Sunday Evenings with the Doctrine and Covenants. Section 132. Part 10: Ten Virgins. The Mechanics of Plurality (and Sex on Earth, and in Heaven). And Another Addendum: Excommunication.

This is part 10 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. The part following this entry is here.

Much of the July 12 revelation is simplistically divisible into two kinds of speech: 1) Joseph is in the right. 2) Emma is in the wrong. The last section of the revelation falls into both categories. Along with this, we also get some talk of “virgins.” Earlier text in the revelation treats issues of sexual transgression (see part 8 for example).

58 Now, as touching the law of the priesthood, there are many things pertaining thereunto.

If there was any doubt what the “law” really refers to in the revelation, this settles it, right? I’m not sure. I think this revelation consists of a scattering of concepts that Joseph was familiar with (by inspiration, I believe) at different junctures, linked by the theme of plurality. Again, I think the revelation, by an inspired hand, might be edited to display the foundations of current and ongoing practice. Mayhap the rest would be a footnote in history. I understand the height of the hurdle here, and I’m not staking any claims to revelation or inspiration about what, if anything, should be done with the revelation text, though in a later installment I’ll present a possible edited version. All that is merely my opinion.

59 Verily, if a man be called of my Father, as was Aaron, by mine own voice, and by the voice of him that sent me, and I have endowed him with the keys of the power of this priesthood, if he do anything in my name, and according to my law and by my word, he will not commit sin, and I will justify him.

60 Let no one, therefore, set on my servant Joseph; for I will justify him; for he shall do the sacrifice which I require at his hands for his transgressions, saith the Lord your God.

61 And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood—if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else.

62 And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified.

63 But if one or either of the ten virgins, after she is espoused, shall be with another man, she has committed adultery, and shall be destroyed; for they are given unto him to multiply and replenish the earth, according to my commandment, and to fulfil the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my Father continued, that he may be glorified.

Verse 59 first appeals to one of Mormonism’s favorite passages on priesthood and then seems to give amazing carte blanche to Joseph—perhaps even bypassing a divine command ethic, but really it seems meant to justify his previous acts to Emma (and other readers, of course).

The use of the word “virgins” here cannot mean (given Joseph’s practice of marrying women who already had husbands, or marrying widows) “a person who has never experienced sexual intercourse.” Virgin might mean virtuous: an exemplary person, say. But the revelation certainly emphasizes sex too (vs 63). The 1843 reader probably saw this condition as “free of (unrepented?) fornication/adultery.”

Verse 63 has some theological reasoning for the virtuous sister-wives of men: they are given unto him to multiply and replenish the earth, according to my commandment, and to fulfil the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my Father continued, that he may be glorified.[1]

The idea seems to promote the notion that some seed is more valuable than other seed. Sex in plurality was a pretty hit and miss thing in Nauvoo. Testimony both contemporary (for example, Clayton’s reports of Joseph’s assignations with Flora Woodworth) and in later affidavits in Utah, make it clear that the small cadre of Nauvoo polygamists—certainly including Joseph—were sexually active. The theological purpose of that sex seems clear: children. But sex in early Nauvoo plurality was, by all accounts, rather unproductive.[2] The rules for sex were probably driven by the propensities of the parties, their cultural upbringing, and their religious scruples. But with the isolation of Utah, church leaders, men and women, spoke out on sex.

The ground rules were made by men it seems and oddly enough, that might work toward the view that sex was for reproduction, not for pleasure. If a man engaged in sex for pleasure with his wives, he risked becoming subservient to those women and he risked destructive jealousy among them. He would lose the power to lead his families to exaltation, lose focus on the prize of godhood, and sex during pregnancy to satisfy the desires of his wives or himself must lead to substandard children in every way. Here’s Orson Hyde, 1857:

Now when the proper intercourse which is necessary for the propagation of our species takes place between a man and a woman, and no more than that—the balance of his power of muscle—goes to strengthen other parts of his system, and thus gives him power over disease and enables him to prolong his life. But when the contrary is the case the man becomes prostrated, by this overindulgence and having given his strength to women, he becomes prostrated and is rendered liable to disease—not only this . . . [he] becomes weak in mind, and debilitated in intellect and . . . why is it some are born Idiots? It is because . . . they were not let alone in their Mother’s womb . . . I will venture to say, that in a Majority of cases, our of one hundred times, one has gone to propagate our species and ninety nine to the gratification of our baser passions. . . I say . . . where there is no intercourse of this kind, only with the prospect of children being born—That family can be governed.[3]

As note [3] suggests, there was considerable variation in attitudes about sexual desire, some bragging about their self-mastery in avoiding desire altogether, others recounting the dangers of doing so. Women entered the discussion in several ways, one seeing what we might generally call “foreplay” or more broadly, affection, as key in making sexual experiences into love-building episodes rather than soul-diminishing exercises.[4]

While it is still the case that verse 63 may be seen in either of the two proto/eschatological contexts outlined at the beginning of part 8, it is most commonly seen, if it still makes the reading list at all, as support for eternally pregnant females in heaven.[5] But pregnant with what? I think a better context is to take “souls of men” as a part of Joseph’s blessing and the blessing of his wives to lay claim to lots of children in mortality, though perhaps not this mortality and not in the sense of sex producing bodies. In either case, I think the revelation may fit either of the cosmologies of part 8. Whatever, Orson Pratt’s eternal sex idea still has the large following if the “literal children of God” discourse[6] is traced to its endpoint:

Fallen beings beget children whose bodies are constituted of flesh and bones, being formed out of the blood circulating in the veins of the parents. Celestial beings beget children composed of the fluid which circulates in their veins, which is spiritual, therefore their children must be spirits, and not flesh and bones. This is the origin of our spiritual organization in Heaven. The spirits of all mankind, destined for this earth, were begotten by a father, and born of a mother in Heaven . . . If we suppose, as an average, that only one year intervened between each birth, then it would have required over on hundred thousand million of years for the same Mother to have given birth to this vast family . . . If the Father of these spirits, prior to his redemption, had secured to himself, through the everlasting covenant of marriage, many wives, as the prophet David did in our world, the period required to people a world would be shorter, within certain limits, in proportion to the number of wives.[7]

Pratt’s computations and ideas may seem like speculative curiosities today but I believe the literalness of his vision still lies somewhere underneath much of the language we hear in church preaching. But don’t count on drilling down to that. It’s part of the unwritten order. In recent years, women have not been so sanguine about eternally bulging abdomens however, and I think the alternative cosmology is more comforting on that score. But it has its own problems, like what to do with a Mother in Heaven (again, see part 8).[8]

Verse 60 is another mystery and makes one wonder if this was again directed to Emma as a kind of assurance that she was not the only one who is in some kind of jeopardy over the provisions of the revelation. One thing is certain, Joseph gave up his life over his actions in Nauvoo, political, marital, or otherwise.

Verse 59 recalls Joseph’s favorite New Testament vehicle, the book of Hebrews. Someone should do a series about *that.*

Coming up next time: I’ll finish with the verse by verse comments.

[1] Some took and yet take this passage as justification for believing that spirits are born in heaven via sex between the exalted. I think this presses the passage beyond reasonable limits. Read on.

[2] There were stories of abortion for plural wives in Nauvoo. Given attitudes about that in other contexts, such practice among Smithian polygamists is so far-fetched as to have probability zero. In the George A. Smith papers at the University of Utah special collections is a letter from one of Smith’s plural wives giving an eye witness report for Emma at the delivery of a plural baby.

[3] William Gallup diary, Feb. 11, 1857, CHL. Hardy, Abraham, pp. 132, 138-40. Hyde’s dictum was not universal, by his own estimation (though it was echoed by Brigham Young and others), and over the next 40 years was reversed in many respects. For example, the special priesthood meeting for the October conference of 1893 saw preaching to the effect that if the sexual desires of pregnant women were not met, adverse nervous disease in mother and child could be the result. This sort of fun medical science played much the same role as the patent medicine ads of nineteenth-century newsprint, but plurality was especially subject to it, given its isolated clientele. Myths, like a large imbalance in the populations of women and men in the United States, were held as fact in Utah. Hyde’s kind of sex advice wasn’t unusual at the time in America, but it was a variable (and mostly male dominated) trend in history. Medieval sex “manuals” show recommended positions for sex *during* pregnancy.

Unfortunately, much of this faux-science/physiology/psychology permeated Mormon thinking about sex and marriage into the twentieth century and still seems to quicken the occasional speech.

Some Mormons may have seen (mortal) sex desire as a necessary evil, but they were not ignorant of worldly practice (check out Oliver Huntington’s journal for June 12, 1842 if you dare). The variety of attitude here is displayed in the complaint of one of John D. Lee’s new wives. Turner, Brigham Young, 159.

[4] See Hannah King’s “Procreation” in the Women’s Exponent (Sept. 1, 1885), p.51.

[5] In Nauvoo, see Franklin Richards’s interpretive comments on Joseph Smith’s afternoon sermon of Sunday July 16, 1843, 4 days after section 132 was written down (text in note [8] too).

[6] Try this or this or this or this, and etc., etc., etc.

[7] The Seer 1/3 p.38ff. Pratt suggests that celestial beings are so handsome/beautiful that sex is sort of inevitable. Pratt couldn’t predict it at the time, but his assertion implies a whole endocrinology–physiology overlaying resurrection. But given his anatomical descriptions (“celestial wombs”) that probably would not have troubled him. On the other hand, it may be difficult to feature god-like beings as driven by hormones. So much of what humans see as domestic bliss is physiological that one wonders how our nineteenth-century predecessors might have coped with that knowledge. Pratt’s admission of sexual desire in heaven seems to conflict with much of the ascetic narrative of Mormon sex attitudes in Utah. But, as I’ve observed already, there was built-in dissonance here. Orson the scientist: I wonder how he might have seen in vitro fertilization and its inevitable entailment—1984s babies in a beaker. I like the idea of sex in heaven, but I can’t really see it as a necessary component of spirit propagation. I’m thinking the 3D printing of souls here. Look. Let’s face it. “Spirits are eternal” is the way, the truth, and the reason for everything. We need to get past the other, someday, somehow, somewhere, or something.

[8] I’m not a particular fan of the idea of my many post-mortal celestial wives birthing spirits in the billions and more. But there are those who must see this as the ideal state. That’s ok. There are some odd physics and biology questions about the whole thing that seem troublesome, though. Frankly, I see interpreting verse 63 as anything other than a reference to mortal reproduction as uncomfortable. On the other hand, there may have been those who saw it that way from Joseph Smith’s time. Witness Franklin D. Richards interpretation of Joseph four days after the revelation:

No man can obtain an eternal Blessing unless the contract or covenant be made in view of Eternity All contracts in view of this Life only terminate with this Life. Case of the woman & 7 husbands Luke 20-29 &c Those who keep no eternal Law in this life or make no eternal contract are single & alone in the eternal world (Luke 20-35) and are only made Angels to minister to those who shall be heirs of Salvation never becoming Sons of God having never kept the Law of God ie eternal Law The earthly is the image of the Heavenly shows that is by the multiplication of Lives that the eternal worlds are created and occupied that which is born of the flesh is flesh that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit.[Franklin D. Richards report and comments.]

Addendum: Sealing and Excommunication

The effect of excommunication on sealings is made somewhat problematic by the July 12 revelation. This is a bit of a hangover from the unconditional version found in verses 19 and 26. To really understand the angsty nature of what’s going on here, we have to delve into the cosmology of excommunication. I can’t really do that here. So very briefly: what is excommunication in Mormonism? It means your name is sort of removed from church records. Scripturally, the terms “blotted out” or “cut off” are used. Being removed from church records is not like you were never there at all. You’re still there. Just with some anathama attached. Something similar is true with regard to having one’s name removed from church records. It’s not like a fresh start. There are degrees of excommunication. Most excommunicants can come back in, but some cannot. Adulterers can come back (the “law” says that two-time losers have to go, for instance). Public, insistent, apostasy will get you gone (apostasy can have some variable definitions since excommunication is a local process). Child sex predators—gone, incest—gone, and so on. From these, the possibility exists that you can come back. But murderers have to go, and probably can’t ever come back as mortals—open, like everything else—to First Presidency interpretation.

So how does excommunication interface with sealing? Bishoprics and high councils excommunicate (and reinstate mostly). But they can’t seal or unseal. D&C 132 seems to make this clear. And it seems final approval of unsealing is not delegated outside the First Presidency, again, this is complicated by D&C 132 and other revelations.

With conditional sealings, one might suppose that the pessimistic clause implies dissolution of sealing upon excommunication. But this is tricky, partly because:

Conditional sealings are not scriptural.

Hence, dealing with the interplay between excommunication (which, barring murder, or the “unpardonable,” has no effect on scriptural sealing) is not straight-forward. Hence, the intervention of “policy.” Out of said interplay came the idea of “restoration of blessings.” In effect, excommunication began to be seen as placing all church temple sacraments in a sort of limbo. They’re there, but, not. Bishops and stake presidents can’t do restoration of blessings presently–a laying on of hands ordinance that restores former blessings, except those declared dissolved by the church president in the interim. Hence, a sealing is still in effect during excommunication, really. There is a new category here: dormant sacraments. I think the idea deserves study. [While we Mormons talk a lot about the necessity of priesthood in enacting our sacraments, I’m not sure we fully appreciate those sacraments.]


  1. If we suppose, as an average, that only one year intervened between each birth

    Let’s see that’s 1 day in God’s time = 1,000 years to us x 365 days in a year = 365,000 years per pregnancy by our reckoning? That’s a long time to be pregnant, with many a trip to the corner store to buy spiritual pickles and ice cream.

  2. Very interesting, as always.

  3. RockiesGma says:

    Regarding #8: “your many post mortal celestial wives”? Where do you find scriptural support for that? If you have none sealed to you on earth, they are not there after this life. How do you view eternal marriage? Will your many supposed wives be happy there? Why do you believe this? I am sincerely asking. What’s marriage that you feel you can meet the temporal, spiritual, mental, emotional and social needs of your wives? Are sister wives to fulfill your role of companionship, love, devotion, conversation, affection? If you have many wives, how are they to do without you and these offerings within marriage because you are seldom available?

    What I’m asking, again, very sincerely, what’s in such a marriage for your wives? It’s obvious what’s in it for you. But I would like an honest answer of what’s in it for the wives. If you have 10 wives each one only receives 1/10 of your time, affection, thoughts, comfort, and support emotionally and mentally. Do you believe this is healthy and rewarding for living righteously? If you don’t know, why is it even righteous to believe you should have many wives? I’m asking not in attacking or defensiveness. I really, really want to know why this is supposed to be happy and fulfilling for women and how men think they can make it that way.

  4. RockiesGma, I was engaging in some hyperbole (I presume you were referring to note 8). Your questions are interesting and feed into the discussion of the empirical aspects of polygamy. What’s in it for wives? Modern polygamists certainly have widely varying answers to that. Honestly, I don’t know what to make of a heavenly version.

  5. J. Stapley says:

    RE: note 3, I have seen more sources pointed to procreation only then otherwise. I remember one 1890s women’s meeting in particular where participants discussed the need to pray and fast for their husbands to help them control themselves.

    Also totally agreed, regarding verse 63. And totes agreement on the last lines of note 7. We are intellectual kin, methinks. I also think Franklin Richards’ notes are not easily interpreted. And loved the addendum. All around excellent.

  6. Gma- Without delving intin plural marriage, which neither of us needs to justify of defame, I think in general question can be turned and applied to God and his relationship with each of us. How can we each have a personal relationship with the Savior if each of us gets 1/100billionth of his attention. This kind of zero sum thinking can’t really hold up if we consider eternity. Or if we think God can but we can’t (but what species are we if not God’s? ) you might also suggest it’s better to have one child so you can love them better than to have two or three.

    No defense or assault on plural marriage is necessary because you or I are not asked to live it, but we are asked to do lots of other things we likely neglect that are better suited for our attention. Besides the scope of this article is really just an interpretation of historical events and records. No apologies necessary.

  7. J., sounds like the sisters were well aware of the minority position Hyde represented.

  8. I am right there with you RockiesGma! I love when women bring up valid points regarding the cost of religious polygamy both in this life and the next are told “well that is an interesting question, who knows other than some form of polygamy will be practiced because God wants it.” Really, according to who? Oh that’s right according to mortal men!

    Instituted religious polygamy is the male version of winning the lottery and a big cosmic FU to all women.

    I appreciate the depth and insight of this series. I will though never agree with the concept of religious polygamy as it benefits only men wether in this life or the next.

  9. RockiesGma says:

    Hmmm…….hyperbole notwithstanding, any discussion of eternal polygamy needs to include the questions women have, which are always side-stepped, as you have done, by those who lead the discussion. I am not interested in what modern-day polygamists have to say, though I have read their explanations. The wives claim they would rather have 1/100 of their righteous husband than all of an unrighteous one. They find fulfillment through their sister wives and children, but not the marriage. They have independence, but I have this in monogamy, so I’m not sure how polygamy has an edge on that.

    I find these explanations to be far from the ideal of the holy state of matrimony. These modern-day sister wives express loneliness when they go to bed at night, as well as during the days they don’t see him. They express that sorrow and pain and jealousy are inevitable. They speak of drifting apart and having to continually compensate.

    Several husbands have expressed that no one woman could meet all their needs, but with several wives their needs are fulfilled. Yet the wives needs are to be fulfilled by one man split multiple ways. And the husband is never alone at night, has no sorrow, pain or jealousy to deal with, except through what his wives experience. He expects his wives to find fulfillment through the other wives and children, or activities that don’t include him.

    I presume these modern-day polygamists are not to be emulated for obvious reasons. So if we believe section 132 is from God, and we discuss the scriptures, and we study them, we need to address the very real fear, pain and dread of active, strong women in this, the Lord’s church of future plural marriage. What is to be desired in sharing your husband? What is righteous about finding fulfillment in sister wives and children? By definition, that is not marriage — that is sisterhood and motherhood.

    So once again, in genuine discussion and respectful searching, what is the goodness of plural marriage for women? How can any man meet the various needs women have by only being available a fraction of time for each one?

    You know, when I was growing up I remember being lonely at night when I went to bed. I have been lonely when my husband has traveled for work. Surely perfection cannot include further loneliness.

    Can you tell me one redeeming thing plural marriage offers the wives — not things outside the marriage, but the marriage itself? As you ponder an answer, perhaps reversing roles would make it easier…….imagine your wife meeting and courting, marrying and being intimate with several husbands. Imagine the special eye contact, the little whispered jokes that only she and someone besides you share. Imagine the flirting, the falling in love. Try imagining her alone with each husband while you wait for your turn. Imagine wanting to talk to her but she’s with another and it will be some time before you’ll have your chance to talk to her. Imagine trying to feel close to her when she’s seldom close by. Imagine trying to find fulfillment of your various needs under these circumstances. Do you feel happy, excited, thrilled, and loved by being treated this way? Imagine the daily details and the longevity of eternity.

    Does this help you see the value and glorious blessings of plural marriage for the wives? If so, please discuss. I want to understand the value and goodness for women. I want to believe it is fair and of God. I want to learn how this form of marriage is better and holier than monogamy.

  10. RockiesGma, I’m on board with your troubled feelings about the issue. I have no idea how it’s better than monogamy. The women I know who currently or once did practice it, are in varying states of happiness/pain about it. I think there is a universal undercurrent of sacrifice in their narratives. It is certainly not the monogamy we have made an effort to laud as ideal in the modern church. As for the historical practice, well, you already know that it’s full of painful longing and loneliness for a large fraction of the women who entered the “order.” For them it was another layer of kingdom building burden. For most men, it was no real road to satisfaction in any sense either. And I think it amplified traits in some that we all wish didn’t exist. Polygamy was largely a return to Old Testament marital values, a return that left most women (and men) in a cultural chasm that they never bargained for in 1852, and it left leaders and followers struggling for role models and meaning. Our institutional answer has always been to either fold this issue into pioneer sacrifice, stage it as a prelude to godhood, offer admiration for the faithful endurance of the women who led the charge, or just ignore it when it became a liability of the past. As far as immortal polygamy goes, well that’s beyond my ken in several ways. Why is it needed or useful? “The most holy principle” as Clayton wrote it, seems practically opaque to most people I think. As far as the human aspects like companionship, I wonder how God deals with such issues. Too many children to really offer attention to each one? Perhaps the next world is one where distance just doesn’t matter and focus has a different meaning. But the waters are a little deep there and we are still faced with the “that same sociality” idea. I promise to come back to this in the last installment, but I can’t promise a resolution for any party to the discussion. But I’m saving that for the end (only four more to go!).

  11. Ugh to all of this. Your research is fascinating and eye-opening, and I have read the series with great interest, but ugh all the same. Learning about polygamy was very upsetting for me as a child because it was the first time that I was faced with evidence that our leaders are flawed, sometimes deeply so. As I have gotten older I have considered the possibility that polygamy is not, in fact, ordained of God, and that Section 132 is merely justification of some pretty grody and base appetites, fancied up with churchy-sounding language–a lot like we hear from other people who start religions and institute polygamy. I have to put the whole thing on my shelf of questions to ask God when I die.

  12. The other thing I have to consider is that maybe heaven is a great big clump of men and women endlessly combining in different pairings to create an infinite variety of spirits with an infinite variety of spiritual attributes. This topic is just a sack of bobcats.

  13. WI_Member says:

    It’s so hard to put it on the shelf when it’s still woven through the temple liturgy.

  14. I’ll beat the dead horse. Remember that our sealing policies allow us to seal a deceased woman to all husbands she’s had in mortality. We believe such vicarious sealings must be “accepted” by the parties. Assuming they are accepted, then we’ll have celestial polyandry. So, I would pose the same questions to RockiesGma as she posed — how is a woman with plural husbands in the eternities going to meet their needs? I don’t know the answer how polyandry will work any more than I do how polygny will work in the celestial spheres. However, we do seal all spouses together, so in the eternal sense, there is equality in the long term if not perceived in the short term.

  15. Well, my mind is blown again. So, having sex with your pregnant wife leads to mental defects in the baby? Well, no wonder they wanted polygamy then, to avoid 9 months of sexual winter. The cure for polygamy was to gain some actual medical knowledge of how sex works and especially female bodies. This notion seems to be based on the idea that the more times you open the over door to check on your baking, the more likely the cake will fall. Speaking as the oven, it’s a pretty silly idea.

    “it may be difficult to feature god-like beings as driven by hormones” Although the Greeks and Romans imagined just this for centuries.

    I’m with Rockies Gma once again (and pretty much every female who has ever lived). Polygamy is a system set up by men for their gratification and has zero to recommend it for women. If it’s ideal, please reserve my second class terrestrial kingdom ticket now.

  16. Regarding the original poster’s belief that Section 132 is a “revelation;” At least one well-thought-of Mormon historian implies (or claims–it has been many years since I read it) that Joseph developed (read: made up) 132 shortly before he met with his brother Hyrum to attempt, once again, to convince him that his polygamy was sanctioned–so that Hyrum could try, once again, to convince Emma. That can be found in Mormon Polygamy, by Richard S. Van Wagoner.

  17. fbisti, it also can be found in a previous post in this series.

    I know this is heresy to most members, but I believe in a council of the gods concept that doesn’t include sexual relationships for creative purposes at all – and creating spirit children makes no sense whatsoever to me as a process of sexual activity. I can understand how people who couldn’t imagine the creation of children in any other way couldn’t imagine any other way in the next life, but our technology has expanded the possibilities enough that we needn’t be limited by the former constraints. I also see the creation of spirit children from “intelligences” as something radically different than mortal procreation, since, unlike mortal birth, what is created in that sphere is NOT the same “substance” as the creators. It merely is the first step in the process – a process we still can’t fathom to any real degree. Thus, we tend to wrap it up completely in terms we can understand fully, even if that means we misapply those terms and over-estimate our understanding.

    I don’t know if I am right or wrong, and I easily could be totally wrong, but seeing it this way removes all of the worst eternal ickiness factors for me and allows me to see polygamy as an approximation of something seen through a glass darkly, twisted and mutated by the culture in which that original glimpse was seen.

  18. J. Stapley says:

    Angela, those bits about abstaining during pregnancy aren’t particularly Mormon. There are not a few strange-by-modern-perspective ideas floating around the nineteenth century. Next time you have a graham cracker think of Sylvester Graham’s ideas about continence.

  19. GMA: Polygamy per se never upset me much – I can see how it would be freeing for a lot of women, actually, especially in terms of caring for household and children while pursuing other interests. I love my husband very much, but I am fine with sharing him with his work (he travels a lot). Would I be all right with him going out and seeking a new wife? I’m really not sure. If he had been asked to do so by someone I recognized as a spiritual authority and I was involved in the choice, I think so, but really, I just don’t know. That is beside the point of your hypothetical scenario, though, in which you seem to assume that celestial marriage is just like marriage on earth, and kind of an overly dependent type of romantic marriage at that. I’m not sure that it is.

    Polygamy never bothered me, but the concept of “eternal pregnancy” which I’ve heard tossed about more or less seriously since I was a kid DID bother me. After pondering it off and on for many years as an adult, I received an impression (I won’t say it was a vision or big-r Revelation or anything, nothing so concrete) that although many aspects of life in the kingdoms of glory will be familiar and recognizable to us, there are some things we just can’t comprehend right now about how it will really be. The way our relationships will work is one of those things. I know this is just another species of the “that’s interesting, but” rebuttal, but it comforted me a great deal, I think because I felt it was an answer to me from God through the Holy Ghost rather than an interpretation from a Relief Society teacher or Bishop or General Authority. Now when someone in Gospel Doctrine or whatever mentions it (it’s not as often as it used to be), I make a point to bring up this idea that although it’s funny to joke about spirit diapers or the giant singles ward in the sky or whatever, we really don’t know what it’s going to be like, and we only have a pattern here. “Through a glass darkly,” as someone mentioned above. Perhaps you should continue to ask God to communicate to you what the answer is rather than ask other people, each of whom may have a different opinion that may or may not be inspired and/or work for them. I do think it is still interesting to consider and discuss (this series has been very interesting to me), but if your questions are causing you pain, maybe you need to ask different questions, or ask different sources.

  20. “3D printing of souls” make as much sense as endless celestial pregnancy. I’m in the eternal uncreated nature of spirits camp, but again, none of us know for sure. But I am pretty sure that celestial wives spending most of their time pregnant and lonely does not sound like a good outcome for all the sacrifices we make in mortality.

    To be constructive, though, take a look at Eugene England’s take on polygamy not being the ideal of celestial marriage, which has always seemed a valid “speculation” as he labeled it, to me.

    As always, really good stuff, WVS, lots to think about here. I love this series

  21. We do say that, in mortality, monogamy is God’s standard unless He commands otherwise. (See language to intro to OD 1 added this year.) Yet, widows and widowers “may” remarry. Then we allow plural sealings of men and women with no corresponding doctrine that says monogamy is God’s standard in the eternities. Therefore, my simple question has always been: Why do we have to be monogamous in mortality if we can be plural in perpetuity? Haven’t heard or read an answer to this question, yet. Between 5% – 10% of widows and widowers remarry, the percentaage decreasing as the age of widow or widower increases. Still, that’s a fairly decent percentage of people who have “loved” more than one spouse in their life. I don’t have to know how an individual example would shake out, but I sure would like some general revelation on the principles and doctrine surrounding plural sealings. My only resolution thus far is that sex may simply be a hormonal necessity to ensure bodies are produced (not that intimacy beyond procreative efforts is a bad thing, either) but that spirits will be made in a different way, and relationships will more fluid than they are here on earth.

  22. “celestial wives spending most of their time pregnant and lonely ”

    Seriously, where does this thought come from? What’s wrong with being pregnant and bringing life into the world? Do y’all subscribe to the President’s “punished with a baby” theory of procreation? My wife is probably never more beautiful to me than when she’s pregnant and in spite of all the difficulties that surround it early on and in the final days she really loves* it as well.

    Whether or not women are pregnant in the eternities is beyond the scope of official published revelation. I certainly won’t discount it, because it might be true and I don’t see the benefit of discounting things that have possible truth to them just to fit in with the cool kids on internet.

    It is strange to suggest we’re created in the image of God, and marriage is for eternity, and then just completely discount pretty much our entire biology as having nothing to do with God or eternity. All, so it seems, to satisfy a couple intellectual curiosities. Let’s see, if our bodies and our eternal companionship have nothing to do with eternal procreation, what does that potentially allow that modern intellectuals are really gung-ho about?

    – Decoupling of sex with procreation. Now sex would be all about the two partners, and nothing or no one else.
    – Which would naturally allow for gay celestial marriage, yay.
    – Decoupling of mortal Fathers and Mothers from Eternal Father and Eternal Motherhood.
    – Avoiding icky restoration theories of plural marriage serving some kind of purpose*
    – Satisfying “progressive” ideas that a woman does not have to be a mother to reach her highest potential
    – Decouples human kind from being like God, but rather we just have evolved with some quirky genitailia bits and pieces that are apparently solely a part of evolution and not a reflection of our Father and Mother in heaven.
    – We could keep going… but it’s not surprising, I suppose, that some would interpret doctrinal gray areas as far as possible away from traditional LDS views in order to make it more palatable with their other non-traditional views.

    I realize I’ll be accused of being insulting here for being somewhat aggressive toward these ideas, but what ideas am I opposed to? Ideas which are actually a direct assault on the feelings of many members like myself. This whole meme of pregnancy is bad is clearly expressed in the comment I quoted. And it’s a real tragedy. Even if you want to qualify it by saying, “oh no it’s not pregnancy that’s bad it’s ‘celestial’ pregnancy and being ‘lonely’ that is bad” I call fooey on that bogus dodge.

    Pregnancy is cast as bad, Motherhood (and by extension Fatherhood) is cast as bad. And the prophets stand very clearly for generations saying these things are our highest honors and aspirations in life. And somehow, unknown to me, we just assume that what’s honored and sacred in this life just evaporates and serves no purpose in the eternities and we can make it all work with test tubes and 3d printers.

    None of us know the truth of all these things, but it’s a shame to see intellectual distancing from the eternal nature of “the family” and more of a focus on something that places a Mother and a Father far from the center of the creation of life.

    I’ll take Joseph Smith and Brigham Young any day over the opened minded, new aged philosophies of the Mormon progressive any day.

    *For the record, I don’t believe everyone will have to practice plural marriage, and if that’s not clear I’ve got no idea whether or not anyone will engage in it “eternally” in the sense that they’ll be together with multiple partners… I’m a little open minded in this area and can see how much of the eternal impact of plural marriage that took place days gone by was a direct result of what happened in mortality having an impact into the eternities.

  23. The first * relating to being pregnant I never filled it, I intended to say something to the effect that she says she loves being pregnant, but also finds it very difficult and physically and emotionally taxing at times, as you’d expect.

  24. J. Stapley says:

    DonQ, FYI, it was Joseph Smith that said that spirits were never created or made. This didn’t come from nowhere.

  25. DonQ, you have seriously misread way too much to address all of it without writing a novel.

  26. Idat…Until the church institutes by religious commandment polyandary your argument of after death sealings for widows is a mute point. You can not even begin to compare polyandry to polygamy unless the church officially mandates that all women practice polyandary in this life and that all husbands have to accept having “brother husbands or the sin is on them!” Then we are talking apples to apples.

    DonQ…thank you for clarifying that it is such a progressive idea that women would want control of their sexual autonomy and reproduction either in this life or the next. Silly women that consider themselves “whole people.”

    As far as the “well God isn’t with us 100% of the time argument so why would women be bothered with sharing a husband”? What you are describing is a parent/child relationship not an equal partnership marriage.

    And for all the men that are confused by women’s “issues” with polygamy Ill happily practice it after you all practice polyandary in THIS life WITH the threat of eternal damnation to your soul if you do not “share” your wife. Still confused?

  27. It’s taken awhile, but I think I’m over polygamy. I don’t think God commanded it, but I won’t fight anyone who says He did. I’m in the mode now of just walking away from people and churches that want to insist on it.

  28. DonQ, since it was my reference you quoted, I feel like I should at least respond to how badly you misrepresent what I was saying. The “pregnant and lonely” did not refer to this life, but Orson Pratt’s discussion of the millions of years for celestial wives to be pregnant to populate a world. As the father of six, I’m pretty sure that I am familiar with how my wife felt during pregnancy, and I am also pretty sure it wasn’t decoupled from sex. Nor do I necessarily think that her being pregnant for millions of years does any justice to her true potential as a person and eternal being.

    And in no sense do I think that it follows that by indicating that I personally agree with Joseph Smith’s statement that spirits never were nor could be created, that I am in some way advocating some “progressive” sexual arrangements in the celestial spheres that threatens the nuclear family.

    Did you read Eugene England’s essay on fidelity that I linked to? He clearly labels it as “speculation” just as I did, and I offered it only as an alternate view of what eternal marriage might look like. I’m just not sure of where the assumption came from that by believing in the eternal nature of spirits that fatherhood, motherhood, or respect for and obedience to our living prophets is somehow threatened. I could go on about how you really don’t have a clue to who I am or how active I might be, and what my experience has been in the church, but I sense that it is probably just wasted effort, and you’ve already made up your mind based on flimsy assumptions.

  29. Joseph doesn’t disagree with Brigham on this subject, and vice versa no matter how much you will it. Lacking complete understanding is one thing, but choosing to see disagreement where there may be none is another. You might as well insist exaltation is impossible and Jesus and the Father are the same because there is only one God. Line upon line our understanding can grow as long as we don’t close our mind and try to be inclusive with all the teachings.

    Again the talk turns to the indignity of pregnancy. Millions of years or minutes, it matters not. As if everyone is bed ridden and your intellect could be so shallow to assume an exalted person is lonely or in morning sickness or apparently now changing diapers spiritually (in the kitchen and barefoot to throw in other demeaning stereotypes?) eternally. No, clearly you’re smarter than that and are more than capable of imagining a possibility which agrees with the prophets or at least saying, “I don’t know.”

    But the focus provided is to mock those things (doctrine or not) given by the Lord’s servants as strange and to undermine any eternal similarity to an earthly mother.

    Personally, although I don’t believe it, I never considered but now see nothing wrong with the idea that bringing one spirit with infinite potential,joy and beauty into the image of a father and mother over a million year process could never be boring or lonely. Where you see apparent sexism and subjugation I see cooperation in an eternal process where our joy should be so great should we bring even one soul, be it a million years or more.

    There is nothing lonely or boring about an eternal union brining about life, whether it’s organized in a spirit body or spirit womb, or brought about through exalted beings on another fallen planet or in the mortal hear and now. I don’t need to pick and choose or force disagreement with the Lord’s servants but search for the joy and wonder of life. But more importantly I’m OK to not declare what hasn’t been reveled to me but taught by others as wrong, especially when it’s not even being presented to me personally here and now.

    Let’s all focus on the quirks and eccentricity of revelations or interpretations or speculations. Let’s make it sound as unappealing as possible in a smarmy Jon Stewart way. No thanks.

    Interesting history here, but the asides are far to judgemental and yes I’ll judge those lacking authority and call them on it when they make light of sacred things.

    Now you can resort back to calling life or the creation or Organization of it a bore while belittling the eternal possibility of the body as an injustice or indignity.

  30. RockiesGma says:

    THANK YOU WVS! Thank you for your acknowledgment and future addressing of points I have made.

    Vilate: thank you for sharing your experience. I’ve had mine. My comments are born from it.

    I come from polygamy. I have read many journals and letters from sister wives, and a few husbands. I read blogs online discussing the subject. Almost never, whether the post be pro or con on the subject, or neutrally discussing as WVS has done in this series, does anyone answer the direct questions of how can this be a fulfilling form of marriage for women? Sister wives are sisterhood — that is not marriage. Children being fulfilling is motherhood — this is not marriage either.

    By definition, polygamy or polyandry makes marriage divided into fractions — not oneness, nor completeness. Fractions of the one spouse’s time, thoughts, affection, comfort, interaction, and every form of intimacy — be they mental, emotional, physical, spiritual or social. Portions….fractions…..division. This defies oneness. This sets up abundance and indulgence for the one spouse, and drought and lack for the plural ones.

    No matter how much we do see through a glass darkly, we can by the Holy Spirit clearly discern that this form of marriage defies reason and the very belief in a perfect God above. We must look at the hard realities of how it can never be righteous to treat genders so disproportionately and try to justify it as something to aspire to. We have been given reason. We have been given the Spirit.

    For those who “don’t mind it at all,” I make no judgment other than asking how you define intimacy, fulfillment, and oneness? If you desire the closeness and companionship of sister wives, go for it. But your definition of marriage is more about sisterhood than marriage. If children are where you find fulfillment, also, go for it. But your definition of marriage is more about motherhood than marriage. Perhaps these definitions are part of our Father’s merciful allowance where He dwells. If so, go for it.

    But the commandment to be one flesh is Eternal, and two can be one. But adding others begins the fractioning of being One.

    So again, WVS, kudos for acknowledging there are truly tough questions side-stepped or ignored that can no longer go on this way. We must stop secretly desiring to have future plural wives without really asking……What could possibly be redeeming about plural marriage for the gender who are the plural spouses? How can this bring joy? How can we call this perfection? How can we expect the plural spouses to be alone and lonely for most of eternity? And if they are not alone and lonely, they are finding fulfillment outside the marriage through sisterhood and/or motherhood, or some other form of –hood. How can one spouse have abundance and indulgence and feel that is righteous when the others have mere portions?

  31. Gma, the son prayed for us to be one with the Father as he is, and presumably the Mother in Heaven is. That’s so many they cant be numbered being “one”.

    But no one is asking your support for a plural marriage nor to live it. Not sure anyone can practice it “ideally” if there is such a thing, and if it was an Abrahamic trial, all trials have and end.

  32. RockiesGma says:

    I also wish to address the procreative powers of the exalted person.

    In the resurrection, not one hair of the head will be lost. Everything will be restored. Blood will be replaced by a much finer matter to course through our resurrected veins to nourish every resurrected cell. Our reproductive systems will be resurrected. We are created in the image of God. He promises seed/eggs to His exalted children. Obviously, we are going to procreate after the pattern we have here which is after the image of God. Sexual intimacy must be eternal or our sexual organs would not be resurrected…but we are promised not a particle will be lost.

    I have felt what seemed to be the Spirit in dreams where I’ve seen that we have spirit children there the way we do here — not the biological process, I didn’t see that, thank heaven — but I saw husband and wife having a family. And other husbands and wives having families. Billions of couples, like here on earth populating this world from one generation to another, so it was there. After all, billions of children have died before the age of 8 and will be exalted, as are those who lived worthy of such in this life. I cannot, of course say this is the way it’s all done. But I treasure such dreams. No one couple does it all. Everyone works together. And that sounds like Heaven to me…..

  33. DonQ…
    You told GMA that know one is asking her to “support or practice plural marriage” you are wrong! That is exactly what the church is asking and expecting of LDS women when it supports polygamy in the past, has it woven into the temple ceremony, continues to allow for it to be taught as potentially necessary for the celestial kingdom, and teaches DC 132 with the “sin on the woman” threat in it. I sat in shock recently listening to a group of 30-45 year old men discuss how they hoped they had been righteous enough to have “earned hot wives in the celestial kingdom!” They were not kidding!! How sad for their current wives that these men do not look at them as equal partners and a single treasure to be cherished. Instead these men are thinking of the “hot wives of the future”. So you are mistaken that LDS women do not have polygamy in the back of their minds. That the sanctity of their marriages, their sexual autonomy and control or even the right to say no to polygamy could be ended very quickly in this religion.

  34. Peter LLC says:

    I’ll judge those lacking authority and call them on it when they make light of sacred things.

    Your worldview may well be under fire here, but let’s not confuse that with sacred things. It takes more than hubris to qualify one as a judge in Zion.

  35. J. Stapley says:

    DonQ, without calling anyone to repentance, can you explain why you think that Joseph Smith and Brigham Young agreed on this? Do you think that JS also believed in BY’s Adam-God teachings?

  36. DonQ – I don’t think we need to have a commandment of polyandry when the plural sealing of deceased women is clearly and unambiously set forth in the church handbook. Then couple that with the doctrine that vicarious ordinances must be accepted by the parties to be effective, and viola — you have the potential for polyandry. I know widows who’ve remarried who look forward to being with both their husbands in the eternities. There is nothing in the handbook that says “deceased women can be sealed to more than one husband but in the end, they will have to choose one of them.” As for polygamy during mortality, I’ve never understood it, but i don’t believe otherwise righteous leaders (that lived in Old Testament times as well as the 1800’s) instituted it for their own lustful desires. As for celestial procreation, I mis-typed a bit because I think our position is that spirit intelligences are “organized” not “made.” At any rate, just because we’ll be resurrected doesn’t mean our bodies will produce eggs and sperm. I don’t know how all that testosterone and hormonal stuff will play out. You would think the next life would mimic this life to a large degree, but it could be that we’re created with such strong sex drives to ensure the commandment of multiplying and replentishing the earth is fulfilled. I thnk obtaining an earthly body is pretty far up the totem pole of priorities.

  37. J, where’s the citation for Joseph teaching that spirits were never created nor made? I’m familiar with the statements that intelligences which appear to be the substance by which spirit bodies are organized are eternal and never created. And I realize that there remains a gap in fully differentiating what is meant by intelligence, spirit and light. But are you referring to a specific statement by Joseph?

    TPJS – Difference Between Body and Spirit

    Section Four 1839-42, p.207

    In tracing the thing to the foundation, and looking at it philosophically, we shall find a very material difference between the body and the spirit; the body is supposed to be organized matter, and the spirit, by many, is thought to be immaterial, without substance. With this latter statement we should beg leave to differ, and state the spirit is a substance; that it is material, but that it is more pure, elastic and refined matter than the body; that it existed before the body, can exist in the body; and will exist separate from the body, when the body will be mouldering in the dust; and will in the resurrection be again united with it.

    Doctrine & Covenants 93:29 also comes to mind:
    Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be.

  38. OD,
    how about Abr. 3:18
    Howbeit that he made the greater star; as, also, if there be two spirits, and one shall be more intelligent than the other, yet these two spirits, notwithstanding one is more intelligent than the other, have no beginning; they existed before, they shall have no end, they shall exist after, for they are gnolaum, or eternal.

  39. The problem with Abraham 3:18 is that it suffers from the same insufficient clarity as the other two quotes I offered. When we speak of spirits having no end and being eternal, are we saying they have always existed and were never organized or are we stating that they are like Elohim and Jehovah in that they are Eternal or god-like in nature. As is mentioned in many places in the scriptures including Mose 7:35

    Behold, I am God; Man of Holiness is my name; Man of Counsel is my name; and Endless and Eternal is my name, also.

  40. it's a series of tubes says:

    We must stop secretly desiring to have future plural wives without really asking

    Some of us desire nothing of the sort. Anything but that, please.

  41. J. Stapley says:

    OD, JS consistently (and clearly) taught that spirits are eternal and not made in Nauvoo. One money quote is from the KFD:

    “God never did have power to create the spirit of man at all. He could not create himself–Intelligence exists upon a selfexistent principle–is a spirit from age to age & no creation about it[.]”

    But this is a thing that JS consistently taught in Nauvoo, and was an important feature to his reasoning on other matters. The best treatment of this is forthcoming from WVS, the author of this post. He has a book coming out soon on the funeral sermons of JS, in which he contextualizes, transcribes, and analyzes that cohort of sermons. It is a work both mighty and strong. Moreover, this is a topic that has gotten a lot of traction around here over the years.

    An import consideration in quoting from TPJS is that it is a text that comes very late in the editing and re-editing stemma. Again, WVS is what you will want to read here, but you can check this series of posts I wrote a number of years ago (part II will probably have more of what you are interested in) that give a reasonable approximation of what is going on there. Nested in part II of that is a link to this post which is a thumbnail sketch that is a rough approximation of what is going on in the development of the popular Mormon cosmology.

  42. it's a series of tubes says:

    spirits are eternal and not made in Nauvoo

    Dang, I was really hoping that when I died, I could look at my spirit and see a little “Made in Nauvoo” tag.

  43. IASOT for QOTD!

    J, I’ve read multiple versions of the KFD and only referred to TPJS because it was immediately accessible since I don’t have access to my library at the moment. But even Roberts’ own statements in the footnotes of the pamphlet he created to replace the “lost pages” of his Volume 6 of HOTC do not help clarify for me that Joseph was literally teaching that spirits were never organized. My understanding has always been that intelligences are eternal but that at some point those intelligences were organized in the form of spiritual birth. Else what does it mean that we are spiritually begotten of the Father?

    I always understood within the KFD that Joseph was railing against the idea that God and the Gods created Earth and man ex nihilo and instead is explaining that all was organized from eternal material. The 1st Law of Thermodynamics essentially then being an eternal principle.

    If I have misunderstood then I greatly look forward to reading WVS’ treatment of the topic.

    From KFD:

    I am dwelling on the immortality of the spirit of man. Is it logical to say that the intelligence of spirits is immortal, and yet that it has a beginning? The intelligence of spirits had no beginning, neither will it have an end. That is good logic. That which has a beginning may have an end. There never was a time when there were not spirits;[6] for they are co-equal [co-eternal] with our Father in heaven.

    Roberts’ note 6:

    It appears to be very clear that the Prophet had in mind the intelligence, when he said “the soul—the mind of man—the immortal spirit,” was not created or made, and that there never was a time when there were not spirits for they are co-eternal with God. It is the doctrine of the scriptures, both in the Bible and in the Doctrine and Covenants, that we are the offspring of God. He is our Father; we are begotten sons and daughters unto Him. So Paul taught the Greeks on Mars’ Hill. (Acts 17:26-29.) It was taught by the resurrected Lord to Mary at the tomb,
    (John 20:17.) and by the Lord to the Prophet and Sidney Rigdon in the great vision (Sec. 76:22-24.) The reader is referred further to the official statement of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve apostles, under the caption, The Father and The Son, in the Improvement Era, August, 1916.

    From KFD:

    Intelligence is eternal and exists upon a self-existent principle. It is a spirit from age to age and there is no creation about it.[7] All the minds and spirits that God ever sent into the world are susceptible of enlargement.

    Roberts’ note:

    It is clear in this statement that the terms “intelligence” and “spirit” are used synonymously and that the intelligent uncreated entity, spoken of as intelligence is meant.

  44. tubes beat me to it, but I always thought spirits were made at MIT and Cal Poly.

  45. glasscluster says:

    Thank you RockiesGma–

    for speaking with passion and experience. You help me to stay in the Church and try to find Christ.

    We deal with this topic in so many ways–winking and nudging and joking and philosophizing to try make sense of it. I thank all of you…even DonQ for helping me ask myself why I find the practice so repulsive.

    Aside from the effects it may/may not have when practiced…the doctrine/idea, like Dax pointed out colors our associations in church today.

    As a single person, i have heard, more than once…something like “Polygamy would help all those single women who can’t get married” as if I can’t reach my potential without being someone’s additional spouse or some women’s sister wife…

    Oh, wait…that’s exactly what the church has taught in the past…and has never actually rescinded.

    So my relationship with God and the Savior depends, in part, on me getting married at some point…however the hell we can make that happen…No wonder Christians think we are clueless.

  46. glasscutter, wait what? Rescind means to cancel, revoke or repeal a law or agreement. If Official Declaration 1 doesn’t represent a repeal of the practice of polygamy in this dispensation then I don’t know what it means. As J has demonstrated the belief persists among many members that polygamy is the future of celestial marriage but even that is not clearly a viewpoint taught by the Prophet and the Twelve.

  47. J. Stapley says:

    OD, you are describing what I call the “tripartite” model of Mormon cosmology. Basically, Roberts and a few others invented it as a way to reconcile JS’s teachings on the eternal spirit/soul with BY and the Pratt’s spirit creationism (or gestationism, if you will). This idea that there is an eternal intelligence/mind that gets clothed with a spirit body is a product of that turn of the century movement. The FP and others thought the idea was sort of crazy, but in the long run it has gained popular support in the grass roots. If you look at the source material (not the redacted/edited/expanded versions), JS is pretty clear on the matter.

  48. J. Stapley says:

    …also, OD 1 pretty clearly did not repeal the practice of polygamy in this dispensation (post-Manifesto polygamy).

  49. Allow me to restate as I was imprecise, OD 1 was the start of that process and yes, I have ancestors who continued to practice by departing for Colonia Juarez. But OD 1 is the basis by which polygamy was eventually politically AND officially rescinded which culminated with the Second Manifesto in 1904 and the excommunication two Apostles (among other members lower in the ranks) in the years that followed.

    My point was, the Church has rescinded polygamy in this dispensation and it has not officially or undercover sealed a man to more than one wife at a time while all are still living for at least 100 years. President Hinckley’s statement in General Conference, November 1998, is pretty blanket on the question of where we stand today:

    I wish to state categorically that this Church has nothing whatever to do with those practicing polygamy. They are not members of this Church. Most of them have never been members. They are in violation of the civil law. They know they are in violation of the law. They are subject to its penalties. The Church, of course, has no jurisdiction whatever in this matter.

    If any of our members are found to be practicing plural marriage, they are excommunicated, the most serious penalty the Church can impose. Not only are those so involved in direct violation of the civil law, they are in violation of the law of this Church. An article of our faith is binding upon us. It states, “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law” (A of F 1:12). One cannot obey the law and disobey the law at the same time.

  50. WI_Member says:

    So why are men granted sealing clearances when they remarry in the temple, but women must seek cancellations? I’m pretty sure that men can be sealed to more than one living woman, even though they may be legally divorced. Please correct me if I am mistaken.

  51. Because marriage doesn’t equal sealed. Since state laws don’t allow bigamy, men are not married to more than one woman in the temple. They may be sealed to more than one woman but not married to more than one woman. (I personally don’t like the phrase married for time and all eternity. I prefer to say sealed for time and all eternity.). It would seem wise to distinguish plural marriage in mortality as opposed to plural sealings for time and eternity.

  52. I’m sorry, thanks for the catch. I was thinking in the context of women. You are correct that a man can be sealed to more than one woman (as long as the first marriage is ended).

    I’ve debated this ad nauseum with my father – a temple president – and the answer is simply consistent but unacceptable as far as I see. There is no doctrinally justifiable reason for the restriction on women in this life that exists on men since all can be sealed once all parties to marriage (a woman married to more than one man in her life for instance) are deceased. The general perspective is that when dealing with multiple spouses the sealing is less about marriage and more about ensuring the covenant exists for all marriage partners and their children.

  53. I’m not sure about that general perspective. Take a 65 year old previously sealed widow who remarries a 65 year old previously sealed widower. Eventually they both die and are sealed vicariously. Why worry about allowing this sealing when both widow and widower were already sealed to their first spouses? I would repeat myself: I haven’t met a couple in that situation who haven’t expressed the desire to spend eternity with both spouses. Query: if we think it’s okay for widows and widowers to develop and act upon feelings of attraction and eventually remarry after the death of a spouse, why wouldn’t we think their predeceased spouses aren’t doing the same thing in the Spirit World?

  54. WVS, I thought you might mention something about the revelation’s use of the word “desire.”

    “if any man espouse a virgin, and DESIRE to espouse another…then is he justified.

    In other places, Joseph Smith justifies polygamy saying it is an “Abrahamic sacrifice,” that an “angel with a drawn sword” came, or in the Book of Mormon, to “raise up seed.

    Yet in this scripture, God seems to be acknowledging that Joseph Smith is being given free reign to act according to his righteous desires, which may include having 10 virgins. This doesn’t seem to have anything to do with “desiring seed” but rather, desiring virgins.

    I would be interested in hearing you comment on whether or not you felt “desire” was a primary motivation for Joseph Smith’s polygamy, or whether previously mentioned motivations might still have been the primary ones.

  55. RockiesGma says:

    If spirits are organized and not gestation ally born, why does it say that only exalted beings have a “continuation of the seeds”? What need of sperm and eggs if not to conceive offspring? The scriptures further state that only they “have increase.” Increase of what? It’s always mentioned in conjunction with having the seeds. J. Stapley or WVS, is there clarification on this somewhere in your previous posts or anywhere you know of? Thanks.

  56. RockiesGma says:

    Glass cluster, you are more than welcome. Hold on, girl, hold on. You do not need to be married to be whole. YOU are whole. You do not need to be someone’s 2nd, 3rd, or 100th “totally hot wife” in the hereafter either.

    My sister and dear friends have never married. I’ve always believed their one true love died in Viet Nam, a car accident, disease, or Drowning at scout camp. They WILL find each other someday. And if I’m wrong, they will find each other next week, or next month, or next sometime. But they will find each other. Love is the greatest of all, and romantic marital love is greatest, highest, most holy love within love. Each child of God will have that Oneness someday if they make and keep their covenants. Till then, magnify all the other loves life offers.
    That’s how we keep the faith and brighten hope.

  57. Thanks for this series! I agree with GMA that the majority of Mormons think there will be polygyny in heaven, although I have seen considerably less open talk about it as the years go by. But it can be seen through the assumption that men can rely on the sealings they accrue while living without granting that a woman can likewise rely on her proxy sealings. (having to choose one husband used to be in the CHI, that it has been removed is a good sign). But if a woman’s sealings are conditional then no man’s sealing can be taken for granted either. Every woman’s sealing that is discarded invalidates a man’s as well. When women are made to cancel sealings, men had better hope she dies first because if she remarries it may be his sealing that gets tossed rather than the second husband’s. Polygyny was unsustainable on earth, it won’t get better in heaven unless they are raiding other universes for women. And if the CK is populated by the comparatively few men who manage to poach everyone else’s wife to reach a Celestial quota that surely will exceed what we have seen on earth, patriarchy will become a dim primordial memory. The good news for women is that they can be assured they will be exalted out of necessity. Most men will likely not be there out of necessity. Looks like Eve may have backed Satan’s plan after all. ;-)

  58. RockiesGma says:

    Whoever said polygamy wasn’t about lustful desires doesn’t understand that to “raise up a righteous seed” you have to have sexual desire, and that involves good old-fashioned lust. There are accounts of early prophets arguing about who would get a certain young girl. Plural marriage to produce a great number posterity is absolutely about carnal desire! Those 30-45 men at church who are spoken of above as having a discussion about their future “hot wives” are exactly what polygamy is really all about!! Lustful desire for hot babes who gratify one man! He’s abundantly gratified, satisfied, and cloaks it in “God gave them to me for my righteousness” which Joseph or Brigham taught. These righteous daughters of God are objects, gifts, blessings ??? To be given??? To men? What reward for righteousness is that for the daughters of God?

    Women are not to be given to anyone. Women are worthy to marry righteous men they love and wish to be one with. They are worthy of the same devotion, loyalty, fidelity, and love they are required to give to ONE worthy man. Anyone who anticipates “many hot wives” is so far from celestial thinking I doubt they”ll even have one wife someday. Such a discussion that goes on at church is especially vulgar. And they hold the priesthood? How inspiring……

  59. J. Stapley says:

    RockiesGma, Personally, I think that an adoptive model makes sense (particularly when you consider JS’s teachings on the uncreated spirit). You can read about that here.

  60. Gma- if by one true love you imply soul mate, apostles and prophets have been clear. There are no such thing as soul mates. Will those who have been sealed to more than one person eventually drift to a one and only? Maybe. I’d actually be okay with that. But then again, I am not widowed nor remarried to a second spouse. I might have a different view if I ever have to walk a mile in those shoes.

  61. I think we think we know more about the next life than we actually know.

  62. Nate, I think it’s clear that desire played a role for many. For others, not so much. Jennifer Knust’s “Unprotected Texts: The Bible’s Surprising Contradictions About Sex and Desire” HarperCollins, 2011 shows how desire manifests in early scripture. Some Rabbis believed Song of Solomon was a sacred text, and it’s all about premarital sex. Note however that JS was not a fan. Antebellum sex is a complicated issue and the Mormons are doubly complex there. Think of Orson Hyde and Albert Carrington as polar extremes. I think JS loved women besides Emma. Just lust? I don’t believe that.

  63. Dax and GMA: thank you, thank you, thank you. This causes such pain for women and it doesn’t help to say “We don’t practice this now”. Eternal polygamy is thoroughly woven into the temple.

  64. RockiesGma says:

    Thanks, J. Stapley…..that must be you whom they named a major street for in Mesa, Az! I’ll read your post as soon as I can.

  65. RockiesGma says:

    WVS: you feel Joseph loved women besides Emma. I’m not sold on that. Did he grow into love for his plural wives? I can see that developing. But from all my studies, he approached them in a formal, businesslike manner, explaining the plural-wife doctrine and proclaimed the Lord told him he was to marry them or that he had been told they were to become his wives. It did not sound like he even knew them very well, nor they him. Yet we have wives and others who knew their circumstances that wrote of conjugal happenings. I very seriously doubt he would propose to someone he barely knew that he wasn’t strongly attracted to to be a plural wife as he fully intended to consummate the marriage. I’ve read Benjamin Johnson’s autobiography. As you probably know, Joseph wanted Ben to ask and convince his sister to marry Joseph. He did. A mere week later Benjamin grieved and expressed his difficulty accepting the actuality of his sister being in the bedroom with Joseph the night they were married. Love doesn’t develop in a week. Not saying they didn’t grow to love each other. But it wasn’t love that consummated that marriage, and probably many others that happened secretively and quickly. I agree with those who remind us that 2nd hand accounts may not be fully accurate. But neither can I accept that they are fully inaccurate. He was a young, healthy, virile man. A mere mortal. I could be totally wrong, but I think desire was the largest component of all, at least in the beginning.

    Also, I am not easily persuaded that “virgin” meant “virtuous” woman or that “destroy” meant “halt Emma’s progress.” I feel the Savior says what he means and means exactly what He says. He doesn’t beat around the bush. His word is “sharper than a two-edged sword,” “swift to cut asunder.” I believe “destroy” meant exactly what it cruelly indicates. And I think “desiring another virgin” is exactly what that indicates. If He meant it to say something softer or kinder, He was perfectly capable of doing so.

    But to be sorrowfully honest with you, I must humbly admit, I have seriously deep doubts that the Savior is the author of these words.

  66. RockiesGma says:

    Someone challenged me on the soulmate love concept by saying the church leaders have repeatedly said there is no such thing. I’ve heard those remarks too. And I believe they were speaking as men when they said them and not as prophets of God. My experience indicates otherwise. I do concede, however, that soul mates can be developed over time.

    But as I have previously stated, I believe two becoming one is a commandment, and when more spouses are added, that oneness becomes fractured. Someone challenged that the Savior and Heavenly Father are one and there’s Heavenly Mother, so three are one. Yes. That’s true. But the Savior’s oneness with the Father is child to parent which is vastly different from our Heavenly Parents special marital oneness.

    We pattern it here on earth. The whole family can be one, but familial oneness is separate and has different meaning and characteristics from that of a husband and wife’s oneness. Marital oneness can involve only two……when others are added, of necessity time, affection, attention, devotion, comfort, etc. are taken from one and given to another, then another, then another. One spouse gains while the other loses, and loses, and loses. The marital oneness becomes burdened with indulgence and abundance for one partner, and lack and loss for the other. Balance is forsaken.

    Compensating can be accomplished by going outside the marriage relationship to fill the loss and emptiness, such as through sister wives or children, hobbies, service, work, callings and so on. Fulfillment — filling that which is lacking or empty — comes from outside the marriage. But these other things can never fully fill marital needs, marital desires, and marital yearnings.

    The desire to be a parent cannot be fully realized or completed by getting a kitten.

    Likewise, marital needs in all their different types cannot be filled by anyone or anything except your spouse. Perfect spousal fulfillment all the time eludes us here in mortality. We all have a long way to go to fully and continually meet our partner’s needs, as well as having our own needs met fully and continually. We all know what it feels like to go without. It’s not fun, and over time causes pain and suffering. None of us would jump for joy to spend eternity having to live like this, and if we truly love our spouse, we couldn’t bear the thought of them having to, let alone expecting them to.

    However……if you are happy with less is more, and believe you have honored the covenant to become one such that plural marriage seems acceptable to you and your spouse…..well, then…..go for it in your exalted state if it’s all right with Heavenly Father and Mother. Maybe for you two, and however many you add, it’s okay. I humbly admit I find it hard to believe you have a very deep marital love, that I wonder if you have mis-matched libido’s, and suspect perhaps you have not become soul mates in all ways…….but then, well….we are all different. If both of you are fulfilled and happy, and you’re not secretly desiring self-indulgent variety, nor secretly hoping to escape fulfilling your partner’s needs, and plural marriage seems terrific then I’m happy for you.

  67. People who say here will be polygamy in the celestial kingdom because of all the righteous women who remain unmarried in this life are forgetting that ore male children die before the age of accountability than female children (the mortality rate for male babies is much higher) and those males will need wives. However, I do believe here may be some polygamy in the next life and I am okay with that. I am sure that whatever Heavenly Father has in mind will be so much more wonderful than anything we can speculate about.

  68. Given that some “here” are obviously well-read, open-minded (enough), and often logical, I would like to get some reaction to my hypothesis regarding the so-called revelation about plural marriage and why Joseph Smith didn’t get it from God (or anyone else).

    My hypothesis is that Joseph received many amazing and mind-blowing (to use a colloquialism) revelations about the eternities, spirits, intelligences, the kingdom of heaven, preparing for Christ’s return, etc. With this context and mindset he read about Solomon and David, et al and all their wives and concubines (another theory: they had multiple wives simply because that was the culture of their time. Men of power did that.) and he came to the belief that God wanted him to do the same. He then wrote Section 132 to justify and give a revelatory basis for this belief.

    Additional premise: The pinnacle of human (and later, immortal) existence is a state of happiness that naturally (not a blessing) accrues to one that has fully internalized being Christ-like. A (most likely) inescapable element of achieving that state is having bonded with another person. That bond and fully equal partnership enables each to reach this pinnacle of existence–through the application of their inherent (not gifted) Agency.

    One cannot develop this deep a bond and mutual support with multiple partners, therefore God never intended for man to have multiple partners either here or after here. So, God wasn’t the origin of D&C 132 and The Principle.


  69. Read RockiesGma, above, for a much better exposition on how a couple become “one” and adding other players makes that impossible.

  70. it's a series of tubes says:

    fbisti, with reference to your second paragraph, it never ceases to amaze what variety of hoops people are willing to concoct in an effort to reconcile “I believe Joseph was a prophet” and “he claimed this was a revelation but I believe it was just his libido”.

  71. I’m annoyed with the implication that all men want to bone a lot of women. My almost-fiancé is frightfully monogamous. If anyone is tempted by the siren song of others, it’s me, not him.

  72. Some sister in 1880 – “I’ve prayed about plural marriage and I have received a confirmation of the spirit that it is a principle I need to live.”
    Some sister in 1950 – “I’ve prayed about plural marriage and I don’t understand how my grandmother could have received confirmation of the spirit that she was to live the principle.”
    Some sister in 2013 – “I’ve prayed about plural marriage and I have received confirmation of the spirit that there never was a commandment from God to practice plural marriage. In fact, it was all done to satisfy the lusts of men back in the day.”
    Whose testimony am I to believe?

  73. IDAIT….. Your question of whom to believe could be used with African-Americans and the priesthood ban and its justification by Apostles and Prophets of past. The church today has flat out retracted its previous stance on the matter. If church leaders can get something so serious so wrong and still be inspired why could polygamy as practiced in the early days not be a mistake as well?

    My greatest issue with polygamy has to be why was JS asking about it in the FIRST place?

    A monogamous, equal partnership marriage is a much harder, higher law/type of marriage to live than the Old Testament… conquer a people, acquire wealth,acquire numerous women as a prize, women have NO rights, almost cave man days of the OT. Instituted religious polygamy was a step back in our progression not a step forward.That is why I question the validity of the revelation.

  74. @Dax, I don’t think it is an apt comparison with the priesthood/temple ban. The ban was always taught from the beginning to be temporary – that it would have an end at some future point. Polygamy, however, to my knowledge was always taught as a commandment with eternal implications. Someone can correct me if I’m wrong here.

  75. Matt Jacobsen says:

    To add to Stapley’s link to his adoption post, I would add my favorite scripture about spirit birth from Mosiah:

    “And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.”

    It’s not hard for me to imagine us having done the same thing with God the Father.

  76. Portia – Yes! I agree! A sister-wife would be great for me, especially if I got to pick her, but a nightmare for my extremely monogamous husband. Furthermore, anyone who is shocked and offended that LDS men might rhapsodize about the possibility of “hot plural wives” must never have heard LDS women going on and on about their romantic fantasies about Colin Firth in “Pride and Prejudice” or, Emma Smith preserve us, Edward Cullen *shudder*. Not that I am above romantic fantasies, but I hope the point is clear.

    As to fbisti’s hypothesis, maybe it’s just because this topic has never been an emotional one for me, but I don’t feel a need to reject it as just Joseph Smith trying to rationalize his marital difficulties. The basic doctrine of plurality of wives is canon scripture, so we’re stuck with it one way or another. I don’t have a problem believing that it is of God. I also don’t have a problem believing that not everyone will want to or be required to practice it. I think it’s Rebecca J, another BCC contributor, who said that she has a testimony that God is not a jerk. I also have a testimony (right now, at least) that God is not a jerk, but that people often screw things up. If God commanded the early members of the Church to practice polygamy and intends for it to be practiced in some form in the hereafter, it’s ok. People mess up the practices God handed down to them all the time. They will pay and also be rewarded in whatever way He judges fit for their desires and efforts, both righteous and unrighteous. Whatever misinterpretations have been given will be clarified and the effects turned to good for those who believe. That is little comfort for those who suffered in this life, I know, but it’s all I have. There’s always going to be a “but what about…” until we are brought before the judgment seat and can ask the Lord to explain himself.

    I have no reason to think Joseph just came up with the idea on his own, or if he did, that he held onto it for as long as he did on his own. Certainly he realized very quickly that whatever transient pleasure he got out of it (and it’s questionable in my mind that it was a particularly pleasurable experience most of the time) was not worth the hassle. And to bring others into it … If he didn’t believe it was a commandment of God, I would think he would have abandoned the practice or chosen some other easier way to gratify himself, but I’ll stand corrected if that turns out not to be the case.

    The “oneness” or “bonding” aspects of both fbisti’s and RockiesGMA’s comments are puzzling to me. Perhaps I am just not romantic enough or my husband and I just don’t have a deep enough relationship, but I don’t get it. We come to God as individuals, not as couples or groups. I love my husband very much. I want to be with him for eternity, but I also want to have friendships with other people. It would be very depressing to me to think that celestial glory is just me and him and all our spirit children – however they enter the picture – in a big mansion in the sky, occasionally being visited by our ancestors or descendants who are worthy to be in the celestial kingdom too. Of course that’s making a big assumption that we (I, mostly) would inherit celestial glory (not a self-deprecating aside, I really wonder sometimes whether I even want it), but isn’t the goal of the “welding link” of sealing to bind all of God’s children to each other somehow? I apologize to both of you if I am misunderstanding what you mean.

  77. Vitalie…. adult married people having a “top 5 ” wish list of who they think is hot and wish they had sex with and being COMMANDED to practice polygamy is such an extreme difference it is not even in the same debate! One is threatening a woman’s eternal salvation the other is not. Just saying.

  78. Vitalie…. adult married people having a “top 5 ” wish list of who they think is hot and wish they had sex with and women being COMMANDED to practice polygamy is such an extreme difference it is not even in the same debate! One is threatening a woman’s eternal salvation the other is not. Just saying.

  79. Also..women fantasizing about imaginary novel characters and men fantasizing about prize wives are very different because the latter has an actual expectation of fruition. That makes a huge huge difference.

  80. Hm, nona and Dax. Perhaps that is a difference worth thinking about. In practical terms, though, it’s kind of the same thing, isn’t it? Lusting after potential future wives and lusting after actors or fictional characters? No matter what the luster believes about the feasibility of achieving the object of lust, it has a similar effect on the character and relationships? That was my point in making the comparison. I guess it didn’t come across as clearly as I thought.

  81. There are two major cultural assumptions that always crop up in these discussions.

    1) That marriage is about fulfilling one’s needs, and
    2) that one person should be able to fill another’s needs completely.

    I find both attitudes sadly objectifying. In Zion, we are one not only with our spouse, but with God and with everyone else. To me, assuming that sexual satisfaction is a part of being one, or even that sexual satisfaction is an eternal need that must be met is mortally limited. In both senses of the word “mortally;” limited by mortal considerations and doomed to death.

  82. glasscluster says:

    1) About Villate’s comment—

    My female friend was talking about a man’s body and thought to myself, “If a man was saying these, he’d be slapped for sexist objectification.” I said that lightly to my friend and she said, “Don’t worry. Men like it.”

    I laughed out loud.
    I think men used that line to say/do a lot of things in relation to women.
    We laughed together—she’s a smart one—and knew her comment encapsulated the mental gymnastics required to justify behavior, deep down, you don’t believe in.

    For whatever it’s worth (not much), I don’t lust after men I don’t know or do know. I hope I meet a man that isn’t into that sort of thing either. I hope God is not a jerk. I hope he doesn’t say things like, “The reason you feel this is wrong because you haven’t become Christ-like and haven’t realized how spiritual this commandment is.”

    2) But Ray–man, you have a point. I hope the next life things make a lot more sense than they do here.

    3. OD–
    I was tempted to feel miffed by you intellectually hair-splitting about my use of the word rescind.
    But that would be silly since you were taking the time to assuage my fears that God is a jerk and will require polygamy. So, really, you were trying to be a nice person.

    But I did mean rescind. The “law” is still on the books, the Doctrine and Cov. we use every Sunday. I recognize the irony of me not wanting to follow a “law” but arguing it is on the books. But I want to point out that your quote from Pres. Hinkley doesn’t assert anything contrary to that. “We have nothing to do with polygamy” asserts we don’t like Warren Jeffs. Besides, Pres. Hinkley and other prophets, including Joseph Smith, said what they needed to in order to preserve our reputation in the public.

    All I am saying is I am not comforted when people try to get me to drink the kool-aid. I guess that is why I so appreciate the writer here and the people who acknowledge that polygamy never really went away. It was just legislated out of our practice. You may disagree and I hope you are right…or like many people pointed out here…that my nature changes and it doesn’t seem so hurtful or contrary to what I had hoped about the future.

  83. Dax – the point of my comment was to note how far we are displaced from the time, place and situation where polygamy was practiced. The further removed we are, the easier it seems to be to discount the personal revelations received by participants. I repeat – if we’re going to consider prophets of old to be righteous followers of God, it seems a big disconnect to accuse them of being incapable of controlling their libido and God winking at their weakness by allowing them to participate in polygamy. One can perform the mental gymnastics necessary to say JS was a prophet but was uninspired with respect to polygamy. But you also have to make the same exercise with other church leaders (and their wives) for the next 50 odd years. I don’t understand it, am glad it’s not in place today, but hope if it ever is that I’ll be able to receive a spiritual witness of it if I am asked to participate.

  84. glasscluster – Thank you for understanding what I meant. I laugh at myself and my friends all the time for the way we occasionally think and talk about men and the double standards we hold about what is acceptable to say. I am trying to rise above it, but it’s just so fun…

    And I don’t know that it’s our natures that will change so much as our understandings of things. I think there will be a lot of “No, you got that wrong, you were SUPPOSED to … ” in the judgment. And we’ll say a lot of, “Oh, uh, sorry?” But I also think that in many cases the Lord will then say, as he did to Oliver Cowdery, “Do you not behold that I have given unto my other servant sufficient strength, whereby it is made up? And none of you have I condemned.” At least I hope so, or I am in so much trouble.

  85. “assuage my fears that God is a jerk and will require polygamy.”

    This kind of thinking is so dangerous and it falls apart on so many levels of analysis. Let’s divorce ourselves from polygamy for a second and just consider it in abstract.

    I disagree with X, I don’t understand X, I dislike X, therefore God must be a jerk if he requires X.

    The thought process here involves ZERO desire to understand and is filled from top to bottom with a desire to pronounce judgement — upon God no less! I am not sure how that squares with the kind of faith we ought to develop.

    If you start first with the principle that God is our Father who loves us and wants us to become like him, but he’s also fair, and righteous, and just you have to basically come to plural marriage from a point of faith and non-judgment. I don’t understand it, it doesn’t make sense to me, I can’t see how God would ask that, and I hope and expect he’ll clear things up for me whenever need. Ok, I’m sure you can disagree with that and find some other ways to approach the issue.

    But of all the things for you to insult the character of God (am I really having to make an argument about what we should curse God over?) having to share a spouse is way down on the totem pole. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying its comparable to anything I’ll ever experience (I hope).

    But look around. Consider history. We’re all here. God sent us here. Can’t you imagine some worse things in human history that we were made a part of as part of “the plan”. I mean, you might as well start when God said here’s this fruit don’t eat it, (but you need to eat it), but I command you not to.

    Personally, I’d rather share my wife with another man than watch my children march across frozen plains and have their toes cut off, have them march a little farther malnourished, and then have them march a little farther and die, all over an agonizing period of months. But they did that because they heeded the call to come to Zion (in haste, sure).

    We are so poor to judge, and yet judge we do on doing.

  86. SilverRain make and excellent point that many ignore when discussing how the nature of marriage and its cultural purpose has evolved in the minds of many if not most in the current generations. To the current generation marriage is often seen about finding someone who will help fulfill my needs. That having children is helping me grow as a person. That divorce happens when our differences are now irreconcilable and I am no longer getting what I expected out of this union.

    I’m not making light of how we approach marriage today but culturally that whole attitude has changed. Some would say for the better, that marriages should be unions that make for a happy couple who are better people because they are together. Yes, that is true. But does that mean less sacrifice on the part of each individual? Does that mean setting aside specific needs and demands because they do not accomplish the greater good of building a strong family? Marriage has become all about ME and less about us and the children.

    And I think that really colors the attitude toward what a marriage represents in the eyes of a Mormon and definitely what we think it represents in the eyes of the Lord.

    I’d like to have my cake and eat it too. I want a strong, unified relationship with my wife that fulfills both of us but the question of what that fulfillment represents may run counter to what a celestial marriage entails.

  87. Antonio Parr says:

    IDIAT writes “if we’re going to consider prophets of old to be righteous followers of God . . . ”

    I am not convinced that being a righteous follower of God at all times is a condition precedent to someone being called as a prophet. Paul, Moses and David were responsible for the deaths of others. David was beset by lust. Peter denied Christ. Joseph had his own comparable sins, although the temporal proximity of his prophetic service is still too close to allow us to speak as freely of his failings as we do of the other aforementioned prophets.

    Prophets are not perfect, and they are not always righteous. President Uchtdorf acknowledged as much in his most recent Saturday morning General Conference address, and we should recognize that both the deeds and the words of those we recognize as prophets can, at times, reflect great fallibility. Mercifully, we have the blazing path of light left for us by our Savior during His mortal ministry, as well as the gift of the Holy Ghost to help us discern when a prophet’s words are from God. (To clarify — I love the words of our prophets, seers and revelators, and am beyond grateful for their extraordinary service. That being said, I do not expect, nor have I witnessed, infallibility, and I am neither surprised nor shaken when I see mistakes being made, as I also receive guidance and inspiration from them that regularly seems to come unfiltered from Heaven itself.)

  88. glasscluster says:


    In that line, I was trying to say everything you just called me to repentance about….that I sense my thinking is flawed, that I have a long way to go in developing faith and not assuming that just because I don’t understand something, others must be wrong…that instead of militantly rejecting things that people suffered for and tried to build a Zion around, I should recognize people have been through much much worse…that God will ask what he will if it brings about the necessary purpose.

    I was just trying to say it succinctly and make fun of myself.

    But thanks for stating what I may have needed to hear…although I do already beat myself up about my lack of faith. i need to be a little more careful about how I word things.

    Though I find this topic troubling…this conversation and being a part of it…has brought me so much peace…so thank you wvs…and anyone who challenged my thinking. I have dated a significant number of men…at my age…most people have a spouse from the past that they loved and still love on some level…especially if there are children.

    I’ve had to learn to respect that love. So please don’t assume i think sharing a man is the worst thing in the world. but I understand that i didn’t really make that plain…and so i invited the censure.

    You really do have great points. We have to strike a balance between advocating for ourselves and submitting to the Lord…a big challenge for me…i have wondered if being single is teaching me to respect the sealing power…as well as what early Saints sacrificed in order to appreciate the notion of eternal families.

  89. AP – I didn’t say a prophet had to be a righteous follower of God at ALL times. They put their pants on one leg at a time just like us. If you believe polygamy was a man made institution spurred on by uninspired thoughts, more power to you.

  90. Hey, Antonio, how often is it implied here at BCC that you need to be more orthodox?

    Life is interesting.

  91. So, what does it mean? We are resurrected with all our body, parts and passions. Presumably we will be amplified in sensitivity and intelligence by some large factor, like 100. We become incredibly physically perfected, most beautiful and handsome. If we wear clothing it is open robes, but mostly we wear clothing only to visit places like Earth where they cannot behold the perfection of our bodies.

    We are also perfected in our ability to love and be loved. To understand and be understood.

    With all of the undercurrents of polyandry accompanying polygamy in the Church, I can only perceive a life in the hereafter completely different than we can possibly understand. Polygamy, marriage, reproduction, sexual relations, included. I mean, what does “eternity” mean?

  92. RockiesGma says:

    Fulfillment of needs……

    My clarification on this is that I, and I alone, am responsible for fulfilling all needs that involve only me. I need to study, thus I fulfill that need to read and ponder and read some more.

    If my need for companionship, affection, laughter, and shared goals is lacking, I seek friendship, visit relatives, or spend time with my kids and grandkids.

    If I need deeper intimacy emotionally, sexually, mentally and socially, I, and I alone seek my spouse — whom I married and covenanted with that he, and he alone, would endeavor to meet those particular needs. And needs are not mere wishes, hopes, or desires. By definition they are things needed….they are necessary to be healthy, happy and fulfilled.

    I do my part to meet my own personal needs. But the Lord ordained that deeper levels of key areas of need are best fulfilled by merging, marrying and commanding two separate people to become one in flesh, one in those key areas. He relies on me to meet his various marital needs, as I rely on him to meet mine.

    NOT knowing our spouse’s needs, or far worse, not wanting to accept those as needs, or refusal to endeavor to meet them is self-centered and destructive to marriage. Discussion, negotiation, compromise and regular re-checks are necessary to know and understand one another. Following through in critical. Ongoing adjustments in attitude and effort increase our success, strengthen our relationship, and deepen our love.

    But I cannot meet my own sexual needs and fulfillment. I cannot fulfill my own need for emotional intimacy by myself, nor through friends or children, nor my parents, nor even my dog (although she comes close). When I fall asleep I do so much more content and relaxed when my husband holds me close. My mother just isn’t the same for this, nor anyone else.

    I can’t speak for anyone else’s needs, but I know mine very well. And I know how to meet them, whom to seek when I can’t do it alone, and how to be charitable when they aren’t met perfectly all the time.

    I also know beyond any doubt that exaltaion means perfection all the time. Sharing a spouse means unmet needs a portion of time. The more plural spouses the greater that portion becomes. And no other person or relationship or activity can replace what only my husband can do.

    It’s easy to say that if I don’t need something why should you? Such thinking makes the thought all about me. Christlike marriage requires that we put our spouse’s needs before our Self — I may not need this but you do, therefore I am here for you — we are connected, I’m all in, we are One. If another spouse enters the picture, the relationship then becomes I may not need this but you do, therefore please excuse me but I have to be somewhere else with someone else right now — I’m sure you understand why we can’t be connected at this time, why I’m only partially in, and why we momentarily cannot be One.

    We strive our whole mortality to become more and more worthy of the love of our spouse. We try to make them happier; to be, say, and do more for them as time passes. If we are not, we are not worthy of them or our marriage. We definitely could not claim to be One. And if we two are not one, we are not God’s. Any thought or desire to add more people into the marriage is ludicrous. If you can’t meet the needs of one, how can you hope to meet the needs of many? And if you don’t think you should have to meet those needs, you are thinking selfishly, which is
    contrary to the whole divinity of marriage and the perfect Celestial Kingdom.

  93. RockiesGma says:

    SilverRain…..fulfilling marital needs is part of the covenant and in no way objectifying. If I need to be held on night’s when I’m afraid of the raging storm outside, I am not objectifying my husband. If I were “using” him as a Teddy bear, that would be objectifying. Using is not godly. Seeking and giving comfort is. Denying holding me because he isn’t afraid and doesn’t think I should be is not godly. Holding me is. It shows empathy for my fear and fulfills my need for comfort in a way only he can do. Our bond is strengthened….our love grows. I share my fears. He shares his comfort and strength. No one is used. No one is an object.

  94. The problem is that polygamy is an ancient adaptation which should have stayed ancient. I just finished a most interesting book by Napoleon Chagnon, the anthropologist who studied the Yanomamo Indians in southern Venezuela. His data aroused huge controversy in that the data showed that the Yanomamo were patriarchal and polygamous, and that the most patriarchal and polygamous men, the men who had the most wives and children, were the ones who had killed the largest number of other men.

    In his book he described the patriarchal marriage system of two co-lineal patriarchs whose offspring married their sisters and daughters to the other co-lineal line. So the men ended up marrying their matrilinial cousins. This system of marriage echoes around the world. On our latest tour to France, one of the guides said that for a thousand years France was ruled by dynasties who were related in this scheme. In India, women were supposed to marry men from the neighboring village.

    Chagnon thought that most if not all Pleistocene and Holocene humanity must have passed through a similar mating scheme. (I am of two minds on this subject because many of our sexual traits indicate a substantive equality among the sexes. We are not nearly so sexually dimorphic, for example, as the other great apes.)

    In Mormon circles the plural wives were presented to men who were in alliance to the hierarchy in a fashion similar to the Yanomamo patriarch who gave women to his offspring. Killing was not exactly required, fortunately, except in the modern day among the fundamentalists.

    I do not think we want to emulate this ancient practice with all of its horrible implications. Nor do I see the necessity of it being practiced in the Celestial kingdom for the same reasons regardless of what has been said by various 19th century church leaders.

  95. Just a footnote, life as a Yanomamo woman was no picnic. The men were violent and merciless, for the most part.

    It is my understanding that life as a plural wife among the Mormons was, likewise, for the most part, difficult. My Grandmother, who died 80 years ago, was a polygamous wife after the Manifesto. Her life was difficult because she obtained little support, physical, mental, spiritual, or matrimonial, from her husband and his jealous first wife. She did, in her later years, love her wonderful and intelligent sons. I am grateful for her sacrifice.

  96. RockiesGma – thanks for writing from the heart. And not referring to that pesky old tonic you dink sometimes:)

  97. “drink”

  98. glasscluster says:

    Please forgive me for taking up more space. But I feel i need to say this in order to move on from this conversation and stop feeling so badly about it.

    I’ve tried to listen to those who have defended polygamy, prophets, and stand for their faith.

    I’ve even allowed myself to believe a man who implied that I was insulting God by being so against it…how could I regard it as so terrible when people walked across the plains in their bare feet.

    I allowed people to tell me that marriage is not what i am holding out for…that my sadness about this topic comes from my own modern misunderstanding of what God intended marriage to be..

    But i joined the Church to overcome what my abusive father and former spouse told me….that if I felt uneasy about something…it was because i was selfish…

    …that if I felt like my feelings were being discounted, I should just think about how many people had it worse.

    I know none of you who used these kinds of arguments meant to hurt my particular feelings. You were simply trying to expand thinking generally.

    FYI—I almost married a man even though i knew i would have to be a kind of “second wife.” I figured it was no worse than what my forebears did. Then the Lord told me, “I want so much more for you.” I didn’t believe him at first.

    Thank you so much for trying to say it’ll be okay.

    Thanks for letting me know we have too little info…without shaming me.

  99. RockiesGma, “Fulfillment of needs…”

    Outstanding, nonpareil (and I don’t mean.a small pellet of colored sugar for decorating candy, cake, and cookies.) ;-)

  100. glass – I appreciate your final comment. I don’t think anyone is saying you have to stand for plural marriage, or that you have to defend it or feel obligated to accept it.

    Likewise, none of us has to feel obligated to sweep it under the rug as another example of uninspired libido clothed in a false revelation. I’d never say a word on plural marriage or even try to flesh out my own thoughts on the subject in a public forum if it weren’t for those who loudly shout it must have all been the invention of lustful men.

    Let’s remember, there was no one who came on here insisting that anyone accept plural marriage, and I’m not sure if there still is. But there are quite a few who are very insistent at how Joseph and others let their lustful longings run away with themselves.

    The same undermining of Jospeh and all the subsequent prophets on this issue then easily gets applied to the priesthood, then to XYZ other issues. The public pronouncements serve to undermine the faith of the majority regardless of how tightly some try to walk on a tight rope to avoid doing so in their own lives.

    I’m not talking about personal feelings here, I’m talking about shouting them from the roof tops as it were. The kind of nuances that some liberal (and conservative) Mormons have to their belief can’t be conveyed because they/we frankly don’t understand all the variables well enough to begin with, which is why it’s best to focus on gospel principles.

    If you want to dig deep, don’t pronounce judgements of get offended. I think the spirit of this original post and series is moderate in the sense that it doesn’t get judgmental in the extreme. And yet everyone wants to weigh in with their small judgements chipping away left and right.

    Any conservative that wants to promote plural marriage as some eventuality or insist that others have to accept it as settled revelation are just in the same boat as those who are so quick to denounce its origins on a foundation of lust. You’re speaking beyond your authority.

  101. RE:
    it’s a series of tubes says:
    October 30, 2013 at 11:59 am

    I disagree that what I said qualifies for “jumping through hoops.” And, further, I never meant to imply that Joseph “claimed this was a revelation but I believe it was just his libido”. I was stating my conclusion that he was convinced that, as a prophet, he was obligated to practice plural marriage as had David and Solomon, et al. He had to imagine, conjure, write, develop, make up (or whatever) Section 132 because plural marriage violates such a basic and eternal principle: becoming one with your spouse. Therefore, God wouldn’t give such an edict.

  102. it's a series of tubes says:

    fbisti, you’re doing it again – just with different words.

  103. fbisti – except God did give such an edict once upon a time. More than once in fact. Unless you’re claiming that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were not sanctioned by God in their marriages? Solomon and David might be more questionable to some on the righteousness of their decisions but that isn’t the case with the previous three. Because it doesn’t take much to run really far afield with that assertion.

    However you want to view modern revelation on this question, there is a body of scripture that demonstrates that God commanded some of the prophets in the Old Testament to take on more than one wife. And my expectation is that someone is going to claim that this is probably a story of we believe the Bible insofar as it is translated correctly. But remember that these families contain many of the great and noble ones who are held up repeatedly as examples of those with whom we should aspire to sit down with on the right hand side of God and go no more out. Personally I think Eugene England probably has the right angle on this question but to claim that God never commanded man to live the law of polygamy ever and that it has always been a conjuring of their own imaginations is something else.

  104. @OD Isaac only had one wife, so he’s definitely OK.

  105. RE:
    it’s a series of tubes says:
    November 1, 2013 at 10:09 am

    “fbisti, you’re doing it again – just with different words.”

    Painting me with your brush of “jumping through hoops” labels my relatively simple, logical argument as strained and fanciful (or however you may choose to describe that particular aspersion). Argue against my argument, not with ad hominem attacks.

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