There are 56 thoughts on “Opportunity Lost”.

  1. Polygamy falls in the same category as the Blacks and the Priesthood for me. It was wrong in that it marginalized women then and still is affecting the hearts and minds of women within the church today. If something makes you question your worth in the sight of God, it is not His. I don’t care who you are or how educated you think you are. If it makes you feel less loved or valued by Heavenly Father then it is wrong.

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  3. I second the motion on A HOUSE FULL OF FEMALES. It is a unique glimpse into the minds of women during the time of the early church. It is a better look at the life of women in plural marriages than anything else I’ve read. Some have felt it to be slow going at times, but I enjoyed every page.

  4. Hi Kathy,
    I appreciate the heartfelt comments and I can’t say I disagree with anything, expect perhaps that I feel at GEP is deeply flawed in part because it truly ignores the stories of the Nauvoo polygamists telling why they participated.
    I would state here that my wife and I never try to defend the earthly practice of polygamy. It is unfair to women because if its inequalities.
    My wife recently finished Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s book A HOUSE FULL OF FEMALES. (I’ve just started it). Laurel is a remarkable writer. My wife pointed out that while polygamy was hard, it was probably more difficult to have God call men on missions requiring them to leave their wives sometimes destitute.
    It is ironic that we consider ourselves a family-oriented Church, but for many years, missions and priesthood callings (and polygamy) created distance between wives and husbands, children and their fathers. I believe God will make it up and did in many instances, but those are trials I’m grateful I do not have to face.
    We both recommend the Laurel’s book and perhaps taking a minute to read the accounts of Joseph’s polygamous wives ( ).
    All my best,
    Brian Hales

    • Thank you Brother Hales. I read about a few of Joseph’s wives on your well-researched website, and my common sense, or perhaps the Lord’s spirit, confirms to me that something is wrong with this polygamy picture. I appreciate that you and your wife never try to defend the earthly practice. For me, none of the stories are uplifting, especially beginning with the first polygamous wife, Fanny Alger. Knowing that Joseph Smith was partial to this comely young girl, and then Emma witnessing them alone doing something Oliver Cowdery refers to as a “dirty, nasty, filty scrape” is not a good beginning to something defensible. I am left with questions about the earthly practice, that you do not defend, but I am also left with questions about the heavenly practice, which you do defend. I don’t expect you to answer these questions but here they are:
      We are taught men and women in the highest kingdom will have different roles throughout eternity, and at the same time, those who dwell in God’s presence will be made equal in power, might, and dominion (D&C 76:95), but plural marriage makes women peripheral beings helping a man, who is central, to build up his kingdoms. If this is an eternal principle, how can women hope to be eternally equal in power and importance with men? The numbers don’t add up. Since one of the possible explanations for the necessity of plural marriage is to solve the predicament of more females in the celestial kingdom, was it a mistake that there will be unequal numbers? Could an all-powerful God not create more males or solve this dilemma another way?
      Then back to the book which began this discussion, CLP hits a nerve because she not only points out the challenges of polygamy lived by the early Saints, but she covers the pain it causes if it is believed to be eternal: women feel inferior, marital relationships feel less secure, and the gospel no longer becomes the beautiful plan of happiness for many women who are left wondering if God cares less for His daughters than His sons. For this reason, I try to let the plural marriage-piece of our teachings go, as CLP advises, and hang onto the things I do believe.

      • Hi Again,
        I appreciate your comments and you are certainly not alone. Many many devout LDS women have shared your concerns.
        For reasons I can’t fully understand, it is challenging for some to recognize that these worries (and the suffering that arises as a consequence) are not based upon revealed truths but instead upon assumptions.
        You wrote, “We are taught men and women in the highest kingdom will have different roles throughout eternity.” I’m unaware of any official Church teachings that describe the details regarding the eternal “roles” of men and women in the celestial kingdom.
        If we assume the roles are unequal, then we can feel victimized by LDS teachings. Yet, in such cases we are actually victimized by our assumptions, not by official teachings because no official teachings exist.
        Understandably, women see the inequality of polygamy on earth and they readily assume that eternal polygamy will be unequal. This assumption is sometimes treated as reveal truth, but it isn’t. GEP repeatedly makes this assumption, which is why it is worthy of high criticism.
        The revealed truth is that God’s plan is an “eternal plan of happiness” (Alma 42:16), which is INconsistent with these assumptions.
        My wife and I encourage people to read accounts from early polygamists who actually did suffer from polygamy, but they made no assumptions about eternal inequality. Instead, they trusted God that their earthly sacrifices would bring blessings and eternal happiness.
        I believe GEP is a fear-mongering book that advocates xenophobia (fear of the unknown). Why? Because we know nothing of eternal marriage and we know less about eternal plural marriage.
        God admonishes us: “Verily, I say unto you my friends, fear not, let your hearts be comforted; yea, rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks” (D&C 98:1). “Wherefore, fear not even unto death; for in this world your joy is not full, but in me your joy is full” (D&C 101:36).
        I don’t mean this to be critical in anyway. I know it can be difficult to assuage fears that enter our hearts, but allowing them to remain can cause us to lose important blessings (see D&C 67:3).
        May we trust in God’s promises and be patient regarding things He has yet to reveal.

  5. “…a weakness of the GEP text is that there is little attempt to see the practice as the Nauvoo polygamists viewed it. Presentism, the act of viewing historical events with present day biases, is rife throughout GEP.”
    Brother Hales, you make an important point that we tend to view historical events with present day biases, but I do not see this as a weakness of GEP. In fact, considering Nauvoo polygamists with the biases of their time makes accepting plural marriage even more problematic. Women did not have equal status with men at that time in history and their choices were limited. It is disturbing to think of what social and ecclesiastical pressure these women, who we are often reminded were strong and independent (but omitting present-day biases they were still subservient), felt as they were growing older–pressure that would allow them to give up their monogamous relationships with their husbands to younger women who were at the beginning of their childbearing years. It is especially uncomfortable to think of the persuasion required to cause naive young girls, who had the possibility of marriage still ahead, to forego their prospects of monogamy for polygamy.
    Another historical perspective to consider would be the moral climate of their day. Because immorality surrounds us on every side, this lifestyle choice today seems mild, but in the 19th century, the Mormon practice of plural marriage would have been abhorrent to their neighbors. From a website created and hosted by the Independence Hall Association in Philadelphia: “Republican, Philadelphia Convention of 1856: The delegates got right down to business the first day by adopting a platform. The key plank was firm opposition to the extension of slavery. ‘It is the duty of Congress to prohibit in the territories those twin relics of barbarism, polygamy and slavery.’ The polygamy reference was aimed at the Mormon settlement in Utah territory.”
    Whether 1856, 1830s or 40s, our present day biases are lenient compared to what they deemed a barbaric practice and those looking from outside the Church at these “peculiar people” not only saw people who were different, but a people who seemed indifferent to the feelings of women. They saw a people who seemed immoral, just as those of us with traditional moral values view those practicing polygamy today. Even with today’s tolerance of all lifestyle choices, the Church makes a concerted effort to be separate from the present-day polygamists who are attempting to live a form of marriage we introduced to this country.
    As far as considering polygamy in the Old Testament with our present-day biases, God tolerated some cultural norms that may have been necessary for their time, including polygamy and slavery; nonetheless, God’s toleration does not make these cultural practices part of His perfect plan. For women, these twin relics of an ancient culture–polygamy and slavery–seemed to go hand in hand. While women were not alone in being slaves, their role as property uniquely included being sometimes given or taken as plural wives such as Hagar, Sarah’s handmaid. I am grateful for latter-day prophets who restored the gospel, but I am not happy with the restoration of the practice of plural marriage any more than I would be with the restoration of slavery.
    Sorry for the length of this post, but please know the pain for many women today, as for women in the early church, is real and while you may feel CLP lost the opportunity to tell another side to the story, I believe she tells the story and accurately portrays the pain.

  6. Hi Val,
    Thanks for the clarification.
    You are not alone in the suggestion that the Church could just let women be sealed to multiple husbands and men be sealed to multiple wives and we’ll let eternity sort it out. We know the keyholder can seal, AND that he can also loosen an eternal union.
    I can identify a few problems, at least for me, with this suggestion.
    You are apparently comfortable dismissing statements from every Church leader on the topic. Brigham Young taught that a “woman having more husbands than one . . . [was] not known to the law.” Apostle George A. Smith taught that “a plurality of husbands is wrong.” Orson Pratt instructed: “God has strictly forbidden, in this Bible, plurality of husbands, and proclaimed against it in his law.” Pratt further explained: “Can a woman have more than one husband at the same time? No: Such a principle was never sanctioned by scripture.”
    There are no statements that I am aware of that allow a plurality of husbands in any form in any situation. Everything we have condemns the idea.
    Also, I think D&C 132 does condemn plurality of husbands. Vv. 61-63 tell us a woman cannot be sealed to another man after her first sealing.
    I appreciate the suggestion: “I think the wisest course for the Church would be to take no stand on how things will be worked out in the Celestial Kingdom.” Unfortunately, the Church already has an official stand. The course you advocate does not exist. The Church can only change the course our early leaders have set and while that could occur, we are powerless to change the current doctrines.
    Thanks again,

    • Concerning the possibility of eternal polyandry, I have been intrigued by D&C 132:41 for years (ever since I discovered it after learning about the Prophet Josephs’ polyandrous marriages). Verse 41 seems to say that a sealed woman can be righteously “with another man” if it is appointed unto “her by the holy anointing.”

  7. I meant, of course, that men could be sealed to all children they fathered along with the woman they are now married to though a second sealing for the woman. I should have been explicit. Children born to the first sealed husband and those born to the second would both be counted as born in the covenant and sealed to both father and mother. This is what we do for the dead. As with the dead, we can leave the resolution of the issues raised for the next life. Eternal polyandry is one possibility. Both men and women are certainly capable of loving more than one spouse in this life, so polyandry in eternity might be a good eternal solution. Everyone choosing in the next life who they want to be sealed to in either a monogamous or polygynous marriage is another possibility. If the policy change of harmonizing Church practice for living and dead were made as I advocate, I think the wisest course for the Church would be to take no stand on how things will be worked out in the Celestial Kingdom. The scriptures seem to offer no clear statement on these issues. Past comments by general authorities are not scriptural and can be viewed as speculations. Current leaders could just affirm that we can trust God to work things out to our perfect satisfaction. They could just assure us that no one will be disgruntled about their familial arrangement in eternity and that our satisfaction will be heartfelt. It won’t be compelled as some fear. Our uncompelled perfect satisfaction in the Celestial Kingdom is consistent with everything we know about God and the Celestial Kingdom. It is very well supported in scripture.

    • Val: I think the obvious solution to your problem is to take your suggestion directly to God in prayer. If he likes your suggestions he could simply have the Lord issue a revelation to President Monson to make the appropriate changes. Alternatively we could let the Lord direct the Church the way he wants: he obviously is much more cognizant of the overall picture both in this life and in the hereafter than any of us are at this time. This is one way of exercising faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

      • Elden,
        Naturally, whether the change is dictated by revelation or is just adopted as a policy change, it must be enacted by the Church leadership. For my part, I fully support the right and responsibility of our called leaders to set doctrine and policy. However, the discussion of issues by ordinary members may sometimes raise ideas that the prophets pursue in prayer (as according to some reports happened when President Kimball sought revelation on Blacks and the priesthood, after, among other things, having read Lester Bush’s article on the history of the policy). So I think it can be helpful for us lay folks to talk about options. But I like your suggestion. I am going to add to my prayers for the Lord to guide our leaders a petition that he guide them with respect to this matter, fully understanding that the guidance He gives may not meet my preferences.

  8. Hi Val,
    I appreciate the thoughtful comment and your suggestions to correct the sealing “asymmetry” that currently exists.
    You have made two suggestions, let me first address the simpler of the two, that of allowing “men to be sealed to all the children they father.” Actually, children are only sealed to COUPLES, not to a man. Currently, a divorced woman who remarries is allowed to cancel her first sealing and be sealed to her new husband so any children born to that couple will be born in the covenant.
    In the event that a woman is still sealed to her ex-husband and has children with a new legal husband, since she is not sealed to the new husband, children could not be sealed to them anyway.
    Your second suggestion, “embracing for the living the policy we follow for the dead: allowing women, like men, to be sealed to all the men whom they marry” is interesting because you did not explain how those sealings would affect the woman and her multiple husbands after death.
    Currently, a deceased woman can be sealed by proxy to all the men she lived with in marriage with the expectation that she will accept one of the ordinances in the Spirit World and the others will be unrecognized in eternity.
    Currently living men can be sealed to one living woman and multiple deceased wives, with the expectation that eternal polygyny could occur.
    I think you are suggesting that the Church allow a living woman to be sealed to one man and multiple deceased husbands, but it is unclear whether are advocating the idea that eternal polyandry will occur.
    I realize that we know virtually nothing about eternal polygyny, so perhaps the argument could be made that we allow a woman to expect eternal polyandry in the same way? Or perhaps you advocate that the Church allow for this symmetry of ordinance work and let eternity, where all exalted beings are happy, work out the details?
    Within our theology, an eternal asymmetry exists regarding the possibility of eternal polygyny and eternal polyandry. Our leaders have taught that eternal polygyny can occur and eternal polyandry cannot. I am not sure that the Church could follow your suggestion without changing this doctrine.
    Since a sealing creates and eternal union (D&C 132:7, 19), allowing such sealings on earth can only be done with an eye on eternity. This is part of the amazing beauty and depth of Joseph’s zenith teaching of eternal marriage (to me at least).
    Brian Hales

  9. I appreciate the many fine insights in this review. But I can’t see the logic of one point you make. For many people (obviously not all) issues that will arise only if/when we make it to the Celestial Kingdom can be put on the shelf to await further light and knowledge we will receive after this mortal life. More pressing are issues that arise and directly affect us here during mortality. The asymmetry of the policy that permits multiple sealings for men in this life and only one sealing for women raises these earthly issues as you note in the review. It seems to me that most of these issues could be resolved by embracing for the living the policy we follow for the dead: allowing women, like men, to be sealed to all the men whom they marry and men to be sealed to all the children they father. You say this cannot be done because it is forbidden by D&C 132: 41, 61 – 63. Having read those verses with some care, I don’t see the prohibition there. Can you be more explicit about exactly how those verses preclude multiple sealings for women?
    The only part of these verses, it seems to me, that might be read as precluding a second sealing for women is the following in 132: 63 “But if one or either of the ten virgins, after she is espoused, shall be with another man, she has committed adultery.” This could be read as saying that any woman who has been sealed to one man is an adulteress if she subsequently marries any other man. But that reading is obviously incorrect. The Church does not regard women who are sealed, are widowed or get divorced, then remarry as being guilty of adultery. There are many women so situated who have and regularly use a temple recommend. In light of that practice, it would seem to be no big step to permit those women to be sealed to their second husband during this life. All that is required is a small change in policy that harmonizes the temple practices for living and dead.

  10. Hi Brad,
    I appreciate the comments—you have touched on several different topics. Let me address each of them briefly.
    First, it appears that you disagree with me regarding the question of whether Joseph made promises to family and friends saying if a woman would become his plural wife, they would receive salvation etc. You refer to MORMON ENIGMA but I would encourage you to find some primary evidence to support your interpretation. You may wish to start by going to my JOSEPH SMITH’S POLYGAMY volume 3 pages 194-205 where I investigate the three primary statements (regarding Lucy Walker, Helen Kimball, and Sarah Whitney) advanced by critics. I argue the interpretations go beyond the evidence and if Joseph had ever made such offers, they would have become more popular than eternal marriage ever was. Perhaps you have other evidence that is more credible?
    I think you advance the position that Emma DID know of Joseph’s plural marrying at the time she presided over Relief Society meetings and even spoke against the practice in those meetings. I would invite you to share some supportive primary documentation. At my JWHA presidential speech last September, I presented new historical data comparing the members of the Relief Society after their tenth meeting (May 27, 1842) to a list of women who are documented to have known about plural marriage at that time. On May 27th, there were 674 Relief Society members. Of them, 8 can be documented as knowing about plural marriage with 12 more that probably knew (and there is no unambiguous evidence showing Emma knew at that time).
    It is true Emma spoke against John C. Bennett’s immoralities and some observers assume that he knew of Joseph’s private teachings or that Bennett’s adulteries were a variation of celestial marriage doctrines. Bennett admitted in an October 1843 letter that he was never taught about eternal plural marriage. So I would invite you to share specific evidence to support your interpretation.
    You wrote: “this commandment [of plural marriage] was unique in history, and so a restoration of all things argument doesn’t seem to make sense.” I appreciate that, but plural marriage as a PRACTICE was restored. The COMMANDMENT to practice it was unique–not a restoration.
    You also wrote: “Studies have shown that there were not more total births during the time.” Could you share the references to those studies? In fact, studies have shown that monogamous women bore more children per wife than did polygamous wives except the first. However, fertility at the societal level was enhanced because of the near universality of marriage among women and the abundant opportunities for remarriage among previously married women of childbearing age. See L. L. Bean and G. P. Mineau, “The Polygyny–Fertility Hypothesis: A Re-evaluation,” Population Studies 40 (1986): 67–81.
    I appreciate that GEP included many stories of actual anguish and suffering experienced by many women. I believe the suffering is not based upon genuine threats, but fears of the unknown. And frankly, members who believe God’s promises (regarding exaltation and His plan of eternal happiness), will not imbibe such fears; I believe our faith can sustain us while we see through a glass darkly.
    Happy New Year,
    Brian Hales

    • Uh, Brian: You say the commandment to practice plural marriage was unique, but I seem to recall that Abraham received a commandment to take a plural wife
      D&C 132:34
      34 God commanded Abraham, and Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to wife. And why did she do it? Because this was the law; and from Hagar sprang many people. This, therefore, was fulfilling, among other things, the promises.
      Therefore it would seem that the commandment to practice plural marriage was not unique and hence it makes sense to say that the commandment to Joseph Smith was one of the “restoration of all things spoken of by the mouths of all the holy prophets since the world began.”
      D&C 27:6
      6 And also with Elias, to whom I have committed the keys of bringing to pass the restoration of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began, concerning the last days;
      D&C 86:10
      10 Therefore your life and the priesthood have remained, and must needs remain through you and your lineage until the restoration of all things spoken by the mouths of all the holy prophets since the world began.

      • Hi Eldon,
        I appreciate the comment. You are one of the most knowledgeable scholars regarding these teachings.
        Actually, I should clarify. I did not say or imply that God had never commanded anyone to practice polygamy. As you pointed out, D&C 132:34 states: “God commanded Abraham, and Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to wife.” If we assume God’s commandment and Abraham’s subsequent action were connected, then we can conclude that Abraham was commanded to enter plural marriage.
        As you know, the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon contain NO accounts of God’s followers (as a group or church) being commanded to be polygamists. The only time this has occurred, according to religious history, was the Latter-day Saints between the early 1840s and 1890.
        D&C 132:40, 45, tell us that God is going to restore all things. I believe that the practice of polygamy was restored almost incidentally as part of the eternal marriage doctrine. It is needed because exaltation requires eternal marriage and apparently there will be more worthy women than men. D&C 132:16-17 came in response to Joseph’s specific question about polygamy (v. 1) and is the only connection I can identify between God’s answer of eternal marriage (vv. 2-32) and that initial question. In my opinion, plural marriage is a minor component that will affect a portion of exalted beings who agree to it but has no inherent power to exalt. Modern polygamists put way too much emphasis on the practice and too little on the need for “order” and the need to do missionary work and work for the dead, which are far more important in God’s eternal arithmetic.
        Also, I do not believe Abraham’s plurality (or Jacob’s or Moses’) was an ordinance requiring restoration. As you know, polygamy is not an ordinance. It is not a covenant. It is not a ceremony. Plural marriage is the repetition of the sealing ceremony, but it does not reveal whether the man has other sealed wives or not. (The first wife can participate unofficially by putting the hand of the new wife on the hand of the man, but that is not required for the ordinance to be valid.)
        No leader has told us why polygamy was commanded between the 1840s and 1890. Some have suggested it must have been to “raise up seed,” since that is a reason given in Jacob 2. Perhaps this is true, but no revelation has defined it to be so.
        Any other thoughts?

  11. Very well-reasoned critique. One point I disagree with: “A second problem is found in the historical inaccuracies that reflect casual research (see especially 44, 55, 61, 81, 83, and 93). GEP declares: “Numerous young women (and some older women) were approached by Joseph and promised the highest exaltation in heaven — along with their entire family — if they accepted him as their husband and were ‘sealed’ to him for eternity” (55). This is simply false.2 Also GEP describes the Relief Society as “a service organization that Emma [Smith], as president, soon began to use in her fight against polygamy” in 1842 (81). There is no credible evidence to support that Emma or even a small percentage of the Relief Society members in Nauvoo in 1842 were aware of Joseph Smith’s eternal plural marriage teachings.3” You may also disagree with the book “Mormon Enigma – Emma Hale Smith,” but there are many journal and letter accounts that report just such promises made. I think that if you are relying on personal accounts from people at the time to support your point that the plural wives didn’t complain about Joseph (Emma sure did!) you also have to trust these accounts in that sense. I agree with Richard Bushman’s conclusion that it seems Joseph’s polygamy was not motivated by sexual lust but rather lust for kin. And so such promises were made to prospective wives and their family members if you’re going to believe people’s personal accounts from the time. That the Relief Society at the time was oblivious to the teachings on plural marriage and not involved in speaking against it is also incorrect if you trust the accounts in “Mormon Enigma.” Emma may not have been aware early on, but some of the senior members of the RS were as plural wives, and at times Emma spoke out against it, seemingly unwittingly against her own husband. There was perhaps necessary but unfortunately secrecy about it, and Emma is to be admired for her strength and sincere efforts through all of the difficulties.
    It’s true that we don’t know much about the reasons for the plural marriage commandment from 1840-1890. You make the point that this commandment was unique in history, and so a restoration of all things argument doesn’t seem to make sense. Studies have shown that there were not more total births during the time than otherwise would have been, because the women could have married other men and still have been fertile. The most plausible reason to me is to raise up righteous seed, though this didn’t seem to happen until much later years, as no direct descendants of Joseph’s plural wives have been credibly recorded. A trial of faith could also be another reason.
    You do make some good cautionary points about the author’s assumptions. Many of us make assumptions about eternity that we’re not qualified by experience or authority to make. I gained a lot of perspective from women’s point of view from CLP’s book.

  12. Hi Brother Hales,
    Thank you for sharing your perspective on GEP! This past summer, I listened to the RadioWest interview with Carol Lynn Pearson and was quite troubled by it. Yet what you’ve written here makes so much sense, and I’m truly grateful for your thoughtful words. I hope Sister Pearson reads your post and thinks deeply about what you’ve shared! 🙂

  13. Good article. If eternal life requires being married and sealed, then it follows that of necessity, someone must be married to more than one spouse for all deserving people to have a chance. That of course does not require that all who make it are polygamous.
    I remember a close friend in college wrestling over this issue. How, she said, could she ever share a husband with someone? It beggared belief! But she had some very close friends too. And she said: “What if the only way she could make it to the celestial kingdom was if she had to be married? Would I be so selfish as to deny her her chance? I love her very much, too!
    Another thing: our current culture is a bit of an outlier. We marry for love (we think), but I suspect the vast number of families throughout time did not. It’s also why I suspect the doctrine of eternal families was not revealed much before now; since most marriages were arraigned marriages. Do they even want to be a forever family?
    Consider, further, the societies where polygamy was normal and expected, like Jacob the son of Issac. His wives encouraged him to take their handmaids as wives! Clearly, it was expected and the thing to do. Did they regret it? Were they upset? Did they resent Bilhah? Heck, Rachel and Leah were jealous of each other all the time; but would they have wanted Jacob to divorce the other? I highly doubt it.
    So our current society is probably just as dysfunctional, if not more, than the ones we look back on. Lots of women like a polygamous lifestyle, too: more hands to help with the housework and children, for instance.
    I personally think there were several reasons it was restored for a short time in this dispensation: 1) all things were to be restored, if but for a short time (we haven’t had to do animal sacrifice yet, but we are told it’s coming at some point, if only for a short bit); 2) to raise up righteous children to the Lord; 3) to set the Lord’s people apart. Like Circumscision was for the Jews, for a time polygamy was for us. It was a great sifter; those who followed it versus those who could not. It developed faith. My personal view is that homosexual issues will serve the same function for our generation. After all, polygamy was a “relic of the barbarous ages and a primitive time” the argument went. And today, we hear the exact same thing waged against those who celebrate traditional marriage and oppose LGBT rights. But that’s a parenthetical to this question; which is polygamy.
    I don’t know how it will play out, but from all my reading, only by overcoming jealousy and other feelings will anyone qualify for the Celestial kingdom. And I’m not all that sure what being sealed for eternity actually means when it comes to being sealed to someone other than your spouse, like Brian said in the article. What, precisely, will be my relationship with, say, Moses, whom I suppose I will eventually be sealed to in a chain? No idea. And no one else here on earth knows either, I bet.

  14. Brian,
    Great article. I appreciated your thoughts on what relationships will be like in heaven. The older I get the more I think of things like that, especially as my parents and children age with me. What will it be like when we are all thirty-somethings again?
    I really like the gospel topic essay “Becoming Like God” and how it informs this subject, especially relevant is the section ‘How do latter-day Saints envision exaltation?’
    There are a lot of differing opinions about what it will be like in the eternities. My idea of heaven is inheriting this earth, in a sanctified and immortal state, part of Christ’s kingdom, with Him and all my friends and family, forever. The same sociality that exists among us here and all that. Although my wife and I do like to travel… worlds without end. I assume some travels will be family vacations and reunions, which will be a lot easier without a bunch of kids getting in the way. Wait, what are we doing for eternity again?

  15. Brian,
    I appreciate the careful thought you have put into this review of Carol Lynn Pearson’s, “The Ghost of Eternal Polygamy”.(GEP) Having read the book, I concur completely with your conclusion that GEP, “is an unfortunate publication because of its many weaknesses.” It has become a popular method of dissent in this day and age to undermine prophetic commentary while at the same time stating that one honors their prophetic station. My father called it speaking out of both sides of one’s mouth.
    However, concerning this observation that you mention above, “The belief that every man will be required to practice polygamy in the future or that every woman will have to share her husband in eternity is not only doctrinally unsupported but also mathematically perplexing”, I wonder if we might be willing to consider upon doctrinal possibilities to lead us to a clearer understanding of the potentials of plural marriage as a requisite.
    Not only requisite but self-existent and of such significance that in its absence all creation fails, mankind is irretrievably lost, and an eternity of worlds and galaxies and in short all organized creations are lost to Satan’s grasp. A strong claim, true, but one that if examined and at least considered for its doctrinal possibility begins to provide an end to what thus far is mostly two sides of a debate sustained by personal conjectures balanced against social commentary.
    For brevities sake let’s create a doctrinally sustainable scenario. A man and a women complete this estate and, eternally unified, are raised to the highest kingdom of celestial glory. Eager to continue to advance they begin the process of providing for the seeds of creation by initiating the process that the Father indicates, as we understand, at least somewhat, involves organizing spirit children and creating worlds and galaxies and such to provide for the eventual habitation and placement of this beyond billions of spirit children in their own eternal process of growth. As a celestial husband and a celestial wife they complete their preparations and provide for a fall and then a population of mortal tabernacles is initiated to house these beloved spirit children. Promises are made to these children to comfort their hearts and ensure they understand that their celestial parents will do all required to enable their opportunities to return and reside with them.
    Now we have no clue as to how long it requires to build a population of spirit children sufficient to populate one world let alone millions. However, as beings of perfect love, this celestial man and this celestial woman cherish and care profoundly for these they have created.
    Then the time arrives, where this eternal celestial couple prepares to send their premier offspring into the world to provide for the return of this numberless population of organized children and worlds and their creatures by providing an atonement via the sacrifice of this beloved Son.
    Interestingly, there are conditions mandated in order that this beloved son can perform this self-less but absolutely imperative act. His Father, an eternal celestial being, looks to his eternal celestial wife and they both realize (long before now) that integral to an atonement is the ability to advance a perfectly mortal condition for their Son to be the promised Savior – he must be able to die a seemingly mortal death. At the same time this Son must be able to exercise the capacity of an eternal being and be able to live eternally. The celestial wife clearly understands that for her numberless offspring, whom she has nurtured for eternities before this moment to succeed, her eternal husband, who will provide the seeds of eternal existence, must take another wife. This wife will provide the seeds of mortality that are requisite that an atonement can be provided. And now we understand that without plural marriage all creation must inevitably fail and all would be lost and even all must perish in its absence.
    Now in this brief recital, I have forgone all of that quotes and verses that sustain this direction. Some may balk that Mary is eternally sealed to our Father in Heaven. Brigham Young, Orson Pratt and Joseph Fielding Smith and others could see no other way. I do not seek to provide all of the answers to the possible questions, though there are supporting resources of worth.
    Carol Lynn Pearson in looking at her existence introspectively and within the constraints of a social experience that is tragic and disheartening in my opinion. She seeks to ameliorate the eternal uncertainty, that we all must consider, with a socially propitious paradigm that attempts to bring peace to her troubled soul . However, it does so at an expense that only furthers a debate that fails to consider the eternal possibilities of not practicing plural marriage, and fails to consider that beings of mortal limitations are not the best judges of what beings with an eternal perspective will feel and rejoice in. Additionally, to reach her conclusions she does harm to the prophetic status of God’s chosen and chooses a politically correct rendition as a superior conclusion.
    While what I suggest here is not clearly within the doctrinal cannon of the LDS church from a point of a single direct reference, its constructs are clearly represented within that cannon to be recognized and considered as a beautiful possibility that points to something horizonally far broader and reaching than a view obscured by a self-filled perspective. It provides an exhilarating eternal hope to offset a darkened, fearful mortal perspective. Again, for some not a doctrinal realty, this at least provides for a point of thoughtful consideration that at least advances the debate in a direction of reasonable consideration that for some will bring peace to their souls upon conditions of doctrinal possibilities that we all can recognize. As well it speaks to potentials that tend more to sustain Joseph Smith and other prophets and leaves their prophetic station soundly intact and the gospel message of an eternal possibility that is clearly beyond our comprehension but has potential to elevate our greatest concerns to points of great comfort and peace.
    I conclude with an observation by Elder Boyd K. Packer:
    This truth [ultimately the Atonement of Christ] is the very root of Christian doctrine. You may know much about the gospel as it branches out from there, but if you only know the branches and those branches do not touch that root, if they have been cut free from that truth, there will be no life nor substance nor redemption in them. (Packer, Boyd K., The Mediator, Ensign, May 1977, p. 56)
    It wasn’t until I began to see the ideology of plural marriage in the context of the Atonement of Jesus Christ that I began to see its most profound and complete application and at that point it ceased to be troublesome.
    Again for all intents and purposes your review was well done and a fair treatment of Carol Lynn Pearson’s message. I thank you for it.

    • I really enjoyed your comment, especially because I had the same ideas and reasoning when I was younger. But now I see things more like this:
      Heavenly Father didn’t need to take another wife to bear the Savior of mankind. The Holy Ghost came to Mary here on earth and could have very easily deposited the seed necessary, even as mere mortal doctors do so now to help women become pregnant. I would imagine the Holy Ghost has methods far greater than we do! Mary was sealed to Joseph, not Heavenly Father directly so that her Joseph’s other children would be theirs for eternity. This also sealed them into the Family of God, thus sealing them all to Heavenly Father and Mother.
      As to going and creating worlds and galaxies, we will help do so while living with our Heavenly Parents–that’s exaltation…living with them again someday. They remain our Heavenly Father and Mother, who begat us–so whomever we beget are further descendants of Theirs. They will forever be the Heavenly Parents of all children anyone ever has. Just like here on earth I am my parents’ child and they are their parents’ children, and so on back to Adam and Eve. We are all Adam’s and Eve’s children in mortality. (But Adam and Eve didn’t have to bring us all forth by themselves.) No matter how many descendent come from me, they remain children of our first parents, even more than they are mine. In eternity, no matter how many world’s we help create or Spirit children we have, it all belongs to our Heavenly Parents–we are just descendants furthering Their work and glory, even as it became our work and glory in our first estate, continues here in this estate, and on through eternity. There is no need for plural spouses to further the work along, as we’ve seen from human history. The children of polygamists could and would have been born to monogamous couples in the church, thus preventing the loss of many men who were excluded from marriage and fatherhood by said polygamists. Most of us have contributed to the family of mankind–we helped Adam and Eve bring their mortal family to earth, which is our Heavenly Parents’ family first….last….and always—including those spirit children yet to come forth by those who reach exaltation someday.
      This is how I’ve come to see things now after study and prayer, and maybe I’m on the right track, lol. Just maybe…

    • Hi Brock,
      I normally would not respond to comments like this because, as you pointed out, there is a lot of speculation involved. However, you are not alone in the basic theory you have presented.
      If I understand you correctly, you advance the idea that God is literally the father of Christ’s body and therefore must be polygamously married to Mary. Extending this idea further, all exalted men must do the same in future eternities and therefore will be polygamists.
      I know various Church leaders have taught that God the Father condescended to be the Father of Christ’s body according to reproductive physiology and must have been married to Mary. I think there is room for additional views on this.
      We remember that from a religious standpoint, sexual reproduction on earth does NOT CREATE LIFE. It organizes lifeless elements—atoms and molecules—to form an embryo/fetus that can receive a spirit from the spirit world.
      We don’t know when the spirit enters the fetus, but once it is there, the spirit is surrounded by a physical tabernacle for the rest of its mortal existence. It is likened to a hand being placed in a glove. God creates the spirit (the hand) through a “continuation of the seeds,” and human reproductive physiology creates the tabernacle (the glove).
      Perhaps you can see why I question the need for God the Father to condescend to contribute to the process of fashioning Jesus’ embryonic tabernacle (the lifeless “glove”), when He was already the Father of Christ’s spirit (the living “hand”).
      During his earthly ministry, Christ was able to miraculously manipulate human tissue to heal paralytics and other ailments. He could turn water to wine. How different are those processes from rearranging DNA and other tissues to assemble Christ’s fetal body in Mary’s womb? No need for a dramatic appearance of the Father in person.
      This seems more consistent with the scriptural description of Mary’s pregnancy: “that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost” (Matt. 1:20). Nephi described the process: “And it came to pass that I beheld that she [Mary] was carried away in the Spirit; and after she had been carried away in the Spirit for the space of a time the angel spake unto me, saying: Look! And I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms. (1 Ne. 11:19-20.)
      According to sexual reproduction, something other than intercourse caused Mary to be pregnant with the Savior if she was still a VIRGIN after bearing Christ. Marriage and polygamy are NOT required.
      Currently I reject the idea that Mary was the wife of God the Father. Since there are so many things we do not know, my position could easily change. But I also believe that as an argument to support polygamy, it is problematic.

      • Well, the thing is, Christ alone could do the Atonement because He was semi-divine: mortal from Mary, divine from His Father. In other words, His DNA was formed from Mary and God the Father.
        While I have no doubt that God’s DNA was used via implantation or other than through sexual reproduction (yes, Mary was a virgin); it is nevertheless doctrine that God was Jesus’ actual father. That is what gave Jesus the power to raise from the dead, from God His Father, and the power to die from Mary, His mother.
        What that means for marriage and fatherhood and adultery and so forth, I have absolutely no idea. We see some of it today: is a sperm donor someone’s father? Do you commit adultery if you become a sperm donor? These are issues of a more “advanced” age and level of technology.
        The Virgin birth is not as miraculous to us, because we have the tech to make it happen.
        I don’t know what Mary’s and God’s relationship is, other than she is His spirit daughter and a very highly favored one. But God’s literal, physical Son being born out of wedlock seems wrong too. So, honestly, this is a place where we need more revelation. And likely are not going to get it, since why would we need to know?

      • Brian
        I have been following some of the give and take on the comments associated with your review of Carol Lynn Pearson’s “The Ghost of Eternal Polygamy”. In doing so I have observed what I consider an interesting and all too common trend that has become manifest in the responses that you provide back to individuals. I didn’t respond earlier because I didn’t want to abuse this forum of communication that it appear as one of the many general subject discussion forums but observing the nature of some of the responses I think has brought reasonable circumstance for my observations.
        When you responded to my first comment a couple of months ago, you did a fine job in your synopsis . I knew there was risk that the presumed speculative nature of my observations might deter your interest. You claimed that I said I was being speculative but I can’t find where I stated such. However the nature of your response, while gracious, was predictable from the stance of academic priority. I am hoping that we might have just one more dance , if you will, to discuss the nature of your response as it compares to the nature of “The Ghost of Eternal Polygamy”.(GEP)
        When it comes to Carol Lynn Pearson and her recent publication she is an easy target. She ignores blatant documentation and actual prophetic commentary that completely opposes her conclusions. She infuses personal bias as doctrine on the premise that if she can find three people who agree then that trumps any and all of the voices that we anticipate echo the words of God. She beats the drum of her offense with such a rapid staccato that it captures all such offended and carries their lament to anxious heights falsely presumed heavenly. One would think that her dependence on a social clime sympathetic to such interpretive license as hers would be so obvious that she could see the blatant source of her truth normally recognized as self-affirmation. Her speculative future states are enveloped with the fears of current offense. And clearly we do not know such things. Yes, it is clear that I am in solid sustainment of your review that characterizes the limitations of her message and notes that it sadly seems to invoke an equally flawed sympathetic response by others so persuaded by a similar sense of social injustice.
        However, at what point does it become speculation and when is it disagreement with prophetic guidance simply because we can’t accept the particular insight for any one of the hundreds of reasons that tempt the subtle biases that we may not recognize in ourselves? If some with limited bias wrap that bias with a wealth of supportive and faithful themes does it somehow mean we are more justified, more faithful, more staunch and believing for the general positive nature of our dialogue?
        You mentioned in your response “I know various Church leaders have taught that God the Father condescended to be the Father of Christ’s body according to reproductive physiology and must have been married to Mary.” I would suspect that one as well read as you is very familiar with the quotes that I did not provide earlier. The sources are very credible and I’ll supply one here which pretty much addressed all of your points of disagreement:
        Mary told the story most beautifully when she said that an angel of the Lord came to her and told her that she had found favor in the sight of God, and had come to be worthy of the fulfillment of the promises heretofore made, to become the virgin mother of the Redeemer of the world. She afterwards, referring to the event, said: “God hath done wonderful things unto me.” “And the Holy Ghost came upon her,” is the story, “and she came into the presence of the highest.” No man or woman can live in mortality and survive the presence of the Highest except by the sustaining power of the Holy Ghost. So it came upon her to prepare her for admittance into the divine presence, and the power of the Highest, who is the Father, was present, and overshadowed her, and the holy Child that was born of her was called the Son of God.
        Men who deny this, or who think that it degrades our Father, have no true conception of the sacredness of the most marvelous power with which God has endowed mortal men—the power of creation. Even though that power may be abused and may become a mere harp of pleasure to the wicked, nevertheless it is the most sacred and holy and divine function with which God has endowed man. Made holy, it is retained by the Father of us all, and in his exercise of that great and marvelous creative power and function, he did not debase himself, degrade himself, nor debauch his daughter. Thus Christ became the literal Son of a divine Father, and no one else was worthy to be his father. (Deseret News, 23 Dec 1923; Sermons and Missionary Services of Melvin J. Ballard, 166-167; Crusader for Righteousness, 144)
        The list of names that agreed with this perspective is loaded with some significant LDS theologians on the one hand but even more significant each has served in a capacity of prophetic leadership in the church -Joseph Fielding Smith, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Pratt, James E. Talmage,J. Reuben Clark, Jr. , Melvin J. Ballard , Bruce R. McConkie, and Joseph F. Smith.
        Nonetheless, though familiar with this wide range of voices declaring various elements concerning the divinity of Christ’s parentage your response was “Currently I reject the idea that Mary was the wife of God the Father. Since there are so many things we do not know, my position could easily change. But I also believe that as an argument to support polygamy, it is problematic.”
        Carol Lynn Pearson is absolutely guilty as charged when you state,
        Besides the fearmongering found in GEP, there is an additional, more troubling message. GEP explains: “I know there are visionaries. I know there are seers. I believe that Joseph Smith was one of them … Joseph was not unique”. He is then classified as just another visionary and [Page 108]then compared to Ellen White, William Blake, Emanuel Swedenborg, and Dame Julian.
        But here is my question for you: what is the criteria for when it is okay to cast aside the words of prophets for academic prudence and when do we characterize it as mislead such as when Carol Lynn Pearson chooses to cast aside prophetic commentary in stating her message?
        Is there some formula that I can embrace for when to accept Brigham Young and when to ignore him or is there a blanket refutation of Elder Ballard and Elder Talmage of which I was uninformed? When is it good research to cast dispersions on some prophetic conclusions and when is it simply minimizing a message simply because it does not conform to a personally acceptable standard.
        My point is that it is all too common, especially in LDS academia to actually to be guilty of the exact same undermining spirit in doctrinal discussions as those that are the more obvious detractors. Often it is the exact same thought process that leads each to their points of “acceptable” doctrine versus unacceptable speculation. Because of this it is my personal opinion that due to the commonality of methodologies neither venue has the capacity to strengthen faith and neither can fault the other for exercising similar strategies to varying degrees.
        My final point is to echo an observation that you made several times – there are so many things we simply cannot know for sure. However, in matters of theology, that observation may actually be the truest indicator of our clearest alignment when it comes to the final declarations of allegiance.
        Some indicate that we can’t really know, even in the face of strong supporting commentary as in this case concerning the Father being eternally sealed to Mary the mother of Christ. This type of clarity should forgo the considerations of artificial insemination and other such modern artifices as if the inspired leaders might have qualified their comments if only they were as advanced then as we are now. It would seem that if we are going to pick and choose which comments to imbue with our feeble stamp of “inspired” and then claim other observations of seeming equal credibility are simply the ramblings of a leader when he was not being prophetic only furthers the growing perspective that we as individuals have greater clarity and understanding than do the prophets. This, I do not believe.
        For some reason, you have hit the wall, so to speak, on what part of something a prophet or apostle says is believable when so often we each have our own tendency to shade the words of the prophets and apostles as secondary to our own wisdom. In your efforts to rebut some of the erroneous commentary that some have inquired after, I admit I am in your court as you soundly and competently defend the words of the prophets and use them to attempt to right the personal biases that part so far to the left of right. I would have received your observations in referencing my observations as speculations equally as positively had you done the same in responding to my comments. However, instead you stepped over prophetic commentary to weigh in with nothing more than your opinion as evidence against the words of the prophets. At that juncture I could not distinguish between Carol Lynn Pearson and Brian Hales.
        That one individuals capacity to believe more of the eternal message is greater than another’s is very apparent in this squaring off between Carol Lynn and yourself. However, one wonders if there is greater faith promotion when one clearly sustains a greater portion of prophetic insight but then reaches the point where the prophetic observations are deemed not viable is of any significant value over those who declare their inability to believe much earlier in their discourse as does Carol Lynn.
        In either state do we not set ourselves up to be judges of prophets? Surely Carol Lynn Pearson has done so but is it possible that even the staunchest do the same when they part ways with the prophets for no more than a difference of opinion.
        In my earlier presentation which concludes a mandate for polygamy at some point in each pair of God’s (husband and wife) eternal life I can walk every step on the observations of apostles and prophets. From my perspective, I cannot see that there is any independent speculation involved. Some will jump to the “speculation” label simply for its power to end further thought on a matter. However, if you will note that while you acknowledge familiarity with the comments of prophets that clearly state that God the Father is the literal father of the body of Christ , you then offer up personal speculations as to why you can’t go where these prophetic commentaries lead. Its intelligently contrived and logically presented and bears a potential ring of sensibility but when I remove all of the pretty bows and the nice wrapping paper and open the box what do I see but Carol Lynn Pearson inside looking up with that wry whimsical little smile that says “gotcha.”
        My point here is not that I’m right and you are wrong. although that is clearly what I believe. My point is that quite frequently we are all either pots or kettles calling each other black and that before we can be that non-stick frying pan we must examine ourselves with great care. I do find it disingenuous that you use the words of the prophets to show others the error of their personal bias but when placed in the crosshairs of your own personal bias and prophetic commentary you go with bias without even a thought. I’m not saying this is hypocrisy, as I have observed this behavior all too often from well meaning folks who simply did not realize how alike in our default behaviors we are one to another. However, I do think that if we are to truly sustain the prophets and apostles that we must recognize such things and find a better way to address these circumstances. Perhaps you have some greater supporting material that reinforces what I have determined to be simply your opinion. If so I would be most interested.

        • Since an understanding of how embryos come into being, and the operation of genetic inheritance in that process, has only been achieved in very recent times, I think it likely that some earlier Church leaders who thought about the conception of Jesus assumed it happened in the only way they understood it could happen. I think the same limits of knowledge affected their personal conceptions about the creation of the earth.

          President Nelson has testified about receiving revelation concerning the detailed process of open heart surgery to resolve particular problems. He was prepared through his own study and experience to receive and understand those revelations. I doubt that someone without that preparation could receive those same revelations.

          In the same way, I don’t think that the early brethren who expressed their views on the conception of Christ were prepared to understand an explanation that requires knowledge of cell biochemistry and the way DNA works, and developmental genetics that controls how cells in an embryo differentiate into the many different organs.

          Finally, our own lack of detailed knowledge about the Celestial Kingdom means we are unprepared for detailed revelation about how we will live in eternity. The development of the internet and smartphones gives us an insight by analogy into the working of seer stones and the Urim and Thummim. In modern revelation we are told that the prophecies in John’s Revelation about the transformed earth and the “white stone” we will each receive refer to the function of each as “information appliances”, with the “new name” in our personal seer stone being a “key word”, meaning a password. Before the last two decades, these would be seen as “magical”, while we can now classify them as very sophisticated technology. I think a consistent teaching of modern prophets has been that miracles are not instances of God suspending the laws of nature, but are demonstrations of God’s deeper understanding of nature. While some people think that God is an immaterial entity, so that they can barely conceive of God “dirtying his hands” by creating devices like the Urim and Thummim, and are never sure why God created our material earth, we are assured by revelation that God is the smartest thinker in the universe, and if humans can make smart phones and the internet, he can do it a million times better, such as a liahona, or a seer stone. He is smarter than we are, even in areas where we think we can tell God how he should run things, such as marriage relationships.

      • Brian,
        If I understand you correctly, your suggested method by which Christ’s physical body was formed is an additional step beyond what selfishandspirituallyimmatureandweak (sasiaw) suggested in the previous post. At least in sasiaw’s scenario a normal conception and gestation occurs, even if the Father’s seed did not enter Mary by sexual union. It is unclear, but I think in your scenario Christ would have had neither a literal genetic father or mother, but started as an embryo in Mary’s womb (Mary was only a surrogate birth mother and the Father was not even the sperm donor, since there was none). Among other things, this dose not seem consistent with the eternal order of nature and the connectedness of all life.
        I think your intention was to strengthen the argument beyond sasiaw that the Father need not have been married to Mary, since even in sasiaw’s theory I believe that marriage between the Father and Mary would have been necessary.
        The issue was not directly raised, but I think that some object to the idea of Mary being sealed to the Father on the grounds that it would constitute parent-child incest. This bothers me also, so I believe (contrary to McConkie and others) that Cook, in his book Eternal Burnings, is correct: that Mary is not a daughter of the Father but was brought in from a different “cell.”

  16. Thank you for a careful review. One point I need to remind myself again and again is to avoid presentism in all of its manifestations. I have ancestors who practiced polygamy. I have other ancestors who did not. I do them disservice if I do not endeavor to understand their actions within the context of their lives as they lived them and instead focus only on a 21st century mindset. The practice was so hard for them. Yet they collectively (man and woman) strived to live it or with it and I am humbled by that.

  17. Great article. You said: “Besides inheriting all things, the passage of time as we now know it will be no longer (Revelations. 10:6; D&C 84:100); “Time only is measured unto men” (Alma 40:8).”
    I’m not sure what you meant exactly but wanted to make sure you were aware of this great article in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism by Kent Robson entitled “Time and Eternity.”
    As well as Bruce R. McConkie’s different meanings for “time” in the scriptures, as found in “Mormon Doctrine.” Was an eye opener for me. Thanks again for a great article. You nailed it.

    • Excellent points. I had hoped to convey that a primary problem for earthly polygamy is that it fragments the husband’s resources including the amount of time he can spend with each wife. But in the next life, the time limitation may not exist and certainly will be modified by factors we cannot now imagine.

      • Dear Bro. Hales,
        Where do you get this idea from? What scriptures indicate that the sociality we experience here will be different from that experienced there, especially when Joseph taught clearly that they are the same? Even if there is no time measured there, it’s an irrevocable law that when one being is intimately with another, all others are left out. The husband is never alone, left out, lonely, or unfulfilled. Never. But the wives are. Only he can fulfill those special feelings, needs and bonds. Even God can’t fulfill what a husband is covenanted to fulfill. So there’s no doubt that wives must go without these things a lot–often–mostly. That’s terribly hurtful. That’s terribly painful. It’s not a situation most healthy women would deem heavenly. I can’t understand how a righteous man would even be able to contemplate doing that to someone he claims he loves.
        You mentioned not having blood in our resurrected bodies and that it might change things considerably, like testosterone. Perhaps…but perhaps not. Our endocrine systems will be resurrected, for not a hair will be lost. Perhaps not having blood will enable us to have far, far, far more deeply romantic love. If so, imagine the terrible anguish for wives then! Or perhaps it will cause us to be more like animals who feel no romantic love at all. But how could this be when the feelings of falling in love are the greatest moments of our lives?–we all miss them when they fade away. What kind of eternity would it be without them forevermore? Perhaps (I surely do hope) in eternity we have them forever, infinitely magnified! Imagine then having to long for your husband but he is taking turns with the others while you wait and ache and long for him. And all too soon you are alone again. And again. But he’s never alone or bereft. How is this fair and righteous? How can this possibly be viewed as God being no respector of persons?
        Some say we sister wives will magically not feel lonely or bereft. We won’t long for him. If so, then Joseph greatly erred about our sociality there being as it is here, for do we not miss our beloved when they are gone from us? Does it not cause pangs of longing and anxiety to be together again as soon as possible?
        No matter how we objectively look at it, plural marriage is a blessing for men and a terrible plight for women, at least for women who feel deeply romantic love for their husband. I’ve known some women who love their husband dearly, but claim they aren’t really IN love with him. They don’t overly care if there is polygamy so long as the sister wives are fun and not very pretty. To me, that’s pretty sad. But, I don’t know, I guess you don’t miss what you never had.
        I just think you benevolently make as many assumptions about this as Carol Lynn Pearson has. And I think you missed the messages by an eternal mile. You’re truly a plural marriage scholar, and for all your learning you think you are wise. And in many ways you are. It’s very disappointing that you haven’t discerned that so is she.

        • Hi selfishandspirituallyimmatureandweak,
          I expect your online name is inaccurate. You seem more spiritual strong, but with concerns and questions.
          You have reprimanded me handily for making “many assumptions.” Your comments echo so many found in GEP. There is no doubt that there is much fear and pain from perceptions of what eternal polygamy might be like. I have family members who share such fears, despite our discussions.
          Joseph Smith taught “That same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there [in the Celestial Kingdom], only it will be coupled with eternal glory” (D&C 130:2). He does not say the same FAMILIALITY, but SOCIALITY. The 1832 Webster’s defines social as “Pertaining to society; relating to men living in society. or to the public as an aggregate body.” Joseph did not say family would persist as we have it here, but that we would continue to have the ability to interact socially with eternal glory.
          You wrote of “an irrevocable law” that included polygamous wives in heaven would be “left out, lonely” living in a situation that is “terribly hurtful,” and “terribly painful.” I don’t know of any revelation or prophetic utterance that supports this. It seems assumptions about eternity have been embraced and treated as documented fact.
          Since we are talking about things we cannot know for certain, each of us must choose what we are to believe and what assumptions we are going to accept and reject.
          I see things differently. I believe God’s ways are “higher” than our ways (Isaiah 55:9) and involve “things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor yet entered into the heart of man” (D&C 76:10). His plan is a “plan of happiness” which is “eternal” (Alma 42:16).
          This is the primary reason I cannot embrace your views. For me, an eternal plan of happiness is incompatible with a belief in an eternal plan of coercion, an eternally hurtful plan, an eternally painful plan.
          I think we can trust Joseph Smith’s revelations and His God and wait for the wonderful details to those who believe and continue faithful.
          God Bless,

          • Thank you for responding, I appreciate your thoughts. You have a very positive and hopeful outlook toward polygamy and sociality in the hereafter. Honestly, most men do in my experience.
            You mentioned the difference between familiality and sociality, the latter being what Joseph expressed in section 130. Yet we seal marriages and families, and the church teaches that marriage and family ARE the sociality of the Celestial kingdom, particularly the highest level therein. You also pointed out the coupling of this familial sociality with eternal glory. As you said, our eyes have not seen nor have our hearts been given what God has prepared for them that love Him. We can only speculate and hope in faith that it will be beautiful and happy and free from pain.
            Yet you fail to address the simple fact that multiple wives means spending time without one’s beloved husband. Much time. There is a loneliness inherent in that fact. The husband is always with someone he loves. The wives are not.
            I suppose you have faith that coupled eternal glory will mean that the wives will not suffer being away from him a great deal. I have not any such faith because there is no scripture to base such an idea upon. But there is a great deal written about giving up what we want for greater good, and about sacrificing ourselves for the Lord’s work and glory. Only it is the women who apparently make the eternal sacrifices of their fulfillment and oneness.
            The men do not. Again, they are never alone or lonely. And again, children and projects and sister-wifehood can never fill the needs and desires that only the husband can fulfill. IF such type of wondrous romantic love is to be taken away, how great shall be our loss for it is so very divine and glorious. But to magnify it countless fold and not be together equally would be incompressibly…sad.
            And heaven isn’t sad. Therefore, I deeply believe and hope and trust that no one will have to share such love with extra spouses. I have faith that every person will be free to be with one companion who will perfectly suit one another — a couple coupled with eternal glory, love and light.
            Thank you again for your wealth of knowledge and discussion regarding this very difficult thorn of the soul.

  18. “The practice of plural marriage was commanded between the 1840s and 1890 and obedience was then expected, but not apparently because polygamy has any inherent exalting ability or because it is the only form of marriage in the celestial kingdom. It was commanded during those decades of the nineteenth century because it was God’s will. At no other time in the earth’s past millennia has such a directive been given to God’s followers. Modern prophets have never given a reason for the polygamy mandate.”
    If we understand Jacob 2 correctly, the reason for polygamy is to “raise seed unto [the Lord].”
    “30 For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.”
    Between just eight prominent polygamists – Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Lorenzo Snow, Heber Kimball, Willard Richards, George A. Smith, and Daniel Wells – 320 seed were raised. Many of them went on to become important Church leaders.
    That’s quite a jump start for the Restoration movement.

    • Thanks for the observations.
      Jacob 2 relates a reason that God could have stated if He had ever wanted to command polygamy among the Lehites (which never happened so far as we know).
      To my knowledge Joseph Smith did not mention Jacob 2 as the reason the angel, who appeared three times between July 1834 and February 1842, commanded him to practice polygamy. D&C 132:63 mentions “multiply and replenish,” as a justification for why the practice should be permitted, but not commanded.
      Other reasons given in D&C 132 why polygamy should have been permitted are as part of a restoration of all things (vv. 40, 45) and as a trial for the Saints (v. 51).
      Michael Quinn wrote: “Mormon leaders gave many rationales for practicing polygamy (including its role in producing a larger number of righteous children), but always subordinated those explanations to the affirmation that revelations of God required the Latter-day Saints to live this ‘Holy Principle.’”
      Thanks again,

      • IMO, the reason Jacob 2 is in our scriptures is to explain that God commands plural marriage when he deems it necessary. Considering what was to come in the Restoration, it is significant that the Book of Mormon prophets thought to include this in the precious space on the plates. I doubt Joseph Smith cleverly snuck this in to justify future actions. He may not have remembered it was there.
        While obeying this command was not easy, it certainly hastened the growth of the Church in the early years of the Restoration. The results of the sacrifice those made who participated were precisely fit what the Lord revealed in Jacob 2.
        This could help relieve the heartburn of those who are put off by the practice if they think about it in this context.
        Thanks for the review and for taking the time to respond to my comments.

        • Sorry for the confusion. That sentence should read…
          “The results of the sacrifice made by those who participated fit what the Lord revealed in Jacob 2.”

  19. Im not sure how anyone, including CLP can comment on the afterlife when tney havent spent even 1-second there! From what I’ve studied from the NDE literature, such emotions as envy, jealousy and selfishness do not exist there. But then again, heaven is a big place and tnere might even be a place for cynics like CLP where she can dwell in her mansion with her deceased gay husband. If there is a Mormon heaven, where a man is married to multiple wives, then no one is forcing CLP to go there.
    Personally, I see real problems with monogamy and whether Joseph Smith was commanded, or not, I commend for having the guts to try it. Seems more natural to me than monogamy.

    • Hi Jeff,
      Thanks for the comment.
      Eugene England’s article was pretty much a lone voice in the wilderness in 1987. Polygamy wasn’t a topic to be discussed then. I appreciate his willingness to address it.
      In JOSEPH SMITH’S POLYGAMY vol. 3 I quote that article several times, sometimes to offer an alternate view. In some ways it is unfortunate that there wasn’t additional discussion of his ideas at that time.
      When I wrote my review of GEP, I knew that I was declaring specific positions on issues that are not just controversial, but have contradictory evidences in the historical record. And some of my interpretations go against the published ideas of smart people like England and others.
      While I’m very comfortable with the views I have expressed, I readily acknowledge they do go against some traditional thinking (see comments above).
      All my best,

  20. How many faithful sisters would be spinning in their graves at even the very thought of such a book? What about them? I fear we’ve allowed our modern victimization mentality to color an Abrahamic generation of Saints as buffoons.

    • And how many, including my faithful foremothers, are shouting for eternal and hopeful joy?? They suffered so terribly in their loneliness, poverty, and despair.

  21. I think there is an aspect to this interchange that is being overlooked, even though Bro. Hales has intelligently put the subject of plural marriage within the bounds and scope the Lord intends it to be. What is being overlooked is the mental conditioning and mass mind persuasion that such works as GEP is designed to create within and without the Church.
    The author of GEP can careless about the affects polygamy has on individuals (women in particular), the real agenda is to dissuade Christians from breeding. When we speak of political power and influence, numbers matter. What greater threat is there to the establishment’s influence and control over this nation and other aspects of the world, than Christians forming polygamous marriages, wherein one patriarch can have has many as 50 children in his life span. This is the reason the U.S. government moved against the Church in the late 19th century and why false Christians like the author of GEP have come into the Church to try to nullify the Word of God.
    Polygamy can build the Kingdom of God on the earth in greater numbers quicker than the annual baptisms that are accounted from proclaiming the gospel can. This is what must be stopped by the likes of the author of GEP. This is just another tactic in the war against the family which is now to the point of their inverting the patriarchal order of Christ. This is the conditioning that I’m speaking about. Using the historical concept of polygamy to get the modern Latter-day Saint woman to rebel against her womanhood and motherhood and the now existing monogamous patriarchal order of the Restored Priesthood of God by not just questioning polygamy, but the whole doctrinal basis of marriage within the Church.

  22. Brian:
    I am delighted that you have taken the opportunity to comment on Carol Lynn Pearson’s book. I have been asked several times to answer some questions which arose from some of the incorrect comments she has made. I believe your comments and explanations are excellent and appropriate. I am aware that for a number of years it was the design of the church reading committee to omit from all Church affiliated publications any reference to either polygamy or plural marriage. Their almost complete success has resulted in a church membership with a paucity of knowledge about, and an incomplete understanding of, plural marriage, both here and in the hereafter. Although I do not agree with all parts of your comments, I recognize them as accurate if not necessarily complete. Your most significant explanation is that no one in the Celestial Kingdom of God will ever be forced to enter plural marriage against their will – agency remains. There will be people in the Celestial Kingdom with only one spouse and there will also be individuals there who are not married at all. It is my personal opinion that those who inherit the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom will gravitate toward plural marriage of their own choice (both men and women) as time extends toward infinity. Anyway, thanks for your comments.

    • See, this is the deep, deep fear women have–that those in the highest level of the CK will gravitate toward plural marriage. Brigham Young taught that this was the case, and that those who didn’t accept it would become ministering angels and servants to those who do.
      How is this a plan of happiness for us women?
      Please forgive the length of my response but I don’t know how to express the reality so many of us share any more briefly while still conveying the least portion of our heartache….
      As a woefully inadequate type and shadow, say I am called to serve as a cub leader in my ward–a calling I would find quite an unhappy one. However, there is great pressure to 1) serve the Lord as called 2) honor my covenants to obey whatever I’m asked to do 3) grit my teeth and go forward in an unhappy situation 4) be viewed as selfish and spiritually immature or lacking 5) use my agency to say no but then suffer negative consequences such as not being valued as truly dedicated and chosen, and then being called to nothing, or to something else I wouldn’t enjoy, such as nursery leader.
      No one wants to share their sweetheart if the two are deeply in love. No one. Even God has proclaimed that he is a jealous God. It would eat us alive in heart, mind, and spirit to be left behind for a while–alone–while husband is fully with someone(s) else. He never suffers the sorrow….the loneliness….the heartache……the betrayal of fidelity……the pain—the soul-deep, gut-wrenching, all-consuming pain. Why can so many men not understand this horror? And why do they suppose it will somehow be heaven if they do this to their wife?
      Is Sister Nelson going to feel truly and fully loved when she’s alone while Pres. Nelson is with Wendy? While she may be with friends and other loved ones during such times, those special feelings and needs shared only with him and none other will be lacking. She will feel lonely in a crowd. She will long for him. Or is Wendy going to feel terrific when he’s with Dantzel? On the other hand, he will always have ALL his needs met ALL the time because he won’t ever have to do without them. He will never feel lonely. He will never feel alone. He will never suffer that unique ache that runs to the depth of the soul.
      Not so for the wives. At last half the time (even though time isn’t measured there) each wife goes without her needs being met that only the husband can fulfill. Is this a great plan of happiness for wives? What if there are four, six, or more wives? What then?–she goes without that fulfillment and continued nurturing and bonding in the marriage for even longer, lonelier periods of time. What is a marital relationship worth if one spouse has every need continually met for eternity, but his wives never fully do for all eternity?
      But wait, she can say no thank and then be a servant to her husband and the wives who did say yes! Does that sound like a really terrific way to spend eternity??
      The options for women are painful. Full stop. They break our joy, our hope, our hearts if it is true what the early restoration prophets taught that only those who enter plural marriage will obtain the highest level of the Kingdom. If you can’t “see” or “hear” this excruciatingly painfully dread-filled reality, I would ask that you pray for the Lord to help you understand the cries of his fair daughters whose hearts have been broken.
      My husband says he dearly loves me, but if the Lord asks him to enter into polygamy, he will do so joyfully to please God. (??–or himself?) And if it destroys me? He says I should joyfully support him. Why, of course! Support him in his never-left-alone-nor-do-without-intimacy-in-all-its-forms-worlds-without-end. –If I love him I will be happy for him and not think of my needs. –I will be happy for my sister wives to have his children. –I will learn to accept and love the patriarchal order of marriage because it’s, you know, patriarchal……but it’s in no way unfair or hurtful or inequitable to me. He says it’s a divine plan and if I don’t like it, well….that’s because I’m too selfish and spiritually immature.
      And so I weep, and mourn, and dread, and weep, and mourn, and dread…..
      …..all my days.

      • I feel the emotion behind your comments and respect them. However, I believe we (not just you) often speculate on what the eternities will be like. We really don’t know. No matter what your husband says (he’s speculating too), your will not be forced into a plural arrangement without your permission and total acceptance, if such an arrangement will exist at all. Your agency will be intact. I encourage you not to weep, mourn and dread over something that is pure speculation. If we study the prophets, plural marriage will not be a requirement to enter the Celestial Kingdom and the patriarchal order, in which you will rule together, will be an order of love, not compulsion. If you have a recommend, it would be a good idea to do some initiatories. The promises there are quite clear.
        I’m sorry if I’ve become too personal.

  23. To say that polygamy was never a commandment is problematic. The doctrines of eternal marriage and exaltation(godhood) appear on the same revelation that commands polygamy. Eternal marriage and polygamy are interwoven, like a braid; they are not synonyms for each other but they are connected.
    So when Pearson says God did not command polygamy, not even for the early Saints, she runs the risk of denying eternal marriage, exaltation, the King Follet theology and Heavenly Mother. Like Jenga, all of these doctrines rest on each other.
    The other implication is that Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and all the way up to people like Henry Christian Eyring, Henry B. Eyring’s grandfather, were adulterers. What does that imply about priesthood power, authority and the worthiness required to receive revelation?
    In attempting to eliminate the mere possibility of polygamy, in the after life, she is creating bigger theological problems than the one eschatological problem she aims to fix.
    Lastly, these types of fears, about an afterlife almost none of us has seen, get in the way of grace. Rather than focus on what God has commanded us to do now, rather than focus on the romantic love we can enjoy now, with a spouse we do have, fearing or dreaming of “eternal polygamy” blinds us to God’s love, as it is manifested in what He has put right in front of us.
    This was typed quickly in bed, with my thumbs. Forgive the typos or any logical incoherence.

  24. Hi,
    I appreciate the comments and you bring up some good points.
    I agree with your comment: “does she [Carol Lynn Pearson] invent a problem that isn’t already eating at a ton of LDS women? No way.” Confusion on the points raise in her book has been with us for over a hundred years. As I say in the conclusion, the most useful thing the book may do is to generate more clarity from our leaders on these important questions.
    My wish is that Carol Lynn Pearson, who has such a wide following, would have stayed closer to Joseph Smith’s revelations and would have expressed some faith that eternal marriage and exaltation (God’s plan of happiness) are real.
    You wrote: “Not when ‘you’ll get to raise them [deceased children] in the eternities’ is still the go-to refrain when parent’s lose a child.” My understanding is that that opportunity would come during the millennium, not after the resurrection.
    You’ve mentioned the “nuclear family” several times and I suspect you are living in such a family arrangement now. Part of the value of understanding the expanded “families are forever” dynamic (so that it includes our eternal family) is that it gives place for so many who do not now live in a nuclear family and might never have such an opportunity. Children of divorce, single parent families, gay and lesbian Church members, can take comfort in this forever family concept.
    Emma Hale Smith is one of my heroes. She could not handle earthly polygamy so far as we have any record. Yet, I think we have to be careful about assuming we know what she was feeling. When on June 24, 1844, Joseph left for Carthage and death, he requested that Emma accompany him. Because of the needs of their children, she was unable to comply, but she requested a blessing from him. Harried for time, he told her to “write out the best blessing [she] could think of and he would sign the same on his return.” The blessing included Emma’s wish: “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 . . . 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.”

    • “You wrote: “Not when ‘you’ll get to raise them [deceased children] in the eternities’ is still the go-to refrain when parent’s lose a child.” My understanding is that that opportunity would come during the millennium, not after the resurrection.”
      –Not related to polygamy, but what is the original source on that whole ‘raise your dead children in the millennium’? It seems like a bit of a folk doctrine to me. Believing it kinda requires believing that, for some reason, those baby spirits are frozen in carbonite, unable to progress, until they are resurrected.
      I’m speculating, but it seems just as likely that our dead children will be raising us, as our guides in the spirit world when we die.

  25. “GEP is a skillfully crafted vehicle to convey a particular message by weaving specific stories, arguments, and observations together to convince its audience.”
    I don’t agree. I see her as taking lived experiences, lived teachings and reporting them. The audience doesn’t need convincing. The audience is living with these problems already. Does she extrapolate? Yes. But does she invent a problem that isn’t already eating at a ton of LDS women? No way.
    You may be right and that the way the church teaches eternal families in its lesson manuals, videos, talks, etc., is doctrinally incorrect and we should stop worrying about the eternal nuclear family (someone please tell that to my stake president!) and instead focus our attention on the family of Adam. But until the church changes its teachings (Does anyone actually believe that the endless use of the term ‘eternal family’ is addressing some group other than nuclear?), we are stuck with what we’ve got.
    I’d love to hear a GA state just as you did that “What has been less clear is what happens to specific sealed child to parent relationships in the chain after we die.” Oddly, I don’t think I will though. Not when ‘you’ll get to raise them in the eternities’ is still the go-to refrain when parent’s lose a child. Maybe that makes the problem cultural, but cultural is based around what comes out of SLC. Misbeleifs like this don’t happen accidentally.
    I don’t agree with everything CLP wrote and your rebuttal has some excellent points. But at least she’s taking the bandage off of something a good lot of LDS women have been talking about quietly my entire life. At least she’s addressing how little control women have of the situation, where at least men get to make a choice when it comes to polygamy. Emma, as our mortal example of how these things work, sure didn’t.

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