A Response to Fairmormon

Response to Fairmormon by Lindsay Van Allen

We appreciate the attempt of Fairmormon and the Hales to assuage our concerns regarding D&C 132, but we feel it is an explanation that comes up short in many areas.  Brian and Laura Hales initially claim that they don’t wish to misrepresent the original intent of the blog post, but in many instances we felt that there was a misrepresentation of our point of view.  We likewise will not be addressing their article point-by-point both for readability and brevity.  If you haven’t had a chance to read the FAIR response, please follow this link.

http://blog.fairmormon.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Lending-Clarity-to-Confusion.pdf

Fruits of the Spirit

In response to my assertion that polygamy doesn’t pass the “fruits of the Spirit test”, the Hales state, “Church members who lived this practice had great faith, experienced long suffering, …and by their own accounts were blessed.”  We think you are confusing suffering-a-LONG-time, and long suffering. Long suffering is an attitude of patience, not being easily provoked. I’m sure the early saints experienced both long suffering and suffering-for-a-long-time. But suffering is not a fruit of the spirit. It is the expression of oppression. Jesus Christ aims to elevate us from our suffering with his grace. He is also the recipient of our faith. We do not need faith in polygamy, any church program, or any person. We need to exercise our faith only in Jesus Christ.

The Hales quote Lucy Walker stating:

“I will say [that polygamy] is a grand school. You learn self control, self denial; it brings     out the nobler traits of our fallen natures, and teaches us to study and subdue self. … There is a grand opportunity to improve ourselves, and the lessons learned in a few years, are worth the experience of a lifetime.”

As a woman, I appreciate the use of a female voice from our LDS past.  But I wonder in what instances is polygamy used to teach men “self-control and self-denial”?  What exactly are they having to control about themselves?  What are they having to deny themselves?  How does polygamy require men to subdue themselves?
Sarah Pratt, first wife of apostle Orson Pratt stated:

“It [polygamy] completely demoralizes good men, and makes bad men correspondingly worse. As for the women—well, God help them! First wives it renders desperate, or else heart-broken, mean-spirited creatures; and it almost unsexes some of the other women, but not all of them, for plural wives have their sorrows too.”

I would contend that yes polygamy, by the very nature of the institution, requires women to exercise self-control, self-denial, and subdue themselves.  But I would also contend that the inherent inequality of the institution does not require the same self-sacrifice of the male participants.  In fact, I have yet to find a quote, by a male participant of polygamy, that states that he was in any way required to subdue himself or deny himself to effectively practice polygamy.

Martha Hughes Cannon, third wife of Angus Cannon, a Salt Lake area stake president wrote a letter to him stating:

“How do you think I feel when I meet you driving another plural wife about in a glittering carriage in broad day light? I am entirely out of money—borrowing to pay some old standing debts. I want our affairs speedily and absolutely adjusted—after all my sacrifice and loss you treat me like a dog—and parade others before my eyes—I will not stand it.”

Emmeline B. Wells penned this message on September 30, 1874 in her journal:

“O, if my husband could only love me even a little and not seem to be perfectly indifferent to any sensation of that kind.  He cannot know the craving of my nature; he is surrounded with love on every side, and I am cast out.… O my poor aching heart when shall it rest its burden only on the Lord.… Every other avenue seems closed against me.”

With a “glittering carriage” and being “surrounded by love on each side”, I find it hard to believe that these men were living lives full of self-denial, self-control, and subduing themselves. Polygamy gives men the sole position of power and authority.  There is no equal balance of power in the relationship.  It seems that the burden of submission was to be completely shouldered by the female participants in polygamy.  And again I wonder why a loving God would so unequally burden His sons and daughters.

The Hales assert:

“In the 6000 years of religious history, the only adherents to be commanded [to practice polygamy] were the Latter-day Saints between 1852 and 1890.”

pioneer polygamy

We can not decide if the Hales were purposefully disingenuous in making this statement.  In D&C 132:3, we are taught:

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.

This scripture comes directly after D&C 132:1 which states:

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— of their having many wives and concubines—

The Lord states that it is the same as the principle and doctrine that Abraham, Jacob, Moses etc were given (restitution of all things, remember).  The Lord then goes on to state that all that know this law must obey it.  It seems that the Lord, Himself is asserting that plural marriage was not only commanded between 1852-1890.  Joseph Smith stated on many occasions that he was commanded to practice polygamy, and he had been dead for eight years by 1852.  Are the Hales questioning Joseph’s account of the angel commanding him to practice it?  Or are the Hales asserting that Joseph was not under commandment to practice plural marriage?  Section 132 implies that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, and Solomon had likewise been commanded to practice polygamy, as they were also given the law.  This leads to a very real and justified worry about polygamy being commanded again, since according to D&C 132, it has been the expectation many times before.

Common Misconceptions

The Hales contend that speculation regarding polygamy is unfortunate but not accurate.  While Mormons are quite susceptible to urban legends and fantastical tales, a quick review of our past shows us that these speculations are rooted in foundational teachings by Brigham Young and early apostles. For example-

“We have clearly show that God the Father had a plurality of wives, one or more being in eternity, by whom He begat our spirits as well as the spirit of Jesus His First Born, and another being upon the earth by whom He begat the tabernacle of Jesus, as his only begotten in this world. We have also proved most clearly that the Son followed the example of his Father, and became the great Bridegroom to whom Kings’ daughters and many honorable wives were to be married. We have also proved that both God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ inherit their wives in eternity as well as in time… And then it would be so shocking to the modesty of the very pious ladies of Christendom to see Abraham and his wives, Jacob and his wives, Jesus and his honorable wives, all eating occasionally at the same table, and visiting one another, and conversing about their numerous children and their kingdoms. Oh, ye delicate ladies of Christendom, how can you endure such a scene as this?… If you do not want your morals corrupted, and your delicate ears shocked, and your pious modesty put to the blush by the society of Polygamists and their wives, do not venture near the New Earth; for polygamists will be honored there, and will be among the chief rules in that Kingdom.”  -Apostle Orson Pratt, The Seer, p. 172

 

Or maybe this quote,

“Monogamy, or restrictions by law to one wife, is no part of the economy of heaven among men. Such a system was commenced by the founders of the Roman Empire… Rome became the mistress of the world, and introduced this order of monogamy wherever her sway was acknowledged. Thus this monogamic order of marriage, so esteemed by modern Christians as a hold sacrament and divine institution, is nothing but a system established by a set of robbers.” Prophet Brigham Young, Deseret News, August 6, 1862

Or this one,

“Why do we believe in and practice polygamy? Because the Lord introduced it to his servants in a revelation given to Joseph Smith, and the Lord’s servants have always practiced it. ‘And is that religion popular in heaven?’ It is the only popular religion there…” -Prophet Brigham Young, Deseret News, August 6, 1862

We could go on, but you get the idea. The Hales seek to purport that a “polygamous heaven” is a hypothetical speculation.  The early prophets and apostles viewed it as neither speculative nor a hypothetical situation, and they taught it as an eternal law that would be practiced in heaven.

Math
Throughout their FAIR rebuttal, the Hales often dismissed our concerns or conclusions because of “speculation”.  But we found this section of Hales piece to be full of speculative holes.   The Hales state:

“Examining birthrates from the past 300 years and extrapolating those values back through previous millennia may not be justified. Three centuries of statistics comprises only a small fraction of human existence. Since the phenomenon arises from as yet unidentified reproductive physiological factors, assuming a constant trend throughout previous human history is not scientifically warranted.”

According to the Hales, polygamy was only a commandment from 1852-1890.  Yet, we have the available data that during that timeframe there were approximately 1.05 males born for every 1 female.  So during the timeframe that it was commanded, there was a notable lack of females for each male to be polygamously paired.

The Hales suggest that current data can not be extrapolated back through previous millennia and then seek to do just that as they use a 2009 Pew Forum and a 1958 book to suggest that women are more religious than their male counterparts by a ratio of at least 1.09 to 1.  We would like to remind that Hales that this data can not accurately extrapolate the religious practices of the previous millennia.  To use data that only goes back 57 years, to pedestalize women and claim that men are religiously inferior throughout 6,000 years of history is absurd, and should in no way be used as a justification for the polygamous practices of Mormons in the 19th century.

Plural Marriage in D&C 132

The Hales begin this section by listing justifications for Section 132. They begin by saying that “some men and women would need to practice plural marriage”. But D&C 132: 4 states:

“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.”

That doesn’t sound like an optional commandment for a “some” people.  It sounds like it is requisite to return to the Father.The Hales further state that the practice of plural marriage was used:

“(1) To provide a customized trial for the Saints of that time and place (see D&C 132:32, 51).”

I would first like to refer them to back to D&C 132:4. Then I would like to explore the scriptures they state as justification that polygamy was simply a “customized trial” for “some men and women”.
D&C 132:32 states

 “Go ye, therefore, and do the works of Abraham; enter ye into my law and ye shall be saved.”

There is nothing in this verse that suggests it is a temporary command or personal. In fact, it says we must do it to be saved.

D&C 132:51

“Verily, I say unto you: A commandment I give unto mine handmaid, Emma Smith, your wife, whom I have given unto you, that she stay herself and partake not of that which I commanded you to offer unto her; for I did it, saith the Lord, to prove you all, as I did Abraham, and that I might require an offering at your hand, by covenant and sacrifice.”

This part does sound personal, but it does not address that the entire practice was to be temporary or a customized trial.  Nor does it address the entirety of the practice of polygamy.  Both scriptures fail to present polygamy as a customized trial or state that it was for a specific time or place.  To draw those conclusions from those verses is a stretch at best.

The Hales explain that other previous religious practices were not restored in the “restitution of all things”, because:

“While the revelation does not disclose specifically why these other religious practices were not part of the “restitution of all things” prophesied in Act 3:21, we might note that none of the practices have eternal consequences. So far as we know, blood sacrifice, circumcision, and the Law of Moses rituals have no place in the celestial kingdom. However, the marriage relationship will continue in eternity.”

This statement is purely speculation on the part of the Hales.  The Jews were taught that those practices were requisite covenants to return to God.  Jesus said that he was establishing a higher law, as His atonement had fulfilled the lower law.  If the lower law was fulfilled in Christ, why would certain aspects of the lower law need to be brought back?  If we believe that Christ’s atonement fulfilled every jot and tittle (Matt 5:18) of the old law and that those practices and covenants are no longer required, why would one part of that law need to be practiced again?  Was it not also covered by Christ’s fulfilling of the law?

In the previous section, the Hales were speculating on why there would need to be polygamy.  But in this section, the Hales then double back stating, that to infer polygamy from D&C 132 is “fundamentalism”.  This is a fascinating statement by the Hales.  It discounts nearly 60 years of teachings by modern prophets and apostles.  In 1852, Brigham Young presented D&C 132 as the commandment, by God, to practice plural marriage.  It was further canonized in 1876, to solidify it as God’s law for His people. At a special conference August 28, 1852 Orson Pratt taught:

“There will be many who will not hearken, there will be the foolish among the wise who will not receive the new and everlasting covenant [plural marriage] in its fullness, and they never will attain to their exaltation, they never will be counted worthy to hold the sceptre of power over a numerous progeny, that shall multiply themselves without end, like the sand upon the seashore.”

Joseph F. Smith stated:

“A careful reading of the revelation on plural marriage should convince any honest man that it was never written by Brigham Young, as it contains references to Joseph Smith himself, and his family, which would be utterly nonsensical and useless if written by President Young. The fact is, we have the affidavit of Joseph C. Kingsbury, certifying that he copied the original manuscript of the revelation within three days after the date on which it was written.” [Improvement Era], vol. 5, October 1902, p. 988 (emphasis mine)

A huge problem with the Hales’ statement is that it is full of presentism.  If the church has decided to re-interpret the intent D&C 132, they can do that.  But to project that reinterpretation back on the original purpose and intent of the revelation is inaccurate.  To claim that section 132 does not justify the practice of polygamy, is to claim that the prophets from Joseph Smith to Heber J. Grant did not understand or properly administer D&C 132.  D&C 132 was presented as the commandment justifying polygamy.  To claim that there is no polygamy within its pages is to claim superior knowledge of the section and its intent than 7 modern-day prophets.

Hales argument also completely ignores verses 61-62 which state:

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.

62 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 is he justified.

These verses discuss marriage to multiple women as the law of the priesthood.  We can argue all day long about whether The New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage was in fact plural marriage, though it must be understood that Joseph Smith-Heber J. Grant viewed it as such.  What we can not discount is that verses 61-62 say that the law of the priesthood is that a man can take multiple wives.  To claim that section 132 does not authorize plural marriage is to claim that these verses don’t really mean what they say.

Eternal Marriage and Plural Marriage

The Hales discuss D&C 132:16-17 without actually quoting the verses in their entirety, which is understandable.  They are some of the more difficult verses to stomach.  They read:

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.

The Hales explain that we don’t know what the unmarried “ministering servants” duties will be, as if this is some kind of consolation to those that will leave this life unwed.  Whether they are baking celestial brownies or singing beautiful hymns, the Hales admit they are in a state of “damnation or the inability to progress”.  Hales doesn’t address this issue as there seems to be no great way to say that if no one happens to marry you in this life or you are unable to marry for reasons outside of your control, you have just drawn a short stick for eternity.

domestic servant

Sorry you didn’t get married on earth. Can you come rub my shoulders, when you are done with those?

 

Hales explains that 132 provides an option just in case there are more worthy women than worthy men in the final judgment.  But why is there no provision for the opposite occurrence?  I don’t love my sons less than my daughter, nor are they inherently less spiritual or righteous than my daughter.  Why did a loving God not provide a provision for the occurrence of a majority of righteous men?    Hales has been clear that speculation on ratios of men v. women in the celestial kingdom is fruitless, but why would God only make a provision that accounts for a way to help more women enter the Celestial Kingdom and not more men?

D&C 132:26—Unconditional Exaltation?

Hales says that my interpretation of D&C 132:26 (“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”) is extreme.  Here is the verse to study for yourself.  What is your interpretation?  I think the verse is pretty clear.

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.

The Hales are correct.  This is an extreme view to think that once you are married, you can commit any sin short of murder, and you will eventually be exalted.  And yet, the Hales offer no other interpretation of this verse.  They simply say that it is extreme.  This is why there are huge issues with D&C 132.

D&C 132:61–63—“If any Man Espouse a Virgin”

We have to ask the Hales if they pulled a groin muscle, because they were doing some crazy contortions trying to explain how Brigham Young and Joseph Smith followed these verses.

contortion

D&C 132:61-63 reads:

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.

62 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 is he justified.

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.

Hales asserts that these verses don’t say they “only” have to be virgins.  With that logic it seems many things can be permissible that are currently forbidden.   D&C 89:5 says:

That inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good, neither meet in the sight of your Father, only in assembling yourselves together to offer up your sacraments before him.

According to the Hales’ logic this verse does not specifically say white wine, nor does it say ALL strong drink, and it surely doesn’t say champagne.  So we can not assume that these are forbidden by this scripture.  It didn’t specifically say these things, so we wouldn’t want to “liberally interpret” them would we?  You can see how using this form of interpretation would wreak havoc on our collective understanding of scriptures and makes no sense.

The Hales insist that the word “wife” is used much more than the word “virgin” in section 132, therefore we should assume that in this case the Lord, really only meant wife, not really virgin.  This logic would force us to rethink many of our current beliefs.  1 Nephi 11:13 states:

“And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the great city of Jerusalem, and also other cities. And I beheld the city of Nazareth; and in the city of Nazareth I beheld a virgin, and she was exceedingly fair and white.”

According to the Hales’ logic, this verse is simply calling Mary a wife.  That’s all.  She was just a wife, not technically a virgin, but just Joseph’s betrothed.  This logic flies in the face of all of Christendom.  If the Hales’ want “virgin” to mean “wife” that leads to significant ramifications for our Christmas story and belief about Jesus’s birth.

Mary and Jesus

These verses in D&C 132 specify that if a man wants to marry a virgin, he does not commit adultery.  It does not mention any other marriage arrangement.  To try and infer another marriage arrangement, when there is no other arrangement specified is looking beyond the mark.  Hales further asserts that D&C 22:1 teaches us that the new and everlasting covenant of marriage (which Hales earlier stated isn’t polygamy, you are a crazy fundamentalist if you think it’s polygamy) loosens vows to previous spouses.  Well let’s read the verse together:

“Behold, I say unto you that all old covenants have I caused to be done away in this thing; and this is a new and an everlasting covenant, even that which was from the beginning.”

That does cause one to stop and ponder, until you read the verse in context.  You see, Brian and Laura did something here called proof-texting.  That is where you take a totally unrelated verse of scripture and you use it, out of context, to justify your argument.  When we look at this verse in context, we see that the Lord is discussing baptism.  And how he only accepts baptism done by His authority.  It is in no way related to section 132, nor did early members of the church view D&C 22:1 in this manner.

There is no mention in D&C 132 that a sealing covenant loosens a legal or lawful marriage.  This is never discussed in section 132 and proof texting scriptures from unrelated sections of D&C doesn’t suddenly give a sealing that power.  In current church practice, we neither teach this nor promote this teaching.  D&C specifies that the marriages are to be to virgins, that are promised to no one else.  There is no other type of marriage mentioned.  To infer that there is, is inferring things that are not found in the actual text.

In their argument, the Hales want to have their cake and eat it too.  Just a few paragraphs earlier, the Hales explained that the New and Everlasting Covenant was not marriage and certainly not plural marriage.  In this section they tried to explain that not only is it marriage, but it is a special type of marriage that dissolves previous marriage contracts, which is stated nowhere in section 132.  Why are the Hales furiously trying to explain that a sealing cancels a lawful marriage?  Because the history of polygamy is fraught with confusing stories that don’t align with D&C 132.

For example Zina Huntington was married to Henry Jacobs on March 7, 1841.  When she was seven months pregnant with Henry’s child (not a virgin), she was married to Joseph Smith.  This marriage happened on October 27th, 1841.  The Hales’ assumption is that the marriage to Joseph did away with Zina’s marriage to Henry.  BUT Zina continued to live with Henry and even bore him another son.  Either Zina was living in sin with Henry or her marriage to Joseph had not voided her marriage to Henry.  The plot thickens further.  After Joseph’s death, Brigham claimed Zina as his wife, and was sealed to her for time on February 2, 1846.  This is also the date that Zina was sealed to Joseph for eternity.  So was the earlier marriage just a marriage or was it a sealing?  After her sealing to Joseph Smith and her sealing for time to Brigham, she left Nauvoo with HENRY. Zina had lived with Henry for nearly two years after Joseph’s death, and there was no formal sealing or divorce from Henry, when she began to live with Brigham.  Someone please explain to me how this relationship works with section 132.

 

D&C 132:64

I find the quote from Emma Smith that Brian and Laura used in this section fascinating:

“I desire with all my heart to honor and respect my husband as my head, ever to live in his confidence and by acting in unison with him retain the place which God has given me by his side, and I ask my Heavenly Father, that through humility, I may be enabled to overcome that curse which was pronounced on the daughters of Eve. I desire to see that I may rejoice with them in the blessings which God has in store for all who are willing to be obedient to his requirements.”

Article of Faith #2 states:

“We believe that men will be punished for their own sins and not for Adam’s transgression.”

Eve

Are all women cursed for Eve’s transgression?  Why are men not cursed for Adam’s transgression, but women are cursed for Eve’s transgression?  What curse is it that I have to overcome that was pronounced upon Eve?  Why am I punished for a choice I didn’t make?  This quote, alone, opens a huge can of worms and issues.  Thank you for bringing it to our attention Laura and Brian.

The Zenith Teaching of the Gospel

Brian and Laura claim that though both eternal marriage and plural marriage are mentioned in section 132 (but again, if you see plural marriage in section 132 you are a “fundamentalist”), they are separate doctrines.  They illustrate their point with this quote from Joseph F. Smith in 1879:

“This doctrine of eternal union of husband and wife, and of plural marriage, is one of the most important doctrines ever revealed to man in any age of the world. “

Did you catch that?  Smith said “doctrine…is”.  The word “is” is used with a singular subject.  If the subject was plural, the proper predicate would be the word “are”.  Smith is referring to eternal unions and plural marriage as a singular doctrine.  The Hales spent quite a few paragraphs trying to separate the two, but it seems that Joseph F. Smith viewed them as one and the same.  So as much as the Hales would have us believe that they are separate.  They are simply viewing the text with their 21st century lenses.  Those practicing “the principle” viewed them as one and the same.  To claim they never were, is again using presentism.

Plurality in Eternity

The Hales call fear of polygamy in the eternities “unfounded”.  We have addressed this previously, but just to refresh your mind:

“Monogamy, or restrictions by law to one wife, is no part of the economy of heaven among men. Such a system was commenced by the founders of the Roman Empire… Rome became the mistress of the world, and introduced this order of monogamy wherever her sway was acknowledged. Thus this monogamic order of marriage, so esteemed by modern Christians as a whole sacrament and divine institution, is nothing but a system established by a set of robbers.”- Prophet Brigham Young, Deseret News, August 6, 1862

So maybe not as “unfounded” as the Hales would have you believe.

The Hales are quick to assert that we just really don’t know what we will want in eternity, because we are telestial beings that can’t understand the eternities.  I am sure that there are things we don’t understand now, but Alma 34:34 states:

Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.

Alma specifically says that the same spirit we have now will possess us in the eternal world.  If I am the same person, I will love my spouse with the same deep regard and fidelity.  With a perfected Celestial body, I can only imagine how more deeply united we will be; how we can truly become one.  We are taught that God loves us more deeply than we can even fathom.  I can only imagine how deeply he cares for Heavenly Mother.  With such enhanced love, I can only imagine the deep wrenching that I would feel to have to share my spouse with another.  It would hurt beyond all description in this life.  The pain would be unbearable in the next.

In this fallen, mortal world. I find myself equally yoked with my spouse.  We compliment each other beautifully.  We are completely devoted to each other.  Our strengths and weaknesses are nearly perfectly balanced out by each other.  We have grown together into  a solid, unified team.  He is my perfect partner, and I am his perfect partner.  Eternity would be empty without my spouse at my side, and the perfect equality of our team would become imbalanced with an additional member.  I am my husband’s equal.  He does not need 2+ women to create balance.  God got it right the first time with Adam and Eve. The symmetry of monogamy truly is Celestial.

We have spent nearly ten pages counterpointing the FAIR apologist argument. The Hales have strained at a gnat (Mormonverse) and swallowed a camel (polygamy and D&C 132). In other words, it is not my blog that needs more critical analysis, it is D&C 132. But what we really need on this subject is further revelation. We need revelation on the subject to clarify the very hurtful implications that we can make from section 132. The doctrine is unclear and in many places it is disturbing. What we need, is a revelation from God.  Will there be polygamous relationships in the next life? Will there be compulsory plural marriage in this life or the next? If God is the author of this revelation, can’t he help us understand the doctrine? If at anytime during the restoration there was a need for revelation, it is now, when confusion and theological debate abound.  We claim the gift of a living mouthpiece for God, an oracle for His teachings and truth. We’re asking President Thomas S. Monson and the Quorum of the Twelve to please pray about D&C 132.  We need revelation!  The Hales and Van Allens could go round and round discussing what the word “virgin” means but all of it is moot, without clarification from God.

 

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Posted on March 14, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 45 Comments.

  1. Loved it! Yes, yes,and yes!!!

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  2. Excellent reply. Your explanations are much more plausible than the Hales’ mental gymnastics.

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  3. Even when I was a more mainstream Mormon, every FAIR document I read seemed like misdirection and hand-waving. Now they just make my blood boil as I read the convolutions the authors go through to justify the confusing or hurtful doctrine of the church. The Hales’ document is more of the same, though bringing in Mrs. Hales for her opinion on polygamy? Nice touch.

    Thank you, Van Allens. We really need the leadership to speak up about (against?) polygamy: probably the most hurtful and divisive legacy of the early church.

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  4. Slow-Proud-Clap.

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  5. Thank you for this well thought out response. I appreciate you taking the time to put together a logical and well referenced rebuttal. Agree on all points.

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  6. Just heard about your essays tonight. Polygamy is a topic that has never sat well with me and I think you have voiced my concerns and questions better than I could ever put them. I agree whole-heartedly, if we ever needed a revelation to clarify the troubling doctrine of polygamy, the time is now.

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  7. Rachel Hamrick

    So excellent! Loved it, thank you for taking the time to write these pieces.

    Btw, here’s a quote by Laura at Meridian Magazine from the article “Joseph Smith’s Polygamy: Separating Fact from Fiction” – “The theology behind the practice is solid in my mind. In order for all righteous women to be exalted, plural marriage will need to be practiced by select individuals.”

    What the what? A select few individuals will have to practice polygamy for all righteous women to be exalted? How is such a belief not speculative, fundamentalist, and frankly, totally bizarre? How does someone practicing polygamy save someone who doesn’t practice it? Let alone save those who do? Or, is she implying that only women who practice polygamy are righteous? That quote makes my head spin and indicates a belief in polygamy as being salvific. And a belief in polygamy as being salvific is a belief in a limited Atonement, in my mind. It is false and a mockery of Jesus and everything his life and death were about.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Would you consider removing or adjusting the GIFs in this post? I think they might deter some people who would like to weigh in on this.

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  9. Kirk, I can’t thank you enough for this. 2 Nephi 26:33 says, “the Lord doeth nothing except it be plain unto men.” I could quote many more scriptures outlining that God speaks to us in plainness. D&C 132 is anything but plain. This section and its aftermath have yielded a mass of confusion and contradictions, generating speculated meanings, decades of deception, and a blight of shame upon our church in the eyes of the world, hampering missionary work and bringing untold sorrow to thousands of women and children. The Hales’ selective quotes, convoluted illogic, and water-thin speculations, speak to the utter lack of plainness of D&C 132. Baptism and confirmation are plain. D&C 89 is plain. Wouldn’t God speak most plainly on marriage? Oh, that’s right, He did – in all the marriage scriptures commanding monogamy prior to D&C 132.

    Yes, I implore our church leadership to pray for revelation on removing D&C 132, and to disavow the many statements of early church leaders who unequivocally said we must live polygamy in the celestial hereafter, and while they’re at it, disavow the subsequent contradictory statements made by later church leaders. These disturbing and confusing statements (doctrinal? non doctrinal? speculative?) – are still dangling out there. It is high time that LDS women be relieved of the oppressive burden of living in dread of polygamy.

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  10. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. So many of us out there are so very appreciative of your hard work and efforts on this. You give great clarity and convey so perfectly all the concerns my heart and soul have wrestled with on this issue for so very long. And I like the pictures on here. Please don’t remove them. 🙂 Again, thank you for keeping this issue out in the open. I am sick of the efforts that have been made by the church to try to sweep it under the rug, telling us it shouldn’t bother us if we just have enough faith. I’m sick of hearing that excuse. There is plenty of evidence that is was wrong. We need to harp on this until they finally admit it. And even if they never admit it, it still is wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I am so grateful for your thoughtful and well-considered response, and I’m even more grateful for the initial piece which expressed perfectly what more and more people feel as they try to come to grips with the frightening ramifications of D&C 132 in light of the recent admissions of the Church about Joseph Smith. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. toddvincentgmail

    A truly remarkable rebuttal, Kirk. It’s fascinating to witness the thick and ugly curtain of Polygamy being pulled back even further – no small thanks to the Hales attempt to debunk your assertion. Thanks for your rational faith, your courage and integrity in voicing your opinion(s) on something that has been brushed under the carpet for far too long. Keep up the excellent work! Looking very much forward how this unfolds. Like many others who’ve read your blog – you have my full support and deep respect.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you very much for saying these things. It sounds like there are a lot of people who needed them. I’m sorry you’re facing pushback in your local area, and by people online who need the things you say not to be true.

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  14. Well done! Great rebuttal. Hope the brethren realize that many, many in the church agree with what you have written and see polygamy as the BIG mistake in our history.

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  15. I have to say I enjoyed your article, even though I believe plural marriage/polygamy was totally inspired. The evidence DOES point to it being eternal and holy even (as all your quotes by early leaders of the Church suggest). There used to be a day when it would make me want to slam my scriptures on the floor but now I firmly believe it is part of our theology that goes hand in hand with the rights of women.

    Liked by 1 person

    • In stating that the practice of Polygamy & Polyandry was inspired or commanded by God how can you maintain the belief that God is all righteous and just? Would God command Joseph Smith to start Polygamy off in a barn with Fanny Alger without Emma’s knowledge? Would God have Joseph instruct Louisa Beaman to wear a man’s hat and a man’s coat to fool any observers when he married her in a private grove? Would God command John Taylor to lie to the public in France and Parley P Pratt to lie to the European Council of Churches in England? Both men pretended to be outraged that they were accused of such a abhorrent practice even though they were practicing it at the time. Would God allow Joseph to marry Orson Hyde’s wife when he was on a mission and several other men’s wives? Some of these men had no knowledge of this act. Joseph lied until the day he died. Emma lied to her children and denied the practice all of her life. I have lost so much respect for individuals I once thought highly of. To think that leaders of the church can justify lying & this sinful practice is beyond my understanding. To even attach God’s name to lying and deceit is blasphemy. The Cochranites also practiced this behavior in Joseph’s time as well. Women had to sleep with their leader too or men they were assigned to. When the leader is imprisoned and their group began falling apart the Mormons picked up the slack. The Cochranites were also taught that once they heard this teaching if they didn’t practice it they would be dammed as well. How can a Mormon claim that their revelation to practice polygamy came from God and yet deny that the revelation the Cochranites received? Funny how we can clearly see the sin when practiced by others. This is not God’s plan. Thousands of young women in fundamentalist groups are still held captive to these teachings of Joseph Smith. There were so many young victims in Joseph’s time and now there are thousands more. If you want to defend this practice please don’t attach God’s name to it. You have the teaching of Joseph Smith not God. When a prophet pretends that he can seal individuals and families to himself through multiple marriages, he has given himself way to much power.

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      • Bev,
        Obedience is the first law of heaven. It is above every other law. Why did Abraham and Sarah lie to Pharoah? Because they were being obedient to the instructions of an all-wise God (one who knows the end from the beginning; one who knows more than us). Joseph Smith was obedient to God. When I waged this war within myself years ago (before the deluge of information on the internet) I started with the conviction that Joseph Smith was a true prophet. I didn’t feel any less disgusted than you apparently feel, but I worked through every point of my nauseated disgust because #1 I trusted God and #2 I had always felt Joseph Smith was who he claimed to be.
        I am NOT a fundamentalist and I believe that those practicing polygamy today are in GRAVE, perverse error – disobedience to the umpteenth degree. But I can see why Joseph Smith restored the practice of plural marriage and I can appreciate its place in eternity. And it’s because I studied the lives of the women who knew Joseph Smith and read what they had to say about him and the principle.

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    • On-lookers beware. This lady runs a pro-polygamy website where she looks forward to the day her husband can have additional wives. She’s a loon.

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      • Andrew – I look forward to the day when all good women will have the chance to have an equally good husband. If that concept frightens you or makes you question my sanity…I have to WONDER why.

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      • Obedience is not the first law of heaven. That is a quote from then Elder Joseph F. Smith in 1873. Not surprisingly, he was speaking in the context of wives obeying their husbands, not about a blanket “law” regarding our membership in the church and obeying prophets, in the way that we so frequently and erroneously quote it today. But by either usage, it is not consistent with the teachings of Christ. It’s one of those absurd LDS phrases like, “when the prophet speaks the thinking is done,” etc.

        Jesus actually told us the first law of heaven when he said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.” Note the word “first”. Love of God comes before obedience.

        I will always trust the simple words of Jesus over the volumes of contradictory statements made by LDS church leaders. http://www.wheatandtares.org/10511/obedience-is-the-first-law-of-heaven-an-early-general-conference-meme/

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  16. I appreciate the observations you have made. I have long thought of the work of Brian Hales as essentially mental gymnastics to justify spiritual hypocrisy. There is nothing more untenable than defending being a fence sitter as though it was a moral position.

    I may be on the opposite side of this issue, but it is refreshing to be able to meet others who have a firm understanding and position on it. While I believe that D&C 132 is of God, and compatible with all of scripture, and I find your position to be anti-Mormon, at least you are not lukewarm and self contradictory about it.

    It would be nice if the church would just remove those scriptures that contradict their doctrine instead of trying to encourage everyone to believe in plural marriage but not practice it. Either believe it and do it, or don’t believe it and don’t do it, but the cognitive dissonance in the church from trying to believe while not doing is foolish and hypocritical. If it is a commandment of God, then the “manifesto” is a poor excuse for disobedience, and if it is not true then there is no reason to think Joseph Smith is a prophet. For that reason I think you should have little interest in remaining LDS if you do not accept plural marriage, and also that you should have little reason to remain in the church if you do accept plural marriage. Essentially no matter your beliefs about the origin, divine or human, of D&C 132 the mainstream church has made it difficult to stay.

    If you accept D&C 132, come join Christ’s Church, the Righteous Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. If you reject it, Join the Community of Christ, the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. But whatever you do you are kidding your self if you think Monson has any interest in ever receiving any revelation, or even the capacity to receive it if he wanted to.

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  17. The problems you are facing are due to a lack of revelation in the church. D&C 132 is confusing because it is lacking the full context and understanding that would have come if the leaders of the church were true prophets.

    At first I was sad to see you reject Celestial Marriage as revealed to the prophet Joseph Smith. But I have realized that you are not rejecting the truth, you are rejecting the preistcraft and falsehoods, and false ideas about plural marriage as taught in the church. The true doctrine is exalting, and holy. I’d love to show you the difference.

    The world is in desperate need of revelation. We need revelation to sort this out. I know true prophets seers and revelators who actually prophesy see and reveal. They have been in the presence of Christ, angels, and resurrected prophets. Through the revelations they receive this and other questions are clarified. Greater knowledge is coming forth and Zion communities are being established. If you would like to take part in this work contact me and see for yourself if the fruits of the spirit are here or not.

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  18. The biggest problem with the Hales’ is the disrespect they show towards opposing points of view. They seem to think that anybody who disagrees with them is driven by some nefarious ulterior motive, that it’s unreasonable for people to arrive at what is in truth the most objectively reasonable conclusion – that our leaders got some things wrong, and gasp, even committed actual sins. In my opinion this is the biggest of the endless list of logical fallacies they like to engage in. Even if their mental gymnastics were the real truth, it doesn’t matter, because there is no basis from which to reach that conclusion with convincing probability, much less surety. Do they really think God is going to punish someone because they doubted that polygamy was inspired? Even if wrong, the Allen’s position is a completely reasonable one. Mostly what the Hales are accomplishing is to put a big spotlight on the lack of answers coming from our leaders who we sustain as “prophets, seers, and revelators.” If ever there was a subject that deserved some divine answers it’s this one.

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    • Whoa there…..didn’t you JUST totally disrespect my opposing point of view? Didn’t you JUST express that is was unreasonable of me to disagree with your perspective (you called me “a loon”)?
      You are answerable to God for how you treat the words of the prophet – for they are the words of God spoken through him. If you believe the scriptures at all you must concede that fact. A “basis” and a “surety” come from following the words of the prophets given to us through revelation through a prophet – it is the rock on which we build.

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      • Most women do not want to share their “good” husbands as you call them with other women after this life. And that does not make us selfish. It is so crazy that we continue to perpetuate the belief that there will be so many more righteous women in heaven than men that there won’t be enough men to go around. I don’t believe that.You are entitled to your opinion. Just as you don’t agree with those of us who don’t believe polygamy came from God, we have a right to believe it most certainly did not. I have no problem standing before God and telling him why I willfully oppose polygamy. Some of us have lost our belief in Joseph as a prophet. So that argument holds no weight for us.

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  19. hope_for_things

    You guys are great, I also just listened to your podcast on a thoughtful faith and really enjoyed it. I just wanted to say that I admire your courage and stand for principle. I have problems with the arguments that the Hales put forward, and agree with you that many of these arguments are inconsistent and show presentism and proof texting.

    When you start to look at these things critically, like both of you are doing, what you’re finding is that the church and all of religion for that matter have quite a bit of complicated history. Doctrines aren’t entirely dictated through revelation from God, they are frequently built on the foundations of speculation. What is really divine vs. what comes from man becomes nearly impossible to distinguish.

    I applaud your efforts to take a stand against D&C 132, I too believe that it doesn’t show good fruit. However, I think you’ll find that asking for the brethren to pray about this and change course isn’t realistic. Research the history around the priesthood ban, and how many years and years it took for us to receive a revelation on that issue. I agree with you that our leadership should be actually leading the church on these issues, but the structure of the hierarchy as well as the cultural expectations of the members are all working against any significant changes occurring.

    Until the rank and file membership changes its expectations about fallibility of its leaders, until the leaders quit implying that God can never lead them astray that we should trust and follow them no matter what, until people wake up and open their eyes to the myths that have been perpetuated for generations, then this church can’t change its trajectory. I hope that it will, and I applaud your efforts and willingness to take a stand on this issue. God bless you, and I support your stand on this and hope that you can make a difference.

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  20. “What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one.” – Joseph Smith (LDS History of the Church, 6:410–411)

    I say let’s take the man at his word.

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    • Why would we take him at his word. He and the Church lied about the practice until 1852, and your quote is just that – his pathetic lie.

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  21. Standing Ovation Lindsay!!! Oh and the Hales’s response to your response was pathetic! Good job girl, impressive!!!!!

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  22. Why no comment on the angle with a flaming sword. I think joseph made a pretty clear case that he wasnt for it either. Many things god does we dont inderstand. His ways are not our ways.

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  23. Not to be inflammatory on a believer’s blog, but there hasn’t been any actual Revelation in the Church since the days of Joseph Smith. To ask a church executive to change corporate policy and call it Revelation is asking too much of the old men.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. We don’t need further revelation for a section of the D&C that is clearly a fraud. But the rest of Lindsay’s reply to the Hales argument is superb. But the Church can’t repeal or amend it because doing so would not just do away with or clarify polygamy, it would also destroy the concept of eternal marriage — a concept curiously not mentioned in the Book of
    Mormon . And, I don’t get the argument that polygamy was not instituted until 1852. That’s just when they stopped publically lying about it

    Liked by 1 person

  25. The arguments that Kirk and Lindsey make have been floating in my mind since I first started thinking for myself in seminary. I wondered if there was something wrong with me when I saw the blatantly horrible problems imbued in polygamy. Why didn’t anyone else see it? The explanations for polygamy have always seemed to me like mental gymnastics I just wasn’t capable of taking seriously. The practice seemed so obviously immoral and yet I was made to feel guilty and immoral for not understanding and seeing “the beauty of pure obedience to trials we cannot understand.” Hogwash! It was a way to wield a tremendous amount of power over women and teenaged girls who were coerced into it and men who were kicked out of the faith for the tiniest infraction of rules. Can’t have too many guys can we. So we will just label them the sinners God doesn’t want back anyway. The Hales made the argument that there are just not enough righteous men for all the righteous women. My righteous husband never swears but I will ask his forgiveness when I say – trying to make polygamy look moral, even sacred is just a big ,load of bull shit.

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  26. Domestic Goddess

    It makes sense to expect a prophet to prophesize. However, don’t expect an answer from the current LDS leaders and prophets about polygamy. They already said all they wanted to say on those essays they published on line. Essays that were not received by revelation but that were written by some people the church assigned. This is how our prophet and leaders communicate with us in the last days: through essays and public relations that are employed by the church and paid to communicate with the church and the media.

    You already got your answer. Polygamy is not a revelation from God because you don’t feel the spirit when you talk about it. Most of us feel disgusted when we read or talk about polygamy. I think this feeling is the answer God sends us. If we are able to see things for what they are, then we are ready to learn the truth about this church.

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  27. Long before even getting to D&C 132, a “virgin birth” in the Book of Mormon based on and quoting the KJV Isaiah 7 is self-falsifying — all by itself — for both the BoM and for all of Mormonism.

    The FAIR/Mormon apologetic for the virginal conception of Jesus — and, indeed, from all of Christianity — is at least as grim and contrived as anything produced anywhere in Mormonism for polygamy.

    If that seems not substantial enough, it’s completely justified and logical from an honest and critical reading of the Bible to conclude that neither Yahweh, nor mankind created in his image (whatever that means), nor Jewish scripture has any need, use or interest in a bloody human Jesus sacrifice to forgive sin or reconcile his creation to him.

    Indeed, it’s completely justifiable from such study to conclude that Judaism has been right about Jesus and the NT and Christianity all along — and you don’t even have to be Jewish to see it.

    There’s a reason why every GA in the history of the Mormon church (beginning with Joseph Smith); every faculty member at BYU/BYU-Neal Maxwell; every apologist at FAIR; and every scholar at mormonscholarstestify.org, all entered into Christianity in the first place either thru childhood indoctrination or else while they were sill rather ignorant of the Bible itself.

    It doesn’t have to be this hard, people….. there’s a compelling path out of Mormonism with only a fraction of the angst and it leaves the Bible and Christianity and Joseph Smith as endlessly fascinating.

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  28. Fantastic post with accompanying research!!! Polygamy has been the thorn in my side every since I was a teenager. The more I researched it, the more I came to the same conclusions as you did. I don’t know how many times I have cried about it, especially after marrying my husband in the temple. If they excommunicate you guys, tell them they have to excommunicate me too 🙂

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  29. Justalittlenobody

    Amen you guys. Thank you so much for all your heartfelt efforts to bring these things to light.

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  30. Wow. You totally faced Hales and his faulty logic. Bravo.

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  31. I find your answers/argument one sided and lacking a true historical perspective. You quote several LDS women who had trouble with polygamy, but fail to mention any men who had difficulty with it as well. There’s plenty of evidence from the early saints that polygamy was just as hard (and some would argue even harder) on the men. If it is as you claim “a doctrine of men”, why would the men institute a practice that makes their life more difficult?
    Why would Smith continue to spread this practice if it caused him so much grief and lead to his murder? Shouldn’t a doctrine of men make their life easier and not harder?
    You seem to be stuck on the more sensational aspects of polygamy (the sex) that’s more associated with Hollywood and anti-Mormons then the actual practice by real people. As the great, great great Grandson of Heber C. Kimball, I’m reminded of how he stated that this practice caused him to shed many tears and caused him great anxiety and even illness. He also stated that the only reason he finally agreed to the practice is because his wife (Valete) told him he had to continue to do it.
    Not all my ancestors engaged in polygamy and according to you interpretations of section 132, they are locked out of the Celestial Kingdom. You’ve forgotten that majority of Mormons for the 40+ years polygamy was part of the church never practiced it. They will not be locked out and will receive everything Heavenly Father has to offer.
    The other big problem with your conclusions is that you continue to insist that polygamy is requirement for the Celestial Kingdom. But you’ve forgotten that God cannot remove someone’s agency. So if you keep all your covenants, repent and live worthy of the Celestial Kingdom, but object to living in a polygamous marriage, how can you be excluded? The answer is polygamy is not a requirement.
    You’ve also forgotten that agency of man is central to LDS theology. Polygamy is not and If it was, all members of Christ’s church would have been required to practice it in biblical times, as well as in the early days of the LDS church, and we would all be practicing it today.
    Say what you want, but don’t pass it of as true LDS doctrine, and you shouldn’t let some ideas of this nature drag you all the way out of the church which is exactly what you are doing.

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  32. When is a virgin a virgin?. When is adultery adultery?. I am amused at the Hales attempt to justify Smith’s adultery by suggesting that if a plural wife has covenanted under law to be married to another man, that the obvious fact that she is not a virgin does not convict Smith of adultery. However ridiculous they must make that argument to save the moral standing of Smith. Their disingenuous weak argument falls in the light of the plain meaning of Section 132. verses 61-63.

    Further more, their contention that polygamy was commanded beginning only in 1852 fails to deal with several plural marriages the Smith entered into before that date and the affair that he had with Fannie Alger during the 1830’s in Kirtland. Apologists like the Hales have had to characterize that union as an early plural marriage in a blatant attempt to save Smith character in the face of Oliver Cowdery’s claim that it was a “dirty nasty affair”..

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  33. All the marriages, except for the first one to Emma, were illegal and hence against all that the church claims to stand for in the Articles of Faith. “We believe in being subject to kings….”

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  34. Great post. Section 132 is extremely problematic. It was authored by Brigham Young to justify the abomination of committing adultery in the name of religion. It should be removed as scripture from the LDS canon. Joseph Smith didn’t practice polygamy and actively fought against it. The “evidence” is almost all hearsay invented decades after the fact or was concocted by his enemies at the time he lived. Is it really so hard to believe that he was married to Emma and no one else as he claimed? He didn’t lie or commit adultery. He was a Prophet of God and lived true to that calling through out his life.

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  1. Pingback: Kirk and Lindsay Van Allen - Facing Church Discipline for Rejecting Polygamy | Mormon Stories Podcast

  2. Pingback: John Dehlin and the Van Allens: Incomplete Representation « Joseph Smith's Polygamy

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