Skip to comments.Polygamy and me: Growing up Mormon
Posted on 12/17/2011 11:15:37 AM PST by Colofornian
When my family lived in Richmond, a group of Mormon fundamentalists from Bountiful, near Creston, visited our mainstream Mormon congregation extolling the practice of polygamy, also called the principle or plural marriage. They were looking for wives to add to their collections. They targeted families who had young girls.
My oldest sister at 16, with blond hair, blue eyes and a blossoming body, was a magnet for the young men and 19-year-old missionaries of the Church. One Sunday after Sunday school, I watched an older man from Bountiful rush over in the parking lot to open our station wagon door for her. He left the wife he had with him struggling to open their car door on her own, a baby on her hip, a diaper bag over her shoulder, and two toddlers clinging to her legs. I was 10 years old. I giggled at his ardour, finding his behaviour ridiculous, while a queasiness roiled in my stomach.
My parents werent swayed by the arguments to take up a polygamous lifestyle and my two sisters and I were saved from the principle.
Even so, my mother explained, Polygamy is a hardship for men. This did not make any sense to me.
My mother told me Joseph Smith introduced polygamy in the 1830s, soon after he founded the Mormon Church, because of the shortage of men and the abundance of women. There were a lot of widows and older women immigrants, that worked as housekeepers and servants, joining the Church, she said, It was practical for the men to take more than one wife to ensure the older women were taken care of.
Joseph Smith started the new church in Palmyra, N.Y., naming it the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which came to be known as the Mormons. A charismatic and compelling young leader, when he spoke, people listened. Smith claimed to receive visions from God who told him what to do.
My mother, a devout Mormon, accepted the principle as being ordained by God using Smith as his messenger, yet was relieved that she didnt have to practise it herself. At least not here on Earth. When the Church congregation moved to Salt Lake City to escape persecution for their beliefs and the consequences of their violent activities, the leaders renounced plural marriage in 1890, to adhere to the law and gain statehood for Utah.
The renunciation of polygamy split the membership in two. The mainstream Mormons publicly agreed to stop the practice, although the last plural marriage recorded in the Covenant House where the marriages took place was nearly 30 years later. My great-grandfather, one of the mainstream Mormons who immigrated to Cardston, Alta., had a wife who lived on one side of town, and another who lived on the other side. Neither wife was happy sharing a husband.
Mormon fundamentalists refused to comply with the leaders direction and continued to live the principle. The Church hired a public relations firm to distance themselves politically from any association with the Mormon fundamentalists.
The Churchs current position on polygamy, not widely known among younger Mormons, let alone non-members, is that God suspended the practice and temporarily disallowed plural marriage to spare the membership legal and political problems. The president in Salt Lake City, considered a living prophet by members today, could, at any time, give the word, and Latter-day Saint men would once more be called upon to marry multiple wives.
My parents believed the Mormon scriptures written by Joseph Smith, which promised that if they remained devout, dedicated their lives and money to the Church, after they died they would become a god and goddess together and rule over many worlds. My father, however, would be given additional eternal wives. My mother often quoted Smith on the afterlife, as if trying to prepare herself: Seven women will cling to the coat tails of one man.
Personally, I believed what my mother told me about polygamy was a crock. For one thing, in the 1800s there were more men than women available to participate in plural marriage. The women chosen as plural wives were young and desirable, not older women in need of care. The wives, and the child labour force they birthed, built and worked the homesteads and ranches that were the foundation for the wealthy corporate and political empire the Mormons would become.
Husbands tended to be away recruiting new members for the Church and courting other women, only visiting each wife long enough to ensure another child. If a wife were a favourite, her husband might allocate more time with her.
While I was growing up, the books I read were censored, limited to Church-approved literature. My parents dedicated themselves to breaking my childs spirit to accept their beliefs. The friendships I was permitted and the activities I could pursue were all closely monitored. They were unsuccessful. While I was physically present at the services and activities I was forced to attend under fear of punishment, my mind refused to be taken prisoner.
When I left home and had the freedom to question, and seek out history books not sanctioned by the Church, I read with astonishment, and a growing sadness for my mothers and fathers gullibility, of the chronological events surrounding the introduction of plural marriage.
Smith, while married to his first wife Emma, impregnated a 16-year-old serving girl he was having an affair with. He received a special revelation from God sanctioning polygamy, which gave him permission to secretly wed her as his second wife in 1833, an illegal act. When Emma protested, Joseph received another special revelation from God, advising Emma if she didnt agree to the marriage, and give it her blessing, she would be damned for eternity.
Smith shared these revelations with his trusted Church leaders who began the practice in secret, long before the principle of plural marriage was introduced to the general membership. Marrying multiple wives, and wife swapping, went on among the men in leadership positions. Smith took 33 wives in 10 years, 11 of them married to other men at the time. If any of the women were reluctant to accept his proposal, he used the threat of eternal damnation to gain their compliance.
Dissension occurred among the general membership when they became aware of the secret behaviour of their Church leaders with the female members. When the leaders encouraged them to begin the practice of plural marriage themselves, only about a quarter of them complied.
After reading the sequence of events, I didnt have to be a Rhodes scholar or a Harvard graduate to find Smiths revelations regarding polygamy suspect.
Former members and I, no longer in the Mormon fold, speculated, Do you think Joseph Smith and the second president of the Mormon Church, Brigham Young, who had 55 wives, were sex addicts? Historically, men in positions of leadership, with power and influence, have felt a certain entitlement to, well, more. Many developed an insatiable hunger for power and sex that led to the corruption of their initial ideals.
My mother wouldnt have known what a sex addict was or how to recognize one. While she was growing up, there was little, if any, information available about sexuality. The anatomically correct names used to describe intimate parts of the body werent common knowledge. Frank discussion of carnal desire or marital relations did not take place. She told me the intimacies of married life came as a surprise to her on their three-day honeymoon in Calgary, after she married my father in the Cardston temple.
I cant, as a result, fault my mother for believing Smith was following godly direction rather than earthly appetites. She simply didnt have the knowledge or experience to make informed decisions on what she was taught, and therefore believed, without question.
Whether the same can be said for my father, I dont know. He held the highest level of priesthood conferred, only on men, by the Mormon Church, and the respected position of a bishop with his own congregation. He never discussed the practice of polygamy with me. I do know, however, that under Mormon doctrine, as a man, he would always be on the more favourable side of the religion.
Maggie Rayner lives in Vancouver.
Yup. Lds "apostle" Bruce McConkie taught in the book Mormon Doctrine -- republished in the 1970s by the Lds church, that the Mormon god(s) would at the very least re-introduce polygamy when the Mormon jesus returned.
From the article: My parents believed the Mormon scriptures written by Joseph Smith, which promised that if they remained devout, dedicated their lives and money to the Church, after they died they would become a god and goddess together and rule over many worlds. My father, however, would be given additional eternal wives. My mother often quoted Smith on the afterlife, as if trying to prepare herself: Seven women will cling to the coat tails of one man.
In Mormonism, Mormon males serve as a "substitute" of sorts for Jesus Christ as "the Way" (John 14:6).
From the article: When I left home and had the freedom to question, and seek out history books not sanctioned by the Church, I read with astonishment, and a growing sadness for my mothers and fathers gullibility, of the chronological events surrounding the introduction of plural marriage. Smith, while married to his first wife Emma, impregnated a 16-year-old serving girl he was having an affair with. He received a special revelation from God sanctioning polygamy, which gave him permission to secretly wed her as his second wife in 1833, an illegal act. When Emma protested, Joseph received another special revelation from God, advising Emma if she didnt agree to the marriage, and give it her blessing, she would be damned for eternity. Smith shared these revelations with his trusted Church leaders who began the practice in secret, long before the principle of plural marriage was introduced to the general membership. Marrying multiple wives, and wife swapping, went on among the men in leadership positions. Smith took 33 wives in 10 years, 11 of them married to other men at the time. If any of the women were reluctant to accept his proposal, he used the threat of eternal damnation to gain their compliance.
The 11 women still married to their husbands that Smith took as "wives" is common knowledge. What's surprising is how that doesn't phase contemporary Mormons. Even on threads like these, Mormons don't content that reality. They accept it. (IOW, they "sanction" it).
So even this former Mormon recognized the signs of 19th century sex addiction as practiced by Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and many other Mormon males. This was their "guarantee" of having sex every night. It ruled them inwardly.
A crock? Yes. This former Mormon women discovered the "crock" stories her Mom had been told (lied to), simply passed on by rote. This former Mormon took the initiative to study for herself -- and found it was all false.
According to the Changing World of Mormonism, pp. 224-225: [LDS} "Apostle John A. Widtsoe, who was born during the polygamy years (early 1870s) stated:
We do not understand why the Lord commanded the practice of plural marriage. (Evidences and Reconciliations, 1960, p.393). One of the most popular explanations is that the church practiced polygamy because there was a surplus of women. The truth is, however, that there were less women than men. Apostle Widtsoe admitted that there was no surplus of women: 'The implied assumption in this theory, that there have been more female than male members in the Church, is not supported by existing evidence. On the contrary, there seems always to have been more males than females in the Church... The United States census records from 1850 to 1940, and all available Church records, uniformly show a preponderance of males in Utah, and in the Church. Indeed, the excess in Utah has usually been larger than for the whole United States, ... there was no surplus of women' (Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, 1960, pp.390-92," as cited in Changing World, pp. 224-225).
Must be awfully lonely on your island.
Theres some thing with Myth Romney.. he doesn’t question these things.
He tricks democrats into voting for him..
Mormon leadership has always been very “tricky”..
The whole religion is a “con”...
The "Guarantee", as you called it, is right on. That is the only reason they started this practice. They recruited vulnerable young women, poor, without a family to care for them, widowed young, some prostitutes I'm sure, and most of all illiterate.
How anyone would allow anyone to use the brain that G_d gave them, over to such a cult religion. Not allowed to think for themselves.
I thank the Lord that I had the parents I had, dad always told us "G_D gave you a brain, use it.", meaning don't let anyone else do your thinking for you.
Today, there is no excuse for remaining in the Mormon cult, the FACTS are out there, the testimonies of Exmo's, the truths of all the criminal activity and murders done by the LDS. There is no excuse, to remain in it is a deliberate consensual defiance of the one true G_D, and HE will not be mocked, guaranteed.
LDS. come out, you have no freedom if you are not allowed to think and everything is a SECRET.
I don’t think he was a sex addict, but simply a normal horn dog like the rest of us men who conned his way into reviving an ancient practice that goes back thousands and thousands of years.
Why? Because I don’t have 27 or 56 spouses?
The one “Mormon” issue that the press will NOT make an issue out of (unless they are desperate) if Romney is nominated will be polygamylargely because it appeals to their libertinistic tendencies. However, if he is nominated the American public will receive a non-stop education on the dark and “zany” sides of Mormonism.
Question: If Romney becomes president, will he fight for polygamy? Just look the other way when it brought up in a court (and it WILL come up)?
Hummmm. Sister wives, baby.
Do "normal horn dog...men" con 14 yo girls into having sex with them as they are already married?
Sorry. Yes, it happens. No, not very "normally."
Click on link below to hear a teen girl in a YouTube "representation" of Helen Mar Kimball, a 14 yo that Joseph Smith conned into having sex with him. Helen Mar's father was asked by Joseph Smith to give up his first wife to Smith. Heber C. Kimball, instead, traded his 14 yo daughter to Smith.
"Normal horn dog...men" don't promise a "celestial kingdom" to 14 yo girls and their family to get them to sleep with them. Sex addicts and pedophiles do.
“I dont think he was a sex addict, but simply a normal horn dog like the rest of us men who conned his way into reviving an ancient practice that goes back thousands and thousands of years.”
Haw! That’s what I always thought. Thanks for lightening things up on a Saturday around the here!
Theres some thing with Myth Romney.. he doesnt question these things.
If you go to this link -- and then click on the Web page upon which it's based -- you can scroll down to section: "Mitt Romney and Polygamy"...then go to articles linked even from there.
We have a winner! What, after all, kept the “church” from simply tithing for the upkeep of these women or having them work at jobs to support themselves?
Christianity directly proceeds from the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob!
At least two of these (probably all) were polygamists!
Either polygamy is at times acceptable to our Christian God ... or our God is wrong, and you need to find a new religion.
You can either play stupid or deal with it!
Am I the only one who sees a disturbing similarity between Mormons and Muslims re. the domination of women and polygamy being explained as ‘good’ for women?
Any religion that has harems at its core is too creepy and disturbing, IMO.
Reality check #1: Jews discarded polygamy a couple of millenia ago.
Reality check #2: What God allows, and what he ordains and approves of, are two different things. Notice that Abraham was forced to expel Hagar and Ishmael, and God doesn't even even recognize Ishmael as Abraham's son: "Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love ..." Gn 22:2 That means that God didn't recognize Abraham and Hagar's relationship as a marriage, because God doesn't recognize Ishmael as Abraham's legitimate offspring.
Reality check #3: God created Adam and Eve, not Adam, Eve, Jessica, Bethany, and Allison.
Reality check #4: Polygamy was unknown among Jews, among Greeks, and among Romans in NT times, and has never been endorsed or permitted by the Christian church. It's not a matter of some mythical "apostasy"; it was never permitted in the first place. Even serial polygamy (a/k/a divorce and remarriage) was not permitted.
I didn’t know there was a 14 year old girl involved. That’s a separate issue for sure, but the promise of a “celestial kingdom” is all part of the con.
How many wives over 16 or 18, or whatever the acceptable age of consent was at that time, did Mr. Smith have? Were they all 14 when he bedded them?
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