroyed. And though every other gospel principle IS understood by good fruits and mortal understanding, this one is excused because it cannot be explained by our current abilities and understanding. This one is too Godly for mere mortals. Of course, since you can’t answer my questions with anything but the truth of the harms done, it must mean that you don’t have to answer at all because it must be beyond our spiritual quantum physics to do so. If this isn’t the pattern God established, no matter.

    I think most members do as I did for most of my life — I kind of encapsulated it in a bubble I shelved as a word…a past tense word barely on the surface of my gospel-centered life…..a bubble I couldn’t break so nothing real leaked out and I didn’t have to get in. Those were days of naiveté that were much easier than these where what you know does hurt and those you share with pretty much write you off.

    So I guess we each go with what we know, whether it be more or less. I invite every member to really study this polygamy. That’s all I can do. Study the scriptures, the histories, the journals. Start with Helen Mar Smith Kimball’s. Then go from there. unlike SteveF., I don’t think it’s rocket science or anywhere near the realm of anything beyond human understanding. It’s all right there to search and learn.

  68. RockiesGma says:

    DQ: my loyalty to the Prophet, all past ones from Adam to Pres. Monson, the Apostles, Seventy, General Auxiliary Officers, Stake Leaders, and Ward Leaders is full throttle. I hold a temple recommend and always have since my endowment. I attend the temple weekly when in AZ, and once or twice a month, sometimes more when I’m home. I magnify my callings. I magnify my efforts to study the scriptures.

    Because someone tells more of the whole truth does not make them disloyal in any way. And because one respectfully tells that truth, they are not the ones who cause contention. You didn’t like these truths…..you felt I was being misleading or embellishing or something negative — but that I was being truthful and factual you could not accept. So you began contending against me, rather than respectfully searching yourself. If it makes you feel contentious, I’m sorry. I have truly tried to honestly state things I’ve learned exactly as they are. But every person is vulnerable to at least some bias. If you study everything i have, you may see it more or less than the way i do, but you will never see polygamy the same way again. The full realities are not pleasant. There are hard questions no one wants to answer. So we avoid, deflect and couch it in theology beyond our abilities. I push back, not to be rude or contentious, but because we CAN answer these questions — we just don’t want to, nor do we like the answers.

    Plus I feel a tremendous loyalty to my ancestors who lived it, to Emma, Emmiline, Helen, and ALL the women from Sarah and Abraham’s day to Rachel and Jacob’s, to David’s, to the future prophesied day of sorrow for my sisters and daughters when it returns. DQ: do you ever think of loyalty to them? Do they even appear as a blip on your loyalty radar?

    WVS is a supreme scholar on this subject. He’s going to get to all this hard stuff. He’s not contending, but sharing and teaching. Maybe if it comes from a man it will be more palatable. But please stay and learn from him. You don’t have to read the comments.

  69. RockiesGma, you seem to think that men are happily able to overlook the suffering of their spouse or children if their personal selfish interests are being met, that there wouldn’t be a tremendous amount of guilt in not being able to adequately provide the necessities for someone they hold dear and love. This to me is extremely pessimistic, and I have faith that in large measure people are not so callous and selfish/self-interested as you seem to assume.

    The baseness I was referring to was not merely the topic of sex, but your suggestion that those who believe the words of our prophet that polygamy was commanded of God and can be done in righteousness have the desire to believe in the principle because they “secretly or openly and eagerly await ‘many hot babes’ ” in the life hereafter. Such a thought has never entered my mind or heart, and is disgusting and revolting to my very nature. I have a mother, a sister, a wife, and daughters – do you think I have no love for these people? Do you believe that females are the only people who possess any ounce of humanity and charity, especially towards those closest to them (i.e. spouse and family)? If any of us lose, all of us lose – for no person who possesses love can be satisfied or have joy when one person is receiving at the expense of another.

    It seems that I am very likely doing a poor job at explaining my thoughts, as you have misunderstood some of my thoughts again. I certainly do not believe that these things cannot be understood in mortality – I believe they most definitely can be. What I am saying is that in my opinion the full theology necessary to make sense of it all, the framework that can show the purpose of the principle and how it can be righteous to the blessing of all those involved, cannot be fully understood given what has been openly revealed to the church. A person may most definitely receive personal light and knowledge to understand these things in their fullness, but as far as intellectually or publicly coming to this full understanding/reconciliation based only on what the church has revealed to this point – I believe it is not possible. What you are asking for, in order to answer all your questions satisfactorily, is for someone to provide this very framework and theology, but until it comes through proper channels no person can justifiably offer that to you (given that it does indeed necessitate unrevealed principles as I have suggested). I think many of your questions can be addressed (such as the alternate interpretation for “destroy” I offered above), but it is my belief that answering all of them is impossible given the current public knowledge we possess.

    I do agree with you that it is a good idea for people to really study polygamy, it’s history and the words of our prophets on the matter, and to seek personal revelation on the matter if they have a desire to understand these things. For I believe at this time a satisfactory understanding will only come through personal revelation.

  70. “No man in mortality can fulfill the needs of one wife.”

    No, that can be done. If you doubt that:

    “My Father Passed Away This Morning: A Tribute” (http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2013/09/my-father-passed-away-this-morning.html)

    My father’s example is an extreme one, but it is representative of lots of men who fulfill the needs of their wives.

  71. “it is a good idea for people to really study polygamy”

    Not necessarily. Some people who are obsessed with the topic end up practicing it. I’ve personally known one such case. It ended up creating no end of heartache and hardship for a large family.

    And sometimes it’s better to let things alone. If you have a concern about something and there’s no crime being committed, register your concern and then to turn your attention to the good and happy things in life. Beautiful sunrises. Music. Sunshine. Exercise. Helping children learn to read. Going on a walk with a friend. Visiting a widow. Keeping in touch with old friends. Making new friends. Delivering Meals on Wheels. Playing cards with your friends every Tuesday. Joining a bowling league. Planting a garden. Finishing a degree. Helping at the library book sale.

    Live positively. Turn over the difficult things to the Lord. Be happy.

  72. RGma, my understanding was that the “old law” was the law of Moses, and that it came about because when confronted by God at the mountain the Children of Israel preferred to have Moses as their intermediary than commune with God directly for themselves. Whatever law Abraham, Jacob were following, it wasn’t the law of Moses at any rate.
    It is also my understanding that the NT commands us all to “be one”, whatever it might mean by that. It doesn’t apply only to husbands and wives.
    That said, I’m no fan of polygamy on the one hand. On the other, I have an aunt who married twice (her first husband died young), and who had children with both husbands. I’ve always wondered to what extent the stark “doctrine” taught then, that women would be required to choose between spouses had an influence on the inacticvity of her and her children (both husbands were non-members in any case, so there was no current sealing involved).
    I tend to think that as members can sometimes be over-certain in our view of what heaven looks like, though I agree with you entirely about the potential problems that our current doctrine can cause between husband and wife. And as practised historically, it didn’t work out well either.

  73. Thank you very much, Hedgehog.

    Ray, that’s a beautiful tribute. But my belief remains that because we are mortal, no one can fulfill the other’s needs 100% of the time. We forgive, as we definitely should, the multiple violations of feelings, the lack of companionship when we really need it because of meetings, work, callings, children, etc. There are seasons throughout marriage where health reasons, stress in all its forms, fatigue, and complacency plague our commitment to faithfully consider the other’s needs fully. But would that wives, as well as husbands, lived worthy of this tribute. Then, we must remember that if more spouses enter this relationship, time with another takes time and all those lovely things from the one.

    SteveF: I hear what you’re saying. You truly believe a man can righteously desire another woman/wife without being base and corrupt. In theory, that’s probably true. But polygamy is not a theory. It is a way of life with actual details that necessitate it’s fulfillment, and no matter how you package the outward appearance — meaning you might not flirt with your new girlfriend during courtship, or you might give Sister F. Consistent reassurances of your love for her, and you might not ever, ever share any special looks or handholding or such in front of other wives. Cody Brown on the TV show “Sister Wives” says he never does these things because he learned the hard way that it causes contention, hurt, and suffering all around. Yet the Dargers show open affection in front of the other wives all the time. Both men provide for their families financially, or their wives do. But all the wives in both families speak frequently of “doing without” because it’s “not my turn.” There is no conceivable way to not have to do without in polygamy. Wives fill voids within the marriage outside the marriage covenant, as discussed. The whole definition of the marriage relationship is changed. Even in the early days of the church, the prophet wearied of the complaints of plural wives. In one case he taught that romantic notions of marriage in monogamy are of the Devil. In another, he gave the women several weeks to make up their minds if they were going to accept it wholeheartedly and quit their murmuring or to leave their marriages — he would grant them divorces. But after the specified date, he wanted to here no more grievances. Where were they to go, and how were they to feed their children, clothe them, etc.? The option was not viable. And he knew that, but he was trying to stop them from expressing that they’re needs weren’t being met and they were suffering.

    I ask again, why would God command something so difficult and complex, so foreign to these people, and not give the details of how to do it well? He gave many details on how to establish the Law of Consecration. He gave them on the specs for the temple. He gave them on how to serve missions. But the hardest thing of all he speaks of a “man who espouses a virgin and he DESIRES another virgin” and a wife to accept and “she shall believe and administer unto him, or she shall be destroyed.” Then it adds, “For I am the Lord thy God, and will destroy her if she abide not in my law.”

    Does this sound like the Savior of the New Testament or the One who appeared to the Nephites? Does this sound like men are preferred and favored, and women are ruled over and cannot exercise their agency without being destroyed? Does this sound cruel? Does this sound inviting to a woman? These questions are simple to contemplate and to answer. But I freely admit it’s so much easier to say we just don’t understand, or we see through a glass darkly, or God will yet reveal more on this later, or there has to be a way to take care of the extra women in heaven, because women are more righteous than men, but it’s the men who get the reward.

    Obviously, something is “off.” I am about maxed out with trying to help others understand how destructive plural marriage is. At least for now. I again fervently invite all to study deeply the histories, journals, and scriptures and after doing so…..and throughout your study, pray about this form of marriage. Ask for open eyes, hearts, and minds. In the beginning, I was so resistant to believing anything negative and I rationalized that it wouldn’t be like that in heaven. I wanted to believe I could be happy by sharing and finding fulfillment through other wives, children, and friends. But I’ve seen the strains placed on my marriage when my husband travels for work and is quite busy with callings. Friends and children, grandchildren help. But they are not part of our marriage. He and I grow more distanced and it is almost always I who works at bringing us closer again because he “just isn’t made that way.” Oneness in marriage is a commandment of God. It is a unique oneness reserved for just that union and covenant. When we have seasons of it, there is nothing in all existence more heavenly and sublime.

    In the end, all of you who have faith in this polygamy still can’t seem to comprehend what women are told in section 132. You can’t seem to understand the hurt, the fear, the “lessness”
    of being women. Not once in the section is Joseph commanded to cleave to Emma or to minister to her needs. Nor is he taught to even care about them. They’re not even a blip on the marriage radar. And we deem it scripture from God. So…study. Find out for yourselves the whole story. Don’t shun the uncomfortable parts as I did for a long time. It’s not easy, but it makes one have far more charity and awakening to the realities of women’s lots throughout history, not just as plural wives, but as women in general. This, then, makes us better spouses, parents and grandparents . And that’s a very good thing.

    Todd Compton’s book, In Sacred Aloneness, is excellent. In think it’s Gregory? Smith who has another great work written on this. Sunstone and Dialogue have many articles. Search journals and biographies. BYU and Utah State have wonderful resources. The more you read, the more references you gain from the footnotes of the authors. And along the way you feel whisperings of these women near by. You will come to love them up close and personal, and your eyes will be opened. Each one of us is different, so your perceptions will not be mine. They WILL be only yours. Pray, pray, pray…..as you study, invite the Spirit and ask to be protected from the adversary. Pray for strength as scales fall off your eyes. Have a forgiving and/or non-judgmental frame of mind toward individuals, even as you make inevitable judgments about facts. It’s good to learn and grow, even when doing so is hard.

    A special word of thanks for this thorough discussion and for the respectful ways you’ve disagreed with me or pointed out how I misunderstood you. Thank you WVS for this series, and for providing a healthy place to discuss our deepest concerns on this subject. Wish I could underline this whole paragraph!

    And finally, I pay the utmost, profound tribute to my mothers and sisters throughout time. You have abided, you have endured, you have gone forward almost always……amid ownership, patriarchy, assault, trafficking, and abuses of every heinous kind. You have been strong — stronger than you know. You have inspired so many people. You have made sorrow lighter, found quiet dignity from within amidst humiliation, degradation, and poverties of every kind. You have laughed tears away and found strength beyond your own. Your daughters and sisters have learned from you throughout the ages. We carry the torch you have continually passed. Your worth is unspeakable. It is incomprehensible. And for each and every one of us, our day is coming.

  74. Thanks for your thoughts RockiesGma, especially your tribute to mothers and sisters throughout time. I find your well-thought-out viewpoints to be valuable.

  75. “my belief remains that because we are mortal, no one can fulfill the other’s needs 100% of the time.”

    That’s not the same thing as what you typed in the first comment. Just saying.

  76. Good point Anon, it’s probably not for everyone. As in all things, we should be wise and careful always following the guidance of the Spirit on such matters.

  77. RockiesGma says:

    Ray: 100% of the time in mortality. We can’t fulfill 100% of another’s needs in our marriage 100% of the time in mortality. We are too flawed and self-absorbed, and frequently pointing out we don’t understand the opposite gender. Yet we are commanded to try until we achieve true Oneness. And the journey there…..well, that’s the best part in my book.

  78. I agree, RockiesGma, with the last comment. It’s just not what you said the first time I quoted you. (imagine a huge grin emoticon)

  79. Okay Ray….what did I say the first time you quoted me? I better find out how I contradicted myself and fix that. Where did I say it?

  80. The first time it was, “No man in mortality can fulfill the needs of one wife.” The second time it was, “My belief remains that because we are mortal, no one can fulfill the other’s needs 100% of the time.”

    The first can be read cumulatively or based on periods of time (of various lengths); the second requires constant fulfillment. Those are very different things, since the first can be pursued mutually, while the second can be attempted only by one person in relation to the other. The only way, theoretically, for the second to occur is for the complete subjugation of personal desire and fulfillment by one person in the pursuit of the fulfillment of the other person. Even my father couldn’t accomplish the second, even though he literally laid down his life for my mom.

    My wife fulfills all of my needs, although at any particular time I might have a need she isn’t fulfilling at that moment – for any number of reasons. I hope she can say the same about me.

    In summary, the first (fulfilling another’s needs completely) is realistic for some people and worthy of effort for all; the second (doing so every second) is impossible and incredibly damaging as an expectation.

  81. Ray, are you a programmer?

  82. No, jynnifyr, I am not.

  83. Thanks Ray for my two statements. Stand by both, and don’t see any contradiction. We aren’t capable of perfection in mortality, right? So no husband (or wife) fulfills the needs of his wife (or her husband) all the time. We fall short. Life and imperfection get in the way, right? But we keep trying to do better, and the journey is pretty terrific.

    In regards to polygamy…..say a couple reach the state of oneness perfectly. Both husband and wife are able to comprehend the physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual needs that can only be met by the spouse. Certainly, these areas of need have links to other sources, but other sources can’t do all fulfillment — a goodly portion is needed from the spouse. So the couple reaches the level of oneness where they understand their roles in meeting needs fully and consistently, even adapting to inevitable changes and fluctuations in those needs. There’s no self-centeredness, no resentment, no stress, no confusion, and no being unaware. Time is made to do all that needs to be done. Both fulfill; both are fulfilled…..and marriage becomes a perfect state of oneness and joy. As equals, both go forward in the most sublime happiness!

    Now add a new courtship and subsequent marriage for the husband. Ooops…..he is spending quite a bit of time away from his wife. He is sharing affection with his new love. He thinks this new woman in his life is just remarkable. She’s different from his wife, but he’s becoming more and more crazy about her. She’s righteous, strong, talented, beautiful, and makes him feel very special as a man and special to her. They fall in love. They keep the commandments and keep their relationship chaste. In time, they marry. He feels indescribably blessed to have these two beautiful women to love and who love him.

    But, hmm….when he’s with one, he isn’t with the other. There’s always one wife alone and without…..well….him. His time is divided between them. And it seems when one wife needs him, he’s with the other. Then, when he’s back to the one, her needs have passed unfulfilled, or the moment for enjoying being together seems a bit more distant than close. His affection and attention have likewise been divided. Each wife is having to accept less of him — his time, attention and affection. He is never without these things from someone, but his wives inevitably are.

    Then, he begins the courtship of the third woman who will eventually become his wife. Now the wives will have one-third of his one-on-one time, attention and affection. He continues to be blessed with loving wives at all times, as well as with the sweet seasons of falling in love again and again. But each wife gets to fall in love but once and must continue to find fulfillment with less and less time, attention, and affection.

    How many times? How many wives? My ancestors came from 6 or more. One-sixth or less of one husband. In the heavens will there be 6? 50? More? Will there be a magic spell or something placed on each wife so that the amount of time, attention, and affection she does get will fulfill her 100% in all areas and then her needs stop until the next time she sees him? Or maybe there will be virtual husband holograms or clones of some sort where each wife will feel as though she’s with him even when she’s not. Does it matter if he’s the real husband or the fake as long as she feels his love, has time together with him, has his undivided attention, and his affection?

    Is this a higher form of holiness? A better way to be married? Is this heaven?

    I think I’ll have a warm cup of special tonic and ponder awhile….

  84. I respect your view highly, RockiesGma, and agree with you far more than you appear to think, but we are talking past each other. I just think there is a huge difference between fulfilling all of my needs and fulfilling all of my needs every moment, 100% of the time – and I think the difference is important in any discussion, of any kind, that deals with marriage.

    I think the two of us have said pretty much all we can say about it, and I appreciate what you have said. I think it’s fine to leave it at that now.

  85. RockiesGma says:

    Yes, I agree. I’m not talking about every minute, nor minute by minute fulfillment. I’m talking about when you need your spouse and they are consistently emotionally or literally unavailable, so the marriage is strained. Then when that spouse becomes available you’ve turned your needs off or tried to fill voids outside the marriage through children, family, friends, hobbies, etc. Those sources only work up to a point. At any rate, it’s very difficult to having matching needs just when the two of you are together. But maybe by then that won’t be the case. I’ve loved learning to be far more giving than seeking a sort of what’s-in-it-for-me approach to Oneness. I’ve loved learning to forgive more readily without holding my Love hostage to the past. I really like the wife I am today far more than the young one long ago. Soooo…….I trust I will continue this frequently less-travelled journey into levels of learning and development as yet unknown or conquered. Wherever exalted marriage takes us, I first hope to grow through a Zion one, and on beyond from there. I know it sounds a bit corny, but I love this sanctifying journey unique to marriage. It just gets better and better, I’m sure you and SteveF know. Thanks again for a thorough discussion.

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