Sister Wives of the Traveling Pants: Confronting My Polygamous Ancestry

Part 1 in a series; see the rest of the series here.

“Genealogy, I am doing it, my genealogy! And I don’t know why I am doing it—it’s terrifying me!” So sang my young adult self, as a joke, to some college roommates during a Sunday School Family History course after realizing that my great-great-grandparents were also first cousins (double-first-cousins, actually, since their fathers were brothers and their mothers were sisters). It turns out that genealogy work doesn’t always give one warm fuzzies. And, literal kissing cousins aside, the real deep-seated anxiety I have always had with my family history concerns my great-great-great grandfather and his eleven plural wives.[1]

Latter-day Saints study family history in order to celebrate our heritages and learn the stories of our ancestors; ultimately, to fulfill Malachi’s promise that “the heart[s]” of “the children” would be “turn[ed] . . . to their fathers.” The problem I have always had, however, is that much of my ancestors’ polygamous relationships are uncomfortable for me to research—particularly when it comes to researching the lives and narratives of the women in my family tree.

So, yes, family history has turned my heart to my great-great-great grandfather, Archibald Gardner, a minor celebrity Mormon pioneer who undertook the difficult work of establishing grain mills and irrigation canals in West Jordan, Utah, and Star Valley, Wyoming. But while my heart turned to Archie with love and praise and endless elementary school research reports, my heart simultaneously turned away from all of Archie’s 11 wives—even the first wife, Margaret, my great-great-great grandmother.

Two of my first lessons as a young Mormon child were these:

  1. We are proud of our polygamous heritage, and
  2. Mormons are not polygamous.

Well meaning Sunday School teachers, relatives, friends, MTC district leaders, roommates, institute teachers, and anyone else who felt prompted to testify to me regarding historical polygamy preached that polygamy was often a way for pioneers to care for widows, share husbands with lonely women who had none, and pull together as a tight-knit community of husbands and sister-wives and children growing up with the benefits of having many strong mothers in their lives.

Except that my fifth-grade school report revealed that while Archibald did indeed marry a widow, Abigail Sprague, she was still only 36 years old when they married (Archibald was 35 at the time), and he also married Abigail’s daughter, Mary Ann, on the same day (she was only 18).[2]

As for lonely women, of Archie’s 11 wives, only 4 women were older than 20 years old on the day they married him, and the youngest wife, Sarah Jane Hamilton, married Archibald two weeks after her 15th birthday (Archie was 43). So it was hard to believe that these women were old maids champing at the bit to get married solely on the basis of loneliness.

Finally, I knew even as a kid that it would have been tricky to have a tight-knit family when Archibald’s wives lived scattered across the map from Spanish Fork, Utah, to Star Valley, Wyoming. So the regular apologetics weren’t holding up with my actual family history.

My grandmother used to try to assuage my fears about polygamy by telling me that because we come from Archie’s first wife, Margaret, “our heavenly mansion would be the largest.” It was suggested that because Margaret had been selected first, and because she had made the first (grudging, as it turned out) permission for Archie to take on more wives, her line of progeny would be the most blessed and most rewarded for her sacrifices. I tried as a kid for this to make me feel better, but it didn’t. It just made me feel sorry for all the other wives who didn’t get a say in the matter. And what if I ended up being someone else’s third or fourth wife some day, even in the eternities (where, presumably, polygamy is still allowed)? It was hard enough for me in grade school to feel close to three friends, let alone 11 best friends—or 55 best friends, as in the case of Brigham Young. I fretted and fretted about this, late into the evenings, while I was in the shower, when I was on the bus to school. It didn’t add up. I didn’t understand. It scared me.

So I ended up doing what most young Latter-day Saint students are advised to do: I put polygamy on my shelf, next to other unexplainable and uncomfortable topics from church doctrine or history that I don’t expect to fully understand in this life.

archie'sgrave

Visiting my great-great-great grandfather’s giant tombstone at the Salt Lake City Cemetery. Six of his eleven wives are buried here, too.

For the same reasons that I didn’t grow up in the church learning the names and stories of Joseph Smith’s plural wives or Brigham Young’s plural wives, all of the strong and interesting women of my pioneer heritage were locked up and stored away in a box labeled POLYGAMY my shelf. Not only did I not learn about these women growing up—I was terrified of them. And angry at them, to be honest. I didn’t want them to exist. Joseph Smith had one true love: EMMA. And my Grandpa Archie had one true love: MARGARET. Margaret was Archie’s Scottish lass, the one for whom he walked through hundreds of miles of snow once just to see. All of those other women were necessary sacrifices, like Abraham being asked to kill Isaac. They were trials. Challenges. Refining fire. They absolutely did not work within the scheme of eternal family structures as taught by my Sunday School teachers, in which husband and wife are two halves of one whole. Add any more women to that fraction and the whole overflows with too many halves, or, even more disconcerting, the women must becoming more fractionalized, making up smaller and smaller voices in the female half of the equation. I shelved these women because trying to empathize with them hurt my testimony and made me ask big questions I wasn’t willing to ask.

But this doesn’t really seem fair. I don’t want my heart to only be turned towards my pioneer fathers—I want to turn my heart to my pioneer mothers, too.

I don’t actually remember what Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is about—I’ve never read it, and I’m pretty sure I only half-watched the film adaptation at a sleepover my little sister threw years ago. I’m assuming it is about a crew of girls who are really different from each other but realize that in spite of their differences, they all somehow fit into the same pair of jeans? Like magic pants or something? I just remember at one point Rory Gilmore or Ugly Betty or somebody says about the pants: “Wear them. They’ll make you brave.” This July, as a way to look forward to Pioneer Day, I will be a posting a series here on BCC that documents myself trying on the pants, as it were, of my great-great-great grandfather’s eleven wives. [3] Part of my journey will be story-collecting, but I will also pilgrimage to as many of these women’s grave sites as I can, to pay physical homage to their remembrances. For too long I have excused myself from stepping into these women’s shoes because of excuses: that it was a different time, that I wouldn’t be able to understand, that love and marriage meant something different, that God prepared their hearts for this lifestyle in a way that I can’t tap into because God isn’t asking the same of me. There may be some truth to those excuses, but it is folly to assume that we are so very different that I can’t understand or strive to empathize with these women’s lives and missions and fascinating legacies. I believe that stepping into the details of their histories will make me brave.

[1] One of my original titles for this post series was “Making Peace with My Polygamous Family Tree,” except that I don’t think peace is necessarily my goal. In confronting the narratives of my own polygamous ancestry, I hope to find courage and understanding, and I hope to feel like I am friends with these women whom I’ve feared for so long. There will be a kind of peace in that, I think, but I am okay with remaining uncomfortable about polygamy. It’s just that I don’t want this discomfort to be an obstacle keeping me from being close to the women in my history, in my blood.

[2] Archie married mother Abigail and daughter Mary Ann in April 1849 and had children with them both in 1850: Mary Ann gave birth to Mary Elizabeth on February 1 and Abigail gave birth to Lillian Abigail on April 26. Consequently, Mary Elizabeth and Lillian Abigail were the same age, sisters, and also aunt and niece. I’ll tell more of their stories in this series.

[3] And by “pants,” of course I mean petticoats or dresses or something.

Comments

  1. Awesome!! I am immensely looking forward to this. Giving these sister wives their due at last will be a tremendous work.

  2. Angela C says:

    I’m with your younger self in thinking that it’s nearly impossible to either identify with these women or to avoid becoming very angry in taking a good hard look at the horrors of polygamy. Fortunately in my case, I have no polygamous ancestry, and yet despite that, I too was taught that I would have to accept it eventually which I will not ever do. If it’s a given, then IMO there is no point as a woman to being in the church. I wouldn’t want to go to the celestial kingdom under those conditions. I’m fine with a lesser “reward” if that’s the alternative.

    But I am glad you are giving a voice to these women. The more people look at these situations, the more accurate the picture of polygamy will be.

  3. Michael Austin says:

    I think that you are spot on about the dual nature of polygamy in the Mormon world today. On the one hand, we all acknowledge that it happened, that it still happens in a limited way in temple sealings, and at least some of us expect it to be part of the afterlife (hence the sealings). On the other hand, we are horribly embarrassed by it and don’t want anybody to ask us about it because, above all else, we want people to know that we are not weird.

    This all suggests that we have not confronted and worked through our polygamist past very well as a culture. Posts like this (and subsequent ones in the series) are a big step in the direction we all need to take.

  4. Kristine A says:

    Emily I’m so excited for this. We’ve been so uncomfortable with polygamy for so long we ignore the actual stories of those who lived it and as a result we’ve dishonored the lives and voices of these women. All of their stories (from women who happily complied, those who vigorously opposed, and all the soul crushing stories in between) should be known and honored for their lives, choices, and sacrifices.

  5. Regarding the practice of polygamy in the next life: D&C 132:63 says, “for they are given unto him to multiply and replenish the EARTH” I know we have been told we must practice it eventually, but I do not understand why the need once we have left the earth, our mortal state and lost our ability to “bear the souls of men.” If we progress to the celestial kingdom and achieve eternal increase, will those spirits be God’s or ours as gods ourselves?

  6. Ann, I think the tricky thing about the earth-only argument is that it still ends up being sort of a bum deal to plural wives sealed to their husbands. I’ve heard anecdotes of women today who have become sealed to their husbands who are already sealed to other women, sometimes to first wives who have since passed away. I imagine that those “second wives” live in faith that their sealing will last in the eternities, and that they can be with the husbands they love. It must hurt to hear the argument that when things get sorted out in the next life that they will be passed on to some other resurrected male person. This is not my excuse or apology for polygamy, but just a perspective that I think complicates the peace some may feel with the argument that polygamy won’t be practiced in the eternities.

  7. Kevin Barney says:

    What a great idea for a series! I’ll look forward to it with interest. And I agree about the conflicting emotions we Mormons have for polygamy. My extended family (me included) is all very proud of our polygamist forebear Thomas Grover (as we’ve discussed, the source of your own surname). But now that you mention it I don’t know the first thing about any of his wives, including my own GGG Grandmother. That is my own failing, and I’m not sure I ever even thought of it before until I just now read your post.

  8. I’ve noticed that my EQ seems to believe that once all the work’s done for ancestors, there’s no more genealogy left to do. They don’t understand the value of actually learning about their ancestors. Perhaps this is simply making excuses for laziness or other priorities; or perhaps this is out of fear of what they’ll learn about their ancestors, especially when it comes to polygamy.

    I rather like scandalous stories, even when they’re about my ancestors. I also like good stories, and the pioneer era is full of good stories.

  9. Jason K. says:

    I’m so glad you’re taking this on. We can hardly honor our foremothers when we don’t know about them, and the discomfort of polygamy can be a real obstacle to that. Looking forward to the rest of the series.

  10. Grover, I see your point about the bum deal for plural wives sealed to the same man and I have no answer for that, especially for 2nd wives today. I guess I was referring to a recent incident in our Gospel Doctrine class. I made the comment I would not live in polygamy and the Bishop said “you will in the next life.” My husband and I have been married over 50 years and are long past procreating here. I see no reason for him to take another wife in the next life since we cannot procreate there. I think there are a lot of things we just do not understand and will not until much later. That is poor comfort to many of us, I know.

  11. Oh, Ann, I can’t believe your bishop said that even though I can totally believe a bishop said that. Someone can correct me, but I’m pretty sure it is cultural myth (and, honestly, demographically unfeasible) for polygamy to stand in the eternity of all Latter-day Saints’ afterlives. All respect to your bishop, of course, but the Seminary Manual on D&C 132 includes this note for teachers: “Do not speculate about whether plural marriage is a requirement for the celestial kingdom. We have no knowledge that plural marriage will be a requirement for exaltation.”

    I do think that you are right that “there are a lot of things we just do not understand.” In my research on the sister-wives in my family tree, I don’t think I’ll come any closer to understanding polygamy, but I do hope that I will come closer to understanding these women and their characters and stories.

  12. “I rather like scandalous stories, even when they’re about my ancestors. I also like good stories, and the pioneer era is full of good stories.”

    AMEN, Tim!

  13. Confront. History as confrontation. I’ve never thought about it that way, but it does make sense. We start with questions, and some of them can be difficult or argumentative. Why wasn’t one wife enough for you? If it couldn’t be one, then why not just two, or just three? Why did you say yes when he asked you to marry him? How could you marry this man the same day as your daughter? How did you manage the living arrangements? The intimacies? The loneliness? All the different permutations of relationship involved in such a family?

    I haven’t come to terms with many of my questions, great or small, regarding my two projects: Utah women’s history including (of course) plural marriage, and the story of African American slavery in Utah Territory, and I particularly haven’t come to terms with how the stories were told in subsequent generations, but as I get deeper into the projects, I find that my subjects have their own questions and concerns, and they may or may not overlap mine. In rare instances, thinking of a story like that of Anna Eldridge Hinkle Chidester, I find that a small prompting or piece of information moves me from the experience of confrontation to the experience of walking alongside someone, sharing her story, reworking my judgments, redefining my questions.

    In other words, what a great project, the blend of biography and experience and memory and blogging. I’m looking forward to reading your series.

  14. I’ve two polygamous lines in my tree and it seems to me, looking at today’s relatives from those lines that that much of what we think and feel about the subject comes from how the family talks about it. One of my line celebrates all the wives and each is accorded her place of honor and any reference to a particular wife is merely to help establish identity. The polygamy aspect is fairly casual and not a focused upon. I’ve never heard those in the other line address the topic. I have to assume that it is much more a thing and possibly, as I’ve heard in other families, some residual hurts are still present even generations later. I would guess that if a wife felt second class than her children, in turn, would feel second class and so on. I talk about the first line happily, without reservation. I almost feel I should apologize for the second.

  15. STW, that’s fascinating. I think there must be something to that.

    Amy T: “I find that a small prompting or piece of information moves me from the experience of confrontation to the experience of walking alongside someone, sharing her story, reworking my judgments, redefining my questions.” YES. This is exactly it, and beautifully put. I want to walk alongside these women, reworking my judgments, redefining my questions.

    Kevin Barney, maybe I’ll do Thomas Grover’s wives next year :-)

  16. Seems like a great project! It causes me to reflect on how we–how I–define “ancestor.” My gggrandfather (Heber C.) had so many wives that I don’t ever think of the other wives–even Vilate–as part of my heritage. The one time I recall attending a Heber C. Kimball family reunion we divided up by wife, so there was a tent for us Ann Alice Gheen descendants. But the next generation (closer to me) was also polygamous, and there you find, for example, two wives who were sisters, and they are both part of my story. I don’t think there are any rules. I think you have to claim them and tell their stories.

  17. Curious, given these other wives were scattered great distances, and given they would have made covenants in the temple to be chaste (back then the penalties mimed in the temple would have be scary as hell), is it safe to assume they had little to no sex life?

    Now, how would you feel if you learned, through you research, that one (or more) of these wives had taken on a secret lover. Perhaps it was the need to feel loved. Perhaps they simply wanted the pleasure of sex. Who knows? Irrespective of their motives, how would you feel about this? Would you lose respect? Be disappointed?

    Or, in some way would you perhaps feels a sense of relief, knowing that they allowed themselves one of life’s precious necessities, even if technically it meant they were unfaithful to your hero of a blood relative? Would you feel any conflict at all?

  18. RockiesGma says:

    What an interesting take on your heritage, Grover. I am a descendant of An early apostle through his second wife. I never think of him at all because the stories of his wives are so filled with poverty, loneliness, and hardship that I actually can’t stand him. I don’t care for any of the men who married plurally when they could barely afford one family, let alone multiple families. I find it hard to honor and respect priesthood holders who didn’t know most of their children, nor helped raise them; who spent countless weeks, months, and even years away from their various homes. Nor can I admire the same priesthood holders who married young, beautiful, virginal women as their older wives became….well….tired-looking, haggard, sickly, or old.

    But the wives? Oh yes, I admire their true grit in doing without constantly while raising near-fatherless children. I admire their courage, their haggard-ness, their wrinkles, their triumphs over sufferings of many kinds. I honor their sorrows as younger women caught their husbands’ eyes and they watched the flirting and dating begin again. I honor their bedtime tears of utter heartbreak and loneliness. And I honor their enduring to the end.

    Polygamy is truly disgusting and sickening. History has always taught just how much this is so. A very few made the best of it, but as a form of love-filled marriage it is an abominable and utter failure.

  19. It has been my belief for some time that polygamy was a mistake by a young prophet who was carried away in his enthusiasm for all things biblical. The Book of Mormon condemns polygamy, but he was a prophet like David and Solomon, right? Joseph did what he was supposed to (translate the BoM and found the Church,) but then he ventured into areas he shouldn’t have, polygamy and running for president of the US. His job was done and so he was taken. The Church was nearly destroyed by the practice of polygamy and I can’t believe God would have let that happen if the practice had His approval. Many good people honestly believed and tried to make it work, but sincere belief does not make it correct. Yes, “as a form of love-filled marriage” it could be nothing but an utter failure. A man cannot be “one” with multiple wives.

  20. A Happy Hubby says:

    I wish you luck in this endeavor. I respect that this isn’t easy.

  21. Steve Park says:

    Hey cuz! While I’m not a direct descendant of Archibald Gardner, one of my great-great-great aunts was his sixth wife. My family travelled to Nauvoo and then on to the Salt Lake valley as part of the “Canada Company” along with Archibald and his family. I had mistakenly assumed that only leaders and wealthy people in the church got to practice polygamy. My G-G-G-Grandpa wasn’t wealthy by any measure, but he still manage to marry 3 wives and I’m descended from wife no. 2.

  22. RockiesGma says:

    “It must have been cold there in my shadow
    To never have sunlight on your face,
    A beautiful face without a name for so long,
    A beautiful smile to hide the pain…….”

    I suspect Archie’s wives will become your heroes through your upcoming series, Ann, warts and all. Perhaps they’ll prove to be “the wind beneath the wings” of a great many souls. I hope every plural wife will have the option to meet someone in the hereafter who will be crazy in love with her, and only her…and her him. Elder Wirthlin spoke of the Law of Compensation near the end of his life. I’d never heard of it till then, but loved the quiet witness of the Spirit ratifying its truth that every worthwhile thing lost or denied will be made up to us someday. I like to think of compensating these women with their very own one true love through all eternity. Glory that. I look forward to getting to know Archibald’s wives through your eyes, and to being able to refer to them by their own names rather than as “his wives.” Glory that, too.

  23. Angela C says:

    Ann: “I made the comment I would not live in polygamy and the Bishop said “you will in the next life.”” Any man capable of thinking this, let alone saying it, is not someone who should be in a position to give advice or pastoral care to women, and probably not to anyone at all. What a revolting lack of empathy.

    I’m with Rockies Gma. And looking forward to hearing more about the experiences of these women.

  24. My father’s mother remarried when I was very young, and though they were last childbearing years (and he passed away only a couple of years later), she counts her second husband’s children as her family – and so they are a part of my family history. My mother’s mother was adopted by an aunt, so those lines are intertwined on my family tree. Families are messy, even before we think about polygamy. Sometimes I think that’s their entire point.

    I know a couple of people in a happy polyamorous relationship, and that’s my through-line to seeing a way that polygamy can work in the best possible circumstances. With extremely high levels of empathy (and obviously with consent), heaven can handle relationships with more than one person.

    As far as earth goes, I look forward to learning some of these women’s stories, and how learning more about this specific kind of messiness impacts you, Grover.

  25. past*

  26. Liane Kennedy says:

    I look forward to reading your posts. I am the director of the Family History Centre in Corner Brook, Newfoundland. Here on the fringes of the Church, we are almost all converts. My encounters with historic polygamy come with the missionaries who serve in our branch – young men and women and senior couples, many of whom have never really dealt with the complexities of their family history. I look forward to having some further insight.

  27. Angela C. I don’t plan on seeking counsel from my bishop for the next few years. His comment bothered me or I wouldn’t have repeated it, but, unfortunately, it did not surprise me. Not everyone is blessed with great people skills. His talents must lie elsewhere. His wife is a true saint.

  28. Virginia M. says:

    While my family is not LDS, I too have a polygamous 2nd great grandfather. Trying to sort out who is who and belongs to who has taken years of research. His 3 wives did not enter marriage with this knowledge, but learned of it over time. In the end, he chose to stay with his 2nd wife, leaving is other families behind. The lives of his wives and children were very much affected by his life decisions. I look forward to reading your future posts. Shine the light on truth.

  29. I wish I could respond personally to all these insightful and kind comments—thanks for reading, and for sharing parts of your own stories and questions! I’m glad to know I am not alone in working through the complexities of a polygamous ancestry. Thanks for giving me so much more to think about and reflect on in these comments.

  30. Jillian says:

    I too am a descendant of early LDS and hesitated to learn more about this family history. As I have read just this last week I was surprised to find no polygamy where I thought for sure I would find it.
    But the observation I wished to share is about the repercussions of polygamy on marriages today. I am single and have listened to the women in my singles ward discussing the possibility of not having someone of their own in the world to come. Most are horrified at the thought. They express the thought that they waited a lifetime for a marriage and they did not do that to end up second or even first in some shared situation.
    A friend who was sealed as second wife to a divorced man was shocked that his living ex-wife expressed the desire to be with him in eternity but certainly did not intend their marriage to be polygamous. It caused terrible spiritual distress to the children when the first wife told them their eternal family was ended after his remarriage. The second wife had just assumed they could be one big happy family. I found it amazing that she believed she could dictate the feelings of the first wife about this matter.
    Indeed I find it amazing when we are taught in church both that we will feel different about this in the next life and that we must change how we feel here because we will be the same person we are when we die.
    I have also witnessed time and again divorced men talking about how they will get all the wives currently sealed to them with their children in the world to come. How arrogant to assume that people who left you here or who you left will want you back on an eternal basis. Or maybe just sad.
    I wish we had some doctrinal clarification on this. Polygamy, whether pioneer, Old Testament, or modern through temple sealings, makes me extremely uncomfortable. I can make up stories in my head to explain it but find them all very dissatisfying and disheartening. Why make all the sacrifices marriage involves for such a loser reward.

  31. I think the best way to proceed is to assume that these people all knew what they were doing, understood their own circumstances, had their own relationships with God, were guided by The Spirit and conducted themselves accordingly. All I see is judgement toward these people and immature handwringing about how this will reflect on you. Maybe one day you’ll have the displeasure of sitting on the other side of the veil and watching as your descendants pick your life apart and try to distance themselves from what they perceive to be the negative things you did in your life. Your whole approach here is arrogant.

  32. Jillian, I think most LDS women today would relate to the concerns listed in your comments, either openly or inwardly. I hope that as we take a closer look at the women in our past, it will help other people (male LDS leaders, for example) better understand and respond to the anxieties of LDS women in the present day, and the ongoing legacy and sometimes even threat of polygamy in our lives.

  33. Dave, I’m sorry this reads to you as judgment. I promise my goal here is to understand and try to empathize with my ancestors. I don’t want to ignore these brave women of my past because I previously found them too uncomfortable to think about. I want to get to know them and try to step into their shoes with the details that exist about their lives. I believe my foremothers are leaning closer toward me as I explore the artifacts of their journeys. I believe they are happy that I am searching for them, and sharing their stories. You misunderstand my intentions.

  34. One of my ancestors married a woman and they had about a dozen children. Later he brought a second woman into his house and had about half a dozen children with her The birth dates of the children from the respective women overlap.

    This ancestor died in 1790 and fought in the French and Indian war. He was never a member of the LDS church. The neighbors referred to the second woman as the mistress in the attic. They lived in an isolated valley deep in Appalachia and the half siblings married each other in two cases. I can see how this family history made them less revolted by certain aspects of the message of the restoration of the gospel by the prophet Joseph Smith.

    Am I supposed to feel differently about this family history than about my Utah pioneer polygamous history because it was not sanctioned by Priesthood authority, that is until after they died? I don’t.

  35. Kathryn Webb says:

    This is fascinating. I will enjoy your adventures. My line flows through Archie, sort of. I come through the Bradford line, the first husband of widow Abigail. There is a delightful monument to Archibald and his mills in Afton Star Valley. Take the canyon road to Intermittent Springs. The monument with pieces of mill equipment will be on your left, in a beautiful grove of trees, on your left. (South side of the road)

  36. Wow! It’s like you reached in my heart and wrote it out elegantly. I have often thought of Emma and my heart hurts for her. I have also thought much about Sarah in the OT and my heart hurts for Haggar. I loved your explanation of the fractions, because we want to be an equal helpmeet with our husband, not 10%. I also hate the thought of a husband and wife quarreling and the husband has somewhere else to go for comfort and where does the wife go? But I love that you want to find value in each of these women and bring them out of the shadows. Thank you and best wishes on your journey.

  37. Ah, polygamy, the thing of my nightmares. It has shaped my feelings about God in very negative ways. I have grown to think of God in these ways: God, The Champion of Men and Male Desire; God, The Guy Who Doesn’t Care About Women; God, The Diety Who Will Back Up His Prophets No Matter What; God, The Controller of Women’s Sexuality, The Extender and Indulger of Men’s; and God, A Crazy Dude Who Wants To Rearrange Women’s Families/Marriages So He Can Have ‘Seed.’

    Because of how spiritually tragic this has been for me, I have wished quite deeply and sincerely that I had never been born into this church. Yes, I have thought about leaving, but leaving won’t wash these ideas, this trauma out of my mind and heart. From the comments and posts I read online, I see that I am not alone in my feelings, in how destructive I believe polygamy has been for LDS women.

    The leaders of the church have greatly underestimated the damage done to women, both in terms of the practice of polygamy, the church’s apologetic responses to it, their refusal to eliminate Sec 132 from the D&C, their whitewashing of history, and their shifting and pivoting to a monogamous paradigm of marriage without disavowing the other. God still gets the “credit” for polygamy, and church leaders get a pass. Praise to the men!