The Toxic Language of Polygamy Culture

The parallels between societal rape culture and Mormonism’s polygamy culture are alarming.

“Rape Culture” is a term used to show the ways society blames victims of sexual assault and normalizes male sexual violence.

When people and societies normalize sexual violence, they accept and create rape culture. Rape culture includes jokes, TV, music, advertising, legal jargon, laws, political speeches, words, and imagery that make sexual violence and sexual coercion seem so normal that people believe rape is inevitable. Rather than viewing the culture of rape as a problem to change, people in a rape culture think about the persistence of rape as “just the way things are.” In a rape culture, men and women assume sexual violence to be a fact of life.

Here’s an example of rape culture infiltrating our language:“Wow…..she was drinking at the party dressed like that? Yeah, no wonder she got raped. She was pretty much asking for it. Walking pornography.”

Mormonism experiences a similar phenomenon with Polygamy Culture.

“Polygamy Culture” is a term recently coined by Mormon Feminists. It invokes the way Mormon culture normalizes the idea that women are subordinate possessions of men.  When women are plurally collected to add to the man’s kingdom or glory, and subjected to his sexual attention or deprivation, Mormonism normalizes the doctrine and perpetuates Polygamy Culture by saying, “that’s just the way God wants it.”  Polygamy culture includes jokes, Sunday school comments, even remarks made in General Conference, and is laced throughout our dialogue concerning exaltation and eternal families. In a Polygamy culture, men and women assume plural marriage in the highest degree of heaven to be irrefutable scripture. It’s an inevitable fact of Mormon life and afterlife.

Rape culture and Polygamy culture inherently undermine the individual worth of women. These dissonances tear at our sensibilities for good reason! They are irreconcilable with the nature of a loving God.

Polygyny is patriarchy taken to the extreme. Plain ol’ patriarchy oppresses women. Benevolent patriarchy pedestalizes women as it oppresses them. Toxic patriarchy turned polygyny oppresses and possesses women.

The sources of this culture/doctrine are found in Doctrine and Covenants section 132 and in the language of the temple ordinances.  (The day-to-day practice of polygamy ended (mostly) in 1890 with this official declaration.)

D&C 132:64 uses this possessive language, “and if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore he is justified.”

By contrast, the language of Jacob 2: 24-35 teaches just the opposite: “For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none.”

 In the temple today, women are anointed to become Priestesses unto their husbands, covenant to hearken to his counsel and give themselves to him in marriage.  The men’s ordinances and blessings have none of this possessive language reciprocated.

Since all are alike unto God, the asymmetry of this possessive language is endlessly harmful to women.  If God is no respecter of persons, it doesn’t seem possible that He would value the eternal weight of women at a mere fraction of the value of a man. In this regard, Mormon doctrine is at odds with itself.

Gordon B. Hinckley made the following statement on Larry King Live on September 8, 1998 with regard to the practice of polygamy: “I condemn it [polygamy], yes, as a practice, because I think it is not doctrinal. It is not legal. And this church takes the position that we will abide by the law. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, magistrates in honoring, obeying and sustaining the law.”

Despite a sitting prophet describing the practice of polygamy as “not doctrinal,” current LDS sealing practices allow a man to be sealed to more than one woman during his lifetime, while legally married to one woman at a time.  Divorced or widowed men retain the sealing to their first wives, even when adding a second or third.  By contrast, LDS women are sealed to one man at a time during their lifetimes. Divorced women are not automatically un-sealed from an ex-husband and must go through a “sealing cancellation” process from the prior spouse before being newly sealed to a future spouse, or simply to be relieved of the burden of being sealed to a disagreeable ex. Widowed women can be sealed to a second or third spouse posthumously.  Widowed women may request a sealing cancellation from a deceased spouse if they wish to be sealed to another living man in their lifetime, or if they wish to be untethered from a disagreeable spouse after he passes.  All of these written requests are subject to First Presidency approval.

*A note about polyamory: many people within the church (men and women) marry more than one person during their lifetimes. Some women agonize over choosing which husband they’ll be with in the next life, because they loved both so deeply. Men are given more leeway to imagine a heaven with all of their beloved wives. The more recent temple sealing policy to seal a deceased woman to all of the men she was married to in life is a step in the right direction. Whether that means she will choose which husband to stay partnered to, or whether that indicates a broader interpretation of how consensual celestial relationships will play out, we have no idea.  

We must reject section 132 as an outdated relic of its time, no longer relevant or doctrinal now (if it ever was) and embrace the teachings found in Jacob, which decry polygamy as an abomination.  With the language of the temple, we must erase the diverse ways women are subjugated to their husbands in every ordinance. And we must stop using the language of polygamy culture in our daily conversations.

Here are categorized examples of fallacies that perpetuate the toxic language of polygamy culture (examples solicited from actual experiences of the Exponent II FB  group with 600+ respondents):

Possession Fallacy– the fallacy that women are not agents or stewards to themselves, but are possessed as property by their husbands or future husbands.

“my first wife died in childbirth, then I was sealed to my second wife. She helped me raise our family. As long as I’m faithful, I’ve been promised that I’ll have both of them in the next life.”  – Stalwart Mormon Grandpa

“I’ve been a single woman my whole life. I can’t count how many times someone from church has told me not to worry about my afterlife, that I’m sure to be ‘given’ to a faithful man as a plural wife so that I can experience all the blessings of marriage and family life.” – Single Sister

“Why do women give themselves to the husband but not the other way around? Because it allows for him to be sealed to more than one woman without giving himself to any one woman exclusively.” – one temple sealer’s interpretation of sealing language

 “I keep living as righteously as I can, even though my husband is inactive, but I’m worried he won’t make it to the celestial kingdom and that I’ll either be given to another man or that I’ll be a ministering servant for the rest of eternity.” – someone’s mom

#sogladhechoseme

Women as Reward Fallacy–the fallacy that uses women and their attractiveness as a reward given to a man for his good or righteous behavior, or that women, (as objects and the gatekeepers to men’s sexuality), sex, and posterity are a wealthy, privileged, virtuous man’s entitlement.

“boys, the way to get an attractive wife is to serve a mission” – General YM presidency member to recent fireside of teenagers.

 “the more times you pray, the hotter your wife will be!” – a missionary to his companion

“the more doors you knock, the more wives you’ll have. If you knock in the rain, they’ll be more attractive.” – another missionary to his companion

“David’s concubines weren’t sex slaves, they were just second-class wives.” – someone in a Gospel Doctrine Sunday school class

a young man going on a date with 2-3 sisters of the same family at the same time.

 

Historical distortion fallacy – citing false representations of historical data

“but polygamy was just used as a way to care for the widows!”

(the average age for plural wives at the time of their marriages was late teens to early twenties, the majority of whom had never been married. Even as the age of the man increased, the new wives he accommodated were almost always of this same age range.)

“but early church leaders only married single women who wouldn’t have had a chance to marry otherwise!”

 (except for when they married women who were already married to someone else.)

“The early pioneers were so brave and struggled to accept this principle but eventually came to know it was from God and lived it cheerfully.”

Flawed Mathematics fallacy– citing false mathematical data

“in the next life, there will be many more righteous women than men. Would you deprive your sister of her blessings?

 (It’s raining men.)(and by the same logic, if all the young, fertile women are taken up in polygamous marriages, doesn’t it leave a lot of young, fertile {generally poor and lower-status} men without his blessings, too?)

“but polygamy was for raising up a righteous generation of children! Look how many members came from these large polygamous families!”

 (the average number of children born to plural wives was statistically lower than the number of children born to monogamous women.)

 “it was a way for the more wealthy men in the community to provide more children with life advantages like schooling, enough food and adequate housing since they could afford it.

 (except for the men who kept their plural wives and children in poverty and starvation.)

“if same-sex marriage becomes legal, the church will bring back polygamy.”

 

Dismissal – the fallacy that dismisses a person’s concerns about Polygamy as unimportant or irrelevant.

“you don’t have to worry about that. It’s not going to come back.”

 “when you get to the other side, you’ll change your mind.”

 “Nobody will have to be sealed to a person they don’t want to be with”

“not that many people did it. It wasn’t widespread.”

 “God would never force anyone to be a polygamist”  (tell that to Emma.)

 

Manipulationweaponizing sealings, sometimes as a way to punish or control someone

“you’re still sealed to me, even though we’re divorced, which means you’ll still be bound to me in the next life, whether you want to be or not.” – Creepy ex-husband

“if you’re not nice to me, I’ll marry someone else after you die and you’ll have to be a plural wife in the next life.”  – Creepy current husband

men who choose not to date young widows because the woman is already sealed to someone else.

children born to a woman and her second husband are sealed to her deceased first husband.

 

Heavenly Mother fallacy – fallacy that claims plural Heavenly Mothers

“that’s why we don’t know much about her, because there are so many and we don’t know which one we came from.”

 “God must be a polygamist because he would never ask us to do something He himself couldn’t do.”

 Upon meeting a kindred spirit, “we must have the same Heavenly Mother!”

 

Gender essentialism fallacy– fallacy that polygamy only works as polygyny, and not as polyandry

“well, a man can get lots of women pregnant at a time, but a woman can only be pregnant with one man’s child at a time.”

 “well, a man usually has a stronger sex drive than a woman, so he could have sex with more than one partner at a time, whereas a woman couldn’t really satisfy multiple male partners. Polygyny is a solution for forbidden masturbation.”

 “the poor men! Having to deal with so many wives!”

 Those who express dismay at learning that Joseph Smith married “other men’s wives” but have no problem with him being “another woman’s husband.”

 

Humor

“will you be my sister wife? I need someone to help me take care of my kids and house.”

 “want to go on a Brigham Young date? I’ll bring 2 girls!” – teenage boy

“I can only handle one wife!” – someone’s husband

“who knows, maybe someday!” – a single sister joking about being married to her friend’s husband as the ‘kitchen wife.’

“did they bring back polygamy?!” – a wife asks her husband upon returning from Priesthood meeting.

Law of Sarah Fallacy– the fallacy that invokes a person’s ability to accept or practice polygamy as the will of God as dictated to them by the prophet, as a litmus test for faithfulness.

“if the prophet came to me and asked my husband to take another wife, I would do it, no questions asked.”

 “my husband and I already have the second wife picked out for when they bring polygamy back.”

 “whatever God requires is correct.”  (nevermind the ethical hoop jumping of how to justify God commanding murder and infidelity.)

 

Indifference

 “it’s just never bothered me because we don’t live it and we won’t have to if we don’t want to.

 “But I don’t feel oppressed! I don’t feel possessed!”

 

 Favoritism – the fallacy that first wives are granted higher tiered status than any subsequent wives.

“we believe marriage to be between a man and a woman, except in the eternities, but you have nothing to worry about because you’ll always be his first and favorite wife.” – temple sealer to new convert wife at their family sealing

temple sealer tells a new bride that she’s “lucky” to be “the first among many.”

A woman is okay with her husband taking additional wives because she’ll always outrank them (wives 2+ receive exaltation through subjugation)

—-

On one hand, polygamy is an outdated “practice” that can be boxed up and put away as “not doctrinal” despite the cultural relics that remain. On the other hand, it’s built into the very foundations of the church structures, into the temple, into our core beliefs and teachings. It’s as fundamental as the Book of Mormon, the First Vision and the Restoration, but it’s a whisper doctrine, not included as a chapter in Preach my Gospel.

We have to burn it out, right down to the core of the church if we want to get rid of the poison, especially as we reflect with our greater understanding about the worth and autonomous value of women. The language of the temple must change, as should the words we use with each other. We must all stand up against the toxic language of polygamy culture.

Violadiva

Violadiva is an oxymoron, a musician, a yogi, a Suzuki violin teacher, a late-night baker of sourdough breads, proud Mormon feminist, happy wife of Pianoman and lucky mother to three.

You may also like...

102 Responses

  1. Amelia Christensen says:

    Very comprehensive! Thank you.

  2. Nancy Ross says:

    Thank you for this, Violadiva! The polygamy culture of my last ward really upset me and it wasn’t OK to talk about it or break it down.

  3. Kay B says:

    I was recently in a conversation in which a woman briefly gave the favoritism fallacy in a hypothetical polygamy “what if” with a non-member. Aside from polygamy culture itself, I am amazed how often we as women (myself included) fall into the trap of stepping on top of other women to try to elevate ourselves in the eyes of men. Even when we do this, we are still subordinated to the man in question. Plus, the practice is innately destructive both to ourselves and our sisters.

  4. ElleK says:

    Thanks for this thorough analysis! I did backbends to justify polygamy for years. Finally accepting that it’s not of God healed my relationship with God that I didn’t even realize was broken.

  5. “God would never force anyone to be a polygamist” (tell that to Emma.)

    This is a knock-out blow. Well, they all are, but this one is particularly hard for any polygamy apologists to refute. It is a simple and damning fact that Joseph was marrying other women without Emma’s knowledge or consent. I am deeply moved by the dedication in Carol Lynn Pearson’s “The Ghost of Eternal Polygamy:
    To
    Emma Hale Smith
    who was the first to weep

  6. Lily says:

    I agree with you 100% but let’s not play games with the scriptures. Jacob 2:30 allows for polygamy when God commands it.

    • Kathy says:

      I’m convinced his interpretation of God commanding polygamy in Jacob 2:30 is wrong. Using the context and content of these scriptures, it makes more sense that in the first part of verse 30, the Lord is repeating what he said in the preceding verses: if He is going to “raise up seed unto me, I will command my people” and, in other words, expect husbands to follow what he is commanding through his prophet Jacob–to have one wife only. Then in the latter part of verse 30, the Lord is next introducing what he will say in subsequent verses: if the people are not His seed, or choose not to be of His seed, the men will “hearken unto these things”—they will hearken to David and Solomon’s ideas or the polygamous ways of old that will lead to their cursing and cause heartache for their wives and children. Thus, raising up seed unto the Lord (verse 30), just as raising up a righteous branch (verse 25) both refer to following God’s command to refrain from committing the whoredom of practicing polygamy. This interpretation, and only this interpretation, allows verse 30 to validate the context and content of the surrounding verses. This is a great, in-depth look at this verse: http://oneclimbs.com/2017/01/05/a-proposed-reinterpretation-of-jacob-230/

      • Violadiva says:

        Brilliant.

      • George Bernard Shaw observed: “No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says; he is always convinced that it says what he means.”
        https://gospelfullness.wordpress.com/2014/09/16/context-is-everything/

      • Moss says:

        This is very interesting! Ancient Hebrew did not use punctuation or paragraph breaks in the Old Testament and, similarly, the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon also had “virtually” no punctuation and was one giant paragraph- Oliver Cowdery (and other scribes) added paragraph breaks and punctuation later which, even then, were largely ignored by the publisher who used his own judgement in placing punctuation and paragraph breaks.

        I think your idea definitely has possibility from a textual studies perspective.

      • Moss says:

        Here’s the article I’m referencing about the original Book of Mormon manuscript:
        http://criticaltext.byustudies.byu.edu/translating-and-printing-book-mormon

      • MDearest says:

        George Bernard Shaw has always been one of my favorite theologians.

      • James Justice says:

        I disagree on several fronts.

        Ever wonder why the people and prophets in the Old and New Testaments never got the “memo” that the wicked group of people in Jacob 203 received?

        First, Jacob 2-3 pertains to that group of people to whom those words of counsel were directed. At that time, and for a later time until God directed otherwise. Those same words weren’t directed to those people who lived in the Old World. Those words were never given to any of the ancient Patriarchs, nor to Moses, nor any of the rest of the prophets in the Old Testament. Nor given by Christ or his Apostles. Nor in the Latter Days.

        Why are they given in Jacob 2-3 to that group of people? Because of THEIR LASCIVIOUS WAYS, and because they were excusing it all by saying it was a part of Patriarchal and Mosaic law, which is wasn’t. Thus, they were Priestcrafting wickedness, calling fornication and adultery marriage and polygyny. What does that have to do with the righteous living of the principle? How is it saying that polygyny is evil when it WAS LIVED by the Patriarchs and those living under the Mosaic law? Why did GOD GIVE the wives of one unrighteous leader (Saul) to the next (David), and then the next (Solomon)?

      • Olivia says:

        James Justice–you’re assuming that He did. I disagree. We always have to remember that “God’s will” is filtered through, in this case, *at least* two mortal male minds. I don’t believe that God commands polygamy anymore than I believe that God commanded other old testament actors to murder cities full of children, sacrifice their own daughters or behead an unconscious man. Humans make God responsible for all kinds of horrific and unGodly practices, but that doesn’t make it so.

      • Kay B says:

        Olivia, may I quote you? The last line of your comment was very powerful.

      • Olivia says:

        Kay B, of course.

        “God is not a jerk” has been my filter for everything for the past several years. Does this teaching, or doctrine, or cultural practice, or explanation make God into a jerk? Then it’s not true. *No matter who says it.*

        It makes things almost shockingly clear most of the time.

  7. Lily says:

    Again, I agree with you 100% but I do have a question that has plagued me. As a never married women in a Church where the single women out number the single men 150/100, what is going to happen to people like me?

    • Kathy says:

      Sorry to jump in, but I think you’ve been subjected to the well-described polygamy culture in this post. Among the more common speculations to justify eternal polygamy is that women are more righteous, will outnumber men in the highest kingdom, and thus plural marriage will be necessary.

      First, we are counseled against making final judgments about anyone’s ultimate eternal destination, which I would assume includes the overall eternal destination of most women as compared to most men. How can we know how our Savior will judge the individuals within these two groups and know who will end up where?

      Second, while I don’t know all the numbers, there are not enough women to allow for polygamy among all people on earth and I don’t think it will be different in the eternities. Look at point #4 of this Eugene England article (he was the first to bravely question this teaching) http://www.eugeneengland.org/on-fidelity-polygamy-and-celestial-marriage

      Equally confusing is that these presumed, lopsided celestial numbers suggests an all-powerful, all-knowing God miscalculated the male to female ratio for His highest kingdom; hence, plural marriage is necessary to solve this mistake. I have more confidence in our Father’s plan.

      • Lily says:

        Sorry about the thread jack.

        I appreciate your willingness to take up the question. But I don’t think I have ever seen a satisfying answer. I have read Valerie Hudson’s thoughts on this and I have emailed Carolynn Pearson after her book came out. Nobody really takes the extra women into account or is able to explain how it will work out for them. We are essentially back to dismissal (see above). “It will all work out. Don’t worry about it.”

      • James Justice says:

        Since when is polygyny for everybody? It will only be lived by the few of those Telestial, of those Terrestrial, and of those Celestial on this world we live in. Most would rather NOT share a husband, and so they don’t, or won’t. SOME would rather have a husband, even if they have to share him. Greatly in the minority. During Brigham’s time, only 3% would live the principle. Why not the other 97%? Becuase they all couldn’t? Or, most wouldn’t? It would seem that if one really wants to live it, and you’re a woman, you can find a good, righteous man who wants to live it with you.

        However, in the LDS Church today, it is FORBIDDEN, and therefore most assume that is the end. So even the 3% won’t pursue it.

        It was’t FOR everyone. D&C 132 says quite clearly that He would reveal it to those who should live it. Revelation is necessary. It it hasn’t been revealed to you, then don’t try and live Celestial Plural Marriage. If it has, then doesn’t the Lord say you are commanded to live it? One can pick and choose which commandments they’ll live, but they will be held accountable for those choices.

        Or, does God NOT hold people accountable for their sins? That they can just go on sinning and God and everyone else needs to just keep on forgiving them?

      • Violadiva says:

        JJ, thank you for being a real-time example of how these fallacies continue to play out in our church discourse.

        But please consult and abide by our commenting policy before making any more comments. I’ve unapproved your comments that broke our guidelines since your first warning. The rest I’m leaving up so everyone else can see how much work there still is to do surrounding this topic.

        We’re all pretty well acquainted and tired of the same old polygamy apologetics.

      • James Justice says:

        And where might they be found. I’ve looked on the home page, under several of your topical sections, tops, bottoms, and sides of pages.

    • Violadiva says:

      Hey Lily — i hear your concern. It must be super frustrating not to find a satisfying answer when it doesn’t seem like any versions of “the plan” make exciting accommodations for single women. And I really hate the dismissal fallacy. It’s so ….. not comforting.
      When you reference the “extra women” – are you speaking specifically within Mormonism? If you seem like an “extra woman” now, do you also believe there will be an excess of women in the next life? It’s not scholarly, but the article linked above (it’s raining men) addresses this idea in a non-academic way, but it’s still insightful.
      How open are you to dating men of other religious denominations?

      • Lily says:

        Interesting article and yes, very insightful.

        I guess I’m thinking of just current Church members which I can see causes there to be “extra women” which is not really the case of you think more broadly.

        When I was young I never would have considered marrying out of the Church but I would now.

        Very helpful thoughts Violadiva, thank you.

    • Madison says:

      The world population is almost 50/50 women/men. I honestly believe that’s just a fallacy given to scare single women into accepting polygamy. Do not settle for a man that believes he deserves more than one woman. Find that man that loves and cherishes YOU and considers himself lucky to be yours. They exist for everyone, but one must be patient and not settle.

      • James Justice says:

        Out of that 50/50, how many of the men want to get married and how many of the women want to get married? The same number? Or, are there a good percentage more of women than men who want to get married? If one accepts there being a difference in the ratio with more women than men wanting to get married, what do you have against some of those single women to choose to marry plurally? Even to the point of making and enforcing laws against it?

    • Megan says:

      As a fellow single, never married Mormon woman, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this. My thoughts are kind of vast and would be really ramble-y if I tried to type them all out here, but what they come down to is that we don’t know. And that’s an amazing thing. Because, for all of our understanding and revelation, the Plan of Salvation, as we’re taught and teach it, is only the vaguest of road maps. We know a couple of the highlights but, in reality, we don’t know anything for sure. And since I believe in a loving God who welcomes and loves all, I have faith that everything will be okay. And that I won’t have to be swept up into some random plural marriage with people I don’t even know to be able to live with God again.

      Being a single, never married Mormon of course carries other, more practical difficulties, of course. It’s easy to feel like an “extra woman” because so many congregations are focused on family rather than individual. Bishops don’t get to know you and have a hard time choosing you fulfilling callings, fellow members, well-meaning and with good intent, patronize and infantalize you because, since you’re not married and not a mother, you’re not really an adult woman. It’s hard to find a place to fit, where you don’t feel like you’re looking in through the window at all of the happy families celebrating a holiday that you’ll never get to enjoy. It’s rough.

      And that’s all a part of polygamy culture. And culture is something we can change. And we should keep asking the question, what is going to happen to people like us? Because, for as good as they are and as well-intentioned and open-minded they may be, everyone has blind spots. Men don’t always realize there’s an absence, a lack of knowledge, because it’s about something that’s outside of their experience. And, currently, all of the revelations come through men and, as I realized recently, God speaks to us in the language we understand best, a language made up of our experiences, questions, concerns, lived-realities, etc. So just because there isn’t yet a revelation doesn’t mean there isn’t an answer, it only means that the right question hasn’t been asked.

      And that was a really long comment. I hope I didn’t dump on you too much! This is just a subject that’s really near and dear to my heart. 😀

  8. Em says:

    Hear, hear.

  9. Ray says:

    This is a very helpful summary, and I agree with many of your points. Thank you for taking the time to write this.

  10. JNB says:

    Let’s not forget the youth being conditioned for polygamy culture: girls chant in YW every week “we will be prepared to make and keep sacred covenants, receive the ordinances of the temple (which will subjugate us to husbands who can marry therein as many times to as many women as they want if I should die).” Meanwhile, the boys–what are they chanting in their priesthood classes? “I will do my best do do my duty to God and my country.” They are pledging allegiance to the government and to the religion, but not pledging any fidelity to marriage the way the girls across the hall are. Major imbalance.

  11. Tom says:

    Greater understanding and kindness certainly must be center in discussions like this. The two main scriptural examples in this article section 132 and Jacob 2 are interpreted by the author to contradict each other, when in fact they compliment each other, and God’s standard of marriage: between one man and one women, unless “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” (Jacob 2:30)- in Old Testament times and our day He commanded it, but polygamy is not the Lord’s standard of marriage.

    • Violadiva says:

      I agree that polygamy is not the Lord’s standard of marriage. I would like that to be wider known, irrefutable doctrine taught and talked about at every level. As you see from the examples above, there’s still a lot of work to be done in getting the membership of the church to be on board with that, based on some of the comments we continue to hear. Want a real brain bender? Try Jacob 2:23-24 and then D&C 132: 38-39. Were his wives an concubines an abomination, or were they “given” to him by the prophet? Can’t have it both ways.
      To your other point about Jacob 2:30, after seeing how the Lord sets up polygamy as an abomination in the verses before and after, I see the If/then conditions of verse 30 to be purely hypothetical. Like “When pigs fly” But maybe that’s just me seeing what I want to see, and perhaps not acknowledging what is.

      • Kathy says:

        I already posted this but can’t resist putting it out there again because I think this guy’s explanation of Jacob 2 shows we’ve been misinterpreting Jacob 2:30….maybe as part of the polygamy culture!

        http://oneclimbs.com/2017/01/05/a-proposed-reinterpretation-of-jacob-230/

      • James Justice says:

        The answer to the brain bender is what was commanded by the Lord at the time: That the Israelites were NOT to marry those OUTSIDE of the House of Israel. No marrying of the Japhethites or Hamites, No Gentiles and others. So, SOME of the wives of Saul, David, and Solomon were the good, righteous wives of the faith that they were supposed to have and were given to their successors (i.e. David and Solomon) by the Prophet Samuel and Nathan. Those who they married who were from outside of the House of Israel such as the political alliance wives, concubines of them, and others were an “abomination” and weren’t those given them by Samuel and Nathan.

      • Moss says:

        And yet, there are scriptures contradicting that idea (that the Israelites are only supposed to marry Israelites). Many righteous women in the lineage of the Savior himself were from outside the Israelites. Like Ruth.

      • Olivia says:

        OR, JJ, the answer to the “brain bender” is that humans like to use God to justify what they want to do, and throughout history mostly what many powerful men have wanted to do is to oppress and marginalize women without having to come right out and say so.

        Throwing God under the bus as a being who prioritizes male power and control over the suffering and pain of women might make scriptures easier to explain (and current church practices easier to justify) but claiming that God is a sexist doesn’t make it so.

        What’s more likely? That God has occasionally commanded people to “transfer ownership” of women from one man to another without any thought for the feelings of the women involved or that men have routinely disregarded the feelings of the women that they saw as property and demonstrations of status?

        I don’t worship God Who Is a Jerk, so I vote B.

  12. Erin says:

    “Widowed women can be sealed to second and third spouses posthumously.” Did you mean they can, or cannot, be sealed to more than one spouse?

    • Violadiva says:

      current temple protocol, as far as I understand it, is that after a woman dies, she is sealed to any man she was ever married to on earth (even men she divorced) as a way to cover all the bases (maybe She gets to choose who she ends up with?)
      But it only happens after she dies….I’m pretty sure.
      But yes, she can be sealed to more than one man if she was married to them in life. So long as her kids or someone else does the sealings after she’s gone.

      • SC says:

        Sad that men get marriage equality while on earth, but women only get it after they are dead, and even then they have to pick and stick with just one choice, rejecting all others with whom they built loving families. My mother has two husbands (Dad died and she remarried), and I would love it if she could be sealed to both. Her second husband has the right to be sealed to as many as he wants to be but she can’t–that has always sat really, really wrong to me. Knowing what I have experienced of blended families and what I feel in my heart to be right about God and eternity, I promise that humans are the ones imposing made-up limitations on the eternal world where God has never have put them. In the eternities, I believe that the potential of families are limitless. Only humans see limitations and impose restrictions due to race, gender, or orientation. God is no respecter of persons–he loves and blesses His children liberally, and the sooner we embrace that, the sooner can build the Zion-like society that Joseph Smith was maybe infantlike trying to build–the one that reflects what families and society will actually look like in the celestial kingdom. All bound by love in covenant relationships, doing the work of the Lord, serving and saving souls, and none denied entrance due to physical characteristics or identity. The sooner we can can start forging those (equal) bonds on earth, the sooner we’ll begin to experience more heaven on earth.

  13. Kathy says:

    Thanks for this great post. It has to hit the nerves of most feeling LDS women. I think it’s important to fill the internet and our Church leader’s ears with these thoughts so that someday someone with the authority to rescind this teaching will remember and provide this much-needed service.

    Any changes to the Church’s cultural practices or policy that give women a more prominent role will never be sufficient with the underlying doctrine that makes women eternally unequal. Until Section 132 and its teachings are removed, these changes are just window dressing.

  14. anon says:

    One big challenge is even understanding what the “sealing” is to begin with. Are we sealed to God or sealed to each other? What does it even mean to be sealed to each other? In the early days of the church men were sealed to each other, and most men wanted to be sealed in a chain connecting them to Joseph Smith. The sealing was understood very differently than it is today. This practice was actually referred to as adoption. I believe is was President Woodruff who ended the practice of temple adoptions and declared that members should be sealed to their parents, and to their spouse. There has been an evolving standard and meaning of sealing and eternal marriage, and I imagine it will continue to change. Despite all the modern day revelations, I suspect we simply don’t understand what marriage and family relationships will be like in the next life.

    • Violadiva says:

      I totally agree that we don’t fully understand the premise of sealing, and I can see Joseph Smith as a revolutionary who wanted to seal the whole human family together. Like CarolLynn’s book talks about, it’s possible he was a little misguided in how to carry that out. For example, his sealings to other men (the dynastic sealings you speak of) sealed the men to him as sons, but his sealings to women were not as “daughters” but as wives. And the relationships to his wives were sexual, not platonic as some like to believe.
      Something got a little mixed up there.

  15. James Justice says:

    “All Indians walk in a straight line! …. At least the one I saw did…” All men are chauvinists. … at least the one I married was. All Mormons are hypocrits….at least the few I knew were…. Gotta love generalizations. And judging the gospel by those who try and follow it.

    Patriarchy? Evil? And Matriarchy isn’t? Or, is it that SOME of the Patriarchy AND the Matriarchy are evil?

    Polygyny is no more about placing women into “subjection” than monogamy is. Polygyny in the Bible is no more about subjugaton than monogamy in the Bible. So, any criticisms of “Christian” or “Jewish” marriage found in the Bible, monogamous or polygynous, are against Biblical teachings where God places the husband over the wife in marriage. So, it would seem your “Beef” is with God and the Bible, and not which form of Biblical marriage.

    As for Celestial Marriage, including Plural Marriage, it is pretty much all about creating a partnership, sharing a priesthood, each being priesthood/priestesshood holders, and striving to follow in the path of the Gods themselves. Sure there are numerous evil examples, but there are also many very righteous examples as well.

    Too bad all the “Anti’s” talk about are the bad ones.

    • Violadiva says:

      JJ, parts of your comment are in violation of our comment policy, specifically item 4: “This is not the place to question another’s personal righteousness, to call people to repentance, or to disrespectfully refute people’s personal religious beliefs.”

      Regarding monogamy and subjugation, see Pilar’s comment below.

      Regarding Patrirachy or Matriarchy – both are human-created paradigms where one gender exercises dominion over the other, and both are counter to God’s mind, in my opinion. Equality, or egalitarianism would be much more in line with God being “no respector of persons.”

      But I will agree with you that marriage is about equal partnership. Let’s work together to get rid of the barriers which can make that difficult to achieve, eh? Perhaps next time someone makes a Polygamy culture reference in a setting where you are present, you’ll find a way to shift the dialogue away from possession and toward partnership.

    • Olivia says:

      Right, so if you *do* believe that marriage is about creating a “partnership that is equal,” then I’m confident you’ll be actively fighting the things (so helpfully listed in this article) which prevent it from being so, such as the unequal temple ordinance language, the unequal sealing practices of the church, the unequal nature of polygyny as described in mormon doctrine (a “partnership” of one man who “receives” multiple women bound to him but does not commit to any “binding” to them is not, of course, an equal partnership with equal value placed on each person involved).

      It doesn’t matter (for your argument, of course it matters a great deal to all the women who are still being harmed by these practices) whether one of htese relationships is “righteous” or “evil”–if partnership is the goal, then mandated inequality is preventing that goal from being achieved and must be done away with.

    • Olivia says:

      BUT yes, while you’re mentioning it, followers of Christ must also grapple with what it means if we accept “biblical marriage” as God’s pattern when “biblical marriage” also includes men purchasing women, women being commanded to marry their rapists, enslaved women being “given” to men as child-producers by their owners, elderly men marrying pre-pubescent girls, wives used as collateral for bets and loans, wives commanded to lie about their marriages and allow themselves to be repeatedly raped to protect men, men murdering the husbands of women they spy on so they can “marry” them and have “legal” access to their bodies…

      “Biblical marriage” is an entirely terrible institution and a God who demanded or approved of its practices would be a God unworthy of worship.

      So by all means, let’s address those facts as a culture and work toward a better understanding (a continuing revelation, perhaps?) about what Godly marriage looks like, instead of using the misogyny and misunderstandings of cultures thousands (or hundreds) of years ago to frame the way we think about our Parents’ plan for healthy relationships for Their children.

  16. Brent Hartman says:

    From my perspective, rape culture is more closely tied with monogamy. Women are competing vigorously for the few good men, and as a result they end up routinely sexually assaulting men. My male friends and I have all been relentlessly groped by women, and society offers us no recourse. Women I don’t even know are constantly referring to me as “hun” and “darling”. The reality is that everyone of my male friends has their #metoo stories. I would never dream to treat women like they treat me. I can’t imagine what would happen to me if I grabbed a woman’s ass, but women don’t hesitate in the least. Numerous women have taken advantage of me when I was drunk. Society doesn’t give a shit. If there is a rape culture, it’s dominated by women.

  17. Pilar says:

    Well… I would agree that monogamy they way Mormons practice it actually is about placing women into subjugation. Which is why in the temple they insist that they women covenant to “hearken” unto their husbands. I mean I guess we should be glad we aren’t place under a death penalty covenant anymore to obey them… that’s something, right?
    Pointing out the truth and repression inherent in the system isn’t “anti mormon” behavior. It is truth telling behavior. It’s ok to tell the truth. Our religion should be able to stand the truth. If our religion crumbles under the truth, then it’s worthless and it was never true to begin with.
    I think you’ll find that most women want an equal partnership, an egalitarian partnership. I’m sure there are some “righteous examples”. However, when coercion is at the heart of it, there are extremely few. Our Heavenly Father would never want that. He’s a big fan of free agency. He isn’t behind the polygamy that our ancestors practiced. You might think that a “righteous example” exists out there, and that’s great. But so long as loopholes (GIANT loopholes) were made in the polygamy plan, that allow such things to happen (e.g. the removal of free agency, the law of Sara, the coercion and abuse) then the majority of what you have is bad examples, because they are simply coercing and abusing women the way they’ve been taught that they are allowed to do.

    • Coercion is at the heart of monogamy. It’s enforced with violence. If a woman dares to choose a system of marriage outside of monogamy she is subject to being violently locked in a cage.

    • James Justice says:

      Pilar, why do you single out the “Mormons”? They aren’t different that almost every Christian religion ou thtere as well as the numerous Jewish religions. It is all over the Bible. Again, the complaints are against the Bible. The the LDS, you can add in their scriptures as well. Polygyny is everywhere, as well as monogamy. There’s no “blessed singleness” out there, however.

      “repressioin inherent in the system”? Forget about the Bible then, Christianity, and other related religions. The God therein placed the man at the head of the woman. Mormonism, at least in its higher form, places the husband and wife more closely on equal footing. Each holds the priesthood there, are equal creators, equally rear the children, strive to be “one” with each other and God, etc. Coercion is against the scriptures in regards to Celestial marriage, which would include Celestial Plural Marriage.

      No where was agency removed. It was always retained. One can choose to obey God, or don’t. One can choose to follow thier husband as he follows God, or not. People ignore God all the time, and wives ignore thier husbands all the time, both monogamously or polygynously. It is no different.

      From what I’m seeing here, mountains are being made out of mole hills, and what is really happening overall is a lot different from what is being portrayed. I’m a first hand witness of Monogamous and Plural Marriages. Singling out some bad examples of Plural Marriages isn’t spreading more truth around, but just tired old falsehoods.

      • Moss says:

        I’m curious about your thoughts about D&C 132:64-65. I always hear people say that no coercion is involved, yet the Law of Sarah, as written in the D&C, removes all agency from the first wife.

        “64 And again, verily, verily, I say unto you, if any man have a wife, who holds the keys of this power, and he teaches unto her the law of my priesthood, as pertaining to these things, then shall she believe and administer unto him, or she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord your God; for I will destroy her; for I will magnify my name upon all those who receive and abide in my law.

        65 Therefore, it shall be lawful in me, if she receive not this law, for him to receive all things whatsoever I, the Lord his God, will give unto him, because she did not believe and administer unto him according to my word; and she then becomes the transgressor; and he is exempt from the law of Sarah, who administered unto Abraham according to the law when I commanded Abraham to take Hagar to wife.”

        It doesn’t sound like she has much of a choice- comply, or be destroyed.

      • James Justice says:

        Moss, how do you feel about D&C 132:3-4?:

        3 Therefore, prepare thy heart to receive and obey the instructions which I am about to give unto you; for all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same.

        4 For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.

        Sounds coercive, doens’t it? “must”. So, not only is the wife required to live it, but SO IS THE MAN! IF plural marriage is revealed by God to him and that he is to live it. His then current wife can importune God about the matter and receive revelation to herself about the matter. As God says, if one receives the revelation then they “MUST OVEY THE SAME”! (emphasis added).

        How about D&C 132:41-42?:

        41 And as ye have asked concerning adultery, verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man receiveth a wife in the new and everlasting covenant, and if she be with another man, and I have not appointed unto her by the holy anointing, she hath committed adultery and shall be destroyed.

        42 If she be not in the new and everlasting covenant, and she be with another man, she has committed adultery.

        if a wife enters into the NECM and then commits adultery while in that higher form a marriage, she has NOT only commmited adultery which according to the Mosaic law is a crime worthy of capital punishment, but “shall be destroyed”. She broke a commandment, and therefore there is a punishment. A penalty.

        If the law of Celestial Plural marriage is revealed to a wife, and she rejects it after it is revealed to her, there is a penalty for it by God who has penalties for all over commandments broken.

        Or, has God done away with penalties for commandments as well unless they are all repented of and not repeated?

      • Moss says:

        Based on the scriptures you shared it sounds like you can obey the Principle or you can be destroyed. I always hear people say that ‘no one will be forced to live polygamy’. It sounds like ‘no one will be forced to live polygamy” really means ‘by exercising your agency and refusing to live in The Principle you’re chosing the consequences which are being destroyed.” Is that accurate?

      • James Justice says:

        If the Lord has given you a revelation regarding the living of this principle and so you know it is true – it has been reveled unto you – and then you are given the opportunity to live it and given in revelation whom should become a part of your family, along with you husband, and you refuse, then yes.

        God has given us hundreds of commandments. Things we should do and not do. Should we think we can just break His commandments and expect there not to be consequences? There are very real consequences to breaking God’s commands.

      • Moss says:

        Because to me that sounds like coercion, and Joseph comes off looking like he’s using God as an excuse for his own behavior and as a threat to manipulate Emma’s behavior (and as a manipulation for other women). I learned from watching Law & Order that where you have motive and opportunity you’ll find your perp. We know bias and culture creeps into scripture as revelation flows through fallible human vessels and it is clear to me that’s what happened here. There’s no need to continue to wound our daughters over this.

  18. el oso says:

    You write pretty convincingly about Heavenly Mother. Do you have specific references or revelation to point to about this?
    I have seen nothing but wild speculation one way or the other on this topic.

  19. Lindsy says:

    The conversations this has started between me and friends and family are so exciting! Thank you for bringing voice to this issue and helping spread the word. This is so important ❤️

  20. Lmzbooklvr says:

    Wow, thank you for this! I didn’t connect so much of our language to this larger cultural issue. I’ll be more aware now.

  21. Mike H. says:

    My Great Grandfather used the Manifesto to abandon his second wife & family, the family I come through. My Grandfather was rather an orthodox LDS, but wanted nothing to do with polygamy.

  22. TopHat says:

    My biggest issue with polygamy being God-ordained is that follows that God believes men have the ability to love and care for multiple people but God doesn’t believe women have that ability. And I don’t think God things lesser of women in that way. Women can love as much as a man can and vice versa.

  23. Emily says:

    I’m bothered that everyone seems to leave sex out of the polygamy conversation. Polygamy allows for men to have more frequent climaxes then women. Totally unfair.

    • James Justice says:

      So does monogamy. Wives can have sex as often as they want, can’t they? Completely wear out thier husbands. Or is that not true?

      • James Justice says:

        Perhaps, on average, there is a difference in libido between men and women as most of the studies state.

      • Emily says:

        Um, you can’t wear someone out if they are at you’re sister wives house.

      • James Justice says:

        If you are monogamous, you can’t wear them out at work either, or helping a neighbor, or ….. Use your time wisely, and you won’t leave things undone. But is this really a problem – women not getting enough sex when their husbands are at home with them?

    • Emily says:

      Time mgmt doesn’t change the fact that it’s an unequal balance of sexual power. If a man has multiple wives sleeping at multiple houses during the week, he’s not there for a wife if she wants sex and it’s not her night. In a monogamous relationship there is a greater chance he’s in one house every night. Yet in a polygamous relationship a man is more likely to get sex anytime he wants. And yes, women do want sex, so it is an unfair problem.

      • James Justice says:

        So you are saying that a man should be around and have sex with his wife whenever she wants it? Does that go both ways? Or, can a wife decline her husbands wishes for various reasons, but a man can’t decline one of his wife’s wishes for various reasons as well?

        How often is it that men are turned down for sex by thier wives vs. how often is it that women are turned down for sex by their husbands? Are men on average the same as women on average as far as sex drive is concerned? Researchers say there are numerous differences between the sexes, on average.
        \

      • nrc42 says:

        Sex drives vary widely, and fully understanding female sexual response and desire is an under-researched topic, given that research has so often been done from a male perspective, not to mention the difficulty in determining what is innate and what is socialized. Recommended reading: “Come As You Are” by Emily Nagoski.

        In my marriage, I (a woman) am the higher-libido partner by a not-insubstantial degree.

  24. Melinda says:

    I have always found the language in the temple bothersome, to put it lightly. It became an even more difficult topic after my husband left the church (we have been married almost 29 years now). So, doctrinally speaking I’m now sealed to my children, without a husband/father attached. If the family unit requires a mother/father to be complete, where does that leave me? When I listened to all those lovely tales of temple marriage as a YW, I never thought through all the nuances, because who would? As an adult I find the nuances unsettling and certainly more filled with questions than answers. Thank you for your thoughts on the the how disempowering the language we use regarding polygamy and patricarchy can be.

  25. Jan says:

    Thank you for this well-written post. As an active LDS woman, I have discovered that LDS teachings and traditions about polygamy and polyandry are abominable and result from a system that enforces misogyny and patriarchy. As you described in your post, to correct this problem, the temple ceremony must be changed and policies and procedures in the LDS Church that promote a rape culture must end. Since the Church organization seems so firmly entrenched in subjugating women and giving male leaders absolute power over women, I don’t think this will change, but I wish it would for the sake of the countless women and girls that have, do and will suffer.

  26. Katie says:

    I’ve always thought that until the language of the temple changes, none of the equal partnership talk really matters. Thanks for a thoughtful post.

  27. Jamon says:

    So let me get this straight, Joseph Smith restored the Gospel of Jesus Christ, saw God, Jesus Christ, and other heavenly beings, received daily revelations, performed incredible miracles, and despite all of that he had this uncontrollable carnal urge to have sex with women other than his wife. So he came up with the genius plan to falsely claim that God told him to marry other women, and he even made up a revelation to justify his actions. And he went even further because he didn’t want his buddies to lose out on all that action so he convinced Brigham Young and other apostles to go along with the ruse. And despite all of this they still managed to not lead the restored church astray? Because if polygamy really is an abomination and the prophets who practiced it really weren’t commanded to do so I don’t see any other way that would play out. Oh and we can add Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to this conversation.

    • Violadiva says:

      Hey Jamon,

      Thanks for stopping by the Exponent Blog, dude! I can tell
      from your public FB profile that you’re a guy who values understanding without arguing, so I’d love to address your questions sincerely.
      If this is your first time encountering faithful, believing LDS people who do not believe that polygamy was inspired of God, we’re all pleased to make your acquaintance. Chances are that a few sisters and brothers on the pews in your home ward also feel this way, and are possibly silently cringing and grieving inside when Polygamy culture comments are made in classes. Perhaps that’s the most valuable thing you could learn here: that people with views different than yours are trying to worship Jesus alongside you and find a loving, Zion-like community filled with understanding that doesn’t judge their personal worthiness, or state of their testimony, in spite of this belief.
      If all you gain from this comment is a smidge or empathy and a moment’s hesitation before casting stones at the faith of your brothers and sisters, this will all have been worth it. Believe it or not, Jamon, YOU are the audience I was trying to reach with this post. Because you have the ability to understand and with that knowledge, you can change and influence behavior. Your own, and the people you know.

      The root of your question is the conundrum of prophetic fallibility. You know that old Joke, “Catholics say the pope is infallible, but none believe it. Mormons say the prophet is fallible, but none believe it.”

      The two main works that have to deal with this exact issue are Patrick Mason’s book “Planted” and CarolLynn Pearson’s work, “The ghost of eternal polygamy”. I urge you to read both of these excellent works if you wish you investigate this idea more thoroughly.

      Both of these authors give thorough treatment to your original question in much greater detail than I can here, but let me ask you something: In your life so far, have you felt personal revelation, the actual Hand of god guiding your life to make amazing, big choices and changes? And I’m sure you’ve followed them and been blessed immeasurably. Have you also, at some point in your life, made tremendous, grave errors that ended up hurting someone? Possibly someone you loved? Did this error in any way invalidate the other times you felt inspired and knew you had done right? I imagine not. I imagine You can see yourself as a nuanced, imperfect creature, capable of remarkable good and also prone to mistakes with ramifications you can’t control.
      I know I sure feel that way about myself. That I make so many mistakes, and yet, I also know when god is working through me and my imperfections to work his mighty miracles.

      The notion of prophetic fallibility works much the same way: we afford our prophets the same grace, forgiveness and allowance for mistake while still supporting their calling, and inspiration! It’s what makes a prophet so relatable and human. We know he is just like all the rest of us, trying his best to do his calling and let the lord work through him for good.

      To your original question, are there those who believe Joseph Smith was who he said he was, saw what he said he was, and on, etc., who also believe that he was in error to introduce polygamy? If this is the first time you’ve considered that these unicorns exist, let me tell you that they do.
      How each of them come to those conclusions are as unique as their testimony of the gospel itself, but I can say with most certainty that they have prayed, studied and agonized over it endlessly before arriving at a conclusion. And the ways they might justify their answer is as varied as there are people who believe it. Some may think Joseph had incredible vision of how to seal the entire human family together (the dynastic sealings) and just got a little off track in making the women wives instead of daughters (he made the men his sons, usually). Some think he had a mental break due to the stress at the time and was not in his normal state of mind. Some may think he had a sort of sexual perversion, perhaps, but I don’t think that’s the most commonly held belief. Most people I know personally think he made an error that got way out of hand, was misunderstood and blown out of proportion before he could control it, and then he died before he could reconcile it. Future generations of men who revered Jospeh likely thought they were exercising faith in their prophet for continuing the practice, and did so with pure intent, many overcoming tremendous cognitive dissonance before doing so.
      The situation is not nearly so black and white as you may presume.

      Perhaps if you’re ever a bishop or stake president, you’ll have a sister from your ward approach you in tears about this subject. My advice to you? Before dismissing her as ignorant or unenligthened, or trying to teach her why she is wrong for believing thus, give a real, honest and concerted effort to understand the pain of where she’s coming from. She’s a member of your flock! She’s overcoming huge stigma and embarrassment to come talk to you because she trusts you. I pray that your charitable response will soothe her troubled heart.

      If what I have just typed is A bit mind-boggling, I’d be happy to recommend other follow up reading suggestions. And stick around the blog! We need guys like you here.

      God bless, brother.

      • SC says:

        Agreed. We have long been told that God would remove a prophet if ever he were to lead us astray. I find it no small coincidence that Joseph Smith was removed from leadership/life soon after instituting polygamy (it was what fanned the flames enough to get mobs mad enough to actually shoot to kill instead of just arresting and trying him in courts of law).

        Likewise, the Saints’ hardships in Utah (US government interference and oppression) came to an end only after they ended this corrupt and oppressive practice.

      • James Justice says:

        “What we have here is a failure to communicate!”. So said the prison warden to Luke in the movie “Cool Hand Luke”. Is it true in the case of God speaking to his children here on this earth? God speaks and we just ignore Him, as in we are just not listening? Don’t want to listen to Him because our feelings got hurt and so we refuse to listen? Or, is it that we are hard of hearing? Haven’t developed the skills yet to be able to recognize His voice, or lack the ability to understand Him in the numerous ways He has used to speak to us? Or, to know how to seek for and obtain the spirit, or know the difference between our own inner voices speaking to us and those of God’s voice.

        Back when I was 14 the important thing then was: “Do you have a testimony of the Church? or the Book of Mormon?”. Later I learned that it was more important to gain a testimony of EACH of the principles of the Gospel(s), the commandments, the things the Lord had set up, etc. And so searching, learning, and gaining a witness of them became my life’s mission. 20 hours a week on average I have spent since then studying, pondering, discussing, arguing over points with others knowledgeable, re-examining, etc. To know what was taught, why it was taught, why it was, how it was, how things fit together, etc. and most importantly through ponderance and prayer parting the veil to receive knowledge from God pertaining to these things. So I could know for myself and not have to lean on another’s understandings, beliefs, or testimony. To know assuredly and not trust in man’s reasoning and “authority/position”.

        If you (meaning people in general, LDS, or ???) don’t KNOW for yourself, but have doubts, question, wonder, etc. then find out for yourself. Admit you don’t “know”. Admit to yourself you don’t want to know if that is the case. Ponder upon the possibility that your eyes may be darkened by yours, your family’s, or society’s paradigms. That you might be an eagle walking amongst chickens and have only been fed chicken food all your life and there just MIGHT be lots more that you don’t know and may even have been withheld from you.

        I personally KNOW that Celestial Plural Marriage is a true principle. God has revealed it to me directly through three separate revelations. And my plural wife also received three different revelations about it. THEN we got married. We didn’t enter into it in ignorance. Without knowing. Doubting. Wondering about the “fairness” of it all. It ddn’t pertain because it is not for everybody. It’s not for the masses. It is for the few called to it. For some, it is also for those who want a husband and children more than anything – more than careers, their good name among friends and family, victimhood, wealth, etc.

        Sure, there are many out there who use this principle to cover thier pride, thier vain ambitions, unrighteous desires, vicious natures, etc. But so does monogamy. Why isn’t monogamy being called out as being evil or wicked? Or singleness which men and women abuse? There isn’t much more abuse of the volume and many different kinds in monogamy as there is in polygamy? Why not outlaw it because someone CAN abuse it?

        Perhaps people are barking up the wrong tree, blaming principles instead of the imperfect people trying to live them?

      • Violadiva says:

        Wow.
        Are you a still member of the mainstream LdS church, or were you excommunicated when you married your second wife? Or do you keep that detail of your life secret from your local leaders?

        I think this discussion is at an impasse; we fundamentally disagree, and that’s okay. You don’t have to keep trying to convince me that plural marriage is inspired, and I won’t keep trying to explain why I think it’s not.

      • James Justice says:

        No, I remained a member of the LDS Church for another 2 years after I married my second wife. I was an Elders Quorum President at the time as well as the Gospel Doctrine teacher. I never lied about it but I didn’t come out and announce it either. Someone called the Bishop up and turned me in but he didn’t believe it and castigated them for saying such a thing. About six months later they called and repeated it in no uncertain terms and so the Bishop called me up and had our discussion. Later my first wife and I were called to a trial with the Stake Presidency and High Council which had its own foregone conclusion. My second wife had a Bishop’s court about a month later and was exed at that time.

      • nrc42 says:

        James, my dude, bearing witness of your own revelation and knowledge doesn’t work when you’re bearing it at people who have themselves been given a strong personal witness and revelation that the opposite is true.

      • Mike says:

        Wow, quite the reveal here in James Justice’s comments. Makes for exciting reading for those who endure to the end in reading the comment section!

      • Olivia says:

        A guy who believes that he is “an eagle walking among chickens” is doing a pretty good job of telling on himself.

        We should probably make a plan before he starts trying to eat the rest of us.

      • Olivia says:

        Also: Eagles are monogamous.

  28. James Justice says:

    “I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation…Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not.”

    Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 14:205

    • Olivia says:

      Indeed. Which is exactly what so many of the faithful men and women in this comments section have done, and have had a strong confirmation for themselves that mormon-style coercive polygamy is wrong and not God’s will.

      Some of us have even spent MORE than 20 hours a week studying these things! SOME people have even written whole BOOKS on the topic!

      And many others in these comments are ALSO currently living polygamous marriages. Some (many) against their will, and with great pain and suffering. Which is exactly what the post is trying to explain.

      So that’s precisely why you need to *back the #^@% off* and stop trying to insist that you are somehow uniquely more in tune, more qualified, more intelligent or more aware of what God thinks about marriage practices that many people understand as inherently abusive to women.

      You get to believe that polygamy is what God wants you to do. You don’t get to coerce anyone else into believing it. And you DEFINITELY don’t get to condescendingly lecture others about why you’re the righteous one who understands God’s REAL will when women are here sharing their very real pain about the very real harm that coercive mormon polygamy culture has done in their own lives.

      If God do not want us to listen passively to prophets, They DEFINITELY do not want us to be passively splained at by you.

  29. Fara Williams says:

    This article really hits the nail on the head. I have been disgusted by polygamy since age 15 when a disgraced cousin of mine got sent home from his mission for having sex with a woman. He tried to tell me that “God in his wisdom invented polygamy because men have higher sex drives than women do and men are capable of having sex several times a day.” He went on to say that women have to accept this law because it’s like having sisters and if I couldn’t do that then I would NOT go to heaven. What a creep he was. So is my ex-husband a creeo. He has told me more than once that I will be his in the next life.

  30. Chairoscuro says:

    thank you so much for writing this post. such and important topic that I would love to see the church tackle head on. i’d like them to either bring polygamy back completely as a practice, or dismiss it completely as a past mistake. I hate that we are apparently supposed to believe in it as doctrinal and not practice it. it leads to so many false justifications and broken hearts, etc

    • Mike says:

      I agree with Violadiva in that polygamy (polygyny) is inherently misaligned with Godly principles and is not sustainable without coercion. Thus, I disagree with your position that restoring polygamy as it was historically practiced would be preferential to this in-between state where the church exists now.

      Yet, I do believe (as you do) that this in-between state on the doctrine of marriage / family is undesirable. In my perspective, I see two ultimate solutions to this polygamy problem:

      -Either do away with polygamy entirely (as Violadiva states in this post)
      OR
      -Making consensual polyamory doctrinal

      In my opinion, consensual polyamory feels to me to be the most aligned with other Godly and virtuous principles (agency of all people, equality between genders). It also feels more practical in that it acknowledges the messiness of real lived relationships at different stages of life and doesn’t require anybody to choose just one person. Not to mention the fact that questions of same-sex marriage or transgender / queer persons can all be included within such a flexible framework (which can also include people like James Justice and his wives who firmly believe that polygyny is the best system for them).

      Thus, I am hesitant to roundly condemn D&C 132 as wholly uninspired. Maybe it is a flawed but crucial vehicle to open the door for further light and knowledge that will eventually be restored, allowing far more people access to loving, fulfilling relationships without the condemnation of God.

      I don’t know what is in store for the restoration of the gospel in the long term, but I believe moving in this direction could actually be a blessing for the whole human family.

      • Elizabeth A Jarrard says:

        But please, if so, polyandry as welllllll…..

      • Mike says:

        Yes! Perhaps “consensual polyamory” wasn’t explicit enough. I mean to suggest that all intimate relationships between adults built on commitment, respect, mutual consent, and openness with all relevant partners should be socially and doctrinally acceptable, in my view.

        In other words, I’m using “consensual polyamory” is an umbrella for a variety of intimate relationships between individuals and all are equal, as long as they adhere to those values. Of course, not everyone needs to have multiple partners, and I imagine many may not want multiple partners. Monogamy can happily exist in this framework, as their commitments are to each other exclusively (they don’t consent to outside relationships). Both polygyny and polyandry could also exist, as long as everyone is consenting and open about it. But this allows more flexibility in intimate relationships in ethical ways.

    • Mike says:

      Also, I should add that I think the elevation of marriage and family doctrine in the LDS church to beliefs that are of equal importance to the atonement of Jesus Christ, forgiveness, and loving your neighbor is very misguided. I feel we’ve almost begun to worship the traditional family, which I believe is inconsistent with the gospel of Christ.

      Ultimately, I believe a true restoration would make consensual polyamory doctrinal and would clearly place it at a lower tier than where we currently place marriage and family doctrine.

      This overlaps with the issue of what sealings actually are, which was raised earlier in the comments. I believe we’ve elevated sealings in this church higher than what I believe is sound, Christ-centered worship. I argue they should be both less important and more inclusive in a religion that is focused on the redemption of the whole human family.

  31. James Justice says:

    Interesting how several group members can say whatever they want on this group, and break the group’s posting rules (more particularly seveal rants by members, breaking rules 2, 3, and 4, and yet only I get called on an infraction or two. In addition, I can’t respond to several people’s posts but they sure can respond to mine.

    Something tells me that if I wasted the time in going thorugh Violadiva’s OP line by line and refuted many of the points, my post would’t last more than 15 minutes online before someone would delete. You don’t want honest discussion, just one sided, that which speaks against all the scriptures in one way or the other and promotes today’s feminism which has become more female chauvinism than anything about equality.

    • Elizabeth A Jarrard says:

      There are a number of times you don’t even cite correct numbers and ratios (cite some sources that are reputable such as when you use the 3% of women would choose it). And your logic is severely flawed.

    • MDearest says:

      JJ I sorta feel for you. It sucks to be in a space where you don’t have privilege, and someone else has more than you. And voicing your complaint gets you absolutely nowhere.

  32. Elizabeth A Jarrard says:

    This topic and article is so apt, and so necessary.
    In 2016 I presented at the Utah Conference for Undergraduate for me research regarding the use of “patriarchal language in world religions” and how it negatively impacts the inner dialogue of religious women (and men). I have posted before about the inequities and the harmful rhetoric inside the LDS church. I have made my spiritual exodus from the church because leaving has been a much more of a peaceful place for me to reside. I allow myself to address both Mother and Father in Heaven when I pray. I have created my own “rituals” which are simple and meaningful to me.
    I requested and was granted a temple sealing cancellation by the First Presidency from my former husband. This was the deepest relief to me after being told by my former bishop, that if I pursued a temple sealing cancellation, and the first presidency “ticked that box,” then I would “lose my children in the eternities.” At that moment in time, I knew I was in the wrong place.
    I find “They” are happy with my choice, because it had ultimately allowed me to heal from the abuses I experienced as a faithful Mormon wife, stay-at-home mother, and returned missionary etc.
    I would suggest something to anyone interested. Netflix has posted an old series (I’m assuming originally produced by PBS) where Joseph Campbell is discussing a range of topics. One of the episodes is on “Love” and “The Goddess.” It is very healing and very beautiful.
    Another beautiful scholar is Carol P. Christ (a graduate and former professor at Yale Divinity School) who discusses women and feminism and Goddess topics.

  33. Derek Straughter says:

    If you’re going to quote Jacob 2 you should probably remember verse 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.”… My personal thoughts on Polygamy (more reasons than 1 but…) are it was a type of “Abrahamic sacrifice” in a sense. God tried Abraham by seeing if he would obey the heart wrenching (very difficult, peculiar) command to sacrifice his son. Interesting as you read through D&C 132 it refers many times to the case of Abraham, it even talks about God accepting his sacrifice even as he accepted Abraham. What would be just as difficult if not maybe harder? Sacrificing your marriage. I really do not think Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and a good deal of the early genuine saints truly loved the idea of it. You might say “well that sounds terrible and God isn’t a jerk”. I feel like you’re looking at it very narrowly and temporally. What is God’s ultimate goal for us? It’s not just to be saved as many other Christians think. Everyone besides the sons of perdition will be saved so what is the ultimate goal? To inherit Godhood, to become like God the Father and his son in every way possible, to take over their “work and glory”. God the Father (an Eternal individual who experiences eternal bliss) is countlessly confronted by decisions that pull on the very strings of his heart but yet he always does what’s right and just, the greater good. Think of him watching his son suffering and crying in anguish asking for possible relief, can’t imagine how heart wrenching that would be but somehow he saw, they both saw the greater good and submitted to it. That’s a part of the essence of an eternal being. Abraham, Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and all those who seek to “inherit” all (his responsibilities, obligations and purpose which will require his attributes) the father has will go through an “Abrahamic sacrifice” to stretch their soul to bear it. If you wish not to proceed and submit everything, you will be damned (halt of progress). You’ll be saved but you cannot take place in “eternal life”. Eternity will not be as easy and care free as many might think. For those who want it, it will bring an eternity of heart wrenching decisions as you “play God”. Elder Holland has said “salvation is not a cheap experience” if that’s the case then those seeking for exaltation will have nothing left to give away. But that’s the beauty about the gospel, if you don’t want that you can be comfortable in your kingdom of glory in your “saved condition”. D&C 88:32 “And they who remain shall also be quickened; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received.”

    • Violadiva says:

      Thanks, Derek, for stopping by and for the thoughtful comment.

      I think you’ll enjoy the link Kathy posted in the comments above about the reinterpretation of Jacob 2.

      And I hope you read my reply to Jamon above, especially in regards to prophetic fallibility.

      I can tell you put a lot of soul-searching thought into how you might rationalize polygamy in your own mind, especially in your quest for eternal life. I respect that! I have a question back for you: what’s more likely, that God is a jerk, or that a mortal man got it wrong and made God out to be a “fall-guy”? God has been blamed for lots of awful things that are contrary to his nature and previous commandments.
      The mental gymnastics required to make God “not a jerk” when male writers of scripture purport that he commanded murder, infidelity, genocide, etc., help me lean a lot more on “God is not a jerk. Humans got it wrong.” In this case, I choose to believe that both Jospeh and Abraham (and David for that matter) got it wrong, for the sake of not throwing God under the bus. By the time I would finish the mental gymnastics it would require to believe that God Did command these unenithical and immoral acts, he ceases to become a God I can worship with my full heart. For the sake of saving my relationship with God, I choose to believe that JS got this thing wrong. (But as you’ll see from my reply above, that doesn’t discredit or invalidate any of the other good he has done.)

    • Elizabeth A Jarrard says:

      So interesting, Derek, that you mention “narrow thinking” to describe what one woman suggests is bnot God’s doing, rather, fallible men. You use this same kind of thinking to justify the actions of fallible prophets. Do you know the mind of God/ess? What has actually been revealed? Do you exclude scripture and legends and visions recorded by others of God’s children? In other lands? From outside a Judeo Christian framework? Or do you only accept the Bible and the Book of Mormon and modern prophets as absolute Platonic truth? I think if you actually looked into the hearts of most LDS women, and got them to be very frank, you would see that many LDS women believe the early prophets “got it wrong.” That their own hearts were led astray. Joseph Smith said himself that “many are called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen?..(D&C 121)” Perhaps Joseph Smith himself was led astray, and what if the Lord allowed his life to be taken early because of it? How many course corrections did the church have to make after this practice was introduced, and how many course corrections will it continue to make because of this and other shadows that lurk behind us in our history? Such as denying the blacks the priesthood? And other things that have not yet been revealed because of the “craftiness of men,” and “‘wickedness in high places?”

  1. July 20, 2018

    […] week, Exponent blogger Violadiva outlined the fallacies of polygamy culture, including the idea that women are subordinate possessions of men. The idea of men owning women […]

  2. July 22, 2018

    […] of Polygamy Culture – Possession Fallacy and Women as Reward Fallacy. Seeing a woman as a sexual object to be possessed or controlled is a by-product of the lingering […]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.