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Polygamy Letter

A friend once told me, “Three moves are as good as a fire.” Having just moved, I can attest to the benefit of massive purging. One such benefit came in the form of the discovery of some lost notes.

Whenever humanly possible, I attend Education Week at BYU. Years ago, when we lived in Florida probably in the late 90’s I attended a class that had three overflows. It was given my Kenneth Godfrey and titled, “Plural Marriage.” Now, I suspect, you understand the overflow situation.

I wrote down some interesting stuff, but there was one quote that I’ve been looking for ever since. Godfrey repeated it again and again because everyone wanted the specific wording. It was almost comical, but at least a testament to me that I’m not the only crazy person in the church. The quote is from a letter from the First Presidency to Brother Godfrey (and, presumably, to some other CES-type folk) to correct misinformation perpetuated (not without authoritative backup, mind you) by seminary teachers. The letter said:

There is no truth to the statement that you must practice or accept plural marriage to remain in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom.

I feel better already.

{ 84 comments… add one }

  • naomlette September 17, 2008, 6:33 pm

    Yay!

    I feel better already

    Me too.

    I’ve always been of the opinion that if we are not required of it here, we won’t be there. Especially after reading Jacob 5.

  • ChanJo September 18, 2008, 9:14 am

    Thanks for posting that. I’m going to make a poster for my wall for __those days__ when the issue is off my “shelf”.

  • facethemusic September 18, 2008, 10:14 am

    Narrator:
    “…And Mormon women flooded the streets and set their petticoats on fire.”
    :tooth: :tooth: :tooth:

  • jennycherie September 19, 2008, 3:44 pm

    “There is no truth to the statement that you must practice or accept plural marriage to remain in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom.”

    You know, this is a great relief to me! I’ve heard so many times that we are foolish if we think we will not have to practice plural marriage in the celestial kingdom. I know there are sects of fundamentalists (some of whom are still active in our church and just hide their alternative lifestyle) who believe we should still be practicing plural marriage now. Hey wait, is that what this smiley :threesome: is for?? :shocked:

    Posted By: facethemusic…And Mormon women flooded the streets and set their petticoats on fire.”

    :rolling::rolling:

  • Ray September 19, 2008, 3:59 pm

    We have a polygamy emoticon. Wow, I never realized that.

  • Lewis_Family September 19, 2008, 9:20 pm

    :grouphug: this one would work too, no?

  • Ray September 20, 2008, 12:53 pm

    Um, Lewis, that’s the “free love” emoticon. :shocked: Does it belong on a Mormon Momma blog? :devil:

  • TheWallruss October 23, 2008, 8:31 pm

    I think those old Pligs of days gone by knew what they were doing.
    Let’s see now, if I have ten wives each living in a different house, even better if they are a wee away from one another it would be so much more easy to just “disappear” from time to time. Each wife thinking I am helping another when actually I am out on the river bank with my fishing pole, or maybe just sitting in the shade of the popular trees contemplating the mysteries of the gospel. Either way it works for me.
    My Great Granddad was a wise ol’ codger. I gotta’ tip my hat to him.

    Wally ;)

  • CamBendy October 27, 2008, 1:04 am

    For someone who spends so much time posting about compassion for abusive parents and talking about personal abuse, this response pretty much sucks. Jerk.

  • Michelle D October 27, 2008, 11:35 am

    FWIW, I agree that the comment was insensitive, but the wink ;) tells me Wally was being (or intending to be) more sarcastic than being a jerk. I try to err on the side of giving the benefit of the doubt.

  • spande2 October 27, 2008, 1:10 pm

    Oh, nevermind. I get in a rush and don’t read carefully. I withdraw the question.

  • TheWallruss October 27, 2008, 8:33 pm

    Michelle D:
    Thanks for the back up. I intended no ill will to anyone. My Great Granddad, a Welsh convert who played a very large part of the settling of Tooele County and then sent by Brother Benson up to Cache County to settle that place was a polygamist. So in our family we joke about the practice often. I forget that sometimes others do not see the humor. I do apologize to all if I offended. Had you been with me when I made the crack you would have seen the twinkle in my eyes and the mischievous smile on my face. No offence was intended at all. I have no problem laughing at the strange side of my heritage. And we old Mormon Pioneer stock do have a wee strange heritage. Like the fact that most of us are cousins. Golly Gee, if I were to throw a rock in Tooele or Logan and / or surrounding farmland I would most likely hit a relative.

    Top of the day to all.

    Wally ;)

  • agardner October 27, 2008, 9:27 pm

    Wally, I’ll bet I’m one of them…

  • Alison Moore Smith October 28, 2008, 12:20 am

    Wally, I think it’s easier to get the twinkle in your eye when you’re on the “receiving end” of the joke rather than on the sacrificing end.

  • TheWallruss October 28, 2008, 5:28 am

    I guess that from the five postings previous to my first one here in this thread I thought the humor would be appreciated. The real sacrificing end of this law was made by the old timers in the early days of the church. I have the journals of my Great Grandparents that talk about the blessings and hardships of living this law. Bottom line they did it because they believed in the gospel and they were instructed to by their church leaders, hence ( after prayerful contemplation ) by their Lord. As the saying goes, “no one said it would be easy, just that it would be worth it”.
    I understand the law, I make jokes about it because it hurts nothing, but the truth is I personally would only live the law if I were directed to by the Lord. At this particular time in history our faith believes in obeying the laws of the land, so it is not an issue. For that I am grateful.
    Brother Joseph was rather forcefully persuaded into obeying the commandment by an Angel of the Lord holding a rather menising sword. It was not easy for him to follow this directive. I am quite certain that this law was taken advantage of by some of the old timers, and it is abused by many so called fundamentalists today. It is clear that the abuse of this law has caused much tragedy, much heartache not only for those fundamentalists but for all of us who call ourselves Mormons. It is sad when people get so twisted they will not listen to the council of the Lord. And it is sad when people are fooled by others who claim to be counseling for the Lord. ( Warren Jeffs and the like ) Ouch! My heart really goes out for those people, especially the women and the children. They seem to pay the premium price. It is nice to know that justice prevails in the hands of our Saviour.

    Wally

  • TheWallruss October 28, 2008, 5:51 am

    agardner:
    Chances are very good if you are of the old pioneer stock you are one of them. ( My cousins ) And if not you are probably good ( or maybe bad, but we hope not bad ;) friends with one or two of them. I must claim and love them all, good or bad because they are blood. They are my family. The four names closest to my generation are Allen, Clark (as in J. Ruben) Price and Maughan. If your family tree includes any of these we may be closer than we think. And I think that’s cool. I am always happy to find another relative. And if not, I am always happy to find another friend. One of my favorite missionary companions is a Gardner. He is from Norther Utah. Up in Box Elder County. He now lives over in Cache County, Wellsville.

    Smiles to all.

    Wally

  • agardner October 28, 2008, 6:14 am

    Don’t know any N. Utah Gardners. My Tooele polygamist ancestors (and they were only in Tooele for a short time before going to southern Utah) were Leavitts and Huntsmans.

    I have a little different view of polygamy as practiced by Joseph Smith. Have you read Mormon Enigma? I bought it at Deseret Book and I thought it was a great book. But it definitely changed my feelings about polygamy and why it was ever practiced.

  • TheWallruss October 28, 2008, 9:04 am

    agardner:
    Thank you for the direction to the book. I will look it up. I must admit that you have pegged my curiosity. Thank you.

    On the surface, I do not believe that my family is tie in with either the Leavitts or the Huntsmans. I will do some checking in my genealogy papers. However I know in my time several of each of these names. I must say that as friends of mine I have never been given reason to think other than good thoughts of either name. Very good solid folks.
    I know I am tied in with the names Atkin, Godfrey, Russell, Sagers, Hunsaker, Whitehouse, Johnson, Roundy, Hansen, Ore, Pond, Peterson…… Holy Moly the list goes on. My family has been true believers in genealogy, and I am way happy that we have been. I see folks every day and say “Hay Cous’, How you doing?” It makes our friendships bind just a wee closer. I really enjoy watching there eyes light up when I can tell them stories about their Grand Parents and Great Grandparents. When I can share a wee of their history with them.
    It was my Mother that taught us just how important it is knowing our ancestors, doing our genealogy. I must say I have the best mom ( she has passed on some 28 years ago ) I could have ever been blessed with. I really do not know what I did to deserve the wonderful parents I was / am blessed with. They both have crossed the veil now ( Dad about 18 years ago ) but they are yet a very grand influence in my life. I know they visit with me from time to time just to check in with me and give me a little extra help. Knowing the gospel is true is wonderful. Simply wonderful.

    Wally

  • agardner October 28, 2008, 9:28 am

    Disclaimer about the book: Tread lightly. It changed the way I felt about Joseph Smith…not in a good way. But it was a well-written and interesting book. Almost two years after reading it, I’m still reconciling things in my own mind. I suppose I was a little naive to think that since it was sold at DB it would not be negative towards him – but it did bring up some concerns for me, at least in regards to polygamy.

  • Alison Moore Smith October 28, 2008, 1:33 pm

    Posted By: TheWallrussI understand the law, I make jokes about it because it hurts nothing…

    Well, Wally, your “joke” was about the grand ability to deceive all your wives. I know you meant it in jest, but personally I don’t find it very funny. I’m sorry if you find that ultra-sensitive, but the REASON I posted the info from this letter is because I grew up being taught that only those women who would share their husbands could be exalted. Having that as your spiritual reality isn’t something I find humorous. And a man implying that he’ll use it against his wives is offensive to me.

    In addition, I suggest that even when “the law” was NOT “twisted” it was still very painful to many. There is more than ample documentation of that.

    Mormon Enigmawas a tough read for me. I started reading it in about the early 90’s and put it away before finishing a year later.

    I grew up mostly in Utah. I’m a 7th generation Mormon married to a 5th generation Mormon (we’re Smiths, for heaven’s sake). I graduated from seminary and then from BYU. And I had no idea until I was an adult that Joseph Smith was a polygamist. Brigham Young, sure. Everyone knew that. (The Beehive House practically flaunts it.) But JS’s plural marriages never came up.

    I actually thought that must have been some monumental oversight in my education, until the day I mentioned at church (in Florida) that Eliza R. Snow was married to both Joseph and Brigham. I actually just thought it was a cool factoid when we discussing a hymn she wrote. The class practically stoned me. No one in the room knew.

    So, the big question buzzing in my head was why this used to be kept so quiet? And why is it still barely acknowledged? “That’s in the past. Next question.”

    And the bigger question is, when something so culturally and emotionally appalling to these women was asked of them–and they OBEYED out of pure testimony and desire to be righteous–why have they been all but erased from our history, out of some sense of discomfort?

    Emma is touted all over the planet (with good reason–at least we’re not collectively beating her up posthumously anymore). But what about the other women who married him? Do we learn about them? Do we make movies about them?

    Look at the biographies of the prophets in the current series of manuals. Most of the plural wives aren’t so much as mentioned. They are invisible. They don’t exist in history. While super important things like jobs and callings and education are included, WIVES are erased. When they are mentioned–to the best of my recollection–it is only done in a way that appears to be consecutive, rather than concurrent. Misleading at best.

    Another book that is said to be quite informative, well-documented, etc., isIn Sacred Loneliness. Haven’t read it yet. I’ll have to have a stronger constitution first.

  • agardner October 28, 2008, 2:14 pm

    Mormon Enigma was a tough read for me. I started reading it in about the early 90’s and put it away before finishing a year later.

    Just out of curiosity, what about it was tough? Was it what it said, or how it was written, or was it just boring for you?

    I’ve always been interested in biographies, so I saw this one about Emma Smith and picked it right up. But boy, it sure painted a different picture of Joseph than what I had always been raised to believe. That was tough.

    When I grew up, I heard very little about polygamy other than in my own family history. If the subject did come up, the explanation for it was always:

    -It was because there were a lot more women than men and they needed men to help care for these families
    -The marriages were more spiritual in nature (i.e. sealings) than physical (i.e. being a husband to different women in every sense of the word)
    -It was commanded of the Lord and Emma accepted it before Joseph started practicing it. All of Joseph’s marriages were known by and approved of (although reluctantly) by Emma

    Let’s just say that Mormon Enigma painted quite a different picture than that.

  • Alison Moore Smith October 28, 2008, 8:18 pm

    Posted By: agardnerJust out of curiosity, what about it was tough? Was it what it said, or how it was written, or was it just boring for you?

    My reaction was similar to yours, I think. I was just shocked at the secrecy and what certainly seemed like infidelity. I was so hurt for Emma that I could hardly bear it.

    -It was because there were a lot more women than men and they needed men to help care for these families

    And yet, often the men didn’t care for the wives and children at all. Some of the wives worked (you remember Brigham Young’s support of women working? wonder why?). In many cases the wives were sent away with their children when the political trouble started.

    -The marriages were more spiritual in nature (i.e. sealings) than physical (i.e. being a husband to different women in every sense of the word)

    Cough, cough.

    -It was commanded of the Lord and Emma accepted it before Joseph started practicing it. All of Joseph’s marriages were known by and approved of (although reluctantly) by Emma

    I think history shows this to be utterly false.

    The whole polyandry thing, too, has never been officially addressed as far as I know.

  • TheWallruss October 28, 2008, 8:33 pm

    I have a different insight to Joseph Smith than most people I know. It is one that I do not flaunt or go into great detail about. However after some one on one with some of the General Authorities of the Church what I knew to be real was confirmed to me. Let me put it this way. I know that Joseph Smith was and is yet a living prophet of Jesus Christ and God our Father. That he did without a doubt restore the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is that restored gospel. This is not a testimony of faith, but a testimony of pure knowledge.
    He, Joseph Smith was not perfect. No more than any other prophet of the Old or New Testament, The Book of Mormon or any of the prophets since the restoration of the gospel. They are mortal men. Subject to the same frailties as you or I. I do not worship him but could one become one one-hundredth of the person he was / is they would have their calling and election made sure. He is not Christ, but he is the most Christ Like man to have walked among us. Study the life of Joseph Smith, and you have studied the life of Jesus Christ.

    This is only part of my testimony, and I do leave it with you in the name of Jesus Christ.
    Amen

    Wally

  • davidson October 28, 2008, 8:43 pm

    It’s interesting that this should come up this week. I’ve been thinking about it a lot. In a few weeks I will teach a Joseph Smith lesson which is composed mostly of Joseph’s letters to Emma. It almost seems. . .hmmm. . .disloyal. . .to deliberately expose their private relationship, when so much about their marriage had to be in the public eye. I can see, however, what the manual is trying to accomplish; Joseph and Emma had a good relationship in the midst of great difficulty, and that could be instructive for any married couple. I wanted to know more about them, especially if the Church wanted us to know more about them.

    So, I went looking. Some of what I found on the internet disturbed me a little. Among other things, the Wikipedia entry on Joseph Smith is not exactly glowing. I came away from reading that feeling a little disillusioned. And then I remembered a commitment I made to myself several years ago when the White Salamander letter came out. I was younger, and the whole White Salamander thing kind of shook my testimony. Eventually a logical explanation was revealed, the truth about it was told, and at that point, I had a discussion with myself. I told myself that either Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, or he was not. (My dad is certain that he is not, my mom is certain that he is, and I grew up with that.) I told myself that I needed to decide once and for all and quit vascillating. After studying and praying extensively, I decided that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. Period. He said himself that his name would be had for good and ill all over the world. Now when I read things that aren’t exactly complimentary of him, I remember the commitment I made to be true to the prophet Joseph Smith and his testimony. If there are those who detract from his name, there is a logical explanation. They may be misinformed. They may not have access to crucial information. They may be pointedly lying. Whatsoever God commands is right, and Joseph Smith spent his life doing what God commanded him to do, even when it was incredibly difficult. I have nothing but respect for him. I don’t intend to lose that testimony again, even when Satan tries to whisper “cult mentality” in my ear. Only Satan would try to confuse cult mentality with trusting testimony.

    One of the things I learned in doing family history work is that the principle of eternal sealing was revealed before the Saints were given specific instructions about whom they should be sealed TO–I guess because they hadn’t thought to ask yet. They knew they were to be sealed long before they knew they were to be sealed to their OWN FAMILIES. Wanting to be obedient and part of the unbroken chain, they sealed themselves to prophets and apostles. Even Wikipedia mentions that it is not known if Joseph Smith consummated the marriages with his purported 33 wives. They paint him as a lustful, untrustworthy manipulator. Of course Satan will do what he can to see that Joseph’s character is sullied. (Can’t have people trusting his character; they might trust the Church he founded. If they trust the Church he founded, they might find their way to exaltation. Can’t have that.)

    Along with my commitment to trust Joseph Smith, I committed not to read, watch, or listen to derogatory media concerning Joseph Smith or the LDS church. No good comes from it. Either it is true, or it is not. If it is true, that is all we need to know.

    I feel for you, Angie. My sister had a similar experience. Her mother-in-law gave her a book about Joseph Smith for Christmas one year. She felt certain that her mother-in-law was clueless about the fact that it was an anti-Joseph Smith book; it looked innocent enough. She read it in order to be able to tell her mother-in-law that she had read it. It was as unsettling to her as Mormon Enigma was to you, Angie. It caused her years of doubt. She struggled to regain a firm testimony of Joseph Smith’s prophetic mission, and after she had it back, she also vowed she would never read another book like it again. (No sense in swallowing poison to find out if it truly is toxic. A certain amount of trust is wisdom.)

  • jennycherie October 28, 2008, 8:49 pm

    Posted By: Alison Moore SmithThe whole polyandry thing,

    okay – I don’t have a dictionary nearby. . . polyandry? I don’t know what that is or what it has to do with the church. Can you inform my uniformed mind?

  • davidson October 28, 2008, 8:56 pm

    Polyandry IS an unsettling idea, Alison. I also have not seen that addressed. Maybe it seems childish, but I trust that there is an explanation. If Joseph Smith WAS involved with polyandry, there was a reason. (The reason may have been simply that God commanded it–a tough test, perhaps designed specifically for a prophet. God has been known to ask prophets to break civil laws.)

  • TheWallruss October 28, 2008, 9:03 pm

    pol?y?an?dry? ?/?p?li?ændri, ?p?li?æn-/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [pol-ee-an-dree, pol-ee-an-] Show IPA Pronunciation

    ?noun 1. the practice or condition of having more than one husband at one time. Compare monandry (def. 1).
    2. (among female animals) the habit or system of having two or more mates, either simultaneously or successively.
    3. Botany. the state of being polyandrous.

    ——————————————————————————–

    Origin:
    1770 ?80; < Gk polyandría. See poly-, -andry

    Sorry, but I just thought this would make it easer.

    Wally

  • jennycherie October 28, 2008, 10:03 pm

    huh? So, polyandry would be a woman having more than one husband while polygamy is man with more than one wife?

  • agardner October 28, 2008, 10:15 pm

    Serena, thank you for your sympathy, but I don’t regret reading the book. It gave me a whole new respect for Emma, and in a way Joseph as well. What did bother me about it is that there is a lot that happened that subsequent church leaders seem to have explained away that doesn’t add up to me. It doesn’t change my testimony of him as a prophet, but it does make me realize that men are imperfect. Yes, even prophets. And while Joseph did many admirable things, I personally do not believe that polygamy/polyandry was one of them. The way it was lived is not the way it is purported to have been lived by those who taught me about when I was young.

    As for him consummating the marriages, while it will never be proven for certain, there is quite ample evidence that he did, and in fact possibly fathered children with at least one plural wife. Some wives Emma knew of, and some she didn’t. And there were times that she was very, very unhappy about the way it all played out, and that she found out about it after the fact. On at least one occasion, she ordered a marriage to be dissolved because she had found out about it after Joseph had already moved the woman into the house, and she saw them together (I believe in an embrace? It’s been awhile since I’ve read it).

    I think the polyandry issue that Alison is referring to is that there were some of Joseph’s plural wives who were still married to other men. In other words, men were married to multiple women, women were married to multiple men. All in all, it’s a chapter in church history I’d just as soon forget. Still, I don’t think the church should try to explain it away as they have in the past. It was what it was, and we should admit it, accept it or don’t, and move on.

  • Alison Moore Smith October 29, 2008, 12:09 am

    Posted By: jennycheriehuh? So, polyandry would be a woman having more than one husband while polygamy is man with more than one wife?

    Polyandry: having more than one husband at a time

    Polygyny: having more than one wife

    Polygamy: having more than one spouse

    Some of Joseph Smith’s plural wives were already married to other men. 11 of them if I remember correctly. The most well-known is probably Marinda Hyde, Orson Hyde’s wife.

    There is evidence the Joseph consummated at least some of his plural marriages. But davidson is right, there appears to have been confusion about what the sealings meant and to whom they should be done.

    “I know he [Joseph] had six wives and I have known some of them from childhood up. I know he had three children. They told me. I think two are living today but they are not known as his children as they go by other names.”

    Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, polyandrous wife of Joseph, “Remarks”, April 14, 1905, BYU Lee Library (from a talk she gave at BYU)

    Posted By: agardnerAll in all, it’s a chapter in church history I’d just as soon forget. Still, I don’t think the church should try to explain it away as they have in the past. It was what it was, and we should admit it, accept it or don’t, and move on.

    Kindred sprit, Angie.

  • spande2 October 29, 2008, 11:59 am

    Yes. Please move on.

  • Alison Moore Smith October 28, 2008, 1:31 pm

    Posted By: TheWallrussI understand the law, I make jokes about it because it hurts nothing…

    Well, Wally, your “joke” was about the grand ability to deceive all your wives. I know you meant it in jest, but personally I don’t find it very funny. I’m sorry if you find that ultra-sensitive, but the REASON I posted the info from this letter is because I grew up being taught that only those women who would share their husbands could be exalted. Having that as your spiritual reality isn’t something I find humorous.

    In addition, I suggest that even when “the law” was NOT “twisted” it was still very painful to many. There is more than ample documentation of that.

    Mormon Enigma was a tough read for me. I started reading it in about the early 90’s and put it away before finishing a year later.

    I grew up mostly in Utah. I’m a 7th generation Mormon married to a 5th generation Mormon (we’re Smiths, for heaven’s sake). I graduated from seminary and then from BYU. And I had no idea until I was an adult that Joseph Smith was a polygamist. Brigham Young, sure. Everyone knew that. (The Beehive House practically flaunts it.) But JS’s plural marriages never came up.

    I actually thought that must have been some monumental oversight in my education, until the day I mentioned at church (in Florida) that Eliza R. Snow was married to both Joseph and Brigham. (I actually just thought it was a cool factoid when we were discussing a hymn she wrote.) The class practically stoned me. No one in the room knew.

    So, the big question buzzing in my head was why this used to be kept so quiet? And why is it still barely acknowledged? “That’s in the past. Next question.”

    And the bigger question is, when something so culturally and emotionally appalling to these women was asked of them–and they OBEYED out of pure testimony and desire to be righteous–why have they been all but erased from our history, out of some sense of discomfort?

    Emma is touted all over the planet (with good reason–at least we’re not collectively beating her up posthumously anymore). But what about the other women who married him? Do we learn about them? Do we make movies about them?

    Look at the biographies of the prophets in the current series of manuals. Most of the plural wives aren’t so much as mentioned. They are invisible. They don’t exist in history. While super important things like jobs and callings and education are included, WIVES are erased. When they are mentioned–to the best of my recollection–it is only done in a way that appears to be consecutive, rather than concurrent. Misleading at best.

    Another book that is said to be quite informative, well-documented, etc., is In Sacred Loneliness. Haven’t read it yet. I’ll have to have a stronger constitution first.

  • Amy Lockhart July 20, 2012, 5:37 pm

    Angie and Alison:

    How have you handled this issue with your children? I find myself to have given the same answers, in response to pointed questions from my oldest, that you (Angie) felt, in effect, lied to by. It was in ignorance, but now that I am somewhat informed I find myself wondering what to do …
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  • Alison Moore Smith July 20, 2012, 6:54 pm

    Amy, I tell them I have no idea and wish the church would address it straight up. Honestly, with all the internet stuff, I think they are going to have to address all the historical problems sooner or later.

    BTW, thanks for commenting on this thread. This past year, Monica’s seminary teacher — who is a dear man and actually was also one of MY junior high seminary teachers — perpetuated this myth in her class. I knew I had blogged about the talk and wanted to find the details to pass on to him. :)
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  • Angie Gardner July 21, 2012, 7:14 am

    Amy,

    So far this particular issue hasn’t come up much with my kids, but they know I think it was not a divine command because I have made comments from time to time about it. I guess what they haven’t connected yet is that I teach them that Joseph Smith was a prophet and yet one of the major doctrines he taught is something I personally abhor. Having said that, I know that most of those who practiced it did believe wholeheartedly that it was a commandment of God and they lived it quite happily. And really, I’m fine with those who feel they are commanded (even today) to do it (as long as they don’t marry 12-year-olds, siblings, or 1st cousins). I just don’t like the secrecy of its history.

    “Amy, I tell them I have no idea and wish the church would address it straight up. Honestly, with all the internet stuff, I think they are going to have to address all the historical problems sooner or later.”

    I completely agree. We have a generation now who *will* read these things online or hear about them otherwise, and if it’s been sugar coated for them their entire lives they are going to be shocked and probably leave the church. People are doing it in record numbers, actually. I know many people who find out these things in their 30’s and 40’s and come away with a very shaken faith (not just polygamy but other church history as well). Some of them leave, some stay and doubt, some stay and speak up, and others wish it away perhaps.

    I guess to answer your question in brief – whenever any of this differing views of church history comes up, I tell them that I know that Joseph Smith was prophet, but that prophets are also human and make mistakes. I think polygamy was a big ole huge mistake.

  • Alison Moore Smith July 21, 2012, 11:05 am

    I know that most of those who practiced it did believe wholeheartedly that it was a commandment of God and they lived it quite happily.

    I agree with the first part completely. (How could you live it unless you were convinced God wanted it?) It was quite clearly presented as being the only way to exhalation and that refusing would bring condemnation.

    Not so sure about the “quite happily” part. The histories I’ve read indicate otherwise very frequently. Emma sure didn’t like it. :)

    I have at least one ancestor who divorced her husband because of polygamy. (Go grandma!)
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  • Amy Lockhart July 21, 2012, 12:19 pm

    Thank you ladies. I have to say that the part that has me most concerned is the “secrecy”.

    The first thing I say to one of my children when they are “caught red handed”, no matter what the offense, is, “Don’t hide. Don’t pretend. Don’t justify. Own your choices and be willing to accept the consequences of said choices, whatever they may be.”

    Whether it was or wasn’t “law”, and how happily or miserably, or even why, people chose to live it isn’t even the issue for me. Although, speaking frankly, it’s appalling to think of things in this new and more true context.

    The sticking point for me is definitely the secrecy, and consequently the dishonor offered these women. Especially considering the point Alison makes about the accomplishments being touted while the “other women” were forgotten.

    How have I lived 37 years in this church/gospel and swallowed the koolaid, so to speak? That’s a long time to have the wrong information about a pretty big deal kind of subject.

    I had the thought that it’s really no big deal, look at the Bible and it’s riddled with prophets and things of this nature. But it’s in the bible, for all to see. No one is hiding it or pretending it didn’t happen.

    What does the secrecy mean?
    Amy Lockhart recently posted…The Power of LiteratureMy Profile

  • Angie Gardner July 21, 2012, 3:53 pm

    Good questions, Amy, and I still don’t know either. Alison, to your point about happiness – you are probably right and these unions were not as happy as portrayed. It’s also possible that it was sugar-coated in journals. I certainly cannot imagine it being pleasant at all to live this way – one viewing of Sister Wives shows me this. My statement was mostly based on my own family, who by all reports were very happy in a polygamous situation – but then again, they believed it was a commandment so they might have convinced themselves. We still do the same thing in same ways, no? All I know is that I don’t believe this was ever inspired and I don’t like the secrets surrounding it either.

  • jennycherie July 21, 2012, 8:43 pm

    You know, as abhorrent as I find the idea, I think it’s entirely possible that the revelation and the commandment (as it’s been presented in church history) to practice polygamy during the opening of the restoration was inspired, but that the execution was faulty. The secrecy, especially where we don’t embrace the history and those who practiced it, is problematic, regardless.
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  • Amy Lockhart July 21, 2012, 10:53 pm

    “I think it’s entirely possible that the revelation and the commandment (as it’s been presented in church history) to practice polygamy during the opening of the restoration was inspired, but that the execution was faulty.”

    My husband said almost the same thing. You know what’s funny? He was one of those “golden contacts” we all prayed for on our missions and the good sister missionaries in Homer, AK got him! He joined the church in his mid twenties and by the time we met (10 years later) he had already dealt with all of this mumbo jumbo. The funny part being of course that I had no clue about any of it until reading this post and the accompanying comments.

    I mentioned I wanted him to read this and talk with him about it because I was disturbed. When I approached him later asking what he thought he said, “I didn’t find anything particularly alarming. What troubled you?” We had a long discussion where I learned that he dealt with all of this long ago and has put it to rest. I suppose it’s a blessing for me to now be able to go through the process with a support by my side.

    I am having trouble making the jump from unwilling participant to, whoops, did I forget to mention number 999, make her a bed please. It would seem to me that if you were carrying out a commandment of God, especially one that you weren’t entirely happy with, it seems then, that great and extreme care would be taken to ensure that things were handled with the utmost respect, then and now. Joseph Smith was a man and did make mistakes. The magnitude of this “mistake” seems worthy of some upfront honesty.

    I have learned a lot about pride and pestering the Lord, through the history of the lost manuscript. It seems I can learn a great deal from his too. What I am wishing for is a church resource with honest and accurate information.

    To think I have been in the dark for so long is just beyond me. I am glad that I have Sam to talk with and this forum with great points to ponder. Keep it coming :)
    Amy Lockhart recently posted…The Power of LiteratureMy Profile

  • jennycherie July 22, 2012, 12:29 am

    One book that helped me better understand this era of church history was Saints by Orson Scott Card. We discussed it on this site somewhere but I can’t find the thread. It is *not* an easy read at all, but it helped me see the possibility of it being a true commandment, performed imperfectly, by inspiration.

    On a related note, who wrote Mormon Enigma?
    jennycherie recently posted…Joy to the WorldMy Profile

    • Alison Moore Smith July 22, 2012, 10:33 am

      Saints was the first OSC book I ever read (originally called Woman of Destiny — sounds like a romance novel) in 1990. While I’d say it made participants more real — and portrayed Zina as a very sympathetic and likable character — it didn’t make me feel better in general. Remember the part where Joseph says something to Zina, the last time she sees him alive, along the lines of “you are the one I’ll be waiting for”? Yea, bet Emma would’ve loved that. :(

      Here are some pertinent books (all written by active members, I believe):

      Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith
      Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling
      In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith

  • Angie Gardner July 22, 2012, 7:59 am

    The authors are Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery. I have a copy if anyone wants to borrow it – we can mail it around haha. I found it at Deseret Book probably 8 years ago and picked it up because I enjoy biographies, especially about women. So, I innocently got it and then quickly found that it’s a very honest account of her life, and she takes center stage – not Joseph. It’s well annotated and very interesting, but as I said it paints a picture of Joseph that I had never heard but that I believe is much more accurate than what has been taught me my entire life. I believe both of the authors are LDS (though in a quick look through the preface I did not see info about that). It did say in the preface that at one point, church leaders asked them to stop working on the book, and then rescinded that request.

  • Angie Gardner July 22, 2012, 8:03 am
  • Amy Lockhart July 22, 2012, 10:28 am

    “One book that helped me better understand this era of church history was Saints by Orson Scott Card.”

    Thanks! Orson Scott Card is my husband’s favorite author and is actually the reason he was a “golden contact” when the sisters found him. He mentioned this book to me yesterday as well. I guess maybe I’ll take that as a sign :)

    The good thing is I don’t feel my testimony or faith shaken, but a lot of conversations and this from the past are suddenly becoming clear. I think I’ll have to check out “Saints” and “Mormon Enigma”, and wade through this. Feel free to send the second on over to WI Angie :) I doubt I can get it at the library! Although, maybe I can.
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  • Amy Lockhart July 22, 2012, 12:56 pm

    Thanks Alison for the recommendations and your view on “Saints”. Maybe I will save that for a time when I am ready for storytelling of this subject, rather than now when I am seeking truthful sources. Not that fictional works can’t have truth in them, but a romanticized version of things is not what I am after at this point.

    Thanks Angie for the link. I found it interesting and followed on to the customer reviews at Amazon which is recommended by the last commenter.
    I am finding it all very interesting. The Amazon reviews have been enlightening in different ways too.
    Amy Lockhart recently posted…The Power of LiteratureMy Profile

  • Angie Gardner July 22, 2012, 5:24 pm

    Rough Stone Rolling is an amazing book. I am still working through it. It’s kind of a slog to get through but very well done and well worth the read. I think I’m about 3/4 of the way through.

  • Jenicolorful July 22, 2012, 10:47 pm

    I just want to point something out that hasn’t been addressed yet. Throughout history, there have been way more women than men. And i don’t mean any disrespect to men, but there are more righteous women in the church than men, and there always has been. If there are more righteous women than men, how are the righteous women who have never had a chance to marry going to be exalted if not through polygamy? I’m bringing this up because I am a 47 year old woman who has yet to get married, and quite frankly I’m not seeing any prospects. Wont we be mature enough to handle polygamy by the time we reach exaltation? Wont all the imperfections in its execution here on earth not exist in an exalted polygamist marriage? I hope my comment didn’t sound offensive to anyone. I know this is a touchy subject.

    • Alison Moore Smith July 22, 2012, 11:26 pm

      Jenicolorful, welcome to Mormon Momma. Your input is welcome.

      While I’ve heard this argument before (along with the counterargument that more males die in infancy — thus leaving more men in the celestial kingdom to make up for it — I think it’s highly speculative. If you want to throw some stats in to the discussion, please do. But I find it highly speculative.

      I tend to utterly disagree with the notion that accepting and embracing sharing of spouses is somehow a sign of maturity. I’m mature enough to be faithful to the guy I made vows to. I expect him to do the same.

  • Angie Gardner July 23, 2012, 11:03 am

    Jeni, welcome. I have heard this argument often and in some cases I think it does make sense. I read somewhere and will try to find it again that the ratio male to female in early church times was not really very far off. Faithfulness/worthiness may be a different matter. However, since some of these women also had multiple husbands I am not sure it was really “the” reason.

    One thing that polygamy did do in the early church was populate the church quickly. It would be interesting to see average number of offspring from polygamous families, but I know in my family history one man fathered at least 30-something children between 5 wives. Brigham Young father how many? So , in that respect it was quite practical for growing the church.

  • Jenicolorful July 23, 2012, 12:49 pm

    I guess i really only believe in this argument because it is the only way polygamy makes sense to me. For example, there would be no reason for God to have multiple wives if he was just using them to populate the universe more quickly. Time does not exist to God, so why would it matter how fast or slow He and Heavenly Mother populate the universe?

    I have however heard the argument of the “sons of perdition.” Some people argue that the third of the host of heaven cast out were all “sons” of perdition and none were daughters. As such in the celestial kingdom there will be a huge shortage of men. As such for someone like me to enter into the highest degree of glory, i need to be sealed. If not to someone here on earth, than perhaps to a perfected and glorified man and his wife.

    i agree its speculative, but i cant see any other rational that would even make polygamy necessary in the first place. to me i see it very simply, either Joseph Smith was just horny (sorry i don’t know a better euphemism for that word. I don’t like using it. It has such a harsh connotation), or Celestial polygamy is a way that all righteous daughters of God can be exalted.

    and by the way i don’t view being in a polygamist relationship with a perfect man as a downside either. I’ve been single my whole life. I’ve had a lot of crummy boyfriends and i am well aware of all the pitfalls one can experience in marriage, like emotional or physical infidelity, pornography, MB, money issues, abuse,sdepression etc. I just don’t see dieing alone and then ending up with a perfect man as such a bad thing, even if i have to share him. I even like to think that me and his other wife would be good friends, if not best friends. i would rather do that than marry outside the church, or to someone who isn’t going to treat me right. I’m tired of dating, I’m tired of being used, I’m tired of being cheated on, but i am grateful for the gospel because it gives me hope that i will end up with someone special.

    Alison, I’m sorry for implying that women who don’t want to be in polygamist marriages aren’t “mature”. That was never my intention. And i apologize if it was offensive in any way. All i was suggesting was that at an exalted level, we will be perfect. As such the imperfections and terrible things that women experienced as polygamy was practiced in the early church, won’t happen in the Celestial Kingdom. As such, I do not fear polygamy if it is the case that i end up a second or third wife in a celestial marriage.

    But in all honestly, i do not believe God will force any of his daughters to be apart of a polygamist marriage if they do not want to. None of the commandments are about forcing. It will be a choice.

    again i hope i wasn’t offensive. i hate typing. no one can hear my voice. I wish you all the best. :)

  • Jenicolorful July 23, 2012, 4:35 pm

    I was thinking about how living in Celestial polygamy is a choice, and then i started thinking about the current apostles. Of the 12 i think 5 of them are sealed to more than one woman due to the death of their first wife. What i find interesting is that Elder Scott has chosen not to remarry even though his wife Janine passed away several years ago. I’m pretty sure Elder Scott and Janine decided together that they would not live in Celestial Polygamy. As such i think all of us will have that same choice. And that doesn’t mean that those who choose to not live in Celestial Polygamy are not going to be exalted. Elder Scott has made several statements concerning the state of his late wife, and he is definitely going to be seeing her in the celestial kingdom if he keeps on the path.

    So, as far as being forced into Celestial Polygamy, i don’t think that will ever happen. But as for me, I don’t think it would be so bad to be married that way. That’s just my personal belief, and it gives me hope.

  • Jenicolorful July 23, 2012, 5:08 pm

    Sorry im posting so much, i don’t have much of a social life at this point. but i just reread Alison’s post, and i got a strange feeling. I hope i don’t come off like im attacking, i promise im not, i just got a strange feeling about the last sentence of your post and i want to ask you a question. Do you think that celestial polygamy is committing adultery? or rather, if in the celestial kingdom your husband was sealed to several women, do you believe he would be being unfaithful to you?

    if you don’t feel this was an appropriate question i understand, and you do not have to answer. The very last sentence of your comment just gave me an odd feeling is all, and i wanted to know your exact opinion of celestial polygamy. feel free to answer/ not answer as you see fit. i understand it might be an inappropriate question.

    • Alison Moore Smith July 23, 2012, 5:26 pm

      Jenicolorful, I’m happy to answer, I just don’t have time to do so today. :) Will get back to this ASAP, but welcome other comments or responses.

  • jennycherie July 24, 2012, 2:33 am

    “Celestial Polygamy” – first time I’ve heard that phrase! ;)

    Honestly, I have felt, especially in the way that polygamy is practiced now in fringe groups and in larger ones such as the FLDS, that polygamy was merely “legal” adultery. If you read about the FLDS in particular, since they have been so newsworthy, the polygamous life in these times seems particularly prone to allowing, condoning and encouraging all sorts of controlling, damaging behavior.

    On a related note, I was chatting about this with my bestie today and she suggested that perhaps with all the good men who don’t have the gospel on earth (especially priests and gay men) but who will accept it afterwards, maybe there will be enough to go around!
    jennycherie recently posted…Joy to the WorldMy Profile

  • Amy Lockhart July 24, 2012, 9:34 am

    Jenicolorful,

    I can’t answer for Alison, but my feeling is that any decision regarding polygamy belongs to both people in the marriage equally. For a husband to claim “priesthood authority” or “divine revelation” and effectually force “wives” into the mix is simply wrong. I can’t see any argument that would rightfully grant superiority to the male in a marriage, Celestial or otherwise.

    Polygamy is polygamy, the difference being where it is practiced. Polygamy in the Celestial Kingdom would of course leave “natural man” tendencies out of the mix, or at least that’s what one would hope. Your question seems unanswerable in a way because the very nature of the Celestial Kingdom is such that adultery would not be possible. It is against God’s Commandments. It is also against His laws to usurp agency, here or in the Celestial Kingdom. I don’t think it will be possible for a husband and wife to get there without the same view on the issue, if it’s even an issue at all. (love the idea born from the chat with you and your bestie jenycherie!) The bottom line is, none of us really knows, or will until we get there. But we can certainly know what we are comfortable with and choose to marry accordingly.

    Although there is always the variable that spouses can deviate from core principles. This was the case with a relative of mine. For years she obeyed counsel to stay while her “divinely appointed” husband brought “wives” into their temple marriage. Eventually she saw the light and is now remarried to a wonderful man who believes fully in monogamy here and in the hereafter. She is thrilled :)

    I don’t mean to sound harsh. I am sympathetic to your situation and think your position works for you. However, there are many that would rather have nothing to do with the issue now or in the eternities. I think God has room for us all.

    More to the point of your question, I would say yes. If somehow it was possible for a husband and wife in the Celestial Kingdom to differ in opinion on polygamy, then most certainly it would be adultery for the man to proceed without the woman’s approval.

    That’s how I am feeling about what went down with JS and others in this debacle being referred to in the comments. Call it what you will, but I can’t see another way around it at the moment.

    Here is my question. If polygamy wasn’t divinely inspired in the first place then how are we to know that it will be any part of the Celestial Kingdom? I am not sure quoting scripture in the D&C will be effective in answering me either. The authors of scriptures regarding this manner could very well have been trying to make themselves and others feel better by the things that were said. It is easy to confuse personal thoughts with revelation sometimes.
    Amy Lockhart recently posted…The Power of LiteratureMy Profile

  • MB July 24, 2012, 9:53 am

    Jenicolorful,
    Your question was presented on the Square Two Journal website with some very insightful responses by faithful readers. I think you would enjoy reading those. It’s volume 4, volume 1 (the spring 2011 issue) and the article is entitled “Special Feature: Readers’ Puzzle for Spring 2011: Second Marriage Questions,”
    The address is here: http://squaretwo.org/Sq2ArticleReadersPuzzleMarriage.html

  • Jenicolorful July 24, 2012, 12:52 pm

    Amy Lockheart,

    I supose in response to your question i would say that if it wasnt divinely inpired, i dont think it will be in the celestial kingdom. But then again if it wasnt divinely inspired, who’s to say the church wasnt either.

    Personally, i believe it was divinely inspire, but unfortunatly was executed very porely, not unlike the law of consecration. Current apostles of the church practice Celestial polygamy, indicating to me that it is a reality in the Celestial kingdom. For the record i believe the church is true, and that Celestial polygamy is also a true principle. i do however feel sorry for the imperfections in its execution in the early church.

    But as far as any woman being forced into celestial polygamy goes, i dont believe that would or could happen. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that both parties in the marriage would have to have the same point of view on the matter. its like having kids, one cant simply force the other to have kids. you have to agree upon it and work at it together.

  • Amy Lockhart July 24, 2012, 3:14 pm

    I personally don’t make the leap from uninspired polygamy to the church being untrue. I can see how that could be argued though. I am one of those people that can easily make the distinction between the church and the gospel.

    As with the law of consecration, I think there is every possibility that JS received these laws, but they were not meant for literal practice in that time. Hence, the trouble. As I stated in a previous comment, something that messes with marriage and fidelity should be carried out with extreme caution, and great care taken to ensure it was being handled properly.

    The notion that they were all just so excited to be sealed to each other, and didn’t quite know how to execute it all, upon receiving the sealing ordinance, hardly explains even a small portion of the trouble surrounding this doctrine. I don’t see all the excitement for at least some involved, and it’s quite possibly a much larger “some” than we even realize. For me that goes into the justification category. I’d rather not justify it. I’d appreciate brutal honesty.

    For example; “Look, we don’t really know the whats or whys, we just know that it happened and many wives and children were treated pretty awfully through the whole thing. We aren’t going to declare it was or wasn’t divine. We aren’t going to sugar coat our mishandling of it in the past. It was a mess and we are counting on the Lord to be the judge and sort it all out accordingly. We’d like to stop hiding these women and children and celebrate them for the obedient and diligent souls that they were.” Now that would be refreshing for me.

    I am not looking to demonize JS, and I mean no disrespect to him as a Prophet of God. I just think it’s a shame what happened to innocent women and children in the name of divine command.

    Could it be that an overzealous Prophet received divine inspiration, and in haste implemented said commands, in a time they were not meant for and in ways that were not divine? Certainly. Could it also be that JS was a man as well as a Prophet, simultaneously, and “received” absolutely nothing? Yep. Does that have to mean that the church and many other things he received are not true? No, not for me.

    The concern I am having has everything to do with how this issue was handled after the fact. The secrecy and in some cases deliberately misleading portrayals of certain individuals and circumstances is unsettling for me. As far as I can see it is an attempt at public image. That is incredibly disheartening.

    The hush hush, let’s move on nature of the thing is bothersome. Why not talk about it? I just don’t get it. I can’t even imagine what these women went through and how difficult their lives were. Hopefully they are all happy now and free from the chains that bound them here on earth. Hopefully the Lord has straightened it all out and only those chains that bring them peace and joy are still intact. I have to believe that or God is not what and who I believe him to be.

    I think of President Hinckley and his lovely wife, how treasured she was and still is among Latter-Day Saint women. For many, Emma is still some sort of devil child that just couldn’t keep it together and do what she was told to by the brethren, a rebellious misfit. It’s either that or, “well she just had so much to deal with losing the love of her life and all those babies, one can understand why she “lost it””. At best she is spoken of “carefully” and with no reference to possibly having dealt with an imperfect husband that asked way to much of her in some things.

    Well maybe if we knew the real story, the whole story, about all of it, maybe then she could be more than a picture in RS rooms and a great hymn coordinator and writer. Maybe she didn’t “loose it” at all. Maybe she had good reason to stay behind and question the church. Maybe her faith in the gospel was what kept her sane and hopeful that she would be with her Joseph again. Maybe she found solace in her relationship with Christ and trusted in his ability to perfect her in him and she did it the best way she knew how. I’d like to think so.

    I have personally loved Emma for a long time. Despite what Young Women leaders and other church leaders sold me about her story as a youth, I always felt there was something more. I suppose I know why now. I think not telling the story is far more damaging that keeping it hidden, and giving false impressions about it. Unless of course the goal is numbers, then I can see the advantage of keeping things of that sort of unpleasant nature in the dark. I don’t like that.

    Like I said before, my husband stared it all square in the face and joined the church anyway. He is very much at peace. I feel betrayed, but my testimony of the gospel is strong and my testimony of the church is solid. I’d just like to see some upfront and honest handling of the situation, that’s all. The seemingly dishonest way it was “handled” leaves me a bit shaken. Like I said in a previous comment, “Own your choices and be willing to accept responsibility for them.” While I realize that the choices were not something that can be collectively “charged” to the church in our day. The church still has a responsibility, I think, to own the choices of its Prophets and leaders.

    I am not sure I believe that just because a General Authority of the church has been married for time and all eternity to more than one person, it means that polygamy will be present in the Celestial Kingdom. There are just some things we don’t understand, or know enough about, to make absolute statements regarding them.

    A dear sweet relative of mine lamented in her old age that she was worried her first husband would be there to great her when she passed on, and not her second. She was married for time and all eternity to the first but only for a few short years and the births of her 2 children. In that day it was not common (and I am not sure if it was even allowed) to marry again, unless it was just for time. She was married, for time, to the man she considers her husband and was with for over 50 years. Maybe she gets to try out a couple husbands and see how it goes. Maybe she’s stuck with the first. Maybe she gets the second and the first is free to marry some lovely worthy lady like yourself. Maybe I have no clue and neither did she, but she was hopeful that the second would be there and that the first would understand.

    I suppose that’s why I am perfectly happy letting the Lord sort it out and knowing how I feel about the issue of polygamy. Honestly, if I died and my husband were to be sealed again, I can’t imagine myself wanting anything to do with it when I saw him again. That being said, I don’t know what sort of learning and growing I would do in the process while he was still on earth and I was “on the other side”. I am extremely grateful to know that it is not a prerequisite as is proclaimed quite regularly throughout my church history.

    Even when qualified by statements such as, “be willing to” or “have a countenance worthy of”, so as to imply that one would not actually have to “go through with it”. It has always bothered me.
    Amy Lockhart recently posted…The Power of LiteratureMy Profile

  • Jenicolorful July 24, 2012, 4:35 pm

    I guess i just want to apologise. I know this is a tender subject for many women, and i meant no disrespect towards you Amy or any of the other woman who lived in the early church. And i particularly want to apologise for the way in which you seem to have been educated on polygamy throughout your life. I, cant say i have ever been told by my parents and especially not my father that polygamy was a requirement for women in the celestial kingdom. I loved my father, he was a great preisthood leader in our home and i have always wanted to end up with a man of his caliber. perhaps that is why i am still alone. who knows.

    perhaps one of the reasons i dont fear polygamy is because of my parents. My parents taught me a lot about Joseph Smith. then when i moved out and went on a mission i realized how controversial of a character he was. Polygamy is not the only teaching of Joseph Smith that is challenged in the world. Nearly every teaching in fact has been disected and railed against by other churches. From the Godhead, to tithing, to patriachy… i have heard it all. and yes at times thinking about polygamy i have had my doubts.

    I have often thought about the distinction between being an imperfect man and a perfect prophet (i say perfect even though i know the prophet is not infallable, i just know that God will not permit a prophet to take the church in a direction it shouldt go. God will not let the kingdom fall due to imperfections.) For example Peter. Peter was impulsive at times violent (cutting off ears and such), and almost never understood what the savior was talking about, but when he became a prophet he was like a rock; unwavering and strictly obedient.

    then i think of joseph smith. he had many flaws as a man. he was a terrible buisinessman, he also had a strong temper, and was unintelligent in the beggining of his ministry. Yet, by the end of his life he had had his calling and election made sure (he basically got told he was going to be exalted) and he had performed miracles, and inspired the lives of thousands. He was as it is stated in second nephi a “choice seer”. he was a great prophet.

    if a prophet lies and fakes inspiration, in order commit adultery and get away with it, how can he still be considered a man of God? God would destroy a prophet before he would let that happen. Yes polygamy was divinely inspired from God. And yes, it was like many commandments are in this life, carried out abysmally in many cases. and i really do feel sorry for those women. And, i do know that a just perfect God has made sure that those woman who lived and died in rightousness recieve their reward. God never denies any blessing from those who are faithful.

    I know many women will never accept Celestial polygamy after this life. But i also know that there will be many who will. And quite frankly its probably going to be the reason that i end up with a husband. That is unless Alison is right when she said that more males die at birth than females. In that case their just might be an even number of men and women in the celestial kingdom. and if that happened, id be ok with that too. But if thats not the case, i do hope that Celestial polygamy exists. Quite frankly looking how my dating life has gone, Celestial polygamy would be a big step up from my life right now.

    by the way i hope you all know how lucky you are if you have a husband. im just saying. i try not to be envious, but sometimes i feel like id give anything to be like some of you women. But, i know that if i am faithful God will not deny me any of his blessings, including a husband.

    anyhow i hope you have a great day Amy. and again im sorry if anything i said offended you or caused you any sort of pain.

  • Amy Lockhart July 24, 2012, 8:19 pm

    Oh no, I am not offended by your comments in the least. I just disagree with some of the things that you know. I am not even offended at the things that transpired or the way the church has handled them. Disappointed and confused a bit, but I don’t take personally the things that have happened. It does trouble me and cause me to question some of my “blind obedience”. All of that will help me to become a better person.

    I have no other testimony than that of Joseph Smith being a prophet of the Lord. I can see how he was a man and a prophet simultaneously. I never meant to imply otherwise, but can see that it could come across that way.

    I just can’t see from point A to point B with prophetly perfection in between. Point A being an unwilling participant and point B being bringing wives into his marriage without the approval of his wife and such. He was a man and a prophet.

    I realize that his calling and election was made sure. I am not unaware of what that means. I am also able to leave that judgment up to the Lord. I am not judging Joseph Smith. I think what happened was awful. I do not like how the church has handled it since. There is no calling into question his divine calling, or authority, on my part.

    I do think there is room for error on the part of Prophets and I am not sure at this point how I feel about that in relation to this particular subject. I don’t think we see it much these days as the biggest pill we seem to need to swallow is how many temples there are and where they are being built. Not much hardship in that for sure. We are definitely in a stage of things where we are well established as a church. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have new doctrine and radical changes coming about on a seemingly daily basis. Those who remained faithful are truly amazing. But those who didn’t are also amazing in their own right and in their own way. I count on a merciful and just God.

    I too served a mission and have lived many places other than Utah where I was born and raised in the church. I have heard it all (or at least I think so) regarding Joseph Smith. The biggest difference between you and I is that I was given a completely different picture than you were, by many. I swallowed it whole and never questioned a thing as far as the polygamy accusations were concerned. I honestly thought that everyone else I encountered was making up horrific stories regarding that, until I read this post. Trouble is they weren’t accusations and the church knew it.

    I am certainly going to be careful what I swallow from now on :)
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  • Jenicolorful July 24, 2012, 9:06 pm

    Amy do you feel like we are all supposed to blindly obey? i don’t know something about what you are saying makes me worry about you. i just get a sense that you have been damaged by the accusations against Joseph Smith. i have heard many stories about Joseph Smith myself, one of the most interesting is how several women managed to seal themselves to him after he had died. personally i don’t believe many people understood completely what Joseph was teaching and not just about polygamy. Just the concepts Joseph taught about the Godhead are still trying to be understood today. Brigham Young was one of the few people that actually comprehended all that Joseph taught.

    I don’t deny there were many errors in the early church. On my mission i helped start a branch, and it was almost absurd how many errors were made in just that en devour. the branch president in that branch actually tried to confirm the gift of the holy ghost onto two different people simultaneously by putting one hand on one person’s head and the other hand on the others head. then he said “by the power of Melchizedek i give you the holy ghost.” My jaw dropped when i heard this because i could not believe what had just happened. that was an example of the constant goofups i saw every week while serving in tongoy, chile. I can only imagine the goofups in starting the actual church.

    Amy, i dont pretend to fully understand this subject. i too heard of Joseph smiths wives. And quite frankly i dont understand it completly. but i cant immagine that god would restore his church and allow his prophet to invent his own doctrine so he could fulfill his lust . either he was the prophet God called him to be, or he was not. either polygamy was inspired of God, or Joseph Smith was a horny fraud (again i hate that word).

    isnt it that black and white? or am i missing something? Can you be an adulterer and still be a rightous prophet? Not in King David’s case. he fell from his exaltation, but apparently Joseph did not.

    i dont know i feel like im getting all frazzled. i dont want to argue, but thats what i feel like im doing and i dont like it. i just feel like you hold a certain amount of contempt for joseph smith…. few things get me frazzled but that is one of them. im sorry if i have come off harsh or insulting or anything of the like. i promise im a pleasnt person. i hope you have a great night.

  • Amy Lockhart July 25, 2012, 9:22 am

    No, I do not believe we should all practice blind obedience. I was speaking about myself in reference to being young and told certain things. Things that were not true. I blindly obeyed in some areas, and quite frankly, I think we all do to a certain degree. I am not blaming anyone for this. I am saying I swallowed what I was given. I am now in the process of figuring out what can stay and what needs to be purged. The gospel, the church, and JS as a prophet, are not on the table. It is possible to question and discover and still have faith unwavering.

    I appreciate your concerns for me, but you are mistaken. If you are uncomfortable with the things I am saying I think it is because you are attaching your own feelings and meanings to my words. Your interpretations of what I have said are not accurate. I am not saying anything about Joseph Smith other than he was a man and I believe he did make mistakes, much like your story about the Brach President on your mission. My testimony of him as a prophet of God has not changed one bit.

    I don’t feel you are coming off harsh towards me in any way. I feel no ill will toward you and don’t think you mean any toward me. I don’t see things the way you do. I think it’s possible that JS made mistakes and repented, by the time his calling and election was made sure there was nothing left for him to work out here on earth. Simple as that. I claim no authority to pass judgment on JS, nor do I feel I have. He was called to do a great work and the Lord obviously feels that, on a whole, he accomplished what was asked of him. That’s good enough for me.

    I am judging a situation based on the evidence I see and continue to research. I am also careful about where I seek my research because I know that is important. It bothers me that there is not an official church source on the matter. More correctly, it bothers me that the official resources I have been trusting and using my whole life, have not given an accurate representation, and I believe that to be deliberate at this point. I don’t think the ignore it and it will go away method is helpful and in fact it does send people in the wrong direction.

    I don’t think JS is a fraud of any sort. Your take on the matter, the black and white nature of it, is not how I see it. My faith and testimony are not shaken. I do not appreciate the secrecy and sometimes deceitful way things regarding this have been handled that’s all.

    I am very relieved that I will not be judged by my willingness or unwillingness to practice polygamy. It has haunted me that I am somehow less of a being because that would not be my choice. The idea that willingness to share a spouse signifies an ability to dwell with God does not make sense to me, nor has it ever. More swallowing on my part and it feels great to let that one go!
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  • Jenicolorful July 25, 2012, 8:32 pm

    So just to clarify about the “mistakes” Joseph made, was polygamy itself his mistake (i.e. he didnt recieve/ faked the revelation) or was his mistake how polygamy was executed (i.e. he himself broke the rules of how polygamy was supposed to be obeyed)?

  • Amy Lockhart July 26, 2012, 8:41 am

    I think it goes without saying that there were mistakes in the execution. I also think it’s possible that there were mistakes regarding the revelation of polygamy.

    Leading the church astray is a fairly broad term and I can easily see how the church was not lead astray, even if the revelation regarding polygamy was not in fact divine. Some people may have been led astray but the church was clearly not.

    Without being specific, as I believe that would be inappropriate in this forum, there have been many changes throughout the years regarding temple ceremonies. It would fall under the same category for me. In some cases things were removed entirely. It would be easy to argue that they were in fact not “received” at all but simply made sense at the time. The church was not led astray. The Lord does not command in all things, even church organization and practices.

    Joseph was often referred to the Bible by the Lord when seeking revelation or guidance in relation to church set up and practices. Much like the brother of Jared and the lighting of the stones. I can see how studying might bring about things that made sense, but were not consecrated practices of the Lord. I can also see how it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between self understanding and convictions, and revelation. I can relate that type of misunderstanding to a Prophet and not have my testimony of him diminished in any way.

    I am not in a position to judge Joseph Smith’s motivations, or his reasoning behind why it might have “made sense” to implement polygamy. Furthermore, I am not even saying, at this point, that I believe it to be the case that it wasn’t divine. I am simply saying that I believe it’s possible it was not and that it wouldn’t make him any less of a Prophet in my eyes.

    The entire thing actually makes a great deal more sense to me if it wasn’t a command of God. I can’t see a Prophet executing such a serious kind of thing in such a sloppy and harmful way as was done in this circumstance.
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  • Jenicolorful July 26, 2012, 12:53 pm

    You do realize that we believe in continuing revelation right? Changes to the way things work in the temple have been brought forth by revelation in order to meet the demands of an ever growing church.

    If it was a mistake to even start polygamy (i. e. it wasnt a revelation) why then did the church not stop practicing polygamy until it was forced to by the government. Two other prophets besides Joseph Smith affirmed it was divine revelation, (even brigham young who was wholheartedly aposed top polygamy at first).

  • Jenicolorful July 26, 2012, 2:50 pm

    Also how do you account for how doctrinally sound polygamy stands in the scriptures? Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all practiced polygamy, were they mistaken as well? That is a question that no other Christian religion can answer other than our own. And guess what, we have Joseph Smith to thank for that. Because of him, we know why Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all practiced polygamy and other prophets like Jeremiah did not.

    By the way, prophets cannot make up revelations. Remember that whole “liars shall be thrust down to hell” verse in second nephi 9. That verse holds true especially in a prophets position. Not to mention the fact that in this case, if Joseph Smith was making up the revelation about the law of plural marriage he would be doing so in order to commit adulatory (the third worst sin one can commit). When King David did that, he lost his exaltation even though he had ample time to repent before he died. Joseph Smith did not lose his exaltation, and therefore did not lie and did not commit adultery. Those are the facts. In the case of what occurred between him and Emma and the other wives, unfortunately we do not have all the information. We have differing accounts that are incomplete. we don’t know the intimate conversations that Joseph and Emma had on the subject. We don’t know “how’s” and “whys” of all the little things that happened back then, but we do know that Joseph did not commit the serious sin of lying about revelation, or committing adultery. How do we know that, because if he had done those things his fate would be he same as King David’s (one who actually lied and committed adultery.) To call polygamy a “mistake” is just not true. Polygamy has been practiced by prophets and righteous men at various times since the old testament. To say that it is untrue doctrine or that it wont exist in the Celestial Kingdom is like saying tithing isnt true, or that we shouldn’t obey the ten commandments. They are all doctrines found in the scriptures.

    i know its hard for most women to accept this doctrine because the thought of sharing your husband is upsetting. but for someone like me who has been single her whole life, polygamy is a doctrine that gives me hope, it really is a doctrine that came straight from God. I know it because i prayed about it. I invite you to do the same. personally i dont think arguing about it on a blog is going to convince anyone that its true. But seriously praying about it will. Get knowledge straight from the source of all knowledge.

  • Amy Lockhart July 26, 2012, 5:36 pm

    You seem pretty upset and I am not sure why. I don’t think I have attacked, in any way, your beliefs or thoughts on any matter. We differ in the way we think about it, and how we have perceived and interpreted scripture and other things. For example, the way I read it, King David lost his exaltation for having Uriah killed and not for lying or adultery. Granted those things left to fester in his soul, due to lack of repentance, surely contributed to his being able to commit murder. I believe King David could have repented and asked Uriah’s forgiveness rather than having him killed, and not lost his exaltation.

    Whatever my position ends up being, I am confident that Joseph Smith believed that he was executing the Lord’s will in this matter. I do not believe, nor have I stated that JS was a liar or a fraud, or that he committed adultery knowingly. In the long run, I don’t think it matters to the church whether polygamy was ever meant to be a part of it or not.

    The Lord steps in only when necessary, and with as little intervention as possible, in order to ensure that His church is taken in the correct direction. He allows the Prophets and Apostles to direct and guide the church as they see fit through their faith, study, and diligent seeking of revelation. If He would not have stepped in and given the command to stop polygamy when he did, far more sweeping changes would have been needed to ensure that His church could continue to exist in the U.S.. Not that I don’t believe He could have done it, but I believe it stopped because the Lord saw that it was time to step in, as if he didn’t, the church would be led astray and lasting harm would come to it and its members.

    I don’t believe I have claimed anywhere in my comments to KNOW anything, other than that there has been misinformation put out there and successful attempts at hiding and tweaking true information, have been made. There are many things about the early church that I believed were lies based upon what I was told, taught, and read. I am now in the process of reconciling this new information with my prior understanding of some things in the early church. I am perfectly comfortable knowing that I may not ever get sure knowledge and answers in some matters. If they are not pertinent to my eternal salvation then the Lord may leave those doors closed. I am alright with that.

    You seem to discount the idea that there is any ground between polygamy as a divine command and JS fabricating what he needed to in order to satisfy earthly passions. I emphatically disagree. I haven’t said polygamy is not a true doctrine at all. I am glad it gives you hope and I am not seeking to take that away. I am however, open to the idea that it may have been a well meaning Prophet who made a mistake, rather than divine command, to reinstate it in the restored church.

    In our lives we make many mistakes but they will cause no lasting harm and there is good that can come from all circumstances. I believe the Lord guides the church in the same way, leaving many decisions up to the Prophets and Apostles, and intervening only when necessary, even if things are not exactly as they will be when He reigns. That is my view at this time, and I claim no doctrinal authority.

    I concur that none of us knows the whole story. That is why my faith and testimony are not shaken. My trust in some ways and practices maybe, but that is something most people I know go through to some degree, and at some point in their church lives. That is also why I am able to leave it up to the Lord.

    I do not look to the Bible to prove to me how the Lord will deal with Joseph Smith, or anyone else. I look to the Lord to know the whole story, for everyone individually, and judge according to what He knows to be best. I am completely comfortable leaving it to the Lord.

    The Bible is scripture, there are flaws within it’s pages. We know the same thing about the Book of Mormon. It is the most correct book, and has value beyond measure, but ultimately our faith and trust must be in the Lord to fill in the blanks, iron out the wrinkles, and show us the way.
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  • Jenicolorful July 26, 2012, 6:43 pm

    Sorry for sounding a little upset about this. I told you, when I feel like people are talking badly of Joseph Smith I get a little riled up. Also this subject is important to me. Its one of those doctrines that tastes good to me, although i can understand other women’s hesitancy to swallow it. It is undeniably controversial. So again i apologize if i sounded rude or offensive.

    to be honest i got curious about your comment and looked up in Doctrine and Covenants the section about the law of plural marriage. There were some interesting things in it such as:

    v 59 and 60 say that whatever a man does in the name of God in accordance to the laws of God he will be justified. And then it says in verse 60 that Joseph Smith is justified.

    v61 is the most interesting. it pretty much lays down the rules as far as how polygamy should be conducted. it was interesting to see how the ideal is supposed to work compared to the imperfection humans create in trying to carry it out. But in all honesty, ideally speaking if it was carried out correctly adultery can’t happen.

    Also i read a few verses before that and Emma gets commanded to forgive Joseph. I know in this blog we have heard a lot about secrecy and getting sealed without permission and things like that, so thats what i immediately thought of when i read that Joseph needed to be forgiven of something, but does anybody actually know what he needed to be forgiven for? was it something else? or what? if no one knows i suppose thats fine. in verse 60 he gets justified for it anyway. i was just curious.

    also i copied and pasted section 132 v 56-62 from lds.org in case you are interested.

    56 And again, verily I say, let mine handmaid forgive my servant Joseph his trespasses; and then shall she be forgiven her trespasses, wherein she has trespassed against me; and I, the Lord thy God, will bless her, and multiply her, and make her heart to rejoice.

    57 And again, I say, let not my servant Joseph put his property out of his hands, lest an enemy come and destroy him; for Satan seeketh to destroy; for I am the Lord thy God, and he is my servant; and behold, and lo, I am with him, as I was with Abraham, thy father, even unto his exaltation and glory.

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

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

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

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

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

  • Amy Lockhart July 26, 2012, 7:57 pm

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

    This is exactly what I was trying to say. The Lord clearly lets us know (including Emma) that we are not to judge JS because that is His job and not ours. I don’t read justify to mean that there will be no consequences for his actions. I hear the Lord saying we don’t need to worry about it because He knows Joseph’s transgressions and Joseph will sacrifice for them according to how the Lord sees fit.

    Joseph certainly suffered a great deal while on this earth. Perhaps that is why I have no ill will toward him and am able to easily see that his calling and election made sure would not be in jeopardy regarding this matter. Perhaps it is simply that I trust the Lord implicitly and have no reason or need to see Joseph suffer anymore. Whether Joseph had further answering to do, upon meeting with the Lord, I have no idea and I really don’t care. He is a Prophet.

    Emma suffered too and her suffering is often, in my experience, trivialized due to lack of character on her part. That is upsetting to me. I think if we are going to admit we don’t have the whole story, then Joseph’s side needs to be just as much on the table for discussion as Emma’s. Maybe the Lord was commanding Emma to forgive Joseph because he knew of the heartache Joseph’s mistakes had caused her, and in His wisdom the Lord knew that the only way for her to find peace and happiness again would be to forgive. Maybe not, it’s speculative for sure and people will see what they want to. I imagine He would counsel all of his daughter’s that way.

    It is still my position that Joseph Smith very well could have intellectually, but with every good and true intention, implemented polygamy. The Lord has promised that he will make all right in the end, and I believe him. Some things about polygamy have been cleared up by continuing revelation, but I don’t take that to mean it was supposed to happen then. I do still think there is room for error in the scriptures, and especially interpretation of the scriptures. That includes my interpretation of the scriptures just as much as anyone else’s. Joseph Smith was the Lord’s Prophet and he did “justify” all he did in His name. For me, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it was a divine command to reinstate polygamy in the restored church.

    Most importantly I don’t think any of this has any bearing at all on the fact that you will not be denied celestial glory based solely on the fact that you don’t marry in this life. I just can’t say that I believe polygamy will be the way that is handled. You know it to be true for you and I don’t argue that at all. Do you see how it is a very personal issue for me as well, and that I am not seeking to change your position, or attack a Prophet of God? I think we can agree that we will be disagreeing somewhat on this issue :)
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  • Jenicolorful July 26, 2012, 10:54 pm

    i know you have a very different opinion on the subject. But i just find it odd how you can cite a passage of scripture to prove your point (verse 60), and then ignore the next two verses (verse 61-62) that clearly indicate polygamy was to be implemented by the command of God? How can you say “It is still my position that Joseph Smith very well could have intellectually, but with every good and true intention, implemented polygamy. ” God is the one saying “if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else. And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified.” God said that, not Joseph. Do you believe the scriptures or do you not believe the scriptures? how can verse 60 be true and verses 61 and 62 aren’t?

  • Amy Lockhart July 27, 2012, 7:58 am

    Again, you take a black and white approach, where I see it another way.

    First of all, did you read my statement that my interpretation of the scriptures is just as subject to being faulty as yours is? And I do mean that in a collective ‘you’ sense. I am saying how I see it, and it makes perfect sense to me. I have been open to your interpretations and been respectful of your opinions. I don’t feel you are open to my interpretations and that you have taken things to a personal level in some cases. I claim no authority, nor do I challenge your thoughts on the matter, or how you came to them.

    Secondly, I don’t think it helps either one of us for you to be challenging me on issues such as whether or not I pray and seek answers from the highest source, and inferring that I don’t believe in the scriptures simply because we see things a little differently. Neither of these things, in the tone and context you have offered them, have any relevance to the discussion at hand.

    I have not said that the scriptures read, “the sky is blue” and I see that they have said “it is orange”. I can not pick out some huge flaw in my understanding of words and reasoning that makes my interpretation extremely “out there”, while yours is sound. I find it interesting that my husband and I differ on this position and he is able to see clearly what I am seeing, even though it is not his position. Using your position as the more correct position in order to prove me wrong, or unable to think correctly, is not what this is about.

    I think it is very possible that the Lord was trying to iron out some wrinkles, in the verses you site, and give correct information on a very important situation. For me, it’s possible that, Joseph was not following perfectly and with exactness. His implementation could have been flawed, either by practical application, or in the way that it was not meant to be practiced in the restored church, or both. The Lord saw fit to clarify. Joseph needed to be corrected (or justified) as to the true nature of polygamy and how it should be practiced.

    justify |ˈjəstəˌfī|
    2 Theology declare or make righteous in the sight of God.

    The word “make” implies to me that it wasn’t already, and needed to be elevated in order to be. God did that, I will hold the position that once God stepped in Joseph did not transgress further, and I am certain he would have repented readily for anything needed. BUT that is also not my judgment to make. It is the Lord’s and I leave it to him. It is clear through the scriptures that there was transgression and that the Lord would see to it.

    I can see clearly that if the Lord had not justified Joseph in this there would have been no church left. I can see that it would have torn the church and many families completely apart to receive word that this doctrine was not divine in its inception. For many of them, their faith and testimonies were rooted in JS first and the gospel second. It would have been unwise, I think, for a loving Heavenly Father to have done anything other than justify the Prophet’s actions.

    Maybe the Lord, in his mercy, justified his Prophet’s actions because that was the way to ensure the church was not led astray, and lasting damage would have occurred otherwise. Maybe had it happened any other way than being able to effectually “blame” it on the government, rather than JS, people would not have been able to get past it and there would be no church anymore. The Lord, in his wisdom, knows how to use mistakes for the greater good. He does it in my life all the time and I can see how he could do it in a Prophet’s life as well.

    I did not ignore any verses and I don’t see how you can make that claim. I do not read those verses to mean what you do. I see nothing in either 61 or 62 that commands Joseph in anything. I see desperately needed clarification. Although no exact timeline is available, it seems clear to me that this section of verses you are siting came after there had been

    The end of this for me is that it matters not, in the long run, whether it was or wasn’t, is or isn’t. It’s not something I am trying to pick apart in order to find reason to declare that JS is not a prophet and the whole church is a scam. The end is that it’s not a prerequisite for me and God has justified his Prophet, that’s as far as I need to take it.

    I am not trying to change your mind. It seems that you may be trying to change mine. Communication is not very productive when the goal is to change someone else. I will say, one last time, that I do not believe there was any evil or base motivation behind any of it. I think it is possible that it was an intellectual understanding mistaken for divine command and the Lord justified it as necessary in order to be true to his word.

    And for the record, where my husband and I differ relates specifically to the implementation polygamy being a divine command in the
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  • Amy Lockhart July 27, 2012, 8:03 am

    Whoops! Slip of the mouse submitted early.

    And for the record, where my husband and I differ relates specifically to the implementation of polygamy in the early church as divine command, and not to whether or not we will participate in the hereafter.

    Also, if you notice I don’t ever refer to polygamy in relation to the gospel, as you seem to infer in your comments citing biblical Prophets. My reference is specifically related to its implementation in the restored *church*.
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  • Amy Lockhart July 27, 2012, 8:16 am

    One more thought from my husband:

    Those verses state polygamy as permitted, but not as required. They clearly indicate that no fault shall be given to JS. The common history has been that JS was reluctant and wouldn’t have if he hadn’t been forced to. It’s possible that he was supposed to give the revelation on polygamy to the church and that is what he was required to do, not implement the practice of polygamy.
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  • Amy Lockhart July 27, 2012, 8:25 am

    I forgot that I hadn’t finished this paragraph when my slip of the mouse occurred:

    I did not ignore any verses and I don’t see how you can make that claim. I do not read those verses to mean what you do. I see nothing in either 61 or 62 that commands Joseph in anything. I see desperately needed clarification. Although no exact timeline is available, it seems clear to me that this section of verses you are siting came after there had been imperfect implementation of polygamy.
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  • Jenicolorful July 27, 2012, 10:23 am

    I did some reading upon the history of the polygamy situation, and aparently Joseph Smith recieved the revelation long before it was revealed. He and all the twelve apostles were practicing poligamy. Joseph actually had fear that revealing polygamy to the who church would create “tears” so he refused to reveal it. Only when his brother hyrum forced him to reveal it did he do so.

    There seems to be a bunch of conflicting stories about what happened during this point in the church, but this is the story that seems most likely to have occurred (i say most likely because upon studying this i ran into a ton of anti- Mormon stories about polygamy. it seems to be their favorite thing to use against the church.) Joseph recieved the revelation and was forced into obeying it. The revelation was not only conferred to him but the entire quorum 12 including Brigham young. Brigham upon hearing Joseph relate the revelation said that Joseph was revieveing his revelation from the wrong source. Essentially he said that Joseph recieved his revelation from the devil. Upon walking home Brigham was visited by an angel and saw the revelation, and he too was forced to obeyed. After that Brigham was 100% on board with this particular commandment. He was rumored to have 20 something wives.

    of one of the conditions that must be met is the permission of the first wife in order to practice polygamy. Emma being firmly against it, left Joseph between a rock and a hard place. He was caught between being divinely commanded (and in some cases ive even heard forcefully by an angel) and not being permitted to obey the commandment by his wife. So he did what he felt was necessary, he went behind her back in secret and got married (this bit is actually the bit that is a controversial. anti Mormons like to embellish this part. ) i personally joseph was in a position in which he felt he had to chose to obey either the Lord or his wife, and in trying to do what was right he chose to obey the Lord. it was undoubtedly a controversial thing to do. And, Ive heard differing accounts, but overall i believe it was the case that he went behind his wife’s back. After all what else could he have been “justified” for in section 132? it could have been his unwillingness to reveal this revelation to the church that he was justified for, but i dont really know that.

    anyway if it was the case that he did that, he was apparently justified for it so i dont need to worry.

    to be honest i dont disagree with your opinion that mistakes were made in the execution of the law of plural marriage. obviously there were. I still dont know why so many women were able to seal themselves to dead men. to me that seems to be a huge gaping error.

    at any rate the only thing i do dissagree with you on is that the revelation was somehow “invented” by an overzelous well meaning prophet. We as a church know the prophet is not unfulfillable. But part of the reason the quorum of the 12 exist is to check and make sure the prophet does not “invent” or distort doctrine. In the case of polygamy every member of the quorum of the 12 had not only confirmed that the revelation Joseph received concerning polygamy was indeed divinely inspired from God, but the entire quorum began living the law of plural marriage. Then God in verse, 61-62 confirms it too.

    no i agree and have agreed wholeheartedly that no woman will ever be forced to live this law in this life or the one to come. if you and your husband dont want to, great. that is your choice. there is nothing wrong with that. but the law of plural marriage does undoubtedly exist in the hereafter and . even the current apostles practice Celestial Plural marriage. and yes the law of Plural Marriage came directly from God. it was no accident, nor an invention from the mind of men.

  • Amy Lockhart July 27, 2012, 1:53 pm

    “There seems to be a bunch of conflicting stories about what happened during this point in the church”

    Exactly. There is no official church source that offers an accurate account. At least not one that I have been able to come across. There are many things we don’t know and I would say that most things surrounding the issue include false information. By false I do not mean that anyone sat around fabricating things, although there is that too, the anti-mormon literature is riddled with it I am sure. I mean false in the way that you can take two people and allow them to experience the same thing and they will each have a different take away from it. Something can be false for one and true for another. It happens all day long in my house! Many sources are speculative as well.

    All you cite is up for interpretation, including the scriptures, timelines, and personal accounts. None of what I see in your comments proves that polygamy as a *practice* in the restored church was commanded. At least in its inception. I have never refuted the *doctrine* of polygamy, biblical or otherwise.

    It makes complete sense to me that the Lord would need to ensure that there was unity within His church’s leadership. All can be swiftly dealt with by the Lord upon justifying all that has transpired and setting clear standards for the way to move forward. That still doesn’t prove to me that practicing polygamy was something meant for the church initially. Once in practice it needed the direction of the Lord and he clearly gave it.

    I see the Lord as overseeing rather than commanding in all things. Less a puppet master and more a mentor. I think it’s entirely possible that the Lord did not intend for polygamy to be practiced in the restored church, but he went with it. He justified it and took it to a divine level because Joseph Smith was his Prophet and the Lord is bound by his word, as we see in the verses you cited. He would have removed JS, as is promised of any prophet, were the church to be led astray by this practice. As I stated previously, I can see how the church was not led astray by this practice and very many people were benefitted. There is the other side too, and there are well documented cases of imperfect and hurtful behavior brought about by polygamy. My position would be that once it became justified by the Lord, practicing polygamy was a divine command. And again, for me, the word justify signifies a need to make something divine, not that it already was and the Lord is simply going through the motions of stating so.

    Please refrain from using my words out of context and in a negative way toward JS. I have never implied that the situation was so simple as he was bored one night so “invented” something awful to satisfy his lusts. Overzealous does not mean he was out of control, it means that he was a great Prophet and acted on those things which he saw to be true. He was a man of excitement, and conviction. There were many instances where the Lord referred Joseph Smith to the Bible to study it out and come up with solutions, structure, and programs, if you will, for the church. Some worked, some didn’t. The Lord stepped in where necessary. JS was exactly the prophet the Lord needed. For me, that does not mean that he did things exactly the way the Lord would have done himself. Hence the need for justification of his prophet’s actions.

    It is not beyond me to think that in his study he saw the same things you and I do in the Bible regarding polygamy. He took that to mean that the practice needed to be restored. I am simply suggesting that it may have been the doctrine that needed restoring and not the literal practice. I don’t think that’s such a stretch and I don’t think it says anything negative about JS at all.

    It seems to me that there is great evidence suggesting that JS was not entirely certain about the matter of practicing polygamy. Stupor of thought is not always resolved quickly. Could it be that Hyrum directing Joseph to bring it forth the doctrine means that in fact it wasn’t from the Prophet at all, but from his brother? Maybe Joseph was having a difficult time receiving inspiration regarding the matter and that’s why the whole thing went down like it did. If that’s the case, I don’t think it makes him an untrue Prophet. You have said yourself, “we know that prophets are not infallible.”. And just to be clear I am not stating this *is* the case, just that there is always another way to see things and every story has at least two sides, usually more.

    For Joseph to move ahead without Emma is simply wrong in my view. On the other hand, Eve moved ahead without Adam and look where that got us. Admittedly, I could very well be being influenced by my emotional reaction to a situation that I would abhor myself. I see room for interpretation in the scriptures and accounts you have cited. The way you have interpreted these things is different than what I see. That isn’t to say you are wrong, it it simply to say there are other possibilities than what you see.

    When it comes right down to it, if my testimony is rooted in the fact that things are *exactly* as I see them, and “know” them to be, then I will be in trouble. My understanding of *all* things is limited. My testimony is rooted in the Lord first and a deep understanding that He leads his church and people run it. Prophets are not puppets and the Lord does not command them in all things. He will justify and He will judge. I leave it to Him to choose the right Prophets. I sustain them.

    I know many people, quite a few of them that are very close to me, that have left the church because they discover the hardline positions they *knew* to be true are actually not so verifiable. They are looking for the proof and proof can always fail us. I am not seeking proof. I am firmly rooted in the fact that things are never quite exactly as they seem, anywhere, and I look to Lord to give me the further light and knowledge I need, when I need it, and in the areas that are pertinent to my life.
    Amy Lockhart recently posted…Walk Beside MeMy Profile

  • jennycherie July 2, 2013, 1:24 pm

    “And the bigger question is, when something so culturally and emotionally appalling to these women was asked of them–and they OBEYED out of pure testimony and desire to be righteous–why have they been all but erased from our history, out of some sense of discomfort?”

    I have been listening to a set of CDs called, “Great Mormon Women.” There are twelve CDs in the set. It is not produced by the church but by the Living Scriptures people who generally try to keep things in line with the doctrine. It has been really interesting listening (dramatized stories – audio only). Most of these women are women I have never heard of, but who had great influence on the church in its early days. Several of them were polygamous wives, and in these CDs at least, it is not covered up! This makes me think that this history is available SOMEwhere, just not in the manuals we use and distribute to the church at large.

    There was one CD about two women named Zina. The mother was a wife of Brigham Young and the daughter was married to . . . one guy, then another after her first husband died. Anyway, when the daughter Zina was preparing to get married, her mother was cautioning her that plural marriage could be wonderful, was not all a burden as it might seem and the daughter was like, “hey, I grew up in this lifestyle in a happy home, I’m ok with it.” Later on, this daughter Zina (as a married woman) went to speak to a group of suffragettes. She offered them (on behalf of church women, I believe) support in the ongoing battle for the woman’s right to vote, while simultaneously blasting them for doing nothing when the vote was taken away from UT women because of polygamy. She spoke VERY strongly in support of polygamy – – she believed in it wholeheartedly.

    Later Emmaline B Wells (a name I recognize at least) spoke with her, and kind of asked her to be compassionate to those for whom the polygamous lifestyle WAS a burden and a sacrifice. Sister Wells spoke equally passionately about the difficulties for women who were polygamous wives – that they often had to be secretive, were often treated as fallen women or adulterers, and that many did not have happy homes.

    Anyway, it is the first time I’ve heard it spoken about in such detail – and in a document (errrr, CD) that is promoted as historical rather than historically based fiction.
    jennycherie recently posted…Update on the HateMy Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith July 3, 2013, 10:53 am

    Zina is an interesting history figure. Certainly controversial.

    She was the 3rd general RS president. She is one of the polyandry cases we hear about on occasion. She was married to Henry Jacobs and then, a few months later and concurrently, married to Joseph Smith. Later she was married to Brigham Young. (While Jacobs was still alive and legally married to her — although Young did send Jacobs off on a mission and told Jacobs that Zina was his “property.”) She had children with Jacobs and Young.

    She is also the main character (fictionalized) in an Orson Scott Card book titled, “Saints.” If I remember correctly, she is one of Scott’s ancestors.

  • Angie Gardner July 6, 2013, 11:43 am

    She has an interesting story indeed. I recently read a book called, “In Sacred Loneliness” by Todd Compton. There is a chapter on each of the plural wives of Joseph Smith. It’s very long and detailed, well researched – took me a long time to get through but well worth the read. So many interesting women and stories. Most of them did have a testimony of polygamy so they would do whatever they needed to in order to make it work for them, although I’m sure it wasn’t easy. Some aspects of polygamy I really like though, such as the sisterhood that developed with most of these women.

  • Tiffany February 18, 2014, 3:21 pm

    As per my MO, I am years late to the conversation and for that, I apologize, I found your blog not long ago and am so interested in everything that you have written, I am taking my time to read everything when the opportunities arise.

    Your post was very comforting to me, but mostly to my mother who has struggled with the idea of polygamy in the next life so much that she has considered leaving the church on more than one occasion. I sent a text to her just now and she thanked me (and, technically you) for giving her peace.

    I would like to know – is Smith your maiden or married name? I am assuming Moore is your maiden name… but you said “I’m a Smith.” I am confused. Could you clarify? I am also curious as to how you are a 7th generation Mormon. I am actually a blood Smith – Hyrum Smith is my grandfather. I am 30 years old, and am 7 generations from Hyrum. If you are in your 50s, it seems odd to me that you’re a 7th generation… I suppose it’s possible if you are the product of a few oldest children of a few generations. My father, who is my line to the Smiths is obviously a 6th generation and he is 52, which is roughly your age, no? I just thought that was interesting.

    Also, I like Wally here from what I can tell, but I can empathize with your feelings of offense toward the making light of polygamy. There have been times when I have been in heated debates (with men, mind you) over this rumored “requirement” in the Celestial Kingdom. Faithful (allegedly) men in the church have sworn to me that unless I submit to this practice, I will not inherit the Kingdom of God. My response was that if I was required to share my husband, it wouldn’t be heaven, anyway.

    My sister once knew a group of young single adult men who were, in all seriousness, lining up their wives for the next life. They actually had the audacity to call the parents of these young single adult women and ask them for their hand in marriage in the eternities. Of course, they were picking out all of the attractive, would-be trophy wives. It made me absolutely sick. How very horrible. Of course, we know that this is not, nor has it ever been, a practice encouraged, founded or in any way endorsed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We also do not believe that even if all parties agreed to this practice, that it would ever be allowed or condoned. In fact, in the modern day, polygamy is a excommunicatable offense. This was simply a group of ill-informed horny young men seeking to practice unrighteous dominion.

    Anyway, this post that you have written needs to be shared with the world – not just members of the church but everyone, everywhere. Let’s end this hurtful rumor once and for all.

    • Alison Moore Smith February 18, 2014, 10:21 pm

      Tiffany, I’m so glad this could be of help to you and her! :)

      As for my lineage :), I married a Smith. My husband’s name is Samuel McArthur Smith. His great, great grandfather (and namesake) is Joseph Smith’s brother, Samuel. (Our oldest son (5th child) is also named Samuel.)

      My great, great, great, great grandfather is Joseph Knight, Sr. who was decently prominent in early Mormon history. I’m 49, btw.

      Anyway, this post that you have written needs to be shared with the world – not just members of the church but everyone, everywhere. Let’s end this hurtful rumor once and for all.

      I’m with you, honey. Unfortunately, the idea that polygamy is the eternal way still hangs arounds. Gag.
      Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Sex is Bad – Then You Get Married and My Profile

  • hannah March 15, 2014, 6:21 pm

    any citation for this? :)

  • Alison Moore Smith March 15, 2014, 7:03 pm

    hannah, I gave all the information I have. I don’t have the letter since I’ve not worked for CES.

    Per the post, Kenneth Godfrey was the speaker. You are free to contact him for further information. :)
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Why I’m Not Really All That Grateful to My Birth MotherMy Profile

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