Pride and Polygamy in Jacob’s Temple Discourse #BOM2016

Jacob 1-4

The Book of Jacob is weird. I say this lovingly, but it’s true. It’s not that the book says weird things. It’s just that the things it does say don’t seem to have anything to do with each other. It’s more like a mix tape than a coherent narrative or a sustained argument about anything.

But the wonderful thing about Jacob as a narrator is that he knows he’s weird. And he tells us exactly why his book does not have the kind of coherence that Nephi has trained us to expect. Writing on plates, he tells us, is really hard:

Now behold, it came to pass, that I, Jacob, having ministered much unto my people, in word, (and I cannot write but a little of my words, because of the difficulty of engraving our  words upon plates,) and we know that the things which we  write upon plates, must remain; but whatsoever things we  write upon anything save it be upon plates, must perish and  vanish away; but we can write a few words upon plates. (Jacob 4:1-2)

This is my favorite fourth-wall lapse in the entire Book of Mormon, and it creates a very different set of expectations for Jacob’s writings than we had for Nephi’s. Nephi comes off as a luxurious writer—somebody who has all the time in the world and can even afford to reproduce about one-third of the Book of Isaiah more or less verbatim.

Jacob, on the other hand, comes across as a busy person who wants to discharge his duty without devoting much time to narrative pleasantries. He does not resent his task, as some of the subsequent narrators appear to, but neither does he relish writing for its own sake. Nephi was a poet; Jacob was a pragmatist. This means that all of the information in the Book of Jacob comes to us through the author’s “just the facts, ma’am” filter. It must be really important or he wouldn’t have spent time chiseling it onto the plates.

This sense of critical importance should govern our reading of the temple sermon in Jacob 1:15-3:14. These words are presented to us as the most important sermon that Jacob ever delivered, and the legacy that he wants to leave with anyone who reads his book in the future. And his words are not pleasant. Right out of the box, he announces that God has commanded him to inflict pain on the Nephite people:

Wherefore, it burdeneth my soul, that I should be constrained because of the strict commandment which I have received from God, to admonish you, according to your crimes, to enlarge the wounds of those which are already wounded, instead of consoling and healing their wounds; and those which have not been wounded, instead of feasting upon the pleasing word of God, have daggers placed to pierce their souls, and wound their delicate minds. (Jacob 2: 9)

And what are the sins of the Nephite’s that have caused God to command Jacob to pierce their souls with daggers? Seeking after riches and marrying more than one wife at a time.

Seeking after wealth and tolerating deep inequalities was pretty much the go-to criticism for Old Testament prophets. When Jacob tells his people, “think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you” (Jacob 2:17), he could just as easily have been Isaiah or Jeremiah. Nothing is more common in the Hebrew scriptures than a prophet of the Lord chastising the Chosen People for seeking their own gain at the expense of others. To a very great degree, exhorting people not to tolerate profound inequalities in their midst is what “prophecy” means.

On the other hand, Jacob’s long discourse on the evils of polygamy at the end of Chapter 2 would have been something completely new to the Nephite people. Monogamy in the Western world was a Roman invention, not a Hebrew one. Before they became part of the Roman Empire, the Jews—like most of the other bronze-age cultures in the world—were a mildly polygynous people.

I say “mildly polygynous” because, as in most polygamous cultures, only elite men had multiple wives. Since males and females tend to be distributed equally in human populations, large-scale polygamy is an inherently unstable social system, as it tends to produce an excess of violent, sexually frustrated young men. But there is no precedent in the Hebrew Bible for Jacob’s assertion that “David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord” (Jacob 2:24).

Taken in its original Lehite context, the requirement for strict monogamy must be considered a stunningly progressive revelation—one that elevated the status of women miles ahead of the biblical standard by refusing to allow them to be considered simply sexual property.

So let’s name the elephant in the room. Jacob’s insistence that “there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife” (2:27) becomes cosmic irony in light of the fact that, just a few years after translating these words, Joseph Smith initiated the practice of polygamy–which the Mormons continued for more than 50 years. Indeed, anti-polygamist writers of the 19th century invariably quoted Jacob 2 as proof that Mormonism could not even live by its own supposed scripture.

But (as Mormons invariably pointed out in return), Jacob comes with an escape clause: “’For if I will,’ saith the Lord of Hosts, ‘raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things” (Jacob 2:30). But this is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. Even if we give Jacob 2 the most pro-polygamy reading possible, the best we can say is that it commands strict monogamy as the normal commandment for a society and that, in exceptional circumstances, the Lord may command otherwise “to raise up seed.”

While Mormons today tend to see something like this as a possible rationale for nineteenth-century polygamy, it was not presented as such at the time. The defenders of Mormon polygamy asserted it as a positive good and a superior moral and social system. They insisted that it was an inherent and unbreakable part of God’s Eternal Plan. None of the leaders of the Church in the early Utah period–Brigham Young, Orson Pratt, John Taylor, etc.–saw polygamy as a temporary exception to a standing commandment for monogamy. Yet this is precisely how Jacob presents it in the Book of Mormon.

The only way to square the 19th century practice of plural marriage with the Book of Mormon, then, is to agree that while the early Saints may have been acting under revelation from God, they did not understand the nature of that revelation. At the very best, they took a temporary expedient as an eternal principle and built an entire culture on the incorrect assumption that God’s will for them could never change. If we accept it, this assumption allows us to reconcile the practice of polygamy with Jacob’s strong endorsement of monogamy in his Temple Sermon.

This, of course, raises the inconvenient question of what other temporary expedients we might still be mistaking for eternal principles.


  1. Interesting conclusion. So Jacob and Joseph Smith and every other such living Prophet stand as evidence for the proposition that God can, and will, change the rules he sets forth for his church to follow. That is Certain to make some folks nervous about what the next great revelation(s) will hold…whether its about gender identity, SSM or even a return to Polygamy; any of which would certainly test the faith of the Faithful.

  2. “… while the early Saints may have been acting under revelation from God, they did not understand the nature of that revelation. At the very best, they took a temporary expedient as an eternal principle and built an entire culture on the incorrect assumption that God’s will for them could never change.” I think this explains it really well.

    To name the other elephant in the room: the priesthood ban. I know it’s fairly common to say this wasn’t a revelation. But was this also a revelation that the Saints didn’t understand? Or some kind of “inspired temporary expedient” that many of the Saints assumed was an eternal principle? There are some quotes that imply that Brigham and others thought the ban might come to an end some day, but the Church as a whole sure didn’t act like it.

    Also, there’s the fact that David O. McKay apparently tried multiple times to receive a revelation to reverse it, but got a clear “no” each time – with the last answer being something along the lines of “Don’t worry about this anymore”. And then Pres. Kimball et al eventually received what they all perceived as a miraculous revelation reversing the ban.

    I have a hard time swallowing that Brigham Young, David O. McKay, and Spencer W. Kimball (and the FP & 12 at the time) were all completely wrong, so I tend to lean toward “inspired temporary thing with misunderstood justifications” like you say with polygamy.

    My only question is, what would be the reasoning for the temporary ban? Gaining UT statehood? That seems like a stretch. Polygamy has a reason spelled out in scripture. The ban doesn’t (that I know of). Maybe I’m comparing apples to oranges. Idk.

  3. Or if someone can explain the David O McKay thing to me in a way that wouldn’t make him uninspired, then I would probably be more prone to side with the “it wasn’t really a revelation” camp.

  4. Daniel, my approach to President McKay’s experience has been shaped by the assertion – based on Wright and Prince’s biography – that his desire to overturn the ban was met with sharp opposition from at least one and perhaps more in the Quorum of the Twelve. It may be – if this is the case – that the Lord was waiting for the right constellation of Apostles for it, to avoid a schism. And perhaps it had something to do with the membership of the Church, as well, waiting for the members to realize that it needed to change. Joseph Smith complained that he had received revelations that he was required to keep hidden from the Church, because they would not accept them. If the Lord obstructed Joseph’s desires to change some things based on the state of the membership, it’s not inconceivable that he did so with McKay.

    It’s not the only possible explanation, but I think it or something along those lines is a fit. I don’t think that it was a revelation to start with (although if it was, I think your description is most likely), especially given that Brigham Young in 1847 mentions a black priesthood holder favorably. In fact, McCary’s antics – claiming to be a prophet, being excommunicated, and then drawing converts (specifically white women, some of whom he married polygamously) to his brand of Mormonism – may have influenced Brigham and other church leaders at the time towards their eventual position. This is, of course, all speculation, but it fits the facts I’m aware of.

  5. christiankimball says:

    Yes (to the OP) — whatever one thinks of Joseph Smith’s multiple marriages (I think he was wrong from the start on that), it has always struck me that the post-JS move from permitted to required for exaltation was unwarranted and poorly rationalized. The priesthood ban parallel would be not the ban itself but institutionalizing or sacralizing one of the (clearly racist and now completely disavowed) explanations as the “divine order” of things.

  6. I find the discussion of priesthood ban and trying to make it all seem inspired and divine interesting. It was political. Period. Any other explanation strains credulity. Does God jump through all these odd hoops to bar a segment of His people from His blessings? No. Man does that.

  7. Brigham Young never even claimed a revelation occurred relating to the priesthood ban, so implying one now is just obviously racist bootstrapping. My explanation for McKay’s experience is that God isn’t going to give us a revelation to get us out of a mess that we created ourselves. That’s not the way it happened for SWK either. If you read his words carefully, you’ll notice that he did not receive a revelation ending the priesthood ban. He decided to end the priesthood ban and then received confirmation that this was correct. That’s a critically important distinction that most people simply gloss over.

    As for Jacob, the idea that he is not a poet but a pragmatist is at odds with a lot of his words. For example, how do you square that with his stunning conclusion:

    “And it came to pass that I, Jacob, began to be old; and the record of this people being kept on the other plates of Nephi, wherefore, I conclude this record, declaring that I have written according to the best of my knowledge, by saying that the time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream, we being a lonesome and a solemn people, wanderers, cast out from Jerusalem, born in tribulation, in a wilderness, and hated of our brethren, which caused wars and contentions; wherefore, we did mourn out our days.

    And I, Jacob, saw that I must soon go down to my grave; wherefore, I said unto my son Enos: Take these plates. And I told him the things which my brother Nephi had commanded me, and he promised obedience unto the commands. And I make an end of my writing upon these plates, which writing has been small; and to the reader I bid farewell, hoping that many of my brethren may read my words. Brethren, adieu.”

    This passage is unique in all of scripture, right down to its last word. There is no other prophet that uses that word. What possible word could Jacob have used that Joseph saw fit to translate as ‘adieu’? Not a poet? I beg to differ.

  8. ” it has always struck me that the post-JS move from permitted to required for exaltation was unwarranted and poorly rationalized.”

    If God required polygamy in their time, it was required for their exaltation. God is certainly not going to give a command and say, “Do this now, because it is of eternal significance, but just so you know I will not ask other to do it in the future.”

    Why wouldn’t he say that? Because we’d be rationalizing it endlessly rather than following. Of course, we rationalize it anyway in the midst of following whatever commands we are given, but at least we are doing them.

    The options as I see them:
    1. plural marriage was never required, and those who were for it were rationalizing horn dogs
    2. plural marriage was required for an eternal purpose at that time, and was taken away once the foundations were laid.
    3. plural marriage is an eternal principle and it was withdrawn because of a combination of the unworthiness of society, and perhaps our ancestor (and our) own too.

    Option 1 Is pretty much a perspective that is unfaithful, unless you want to define faithful as being an extremely narrow slice of our faith that has never been espoused to by anyone with authority or any significant amount of membership. Option 1 also completely ignores the significant amount of hardship all endured and reduces it to sex. While I have no doubt sexual desire was involved, it does not even come close to explaining what took place.

    Option 2 Undermines the past for our present doctrinal comfort, but completely ignores the fact that there are many marriages promised and bound to be together eternally until someone brings it up and then we squirm. If I have an eternal family and a spouse that means something in the hereafter, so does Br. Brigham.

    Option 3 Has virtually no impact on us, yet we get upset by it because the fear that it might someday might return. Jacob’s BOM teachings have no bearing in this case, because he also taught nothing about baptism for the dead, exaltation, etc. Option 3, however, saddles us with the burden of defending something we frankly just do not understand.

    Both Option 2 and 3 have been used at varying times for different topics (Priesthood, Consecration, Temple Construction, etc.).

  9. Any discussion of Jacob’s words on polygamy also has to square with the Patriarchs practicing it as well. With them it wasn’t only okay, but the divinely appointed foundation of Jehovah’s covenant people.

    Based on Jacob’s words, I think there was something wrong with the way it was practiced in Jerusalem more than anything else:

    v. 31 For behold, I, the Lord, have seen the sorrow, and heard the mourning of the daughters of my people in the land of Jerusalem, yea, and in all the lands of my people, because of the wickedness and abominations of their husbands.

    v. 32 And I will not suffer, saith the Lord of Hosts, that the cries of the fair daughters of this people, which I have led out of the land of Jerusalem, shall come up unto me against the men of my people, saith the Lord of Hosts.

    That’s why in v. 34 Jacob notes that the Nephite practice of polygamy violated a commandment given to Lehi that the practice couldn’t be continued in the promised land. Jerusalem was full of wickedness at the time Lehi left, wickedness that apparently included an improper practice of polygamy using a perversion of scriptural history. From the context, I think what made it wrong was that their wives and concubines were being treated like property instead of daughters of God. It’s not said explicitly, but it seems like these women were being forced into involuntary sexual relationships.

  10. Is it possible to view Jacob’s thoughts on polygamy (and the actions of David) as an outgrowth of Northern Kingdom traditions? Even with the “raise up seed” escape clause, Jacob’s narrative seems in stark contrast with the overall assessment of David that we find in Samuel.

  11. “The options as I see them: 1 … 2…3”
    When you stop at three there are almost always more. What I really believe is that plural marriage was a mistake from beginning to end. But I suppose that’s a “not faithful” position. Which character attack doesn’t bother me personally, but let’s move on. For argument’s sake, option 4 or 5 or 6 (?) that I like to discuss is that plural marriage is at all times permissible in God’s eyes (that God is fairly broadminded about marriage patterns in general) and that the nuances of when and where, of forbidden/allowed/required, of raising up a generation/supporting otherwise unmarried women/dynasty building/living within or outside of a secular legal system/etc. are all political–worldly this-life political.

  12. Angela C says:

    Given the BOM pride cycle we all know so well, it makes some sense that once church leaders attained a certain level of wealth and influence they quickly sought to create a “believing blood” elite hierarchy through polygamy. When God gives you something special, you want to spread it around. As they say.

    The temporarily inspired practice with human justifications is interesting. Again, polygyny hinges on the idea that decent men are so scarce (not necessarily that men in general are scarce) that the best among them should be propagating the species while others are simply snuffed out through lack of progeny. As much as it’s about treating women as sexual property, it’s also about treating men as stud horses.

  13. Anon for this says:

    I think we also need to consider the ‘curse of Eve’ thinking that was prevalent among church leaders in the 1850s, and how that related to the ‘necessity’ of polygamy to redeem women. I think it also provides some background for the difficult issues women face in the temple in regard to submission to their husbands.

    Eliza R Snow
    and the Woman Question – Jill C Mulvay

  14. Anon for this says:

    Sorry, that link didn’t work.
    Eliza R Snow and the Woman Question

  15. Glenn Thigpen says:

    Interesting that so many are still parsing the words of Jacob to somehow show that Joseph Smith was in error with the polygamy thing. Jacob, first of all, does not say that the only reason to engage in polygamy is to raise up seed to Him. Of course that is one reason. David’s sin in polygamy was with Bathsheba, Solomon had something like seven hundred wives, many married for political alliances/purposes. I guess that would come under the “multiply wives to himself” restriction in Deuteronomy 17:17.
    I think that it is rather humorous that we sit here in our present day ivory towers and feel we can pass judgement, that we know better about polygamy, that we understand it better, than the prophet to whom it was revealed and those to whom he personally instructed.


  16. Just maybe the disjointedness of Jacob is a sign it was dictated on the fly?

  17. Yes, yes, all the substantive stuff. What I see is that Jacob desperately needed an editor. He writes:

    “Now behold, it came to pass, that I, Jacob, having ministered much unto my people, in word, (and I cannot write but a little of my words, because of the difficulty of engraving our words upon plates,) and we know that the things which we write upon plates, must remain; but whatsoever things we write upon anything save it be upon plates, must perish and vanish away; but we can write a few words upon plates.”

    When he could have said:

    “I, Jacob, ministered unto my people mostly by speaking, because it’s difficult to write on plates. But the written word is the only ones that survive over time, so I write the most important ones.”

    In fact, once he sets up the notion of how difficult it is to chisel into metal, I can’t help but find all the extraneous words and phrases, and want to reach back in time, take the plates and say “Just tell me what you want to say, let me write it.”

  18. “Daniel, my approach to President McKay’s experience has been shaped by the assertion – based on Wright and Prince’s biography – that his desire to overturn the ban was met with sharp opposition from at least one and perhaps more in the Quorum of the Twelve. It may be – if this is the case – that the Lord was waiting for the right constellation of Apostles for it, to avoid a schism.”

    Samuel – this is exactly why the Lord ensured that Harold Lee died at such a young age. To allow for those who were entrenched in their prejudice to die and allow those who were more open to the Lord’s will to eliminate the priesthood ban policy to move forward (i.e. Spencer Kimball).

  19. I think the disjointedness and change from pragmatic to poet signifies that the book wasn’t all written in one sitting (as one could easily imagine Nephi doing), but at times throughout Jacob’s life. He starts and ends as a poet, but the parts in the middle are like transcriptions of some of his greatest hits, copied verbatim from whatever record he had of it.

  20. I found this discussion of polygamy as an abrahamic sacrifice, and how it allows for agreement between Jacob 2 and D&C 132 interesting.

  21. I wonder what the Nephite practice of polygamy could have looked like. There couldn’t have been too many Nephite’s during Jacobs time. I mean, how many sisters can you possibly marry?

  22. Jacob’s escape clause seems like it’s intended to justify the patriarchs by distinguishing their polygamy from that practiced by David and Solomon whom Jacob condemns. Interestingly D&C says they were all justified. Quite the contradiction.

  23. Allan Garber says:

    I believe polygamy was a profound mistake from the start to the end. The fact that it was initially practised in secret attests to its murky origins.

  24. Clark Goble says:

    Miles, I suspect the wives the Nephites took at the time of Jacob were likely not Lehites but indigenous peoples.

  25. Glenn Thigpen says:

    Allan, are you saying that Joseph Smith lied?

  26. Searching says:

    Glenn, We don’t call that lies anymore… we prefer “carefully worded denials.”

  27. Glenn and Searching, that polygamy was wrong =/= Joseph Smith lied. It may be, but if that’s the only possibility you can come up with, you’re sorely lacking in analytical imagination. The prophetic mantle neither demands nor implies perfection; scripture can be (and, in fact, is) contradictory, and nonetheless scripture. How do we deal with an imperfect prophet? I suppose we can throw the prophet out. Or we can deny the imperfections. Or we can try to figure out what God has communicated through an imperfect prophet.

    To Mike’s point, though: the heuristics we use to read scripture are fascinating, more so because scripture doesn’t speak univocally. And when one conflicts with another, there’s not a simple rule for which trumps (that is, later may or may not take precedence over earlier).

    On the #BOM2016 thing, I find, more and more, that Jacob, not Nephi, sets the stage for the subsequent focus of the Book of Mormon. Nephi’s focus seems to be on getting to the promised land, then surviving and nurturing faith when they get there. As the people begin to fracture, though, Jacob picks up the thread of justice, and of caring for the weak and the poor, a thread that King Benjamin doubles down on. And, as you point out, Jacob’s opposition to polygamy seems of a piece with the idea of caring for the weak in society.

  28. Glenn Thigpen says:

    Sam Brunson said “Glenn and Searching, that polygamy was wrong =/= Joseph Smith lied. It may be, but if that’s the only possibility you can come up with, you’re sorely lacking in analytical imagination. The prophetic mantle neither demands nor implies perfection; scripture can be (and, in fact, is) contradictory, and nonetheless scripture. How do we deal with an imperfect prophet? I suppose we can throw the prophet out. Or we can deny the imperfections. Or we can try to figure out what God has communicated through an imperfect prophet.”

    If polygamy is wrong and Joseph Smith taught the principle to others and told people that he was commanded by God to practice polygamy and also said that an angel with a drawn sword had told him either get with the program or else, then what kind of imagination do you have to have to decide that Joseph was not lying but polygamy was still a mistake?

    What in the world is a prophet for if we have to try to figure out what a prophet meant? Are you less fallible and less imperfect than a prophet that you can tell what that prophet was supposed to tell us?
    How can you know that polygamy was wrong, that the prophet was mistaken, but was somehow not lying when many others had revelations confirming polygamy? Were all of those people merely compounding the fallible, imperfect prophet’s mistake and receiving revelation also imperfectly?
    In the intervening years, have our prophets all been so fallible and so imperfect that none of them were able to get a clear cut answer from the Lord and thus instruct the Church that polygamy was wrong?

    Is the Lord so lax that he would not or did not stop the practice in its infancy and allowed His Church to go astray for lo these many years? And when He finally did stop the practice, He did not do so because He said it was wrong, but to preserve the Church against the U.S. government.

    How much “infallibility” and imperfection can we tolerate before we throw in the towel and say that the prophets are not prophets and that we all have been misled, or have misled ourselves. Or just maybe, polygamy was commanded by God and section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants is inspired scripture, a revelation from God.


  29. Re plural marriage and lies and prophetic status and imperfect prophets . . . it’s complicated. For Brighamites (the CoJCoLdS) plural marriage became an article of faith. But at more than a century remove we don’t have to make such hard-line distinctions. It is close to indisputable that Nauvoo period plural marriage involved lies or deception or ‘carefully worded denials’. Public vs private . . . what Joseph did vs what he told Emma . . . who knew . . . danger and controversy — it’s all part of the story. What was true and when, and what that means about Joseph, and whether to distinguish early revelations from later, and how and where Brigham Young modified or elaborated, are all fascinating and in my opinion open for discussion. This was a big deal in the 19th century, the LDS church tried to tamp it down and homogenize the telling in the 20th century, and now I believe it open again. But with the benefit of distance, not as a faith defining or faith threatening topic, but as a real multi-faceted people in a real complicated and sometimes dangerous world topic.

  30. Glenn, somewhere between infallible and liar is wrong. There is no scriptural basis for the idea that a prophet cannot be wrong; in fact, if you look at the scriptural record, being wrong is almost a requirement for prophets (just like it is for all of the rest of us except Jesus Himself).

    You ask, “What in the world is a prophet for if we have to try to figure out what a prophet meant?” I’d respond, That’s precisely the point. And it’s precisely the point for at least two reasons. First, prophetic understanding and communication is mediated by language. That is, even if a prophet receives some kind of pure nonverbal communication from God (and there’s no reason to believe that’s how God communicates), it falls on the prophet to interpret that pure nonverbal communication, and then to communicate it to everybody else. And that requires language, which, any critical theory geek can tell you, obscures at the same time it communicates.

    Moreover, if we take seriously the idea that one of the purposes of life is to grow and learn, then of course part of our job is to take prophetic statements seriously, but to try to dig into what they actually mean. How on earth would not having to think and analyze help us?

    Basically, unless I’m misreading, you seem to be advocating the position that a prophet who gets something wrong cannot be a prophet because the prophetic mantle requires absolute perfection. And I reject that premise, whether you want to use it to support or oppose prophets. The world we live in—including the religious world we inhabit—is much more complicated and messy than that.

  31. Clark Goble says:

    The issue is and always will be complicated simply because of the Mormon conception of resurrection as involving us being like we are now. Once you accept that rather than resurrection into a more angelic sort (angels aren’t as human in traditional creedal Christianity) then there are tons of implications. The most glaring being how to deal with people in multiple relationships here on earth. The implications of the resurrection were pretty clear to the Sadducees at Christ’s time. (They didn’t accept the resurrection) Thus the question about the woman married to multiple men. The typical Christian interpretation of Christ’s answer is that marriage (and sex) aren’t in heaven. The Mormon interpretation is that marriage has to be done in mortality and thus the importance of temple work for the dead.

    As soon as you take the idea of work for the dead though and a resurrection that includes our sexuality then you’re stuck with questions of polygamy. (Realistically both polyandry and polygyny) While the church accepts in sealings poygnyny that’s only because the doctrine is established. If, as some suspect, polyandry was also going to be setup in Nauvoo it would make sense if only to deal with relationships. To the degree women are understandably upset at the rules for sealings for the next life, one might expect eventually the church just to allow sealings for both genders.

    While I think all of use are understandably queasy with the ideas, its much more due to the clear empirical evidence that humans just can’t typically have multiple spouses in any sort of charitable and equitable relationship. Whether that applies in heaven in a resurrected body seems a different matter. At a minimum those saying there is no polygamy there have to explain a great deal that seems pretty hard to square with basic doctrines. My sense is that they’ll inevitably have to move more towards the position of creedal Christianity.

  32. Whatwomenhavelearned says:

    Whether in mortality or in eternity polygamy and polyandry leave the multiple spouses alone without their beloved a great deal of time. Even a man whose wife dies and he remarries a year later will always have two women he loves–never being alone himself, never failing to have his physical, emotional, and mental needs met; yet these two women will have to share, being alone while he is with the other one. Some say the one left alone can keep herself busy with other loved ones. If these other relationships fulfilled the needs only a spouse fulfills, then there’d be no need for widowers to remarry a year (or sooner or later) after their wives die here, for he has loved who can keep him busy and “fulfilled.”

    Plural marriage of any number is a strain on every relationship, and no amount of perfection can overcome the reality of being alone and without the one you love. Being together is what nurtures love and closeness. Can some do it? Yes. Is it a healthy form of marriage? From my ancestors journals it was not. It was very unhealthy, causing my foremothers to have only respect for the reputation of their husband, but no real love. Love died as soon as the loneliness set in. Then there was the praying for strength to abide, not ever to have joy. For how can there be true joy when the one you are in love with is gone with others all the time, plus his career, church assignments and time with his numerous children? Women become “comforters” to men, but the women have very little comfort. To say nothing of the exquisite torture of knowing what’s taking place behind closed doors while you are left alone again and again. Yet the husband never knows such sorrow. Thus Jacob writes of the revelation from God that He has heard His daughters cries and seen their tears, and felt their sorrow. No amount of righteousness or perfection can change the time lossed, with its inevitable sorrows in plural marriage.

    Again, whether here or in eternity, this form of marriage leaves women without many things much or most of the time. I know people who truly believe that God will change women’s minds to magically be okay with that in the eternities: happy to be lonely, unfulfilled, and their needs unmet. The men won’t be changed, but they believe the women will have to be.

    How sick is that? What kind of religion creates such thoughts and discussions?

  33. Samuel, you said:

    “…my approach to President McKay’s experience has been shaped by the assertion – based on Wright and Prince’s biography – that his desire to overturn the ban was met with sharp opposition from at least one and perhaps more in the Quorum of the Twelve. It may be – if this is the case – that the Lord was waiting for the right constellation of Apostles for it, to avoid a schism. And perhaps it had something to do with the membership of the Church, as well, waiting for the members to realize that it needed to change. Joseph Smith complained that he had received revelations that he was required to keep hidden from the Church, because they would not accept them. If the Lord obstructed Joseph’s desires to change some things based on the state of the membership, it’s not inconceivable that he did so with McKay.”

    This makes a lot of sense. Thank you!

  34. Searching says:

    I totally agree. Thank you for writing so eloquently what plural marriage means for women. I found this article byEugene England, written in 2010, somewhat heartening, and pertinent to this topic. It is well worth the time it takes to read. I especially enjoyed the bit at the end… “Now let me turn to a consideration of why, in addition to the serious danger to fidelity, I believe polygyny, though it was once an inspired practice, is not an eternal principle. I have five main reasons…”

    Click to access 1987_e_001.pdf

  35. Glenn Thigpen says:

    Sam Brunson said: “Glenn, somewhere between infallible and liar is wrong. There is no scriptural basis for the idea that a prophet cannot be wrong; in fact, if you look at the scriptural record, being wrong is almost a requirement for prophets (just like it is for all of the rest of us except Jesus Himself).”

    Sam, when a prophet proclaims a revelation that he says come from God, he needs to be right. Either the revelation came from God, or the prophet was deceived, or the prophet was a liar.
    SO, was Joseph Smith lying when he said that he was face to face with an angel with a drawn sword, which angel declared that if he, Joseph Smith did not fall in line and engage in plural marriage, he would be destroyed? Was Joseph Smith lying when he revealed section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants?

    Let’s get that out of the way first.


  36. in John 16: 12-15 Jesus clearly states the Holy Spirit will eventually tell upcoming generations of things even the present disciples could not understand. It took almost 2,000 years for Christians in the United states To finally hear slavery was wrong. Sadly we are hard of hearing and heart. I have stated before I am not LDS, but the BOM is so honest. Even after receiving the truth we fall and harden our hearts. From Abraham to David to Joseph Smith to Thomas Monson and the LGBTQ issues all Christians are dealing with. Revelation takes time to be embraced. Be patient with your prophets, they come from us all.

  37. Anon for this says:

    Glenn Thigpen,

    Was Joseph lying when he revealed the section on marriage in the 1835 version of the Doctrine & Covenants that declared…

    Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again.

    The heading for Doctrine & Covenants 132 says “Although the revelation was recorded in 1843, evidence indicates that some of the principles involved in this revelation were known by the Prophet as early as 1831. ”

    Please explain.

  38. Clark Goble says:

    Anon, certainly they weren’t teaching polygamy openly and thus it wasn’t a church doctrine in that it had not been revealed to the church. So in terms of the church the section is correct. So I don’t quite see the problem.

  39. Clark Goble says:

    Whatwomenhavelearned, while I fully agree with you for mortal beings it seems an odd view of divine beings. Are we alone and separate from God right now? If not, then doesn’t that undermine the assumptions you are making regarding relationships?

    The question remains that if I die and my wife remarries (as I’d hope she would) what happens in the afterlife to that relationship. It seems you’re fundamentally avoiding that central question of relationships.

  40. Clark, I prefer to stop with “it’s complicated.” But in partial response —
    Regarding the section on marriage from 1835, the idea that there is a legalistic way to read so that the words are ‘correct’ does not avoid the fact that there was fairly clear deception and intent to deceive going on at the time.
    Regarding marriage and remarriage, the Mormon notion of resurrection with bodies parts and passions, and relationships, really does complicate things. One can argue whether plural marriage contributes to the complication or helps answer, but is certainly tied up somehow in our concept of the next life. Once we start talking about remarriage, as simple(?) as the question to Jesus about “who’s wife in the resurrection?”, the permutations mount rapidly. Either or both parties may have been married before. May have children by multiple partners, married and not. May be divorced or widowed or previously partnered with a different form of legal (or not) marriage, including a previous plural marriage. And may replicate any or all of these complex combinations in the future. That’s why I prefer to stop with “it’s complicated.”

  41. Clark Goble says:

    I think there’s an element of deception but I think that also overstates things a fair bit. So I don’t think I’m providing a legalistic apologetic there. Rather the idea that there were some things for the church and some things not seems a pretty clear way to read the history. I’m sure there are even today things taught to the church and things the apostles don’t keep. Certainly there’s a lot of evidence for that in the early Palestinian church and explicit discussion of the same idea in the Book of Mormon.

    That said, at least some historians argue sec 101 was primarily in response to other religious movements on the time that took the NT principle to have all things in common to apply to sexual relations as well. I think the Oneida group did that but there were others. So this was more in response to rumors that was Mormon belief.

    Regarding remarriage certainly things get complicated fast. But I think it’s important to keep in mind why this is an issue. Simply dismissing it out of hand because of our social norms avoids the central questions. I definitely think that getting adoption lines fixed will be the big work of the millennium. Effectively sometime before resurrection, assuming no revisions of doctrine, all marriages will have to be finalized and lines of descent by adoption finalized. This isn’t something discussed theologically much of late but it’s a pretty key doctrine tied to the temple as well as the theology of Adam ondi Ahman ideas.

  42. Glenn,

    Sam, when a prophet proclaims a revelation that he says come from God, he needs to be right.

    That’s certainly an assertion. But I’m not convinced, and you haven’t given me any reason—beyond bald assertion—why that must be true. We certainly don’t believe in the infallibility of prophets, and there’s no reason why we should make an exception for when a prophet says he’s speaking for God.

    There are reasons why it might be nice to think that prophets always get things right when they claim to be speaking for God. But that idea is counterintuitive enough (because why should a fallible prophet be infallible on one particular respect?) to demand strong support, support I don’t see you offering. So I continue to reject your premise that something about being a prophet demands/confers infallibility, even in certain specific instances.

  43. Whatwomenhavelearned says:

    Searching, thank you for the reference to Eugene England’s article. Some of it is excellent in addressing the test of plural marriage, but it fell a bit short for me by the end. I read this several years ago while intensely studying this topic. I was very grateful for his insights.

    Clark, I don’t understand your question about my take on divine beings…could you explain? As to your wife remarrying should you die and asking what would happen to that relationship, I would hope all people who have had more than one spouse would allow their second one (or 3rd, 4th, 28th) to find their own one true love in the hereafter to be with for eternity. If your wife married after you died and she loved the second guy even more than you, I would hope she would let you go to find another true love just for you. If she kept both of you, would you be happy and feel fulfilled and your needs met if she was with her second husband 50% of time? Would you feel a fullness of joy if you were by yourself half of eternity? What if the second husband died and she married for a third time—would you be happy to see her and be with her 33% of eternity?

    I think a few people are quite independent and do not view the marriage relationship as a oneness of deep love, intimacy, and oneness. Such people would probably find plural marriage as a bit of a relief, meaning they don’t have to bear the pressure as they view it of meeting another person’s physical, mental, and emotional needs. (I’m not talking about the needs and happiness each person must find within themselves, but the special needs that only a spouse can provide.) They’re happy to let someone else take on some of that “burden.” I often here men complain that they can’t handle one wife’s chattering and demands, let alone more wives, though they admit they wouldn’t mind having some variety sexually. They claim women will be perfected and won’t be so annoying in the next life, so plural marriage will be a great reward. I’ve heard a few women say they don’t like sex that much and wouldn’t mind sister wives to be friends with who can take the “marital duty” off their shoulders. Such women say their husbands tune them out when they’re talking anyway, so they don’t have that much of a physical or emotional bond to begin with. Plural marriage would “be no big deal.”

    But for those who strive to broaden, deepen, and perfect love unto a oneness of heart and soul, the mere thought of either partner giving to another all that has made them one is unbearably unthinkable. It isn’t selfishness in the least…it is protecting the sacredness of their union. Elder Scott and his wife had such love. When she died he could not marry another.

    There are billions of young men who’ve died before the age of eight, billions more who’ve died fron disease, accidents and war. These guys will need their own true love for eternity. It is my hope that those who have married plurally will be able to find a partner they don’t have to share for eternity–especially because this one relationship is the very core of all love, joy, creation, hope, and fulfillment. Other relationships are similar, but none come close to this most intimate union. I hope my foremothers will one day know this holiest of loves with a husband just for them, and that all their heartache, loneliness, emptiness, and pain will be gone forevermore. They fulfilled what their leaders required of them in this life and have earned the blessings of being someone’s one and only, and he her’s in the eternities. God bless my precious ancestors’ hearts.

    May we all strive to love in such a way, now and always. Sorry this is so long…I couldn’t figure out how to say it any shorter.

  44. Clark Goble says:

    Whatwomenhavelearned, that’s kind of my point. You don’t think those relationships can be real love. I’m not sure I buy that at all.

  45. Whatwomenhavelearned says:

    Clark, yes I maintain that plural love is a far lesser form of love, and thus marriage because oneness-love isn’t possible in plural relationships when one has to give up a spouse to another spouse significant amounts of time. Whoever has multiple partners has a gluttony of attention while each plural spouse goes without according to however many partners there are. By virtue of all laws of life and love, this is a huge imbalance which means inequity. There can be no inequity in a perfect realm with perfected people, or God would cease to be God. Even if all people willingly agree to share, and can make it work, it will never be ideal because it’s imbalanced and inequitable. If they’re happy having less time, affection and attention and love, go for it. But from those who already have more deep, pure oneness in marriage than this, we can learn that a plurality of spouses isn’t the highest and most holy marital love. There is no doing without in true oneness of love. There is no imbalance and certainly no gluttony, nor inequity.

  46. Whatwomenhavelearned, you have a misunderstanding of what is involved in plural relationships. Considering your vehemence, I’m not sure it’s worth talking about, but it’s just gotten to be too much for me.

    Plural relationships cannot work where there is inequity between anyone involved. However, when there is unanimity, the balance can be maintained. If three people get married, they are forming a household together. They cannot afford to think of it as one person joining the household of two people, as that itself creates a barrier between them. The amount of affection and attention is going to depend on the persons involved, just as it would in a two person relationship. The amount of love is going to be the same for all involved, no matter how many persons are involved, again, just as in a two person relationship. There should be no gluttony or surfeit. There is also no lack of one-ness.

    Loving more than one person does not mean less of anything. Does someone in a two person relationship have less because their spouse spends a lot of time working or on some hobby? Are they less than the couple who are attached at the hip, doing everything including work together?

    Having multiple spouses surely isn’t for everyone. I don’t believe any relationship will be forced to remain where it is not wanted. But I do know that if my wife remarries after I die, it’s not because she loves me less. I also know that it will not have been done lightly or without consideration of me. It would be done with the hope of one day all being together, finding that full and complete love for each other. If one or any or all do not feel they can be a part of the marriage, then they are not forced to be, just as in any other marriage.

    Love does not divide into shares; it expands to cover all it needs.

    Plural marriage is not for everyone. It is not second best and should not be treated with disdain by those who have not chosen it. It’s not superior and should not be promoted as a “higher kind of love”. If it’s not for you, then great; you do you.

    On a side note, this is one thing I believe should be discussed by every LDS couple before they marry. Be honest on your feelings about what should happen should one of you die. Too many get surprised when they bring it up 20 years in and it can create a nasty wedge as you get older and the possibility increases.

    (and apologies if this has driver too far from the post. There’s been some most excellent discussion.)

  47. Miles (March 12, 2016 at 3:17 am ) I agree with Clark Goble that they must have been taking indigenous plural wives. Jacob’s verbal battle with Sherem and many other examples point to other, indigenous people already in the land.

  48. Clark Goble says:

    The problem isn’t whether plural love is lesser. As I said I think for us humans I agree with you. It’s something I’m glad isn’t in the church right now. However for two spouses one after the other I think you are deluding yourself if you think a person who loses a spouse and remarries can’t love the second spouse as much as the first.

  49. Willingtolearn says:

    Frank Pellet, I don’t think Whatwomenhavelearned misunderstands what is involved. Polygamy happened and cause real pain for many. For the life of me I can’t comprehend the kind of relationship you are suggesting as being love. It sounds like you are suggesting that the marriage is between the group. Hypothetically speaking between your wife and you and another husband. How is that possible if your wife remarries after you die that you would suddenly be in an eternal marriage between three people? You never covenanted to him but to her. You make it sound easy. Maybe all the early women of the church should have simply read your post and then they would finally understand there’s no reason to be sad because it’s about unanimity.

  50. I’ve heard somewhat persuasive arguments and examples from 21st century experience (clearly not LDS) that fully consensual balanced cooperative polyamory can work. So I wouldn’t discount it completely, at the level of permissible option. However, “fully consensual balanced etc.” is difficult with two and exponentially more difficult with three. Also, the historical examples I know of are nowhere close, and almost all include somebody telling others what they must and must not do. So count me skeptical.

  51. Willingtolearn says:

    I am skeptical too. I can understand the very beautiful idea of Zion, of us becoming one in a spiritual sense of having one heart and mind with no poor among us. I can hope for and believe in that. But when it comes to marriage with physical relationships, polyamory is just creepy.

  52. I can understand where Frank and Clark are coming from. The idea that in heaven we can fully love and become one with more than just one other person isn’t strange to me. I definitely think that is possible and could be lovely. The problem is, that is not the type of polygamy that has ever been taught by the church. The reason the idea of polygamy (as taught by the church) is bad for relationships is because it can change their very nature. Right now I’ve got a great relationship with my husband. We treat each other as equals. We both respect each others input and opinions. No one is in charge. If I die and my husband remarries (which I would not be opposed to) I would imagine he would develop a similar relationship with that wife as well. Then we all die, get to the celestial kingdom, at which point the Patriarchal Order steps in. Now my great relationship with my husband is forever changed. His second wife’s great relationship with him is forever changed. He is the patriarch and we are his priestesses. The relationship I worked so hard to develop no longer exists. It is destroyed.

  53. EBK – that is unfortunately so. I’m optimistic, however, that this will not always be the case. The rules allowing women to be sealed to more than one man may be a small glimmer of hope, but I’ll take what I can get. I do not believe that the Patriarchal order is the best or most ideal, but it’s what we’ve been stuck with for the history of this Earth.

  54. Clark Goble says:

    EBK, as I’ve said I just don’t think fallen mortal humans are up for that kind of relationship. Too much of our biology goes against it. However exactly what our relationships in heaven will be like just seems very unclear. At a minimum I just don’t see why one won’t have the same rough kind of relationship with ones spouse in heaven as here. (Ignoring remarriage for the moment) The assumption that I think many have that The Patriarchal Order (which let’s be clear is extremely vague) means we can’t have an egalitarian relationship seems dubious. Upon what basis do we make that judgement?

    When I discuss these issues I like to flip the relationship example. I recognize there’s not much by way of LDS doctrine for this beyond some speculations about what Joseph had planned for the few polyandrous relationships in Nauvoo. (All of which were stopped by Brigham later) However I do think it gets at the emotional issues in a way without bringing in the understandable baggage of polygamous history among humans. (Which frankly has a pretty bad history – even acknowledging that marriage itself seems more about necessity and survival rather than love in most historical cases)

    So consider if I die, and my wife remarries and this gets dealt with in heaven. If we accept (as I think we must) that the second relationship may be as loving as the first, how do we deal with that? (Again ignoring theological problems for the moment) If I don’t have all the limits my current biology places on me regarding jealousy and so forth plus imperatives brought about by evolutionary biological history, what is limiting me from having the same relationship when we’re all in heaven that I have when it’s just me in heaven? I just don’t see any.

    If we point to things like the vague “Patriarchal Order” then really the issue isn’t remarriage but that order which is the problem. So I think we have to keep clear what the issues actually are. As I said, from my perspective if you accept a physical resurrection that at least functionally keeps things like sexuality then these problems pop up even for non-Mormons.

  55. Clark,
    “If we point to things like the vague “Patriarchal Order” then really the issue isn’t remarriage but that order which is the problem.”

    I agree. I don’t think remarriage is an issue. I think the Patriarchal Order is the issue. My biggest concern is that it is difficult with our current doctrine and teachings to separate the two. Polygamy (both polygyny and polyandry) seems much more palatable if the Patriarchal order is removed.

    Polygamy is an extremely difficult topic for a lot of women in the church because it is so closely tied to subjugation. It is really difficult for many of us to separate all the history, baggage, harm, and hurt from the idea of more than one spouse. I think it makes conversations about the idea of polygamy in heaven terrifying because the implication is that if polygamy exists in heaven, women aren’t full people in the same sense that men are.

  56. Clark Goble says:

    While I understand why some people are concerned, I have pretty good faith that whatever it is like we’ll be pretty happy with it when it is unveiled. That’s because most of our problems here on are earth are due to very limited clarity with regards to revelation by design, a fallen body whose thinking and instincts are driven by evolutionary processes, and a society built up from being made up of a cross section of people. Throw in that most of human culture developed prior to the technology of the last century that made us able to stop thinking primarily of survival. i.e. we have abundant food, abundant shelter, time to think about ethics, birth control, relatively good medical care, plumbing and clean water to avoid disease, and relative lack of violence. Marriage as a practical social union simply was a product of times when none of those things were held. For women marriage was necessary for survival and love often was down low on the priority chart of deciding upon marriage. Tasks were often determined as much by necessity for survival as anything. And everything was biased by people’s lack of education and a focus on survival and power in times of violence.

    I’m not saying our understandings are wrong. I’m just saying that we should be careful applying structures designed for a fallen people in a fallen world to celestial resurrected people. Considering how much has changed the last 200 years socially I’d expect at least as much if not more with the change to a celestial people. So we probably should be careful reading too much into how structures function practically in heaven.

  57. The problem that polygamy raises isn’t about “how structures function practically in heaven.” There is a real concern for many Mormon women about whether or not the exaltation promised by our theology is only for men. This isn’t little nitpicky questions like who am I going to live next door to in heaven? or is there going to be chocolate? The real concern for the women I know who struggle with this isn’t how much time we’ll get with our husband or who will be the head wife. The real concern is if women are agents unto their own right or if they are objects created so that men might have joy. It might be difficult for you to understand that this is a bigger theological question than any other for many of us, but it is. It can be frustrating to see men discussing eternal polygamy as nonchalantly as if the issue were equivalent to whether or not I will be playing a harp in heaven. The question is at the very center of whether or not I am a real person.

    I believe I am a real person, that I am an agent unto myself, and that I have the same salvation as men. But things like discussions of all the wives men will have in heaven, the endowment, and our discourse on Heavenly mother give me nightmares that I’m wrong about my own personhood.

  58. Clark Goble says:

    I think there are things for people to complain about in the historic (primarily 19th century) understanding of the order. However the idea exaltation is just for men doesn’t seem to be one of them. To the degree people are free beings (which seems certain) they can organize however they want. The key problem seems to be a kind of stewardship relationship between husband wife. Again, I completely understand why some women have problems with this. However outside of that, it seems about on par with the relationship I have with my earthly father (which is the main focused upon relationship in the Patriarchal Order as understood in the 19th century). Yet that relationship doesn’t undermine exaltation as I understand it nor do I feel particularly less equal in that relationship.

    Again, I completely recognize why women, especially feminists, don’t feel that way if (as is commonly presented) that kind of authority relationship is part of marriage. However I’d just note that as a practical matter most people’s marriages are pretty equal and not a “do what I say” kind of relationship. It’s just that if as a practical matter here and now most people create an equitable (or at least more equitable) relationship in their marriage despite the formal different relationship I’m not sure it’s fair to see it as worse in heaven. If anything we’d expect it to go the other way. Again, who is deciding how we relate to each other in loving relationships? Well, it’s the people who love each other. That’s part and parcel of a loving relationship.

  59. “To the degree people are free beings (which seems certain) they can organize however they want.”

    Can they? Can they organize into homosexual marriages?

    “Again, who is deciding how we relate to each other in loving relationships? Well, it’s the people who love each other. That’s part and parcel of a loving relationship.”

    If God has laws on who can be married, that we are not allowed to go outside of, why would we assume that we have complete control over everything else in a marriage?

    The conception of marriage taught by the institutional church is most definitely not a relationship that we get to define how we want.

  60. One side being magnanimous does not remove the power. I think it’s a big reason why polygyny in the early Church failed; there was a magnified imbalance of power. If we had been able to let go of our Patriarchal roots, could it have worked? Maybe, eventually. Unless that power imbalance changes, polygamy of any sort hasn’t a chance.

  61. Wow. EBK, at 12:02–I think that was the single best comment I have read on the topic of polygamy. Thank you for verbalizing my thoughts on the subject.

  62. Whatwomenhavelearned says:

    Frank Pellet: wow, I don’t even know how to respond to your response to my comments. Unanimity as a family is definitely possible, even with plural families. They can be one in purpose, love for all, respect for all, keeping God’s commandments, and thousands of other things they choose and agree upon.

    Marital love is separate by divine design from familial love and unanimity. This is not to say spouses can’t be unanimous, for they certainly can and ought to be. But the marital relationship is a private union of two beings (or more) who focus on one another in special ways unique to their union. They share special thoughts, secrets, looks, touches, words, and great sexual experiences that are for them, and only them, to bind them closer to each other, fill mental, emotional and physicals needs, and enrich and nurture their relationship–fulfilling the plan God created that “they two shall be one flesh.”

    There is no conceivable way to avoid imbalance and inequity in plural marriage. It’s a matter of physics. Say you have 10 wives, Frank. Here on earth or in Heaven, you are never, ever alone for you have the love and affection, words, touches, special looks, special whispers, and great sexual experiences with one of your 10 wives every day. You never sleep alone. If you need to talk to your spouse, one is always with you. If you need companionship only a wife can provide, one is always with you. If you need sexual relations, one is always with you.

    Now, the 10 wives must share you with 9 others. Each wife deserves her fair share of time with you. In this case, that would be 1/10 of your time. The other 9/10 she sleeps alone, she goes 9/10 of the time without special words, touches, looks, whispers, companionship, and sexual relations. Further, when it’s her turn to be with you, she has to cram all her needs into a 1/10 portion of your time.

    So you live in gluttony of all these marital blisses: touch, special looks, hand-holding, kiss hello/good-bye every day, having sex when you desire, never sleeping alone, never being lonely for one you love, etc. you have this all day, every day of your existence here or in Heaven.

    Unequitably, your wives have only a 1/10 portion of all these things.

    While you weigh the balance-scale down to the ground with excess, your wives starve for joy, love, affection, fulfillment of needs, and all those special things that married partners enjoy that bind them closer to one another and nurture their love.

    They can be united in familial love and be one in purpose. But in marriage, 3 or more people creates inequity and imbalance, thus straining marriage, and eroding oneness, joy, and love.

    Clark Goble, I’m sorry you thought I meant that if in this life a person remarries after the death of a spouse that they can’t love the second as much as the first. I have no such belief. My grandfather loved his second wife more than his first. I’ve known several people who’ve deeply loved both spouses. However, my point is that in eternity, all three people can’t be with each other all the time doing those special marital things–unless Heaven is very kinky! Two will be together, leaving one out for a while. So there lies imbalance and the fact that someone is always doing without. When there are only two in the marriage, they turn to each other for their special needs and fulfillment, leaving no one out and creating no imbalances or inequities. No one is left alone, nor lonely.

    As to those who have two spouses in this life they’ve loved….. I would hope the spouse would remain with the one they love more fully and release the other in the Eternities to find a true love who died young and needs a spouse of their own to become one with. I hope my ancestors are so blessed. I hope my grandfather let’s his first wife find a better match for her up there. I hope Joseph has done so, Brigham Young, et al. I hope each wonderful daughter of God finds a wonderful son of God to deeply, passionately, and everlastingly in love with, and unanimous in all that special love entails!

  63. Clark Goble, do you really see the Patriarchal Order as being so vague?

    Because it felt crystal clear to me the very first time I heard it, as a young soon to be bride, as its implications were burning into my soul. It felt clear because the “divine nature” I had so lovingly nursed as a young woman suddenly looked a bit shabby. And the church that I had grown up in and trusted suddenly felt rather manipulative. I’ve had just a few defining moments in my life, when in a very short period of time many important things happen all at once. The birth of my children are some positive examples. Having to decide in a few short seconds whether to answer yes to that covenant is a negative one.

  64. Whatwomenhavelearned – your example of gluttony/scarcity was quite clear the first time; I just don’t agree with it. You treat each extra person in a marriage as interchangeable with any other of that gender, and take no account of what closeness those of the same gender may have with each other. Sexuality is not necessary in a relationship, nor is there a specified amount of time doing something that makes a relationship work and be full of joy, wonder, and fulfillment.

    Marriage is a commitment that you are going to make the relationship work, no matter what changes happen in the lives of those involved. How much of anything any party puts into the marriage is going to fluctuate over time, as is the amount of time, energy, etc., that is devoted to those in the marriage. If something feels lacking, then it is up to those in the marriage to resolve it.

    Some would compare this to having additional children, but this would be accurate (and repugnant) as there should not be the same kind of intimacy between spouses as there is between parents and children. Better would be in the friendships you already have. If you make a new friend, does that make you less friends with the ones you already have? Are your friends counting up how much time you spend with your other friends to see if they should be jealous? If the friendships are important, you do things to help strengthen them, adjusting for whatever situations arise.

    Some people truly can’t handle either adding a new friend or having one of their friends find someone else. That should be just as acceptable for them as the choice of others to have as many friends as they can.

    If my wife were to decide to have ten husbands, then the marriage would not be for me. It would be too much for me to manage, even if all the others could. But I could not begrudge them their choice, or say it isn’t possible. Two is possible (or even three), but it would depend completely on how well we could make such a thing work for everyone involved.

  65. Glenn Thigpen says:

    Sam Brunson said “There are reasons why it might be nice to think that prophets always get things right when they claim to be speaking for God. But that idea is counterintuitive enough (because why should a fallible prophet be infallible on one particular respect?) to demand strong support, support I don’t see you offering. So I continue to reject your premise that something about being a prophet demands/confers infallibility, even in certain specific instances.”

    So, how do you go about determining if what a prophet says is a revelation from God is not a revelation from God? Let’s get back to the issue at hand. Joseph Smith claimed a revelation on the New and Everlasting Covenant which involves the sealing power for families and includes polygamy. He also is reported to have said that he refrained from engaging in the practice until threatened by an angel with a drawn sword. There are some posting here that have asserted that this was a mistake by Joseph Smith. Yet, all that we have here are bald assertions and opinions. You have given nothing but assertions and opinions. If I am to discard something a prophet has said as coming from the Lord, I must have something more than assertions and opinions.
    Can that official declaration be overridden by our own beliefs and paradigms? Or, must a prophet’s words be refuted by another prophet???


  66. Whatwomenhavelearned says:

    Well I guess your version of intimacy in marriage is more like friendship. I do not see your analogy of friends to marriage at all. Marriage is and ought to be far superior to friendships. I have many friends, and as you said, we don’t keep tabs on how much time is spent with each and me. But none of my friends could ever fill the role my husband does. We share things never shared with anyone else. If he had another wife, they would need time together to share those things and I would be left without him and his time and other nurturing so ONLY HE CAN PROVIDE. You don’t seem to understand that other wives can’t fill his role for me. Nor can I fill his role for them. Yet each wife can fill his needs that only a wife provides. His needs are met continuously. The wives’ needs are not. Kids can’t fill the void, nor sister wives, nor friends, not even the Savior.

    Yes, some make it work because they accept doing without ; they accept loneliness as part of the equation; they accept being committed more than being fully fulfilled; they accept the imbalances. But though they do, it still remains that their love must adapt to the inequities required to make it work. Think of such abiding for ten years, twenty, thirty. Think of seeing the husband ever joyful and fulfilled and content and bathed in perpetual affections and attention. Think of being left alone a great deal of the time, so you keep yourself busy and remind yourself that you are committed to making this work, and you lean on others, friends and family to see you through. But somewhere along the way, going without on a perpetually consistent basis gets very old when someone never goes without. Doing that for eternity may work for some. But can you not discern it is in no way close to the greater love of two who fulfill every marital need for one another. No one is left alone. No one has to settle for less than a fullness of joy. Wouldn’t you want someone for you all the time? Wouldn’t we all want someone all the time? Not that we spend every moment together, but when marital voids need filling in all their special ways, don’t we want someone there for us, not off with others who have those same needs, so we wait our turn. Maybe you can’t discern this. And that’s okay. I certainly can’t accept your version of plural happiness. I can se plural commitment, but I can’t see it being even close to monogamous happiness, oneness, and joy. So I’ll end it there.

    Thank you, Clark and others for a good discussion. I sure appreciate it.

  67. Whatwomenhavelearned – always glad to have a good discussion, even when there isn’t agreement. Thanks. :)

  68. Clark Goble says:

    Whatwomenhavelearned, it’s just not clear to me your claims about heaven are correct. If God is in some vague sense able to be one with both Jesus and the Holy Ghost I just think there are reasons to doubt your limits on divine beings. That’s really all I’m saying. Your assumptions tend to presuppose heaven is no different from mortality which seems false.

  69. Whatwomenhavelearned says:

    Clark, we can only go by what’s been revealed. The scriptures teach that in the resurrection, every hair will be restored. We will be our own separate beings which will rise with the same personalities, thoughts, opinions, etc. as Alma taught.

    No where in scripture does it teach that HF, Jesus and the Holy Ghost merge into a single being. You may interpret it that way, but our prophets never have.

    We know very little of the details of life beyond the grave. However, I’ve read many near death stories in my studies that tell of spirits falling in love over there. I’m sure many who are separated by death find love in the spirit world, even as the widowed spouse here usually does and remarries. Perhaps they cannot act upon it unless they have been endowed in mortality, or by proxy through the temple ordinances being performed for them here. Perhaps this is part of the spirit prison–that spirit’s fall in love but cannot do anything about it.

    Perhaps everyone has many people they have loved pre-mortally, in mortality, and post mortally. Perhaps those who enter the CK get to keep all loves over all time and none are ever alone because there’s always someone there for you, and you for them.

    I knew a church scholar a while back who felt everyone would be married to everyone in righteousness. He felt there would be one big love fest, so to speak, but righteously. He believed sealings in the temple are to get us there and then everyone is in love with everyone. Perhaps he’s right.

    All I know is that my Love and I have achieved love and joy and oneness that cannot be maintained if a third person enters our union. I’m grateful that the Lord never asks such things accept when fear of infertility (Sarah and her culture) or believing a few white families of the restoration are a royal lineage meant to rule and reign in the church till the 2nd coming……even though there’s a worldwide church full of many wonderful and righteous leaders outside the “royal polygamous lines.”

    I’m grateful I don’t have to settle for a marriage commitment “to make this work” with sister wives. And I’m deeply grateful that even though I don’t know how things work in the hereafter, neither do you, nor Frank, nor anyone else. My view is immensely inspiring and uplifting. Your versions are, frankly, nothing I would ever want to endure. I want what I have achieved now forever, trusting it will continue to deepen eternally. I want it for my children, theirs, and even for all of you, if that’s what you want. It sure doesn’t sound like you do. Maybe the CK will have many types of marriage and each of us will choose what brings us the most joy!

  70. Clark Goble says:

    Umm. Didn’t say they’d merge. Just that while we look the same, our cognitive abilities are different. Given how much of our behavior is our brain and at minimum that won’t be functioning in the same limited way, I think we can’t say much about what our minds will be like beyond it’ll be closer to how God is than how we are in our biological form.

  71. it's a series of tubes says:

    believing a few white families of the restoration are a royal lineage meant to rule and reign in the church till the 2nd coming

    Yikes. It’s not clear from the sentence structure, but you don’t really believe this, do you?

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