D&C 132: A revelation of men, not God

solomons-wives-and-idolatry 

What I’m about to say to you may seem shocking, but please read through it completely to understand where I am coming from.  I have come to the belief that D&C 132 and Joseph’s teaching of polygamy isn’t, wasn’t, and never will be revelation of God, that polygamy is not of God but rather an idea of men. I believe that it is self-evident that a loving God would not be the author of such confusion, obvious inequality, and emotionally/psychological damage.  I believe firmly that if there ever was a practice and verse of scripture that has failed the test of fruits of the spirit, D&C 132 and polygamy would be a sure bet.

Galatians 5 reads:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Yet, apparently in Mormondom there is a law that does not mesh with the fruits of the spirit. That law is plural marriage. It is a subject that causes many peoples’ stomachs to wrench with disgust. It is a topic that is avoided and often disregarded as something that only God understands, yet plural marriage has and continues to affect the lives of every Latter-day Saint. You don’t believe me?

In my own life my parents had taught me that polygamy was the marriage system of heaven. My mother would say, “How else would Heavenly Mother be able to give birth to billions of spirit children, unless she did not have fellow women to help her?” People in my very Mormon community would say things like, “When they bring back polygamy…..” or “If the prophet asked you to practice polygamy, would you do it?”, as if it would be the ultimate faith and devotion to God. My wife has even more disturbing experiences.  She was taught that the more righteous the man, the more wives he would have in the life to come.  This created a harsh dichotomy in her mind.  She wanted to marry a righteous man and yet didn’t want to share her husband in polygamous heaven.  She was told that it was a principle designed to teach women humility and to overcome jealousy.  (Because no man would ever be jealous or upset over having to share his spouse.)  I’m sure Mormon readers, especially women, have stories of your own. The doctrine of plural marriage continues to deeply affecting much of the church culture to this day. From the way we treat women, to the way church business is conducted, to temple practices, plural marriage still colors the filter we look through. If you do not believe me, you need to follow this link to learn more.

The reason I have decided to write this post is to stand up for the women hurting from this painful teaching. I’m doing it for my posterity, so they will know where I stood on the issue. And I’m doing it for every polygamous wife that has ever felt the agony of watching their spouse kiss and love another woman.  I’m doing this for every faithful woman that wrestles with the tortuous thought of a polygamous “heaven”. I’m doing this in an effort to help people realize, that with honest study and prayer, you can come to see that polygamy should be thrown into the dust bin of mistakes, never to be resurrected again, and that those rejecting polygamy still remain faithful to God. Let me show you why I believe what I believe-

MONOGAMY

From personal experience, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have always been of the opinion that a primary purpose of polygamy was to bring forth more children. God requires polygamy to raise up a righteous generation, yet God has shown in scriptures that monogamous couples are preferred for the of start civilizations, dispensations, and righteous generations.

Adam and Eve, the first people.

Genesis 2

 23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

Noah and his wife, our first parents after the flood that destroyed mankind.

Genesis 7

There went in two and two unto Noah into the ark, the male and the female, as God had commanded Noah…

13 In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark;

Lehi and Sariah, the first parents of the ancient Americas

1 Nephi 1

5…and he did travel in the wilderness with his family, which consisted of my mother, Sariah, and my elder brothers, who were Laman, Lemuel, and Sam.

In each case Adam, Noah, and Lehi all had one wife at a time. When there was dire need to repopulate the Earth with a righteous population, these men found that a loving equal was all that they needed to brave a new world. The scriptures continue to support monogamy in D&C 42:22, 1 Timothy 3:2,12, D&C 49:16, Jacob 2 and 3, Ephesians 5:31 and the list goes on. There are many scriptures that support the overarching idea that a man should cleave unto one woman and none else.

Science, itself, has shown that those in polygamous relationships have less children than monogamous couples would.  For example: if a man had three wives, and each of his wives had three children, there would be 9 children born.  Statistically, three men married to those same women would have an average of 12 children instead of only nine.  If God was looking for quick repopulation, polygamy is not a good way to go about it.

It is self-evident that monogamy is the only type of relationship where total fidelity, trust, and equality can be accomplished. This is something a polygamous relationship cannot provide. In polygamy, marital relationships are perverted beyond something recognizable to any modern Mormon. The Proclamation to the Family, heralded as the blueprint to a successful, godly society states,

All human beings-male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny…Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children…Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another…We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God.

Let’s take Brigham Young for example, He was said to have approximately 55 wives. A loving husband and father would surely spend an equal amount of time loving and caring for each wife and her children. Unfortunately, for Brigham Young’s wives that would mean that Brigham would help change diapers and play catch, less than one week a year. Many of his wives lived together in dorm-like settings. This would mean they may have seen the president of the church more often than one week a year, but the quality time a monogamous relationship is more likely to achieve, was not possible. These incredibly strong women were forced to be basically single parents, loyal to absentee husbands, in a place they  called Zion. Many of them relied on each other to help raise their children so adequately  supplied to them.  Happiness and love was an afterthought. Zina Huntington, one of Brigham’s and Joseph Smith’s wives depressingly stated:

“It is the duty of the first wife to regard her husband not with a selfish devotion… she must regard her husband with indifference, and with no other feeling than that of reverence, for love we regard as a false sentiment; a feeling which should have no existence in polygamy… we believe in the good old custom by which marriages should be arranged by the parents of the young people.”  -New York World, November 17, 1869, as cited in The Lion of the Lord, pp. 229-230

Brigham Young seemed to ignore the lack of love and care with these words:

My wife, though a most excellent woman, has not seen a happy day since I took my second wife;’ ‘No, not a happy day for a year,’ says one; and another has not seen a happy day for five years. It is said that women are tied down and abused: that they are misused and have not the liberty they ought to have; that many of them are wading through a perfect flood of tears, …And my wives have got to do one of two things; either round up their shoulders to endure the afflictions of this world, and live their religion, or they may leave, for I will not have them about me. I will go into heaven alone, rather than have scratching and fighting around me. I will set all at liberty. ‘What, first wife too?’ Yes, I will liberate you all.”I know what my women will say; they will say, ‘You can have as many women as you please, Brigham.’ But I want to go somewhere and do something to get rid of the whiners; I do not want them to receive a part of the truth and spurn the rest out of doors.”-Journal of Discourses, Vol. 4, 1856, pp. 55-57

This comment was an ultimatum given to the women of Utah with a choice that they shape up, or leave and face damnation. Of course, many women did not leave with the threat of eternal damnation over their head. Nevertheless, there was something disturbing to these women that caused grumblings and commotion in the church. It wasn’t just the wives of Brigham Young that suffered. I feel disheartened for the wives of Heber C. Kimball, who struggled for his financial and loving support, when he said:

“I have noticed that a man who has but one wife, and is inclined to that doctrine, soon begins to wither and dry up, while a man who goes into plurality looks fresh, young, and sprightly. Why is this? Because God loves that man, and because he honors his word. Some of you may not believe this, but I not only believe it but I also know it. For a man of God to be confined to one woman is small business… I do not know what we should do if we had only one wife apiece.”-Deseret News, April 22, 1857

Apostle George Q. Cannon further contradicts the proclamation to the family with this statement,

“It is a fact worthy of note that the shortest-lived nations of which we have record have been monogamic. Rome, with her arts, sciences and warlike instincts, was once the mistress of the world; but her glory faded. She was a mono-gamic nation, and the numerous evils attending that system early laid the foundation for that ruin which eventually overtook her.”-Journal of Discourses, v. 13, p. 202

I’m confused, and who wouldn’t be? I understand why the above statements were made. The presidents and apostles defended something that they thought was of God. They were trying desperately to make something work that could not be fixed, they needed it dressed and painted to look presentable to the world. They convinced themselves that polygamy had a purpose and was sensible, yet failed to see that it was a puzzle piece that did not fit in the Kingdom of God.

THE MATH

Let’s discuss the arithmetic of polygamy. Whoever invented polygamy didn’t think the numbers through very well. Polygamy as a long term, multi-generational, possibility, requires an obvious greater number of women. A wise God, knowing polygamy as heavenly form of marriage, did not populate the Earth accordingly. In fact, if anything God did the very opposite of what polygamy requires. It is estimated that for every 100 females born in the world there are 107 males born.  There is already a shortage of girls in the world and polygamy compounds the problem. D&C 131 makes the case for man’s eternal happiness and exaltation even more dire in the face of the doctrine of plural marriage.

D&C 131

In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees;

2 And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage];

And if he does not, he cannot obtain it.

He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase.

Most Latter-day Saints consider marriage a blessing, an essential step in progression toward perfection, and most importantly a covenant with God to enter his presence. Let me emphasize that it is a REQUIREMENT. Unfortunately, not only will 7 men be left out of marriage possibilities per 50 couples, which is troubling, but polygamy makes marriage an even more daunting endeavor. If every “righteous” man was to take an extra wife, that would reduce marriage possibilities by half. Now instead of 7 men left as bachelors, we have a staggering 57 men unable to find a spouse. That would be 57 men unable to enter the kingdom of God, even if they desperately desired to do so.

If polygamy is the choice form of marriage than there will be some obvious demographic problems with heaven. If every man had three wives, that would mean heaven would be composed of 25% men and 75% women. That seems like some drastic gender inequality. On the one hand, women are forced to share a man because of the sheer lack of them, and on the other hand, it is just as appalling to realize that a loving God would save so many more woman than men. What is it about a man’s gender that predisposes so many less of them to be saved?

If we take it a step further and follow the example of Brigham Young, then heaven looks like a miserably anemic place for men. Brigham Young married 55 women, which if allowed as a possibility in heaven, would mean that 98% of the heavenly populace would be women and only a 2% minority of men. That surely doesn’t sound like heaven for women. Finding an exalted man would be as hard as finding a natural redhead in Spain, you just might want to bring your camera, when you die, to photograph that rare species.  If, on the other hand, the demographics of heaven were more aligned with mortal demographics, instead of multiply wives, it would seem that women would need to take multiple husbands.  It feels just a little more painful when the tables are turned, doesn’t it?

D&C 132, STRANGER THAN FICTION

That being said, let’s dive into D&C 132, the scripture that was said to be revelation concerning the plurality of wives. This is the same revelation that justified the practice from Joseph Smith to President Joseph F. Smith. It is the principle that led indirectly to Joseph Smith’s arrest and death, when he ordered the burning of the Nauvoo Expositor, which published his secret practice of plural marriage. It is this revelation that has continued the justification of polygamy among Mormon splinter groups, to this day. It is this revelation that has spread ideas of eternal plural marriage in the next life and the possible return of the principle in this life.  But what does this chapter actually say?  So, in proper LDS fashion, please pull out your scriptures and turn to D&C 132

Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you my servant Joseph, that inasmuch as you have inquired of my hand to know and understand wherein I, the Lord, justified my servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as also Moses, David and Solomon, my servants, as touching the principle and doctrine of their having many wives and concubines—

ABRAHAM

Abraham is first mentioned as a practitioner of polygamy, which is no secret. It is common knowledge that the practice of multiple wives was not only acceptable in nomadic cultures, but was also a means of status, and a culturally acceptable way to build a tribe. We should not confuse the cultural acceptability of a practice as a sign of God’s tacit approval.  The Lord, in the Old Testament, makes no mention of giving any wife to Abraham.  It is presented as an idea of Sarah.  As she was unable to produce any children for Abraham, she decided that the culturally acceptable practice of polygamy might be a good solution.  It could even be said that a lack of faith, by Sarah and Abraham led to that tumultuous polygamous relationship. The Lord had promised Abraham offspring, yet Sarah could not bear any children. We know, from the story, that Sarah did actually bear a child, Isaac. But instead of waiting for the Lord to deliver on his promise, she told Abraham, “I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children.” There was no God involved. In fact, this relationship between Hagar and Sarah would breed discontent and jealousy and eventually lead to the expulsion of a child and woman into the desert, away from their family. Does that seem like a gift from God?

ISAAC

Isaac did not have multiple wives, He was married to Rebekah.

JACOB

Jacob also practiced polygamy, but once again there is no mention of a command from the Lord. He was tricked into marrying Leah, and Jacob realized that Laban, her father, was the mastermind of the deceit. Jacob was so intent on marrying Rachel that he continued working for Laban, in order to finally marry the woman of his dreams. Zilpah and Bilhah  were handmaidens of Jacob’s other two wives, none of which were God commanded relationships.  In fact, the scriptures are pretty clear that Zilpah and Bilhah were used by Leah and Rachel in a twisted game of one-upping each other.

MOSES

Moses is just pure speculation, Moses married Zipporah and she is not referenced very much afterward. Moses later marries an Ethiopian woman. There is no reference of plural wives or having two wives at one time.

DAVID AND SOLOMON

It is no secret that David and Solomon had many wives, if you could call them that. Many were concubines, lesser-wives, or as Webster’s 1828 dictionary refers to them “an inferior kind”.  Let’s be honest, when there are hundreds of wives to one man, they are not wives in the modern sense, they are property. And I can confidently proclaim that there are no concubines, or “property wives” in the eyes of a loving God. There are only women. Their inherent value does not change by their title or by the way they are treated. Jacob, of the Book of Mormon, makes it clear that David and Solomon were not acting under the direction of God. Jacob 2 states:

23 But the word of God burdens me because of your grosser crimes. For behold, thus saith the Lord: This people begin to wax in iniquity; they understand not the scriptures, for they seek to excuse themselves in committing whoredoms, because of the things which were written concerning David, and Solomon his son.

24 Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.

25 Wherefore, thus saith the Lord, I have led this people forth out of the land of Jerusalem, by the power of mine arm, that I might raise up unto me a righteous branch from the fruit of the loins of Joseph.

26 Wherefore, I the Lord God will not suffer that this people shall do like unto them of old.

THE DOCTRINE AND PRINICPLE

It is important to realize that in verse 1, the revelation states that it is a doctrine and a principle to have plural wives. Many people reason away D&C 132 because they believe that polygamy was a practice and separate from a doctrine. Verse 1 says otherwise. Let’s go on-

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.

The Lord is saying that if you KNOW the law, you MUST OBEY the law. This should mean that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not following the command of the Lord. or are we?…Monogamy is commanded by the Lord in every other scripture. Is God bipolar? I thought our God was the same today, yesterday, and forever.

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.

Again the Lord is saying you must practice the new and everlasting covenant or you can’t enter his presence. Reiterating the importance of the covenant. This, once again, makes it very difficult for men to enter the kingdom of God if all the women are already married.

Behold, mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion.

What has caused more confusion in the church than polygamy? What has called into question the character of Joseph Smith more than his secret practice of taking plural wives? Why have we ignored this topic for so long and concealed the fact that Joseph was a polygamist? It may be because it’s confusing and not from the Lord.

15 Therefore, if a man marry him a wife in the world, and he marry her not by me nor by my word, and he covenant with her so long as he is in the world and she with him, their covenant and marriage are not of force when they are dead, and when they are out of the world; therefore, they are not bound by any law when they are out of the world.

16 Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory.

17 For these angels did not abide my law; therefore, they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever.

Did you catch that, The God of D&C 132 is saying that Mormon marriages will pave the way for us to become gods, while all of our single members will become our servants. This God puts so much weight on becoming married in the new and everlasting covenant, that any other unions will be dissolved. Those loving and righteous people will live as single angels, doing our bidding for eternity. This sounds great for my wife and me, but I can’t help feeling concerned for my non-temple married friends and the single adults in the ward. D&C 132 even lays it out clearly,  marriages do not happen in the here-after. Which means that God is a respecter of persons. This God seems more interested in saving and exalting married temple goers, than Mother Teresa, Gandhi, and other people, who have done far-more good than I ever will, but were never married in the new and everlasting covenant.  It means that God is a respecter of a woman’s ability to get married more than her innate worth as a person.  This verse seems to place the entire value of a person on their ability to snag a spouse.  Does that sound like the God you worship?

19 … if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant…Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection… and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions…and if ye abide in my covenant, and commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.

26 Verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man marry a wife according to my word, and they are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, according to mine appointment, and he or she shall commit any sin or transgression of the new and everlasting covenant whatever, and all manner of blasphemies, and if they commit no murder wherein they shed innocent blood, yet they shall come forth in the first resurrection, and enter into their exaltation; but they shall be destroyed in the flesh, and shall be delivered unto the buffetings of Satan unto the day of redemption, saith the Lord God.

I find it most interesting that God said that the only thing that would prevent a covenant married man from entering heaven would be murder.  What about abuse, extortion, adultery, torture, child abandonment, or racist hatred?  Wouldn’t those prevent others from possibly entering the kingdom of God. I am definitely not the judge of anyone’s salvation, but it seems clear to me that a loving God would not make such a claim, that anything short of murder is permissible, as long as you enter the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. So is God a respecter of married persons?  As long as you have made the right covenants, you can do whatever you want and “God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God” (2 Nephi 28:7-8)  Does that sound reasonable?

36 Abraham was commanded to offer his son Isaac; nevertheless, it was written: Thou shalt not kill. Abraham, however, did not refuse, and it was accounted unto him for righteousness.

This would be a fair comparison if Isaac was really offered as a sacrifice, but in the most widely used story of the Abrahamic/Isaac sacrifice, Abraham did not actually kill Isaac. In other words, polygamy was not really a test, more like an ultimatum. The early saints actually followed through with the “test” of polygamy and practiced it for nearly 80 years. There was no killing of Isaac involved.  Neither should forced polygamy have been involved.

37 Abraham received concubines, and they bore him children; and it was accounted unto him for righteousness…

38 David also received many wives and concubines, as also many others of my servants, from the beginning of creation until this time; and in nothing did they sin save in those things which they received not of me.

39 David’s wives and concubines were given unto him of me…

40 I am the Lord thy God, and I gave unto thee, my servant Joseph, an appointment, and restore all things.

Do women have a choice? “received” and “giving”?  Are women given as prizes to the most obedient males? Granted, I believe God works with our cultural practices, but  polygamy was no longer considered a cultural norm at the time of Joseph Smith.  If anything was a revelation from God it was the suffrage movement of the 20th century that turned women from property into people. If there is anything that is evidence of a restoration, it is the final realization of women’s rights. A truer restoration is that of a women’s God given equality and independent mind and personhood, which existed long before Abraham and King David. We needed a restoration of the importance of women.

It seems curious that very little from Old Testament times was “restored” in this “restoration of all things”. Why wasn’t blood sacrifice restored? Why wasn’t the old dietary laws of no pork or shellfish restored? Why weren’t Levite males the sole possessors of the priesthood like in the times of old?  Luckily, Joseph wasn’t commanded to circumcise himself, like they were of old.   None of that was restored, yet the primitive practice of polygamy made a triumphant return.

54 And I command mine handmaid, Emma Smith, to abide and cleave unto my servant Joseph, and to none else. But if she will not abide this commandment she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord; for I am the Lord thy God, and will destroy her if she abide not in my law.

What happened to the agency for Emma? The Lord respects the agency of mankind SO much that humans are allowed to commit murders, run prostitution rings, embezzle millions of dollars, torture, and molest, without instant judgment reigned down upon their heads.  The Lord, in His mercy, seems to allow them time to change and repent.  Yet Emma Smith must practice polygamy or the Lord will DESTROY her? This sounds much different from the Lord of D&C 3 who stated to Joseph,

10 But remember, God is merciful; therefore, repent of that which thou hast done which is contrary to the commandment which I gave you, and thou art still chosen, and art again called to the work;

11 Except thou do this, thou shalt be delivered up and become as other men, and have no more gift.

The Lord is merciful and He tells Joseph Smith, the prophet of the restoration, the man that the translation of the Book of Mormon hinges upon, the one who communed with the Father, that if he does not repent and translate…he’ll become ordinary. Yep,  ordinary.  Most likely cut off from the Spirit. The same way that all of us are when we sin.  It seems that God is much more willing to be merciful to Joseph than he is to Emma.  Joseph’s transgressions will lead to being ordinary;  Emma, on the other hand will be destroyed.  Does God love Joseph more than he loves Emma?  He seems to be willing to give Joseph multiple opportunities for learning and growth;  Emma not so much. It is interesting to note that Mormon splinter groups, that continue to practice polygamy, use this scripture to scare women into continuing to practice polygamy.  These women are taught that they too will be destroyed if they don’t practice polygamy.  Let’s continue with D&C 132

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

This is one of the most damming of verses for the earlier practitioners  of  plural marriage.  Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and many others, by definition, committed adultery. Both  presidents of the church married women who were already married and several women who were not virgins. Joseph Smith even lied, or as the church officially stated, he used “carefully worded denials”  about the fact that he had many wives to the public and to Emma Smith. This does not help the case for the revelation or the obedience of church leaders to the commandments of God.

joseph_smith_inside

TheWivesOfBrighamYoung

63 But if one or either of the ten virgins, after she is espoused, shall be with another man, she has committed adultery, and shall be destroyed; for they are given unto him to multiply and replenish the earth, according to my commandment, and to fulfil the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my Father continued, that he may be glorified.

In this verse we learn that if a women commits adultery she will be destroyed. No such warning exists in this chapter for men committing adultery.  Yet, if we apply this scripture to men, then the earlier leaders of the church should have had reason to fear for the destruction mentioned in the above scriptures.  But previously we learned that as long as a person married in the new and everlasting covenant doesn’t murder someone they will be exalted.  So….definitely don’t kill someone, but maybe adultery is okay?  I’m not sure.  I’m really confused now.  Also, why is this God so obsessed with virgins?  We should also reject the idea that women are “given” to men to multiply and replenish the Earth. Is this a commandment to multiply and replenish?  Yes!  But D&C 132 completely ignores any other womanly attributes. Women are not just wombs, but equal partners that I would hope a loving God would recognize for more than just their virginity or wombs.  Tithing is also a commandment, we don’t teach men that all they can hope to be is a tithe payer.  We don’t have lesson after lesson on the value of men being their ability to pay tithing to God.  I, likewise, don’t believe that God views women primarily in their virginity and ability or lack of ability to bear children.

  66 And now, as pertaining to this law, verily, verily, I say unto you, I will reveal more unto you, hereafter; therefore, let this suffice for the present. Behold, I am Alpha and Omega. Amen.

I don’t profess to be a scholar or a scriptorian. But, what eventually was revealed was the abandonment of the practice under pressure from The United States. I will not judge the character of Joseph Smith or his contemporaries,  that is job only for God. What I sought to do here was show that we should look at our scripture and the words of the leaders of the church with honesty. And when I look honestly at D&C 132 and the fruits of such words, I do not see God, but the works of men. How about you?

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Posted on February 2, 2015, in Plural marriage. Bookmark the permalink. 212 Comments.

  1. Enjoyed your podcast on Mormon stories. Someone mentioned pres Hinkley said it wasn’t doctrinal , he was refurring to the nonmember polygamist not the church as they don’t have the authority to marry. If polygamy isn’t true then Joseph was an adulterer so this is the reason the church is asking about your blog . As John said on the podcast it challenges the authority of the leadership. The church doesn’t practice but doesn’t denounce it even today. There is a lot of good in the church .the leaders today aren’t perfect they make mistakes. I’ve been in leadership and have seen mistakes, it’s part of being human. There should be no reason for excommunication from seeking answers to “any” questions. But if the conclusion on the blog is Joseph was guilty of adultery it leaves them no choice. I wish I had an answer for you on this topic, my views are pretty liberal as my mother was married twice my dad three times my grandparents twice and my aunts and uncles several times and I’m the only Mormon in the family, and I have one wife. If I had two wives and we were all happy with the situation and everyone was getting everything they need, I have no problem with people living as they wish as long as there is love and support. But if taking another wife diminished my wife and my love for each other I couldn’t go there. There is no way you could be a good husband of father to 50 wives. I’ve been a convert member for 34yrs and just about two years ago read all the “messy” history as it is now called. I’ve heard almost everything I’m sure. False doctrine gets into every church, it took over 100 years to throw out the curse of Cain doctrine. I guess my thoughts are
    The leaders know they aren’t perfect and they don’t know all the answers especially local leaders and that’s not slighting them ,they are told to refer to higher authorities if they don’t know the answer.
    If the other teachings make you happy continue in them and ask questions till your find your answers about polygamy.
    I do believe we should seek all truth even if difficult to understand . And I know that Jesus is “able” to give what you seek.
    Best wishes

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  2. I have NEVER in the 6 years I’ve been a member felt or thought any of these things!! I was not taught that polygamy was a quick fix to repopulate but rather a way for women to be protected after their husbands were killed/died! I was also taught that a man had to be asked personally by his leaders to be able to marry another wife and the men where asked only if they had the means to support the wife and her family which was why the wealthier men had more wives because they could provide more! I haven’t done research to see if every single one of their wives was a widow but I do believe that heavenly fathers purpose was to have these women and children provided and protected for because women were scorned for working during these times!! As for the emotional damage I feel that people were much more selfless in polygamy days and wouldn’t have had the emotional issues like women today would!! I don’t think it would have been easy but I think they would have known it was best for the other wives well beings to be married to her husband and she would have selflessly understood because she loved her sisters!! Comparing polygamy from then to now is unfair because we live in a very different world today!! If members today are waiting for polygamy to be reinstated and are thinking of participating then they have marital issues and that has nothing to do with the church!!! If you are being taught that heaven is a polygamy thriving state then you need to talk to your bishop about having your teachers released because I have NEVER heard that until reading this!!! Our heavenly mother was chosen because she is capable of having billions of spirit children herself!! If she was having her sister birth us then she wouldn’t be our heavenly mother!!!! This is all absurd!! Did anyone notice once women were more accepted in the work field was when polygamy was considered illegal and the church stopped practicing it?! I believe whole heartedly that polygamy was enplaced as a means of survival and to provide! Some men didn’t even have relations with all of the wives! If these women were unhappy then maybe selfishness was their trial! Heavenly Father wouldn’t wish them to be unhappy but if they were being loving and selfless sisters they would be happy to see their husband providing and protecting for these families!! The Mormons are so known for being the only ones in the States that practiced polygamy but we all know how much they were persecuted as well!! Many of the husbands were killed leaving these women and children struggling!! I in no way feel what your wife has felt which is why I never want to live in Utah!!

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    • Dear Catolyn, I want to reply to your comment but carefully, to both not offend and to communicate a point. I notice in your use of punctuation and capital letters that you are giving emphasis to your counterpoints to the blog post. You say you have never heard of a father-in-heaven who participates in polygamy and suggest that a church leader be approached to straighten out those who have been teaching such ideas. That you have NEVER heard of such a thing does not mean that it is not a Mormon position.

      In fact, you don’t even know that you have been victimised. You see, when the church makes changes to things it talks about or changes to the wording in the Book of Mormon it proceeds as if the new positions have always been the positions. The changes Joseph Smith made to the 1837 BOM that reflected his evolving and changing view of the nature of God are not footnoted at the bottom of the page. You see, you have only been in the church for six years, you don’t know what was previously believed or taught. You should consider that you belong to a slowly evolving church which claims exclusive right to the truth and represents God in word and deed on the earth. However, it seems that God frequently makes mistakes, changes his mind and directs church leaders to engage in anti-person behaviours.

      Just so you are aware, on 29 June 1916 James Talmage submitted a paper to finally address the problems Joseph Smith created through his changing ideas on the nature, roles and names of God. The next day the first presidency issued an official declaration to the church. As believing Mormon of six years you will be totally unaware that it took nearly 100 years for the church to come to some sort of conclusion about God, even thought the founder of the church claimed to have seen God. If one goes to Sunday School, one is lead to believe that what we believe now is what was always taught by JS on down. That is far from the case.

      So just because you have NEVER heard of it does not mean anything other than you may be an unwitting victim.

      Kindly,

      Michael

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    • Dear Katalyn, there is a lot of good new info on the churches stand on polygamy on the lds.org website. Many people have taught this for years just not in Sunday school , but the info on the church website teaches a great deal about it now. Go to lds.org and search essays on plural marriage kirtland.
      or https://www.lds.org/topics/plural-marriage-in-kirtland-and-nauvoo?lang

      Good luck its alot to absorb and process . Most people can’t understand it or give a understandable reason why .

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  3. Domestic Goddess

    I see there are over 170 comments on this post. If most of the people posting agree that polygamy is not from God, this means could half a ward in the church doesn’t agree with what the church teaches. Most wards have 200 families in average. Now that is a lot of people that do t agree with the church. Maybe some of these people are already inactive or have left the church. Could it be true that people are leaving the church in herds? Or like elder Quentin noted in the last conference:” we are growing as a church.”?….

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  4. This is a great essay and I agree with you that this isn’t a revelation but a means to satisfy the desires of men. Deuteronomy 18 gives the true test of a prophet and js completely fails the test because a number of his revelations never came true.

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  5. Kirk and Lindsay: …and greetings to my friends who watch what I say. I typically sign my real name now so that they can find me if that’s what they want, but I haven’t started a blog either. I would be proud to have you as part of my family. I listened to your podcast from April 2 with John Dehlin. I had to listen to all of it to get a sense of from where you are coming. I don’t blame you one bit if you are mistaken (even if you are). Our church has systematically shut us down from talking about difficult things which means doctrine and our understanding of it has stagnated. I do not think doctrine can stagnate or be supended for it must either increase or decrease, and it does not appear to be increasing. 150 years ago we talked to one another as a matter of cultural survival because the world must have felt like it was closing in on us. We had to understand our own positions to survive. Brother & Sister McAllen could probably have learned a thing or two about their more open acceptance of what our leaders taught then on polygamy, but from our sheltered and babied place in 2015 it’s just bizarre what they did.

    The long prophesied split in the Church is probably underway. I will follow leaders who will follow the Lord and because they follow the Lord. By the way, when President Woodruff said it wasn’t in the program for him to lead us astray, he was probably talking about his own calling and election sure because he knew if he tried willfully to lead us astray the Lord would “take him out of his place;” even to the point of striking him dead if need be. It is the members who have misconstrued and twisted his words for it now to come out as “the brethren cannot lead us astray.” Now that 3 and four generations have passed since we understood such things about callings and elections sure, even our leaders parrot the same nonsense quite innocently. The Lord will allow us to fracture and split because he wants us to start thinking in a new way. He wants to reclaim our faith and loyalty in Him first.

    Jonathan Felt

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  6. Robert Billings

    In 1873 Brigham Young declared in the Deseret News that the Lord revealed to him the Adam God Doctrine. To me that would be revelation. Article faith 9 says “We believe ALL that God Has revealed…” This Adam God revelation was taught in the Mormon Temple until 1905. It was accepted and taught as truth. Many top mormon leaders of that day declared in their writings that the Holy Ghost testified to them that the Adam God teaching was true. But today Brigham Young”s revelation is declared false and denounced and is considered a doctrine of the devil by all top leaders of the mormon church today. Bruce McConkie, Mormon Apostle, said that those who teach it and believe it do not deserve to be saved. Mormon Prophet,Spencer Kimball, in conference, said that it was false and denounced it. Why is it that they can reject a revelation of an early mormon prophet and do not face excommunication but if you or I as regular lay members, if we reject section 132 we will face excommunication? Top leaders of the mormon church today reject part of the revelation known as section 137. In the Doctrine and Covenants, only a part of it is written. Why is that? Compare the original revelation to section 137 and you will see why. It was altered after the death of Joseph Smith. Please do not remove this blog. You have stated the truth. Why should the top leaders of the mormon church fear truth if they claim they have it? Your conclusions are right on. Thank you for your blog.

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  7. You are looking at plural marriage in the wrong context, in todays’ messed up, greedy thinking that we are all somehow the same as people, yet do not have the same needs, wants, obligations and talents in a family environment? And then you somehow know what the intentions of our heavenly fathers were when they inspired the prophets to care for the women of the church who were without husbands or families at a very difficult time in our history. Read the sections on it in the book “The restored church” by Berrett to get a good picture of the times and problems facing not only a young church but leaders who were not interested in plural marriage as a solution. Remember that the support of these women was put upon the men who often had very little to give their wife and children.
    We should not put our thinking into or onto those who sacrificed all they had to save, support and comfort the poor and needy of a long ago time and very different conditions. When women like Heber Kimball’s wife saw the resulting happiness in vision, she not only supported it but encouraged it’s practice because she understood that she was not losing anything or getting her heart broke by living as a family where everyone’s needs are met. Hell, if you’re going to throw out DC 132, may as well throw out the old testament where prophets were doing a lot more crazy things in an inspired context that seem harsh and extreme to our standards today. If God’s ways are not your ways, that’s fine, you can follow your own path and not have anything to do with those ways, but just remember, you may not know or understand all things yet, but you will if you ease off and have a little faith in what your Father is doing for all of his children, no matter how unfair or heart wrenching it may seem to you now.

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  8. When I was a young mother I had a lot of questions about things of a spiritual nature, the gospel, the church, and the early history of the church. I also had a fair amount of time to study. Each day as I prayerfully asked for the spirit to guide my efforts, I found the more I studied, the more questions I acquired! But in my innocent faith, I wasn’t overwhelmed or disheartened. I trusted the sacred process of prayer and I truly expected the Lord would guide me in gaining an understanding of things I didn’t clearly understand at the time.

    As a result, over a few years, I obtained many inspired thoughts and ideas that were taught to me by God. I learned for myself that what Section 50 teaches is true: both teachers and hearers need to be enlightened by the spirit before wisdom and understanding are given. We can be taught the truth, but if our heart has not been prepared to receive it, we won’t learn. Likewise, if someone is trying to teach truth but they don’t have the spirit, they will not be teaching truth. The result is controversy and a tumult of opinion – but not many satisfying answers.

    I have learned that the best way to find answers is to go directly to the Lord. He has given me answers over the years that allow me to see the error of the above discussion. There are missing pieces in thought processes that can only be given by the Spirit. It is my experience that there are certain things that can be learned but cannot be taught by one man teaching another. The Spirit of God must be part of the equation. And the only way we qualify for the Spirit to teach us truth is to repent and then humbly approach the Lord. The technique is very easy, but it is also very easy to dismiss.

    Trust that there are many mighty gems of truth in Section 132 that when discovered make all else that may appear strange and hard to understand, crystal clear. I testify that Section 132 is inspired of God.

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    • What answers to my questions did God give you?

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    • Section 132 is problematic. The treatment of blacks by the Church is problematic. I can’t convince myself that these things are not problems or issues. And there is nothing wrong with questioning these things. The fact that Joseph Smith took young (even underage for the time period) wives and some secret wives is very problematic for me and always has been a problem.

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  9. Thank you, Kirk for such thorough analysis of polygamy. I myself didn’t even learn about the polygamy of Joseph Smith until my early 20’s, as a newlywed. It shook me to my very core. My husband knows how much I despise the practice and I have asked him to not be sealed to another woman if I die first. Not that it would make any difference if he was sealed to another woman; I really don’t think God would honor that union anyway. And the whole singles will be servants thing is disgusting as well. I am having to search for a complete new paradigm of heaven, because the one described in DC 132 sounds more like hell.

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  10. Kirk and Lindsey – I had these exact same thoughts a year ago. I haven’t shared them with anyone until recently. But seeing so much backlash towards people who have been asking questions, I decided it was time to make my thoughts known. I wrote a letter to my family and then I finally decided to post something online, so I linked your podcast with John Dehlin. Your blog stated what I felt the first time I really looked at D&C 132 and felt the best way for me to tell others my feelings was to share your blog with them. Well, wouldn’t you know. After a year of not attending church, members from my old ward started sending me messages. The just of the responses I’ve received is “I don’t have all the answers now, but I know I will in heaven.” I can’t accept that response and like you and so many others posting here, the members of the church need an answer now. My conclusions are more extreme than yours, however, in my pondering of this subject and many others, I’ve come to the conclusion that I just can not believe in the truth claims of the LDS Church. And while I no longer believe, it still hurts to see others being disciplined for questioning. Well, I’m making my questions public now in my own way. I think it’s time for us to learn to trust ourselves more. To really seek to know for ourselves what is true. Thanks for your courage and for helping me to find my voice.

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  11. Excellent outreach of thoughtfully articulated reasoning on the scriptures vs man on the topic of polygamy. For more thought provoking reading, visit weepingforzion.com. I stumbled on this site about six months ago and it has opened my personal learning from the Scriptures.

    I love the Book of Mormon, the Old and New Testaments and I purely focus on what is in the scriptures in these books. There are too many questions and confusions for me to accept on blind faith what “The Church” says or dictates.

    I am LDS but I petition directly to God and Jesus Christ for answers.

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  12. JettasandMarathons

    Kirk and Lindsay,

    I loved listening to you share on Mormon Stories. You were both eloquent, engaging, fun, and real. It seems you are truly searching out truth, not to mention insanely voracious readers. A question that John (Dehlin) didn’t ask was about moving out of Mormonism into non-Mormon Christianity. Your testimonies at the end only mentioned Jesus. Not the founding prophet, not the current prophet, not the LDS church, etc.

    If you are still weighing the evidence for non-Mormon Christianity, I’d love for you to comment on that. If you have already explored this and ruled it out, can you please tell us why? (I scoured the comments first to see if you had already addressed this, and I didn’t find you had mentioned it anywhere above.)

    Thanks again for your thorough and thoughtful treatment of D&C132.

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  13. [Sorry about the double post! Feel free to delete the first one – the one posted at 12:10. Didn’t realize I had posted it. Thx!]

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  14. It occurs to me the following differentiates members in good standing and those that are headed for trouble:
    1. Believe in polygamy, and practice what you believe = Excommunication
    2. Do not believe in polygamy, and do not practice it = Threatened with excommunication
    3. Believe in polygamy, but do not practice = Member in good standing

    The members in category three must be waiting for it to be reinstated in this life or waiting to practice it in the next.

    Ron

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  15. Hello Kirk,

    I first want to express my gratitude to you for this blog post. I had previously came to an almost identical conclusions. You have worded it in such a way that confusion is quickly expelled from those who earnestly seek answers. I reinvestigated the matter of polygamy after the church publicly acknowledged the polygamy of Joseph Smith. Prior to that I had been content to leave the matter alone. However, since the church publicly acknowledged a doctrine that is clearly false and contrary to the Book of Mormon, I had to start to speak out.

    I came to some extended conclusions, that you may wish to investigate or write about:

    -In the original Wentworth letter containing the articles of faith, the fourth was changed after Joseph’s death from “ordinances” to “first principles and ordinances”. The reason is that during Joseph Smith’s life, marriage was not an ordinance to enter heaven. (Or other temple ordinances for that matter).
    -Jacob 5 is an elaborate parable describing the break up of the restored Church of Christ. It explains the various factions of the latter day saint movement. It further explains how false doctrines such as polygamy (wild branches) eventually overcome the natural roots. To bring things in order, those wild branches are cast into the fire, and the natural branches which are far removed are grafted back in. In other words, we will see a day when the church will finally acknowledge its corruptions, and in that day we will see the natural branches who have maintained the purity of doctrine grafted back in. This is the Church of Christ, Temple Lot. They received a legitimate succession of apostleship via John E Page when he rejected Brigham Young because of the heresy of polygamy. It is divine intervention, that the faction that maintained the most purity of doctrine, became the protector of the lot in independence. They will join the main latter day saint body, when we put aside all our vain corruptions of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
    -Marriage is meant to be an open ceremony according to the now removed section of D&C 101 which also affirms monogamous marriage. The RLDS versions maintained this section in their D&C.

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  16. Kirk and Lindsay,

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful post. I just finished listening to your interview with Gina and absolutely agree with all of your conclusions. I’ve had a question for some time that maybe you have thought about. If polygamy is not of God, how do we reconcile the story of the birth of Christ? Isn’t that an example of God having a polygamous relationship with Mary? Or at least an example of unfaithfulness in a marriage relationship?
    As I’m typing this, I’m realizing that I may be inferring a lot about your post. You only said that D&C 132 is not of God – not the practice of polygamy.
    Thanks again for your efforts in shedding more light and honesty on this.

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    • Hi Stephanie, I think you are hitting on something which many inside and outside of Mormonism find odd. Bruce McConkie and others have taught God had sexual relations with Mary. It is a very strange idea and at the time was indicated the superior knowledge Mormons have of God. To me, it demonstrates the exact opposite.

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  17. Kirk and Lindsay,

    First, thank you for standing strong in calling for truth. I believe that will be our generation’s contribution, standing for truth and against abusive Church control. Second, “Church Disipline.” Is it disipline when a father spanks an innocent child? You are not being disciplined. You are being abused. So many innocent and good people have suffered abuse by the church for standing for what is right. “I commend you for your integrity!” Last, leaving an abusive church is tough, but a blessing. Your children will thank you for stopping the abuse and lies before it was too late for them. May God continue to bless your courageous journey ahead!!

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  18. Kirk, you may be interested in this essay, first published over a decade ago. It has been helpful to many on the subject of D&C 132:
    http://squaretwo.org/Sq2ArticleCasslerPolygamy.html

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    • Members of the LDS Church are often applauded for standing for the sanctity of traditional marriage, as is seen in their public work with Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and conservative Protestant Christians, to safeguard marriage between one man and one woman. However, there is a substantial difference between the LDS conception of traditional marriage and the conception of members of the other Churches who work cooperatively with them. In reality, the LDS person does not believe in traditional marriage any more than a person who believes that God may approve child sexual abuse in the same dispensation truly believes in the defense of youth from predatory adults. Such a person’s allegiance to the noble cause of child protection is compromised, as all decent people, including Latter-day Saints would maintain. If one believes that God, in the same dispensation, may permit child sexual abuse in both the past and the future, that person does not truly believe in the protection of children, no matter how much he or she relishes in the fact that their Faith currently condemns such practices and no matter how much such a person works to remove the blight of such actions from the world. Once again, I doubt that any members of the LDS Church would contradict this assertion.

      For these reasons, it is incumbent upon those who accept the revelatory status of Doctrine & Covenants, 132, to explain how their own witness for traditional marriage is not compromised in the same way as the hypothetical person above, since in both cases, actions which they condemn are not absolutely prohibited by their understanding of God and divine truth. The LDS person needs to show how their witness for traditional marriage is authentic since all reasonable people affirm that morals, which are relative and capable of changing within the same dispensation, are not worthy of defense as unalterable principles of the Gospel.

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      • Good people of any dispensation lds or any are against child abuse. If there was abuse in any of the plural relationships they are guilty of a grave sin. Most current members today think the church has disavowed plural marriage but that’s not the true case. You can’t fault them for there understanding as is.

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  19. I only used the “child abuse is sometimes moral” example to show how LDS support for traditional marriage is just as compromised as those who (hypothetically) believe in the relative nature of the sin of child abuse. Because of their relative moral theology within the same dispensation, LDS do not believe in the sanctity of traditional marriage any more than the other hypothetical person truly believe in the protection of children from predatory adults. I was not making an argument about who supports/does not support child abuse, but rather showing how the relative theology of both groups (one real, the other hypothetical) compromises their purported moral stances.

    “Disavowing” is not equivalent to rejecting something as always immoral. All LDS members in good standing believe that God may permit polygamy in this dispensation. It matter little if these members believe that such activity is currently “disavowed” – all members believe that it is not always wrong. This is not equivalent to defending the sanctity of traditional marriage. It is something altogether different and all decent people must mention this fact, especially at this time when the LDS Church with her official representatives are touting traditional moral values in contrast to the world.

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  1. Pingback: Polygamy | LDs Doubts

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