There are 36 thoughts on “Scary Ghost Stories in the Light of Day”.

  1. Good review. And I appreciated Brian’s review as well. The book is well written but poorly conceived and vastly under-researched. In fact, not really researched at all. But of course that was never the point. Like a politician, CLP speaks to her base. But this time she addresses a subject that is, through no fault of her own, shrouded in folklore and misunderstanding. The pity is that she perpetuates and exacerbates the confusion and pain.

  2. I appreciated your essay! You said everything I would like to say to the readers if this book. One thing I would add- Carolyn was constantly going on about section 132. I kept waiting for her to mention section 121 regarding the nature of a man worthy of priesthood blessings. The characteristics describe a rare man indeed! The rotten men Carolyns “other voices”!kept alluding to having plural wives and other spouses children, would never be worthy of those blessings. I especially like that you asked why didnt Pearson do something about clearing up those people’s misconceptions instead of just feed their angiish? That just seems like a cruel thing to do in order to promote her own agenda.
    Have you posted a link to your review on amazon (and other book sites) so that readers can get another view? I hope so!
    Thank you

  3. As a child whose mother died when I was young and my father remarried to a woman who was herself married in the temple this issue is nothing new to me. They were married for time in the temple at the time and had some children while they were married for time with the temple marriage with the ex-spouse still valid. My step-mother finally succeeding in getting a temple divorce and had some additional children. As you can see, I think my family has just about all the defugalites possible. Anyway, I don’t find the difficulty in the marriage organization much different than if I wasn’t a Mormon but believed in life after death. Pretending I wasn’t a Mormon, and there was no polygamy, and I believed there was life after death, I still have the following questions?

    1. Will my natural mother want to be married to my father who has a wife she never knew about or met?
    2. Although my stepmother knew my father had a wife who had died, will she really want to be a second wife when the first wife is actually there and not just a picture on the wall?
    3. Will my father actually want to be married to both of them when they both are actually present?
    4. Will my step-siblings want to be with their biological father or with their step-father who actually raised them?
    5. Will I even want to be around any of them when it all washes out?

    These are questions totally outside of Mormonism. Mormon or not, there is going to have to be some additional working out of marriage and relationships after this life. People will need to be exercising their free agency and making decisions beyond the grave in certain areas. Some have talked about the blessing of being sealed as a child, in my case, I don’t even know for sure who I am going to end up being sealed to in all actuality as some of my natural siblings aren’t living that great of a life (I may not make it either, who knows?) so what does that blessing even mean practically? Anyway, I am not that worried about it, there are plenty of confusion and injustices in this life that I trust God will help work out if I just do the things that I actually know are correct and do as he instructs me through the Holy Ghost.

  4. I’m always surprised how non-LDS Christians criticize polygamy when in both the Old Testament and the New Testament God refers to Himself as the god of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – all 3 of whom were polygamists:

    Exodus 3: 6:
    6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.

    Matthew 22: 31, 32:
    31 But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying,

    32 I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.

    If polygamy in general were evil, I cannot imagine God referring to Himself as the god of men practising evil. The Gospel principle of marriage is that you have as many wives as the Lord commands you to have. And USUALLY the Lord’s commandment is to have only one wife – which totally satisfies me.

    But there is no question whatsoever that the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Doctrine and Covenants (Section 132) explicitly say that polygamy as conducted by the Lord is approved by Him. In the Book of Mormon Jacob disapproves of the polygamy of the Nephites, comparing it to the wickedness of King David and King Solomon. Notice that Jacob does NOT refer to Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob, but refers to 2 men ( King David and King Solomon) who obviously abused polygamy. King David committed adultery (Bathsheba) and murder (Bathsheba’s husband Uriah) in his abuse of polygamy. King Solomon married pagan women who introduced additional paganism into Israel.

    Thus, the doctrine is clear. As mentioned before, the problems that mortals have with polygamy, will be easy for exalted people to solve in a kingdom of exalted people.

  5. Thanks for your comments, McKay. I know that the question of whether Joseph Smith engaged in polygamous relationships is one that has vexed some people since the earliest days of the Church. It is, after all, one of the issues which played large in the leadership crisis after the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum.

    You are correct on one count — I do have a bias in that I (along with most scholars these days) believe that Joseph was involved in polygamous relationships. Carol Lynn Pearson, whose book I sought to engage in my review, is one who agrees and who has felt anguish over those relationships.

    That being said, the bias I freely acknowledge is not pertinent to addressing the issues which Pearson raises. As I note, “I cannot justify historical polygamy. Fortunately, I don’t have to justify it.”

    My best,


  6. llen:

    I enjoyed your response and agree with much of your conclusions regarding Pearson’s writings, both the criticsim and the compliments.

    It is your own biases, which we all have, as you say, that I take issue with. You say, “the one condition under which this good man (your friend) would personally accept polygamy is the one condition under which Joseph Smith accepted it”, namely that God stood before him and commanded that he live it. In making that statement, you view Joseph and his involvement with polygamy through the lens of Brigham Young and other polygamists who first proposed this theory. Joseph, during his entire life made no such statement that we have on record. He consistantly and vehemently publically denied any involvement in the practice, disciplined any men who practiced it and publically and officially declared that “no man shall have but one wife”.

    My own conclusion, based on the facts in evidence, is that Joseph practiced plural sealing (both to men and women) but did not practice polygamy (and the associated sexual aspect of marriage) with any of his plural “wives”. DNA evidence is consistent with this conclusion. We think he did practice sexual marriage only because men and women who practiced polygamy after his death, attribute this practice to him. Furthermore, those men attributed to Joseph in his own journal, things he did not say on the subject. We have unassailable evidence of document tampering by the Young administration which turns on it’s head, Joseph’s anti-polygamy statement quoted above. See, for example, Joseph’s journal recorded on Oct 5 1843 found in the Joseph Smith Papers.

    I have noticed two trends little mentioned in the polygamy discussion which support the paradigm above, namely:
    1-The 2-3 dozen men who entered into sealing ordinances with second and third wives during Jospeh’s lifetime had fertility rates of zero with their ploygamous wives yet were fecund with their first wives, with rare exception. Clayton Williams and Heber C. Kimball both have children attributed to them with second wives during Joseph’s lifetime. None of the other men or their plural wives report pregnancies while Joseph is alive, YET 9+ months later, as soon as he is out of the picture, plural wives start having babies. I don’t pretend to know why but the trend is there.
    2-The women who swore affidavits in the 1860”s all used the same language, namely, that they were “married or sealed”. Which was it? Did they know? Why not just say “married”? Because they were swearing in a legal manner with perjury penalties, perhaps and they knew something took place, a sealing, perhaps it was a marriage as the Young administration was now calling it.

    You later state, “the fact remains that they (those who practice polygamy) believed it”…. You are being kind. William Bennett and others practiced it in Nauvoo and successfully attributed to Joseph Smith the source of the doctrine until Bennett was brought to trial. He certainly did not believe the doctrine but promoted it secretly to gain sexual favors despite Joseph’s persistent preaching against it.

    Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Joseph F. Smith and others would later preach that “

    The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy. Others attain unto a glory and may even be permitted to come into the presence of the Father and the Son; but they cannot reign as kings in glory, because they had blessings offered unto them, and they refused to accept them. Journal of Discourses, Vol.11, p.268 – p.269, Brigham Young, August 19, 1866

    Those who perpetrated the practice in Utah apparently believed the doctrine.

    McKay Platt

  7. Allen, thank you for an incredibly insightful and Accurate treatment of a difficult topic. Your well researched inclusions of Scripture and Official Church doctrine perfectly explain what we Do know while squashing the absurd and angst inducing notions that remain unconfirmed through official means.

    I wish I could write as eloquently and concisely as you!

    Best regards and thanks,
    Cathleen Downing

  8. Thanks for your excellent book review. This book and your article emphasize an important point: how far we can go astray if we start with the wrong assumption. “It ain’t what I don’t knowed that done me in, but what I knowed that ain’t so.”

  9. Great article!

    I want to stress an excellent comment made by Vance:

    “Besides, Jesus said that we will all be one, like He and His Father are one. That implies a far, far closer relationship than what we currently have here: and we’ll have that closeness with everyone in the Celestial Kingdom. We’ll be closer to everyone than we are to our current spouse now. Ms. Pearson is all worried about intimacy and closeness; but I think we’ll be in essence “married” to everyone who makes it (and I’m not at all saying I will). That’s God’s promise, after all, that we will all be “One” with Him. And each other, presumably.

    And whatever that means, I’m fairly certain that it’s far more intimate, sharing, loving, what have you than our current state of marriage. I think that concerns about being married to one person only may well be completely irrelevant, as we understand it now.”

    Vance’s excellent comment makes an additional, essential point: Not only do we need to trust God, but we also need to trust the nature of exalted people. The problems that Pearson is concerned about, will be EASY for exalted people to handle. Pearson is falsely assuming that the mortal concerns we have, will continue if we’re exalted – which is nonsense. Exalted people will NOT suffer jealously, feelings of neglect by their exalted spouse. Why? Because EVERY exalted person – without exception – is married to another ANOTHER EXALTED PERSON, every spouse will be PERFECT. And that’s the promise God makes to every person who is exalted. Every person who is exalted, will be Christlike, godlike, pure, sanctified, perfect, perfectly patient, perfectly kind, perfectly understanding, blemish-free, faultless – and will be married to a spouse who is likewise Christlike, godlike, pure, sanctified, perfect, perfectly patient, perfectly kind, perfectly understanding, blemish-free, faultless – which is difficult to imagine in the fallen world, but which will be case in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom.

    The article makes a great point that we don’t how all of the exalted people will be living together – a couple in every mansion? I have don’t have the foggiest idea. But we know that all exalted people will be members of one glorious godlike family. It will be the PERFECT family reunion where ALL ARE PERFECT, perfectly kind, perfectly understanding. All the concerns mentioned by Pearson are merely mortal concerns that show little understanding of what exalted people are like, and what an exalted family of all exalted persons will be like in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom.

    How does one handle mortal, unnecessary concerns about the question of pologamy? Ask the Father. You may get different answers depending on where you’re at spiritually. Initially you may get the answer to simply not worry. The Holy Ghost is called the Comforter for good reason. The Holy Ghost can bring you peace. Then at another time – perhaps, during a special moment with your spouse or with your child or with a grandparent or with another relative or friend – or during a special moment during the sacrament or in the temple or in a hometeaching or visit teaching visit – you will receive a special insight into what the eternal exalted family of all exalted persons is like. As time passes – and as you have obeyed the impressions of the Spirit – you will receive other insights. When you do receive these insights, be careful with whom and when you share them – just as you would be careful with whom and when you share your patriarchal blessing and other special blessing.

    The most magnificent and glorious irony is: there is one perfect person who ever lived: Jesus Christ. Christ is unique. And yet through His atonement and the gifts of the spirit, we call ALL be like Him. Wow!

    • Oops! I want to make a few grammatical corrections:

      “which is difficult to imagine in the fallen world, but which will be THE [I left out the word “the”] case in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom.”

      “The article makes a great point that we don’t KNOW [I left out the word “know” ] how all of the exalted people will be living together”

      “I don’t have the foggiest idea.” [I wrote: “I have don’t have” and thus got rid of the first “have”]

      “The most magnificent and glorious irony is: there is one perfect person who ever lived: Jesus Christ. Christ is unique. And yet through His atonement and the gifts of the spirit, we can [instead of the word “call”] ALL be like Him. Wow!”

  10. Enjoyed your very perceptive article and comments, Allen, but one thought has been nagging me:

    If Carolyn Lynn is so opposed to the sharing which polygamy might entail, how is it that she is so accepting of the husband (Gerald) whom she divorced because he sought union with so many others (in his case other men)? Does she imagine that we will all be transformed into loyal partners when we are glorified in the Celestial Kingdom? That he will then be her faithful marriage partner? If so, why would that not extend to all those entering exaltation? Wouldn’t that make our worldly shortcomings (envy, jealousy, etc.) a non-issue?

    Finally, if polygamy does obtain in the Celestial Kingdom, does that require more women to be glorified than men? Only a few more women than men are born into this life? Do the math. Are women more righteous than men?

  11. Allen – I guess you could get your explanation to serve if it weren’t for the part that says “IF WE DO NOT KEEP THE SAME LAW THAT OUR HEAVENLY FATHER HAS WE COULD NOT GO WITH HIM.” Sorry about the all-caps, had to cut and paste. We do not only anticipate that only prophets and other leaders will go with the Father and dwell with Him. We also forget the very sacred fact that the Father took Mary, the mother of Jesus to wife as a necessary means of providing salvation for His children (elaborated on in statements by Brigham Young), which begs the question of whether there are reasons, other than a shortage of righteous men from one eternal round to the next, that plural marriage is said to be the order in heaven (according to statements by early figures, one of which was Vilate Kimball).

    • You are mistaking the interpretation of that statement. You contend that Joseph Smith was making polygamy a requirement for eternal salvation and becoming a full heir of God and Joint heir with Christ.

      If that were so, then why did Joseph not teach the principle earlier? Why, in fact, did the Lord allow Joseph to delay this principle? Indeed, Joseph saw his brother Alvin in heaven; and certainly many saints died without ever having a polygamous marriage before Joseph. Consider David Patten, the first president of the Quorum of the 12. Has he been denied eternal life, for he died without taking a second wife.

      More to the point, your interpretation cannot be correct, for the Lord forbade polygamy during Nephite times. Surely Nephi, Alma, Jacob, and the rest qualified for the celestial kingdom and fully partook of the blessings of the gospel. Yet they were not polygamists. Paul stated that a Bishop should be the husband of one wife; clearly a Bishop in the early church could not be a polygamist, even though polygamy was still permitted.

      So either we are faced with the idea that all saints are going to gain an additional spouse after death somehow; or not everyone is going to have multiple wives in the Celestial Kingdom.

      So your statement from Joseph, what of it then? Well, when the Lord does command polygamy, it behooves the Saints to obey it. If we refuse to do so (and have opportunity, etc) then we are not valiant. And just like not being valiant in other commandments, it disqualifies us.

      That does not mean that Heavenly Father is polygamous and only those who are polygamous will dwell with Him; only that those who are righteous to obey all the Commandments of Him in force while they lived will make it.

      Indeed, all we know is that we have a Heavenly Mother. No one has ever said anything about Heavenly Mothers.

  12. One thing I think that is missed is that Joseph talked about an eternal chain of sealings from Adam down to us.

    So somehow, I’m going to be sealed to, say, Moses. What is my relationship with Moses going to be? I have no idea. What about someone closer, like my great great grandpa whom I never met? No clue.

    To reach the Celestial Kingdom requires all jealousy, hatred, resentment, envy etc to be overcome. Those who do not overcome all of these will not be married anyway; and those who do overcome will not care about sharing, I believe.

    As for pure practicalities: unless there is exactly even numbers of saved men and women, someone is going to be married to more than one person in the highest level of the Celestial Kingdom. Which is not the same as saying everyone is going to be part of a plural marriage; just that some are.

    I liked the cultural reminder that our current opposition to polygamy is just as much an unique feature of this current world as arranged marriages are in India.

    One of our faith’s defining doctrines is eternal marriage with the one you love. But getting married to the one you love is a relatively new phenomenon: the vast majority of marriages in history have been based on something other than love: politics, economics, arranged marriages; even “Shotgun weddings” in our culture were based on taking responsibility; not because the two involved “loved” each other (though of course many did).

    I would wager that many if not most marriages from history will not survive into the Celestial Kingdom, simply because the people involved did not love each other. Consider Jacob: did he love Bilhah or Leah, though he was married to them? He loved Rachel, yes… but his other 3 women he had children with? I don’t know, and I don’t know if anyone else knows either. Is he sealed to all four? Or just one?

    Point is, whatever is happening in Heaven is something we have very little knowledge of. Is there a difference between being sealed to my wife and being sealed to my mother? If so, what?

    I personally think that we (meaning those in the celestial kingdom) will be sealed to everyone else. A web, not a chain. We won’t be kids; we apparently are all adults. What does that mean?

    Besides, Jesus said that we will all be one, like He and His Father are one. That implies a far, far closer relationship than what we currently have here: and we’ll have that closeness with everyone in the Celestial Kingdom. We’ll be closer to everyone than we are to our current spouse now. Ms. Pearson is all worried about intimacy and closeness; but I think we’ll be in essence “married” to everyone who makes it (and I’m not at all saying I will). That’s God’s promise, after all, that we will all be “One” with Him. And each other, presumably.

    And whatever that means, I’m fairly certain that it’s far more intimate, sharing, loving, what have you than our current state of marriage. I think that concerns about being married to one person only may well be completely irrelevant, as we understand it now.

  13. As a descendent of a great-grandfather who had 29 wives and 39 children, a grandfather with two wives and 10 children, a father with one wife and three children, and happily married to one wife who gave me six wonderful children, I appreciate your excellent article.

    I’ve never had a desire for more wives, but one of the things that attracted me to my wife was the fact that she expressed to me, before marriage, that if God commanded that polygamy be practiced again she would be willing to obeying it. The righteousness of her statement and many other of her qualities played large in my marrying her.

    Your points about (i.) the factors behind marriages through the ages and how they have changed, (ii.) the fact that in our current society serial polygamy is totally acceptable, and (iii.) the realization that in the Celestial Kingdom the nuclear family consisting of two parents and their children would be unrealistic, as it is our current world where as the years pass and children grow up they form their own families.

    Of a side interest to me is the fact that my great-grandfather’s brother died in crossing the Plains and, in recognition of what it says in Matt. 22:24, he sought advice from Jedidiah M. Grant, relative to his obligation to marry his brother’s widow, he was told that he should, which he did civilly.

    Again, thank you for a well reasoned discussion on the subject.

  14. In the past there has been some confusion over what constitutes Celestial Marriage. It has been erroneously thought by some to be synonymous with plural Temple marriage. Celestial Marriage simply means living within the New and Everlasting Covenant of marriage in the Celestial Kingdom (D&C 131:1-4; 132:18-21), plural or monogamous. Since the beginning of the Twentieth Century there have been no live plural marriages solemnized in the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage so there will be plenty of monogamous Celestial Marriages. The main concern of many sisters (including my wife) about polygamy is that when we get into the Millennium their husbands will be commanded to take another wife. Then, if the husband and/or present wife refuses to obey the command they will be condemned and lose their Exaltation, the highest order of the Celestial Kingdom. Although I am not aware of any authoritative revelation on this I believe it to be a false concern.

    First, when my wife and I entered into this covenant we were promised the blessings of Exaltation if we kept the covenants we made that were associated with it. We believe that we have done so to the best of our ability and will strive to do so until we leave this life. I do not believe that when we cross the veil that the Lord will add an addendum to the covenant.

    Second, the only probable reason for further plural marriages during the Millennium is that there may be more females worthy of the Celestial Kingdom and desiring to be married than males. However, I do not believe that their desire to be married will trump anyone else’s desire for a monogamous marriage. All things must be done by common consent (D&C 26:2; 28:13).

    It is true that there were those who were commanded to take plural wives in the beginning of this dispensation and in some cases they or their wives would have been under condemnation if they did not consent. However, this was a special case for a special time and circumstances where it was required that the Lord “raise up seed unto [Himself].” When the full record and import is known it may be that the survival of the Church depended upon it? These circumstances will not be repeated in the Millennium.

  15. Kathleen Flake presented a remarkable paper in Logan some years ago regarding the contrast between the concept of romantic love in the 1800s and the call to build up the kingdom of God. She quoted, at length, from Col. Kane’s wife (I think) and her observations on a visit to Utah. The romantic idea, “Two hearts becoming one”, was the source of conflict relating to early polygyny in the mid-19th century and appears to have changed little in the 21st.

  16. Thank you for a profound and further charitable review. I am the descendant of several polygamous families and what comes of those relationships are people trying to do what God desired of them. Imperfect and incomplete, to be sure, but resolute in being obedient. As much as I dislike polygamy today with my 21st century sensibilities, I could never condemn, look down, nor seek to expunge what these faithful ancestors undertook. I admire and respect them. I hope to see them one day to hear their more complete stories.

  17. I appreciated this essay for how it highlights some key principles in LDS teaching to remember when considering the difficulties of plural marriage. As I struggled with the culture of sexism that frequently accompanies the practice of polygamy, I found found three comforts that intersect with points made in this essay.

    First, I found examples of polygamous marriages that brought out the best in all participants. It was not an inherently sexist institution.

    Second, I found it useful to focus on the blessings of the sealing ordinances. These ordinances have power, and are useful even if the participants in the ordinances are imperfect. They tie us to each other, and to God. Similar to Wyatt’s insights into the sealing of children to parents, it is useful to recognize that Mormon temple marriages do not have the couple make promises to each other. Instead, the individuals that form the couple independently make promises to God. These promises can be kept independent of the actions of the other person in the marriage. As I have seen faithful friends struggle through the pains of divorce, I have learned from the way they keep their promise to honor their former spouse even when the good they show is returned with evil. I expect this is the attitude they will carry into the Celestial Kingdom with regards to that spouse whether or not the sealing remains in place.

    Third, it is useful to consider what aspects of an eternal marriage are truly celestial, and which are cultural norms. Celestial marriages are built on a foundation of patience, charity, sacrifice, and self control. Once coupled with eternal glory, I don’t think celestial marriages will include jealousy, fear, pride, or a sense of owning another person. Once we have overcome those emotions, the pain that accompanies our imagination of eternal relationships is alleviated. Our cultural emphasis on exclusivity in the relationship appears to be a tool for learning important lessons, rather than an innate aspect of the marriage covenant. Marriage is a tool to become like God and live as He lives, but we don’t know the details of how our mortal experience of marriage will map onto eternity.

    I appreciate the work of both Pearson and Wyatt for engaging in this public discussion. Pearson’s work increases my empathy for those who struggle with this doctrine, and Wyatt’s work helps me to verbalize our doctrine in order to address those concerns. These issues prompt us to deeply consider our doctrine and our efforts to apply it in our messy mortal relationships.

  18. Allen

    I enjoyed both yours and Brian’s review of Pearson’s book. Thank you. 26 years ago my wife and I were married in the Los Angeles temple. We had both been previously married and divorced and we both had children that were born in the covenant (BIC) from those previous marriages. When speaking with the temple president we asked him about the sealing of the children. His explanation was basically the same as yours. He told us that it did not matter to whom the children were sealed, as long as they were sealed. As he explained, the sealing of children is not the same as the sealing between spouses. That gave us comfort, especially since our prior spousal sealings had been cancelled.

    My fifth great-grandmother (Phebe Ann Morton) was sealed to Brigham Young as his 29th wife. She had previously been married to my grandfather (James Angell). According to his son’s journal (Truman O. Angell), James was physically abusive to Phebe, which led to their separation. James did not join the church, but most of his children did, including 4th great-grandfather Solomon Angell and my aunts Mary Ann and Jemima Angell who also married Brigham Young. Although Phebe was sealed to Brigham, none of her children from her prior marriage were sealed to them (Brigham and Phebe) as a couple. Instead, many years after they were all dead, the proxy work was done for James, and he and Phebe were sealed to each other along with their 10 children. How all this works out in the eternities is not an issue to me because it does not affect my own potential salvation and exaltation. However, I am grateful that brother Brigham took care of my grandmother (she was 10 years older than him) in the final years of her life. I consider that an act of charity.

  19. I appreciate the forthright opinions and insight into this book, and the direct answers to questions it raises. The footnotes were also enlightening.

    Thank you for having the courage to address all her doubts. Thank you for the comfort to divorced parents on behalf of their children– what the children’s sealing really blesses them with, and that the cancellation of their parents’ sealing does not affect the children’s sealing.

  20. I mostly enjoyed this article and it’s thoughtfulness. There was one part that left me scratching my head, though – the part that reads: “God does not require that all who enter heaven do so as polygamists nor will He require that they, at some point, become polygamists. He will do nothing to force His children’s behavior in this or any other area, thereby removing their agency.” So, of course we know that God does not force behavior. But we also know that He, alone, has set the terms for what qualifies for the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, and that there is enough information available from the period when it was an earthly requirement (being that those who are living a law are entitled to a greater knowledge regarding that law than those who are not) to know that plural marriage is the order there.

    • I’m not convinced that is the case, Amanda. (I admit I could be misunderstanding you, as well.)

      The bottom line, to my understanding, is that God reserves the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom for those who obey his laws to the full extent of their ability given their understanding. If God commands polygamy for some (he has never commanded it for all) and some of those so commanded refuse to obey, then it is to their detriment; they have chosen to be disobedient. If God commands monogamy only, then those who are obedient receive the full measure of what He has promised.

      This is, of course, a measure of obedience. It has nothing to do with polygamy. What we are asked to be obedient to is tangential to the obedience itself. Those who are asked to abstain from pork and do receive the same reward as those who are asked to tithe and do. Those later permitted to eat pork will receive the same blessing as those previously prohibited. They were both obedient to what they were asked.


      • If we’re comparing the prohibition on pork with the law of plurality of wives, I think we have problems. You’ve shared that you’ve read extensively on the topic. Do you remember coming across an entry in Wilford Woodfruff’s journal that describes a meeting they’d had that day: “President Taylor told what Joseph Smith said to him upon that subject & said if we do not embrace that principle soon [referring to plural marriage] the keys will be turned against us for IF WE DO NOT KEEP THE SAME LAW THAT OUR HEAVENLY FATHER HAS WE COULD NOT GO WITH HIM. The word of the Lord to us was that if we did not obey the Law WE COULD NOT GO WHERE OUR HEAVENLY FATHER DWELLS. A man obeying a lower law is not qualified to preside over those who keep a higher law.” (14 October 1882, CAPS added by me for emphasis only)
        And there are several statements made by various early authorities to the same effect. This does not, of course, justify the practice of polygamy right now on the earth. As with women prevented from marrying or couples unable to have children in this life, they will lose no blessing. It has been indicated that the Millennium will be the time to receive those adjustments to our opportunities.

        • Amanda,

          Thank you for your comments. I was not comparing the prohibition on pork with the law of plurality of lives. I was, however, using both as examples of where–at a certain time and place and by a certain people–the Lord expected obedience. If there was no obedience on the part of those people, then those people could not expect to return to where God was.

          The quotes you provide from Wilford Woodruff point out the same thing–they both stress “keeping the law” and “obeying the law” that those people (in that time and place) were given.

          This is why I stressed, a couple of times, in my review essay that it was their OBEDIENCE to their understanding of what was expected that was counted as righteousness and brought about exaltation.

          I hope that helps clarify my statements.


          • Allen – I don’t believe you have addressed the statement from your article that says “God does not require that all who enter heaven do so as polygamists nor will He require that they, at some point, become polygamists” in light of statements such as the one found in Wilford Woodruff’s journal. These two ideas seem very much at odds, unless by “Heaven” you simply mean the afterlife in general.

          • Amanda,

            I’m sorry if I overlooked an explanation you were expecting.

            Let’s consider Wilford Woodruff’s statement, as you provided it: “President Taylor told what Joseph Smith said to him upon that subject & said if we do not embrace that principle soon [referring to plural marriage] the keys will be turned against us for IF WE DO NOT KEEP THE SAME LAW THAT OUR HEAVENLY FATHER HAS WE COULD NOT GO WITH HIM. The word of the Lord to us was that if we did not obey the Law WE COULD NOT GO WHERE OUR HEAVENLY FATHER DWELLS. A man obeying a lower law is not qualified to preside over those who keep a higher law”

            To whom, exactly, do you assume that the “we” in Woodruff’s statement refers (in “…if we do not embrace…”)? It must be someone who possesses keys that could be turned against “us.” Who possesses those keys and, better still, who did Woodruff assume held those keys? It was the leaders of the Church. This is consistent with the final part of Woodruff’s quote which refers to disqualification of presiding. To apply his statement to the Church as a whole is to, I believe, overreach.

            Further, I agree with his statement. Those called to lead are also, generally, called to live at a “higher standard” than the rank and file of the Church. If those who lead are not willing to obey God’s law as they understand God expects of them, then by what right can they presume God’s approbation in leading the Church?

            My statement (“God does not require that all who enter heaven do so as polygamists nor will He require that they, at some point, become polygamists”) which you see at odds with Woodruff’s statement is, I believe, consistent with his sentiments.


  21. Excellent and reasoned contemplation of the book and topic. My grandmother was the third and devoted wife of a faithful and obedient man. If it were not for plural marriage I would not be who I am. I am grateful for my heritage. His belief that polygamy was a commandment of God was demonstrated when he was serving as a mission president in Switzerland. When he received word of President Woodruff rescinding the practice of polygamy he wrote in his journal that it caused him great concern and struggle. Then he added, “However, it did not cause me to loose my testimony.”

    As you have pointed out, the doctrine is that a man shall have only one wife, unless the Lord commands otherwise to “raise up seed unto [himself].” (Jacob 2:27–30) It would be interesting for someone to research what percentage of bishops, stake presidents and general authorities of Twentieth Century America were descendants of polygamist families? Although only a small percentage of LDS men practiced plural marriage I suspect that they produced a large percentage of subsequent Church leadership.

    • That would, indeed, be interesting, Theodore. Someone would need to have access to both genealogical and membership records–a high bar to cross. (Interesting, nonetheless.)


  22. I must thank you for your insightful review and your careful approach. I particularly appreciate you pointing out that the sealing blessings for children do not, in any way, mention their “belonging” to anyone in particular. I had not noticed that before and I think it is a profound observation.

  23. Allen, In some cases God did command polygamy. Consider the case of a married man dying childless, his brother was commanded to marry the dead one’s wife and the first male child of that bond would be counted as the first husband’s posterity. This command was irregardless of the living brother’s current marital status, which would normally be that of a one married in that culture.

    D&C 132 does also state that God commanded Abraham to take Hagar to wife (verses 32 and 65). But of course, that is a section that Sister Pearson wants repealed, or decanonized.

    I did enjoy your treatment of the polygamy issue. I do believe that if we all try to really understand the sealing ordinances and the doctrines of the Church concerning eternal families a lot of the angst will dissipate. But most of all, we need to trust in God.


    • You are correct, Glenn, concerning Levirate marriage. I only needed to bring up one example to disprove CLP’s assertion, however.

      As for D&C 132, she wants most of that section rewritten, if not thrown out entirely.

      Thanks for your kind words.


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