When polygamy becomes legal in the U.S. (which I think is inevitable, given the Supreme Court ruling on Lawrence v. Texasâ€”at least for consenting adults), someone should initiate a media blitz in Utah, Idaho, Arizona, and California (LDS hot spots) with factual declarations from Brigham Young, John Taylor, and other early leaders on polygamy’s exalted status as a requirement for exaltation and the â€œholiestâ€ of all God’s commands. NOT because I would wish anyone to practice polygamy (I think it is not conducive to happiness–for either the men or the women involved) NOR because I would want anyone to actually believe it was a requirement for living in God’s presence (I feel a loving God would never require that of his daughtersâ€”a situation of perpetual jealousy and insecurity throughout all eternity). Rather, I would want members to consider such statements and think, â€œThese are ridiculous. I don’t believe in any of these ideas!â€ A serious doubt about polygamy might help members to question:
1) Joseph Smith’s credentials as a prophet of God (He claimed it was required of him to â€œrestoreâ€ the principle, yet he withheld the â€œrevelationâ€ (D&C 132) from the lay members (even lied to them about his involvement) and practiced the principle in revolting ways: keeping Emma ignorant of the fact that â€œcelestial marriageâ€ (polygamy) involved his sexual intimacy with the women he was â€œsealedâ€ to, marrying other men’s wives, taking teen brides, coercing women to accept his proposals with tales of his imminent destruction by an angel were they to decline, lying to the members about his polygamist activities, taking no responsibility for the financial support or public acknowledgment of his 30+ secret wives, etc)–see http://www.wivesofjosephsmith.org/ and http://mormonthink.com/polyweb.htm#lied;
2) Prophets’ and apostles’ ability to really know â€œThe Mysteries of Godâ€ (Joseph claimed polygamy was the very order of heaven and the â€œhighest and holiest principleâ€ given to man; Brigham Young taught that our heavenly father was Adam, and Eve was one of his plural wives; Joseph F. Smith stated that the marriage in Cana was Jesus’ own wedding to the sisters Mary and Martha; John Taylor said the â€œone-wife system degenerates the human familyâ€ and is â€œincompatible with philosophical notions of immortality;â€ Bruce R. McConkie stated that polygamy will obviously commence again after the Second Coming; etc.)–see Brigham Young quotes from the Journal of Discourses at: http://www.carm.org/brigham-young-quotes
3) The doctrine of the â€œrestoration of all thingsâ€ (Why preach of â€œrestorationâ€ when principles and practices come and go based on external pressure? Think: polygamy until 1904, the curse of Cain doctrine denying black males the right to priesthood until 1978, temple penalties and blood oaths until 1990, contraception as â€œvanity, passion and selfishnessâ€ until 1969(?), the Adam-God Lecture at the Veil until Brigham Young died, blood atonement, Lamanites as “the ancestorsâ€ –>â€œamong the principle ancestorsâ€–> â€œamong the ancestorsâ€ of Native Americans, etc. Would God â€œrestoreâ€ the doctrine of polygamy without â€œpreparing a wayâ€ for the church â€œthat they might accomplish the thing he had commanded themâ€ (per 1 Ne. 3:7)? If Joseph’s doctrine on polygamy was true and indeed the â€œholiest principle given to man,â€ why didn’t the church continue to embrace it as an eternal doctrine and encourage all members to be sealed into polygamous relationships â€œfor-eternity-but-not-for-time-because-polygamy-is-not-legal-here-yetâ€? Why didn’t the church encourage members to move to countries where polygamy was legal (Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Iraq, Iran?)–Why doesn’t it do so today, if polygamy was â€œrestoredâ€ for the latter-days?)
4) Whether priesthood leaders ever lead the members astray (If one Latter-day Saint prophet taught that monogamy was the â€œfoundation for [the] ruinâ€ of nations (Brigham Young), and another taught, â€œAlternatives to the legal and loving marriage between a man and a woman are helping to unravel the fabric of human society . . . the end of the human familyâ€ (Spencer W. Kimball)–Who was right about monogamy? Who was deceived, preaching false doctrine?).
I would want such a media blitz to pressure the church to acknowledge its â€œroots” (the doctrinal basis) of its historical practice of polygamy: D&C 132, and its term “celestial marriage” which meant, exclusively, plural marriage. Church leaders would need to address media questions such as,
1) â€œWill the church be returning to its former practice of polygamy? . . . Why not?â€
2) â€œWon’t you leaders pray to ask God to ask his permission to re-instate that ‘highest and holiest principle,’ now that it’s legal? Why not?–since you claim God answered such a petition about blacks and the priesthood ban in 1978 . . . Surely the ‘highest and holiest principle’ is worth petitioning for?!â€
3) â€œIs polygamy the ‘highest and holiest principle’ and the ‘order of heaven’? Did Joseph Smith and his successors get that right, or were they preaching false doctrine? Now that polygamy is legal, shouldn’t every member of the church be required to be sealed into polygamous family relationships if they want the promise of exaltationâ€”a life with God and his wives in the Celestial Kingdom? Why not?â€
4) â€œDoes God still practice polygamy in heaven? You don’t know? Joseph and Brigham claimed they knew. Were they teaching false doctrine? Did God change his mind and stop living polygamy in heaven after the Manifesto of 1890? How about after the second manifesto of 1904?Â Were the Manifestoes his ‘little joke’?â€
5) â€œAmong your members who happen to have some acquaintance with your church’s former practice of polygamy, most believe God only required it for a time in order to: 1. ‘raise up seed’ for the church, and 2. take care of the many widows whose husbands had died in the persecutions in Missouri. Are adding to your numbers and taking care of your many single sisters not valid reasons for practicing polygamy today? Why not? You say because the church is thriving and the single sisters will get husbands during the Millenium? Surely 13 million members (only half of whom attend your worship meetings each month) is a scientifically insignificant number when compared to the entire population of the world?! The more Mormons the better, right?–to do ‘more good’?–and to hopefully keep the heathens outnumbered by the Christians, right? What?–You’re concerned that returning to a practice of polygamy would do nothing to tarnish your reputations as non-Christians? You just need to set those evangelicals straight with Joseph F. Smith’s quote about the marriage of Cana being Jesus’ wedding to Mary and Martha!Â Or, tell the heathens they’re living a celestial principle when they take multiple wives–they’ll love you for it and be more apt to listen to your message.â€
6) â€œBy the way, historical records suggest Joseph Smith did NOT enter polygamy just to take care of widows (since he proposed to and married teenagers and married women–AND because that whole thing about “excess widows” is just a myth, per census records of the time), and it is doubtful Joseph would have wanted his plural wives to get pregnant because that would have raised suspicions at a time he was keeping polygamy under wrapsâ€”even from church membership at large. With what end in mind did Joseph Smith practice polygamy? Why does the church divorce itself from that ‘end’ now?â€
7) â€œDid Joseph Smith make a mistake in beginning the practice of Polygamy with Fanny Alger? Was it not of God? If Polygamy is ‘of God’, why won’t you church leaders set the example of this ‘holiest’ principle and take multiple wives today? It’s no big dealâ€”no more important than ‘buying a cow,’ per early church apostle Heber C. Kimball. What are you afraid ofâ€”a mass exodus of the membership? With accurate, historical information currently and readily available on the Internet today, your offices are already being bombarded by resignation requests from members who feel betrayed and lied to by your church–am I not right? You could save face by owning up to Joseph Smith’s problems with polygamy and just confess, ‘He got that one wrong.’â€
8.) â€œHe didn’t get it wrong?â€”God had commanded him? Well, if God commanded polygamy, why didn’t God just prepare a way for Joseph ‘to accomplish the thing which [God had] commanded [him]’–as your Book of Mormon scripture 1 Ne. 3:7 suggests God does after giving a commandment? Why did Joseph have to hide polygamy, even from all but his closest church associatesâ€”even from his wife Emma, as evidenced by the letter he wrote 17-year old wife Sarah Whitney and her parents? Perhaps the legalization of polygamy is God’s belated method of ‘preparing the way’ for the saints to live the Celestial Law now, in preparation for the Second Coming. Don’t you feel obligated to appreciate that blessing and to move forward in faith and obedience to a return to polygamy?â€
Obviously not–Church leadership would NOT be interested in returning to polygamy because it would halt the growth of the church, for the most part. I wouldn’t want them to return to polygamyâ€”for many, many reasonsâ€”but I would want them to confess that former church prophets declared it was the marriage arrangement of God and a requirement for exaltation. Why? I want members to have to deal with it, and to doubt: â€œCould Joseph have gotten that one wrong?â€ The indoctrination that â€œthe prophet will never lead us astrayâ€ would have some serious holes in it . . . and members might actually start to think for themselves rather than shelving all their doubts and following their leaders blindly. My great great and great great great grandmothers were Mormon plural wives. I honor their desire to please God and earn salvation but regret that they were taught that that was only possible through polygamy. They suffered unnecessarilyâ€”both emotionally and temporally. May the church stop exerting such control over people’s hearts and minds is my sincere desire.