This has been a question I’ve grappled with for over 10 years. When I was younger, my answer was not only a yes, there will be polygamy, but also a belief (fear) that God preferred this type of marital arrangement to monogamy, and that God would ask us to enter into this in the next life. This resulted in quite a few tearful conversations with my husband.
Now, my question no longer revolves around whether God will honor my monogamous marriage. I believe God will. Now my question is whether God will honor polygamous marriages. I am inclined to believe God won’t. Or at the very least, that polygamy is not the most preferred arrangement.
Here’s my logic. God is good. For me, a characteristic of a good God is one who appreciates and acknowledges the fundamental equality of human souls, who values men and women of various races and classes equally and who wants these diverse people to have equal opportunities to lead, inspire, direct, etc. Because polygyny makes women expendable members of the marriage, because it entails a woman being cut out from parts of her husband’s heart and life in a way that hers is not necessarily cut off from his, it is not a system compatible with the principle of equality. Therefore, my logic tells me, polygamy will not exist in the next life. *
Other people I know advocate a more libertarian view of God… that God allows for various marital arrangements based on personal preference. They propose that God will honor polygyny, but that God views it as less morally acceptable than monogamy, because of the reasons I outlined above. My response to this is: ok, but if this God allows polygyny, God also needs to allow polyandry. Because equality is central to God’s character. A system in which only men can have more than one spouse does not jive with the principle of equality, I postulate.
In thinking about this question, other Mormons might respond that of course polygamy will exist in the next life. Thousands of Mormon men and women have been sealed into polygamous unions in this life, and those bonds will hold. I can see how that would be persuasive to people, but I view polygamy in this life as the result of a fallen world. I don’t know for sure whether polygamy was inspired by God, but because of sociological reasons, pragmatic reasons, etc. I can envision God allowing these unions in the mid 19th century as an acceptable solution to a bad situation. I just have a harder time envisioning God promoting this kind of union in the next life, a non fallen world situation.
Where do you stand on the polygamy in heaven debate? Can you conceive of a God who would allow it, let alone command it? Why or why not?
*Eugene England’s seminal essay on this topic points to the core principle of fidelity as being a reason polygamy won’t exist in the next life. I like that a lot, but I think I am even more persuaded by the principle of equality.