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LDS Church posts article about the history of plural marriage in early Utah on its website

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  • Cinci Man FT MITCHELL, KY
    Dec. 16, 2013 9:05 p.m.

    What a fantastic article. A very few of my ancestors practiced polygamy, but for those who did, it benefited them immensely in the early years of the church. I'm glad that I am not asked to live that way, but am humbled that my ancestors who did, overcame trials and pulled together as a family to make it a blessing for everyone in the family of those days. Transitioning out of polygamy had to be heart wrenching and even more challenging than living it in the first place. But today, I believe marriage between one man and one woman is good for our day. I love marriage. I love family. I love the temple. I love companionship and partnership as we build our eternal lives together; working at it each and every day. Thank you dear leaders of the Church for your excellent work.

  • Ranch Here, UT
    Dec. 17, 2013 6:39 a.m.

    Must read: "A Mormon Mother" by Annie Clark Tanner.

    This details just how polygamy affected women in early Mormonism. It's not "anti-Mormon" and she remained faithful to the LDS Church until she died; but she clearly shows how hard polygamy was for the average Mormon woman stuck in the practice.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Dec. 17, 2013 8:33 a.m.

    "....For their part, many Latter-day Saint women publicly defended the practice of plural marriage, arguing in statements that they were willing participants."
    ______________________________

    In contrast to the Mormon women who defended the practice are those who endured it in sad silence. For a first wife in a plural marriage, it must have been abject humiliation to wonder if her husband no longer found her attractive. How difficult it must have been not to not brood over it.

    Those women deserve to be heard from too. In the apologist rewriting of history, the dark side of plural marriage too easily gets swept under the rug.

  • Texan from Utah Flower Mound, TX
    Dec. 17, 2013 8:41 a.m.

    It is a great article. I was, however, very pleased with the way the LDS Church put down spurious doctrines that had arisen with regard to race in their excellent article on Race and the Priesthood. I would like to see them do the same here. Even though the article clearly states that, "The Bible and the Book of Mormon teach that the marriage of one man to one woman is God’s standard", there are still many in the LDS Church who believe this standard only applies to mortality and not to eternity. Many priesthood holders in the LDS Church still believe that plural marriage is God's standard for the highest degree of celestial glory.

  • Rosco SANDY, UT
    Dec. 17, 2013 9:25 a.m.

    There are a number of theological issues that have always been perplexing to me. Polygamy, same sex attraction and women and the priesthood to name a few, remain beyond my understanding. I look forward to eventually making sense of each of these issues though I suspect complete understanding will not occur in this life time. Faith in God is requisite to personal peace. Our finite experience seems to preclude an adequate perspective to fully comprehend God's purposes. I am willing to set such issues aside for the time being and focus on the basic tenants of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Efforts to acquire more Christ-like kindness, compassion and love should keep me very busy

  • 1.96 Standard Deviations OREM, UT
    Dec. 17, 2013 9:42 a.m.

    Texan from Utah-

    "[...] Many priesthood holders in the LDS Church still believe that plural marriage is God's standard for the highest degree of celestial glory."

    Strange. I don't know why church members would speculate on such a thing. I don't think the church needs to address this formally since it is already spelled out in the scriptures.

    D&C 131:1-2 makes no reference to plural marriage for the highest degree in the celestial kingdom. It says:

    "In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage];"

    Eternal marriage is required enough for the highest degree. Married to one person is good enough. Church members don't need to speculate on the eternities -- a simple reading of the scripture will answer this question.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Dec. 17, 2013 9:44 a.m.

    RE: Craig Clark, Wilford Woodruff received the revelation to discontinue the practice and return to the standard of monogamy.
    Polygamy continued despite the promise to abandon it. In 1899, then Apostle Heber J. Grant President would plead guilty to unlawful cohabitation and be fined $100. In 1906, sixth LDS President Joseph F. Smith "pleaded guilty before Judge M. L. Rictchie in the District Court Friday to the charge of cohabitating with four women in addition to his lawful wife." He was fined $300, the maximum allowed.

    J S had 34 wives from 14-56 years old, 10 were still married to other men, i.e. Orson and Marinda Hyde(John C.)Bennett was the most intimate friend of Joseph for a time. He boarded with the prophet. He told me once that Joseph had been talking with him about his troubles with Emma, his wife. ‘He asked me,’ said Bennett, smilingly, ‘what he should do to get out of the trouble ?’ I said, ‘This is very simple. Get a Revelation that polygamy is right, and all your troubles will be at an end.’” (Dr. W. Wyl, Mormon Portraits: Joseph Smith the Prophet — His Family and His Friends, 61-62)

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Dec. 17, 2013 10:15 a.m.

    sharrona,

    John Bennett is not a reliable source of information on Joseph Smith. Once close to Joseph, he became his most bitter enemy. Many of the conversations Bennett later describes having had with Joseph are not credible in my view.

    As for Wilford Woodruff, he never claimed to have received a revelation to discontinue the practice of plural marriage. He was writing in regard to then current legal realities. The Manifesto, which advises Church members to not enter marriages prohibited by the law, signaled a decisive change in Church policy but not in Church doctrine.

  • OneCent Alameda, CA
    Dec. 17, 2013 10:18 a.m.

    I'm grateful for the vast true teachings released by the LDS church thru Deseret News. This helps me to explain o questions others have and boosts my testimony of our beloved leaders who I pray for daily. I am not fazed by the negative comments and give low credibility to those who would try to discredit any true teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Keep up the superior news reporting.

  • Mack2828 Ft Thomas, KY
    Dec. 17, 2013 10:25 a.m.

    This article makes me feel sick and sad inside. Deep in my heart I can feel that polygamy is wrong and yet I am a member of a church that feels otherwise. What am I to do? I feel stuck.

  • Mack2828 Ft Thomas, KY
    Dec. 17, 2013 10:39 a.m.

    I don't think these are 100% official church doctrine. If they were they wouldn't come out in a gospel topics article on the church web site, rather, The First Presidency would issue them in a signed statement on official church letterhead.
    So in my opinion they are helpful for some, but not official church doctrine or policy.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 17, 2013 10:58 a.m.

    It's good to make this clarification, I don't know how many times I've heard or read false ideas like "it was instituted because there were more women than men back then".

    @Mack2828
    "I don't think these are 100% official church doctrine. "

    I find that most of what is said here and in the one about blacks receiving (or not receiving) the Priesthood actually has been said by church officials in more... official contexts, it's just that people lose track of them and fall back on false explanations for why these things were in place. For the most part this is more like a reminder rather than something new.

  • Canyontreker TAYLORSVILLE, UT
    Dec. 17, 2013 11:08 a.m.

    The article could be a little more clear about plural marriage families after the Manifesto. Although, the Church abandoned the practice of plural marriage, it certainly did not go around breaking up existing families. For this reason, some families moved to Mexico and Canada, not to continue the practice but to preserve their current families.

    sharrona - The Apostle Heber J. Grant President was married in 1884, six years before the manifesto. He never married again. He was charged with unlawful cohabitation and fined $100 not for performing a marriage but for the birth of his daughter in 1899. His wife made her choice, she could divorce her husband due to the change, stay married and never have children, or go into hiding and have a child with her husband.
    President F. Smith is more interesting, he married in 1899, only one year before the manifesto. He never married again, but he did continue to have nine children. For this reason he was charged $300 the maximum allowed.

  • Christopher B Ogden, UT
    Dec. 17, 2013 11:24 a.m.

    How young were some of Joseph Smith's and Brigham Young's wives do we know? I have heard some were as young as 13-14 is this right?

    And if so, why would God tell a prophet to marry a 14 year old?

    And NO, claiming "that's how they did things back then" doesn't impact anything. God knows that a man marrying a 14 year girl is wrong, so please don't suggest that God was tied to the societal norms back then.

  • OneWifeOnly San Diego, CA
    Dec. 17, 2013 11:27 a.m.

    "Women were free to choose their spouses, whether to enter into a polygamous or monogamous union, or whether to marry at all." ... much the same as Mormon women today are free to wear whatever clothing they like to church on Sunday, including pants.

  • Wastintime Los Angeles, CA
    Dec. 17, 2013 11:39 a.m.

    Obviously the Church believes that by disassembling the discussion of polygamy (away from Joseph Smith and its origins) it can make the practice seem more palatable. However the attempt is unwise because it is impossible to do and it appears cowardly and deceptive.

    For example, the discussion on the website admits that women were married at young ages in Utah (age 16 or 17 or, infrequently, younger), stating that it is "was typical of women living in frontier areas at the time". However, Church leaders were marrying young girls, as young as 14, long before they arrived in Utah. For those of you who don't know, the average marrying age at the time for women in America was approximately 21.

  • Danny Chipman Lehi, UT
    Dec. 17, 2013 11:46 a.m.

    Christopher B,

    Why would God impregnate a 14-year-old virgin who was espoused to another man? Didn't He know that was wrong?

    If I'm not mistaken, some states (back east, I think) still have the legal marrying age at 14, if the parents consent. If God's say-so isn't good enough, I guess you could believe the government.

  • 1aggie SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Dec. 17, 2013 11:48 a.m.

    Now let me get this straight: if my wife dies and I marry another one in the temple, am I, in the eyes of the Church, married to both of them or not?

    If I die, can my wife marry another man in the temple without first divorcing me?

    If I can marry multiple women (as long as all but one are dead) but my wife cannot marry multiple men (whether dead or alive) do our beliefs regarding plural marriage really differ today very much from 150 years ago?

  • 1.96 Standard Deviations OREM, UT
    Dec. 17, 2013 12:35 p.m.

    Wastintime-

    Even if the mean (average) marriage age was 21 back then, that doesn't mean anything. Averages can be deceptive. You need the variance/standard deviation to get a better picture of the age distribution. Not everyone who married back then was at "average" age.

    For example, if marriage age at that time was normally distributed, 95% of the of marriage ages would be within +/- 1.96 standard deviations of the mean of 21 years (assuming this mean is true). So, if the standard deviation of marriage age at that time was 4 (making up a number here), 95% of the marriages occurred approximately between ages 13-29. Therefore, marrying at age 14 would not necessarily be considered uncommon.

    In short, give me the real standard deviation of the marriage age of that time period and then we can have real discussion about the "average" and what it may imply. Reflecting upon the 19th century with a 21st century mindset isn't always the wisest thing to do. Neither is giving a half-hearted statistical effort to support a case.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Dec. 17, 2013 12:36 p.m.

    From the outside looking in, many of the "revelation" biggies are very easy to come to a rational logical conclusion.

    Polygamy is most likely explained by the concept of human weakness.
    The end of Polygamy is fairly predictable based on pressure from various angles.
    Black and the Priesthood was also predictable as outside pressure increased.

    Guidance from above or not, with the exception of the start of Polygamy, any wise leader would have done these things for the survival of the LDS church.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 17, 2013 1:16 p.m.

    @1.96 standard deviations
    "if marriage age at that time was normally distributed"

    Not a terribly good assumption though since there's a lower limit to when one could get married less than 10 years away from the mean but the upper bound is well as high as one can age. So it'd be skewed... um... shoot, is it skewed left or skewed right. I never remember which is which. Point is there's a long tail to the right and things are more bunched up to the left of that mean value. You would then have more than 50% (perhaps 60 or 70%) on the lower side of the mean since, for example, 5 18 year olds getting married would be needed to balance out one 36 year old getting married if the average is 21.

  • kvnsmnsn Springville, UT
    Dec. 17, 2013 1:31 p.m.

    JoeBlow posted:

    =From the outside looking in, many of the "revelation" biggies are very easy to
    =come to a rational logical conclusion.
    =
    =Polygamy is most likely explained by the concept of human weakness.
    =The end of Polygamy is fairly predictable based on pressure from various
    =angles.
    =Black and the Priesthood was also predictable as outside pressure increased.

    It amazes me sometimes when people compare the "end of Polygamy" with the end of the priesthood ban. Brigham Young attempted to leave the existing boundaries of the United States in order to find a safe haven for polygamy. The United States was on the verge of legislating the LDS Church out of existence over the issue of polygamy. The "pressure from various angles" regarding polygamy was much greater than the "outside pressure" regarding the priesthood ban. I'm glad the LDS Church discontinued polygamy, and I'm glad the LDS Church discontinued the priesthood ban, but I think it's flying in the face of the facts to compare the two changes as if they involved caving in to the same amounts of pressure.

  • kvnsmnsn Springville, UT
    Dec. 17, 2013 1:40 p.m.

    Mack2828 posted:

    =This article makes me feel sick and sad inside. Deep in my heart I can feel
    =that polygamy is wrong and yet I am a member of a church that feels otherwise.
    =What am I to do? I feel stuck.

    Mack2828, why do you "feel that polygamy is wrong"? You and I both live in a church that has three actively-attending women for every two actively-attending men. (I think this is true for all other Christian churches too.) Because we're committed to following the law, we simply end up with a lot of single women in the church. That doesn't change the fact that it isn't good to be alone. Should women who have high standards for who they're going to marry be legally required to stay single for the rest of eternity? I'm no big fan of polygamy, but I'm simply forced to the conclusion that it may not be worse than the alternative, which is monogamy for the lucky and celibacy for the unlucky.

  • desert Potsdam, 00
    Dec. 17, 2013 1:47 p.m.

    About some of the above speculations...I say the scriptures are so clear about it, one man and one woman, that it would fill the whole board to quote them.
    Polygamy was an exception for a few.It was by revelation, not asuming.

    If you can't get over the point, it is not the church' fault, but your fault, reading scriptures is lacking. You are not reading them enough. You don't know them.You don't understand them.

  • Cinci Man FT MITCHELL, KY
    Dec. 17, 2013 2:11 p.m.

    @Wastintime and others,
    My wife's ancestors were Baptists and many were in frontier America. Nearly every woman we find in her ancestry married at 14 to 16. It was very common and encouraged by their parents.

  • jtopherj Rexburg, ID
    Dec. 17, 2013 2:13 p.m.

    @ Texan from Utah

    I disagree that Race and the Priesthood was an excellent essay. It does a good job of clarifying the church's stance on race but in my opinion it creates more questions than answers, particularly in regards to prophetic revelation. I'm ok with the idea that God doesn't need to dictate every "jot & tittle" to modern day prophets but in regards to excluding an entire race of people from blessings of the gospel I'm at a loss for words.

    We're taught these men regularly commune with the Lord. Under that presumption, I don't understand why it wasn't corrected sooner especially if we "all are alike unto God."

    There is some real ugliness when it comes to early church history. Take Delbert L. Stapley's (apostle) letter to Governor Romney in 1964. It's very concerning if that was the general thinking among the brethren. I wish the church would address our history head on and not try and white wash it (no pun intended).

    I'm a card carrying member; please don't assume I'm trying to push a particular agenda.

  • theidma New York City, NY
    Dec. 17, 2013 2:26 p.m.

    @ kvnsmnsn,

    In regards to your response to Mack2828's post; I respectfully disagree. Many women would rather be single, than be subjected to becoming another woman's husband's wife, under the pretense of it being essential for their exaltation! Also, we are talking about the gospel here. Just because there are more women than men, does not mean that church leaders should change God's words! Today, women are still more than men, how come people are living happily without polygamy? Let's face it, polygamy was never ordained of God in the latter days. It just wasn't. I'm LDS too, and I know that the church leaders are human. The early leaders who married all these young women, did it of their own accord. There was no revelation for that. You know it. There's absolutely no way it was of God.

  • Well.ok Lehi, UT
    Dec. 17, 2013 2:31 p.m.

    Standard Deviation,

    We are consistently told by our leaders that God's morality doesn't change because of societal pressures. This is why we are encouraged to dress modestly and live a chaste life even though not doing so would be the norm by today's standards.

    If these moral standards are unchanging why are we then having to perform these mental gymnastics to justify Joseph marrying 14 year old Helen Mar Kimball when he was 37 years old? It's one thing for a teenage girl to marry a man a few years her senior, but quite another when he is middle-aged.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Dec. 17, 2013 2:36 p.m.

    "it's flying in the face of the facts to compare the two changes as if they involved caving in to the same amounts of pressure"

    Who said the pressure was equal in both instances. And what does it matter.

    The point was that there was pressure and it was mounting and that anyone could have seen the prudent course of action. Both of those seem to point to wise decisions of intelligent leaders.

    Had the end of polygamy or the end of the priesthood ban come out of the blue, it would have seemed more "revelatory" to me. Instead, they appear to be reactionary.

  • LDSareChristians Anchorage, AK
    Dec. 17, 2013 2:45 p.m.

    1aggie,

    Marriage and sealings are separate actions. It's simply a convenience that when a sealing takes place, a marriage also takes place, and documents are also filled out to satisfy government requirements. Due to law, in England, a marriage takes place in an LDS meetinghouse, and then the couple go to the temple to be sealed.

    If you had divorced your first wife, and married another, having been sealed to both. You'd be sealed to both, but married to one.

    Being sealed to two woman with promise of having both in the after life, is not practicing polygamy here and now, which is the only realm the government cares about.

    Joseph Smith was sealed to a bunch of woman of whom he never married or conducted marriageable duties with.

  • 1.96 Standard Deviations OREM, UT
    Dec. 17, 2013 2:50 p.m.

    atl134-

    A normal distribution is probably not likely -- I used it as an illustration only. Reporting a mean value without its corresponding variance is incomplete. Give me the entire marriage age distribution, and its variance, and that will be a starting point to determine what were "typical" ages for marrying. Wastingtime also compared a mean value of age 21 vs a single case of age 14 for shock value. This is not adequate given we don't know the underlying variance of the population.

    I also didn't get into sampling strategy and comparing proper populations. No space to discuss this sufficiently. In short, Wastingtime wants to compare the mean marriage age of all American women vs. Mormon women living on the frontier. This has the potential to be problematic because it may not be apples to apples.

    A more better comparison would be something like Non-Mormon American women living on the frontier vs American mormon women living on the frontier. By nature of circumstance on the frontier, it may be more likely to marry younger than not living on the frontier.

    Regardless, arguing about statistical methods won't prove anything. Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. Plain and simple.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 17, 2013 2:52 p.m.

    @kvsnmnsn
    "Should women who have high standards for who they're going to marry be legally required to stay single for the rest of eternity?"
    "may not be worse than the alternative, which is monogamy for the lucky and celibacy for the unlucky."

    That would only be relevant if there were canoodling in heaven, in which case who is really the one getting "lucky" in this polygamy situation?

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Dec. 17, 2013 3:02 p.m.

    RE:Craig Clark,John Bennett is not a reliable source of information on Joseph Smith.

    What about Brigham Young?
    …when you feel like killing me…as some of the people did who called themselves brethren in the days of Joseph Smith, look out for your selves, for false brethren were the cause of Joseph’s death, and I am not a very righteous man.(JOD Vol 3. P.49)Brigham Young comment about,

    Early in the spring of 1844 a very strong bitter feeling aroused against Joseph, among many of his brethren in and around Nauvoo. Some declared that he had sought to get their wives them and had committed adultery many times. Francis Higbee had the some members swear an oath before God and all holy angels, .that they would give their life, liberty and influence for the destruction of Joseph Smith and His party.(Millennial star V. 46, pp497-502

  • Coach Biff Lehi, UT
    Dec. 17, 2013 3:17 p.m.

    How many Old Testament prophets had plural wives? Was polygamy practiced in the time of Christ? Inquiring minds want to know....

  • Coach Biff Lehi, UT
    Dec. 17, 2013 3:50 p.m.

    Was Christ's ministry to all the world or were the apostles sent to the Jews only? What was Christ's answer to the Samaritan woman who asked when the gospel would go to her people? Why do some here think that God should conform to them?

  • 1aggie SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Dec. 17, 2013 4:42 p.m.

    @LDSareChristians

    "If you had divorced your first wife, and married another, having been sealed to both. You'd be sealed to both, but married to one. "

    Nice try. You complicated the issues and changed my hypothetical in your attempt to evaded both issues I raised.

    Issue #1: in my hypothetical I did NOT divorce my first wife. I was married and sealed to both in the temple. Forget about sealing.... am I married to both in the eyes of the Church? Are all of the elderly gentleman in our church who believe they are still married to their first wives (and never divorced them) not actually married to them? If not, please cite your authority for these divorces.

    Issue #2. When I die can my wife do the same thing I can do (marry another without first divorcing me)? If not, then why not (please cite your authority)?

    Finally, after these questions are plainly answered we must ask ourselves how much things have really changed from the days of polygamy.

  • bj-hp Maryville, MO
    Dec. 17, 2013 4:58 p.m.

    Those who use the Journal of Discourses to prove a point are really using something that is basically partial doctrine but have never been part of the Standard Works of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Most of the information is valuable but in no ways reflects doctrine.

    Most of the Journal of Discourses information especially as stated by Brigham Young and other leaders early in the History of the Church were published in Great Britain much the Ensign and Friend and New Era are today.

    David is criticized for his polygamous marriages in the Book of Mormon based on the fact he took one wife that was not given to him by the Lord. The same is said about Solomon that they took wives not specifically given to them to take. Abraham, Moses, Jacob, Isaiah and others didn't take any wives other than those that were given to them, thus nothing is said about their polygamous marriages. In fact Abraham was so righteous that he was his posterity was to be blessed of ALL nations on earth. Unfortunately, many fail to understand this. The article is correct and I come from a polygamous heritage.

  • Wastintime Los Angeles, CA
    Dec. 17, 2013 5:14 p.m.

    While we're splitting hairs over mean values, distributions and variances, a thought has occurred to me. Is anybody out there familiar with human physiological development over the past 160 years in America? I'm curious as to how a 14 year-old in 1848 might differ from a 14 year-old today.

  • Wastintime Los Angeles, CA
    Dec. 17, 2013 5:31 p.m.

    @1.96

    "Regardless, arguing about statistical methods won't prove anything. Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. Plain and simple."

    Who said he wasn't? I'm not sure what you're trying to say above. Are you trying to say he was infallible, that he never did anything wrong? Your statement makes absolutely no sense to me.

    And if "arguing about statistical methods won't prove anything" then why did you start the argument?

  • LDSareChristians Anchorage, AK
    Dec. 17, 2013 5:38 p.m.

    1aggie posted: Issue #1: in my hypothetical I did NOT divorce my first wife. I was married and sealed to both in the temple. Forget about sealing.... am I married to both in the eyes of the Church? Are all of the elderly gentleman in our church who believe they are still married to their first wives (and never divorced them) not actually married to them? If not, please cite your authority for these divorces.
    ========
    I wasn't trying to evade, in the limit space to write, I thought a divorce with wife still alive on earth more illustrative.
    When your (scenario) wife died, you are no longer considered married by the laws of the land, (ie treated like a divorce). Hence no issues by government about you marrying again.

    Re issue 2. If you die, your wife can marry again. Just can't be sealed again.

    Marriage and sealing are separate acts. The government only cares about marriage. A sealing means nothing to the ole secular government.

  • dski HERRIMAN, UT
    Dec. 17, 2013 6:50 p.m.

    Folks!
    Polygamy is coming back. Once the court opens the door for same sex marriage,its here. When 2 or more consenting adults live the way they want, society has no business telling them they can't. Government will be forced out of the marriage regulating business by decrees of the Courts. The writing is on the wall. Who are we to tell these people they can't? If they want to do it, let them have it. Our business is to mind our own, not others, church members or not. There are those who are happy where and how they live although society have a problem with it. I have a hard time enough with one wife, imagine the headache with 2 or more. Church doctrines and policy aside, once the Courts dismantle marriage laws, its open season for polygamy whether we like it or not. Remember, there is a billion people (Muslims) out there who are practicing polygamy today as part of their cultural faith. Good or bad, but it is a fact and it is coming to the neighborhood near you.

  • 1.96 Standard Deviations OREM, UT
    Dec. 17, 2013 11:28 p.m.

    Well.ok-

    The unchanging moral standard, in spite of societal pressures, is regarding marriage between man and woman and the law of chastity. It is not about appropriate marriage age. There is also no evidence there were sexual relations between Joseph Smith and Helen Mar Kimball. Even if there was, they were married and not in violation of the commandments.

    In our day, culture and circumstances, marriage between age 14 vs 37 is creepy. However, you cannot use our mindset to judge the Saints in the 19th century frontier. I have a book about my 19th century polygamist ancestor, Edward Bunker, and in there it shows a completely different mindset regarding marriage and polygamy than what we have today.

    For example, there is mention of married men making agreements, that if one of them were to die, the living man would then take the deceased man's widow as another wife. This would be done in order to protect and take care of the widow and her kids. This shows their mindset toward marriage and polygamy was much more about responsibility, providing and protection than intimate relationships.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 18, 2013 1:08 a.m.

    I have been under the impression that "the new and everlasting covenant" is plural marriage. Am I mistaken?

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    Dec. 18, 2013 6:13 a.m.

    All this communing with the Lord talk is interesting.
    President Hinckley said from the pulpit during conference that he has "never" spoken to
    God and that nobody has since Joseph Smith. He gets "impressions". I found that a fascinating revelation it and of itself. Puts a different light on the entire subject doesn't it.

  • OldCoug1 Colorado Springs, CO
    Dec. 18, 2013 7:10 a.m.

    @ theidma: I respectfully disagree. Joseph Smith received revelations as early as 1831 and the early Saints believed polygamy was ordained of God. In the Journal of Discourses polygamy was preached from the pulpit for 50 years. D&C 131 and 132 are about the plurality of wives. Those are revelations to Joseph Smith. The emphasis has changed in the 20th and 21st century, but you can't just take all of the early saints who practiced polygamy and throw them in the garbage can. Heber C. Kimball, Brigham Young, Daniel Wells, Joseph F. Smith, all felt that it was ordained of God. Polygamy will be practiced in the Heavens, it is God's economy of sociality. We can't practice it here because of the law, but you can't say that it isn't ordained of God just because you don't believe in it. If you want to really understand it, read Hardy's Solemn Covenant, Wagonner's Mormon Polygamy, read Rough Stone Rolling by Richard Bushman. These are LDS Historians who have written extensively on the subject.

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    Dec. 18, 2013 8:24 a.m.

    The age of consent in the early 19th century was only 10. In Delaware, it was only 7. I find this hard to swallow but it is a fact. I believe it was because children were seen as maturing earlier in those days due to the responsibilities placed on them. I'm glad this isn't the case any more, but that it how it was viewed at that time. In earlier times there wasn't really any such thing as a child. Children were just considered small adults. The concept of a childhood is definitely a more modern concept.

    Girls married very young in those days and 14-16 was not considered young to marry at all. Edgar Allan Poe's wife was 12 when he married her. Many married at 13. Juliette of Romeo and Juliette fame was only 13. Nowadays we see this as way too young (myself included) but it was very common historically.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    Dec. 18, 2013 9:02 a.m.

    Cats

    Don't you think that a church led by god would be above the standard of marrying girls that young? If Joseph was getting revelation, wouldn't that have been one of them? "Stop marrying children" would have probably been revealed by god long before "don't drink or smoke" was.

  • guitarbabe Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 18, 2013 9:14 a.m.

    I wouldn't exist if Polygamy never existed (well, in the family that I have, since I believe in the pre-existence). So personally I'm grateful for it. And as a single woman? Yeah, if I had the choice of who I wanted to marry then I'd be all for polygamy if it were socially acceptable. Why? Ok, I won't name all the reasons for the fear of sounding bitter and burnt from the dating game.
    To be honest, I think that polygamy is hard for us to swallow because of cultural reasons and because of a history of abuse to women. But polygamy was practiced in different times and cultures--sometimes done right, sometimes done wrong. It's wrong when women are seen as possessions, but I think would be right if it was ordained by god and if women were seen as beloved with something to offer to the family (the same goes for a two-person marriage). Yeah, there would be the potential for psychological problems (jealousy, etc.), but those same psychological problems arise from being single. There are pros and cons to both sides.
    Yes, polygamy is abolished, but it isn't flawed.

  • intlbizman2 SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA
    Dec. 18, 2013 10:16 a.m.

    "It also shaped 19th-century Mormon society in other ways: marriage became available to virtually all who desired it;"

    I'm kind of surprised that no one has commented on the above statement from the website because I believe it is not only false, but the opposite is actually true. I will give a simple example here. Assume that there are 100 people in your town; 50 of them are male and 50 of them are female. If each man takes one spouse, then marriage is available to virtually all who desire it. But if one man marries 20 women, then marriage has become virtually unavailable to 19 other men. Not only is this obvious, but we actually see this occurring today with the "lost boys" of the FLDS Church. There were more men than women in Utah, and there were way more men than women in the areas surrounding Utah. So the existence of polygamy actually made marriage less available to many men. And please don't tell me that the women in their 20's that Brigham Young was marrying in his 60's had no other prospects!

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Dec. 18, 2013 10:27 a.m.

    The mores that sanction or condemn polygamy vary between cultures and times in history. Moral judgments vary from one individual to another. Legally, it’s against the law in the United States. Whether or not it’s ordained of God cannot be proven for either 19th century Mormonism or for the Israelites of Biblical times. To say that Joseph Smith was subject to common human foibles is a basic tenet of Christian belief.

  • intlbizman2 SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA
    Dec. 18, 2013 10:43 a.m.

    Cats and others seem to argue that times were different so marrying children was okay. So let's examine this idea of moral relativism to see where it takes us. I can walk into a brothel in Nevada today. It is commonly done and it is legal. But is it right? I could recite other appalling but legal practices by many societies but I think we get the idea. Also I think it's already been established that the average age women were getting married in America at the time was approximately 21 years old.

    1.96 Standard Deviations argues "Regardless, arguing about statistical methods won't prove anything. Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. Plain and simple." I cannot be sure what he/she means, but he seems to be saying that profits can do what they like or they are infallible. We know of course that they are not infallible because they have told us so. And although the church has sidestepped Joseph's practice of polyandry (by confining the website discussion to Utah polygamy) I don't think it can be justified by any scripture or other means. Any takers?

  • Rick LT GLENDALE, AZ
    Dec. 18, 2013 10:52 a.m.

    It appears that the 12th article of faith wasn't operable between 18799 and 1890 when it cam to polygamy, just as it's not operable today re the Church's position on illegal immigration.

  • Kirk R Graves West Jordan, UT
    Dec. 18, 2013 11:08 a.m.

    A majority of biblical scholars believe that Mary was only 14 or 15 when she was married to a much older Joseph (30+).

  • theidma New York City, NY
    Dec. 18, 2013 11:13 a.m.

    @ OldCoug1,

    I do not believe that those sections talking about polygamy in the Doctrine and Covenants were revelations from God. I believe that church leaders started the practice and then these sections were added to explain away their conduct. The same way several church leaders came up with 'doctrinal support' for the Priesthood ban on Blacks, which has now been shown to have been based on various leaders' personal opinions. And why would you think there would be polygamy in heaven? I totally disagree with that. I am so not sharing my husband with any other woman in this life or the next. The New Testament settled this already, "one man, one wife!" Well, you're entitled to your beliefs, as I am entitled to mine. So I respect your opinion.

  • gmlewis Houston, TX
    Dec. 18, 2013 11:21 a.m.

    RE: Joe Blow - You failed to mention the real "revelation" BIGGIE, which was moving the church out of the United States in the trek west. There were plenty of scriptures linking the church to the nation, but the Lord directed it be otherwise for a period of time. That was a real test of faith.

    The church's existance wasn't in peril concerning the "Blacks and the Priesthood." It would have continued no matter what. In the 1960's, the First Presidency issued a letter that foretold that the revelation would someday come, and that they couldn't act until it was received. The revelation came in 1978 because it was time for it to come.

    The church is led by Jesus Christ, who can see the end from the beginning. All things will be revealed during the Millenium, but until then, we have to endure this test of faith.

  • Kirk R Graves West Jordan, UT
    Dec. 18, 2013 11:24 a.m.

    There have been multiple threads about the average age of marriage for women in the early 19th century. The problem with that argument is that it isn't about average. It's about normal.

    Was it socially acceptable at that time for a 14 year old girl to marry? And how abnormal was it?

    If you look at the same data showing that 21 was the average, it shows that today the average is closer to 25. However, that doesn't mean that it is abnormal for a woman of 18 to marry today. In fact, in Utah many young women still marry at 18 and 19 years of age. That might shock some, but it not abnormal in the society they live.

    That means there is a variance of 7 years between the average and what is socially acceptable.

    Going further, do young women get married at 17 today? Yes, rather unusual, and most people would be concerned about the relationship, but few would get up on their moral high horse about it.

    The same would be true about marriage at 14 in the early 19th century. A bit odd, but acceptable for the time.

  • will7370 LOGAN, UT
    Dec. 18, 2013 11:34 a.m.

    Everyone who criticizes plural marriage has never received a witness of the true spirit of the doctrine. Those who participated were to have been men and women of a Celestial nature, rejecting all selfish and carnal corruptions that the world tries to stain it with. It goes hand in hand with the covenant to forget oneself and sacrifice all things. It's unfortunate that many were unable to live the higher law. Parley P. Pratt makes a wonderful defense of the doctrine in his autobiography, and contrasts it with the world's corrupt view of it. It is an exalting and true principle, and will one day be re-instituted among men.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 18, 2013 12:17 p.m.

    @will7370
    "Everyone who criticizes plural marriage has never received a witness of the true spirit of the doctrine. "

    Or maybe you're wrong and the doctrine was a fraud.

    "Those who participated were to have been men and women of a Celestial nature, rejecting all selfish and carnal corruptions that the world tries to stain it with."

    Corruptions? Like what? Justifying having sex with multiple people and deeming it totally okay?

  • gratefulmouse san angelo, tx
    Dec. 18, 2013 1:27 p.m.

    scary....I wonder if the comment by the church is because of the show on TV called "sister wives"...I watched that for awhile. I also saw the other show that was shown while romney was trying the first time for the presidency...my my how the devil gets his dig. Im not worried...when I read all the things said on here..God does what He wants to do. Im reading the old testament and off and on there are prophets and men in the bible who have more than one wife and concubines etc. read it. So, I think God makes things as they need to be for a certain time frame. it doesnt mean that those participating will do it right. men are fallible. I am glad however being a jealous person not to have lived then. but notice what I said..I would have to really work hard at not being jealous. by the way the mormon church isnt the only church having polygamy..I saw a show on tv were this other religion had wives..these women were elderly and werent suffering. my husband says though..one woman is more then enough..hahah..

  • gratefulmouse san angelo, tx
    Dec. 18, 2013 1:39 p.m.

    I was also thinking...people are human...daaa and being human we arent perfect..and we are guided by perfection though through the Holy Spirit. If you read history any kind of history...you will see all kinds of things..as I stated earlier in the old testament..in the old testament its much like the book of mormon..one war after another..then the new testament changes..more like instruction...we learn gradually from our mistakes and others mistakes..God allows us to suffer these things...He also tests us...as he did with Isaac and Abraham. why would God ask us to do anything...He has His reasons. all we know is we have to obey...and when you look at history..yes some things seem contrived by men to serve their purpose..because we are weak..but be wary of those who spread lies and rumors on heresay...because it can cause doubt....a tool of the devil...pray before you speak.

  • Clifton Palmer McLendon Gilmer, TX
    Dec. 18, 2013 2:01 p.m.

    I fail to see why plural marriage is a subject for discussion.

    The Lord said to practice it, so we practiced it.

    The Lord said to stop practicing it, so we stopped practicing it.

    End of subject.

  • Well.ok Lehi, UT
    Dec. 18, 2013 3:03 p.m.

    @Standard Deviation,

    If covering your sholders to remain modest is some kind of eternal principle that doesn't change with societal pressures, shouldn't middle-aged men not marrying young teenage girls also be an eternal principle? If you had a 14-year-old daughter and you found out she had a serious boyfriend who was 37, would you be okay with it? Even if she promised they weren't having relations? If it had come out that the current prophet was having extra martial affairs and not obeying the Word of Wisdom would you dismiss it because it's totally normal in our current society?

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Dec. 18, 2013 4:51 p.m.

    Helen Mar Kimball’s own account of Joseph’s marriage proposal to her records Joseph making his pitch in these words: “If you will take this step, it will ensure your eternal salvation & exaltation and that of your father’s household & all of your kindred.”

    What 14 year old Helen didn’t know at the time was that the marriage had already been agreed to by her father and the 37 year old married man whom she innocently and trustingly looked up to as God’s Prophet. What would one expect her answer to be?

  • bj-hp Maryville, MO
    Dec. 18, 2013 5:08 p.m.

    Marriage itself is an eternal principle. Up until the 70s and later did it become a crime to engage in marriage with someone under 16 years of age. We have no idea as to age of Mary but it was common even then that marriage took place as early as 14. In many countries of the world it is even encourage to marry girls in their early teens as that is the best time for child bearing.

    In this country there are many cases even today where girls in their yearly teens are still married. Though this appears backwards and immoral to others, to some it is not. I consider it wrong in today's age but in the early days of this country it was not considered wrong at all, in fact it was encouraged. As the eastern United States became more sophisticated many things that were once ok were then frowned upon. Even slavery which to many didn't mean much became more and more frowned upon except where it was prevalent. Society norms change over time but certain moral issues do not. You can't say today's morals are correct and then allow homosexual activity as a norm.

  • Contrariusiests mid-state, TN
    Dec. 18, 2013 6:44 p.m.

    @bj-hp --

    " early teens as that is the best time for child bearing."

    No it isn't.

    According to one study:

    mothers 15 or younger -- 8.1 infant deaths per 1000 live births
    16-17 -- 6.3/1000
    18-19 -- 5.4/1000

    Another study found that infant mortality was more than 50% higher in teen mothers than in older mothers.

    Facts from the March of Dimes:

    Teen mothers are more likely to have preemie babies.

    under 20 -- 14.5% preemies
    20-29 -- 11.9%

    Teen mothers are also at higher risk for pregnancy complications such as anemia and high blood pressure.

    Babies born to teen mothers are more likely to have low birth weights:

    under age 15 -- 11.7%
    15-19 -- 10%
    19 -- 9.5%

    Babies of teen mothers are more likely to die in the first year of life:

    under age 15 -- 16.4/1000
    all ages averaged -- 6.8/1000

    The reason for marrying off young girls is very simple: as soon as a girl has passed puberty, she can get pregnant. So if a man wants to absolutely guarantee that all of her children belong to him, he must grab control of her as young as he can.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Dec. 18, 2013 7:36 p.m.

    "I fail to see why plural marriage is a subject for discussion.
    The Lord said to practice it, so we practiced it.
    The Lord said to stop practicing it, so we stopped practicing it.
    End of subject."

    Some things that don't pass the "smell test" should be questioned.

    Throughout history, people have been mislead in the name of religion.
    And they believed wholeheartedly. 911 ring any bells?

    I do not know if that is the case concerning polygamy or not. But it should be questioned.

  • LDSareChristians Anchorage, AK
    Dec. 18, 2013 8:39 p.m.

    marxist posted: I have been under the impression that "the new and everlasting covenant" is plural marriage. Am I mistaken?
    ===================
    Yes. You are mistaken. It is "A" marriage authoritatively sealed with the Holy Spirit of Promise for eternity.

    D&C 132:7 defines what "the new and everlasting covenant" is. The parameters surrounding Plural marriage were simply covered later in that section.

  • let's roll LEHI, UT
    Dec. 18, 2013 8:58 p.m.

    Those who approach these issues understanding "all are alike" unto God to mean that mortality needs to be an "equal" experience for everyone is bound to be confused and frustrated.

    Everyone's mortal existence is unique and billions have and will go through mortality without any knowledge of, much less a connection to, Christianity.

    God's plan is comprehensive enough to address everyone's mortality in the context of their immortality.

    For those of us who have been introduced to that plan, I respectfully suggest that insight into gospel and other issues can be gained by pondering one question from the scriptures "what lack I yet?" and one declaration "that the glory of God might be made manifest."

  • OldCoug1 Colorado Springs, CO
    Dec. 18, 2013 10:35 p.m.

    @theidma: You can't pick and choose what scriptures you want to accept. Well, I guess you can, but it leaves open to question your testimony of the gospel. D&C 131 and 132 are canonized scriptures. They didn't "come up with them" later. It's a matter of history. I think there is Polygamy in Heaven because of what prophets have revealed about these things. Why do you think that men can be sealed to more than one wife if a man is widowed and marrys another in the Temple? Which wife would he have in the eternities? Men can be married to more to one wife as far as the eternities are concerned, they just can't live with them here since it is against the Church. Approximately 30% of the Church members practiced polygamy during the time when the Church practiced polygamy. Are all of those people damned because of their belief? What happens to those wives who were faithful and were sealed to one husband? I submit to you that those men will have those wives in the eternities.

  • Contrarius mid-state, TN
    Dec. 19, 2013 7:26 a.m.

    @bj-hp --

    " early teens as that is the best time for child bearing."

    No it isn't.

    Infant death:

    mothers 15 or younger -- 8.1 infant deaths per 1000 live births
    16-17 -- 6.3/1000
    18-19 -- 5.4/1000

    Another study found that infant mortality was more than 50% higher in teen mothers than in older mothers.

    Preemie babies:

    under 20 -- 14.5% preemies
    20-29 -- 11.9%

    Low birth weight babies:

    under age 15 -- 11.7%
    15-19 -- 10%
    19 -- 9.5%

    Babies dying in the first year of life:

    under age 15 -- 16.4/1000
    all ages averaged -- 6.8/1000

    One huge study of nearly 200,000 children in more than 50 countries found that children had the best health outcomes when they were born to mothers who were having their **first** child at 27-29.

    The reason for marrying off young girls is very simple: as soon as a girl has passed puberty, she can get pregnant. So if a man wants to absolutely guarantee that all of her children belong to him, he must grab control of her as young as he can.

    It's all about control and paternity. It has nothing at all to do with the "best" age to give birth.

  • jeanie orem, UT
    Dec. 19, 2013 8:42 a.m.

    It really was not uncommon in Joseph Smith's day for girls to get married young. If you are familiar with literature of this era you would be aware of this. As repulsive as it is to us in our time, It was not strange for teenage girls to marry much older men. For example, look up EDEN Southworth's book The Hidden Hand (1850).

    About it being an "eternal principle" for girls to not get married at this age is imposing our current belief system on God. The times in which we live now are much different than the history of this world has seen. We are as much a product of our time as Joseph Smith or Brigham Young were, and our thinking and behavior follow.

    God is not a product of any time and is not bound by our social norms, however, He understands them and being a good parent God works with His children - where they are. God does not change anymore than we who are parents do while dealing with our children in the specific ways they need.

    As much as we try to make it so, God's ways really are not our ways.

  • dustman Gallup, NM
    Dec. 19, 2013 9:20 a.m.

    I think all this article points out are the joys of plural marriage. I was expecting more from the church. I'm a little disappointed that the church feels it has to be defensive about revelation. If its true, its true. It will speak for itself.

  • Legalize_the_Constitution SOUTH JORDAN, UT
    Dec. 19, 2013 10:07 a.m.

    This new posting on Polygamy is much less forthcoming than the Race & the Priesthood posting. Questions I have are:
    1. How can we square Joseph’s practice of Polyandry? I’ve still never seen a compelling argument for why God would command Joseph to practice this.
    2. Why did Joseph feel like a commandment to practice Polygamy was so urgent that he needed to practice this behind Emma’s back?
    3. The history around the Manifesto has a lot of complexity. The Apostles and Prophet believed that the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage and Plural Marriage were one and the same thing. The Manifesto was just a public statement to get the Feds to stop persecuting the saints. When did the doctrine of the Plural Marriage change to no longer be required for exultation?
    There are so many quality resources for LDS members who want to learn more about these and other important questions. FAIR MORMON is where I started searching, and then just using the footnotes to go to other sources. LDS church historians have written many books on the history involved. I’m still working on the conclusions that I need to draw from these complicated issues.

  • let's roll LEHI, UT
    Dec. 19, 2013 10:10 a.m.

    @dustman

    I understand that the Church is trying to provide a resource for folks who have questions about, or want to gather objective information on, these issues but agree that on some level they can be read to be a bit defensive. Many of the posts on this thread are even more defensive, trying to spin God's will in a way that won't offend anyone's sensibilities.

    I applaud the resources but note that the futility of those posts is clear. The scripture are full on instances where God's actions are going to offend the sensibilities of folks who whose "eyes cannot see afar off."

    The flood in Noah's time comes to mind. How many children perished in that flood. Those of other Christian denominations who point to topics covered in the recently published articles and say those practices could not have come from a just God and are unjustifiable because they offend their sensibilities would likely have difficulty explaining the divine causation of the flood using those same sensibilities.

    Those with an understanding of the depth and breadth of God's plan have the tools to understand both.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Dec. 19, 2013 10:23 a.m.

    RE: OldCoug1, Are all of those people damned because of their belief?

    (1 Cor 6:9 NET )Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, *adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals.

    God allowed polygamy because there was an overabundance of women in the LDS Church, making it necessary for men to take on more than one wife?

    "The U. S. census records from 1850 to 1940, and all available Church records, show a preponderance of males in Utah, and in the Church. The excess in Utah has usually been larger than for the whole United States, as would be expected in a pioneer state. The births within the Church obey the usual population law -- a slight excess of males. Orson Pratt, writing in 1853 from direct knowledge of Utah conditions, when the excess of females was supposedly the highest, declares against the opinion that females outnumbered the males in Utah. (The Seer, p. 110)".

    "18 of Joseph's wives had never been married ,. 4 were widows…However, the remaining 11 women were married to other husbands and cohabitating with them when Smith married them. (In Sacred Loneliness, p.15).

  • theidma New York City, NY
    Dec. 19, 2013 10:30 a.m.

    @ OldCoug1:

    Obviously, your testimony is in latter day prophets. My testimony is based on JESUS CHRIST, the only infallible being. The only perfect person that ever walked upon the surface of the earth. When it comes to ANY OTHER PERSON, I have to think and let the Holy Spirit guide. I was born and raised in the LDS church, not knowing about the Prophet Joseph Smith's other wives. I was only taught about Emma Smith, until I grew up and started to research for myself. While I know that Joseph Smith was called of God, and the restored gospel is true, I also know that later in Joseph's life, he had political and other ambitions that influenced his actions. When I read D&C 132:41-66, it does not feel like a revelation from God, but a rationalization for his actions. This section would be akin to King David 'receiving a revelation' that having a man murdered for his wife is okay,after his affair with Bathsheba. If polygamy is the order in heaven, JESUS would have taught it or there would be some implied reference to it(in the New Testament or the Book of Mormon.)

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Dec. 19, 2013 11:49 a.m.

    OldCoug1.
    RE: Jacob 2:30."For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things."

    God allowed polygamy because there was an overabundance of women in the LDS Church, making it necessary for men to take on more than one wife.

    "The U. S. census records from 1850 to 1940, and all available Church records, show a preponderance of males in Utah, and in the Church. The excess in Utah has usually been larger than for the whole United States, as would be expected in a pioneer state. The births within the Church obey the usual population law -- a slight excess of males. Orson Pratt, writing in 1853 from direct knowledge of Utah conditions, when the excess of females was supposedly the highest, declares against the opinion that females outnumbered the males in Utah. (The Seer, p. 110)".

    (1 Cor 6:9 NET )Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, *adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals.

  • Cowboy Dude SAINT GEORGE, UT
    Dec. 19, 2013 11:57 a.m.

    Wastintime said in response to @1.96

    Who said (Joseph Smith)he wasn't (a prophet)? I'm not sure what you're trying to say above. Are you trying to say he was infallible, that he never did anything wrong? Your statement makes absolutely no sense to me.

    Agreed! People have different interpretations of what a prophet is? In my reading of the bible there is no such thing as an infallible prophet except Christ. Look again at Adam, Noah, Moses, Peter,and even Abraham. They each had a lesson to learn as they bumbled around their own questions.

  • Cowboy Dude SAINT GEORGE, UT
    Dec. 19, 2013 12:19 p.m.

    @dski "Church doctrines and policy aside, once the Courts dismantle marriage laws, its open season for polygamy whether we like it or not."

    That has been my fear with the slippery slope of same-sex marriage.

    If there is no government contract for marriage that can be held up in court, then there is no more legal divorce. Partners can practice infidelity and steal joint financial accounts from their spouses and children without any legal recourse. In other words, the problems with co-habitation without a legal marriage will become the problems of all traditional families too.

  • Bob A. Bohey Marlborough, MA
    Dec. 19, 2013 1:17 p.m.

    Serious question. Was the LDS church for plural marriages before they were against plural marriages?

  • The Caravan Moves On Enid, OK
    Dec. 19, 2013 2:23 p.m.

    I've never understood all the gnashing of teeth over polygamy.

    God commands what He commands. Period.

    If God commands a man to have more than one wife, He commands it, then how is that immoral?

    And, yes, that means if God were to tell a man that his wife needs to marry another husband ('reverse' polygamy, whatever the word for it is....polyandry?) then that should be immediately done as well. (And, yes, as my posting name implies I am a male.)

    Just who directs whom?....does man tell God what to do or does God tell man what to do?

    Abraham and David practiced polygamy in the Old Testament, as sanctioned by God. Does any serious Christian really believe that 'nothing' in the Old Testament is of any value or relevance? Were 'all' things done away with the New Testament? Really? Seems to me that Jesus said absolutely nothing about abolishing the Ten Commandments.

    Quit getting hung up on the physical intimacy of the relationship and instead simply focus on doing some honest research, which definitely includes prayer to the one who knows all things (God) with the only question of importance: did God command it or not?

  • The Caravan Moves On Enid, OK
    Dec. 19, 2013 2:40 p.m.

    IF, in the end, there are in fact more women than men that are judged worthy of living with God and Christ (and I suspect there will be, based on simple observations of what sex causes the most trouble in this tormented world), since marraige, in it's ideal form, is an eternal principle, what would be more selfish?....excluding women (whose husbands did not qualify themselves for the Savior's Atonement) from the most intimate and intense relationship possible for all eternity (and I'm talking about the marriage relationship, not "sex") or graciously allowing the women whose (ex)-husbands are not in God's presence to enter into the relationship of marriage?

    If, repeat "if" there are in fact more women than men in heaven (or even if there are more men than women in heaven...possible, but not likely) the question of polygamy as an eternal arrangement is not about "sex" but about "selfishness" and it's opposite: love.

    Again, this is an "if" supposition, not doctrine that is being stated. As for me, I have enough weaknesses to overcome just being married to one wife, let alone two or more.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Dec. 19, 2013 2:54 p.m.

    "God commands what He commands. Period.
    If God commands a man to have more than one wife, He commands it, then how is that immoral?"

    That would be hard to argue with. But....

    The question that I, and it would appear that many others also have, is "Did God command it?"

    Or did Mr Smith put that idea forth in order to justify a desire to "know" other women.

    Did God also command that Mr Smith marry other married women?

    When one looks at the whole picture, it becomes much less "believable"

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Dec. 19, 2013 3:08 p.m.

    It is reminiscent of Jones Town.

  • maclouie Falconer, NY
    Dec. 19, 2013 4:00 p.m.

    @theidma

    Jesus Christ did not teach marriage is between one man and one woman nor did he teach during his mortal ministry that marriage can be between one man and multiple wives. However, He did teach plural wives to Moses and polygamy was the norm of the Hebrew/Jewish culture at the time of Jesus. Even Roman Law had provisions for Jewish polygamy. I have yet to reconcile the marriage customs involving 10 virgins, though, but think it is a rather interesting parable using 10 virgins waiting for the bridegroom.

    IMHO, I believe Joseph Smith was commanded to teach the Saints about plural marriage since 1831 but resisted and the Lord admonished him many times. I don't have proof of this but that is just the feeling I get from my limited knowledge of Church history.

  • desert Potsdam, 00
    Dec. 19, 2013 5:48 p.m.

    The wave length of some in here is like, you become more perfect in practicing Polygamy or in doing it you will gain salvation etc.

    I strongly disagree.

    Salvation terms are on an individual basis, I could qualify and then my wife might not.
    Marriage and plural marriage are items to responsible commandments, not meaning anything about your personal salvation, but it is like a task force that provides a broader scope for children at certain times of history.

    You are saved by means of the Atonement, not by the number of wives you have.
    Being married in Polygamy, a man is still married to one wife only, it is the wife that is put up to the business to oversee other women to receive such blessings.

    Plural Marriage is the term being used, but the reality is that this man will be accountable to only one wife. Emma Smith might have never understood that during her lifetime. So the word Polygamy does not fit the religious intention. A word is missing.
    Sorry.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    Dec. 19, 2013 7:53 p.m.

    The ethnic integration from plural marriage did not just relate to immigrants. Intermarriage with Native Americans was much higher as a result of plural marriage, as we can see in the case of Ira Hatch.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    Dec. 19, 2013 7:58 p.m.

    The attack on Heber J. Grant for having been fined in 1899 misses the point. Wilford Woodruff clearly never called on anyone who was in plural marriage in 1890 to stop it. Those men had made solemn covenants before God to keep their wives. Heber J. Grant entered into all his marriages before 1890.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    Dec. 19, 2013 8:04 p.m.

    Nauvoo was the frontier, as well as Utah. Those who attempt to apply 21st-century sensibilities about age at marriage to 19th-century arrangements are engaged in a horrible type of presentism that should be outrageous.

    In the case of Joseph Smith especially they are also engaged in another type of 21st-century assumption. They are assuming plural marriage will always lead to sex, an assumption that is not supported by evidence. Thomas G. Alexander has argued based on his study of Wilford Woodruff that consummation of marriage normally waited until the spouse reached the age of 18.

    I would caution against the blythe assertion that Emily H. Wells Grant could have divorced Heber J. Grant. Such was not a realistic option for either if they wanted to remain in line with the covenants they had made with God.

    While the amount of love that existed in plural marriages varied, to discuss Grant without considering the clear levels of love that existed between him and each of his wives is to miss many important points.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    Dec. 19, 2013 8:07 p.m.

    Why is a man marrying a 14-year-old girl wrong? I have to question this assumption, because it makes the actions of many of my non-polygamous ancestors wrong by definition. The fact of the matter is marriage customs and rightness is tied to complex issues of society.

    Many people need to avoid such black and white thinking. What is wrong is the manipulation of 14-year-old females into sex by adult males who plan to use them and abandon them. Starting a truly committed and life-long marriage is a totally different issue.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    Dec. 19, 2013 8:09 p.m.

    A deceased woman can be sealed to multiple spouses in the temple.

  • maclouie Falconer, NY
    Dec. 19, 2013 8:19 p.m.

    @JoeBlow

    Good point.

    Many of us we believe Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God and that God revealed it and commanded it. Others don't believe that. If it is that simple, and I think it is, then the argument or discussion is over, isn't it?

    If you don't think the discussion is over, it will eventually end in each side calling the other side "stupid" or "ignorant" or "can't think for themselves" or whatever. As you know, those kinds of attitudes eventually lead to hatred and frustration.

    For those that think JS made it up, then that is your (their) opinion. For those that think God commanded it, then that is my (our) opinion. None of us were there. A lot of hatred developed against the Mormons and mad, hateful, evil people usually lie. Times were hard and difficult for those in and out of the faith, and none of us have the right to project our morals onto any other generation. My Catholic grandmother married when at 12 and lied about it. No doubt had parental consent and that was in 1900, last century, and married a working man significantly older and all in Illinois USA.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    Dec. 19, 2013 8:20 p.m.

    People should stop attacking the statements on the website on unfounded mathematical models and go look at the sources. Kathryn Daynes has done very extensive studies, has found that in fact it is true that in Mormon communities in Utah there was a very, very high marriage rate and no evidence that anyone who wanted to get married did not get married. How this works is a bit harder to explain, but growing populations are a key.

  • OldCoug1 Colorado Springs, CO
    Dec. 19, 2013 10:54 p.m.

    @theidma: It's obvious you haven't read much Church History. You sound more like a fundamentalist born-again Christian than a Mormon. The reality is that Joseph Smith began polygamy in the late 1830's and definitely in the 1840's. The revelation was obviously from the early 1830's. Thousands of saints accepted these teachings and practiced polygamy, believing that it was God's Celestial Law. As far as my testimony goes, I accept former day prophets and Latter-Day prophets as my guide, as we are instructed to do. I also accept Jesus Christ's teachings. As far as the scriptures say, Abraham and many other Old Testament prophets had plural wives, as did Jews in the New Testament Church. Again, you are choosing which scriptures to accept and which to reject. Just because Jesus said nothing about plural marriage does not discard it as a principle of the gospel. BTW, the whole revelation (D&C 132) refers to plural marriage, not just the verses you refer to, although Church authorities conveniently changed the emphasis of those verses in light of Govermental pressure to end the practice.

  • Llew40 Sandy, UT
    Dec. 20, 2013 1:45 a.m.

    As a mid-single female member of the church, the dating pool sucks. As many sixteen year old girls are discovering...the dating pool sucks. Hence, the Lord lowers the mission age for girls. Living the unexpected life isn't easy. It sucks to be alone, yet I'm supposed to find comfort that I'll get my cake in the next life while everyone else flaunts theirs. Remember, there was no Nauvoo Single Adult First Ward in Joseph Smith's day and young men didn't require a sword wielding angel to compel him to date, court and marry a virtuous young lady, or even several. It is with great anticipation I eagerly await how God plans to counteract all the return sister missionaries, obtaining bachelor degrees, living the celibate life asking, "Is this all?"

  • theidma New York City, NY
    Dec. 20, 2013 7:47 a.m.

    @Llew40,

    While I sympathize with you and other single members of the church, being unmarried is no different from other adversities. Marriage is not everything. We tend to turn it into an idol in the LDS culture. Obtaining an education can also be fulfilling. Many married members of the church still face untold hardships and trials. Being childless sucks. Being poor sucks. Being sick sucks, losing loved ones suck. The list goes on. We'll never know how God will compensate, but these adversities should not lead to a change in God's word. I can't imagine married couples who can't give birth being given a 'revelation' to start sleeping with other married couples to increase the possibility of conception so as to deal with their childlessness. That's just not how it works. So I find it difficult and ridiculous that polygamy could have been given to take care of unmarried members. Never mind that some records claim that the early church leaders married already married women. Okay, this is my last post on this topic.

    Before I leave, I want to assure all unmarried people that God is aware of you, all will be well.

  • intlbizman2 SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA
    Dec. 20, 2013 8:31 a.m.

    @Llew 40

    I am sorry that the dating pool sucks for you. As a male, I thought the dating pool sucked too. But of course then I think of the "lost boys" of the FLDS Church and their dating pool. Polygamy has denied most of them the chance of ever being able to marry a "sister" because they have all been snatched up by the powerful old men of their community.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    Dec. 20, 2013 9:20 a.m.

    will7370

    You are aware that Parley P. Pratt was murdered... He was killed because he took the legally married wife of another man and was sealed to her... This practice was forbidden strictly in the doctrine and covenants. Not a good example to use Parley P. Pratt.

  • intlbizman2 SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA
    Dec. 20, 2013 1:59 p.m.

    @John Pack Lambert of Michigan

    "A deceased woman can be sealed to multiple spouses in the temple."

    Now you have my wife's attention, but cite the authority for your assertion please.

    Regarding Kathryn Daynes work and the "lost boys" syndrome, she is not a mathematician and the syndrome does exist. Math is math and if a bunch of men marry more than one woman in a community with more males than females, there will not be enough females for all males to marry.

  • 1aggie SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Dec. 20, 2013 2:45 p.m.

    I find the argument some posters are advancing that what's right and wrong changes over time " and none of us has the right to project our morals over other generation" to be repugnant. I think things like slavery and marrying another man's wife behind his back have been and will always be wrong.

    One thing is sure however… we will never agree with each other on these points. What I think we can agree on however is that it is wrong to whitewash the past or try to conceal it. For example a BYU professor wrote an article for this paper the other day and referred to Joseph Smith as having a wife (singular). Written church materials have long "overlooked" Joseph Smith's polygamy and polyandry. The very posting to the website we are discussing on this board can be considered a "whitewash" in that it starts the discussion on polygamy after Joseph Smith's death (thereby avoiding polyandry and other things that went on).

    Perhaps we can all just agree that lightness (openness) is better than darkness and leave it at that.

  • Mikhail ALPINE, UT
    Dec. 20, 2013 2:59 p.m.

    @Brahmabull

    At the time of Parley P. Pratt, it was the estranged wife of Hector McLean, the estranged husband of one of Pratt's plural wives, Eleanor McLean. During the mid to late 1800's, women and men didn't run to court to dissolve their marriage - as is more common today. This is especially true of situations where the estranged wife and the estranged husband resided in different states. The use of Parley P. Pratt as illustrative of thoughts concerning plural marriage is not invalidated because Parley P. Pratt married a woman who contended that she was no longer married - especially given the legal standing of marriage as it existed in the 19th century. One of the difficulties that we find ourselves in today is trying to compare things as they are to things as they were. I believe it is likely that God understands since He is the designer of the plan which is meant to provide the optimum experience for each of His children to grow in understanding through the experiences provided to them in the condition of things "as they are" for each of those children.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    Dec. 21, 2013 9:47 a.m.

    Mikhail

    If god was the designer of the revelation then he wouldn't have put it in there that you can't take another mans wife to be yours... surely god would have understood the norms of the day, and would have mad that more clear. You can't say one thing is revelation, then have people break it and use the excuse of "the norm of the time"

    It doesn't add up. Same thing as the word of wisdom - the revelation was given but they didn't follow it in the early years of the church because it was tradition to drink...

  • cpafred SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Dec. 21, 2013 10:23 a.m.

    People can say what they want and we will never agree about the morality of marrying young girls, etc.

    But the fact remains is that Joseph and Emma were less than forthcoming about his polygamy and polyandry, and the Church has covered up or whitewashed (or use whatever term you like) the facts for the past 100 years or so. People like me, who has been taught this fantasy account of Joseph and Emma in church for my whole life are angry about it. This website, by cleverly beginning the discussion after Joseph's death, is just more of the same.

  • Joel Rier Holladay, UT
    Dec. 21, 2013 1:11 p.m.

    I can't wait for the article they post about Joseph Smith's 14 year-old brides.

  • jimhale Eugene, OR
    Dec. 23, 2013 11:18 a.m.

    Back in this historic time, the average age for women at FIRST marriage could not possibly have been 21.
    None of my ancestors in that era were Mormons - quite to the contrary - some of them helped drive the Mormons from Illinois and Missouri.
    Most of my many great-grandmothers from that period were closer to 14 than to 21 when they first married.

    And, by the way, Nauvoo was still "frontier" when the Saints left. It was in the Military Tract of Western Illinois which only started being settled a decade before the Saints arrived. Prior to the Black Hawk War of 1832 it was subject to Indian attack....and a very unsafe place.

  • jimhale Eugene, OR
    Dec. 23, 2013 11:50 a.m.

    jtopherj-

    Regarding the LDS Church and race, Elder Delbert Stapley's letter to George Romney was clearly written as personal - not Church - advice to Romney. Romney promptly did just the opposite of what Elder Stapley advised him to do - he actively supported civil rights legislation.

    At least some members of the Twelve Apostles were personally in favor of a change on extending the priesthood to Blacks, beginning at least as early as the early 1950's. Several of the Twelve appear to have been personally in favor of a change at the time of Elder Stapley's letter. A majority of the Twelve may have favored a change sometime in the late sixties. But it was not unanimous until President Kimball presented it in 1978.

    When the revelation on the Priesthood came in 1978, Elder Stapley was hospitalized and dying. He may have been the last to hold a contrary view - but even he supported the change.

    And by the way, though we may now disagree with his stand on that issue in the letter to Romney, Elder Stapley was - in every other respect - a great man.

  • DHRogers Las Vegas, NV
    Dec. 23, 2013 12:42 p.m.

    Sharrona, Research shows that individuals much closer to Joseph Smith than John C. Bennett did not learn about plural marriage until almost a year after Bennett left Nauvoo. By his own recollection, William Law, second counselor in the First Presidency, was introduced to the secret polygamy teachings in mid-1843. Sidney Rigdon, first counselor in the First Presidency, never learned about plural marriage from the Prophet. Hyrum Smith, Joseph’s brother, ]Associate Church President, and Church Patriarch, didn’t learn about celestial marriage until May 1843.

    Similarly, Emma Smith was taught in the spring of 1843. If William Law, Sidney Rigdon, Hyrum Smith, and even Emma Smith didn’t know about plural marriage until 1843, then it is unlikely that Bennett knew about it either.

    Second, Bennett admitted in an October 1843 letter that he did not learn about eternal marriage the entire time he was in Nauvoo. (John C. Bennett, “Letter from General Bennett,” dated October 28, 1843, Hawk Eye (Burlington, Iowa, December 7, 1843), 1.)

    This is an important statement from Bennett himself. Bennett didn’t know about plural marriage the entire time he was in Nauvoo.

  • DHRogers Las Vegas, NV
    Dec. 23, 2013 12:46 p.m.

    Sharrona, Third, Bennett, in his book The History of the Saints written published in October 1842, fails to identify any teachings similar to those privately taught at that time by Joseph Smith or any teaching like those in the revelation on celestial and plural marriage (now D&C 132).

  • LJohnson Los Angeles, CA
    Nov. 14, 2014 11:49 a.m.

    Why is the Mormon Church revealing so much about its polygamist history NOW? What is it they're trying to deflect?? Even the Obama Admin doesn't voluntarily produce evidence of anything- not about the VA, IRS, Benghazi, ObamaCare, Illegal Immigration, Russia, Afghanistan etc. Nothing. I know that the Family: a Proclamation to the World was produced in response to Hawaii's fight against Gay Marriage. What is the Church trying to confront and deflect now? This "History" is truly disturbing. We were taught in Primary that Smith and his friends only married singles and widows to protect and replenish the church from within. We weren't taught he married 14 yr olds and MARRIED women. Plus, there weren't any/ many children born of the plural marriages. NONE of it Makes ANY Sense. Were there abortions performed, especially on the 14 yr olds to hide his lasciviousness? What was the TRUE reason for Plural Marriage? Something smells really fishy.