Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Monday, July 03, 2006

FairWiki: Joseph Smith's Marriages to Young Women

A favorite approach of anti-Mormons to shake up investigators and members of the Church is to suggest that Joseph Smith's polygamous marriages to several younger women made him an immoral lecher. Look, I'm not comfortable with polygamy as practiced Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, the prophet Abraham, or any of the other polygamist prophets of the Old Testament. It's an area where I need to realize three things: (1) we do not know what really happened in these marriages - there is just not enough information to resolve many of the questions, (2) my sensibilities might not be the same as the Lord's, and (3) if mistakes were made, they do not necessarily detract from the divinity of the Book of Mormon and the reality of the Restoration any more than some of Abraham's seemingly questionable family matters prevented him from being called the "friend of God."

The arguments of anti-Mormons regarding Joseph's wives tend to rely on 21st century sensibilities regarding age and age differences, with the assumption that these polygamous marriages involved sex and were all about sex. A reasonable response to these arguments and assumptions is found in new "wiki" entry in the FAIR Wiki by FAIRLDS.org , "Joseph Smith's Marriages to Young Women." I recommend this article. It deals specifically with the two most controversial cases of young wives, Helen Mar Kimball, who was 14 when married, and Fanny Alger, who was 16. It also provides perspective on the issue of age differences in marriages in that day.

Women can legally marry at age 16 right now in Wisconsin and many other states (typically parental consent is needed), and I've known women who were married at that age (and not just Hmong women, where marriages from age 13 to 16 are surprisingly common in Wisconsin). It's the age 14 marriage to Helen Mar Kimball that is especially troubling, but as Todd Compton points out, "there is absolutely no evidence that there was any sexuality in the marriage, and I suggest that, following later practice in Utah, there may have been no sexuality. All the evidence points to this marriage as a primarily dynastic marriage."

While I don't "get" polygamy, and am grateful not to have it be a part of our culture today, I think we need to be careful about condemning those who practiced it in the past. The evidence does not point to sex as the driving force for that practice, and it may not have even been involved in many of the marriages.

When it comes to discussing the evidence of authenticity for the Book of Mormon, I do not consider allegations of lechery in Church leaders to be a reasonable response, though it has all too often been a diversionary tactic. If the Book of Mormon is true, then something divine happened between 1820 and 1830, and that needs to be accounted for, even if one is troubled or even outraged by polygamy.

His enemies have written many volumes condemning Joseph Smith, but those who knew him best, those of strong Christian heritage, did not find a lecher or pedophile in their midst - they found a prophet of God teaching and striving to live a pure religion. While polygamy leaves many questions unanswered and may have been implemented poorly many times, I think it would be a terrible mistake to let it be the deciding factor that let someone give up on the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.



For more information, here's an excerpt from my March 18, 2006 post:
Gregory L. Smith, M.D., offers a helpful and highly informed perspective on the controversial 19th-century practice of polygamy among Latter-day Saints in his article, "Polygamy, Prophets, and Prevarication: Frequently and Rarely Asked Questions about the Initiation, Practice, and Cessation of Plural Marriage in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" at FAIRLDS.org. If you've struggled with the issue of polygamy (struggled with it philosophically, not in practicing it, I hope!), this article helps clarify why it was kept secret for so long, why it was not about personal ratification, etc.

43 comments:

Jared E. said...

I am confused by what you are ultimately getting at in this post. Your state:

While I don't "get" polygamy, and am grateful not to have it be a part of our culture today, I think we need to be careful about condemning those who practiced it in the past. The evidence does not point to sex as the driving force for that practice, and it may not have even been involved in many of the marriages.

Exactly what evidence are you citing? I am at a loss to explain the practice of polygamy, despite my efforts to uncover a motivation. What evidence disproves a sexual motivation in your mind?

I also do not understand what your mean by:

When it comes to discussing the evidence of authenticity for the Book of Mormon, I do not consider allegations of lechery in Church leaders to be a reasonable response, though it has all too often been a diversionary tactic. If the Book of Mormon is true, then something divine happened between 1820 and 1830, and that needs to be accounted for, even if one is troubled or even outraged by polygamy.

Are you saying that if the Book of Mormon is true, then polygamy must have been inspired? Or are you saying that Josephs personal conduct has nothing to do with the origin of the Book of Mormon?

Anonymous said...

Helen Marr Kimball wrote that she was confused that she couldn't continue going out with friends after the marriage. Some view that as evidence that the marriage wasn't consumated. Also cited as evidence is that Joseph had a heavy schedule during that time and didn't stick around or have any private time scheduled.

Wendy said...

It's the age 14 marriage to Helen Mar Kimball that is especially troubling, but as Todd Compton points out, "there is absolutely no evidence that there was any sexuality in the marriage, and I suggest that, following later practice in Utah, there may have been no sexuality. All the evidence points to this marriage as a primarily dynastic marriage."


This seems almost more disgusting to me than if sex was involved. It's like a status symbol for Joseph to collect all these wives, instead of a meaningful relationship between two people. Blech!

Pops said...

One thing that gets lost in the polygamy discussion is that our time in mortality is a tiny, little, infinitesimal blip when compared with the vast eternity behind and before us. Any real understanding of the practice of polygamy here, it seems, must occur within the broad context of eternity. We don't have much of an understanding of that context -- the sociality that exists there, the culture, if you will. How different is it from our culture? What are the similarities? Will polygamy be as foreign there as it is here, or will it be the norm?

Then there's the demographics thing. Polygamy as practiced by the so-called "FLDS" seems wrong in part because it isn't supported by the demographics. That is, the old folks are snapping up the young women such that the young men have no opportunity for marriage or families of their own. Has anyone looked at the demographics of the early Saints? Did polygamy deprive worthy men from family life, or did it provide blessings to worthy women who would otherwise not have had families?

The point of the "anti" folks is that Joseph Smith could not have been a prophet because he went against our cultural biases. Perhaps it's stronger evidence that he truly was a prophet who obeyed God's every command when taken within the context of his character.

Pops said...

...and one more thing. Perhaps Joseph was privileged to know who he and those whom he married really were -- not in the context of this life, but in the context of eternity. That could have easily influenced his willingnes to engage in polygamy in ways we could not possibly understand in this life.

brandon said...

Pops

If I understand your defense of Joseph schtupping fourteen year old girls - that Joseph was fulfilling an eternal calling as God or Prophet or whatever - then you deserve to be as deluded as you sound.

The only thing Joseph gets credit for in these sordid affairs is his creativity in scamming his wife: flaming swords, anyone?

Mike Parker said...

Wendy: [Joseph and Helen Mar Kimball's allegedly unconsummated marriage] seems almost more disgusting to me than if sex was involved. It's like a status symbol for Joseph to collect all these wives, instead of a meaningful relationship between two people. Blech!

Except that's not what Joseph was doing. The evidence points toward Joseph seeing his various marriages as a way of bringing his closest friends with him into the celestial kingdom. He concluded that the sealing power was not just sealing of a man and a woman, but entire families, and by marrying a woman in a family that was dear to him, he would help ensure their exaltation.

The LDS doctrine of sealing has been refined since then, so we no longer see it in the extensive way Joseph did. One major step toward our modern understanding was the doing away with the Law of Adoption by Wilford Woodruff.



(Brandon's last comment is simply too juvenile to be worth responding to.)

Anonymous said...

I've read the article mentioned at Fair Wiki and found it to be very helpful. Especially the part about marriages being legal at the age of 10, during this period in our nations history. It is my belief that we in the 21st century need to quit trying to hold the people in the 19th century, to the same sort of laws and customs that we hold as morally right and wrong today.

Walker said...

Ah yes, Brandon, we just couldn't have a good discussion of the topic without some classic red-meat rhetoric for those seeking to scandalize JOseph. Compton (no apologist by ANY stretch) himself argues that Kimball's marriage was strictly for the sake of marrying into the Joseph SMith line. Different from our perspective, it's true. We have more light and knowledge now about genealogical work and the spirit of Elijah.

Then again, everyone loves a good scandal. SO much more entertaining than attempting to understanding the full picture of the topic.

Bishop Rick said...

The bottom line is this...if polygamy were legal today, the LDS church would be fully practicing it. The practice was only stopped due to issues of legality. There was never a revelation stating that it was wrong.

Could you deal with polygamy if it were reinstated?

To me polygamy calls into question the actual prophet status of JS. There is nothing good that come from polygamy. It is demeaning to women, and exclusionary with men. On average there is 1 man for every woman, or at least it is very close. This demographic does not in any way support the doctrine of polygamy.

Please explain why polygamy is necessary to achieve godhood in the C Kingdom. Remember, it is polygamy that is the everlasting covenant, not temple marriage. You can't be a god without polygamy. This doctrine makes no sense to me.

Sis JB said...

Hey Bishop Rick--Whaddaya mean, "nothing good. . . from polygamy?" I'm here because of a great-gramma plural wife and look at me--I'm terrific!

Bishop Rick said...

Sis JB,

Your are certainly an exception.

Pops said...

I don't think the good Bishop Rick has it quite right. It is Celestial Marriage that is required for exaltation, not polygamy. Polygamy is the condition whereby a man enters into more than one Celestial Marriage.

The Book of Mormon quite clearly indicates that God requires polygamy only when the conditions are appropriate, according to His objectives. One could presume the demographics must be right for it, but so far nobody has taken the bait regarding the male/female ratio of the early Church.

Walker said...

Frankly, Bishop Rick, your interp. of section 132 is seriously wanting, if not entirely off. And I'm afraid that there are FAR more "exceptions" than you claim.

If the everlasting covenant is polygamy, then nearly 75% of the Utah Mormons in the 19th century will not receive exaltation (see Kathryn Daynes' book "MOre wives than one" It won the Mormon HIstorical Association's book prize, so it's hardly apologetic ranting). That's an outrageous presumption.

It's also an EXTREME counterfactual to suppose that we would be practicing today were it not for legal pressures. You simply cannot judge that. You don't have the information. Such things lie in the realm of the strictly hypothetical. If a historian made such a claim in earnest about any counterfactual in any area, he should be (and often is) laughed off the table of scholarship. It's simply bad history.

Furthermore, the testimony of the wives themselves far outweigh any of us, in my opinion. My great-great aunt was JOseph's plural wife, and provided one of the key documents describing Joseph's plural marriage proposals to boot. Are you in a position to devalue her spiritual confirmation in accepting the proposal, esp. given that numerous others shared similar experiences? Given that she twice instructed JOseph, quite directly to cease talking with her about it (one time, with Joseph insisting that blessings would be withheld from her?) Yet she experienced tremendous visions to confirm her decision. Also added to this is that none of Joseph's wives ever claimed that polygamy was essential to everyone's exaltation. Certainly JOseph would have used that argument if you truly believed it; he didn't. If you feel you can judge such spiritual experiences without having them yourself, you are far too pretentious to engage in any honest inquiry of polygamy's origins.

I don't like polygamy. I don't want to participate in polygamy at any time, wheter now in the celestial kingdom. But to levy such rhetoric against individuals whose life experience and judgment of polygamy has been very different from yours is to betray an unwillingness to examine evidence, preferring rhetoric to sound historical reasoning.

Sis JB said...

Personal to Walker--You're referring to Lucy Walker in the "Big Red Book"? (See #1232.)

(Trying not to hijack the thread).

Bishop Rick said...

Pops,
You need to get your doctrine straight. The New and Everlasting Covanent is Celestial Marriage is Plurality of wives. Do not confuse this with Temple Marriage. Temple Marriage is but one step towards Celestial Marriage. The D&C is pretty clear on this matter.

The BofM however, is clear that polygamy is an abomination. The foreword mentioning that it is an abomination when not practiced according to the will of the Lord was added by the Church many years later when the contradiction came to light. In addition, there was a section of the D&C which mirrored what the BofM states regarding polygamy, but was removed when Sec. 132 was added.

Walker,
My interpretation of Sec. 132 is dead on and has been taught by the early church prophets and can be found in many different talks by different GAs and Prophets in the Journal of Discourses.

My assumption that the LDS Church would be practicing polygamy today if it were legal IS based on historical fact, not hypothetical reasoning. There was never a revelation stating that polygamy was wrong and should be ceased to be practiced. Instead a statement from the church was released stating the church would no longer sanction plural marriage, etc. This does not denounce the practice.

Now if D&C 132 clearly states that the New and Everlasting Covenant is required to enter into the glory of God, and there has been no revelation denouncing the practice, it would be hypocritical of the Church NOT to practice Polygamy if it were legal today.

You can't have it both ways. If it was neccesary at the time of JS and BY, it is still neccessary today. If polygamy becomes legal, and the LDS church does not embrace it, then I would seriously question the validity of the LDS church.

The testimony of the wives (as written in thier journals) may or may not be valid. Since this is mere heresay, we cannot make a judgement based on that. Not enough info (to use your argument back on you) to determine what their experience actually was. One of those journal entries states that Joseph told a potential wife that he was commanded to enter into PM by an angel standing with drawn swords ready to kill him on the spot. When this was mentioned by Brandon, he was dismissed, but you use the same journals to justify your argument. Again, you can't have it both ways.

Bottom line is this:
The original doctrine of the church regarding PM is that it is necessary to achieve the highest degree of the C Kingdom (Godhood), and that anyone that knew this doctrine and rejected it would be damned (eternal progression blocked).

Pretty clear to me that the church would be practicing today if legal. It was stopped because of legality.

Walker said...

"My interpretation of Sec. 132 is dead on and has been taught by the early church prophets and can be found in many different talks by different GAs and Prophets in the Journal of Discourses."

I have yet to see this interpretation, but if you insist on equating plural marriage exclusively with the everlasting covenant, then you will be disappointed. Again, the majority of Saints have not practiced plural marriage. Does that mean that they never entered the new and everlasting covenant? It would mean that the majority of the Saints were damned eternally, that exaltation was only for an oligarchy of power. What of Thomas Bullock, the faithful scribe to Joseph and Brigham? A monogamist (must be damned). Of George Laub? Joseph Holbrook? John Charles Hall? ALl faithful saints, all monogamists.

"You can't have it both ways. If it was neccesary at the time of JS and BY, it is still neccessary today. If polygamy becomes legal, and the LDS church does not embrace it, then I would seriously question the validity of the LDS church."

It seems like you already do question the validity of the LDS church. But that could be attributable to tone rather than content.

Your assumption about Brigham Young/Joseph Smith polygamy's necessity is a big one. It's quite apparent that you do not accept one of Joseph's own revelations: "I Lord command and I revoke" as seemeth him good. In fact, to compare JS and BY to the present is ignoring nearly 100 years of contingency and change. It ignores the effects of the Smoot hearings, PRogressive Era politics, and muckraking. All of these factors had a role to play in Mormon policy (what that role was, well, let's say for the faithful Mormon there's always room for revelation)

But just for fun, let's look at some J of D passages (and just for the record, I'll include those that seem to contradict me--of course, with an explanation (: We'll see that plural marriage does not exclusively relate to "celestial marriage" or the "new and everlasting covenant" of marriage.

Orson Pratt: Marriage for eternity was the order God instituted on our globe; as early as the Garden of Eden; as early as the day when our first parents were placed in the garden to keep it and till it, they, as two immortal beings, were united in the bonds of the new and everlasting covenant

Notice that TWO immortal beings were joined in the New Everlasting Covenant. No plurality here (you can find some in Brigham's Adam-God discourse--but the discrepancy ought to be a signal that we can't be dogmatic about this)

Charles W. Penrose: I will just say that our marriage is celestial marriage for time and all eternity—like that with which Adam was married to Eve in the Garden of Eden when they were immortal beings, and when there was no one to unite them but God.

No plurality, yet he uses the phrase "celestial marriage." Interesting...

Brigham Young: Who cannot see the beauty and the excellency of celestial marriage, and having our children sealed to us? What should we do without this? Were it not for what is revealed concerning the sealing ordinances, children born out of the covenant could not be sealed to their parents; children born in the covenant are entitled to the Spirit of the Lord and all the blessings of the kingdom (18: 249)

No mention of plurality here.

Erastus Snow: And then we will take the Latter-day Saints as a whole, WHETHER IN PLURAL MARRIAGE OR IN SINGLE MARRIAGE, and we will say that there is ten times more genuine happiness and comfort in believing and obeying the Gospel—whether in plural or single wedlock—than is to be found among the same number of people in any part of the world outside of this Church

Joseph F. Smith: It is a law of the Gospel pertaining to the celestial kingdom, applicable to all gospel dispensations, when commanded and not otherwise, and neither acceptable to God or binding on man unless given by commandment, not only so given in this dispensation, but PARTICULARLY ADAPTED and necessities thereof, and to the circumstances, responsibilities, and personal, as well as vicarious duties of the people of God in this age of the world

Polygamy was "adapted" to the specific conditions of individuals, not just given out carte blanche.

Orson Pratt: We will show you that it is incorporated as a part of our religion, and necessary for our exaltation to the fulness of the Lord's glory in the eternal world.

There you have a little.

Henry Naisbitt: When we come to the sacred books that have been received by the Church we find that, in regard to this dual idea of marriage—marriage in the monogamic form, and marriage in the polygamic form—the Book of Mormon expressly declares that it was necessary in the first colonization of this country that marriage should be monogamic, because the sexes were equal, and the people realized that marriage was an indispensable thing to both man and woman.

Drat, there they go mitigating again.

Brigham Young: Monogamy, or restrictions by law to one wife, is no part of the economy of Heaven among men.

Bottom line: too many contradictions and mitigations to be dogmatic on how they defined plural marriage. B.H. Roberts notes that the term "celestial marriage" is anything but official. Roberts further refers to "celestial marriage" as the marriage "that is to endure for time and for eternity" He mentions that it "includes" the plurality of wives--however, the concepts are not synonymous.

"The testimony of the wives (as written in thier journals) may or heresay, we cannot make a judgement based on that. Not enough info (to use your argument back on you) to determine what their experience actually was...Again, you can't have it both ways."

Hearsay? Hearsay from the horse's mouth? Lucy Walker, AN OFFICIAL PLURAL WIFE of Joseph, wrote her account. They give plenty of info on what happened--it happened TO THEM after all. Why would they have a reason to lie (except for a bit of anti-Emma venom here or there)? Lucy could have just kept her mouth shut if she felt embittered. I can point you to numerous others: Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs, Crosby, Fisher--all of whom bore testimony of the practice by their own lips and bore testimony of the spiritual confirmations. And though I have never discounted the drawn sword story, I know the question behind it--the drawn sword was an added detail; the rest of the story was consistent throughout all of LIghtner's accounts.

It seems to me that you just don't like the fact that women might have actually accepted plural marriage--even worse that they had a spiritual visitations to confirm them.

Bishop Rick said...

Walker,
Here are a few quotes for you:

"The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy. Others attain unto a glory and may even be permitted to come into the presence of the Father and the Son; but they cannot reign as kings in glory, because they had blessing offered unto them, and they refused to accept them."
Author: Brigham Young
Source: Journal Of Discourses
Volume: 11
Page: 269

Sounds pretty clear to me that without PM you cannot be a God.

"Some people have supposed that the doctrine of plural marriage was a sort of superfluity, or non-essential to the salvation or exaltation of mankind. In other words, some of the Saints have said, and believe, that a man with one wife, sealed to him by the authority of the Priesthood for time and eternity, will receive an exaltation as great and glorious, if he is faithful, as he possibly could with more than one. I want here to enter my solemn protest against this idea, for I know it is false. There is no blesssing [blessing] promised except upon conditions, and no blessing can be obtained by mankind except by faithful compliance with the conditions, or law, upon which the same is promised. The marriage of one woman to a man for time and eternity by the sealing power, according to the law of God, is a fulfillment of the celestial law of marriage in part-and is good so far as it goes-and so far as a man abides these conditions of the law, he will receive his reward therefor [therefore], and this reward, or blessing, he could not obtain on any other grounds or conditions. But this is only the beginning of the law, not the whole of it. Therefore, whoever has imagined that he could obtain the fullness of the blessings pertaining to this celestial law, by complying with only a portion of its conditions, has deceived himself. He cannot do it."

Author: Joseph Fielding Smith
Source: Journal Of Discourses
Volume: 20
Page: 29

Seems to support what I said about temple marriage only being the first step.

"Now, I want to say for myself personally, if I had not obeyed that command of God, concerning plural marriage, I believe that I would have been damned."
Author: George Q. Cannon
Source: Journal Of Discourses
Volume: 23
Page: 280

There is quote supporting being damned for not practicing PM.

"I understand the law of celestial marriage to mean that every man in this Church, who has the ability to obey and practice it in righteousness and will not, shall be damned, I say I understand it to mean this and nothing less, and I testify in the name of Jesus that it does mean that."
Author: Joseph Fielding Smith
Source: Journal Of Discourses
Volume: 20
Page: 31

Still another quote supporting the "Damned" statement.

These quotes are from Prophets of the church. Were they wrong? It spells it out quite clearly who will become Gods and who will merely attain entrance into the CK. So to answer your question, YES, the overwhelming majority of LDS will not attain Godhood.

In addiiton, I have read the journals of most of JS wives. Most of them had to be coerced into PM. They were disgusted with the idea and had tremendous pressure put on them by someone holding extreme authority. That is abuse of power. A few of these women may have had what they considered to be a spiritual manifestation, but remember the women used to speak in tongues back then too...I'm sorry, but there is no useful purpose for speaking in tongues. If the Lord has something to say, why go thru the dog and pony show. Answer? He wouldn't.

Walker said...

Most importanly, Bishop Rick, I hope you see the tremendous ambiguity here. Journal of Discourses can be used to prove anything you want. I've been able to show BY as a women's libertarian and an oppressive tyrant, all from J of D .

So if most of the LDS weren't going to attain godhood, why did BY and the boys do something about it? Why didn't they command MORE people to participate in polygamy? Because they want all the godhood to themselves, they do.

Whatever quotes you dig up on this, do you realize how inconsistent this position is with everything else they ever did? Brigham sent missionaries abroad, telling them not to teach plural marriage (John Charles Hall, for example, in Britain). These missionaries were going out to teach people to AVOID exaltation? Come on, man. Quotes are important, but they must always fit into the overall context. Like G.K. Chesterton's quip on the doctrines of Christ, if you let one quote (or a handful of them) stray from the pack, they go wild and unrestrained.

I'm not going to play "Journal of Discourses" poker (I'll see your Joseph Fielding Smith, and I'll raise you an Orson Pratt).

That said, almost every quote can be interpreted in the context of the time--that polygamy AT THAT TIME, was viewed as essential for salvation, or at least acceptance of the principle in theory. So yes, all of them were correct, but that is simply because they believed they were commanded to take plural wives.

As to Joseph's wives' diaries, you're changing your accusation. Before, it was "we can't trust them." Now it's "ah...it was an arm twisting session."

The evidence simply doesn't lead to this. I've read the diaries too--and I reach very different conclustions

(of course, that's because I'm a brainwashed, wild-eyed Mormon apologist :)

Yes, they were initially disgusted, but do you think that Joseph was so grand as to force them (more than one of them, at that) into seeing angels confirming their belief, esp. when Joseph wasn't around? One woman saw an angel, which the next morning Joseph told her about, an event he should have known nothing about. Whether she actually saw one, we will never know. What is important is that it was so real to her as to motivate her to action.

Lucy Walker told him TWICE to drop the subject, once after he attempted to "coerce" her. Yet Joseph backed off, promising her an answer. Do you have the knowledge to say: "Lucy, your vision amounts to jack squat--I know better." Hindsight's pretensions at their finest!

Elvira Holmes. Marries Joseph while married to Jonathan Holmes. Jonathan stands in for Joseph as proxy when Elvira is re-sealed to Joseph after his death. A little different? How could this be coercion when Joseph is dead and she could have withdrawn herself from the whole incident?

Zina Jacobs--a married woman at that (and her marriage was never consummated--law of adoption issue, but we don't need to trouble ourselves about that here)--had the support of her husband in marrying Joseph. Her husband! Zina wrote: "I searched the scripture and by humble prayer I obtained a testimony FOR MYSELF that GOd had required that order to be established in this church." Smacks of coercion, esp. that "for myself" part :)

My favorite: Marinda Hyde. Thought Joseph to be a "ridiculous fake." Yet she joins, is married to Joseph (yet another non-consummated marriage with a living husband who approved--if he approved, who am I to judge?) and declares that she "never saw aught in his daily life or conversation to make me doubt his divine mission" (Compton, In Sacred Loneliness)

I could continue, but I think the point has been made. A fair amount of intellectual humility would do us all good as we approach our subjects. It does not reflect well when you thrust paradigms upon their experiences to serve ideological purposes.

Bishop Rick said...

Walker,

First of all, these are not merely quotes taken from casual conversations. They are taken from lectures from the pulpit in the tabernacle by prophets. I am surprised that you don't take them serious. The quotes you provided were ambiguous as they merely addressed a portion of the subject. The quotes I provided were clear, concise and straight to the point.

The reason BY and the boys didn't do anything about it is because they couldn't. There simply wasn't nor ever will be, enough women to support the doctrine.

The reason BY advised the missionaries not to teach polygamy to potential converts is obvious. He didn't want them to run from the missionaries...milk before meat.

Some of your other comments concern me. You state that the prophets at that time believed polygamy to be necessary, but they were only correct for that time period. Think about what you are saying here.

Also, if Joseph is seeing angels with drawn swords and some of these women are seeing angels, doesn't that testify to the importance (necessity) of the doctrine? Would the Lord send angels to declare something that is only valid for a few years? I seriously doubt it.

Come on Walker. The fact is that the early church taught that polygamy was necessary to gain godhood. Now that polygamy is no longer practiced (currently) the church has strayed from those teachings. They haven't strayed because it is no longer valid. If that was the case there would be a statement saying as much. They have strayed (really avoided) polygamy because it is illegal and politically incorrect. If you can't see this, then maybe you are wide-eyed and brainwashed.

One last thing. What the heck is with marrying women already married? The early church stated that women could marry higher priesthood authorities to advance their chances at goddesshood in the eternities. That is a clear statement supporting the fact that only a select few will make it to godhood.

Let's face it. The church is no longer teaching the doctrine as it was originally intended. Why the willful disception? You say because it was right then but no longer applies. I say that makes absolutely no sense. Either it is just as valid today as it was then, or Joseph was lying, and if it is still valid, then the church is lying today. In either case, someone is lying.

Pops said...

The point the good BishopRick misses is that those who are commanded to do something and fail to obey are damned. Those who were commanded to practice polygamy would have been damned had they not done so, just as Abraham would have been damned had he not obeyed the directive to sacrifice his only son, Isaac.

It takes a mighty twisting of Section 132 to arrive at the conclusion that polygamy is required of all who wish to receive exaltation, since nowhere in Section 132 is that stated.

As Jacob so clearly explained, "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", "these things" meaning one wife only.

The Lord commanded Joseph -- for reasons known by the Lord -- and Joseph obeyed. Others at the time were commanded, and they obeyed. Had they not obeyed, they would have lost the promises. We today are commanded to marry one wife by the Lord's sealing power, and if we obey we are eligible for the promised exaltation.

It really is that simple.

Bishop Rick said...

Walker,

First of all, these are not merely quotes taken from casual conversations. They are taken from lectures from the pulpit in the tabernacle by prophets. I am surprised that you don't take them serious. The quotes you provided were ambiguous as they merely addressed a portion of the subject. The quotes I provided were clear, concise and straight to the point.

The reason BY and the boys didn't do anything about it is because they couldn't. There simply wasn't nor ever will be, enough women to support the doctrine.

The reason BY advised the missionaries not to teach polygamy to potential converts is obvious. He didn't want them to run from the missionaries...milk before meat.

Some of your other comments concern me. You state that the prophets at that time believed polygamy to be necessary, but they were only correct for that time period. Think about what you are saying here.

Also, if Joseph is seeing angels with drawn swords and some of these women are seeing angels, doesn't that testify to the importance (necessity) of the doctrine? Would the Lord send angels to declare something that is only valid for a few years? I seriously doubt it.

Come on Walker. The fact is that the early church taught that polygamy was necessary to gain godhood. Now that polygamy is no longer practiced (currently) the church has strayed from those teachings. They haven't strayed because it is no longer valid. If that was the case there would be a statement saying as much. They have strayed (really avoided) polygamy because it is illegal and politically incorrect. If you can't see this, then maybe you are wide-eyed and brainwashed.

One last thing. What the heck is with marrying women already married? The early church stated that women could marry higher priesthood authorities to advance their chances at goddesshood in the eternities. That is a clear statement supporting the fact that only a select few will make it to godhood.

Let's face it. The church is no longer teaching the doctrine as it was originally intended. Why the willful disception? You say because it was right then but no longer applies. I say that makes absolutely no sense. Either it is just as valid today as it was then, or Joseph was lying, and if it is still valid, then the church is lying today. In either case, someone is lying.

Jay said...

Bishop Rick insists that there is "deception," and that "someone is lying." After my looking at his own site, where he tells us that he is not "anti mormon," nor "anti christian" etc., and that he likes religious discussion, then reading what I perceive as his excessive carrying-on here--I do believe he's right--someone is indeed lying. I am left to wonder if, despite all his disclaimers, perhaps it is our own brother, Bishop Rick that is that "someone". He appears determined to have his own way no matter what, and seems to be using the standard anti-Mormon game plan to try to accomplish that. Otherwise, why does he care so much that he would work this hard to make points about polygamy?

Jay said...

That is, lying about his credentials as regarding not being "anti-mormon."

Bishop Rick said...

Jay,

I am active LDS with 2 callings in my ward. That has nothing to do with me researching things to search for the truth.

If my postings strike a nerve with you, I'm sorry.

The term lying is a bit strong, but you are either telling the truth or lying. There is no in-between. If you state truths with the intent to decieve, by knowingly omitting or avoiding certain information, that is the same as lying.

Regarding my polygamy statements, there is no anti-mormon agenda. I just happen to believe that polygamy is not now nor ever was a true doctrine, and that the LDS church (my church) is not coming clean about what has been taught in the past vs. what is being taught today. That is obvious from reading many of the responses on this topic.

Pops said...

...and when we get to the other side and see what really happened (as opposed to the various perceptions of what happened) and the context in which it happened (as opposed to our cultural context), we will collectively slap ourselves on the side of the head and say, "Duh! Why did we waste so much time arguing about this?"

Walker said...

By stating that Joseph participated wrongfully in this, you're stating that section 132, one of JOseph's guiding revelations, was false doctrine, making him a false prophet. Furthermore, the religious rationale for the practice would be essentially gone; polygamy would be nothing more than a sick imagination of Joseph's concotion, just as you say. You can't reject a prophecy without rejecting the prophet.

In answer to why it would be a correct practice then as opposed to now, the answer is simple and found in the (apparently untrustworthy) words of the wives themselves. Lucy Walker called her decision a "sacrifice" and not "a love matter." Others used similar terms. These Saints were called to make this ultimate sacrifice--a social life, possible shame, and cultural norms.

Yet they did it--the married ones, with their husbands right beside them.

Joseph's polygamy simply was not based on romance. As noted elsewhere, Joseph believed that salvation was a family matter. Being sealed to someone meant blessings for the whole family. So it was with Helen Kimball. Similarly with the wives previously married.

Please compare:
"They...had tremendous pressure put on them by someone holding extreme authority. That is abuse of power"

"The reason BY and the boys didn't do anything about it is because they couldn't. There simply wasn't nor ever will be, enough women to support the doctrine."

As you said, you can't have it both ways. You can't abuse power you don't have. Either Joseph and Brigham could coerce or they couldn't. The vacillations on this are, again, not good scholarship. Whatever kind of agenda you have, you're letting that agenda determine your "truth"--rather than the reverse, as it should be.

"Come on Walker. The fact is that the early church taught that polygamy was necessary to gain godhood."

Your first sentence is cute--I heard it by a street preacher the other day in fact. Good sound byte argumentation.

"These are not merely quotes taken from casual conversations. They are taken from lectures from the pulpit in the tabernacle by prophets."

Answer me this: what of every single J of D quote? Taken from lectures form over the pulpit in the tabernacle (or like venues), are they not? Simply because a statement is made over a pulpit doesn't make it incorrect.

"The reason BY advised the missionaries not to teach polygamy to potential converts is obvious. He didn't want them to run from the missionaries...milk before meat."

Interesting--so Joseph and Brigham were deliberately withholding godhood, not just potential converts, but from all English membership, those Joseph stated were a chosen people of the tribe of Ephraim. Saving doctrine is universal. Were it as fundamental to the grand scheme as you claim, it would have been universally applied like baptism or even a standard sealing ceremony, not just practiced by a bunch of pompous, licentious Americans.

"Would the Lord send angels to declare something that is only valid for a few years? I seriously doubt it."

Ah, now I finally know who understands the mind of the Lord. I've been wondering what that Hinckley fellow has been doing at General Conference all these years.

In sum, all I see here, thus, is a few random J of D quotes with superficial commentary that is poisoned with plenty of anger--little analysis of the real historical picture, little willingness to bend your views to possibilities beyond your agenda (cuz after all, you know better than Lucy Walker what Lucy Walker went through, don't you?). History ought not be used as a weapon, friend (though, sadly, it often is). Yet I understand-- it is to caricaturize and demonize. Nuances, after all, are inconvenient things.

Bishop Rick said...

Pops,
You do have a point. Only after we pass will we know what was right and what was wrong.

Walker,
Are you kidding me? Most of your posts make sense, but your last one missed the target totally. I must apologize because I have obviously done a poor job of explaining my position. You surely didn't understand what I have been saying, and you are guilty of exactly what you are accusing me of.

"By stating that Joseph participated wrongfully in this, you're stating that section 132, one of JOseph's guiding revelations, was false doctrine, making him a false prophet."

No you said that. I said that "I believe" the particular doctrine of polygamy was not true doctrine. I never said Joseph was a false prophet. By that definition, you are saying that BY is a false prophet if you believe his doctrine on Blacks and the priesthood, or the Adam God doctrine or Blood Atonement doctrine are false. (please tell me you don't believe those teachings as well).

"Furthermore, the religious rationale for the practice would be essentially gone; polygamy would be nothing more than a sick imagination of Joseph's concotion, just as you say."

Again, I never said that, you did.

"You can't reject a prophecy without rejecting the prophet."

See my comment on Blood Atonement.

"In answer to why it would be a correct practice then as opposed to now, the answer is simple and found in the (apparently untrustworthy) words of the wives themselves. Lucy Walker called her decision a "sacrifice" and not "a love matter." Others used similar terms. These Saints were called to make this ultimate sacrifice--a social life, possible shame, and cultural norms."

Now you are making stuff up. Lucy states that practicing PM was a sacrifice for her so now that is the whole reason Joseph received this revelation?

So all the sacrifices of giving up everything, being shunned, losing family members to mobs and the elements while pulling hand carts across the plains wasn't enough of a sacrifice for these poor people? You have got to be kidding me.

"Joseph's polygamy simply was not based on romance. As noted elsewhere, Joseph believed that salvation was a family matter..."

Are you saying that none of Joseph's PM marriages were consumated? Do you have the same oppinion of BY's PM marriages? Get real.

"Please compare:
"They...had tremendous pressure put on them by someone holding extreme authority. That is abuse of power"

"The reason BY and the boys didn't do anything about it is because they couldn't. There simply wasn't nor ever will be, enough women to support the doctrine."

As you said, you can't have it both ways. You can't abuse power you don't have. Either Joseph and Brigham could coerce or they couldn't. The vacillations on this are, again, not good scholarship."

No vacillation or poor scholarship here, just poor understanding.

JS was the prophet of the church, general of the mormon battalion, captain of the football team, yada yada. No one had more power or influence in that community that him. Good grief.

My reference to BY and boys not being able to anything about it (referring to influencing all the brethren to practice PM) had nothing to do with influence or power. It had everything to do with THE LACK OF WOMEN TO SUPPORT THE DOCTRINE. If every man only had 2 wives, they would have to kill or run off half of the other men. Makes sense to me but apparently not to you.

"Answer me this: what of every single J of D quote? Taken from lectures form over the pulpit in the tabernacle (or like venues), are they not? Simply because a statement is made over a pulpit doesn't make it incorrect."

Again, you have taken my statements out of context. I never said the quotes were incorrect. I used them to prove my point regarding what the church taught then vs what is taught now.

"Interesting--so Joseph and Brigham were deliberately withholding godhood, not just potential converts, but from all English membership, those Joseph stated were a chosen people of the tribe of Ephraim."

Again, your words not mine. I stated that the teaching was withheld so as not to scare off potential converts. .."milk before meat." This tactic is still used today. I never said the doctrine would never be taught. Good grief, all they had to do is come to Utah (which most did) and they would hear about BY's 60 wives.

"Saving doctrine is universal."

I never said PM was a saving doctrine, only that it was taught to be necessary to achieve godhood. Not the same thing.

"Were it as fundamental to the grand scheme as you claim,"

I never claimed this, the church prophets claimed this.

"it would have been universally applied like baptism or even a standard sealing ceremony, not just practiced by a bunch of pompous, licentious Americans."

Again, you are putting words in my mouth.

Nothing else that you said merits comment. Please read my posts more carefully in the future before responding.

To the rest of the readers, I'm sorry for posting such a long post.

Walker said...

Well, looks like this wonderful exchange is seeing its final days. Of course, it could continue on indefinitely. Let the reader judge for him/herself as to whose evidence is most compelling (if anyone is actually reading this--ha!)

At no time, though, have I been "making stuff up." That WOULD be precisely what I have stated Rick is doing. Lucy's comment on sacrifice (as with all others) is wholly in accord with the tone and content of section 132. Similarly with Helen Kimball--

It would be quite reasonable to presume that Helen is reflecting on her own experiences here as a plural wife when discussing those that don't have the faith to practice polygamy:

"They will grow weary and faint and fall by the way unless they have unshaken confidence and a perfect knowledge for themselves. They cannot make a sacrifice of their character and reputation; and give up their houses, their lands, brothers, sisters, wives and children; counting all things as dross, when compared with the eternal life and exaltation, which our Savior has promised to the obedient; and this knowledge is not obtained without a struggle nor the glory without a sacrifice of all earthly things."

Since plural marriage is found in the cannon, it is certainly in a different category than any of the blood atonement, blacks/priesthood stuff. If it was a false revelation, then Joseph was either a fallen prophet or never a prophet to begin with. You choose.

Bishop Rick said...

I will take Walker's last post as his "closing argument". Here is mine:

Througout this discussion I have been called a liar, accused of being an anti-mormon with an agenda, had statements taken out of context, and accused of making things up, etc.

I have obviously touched a few nerves here.

Though I don't necessarily like being called those things, I do enjoy a good discussion/debate, and thoroughly enjoyed this one. I hope there are no hard feelings. I certainly don't have any.

If I said anything that was untrue or ends up being "made up", it was certainly unintentional. I tried to back up my statements with valid references.

One area where I agree with Walker is that we have both presented our cases and you can decide whether you agree or disagree with either or both of us.

Next Topic.

Bamba said...

You want the last word, right?

Walker said...

I do have a question for Bishop Rick--unrelated to polygamy.

Why DO you believe this is the true church? I've heard you claim that some of Joseph's teachings "call into question the actual prophet status of JS." I read your comment on the Athiesm thread where you noted that you had never had the experience Jeff related vis-a-vis personal revelation. What I see indicates to me that you do not have faith in this church. But I could be very wrong. Let me know if I am.

Bamba said...

I find it disturbing that, in spite of his protestations about being an "active" member and having "two callings", Bishop Rick has posted this on his website: My personal view is that God does not answer prayers. I feel that we are placed here on earth to make our way through on our own. In other words, God does not interfere. Indeed, God does not interfere--Intervene if needed, but that's hardly the same as interfere--that word implies "Busybody." But He absolutely does answer prayers. Yes, we are supposed to "make our way through," as much as we can, but we aren't expected to do it all "on our own." God asks us to let Him help. You have a right to your own view, of course, as do I, and Bishop dude, with your not believing He answers prayers, my view is that your claim of "active" and "two callings" doesn't actually qualify as credentials and that perhaps "active" plus "callings" does not necessarily equal "faithful." I only hope that with you not believing He answers prayers, that none of your callings involves teaching/leading young people, investigators, or new converts.

Bishop Rick said...

Walker,
I would be happy to discuss this offline. Feel free to send me an email at bishopr77@yahoo.com

Bamba,
Please post on my blog. I'm not sure Jeff would appreciate bringing my topics into his blog. I would love to have this discussion with you.

Bishop Rick said...

Bamba,

My "protestations" as you put it were in defense of me being called an anti-mormon with an agenda. I wasn't using that statement as a list of credentials.

Just out of curiosity, did you happen to find anything anti-mormon in my blog? Of course not. Why didn't you mention that?

My personal view on Prayer has nothing to do with the statements I made on a totally different subject, that were backed up by valid resources.

You can't discount statements made by LDS prophets by attacking my character.

Regarding interfere vs. intervene, that is merely symantics. I could use intervene and it would not change the point I was trying to make, (which I clearly stated was my opinion).

What is it with you? If someone comes to a blog with a different opinion they get attacked and muckraked? I would think you would invite a difference of opinion to keep the discussion honest and lively, otherwise, where is the discussion.

It really doesn't matter if Walker is right, or if I am right (for example) what matters is that both sides of the discussion were made providing multiple opinions for you to consider. Is that really such a bad thing?

Do you really need to hunt for things to mar my character? Because that is obviously what you are doing.

ltbugaf said...

Rick claims, "if polygamy were legal today, the LDS church would be fully practicing it." Of course, Rick can't possibly know that. The whole idea is based on speculations about an alternate universe where polygamy wasn't outlawed, and is therefore moot to start with. But even if it weren't, Rick simply has no basis on which to claim what the Church would or would not be doing in that fantasyland he's invented.

He also claims that no revelation was received saying it was "wrong." Well, I suppose that depends on your definition of "wrong." It's wrong to disobey God. He gave a commandment through his Prophet that plural marriage was to cease, and the vast majority of the membership of the Church obeyed that commandment. Breaking it would be wrong.

As Pops has pointed out (though Rick has dodged it), Rick is also badly twisting the quotes he's found in the Journal of Discourses to fit his agenda: When the Lord gave an instruction to participate in plural marriage, then only those who obeyed his instruction could reasonably expect to receive the blessings of exaltation. Now, the same thing applies to the commandment he gave to cease plural marriage. Only those who follow that command, given through President Woodruff and every one of his successors, can expect to receive the blessings of exaltation.

The problem is, I think Rick already sees this, but is deliberately ignoring it.

Bishop Rick said...

ltbugaf, (What does that mean anyway? Looks like Lt. Bug off)

I did claim that if polygamy were legal today that the LDS church would be fully practicing it. That claim was based on polygamy being an essential ordinance in achieving godhood. I didn't twist anything, I provided direct quotes and sources. you should take those sources and read the entire discourse from which they came before making statements.

Now it is true, I cannot know what would happen in this situation, I can only make a claim based on the information at hand, which I did.

I agree that it would be wrong to disobey God, but God never declared polygamy be ceased. If God did make such a declaration, why isn't it in the D&C? When I read Declaration 1, it sounds like Wilford Woodruff speaking for Wilford Woodruff to me.

Since no one seems to want to look up my sources, for convenience sake, I have provided the Declaration 1 text here:

"OFFICIAL DECLARATION—1
To Whom It May Concern:
Press dispatches having been sent for political purposes, from Salt Lake City, which have been widely published, to the effect that the Utah Commission, in their recent report to the Secretary of the Interior, allege that plural marriages are still being solemnized and that forty or more such marriages have been contracted in Utah since last June or during the past year, also that in public discourses the leaders of the Church have taught, encouraged and urged the continuance of the practice of polygamy—
I, therefore, as President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, do hereby, in the most solemn manner, declare that these charges are false. We are not teaching polygamy or plural marriage, nor permitting any person to enter into its practice, and I deny that either forty or any other number of plural marriages have during that period been solemnized in our Temples or in any other place in the Territory.
One case has been reported, in which the parties allege that the marriage was performed in the Endowment House, in Salt Lake City, in the Spring of 1889, but I have not been able to learn who performed the ceremony; whatever was done in this matter was without my knowledge. In consequence of this alleged occurrence the Endowment House was, by my instructions, taken down without delay.
Inasmuch as laws have been enacted by Congress forbidding plural marriages, which laws have been pronounced constitutional by the court of last resort, I hereby declare my intention to submit to those laws, and to use my influence with the members of the Church over which I preside to have them do likewise.
There is nothing in my teachings to the Church or in those of my associates, during the time specified, which can be reasonably construed to inculcate or encourage polygamy; and when any Elder of the Church has used language which appeared to convey any such teaching, he has been promptly reproved. And I now publicly declare that my advice to the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land.
Wilford Woodruff
President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
President Lorenzo Snow offered the following:
“I move that, recognizing Wilford Woodruff as the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the only man on the earth at the present time who holds the keys of the sealing ordinances, we consider him fully authorized by virtue of his position to issue the Manifesto which has been read in our hearing, and which is dated September 24th, 1890, and that as a Church in General Conference assembled, we accept his declaration concerning plural marriages as authoritative and binding.”
The vote to sustain the foregoing motion was unanimous.
Salt Lake City, Utah, October 6, 1890."

Maybe the FLDS have it right after all.

ltbugaf said...

Rick, since you believe in the (false and pernicious) doctrine that plural marriage is, per se, essential to exaltaion, and since you also believe that Wilford Woodruff and every one of his successors has led the Church astray on this point--that they are all wrong while you are right--then I wonder, why are you continuing (as you claim to be) to participate in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Obviously, according to your belief, that church can't give you the exaltation you seek or the wives you want.

(PS: You asked what the significance of "ltbugaf" is. Answer: It's a moniker I use on blogs. It means me. That's all you get.)

ltbugaf said...

One more word about Rick's remarks: He claims not to be twisting the words of Church leaders simply because he quotes them verbatim. It shouldn't need to be pointed out, but perhaps does, that the twisting here doesn't come from mangling of words but from ignoring the context of the instructions. When these leaders said that acceptance of plural marriage was necessary to exaltation, it was true. It was also true that boarding an ark was essential to physical salvation when Noah gave the instruction. It was true that stepping across the Red Sea was necessary to salvation when Moses gave that instruction. But that doesn't mean the instructions apply to all people at all times. God tells his people what he wants them to do when he wants them to do it. At that time, he wanted them to participate in plural marriages. In the time of Wilford Woodruff, and every true prophet since, he has told his people not to do so.

Please, please, please don't be led astray by this foolishness. Follow true prophets.

Anonymous said...

You don't get the idea of having many women depend on you for their sexual and emotional satisfaction? I think Jospeh Smith's intentins were all about "getting" it.
I pray that you will be freed from the lies you have believed. Jesus is the one who bled. He is the savior. He says there is no other name given by which men might be saved.
Joseph Smith said a lot of retracted things. He has made fodder of those who would follow him.

Chasity said...

Well I liked this article until it started talking about sacrificing Issac and other things that tried to justify very wicked things... That is when I started feeling awful inside and the spirit left the room. I have never heard any prophet teach such things. I would like this man to search his heart and find out if his views are completely right with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Bad Boy Kimball said...

Mormon or not. Any man or women who would endorse or try to qualify a grown man, prophet or not to a 14 year old is nothing less than a pedophile at heart. It makes me sick to read Mormons who want to show their great faith by continuing to victimize individuals like Helen Mar Kimball. Its like a family hiding sexual abuse it only further hurts the family and ultimately revictimizes the victim over and over. Anyone Mormon or not, and I happen to be Mormon who would try to explain what JS did to women is guilty and a bit sick.

Arugula said...

Wait, is this for real? I recently had a discussion with some Mormon missionaries. They were very polite and friendly. Since that encounter I've been looking online to learn more about Mormonism. I confess that I don't know a whole lot about Mormon beliefs or teachings, but they have always struck me as hard-working, honest people. Is it really true that Joseph Smith married teenagers and women already married ostensibly after being commanded by god? I appreciate the way that Mormons affirm family values and the serious regard with which they hold commitments, but I'm not sure I could place any trust or belief in a man that acted, at least to my mind, in such an obviously licentious manner. Maybe I'm missing something crucial here as an outsider, but it seems like Mormons themselves, at least the ones posting here, don't know whether or not polygamy was a true revelation or flimflam. Anyway, any THOUGHTFUL responses would be appreciated. To be frank I'm a little disturbed at present by what I've read here. Thank you.