The Book of Mormon was written to the Lamanites, and the remnant from the House of Israel. The LDS Church does not proselyte in Israel due to an agreement with the Israeli government. Denver Snuffer is working on a Hebrew version of the Book of Mormon, and says he is not bound by the LDS Church’s agreement. We’ll learn more about Denver’s outreach to these two groups of people.
Denver: The first is a separate bound copy of the Book of Mormon which has been rendered into a Jewish friendly version using Jewish spellings. The names in the Book of Mormon have been altered to Jewish spellings. The language has been [changed.] This is in English. I mean, the closest thing I can get in order for you to understand what we’re talking about is this, is a Yiddish version of the Book of Mormon. It’s been published and titled The Stick of Joseph in the Hands of Ephraim and it has a Hebrew subtitle. That has been printed as part of this printing effort, also. And it will be given away. Several hundred copies of that book will be given away to Jewish people, for them to consider the Book of Mormon in a more Jewish context.
Denver: Then, secondly, the Book of Mormon, itself, is currently being translated into Hebrew and will be published as a Hebrew text.
Volunteers and then some professionals are being compensated. And then a Ph.D. who, his specialty for his doctoral thesis was rendering into Hebrew, English material. Taking English material and converting it into Old Testament Hebrew language, that was his Ph.D. thesis.
Denver: He’s on the faculty of a major university. He’s doing the final edit on the work that is being done to bring it into a Hebrew language. When that’s done and is published, it should withstand scrutiny from the most scrupulous rabbi anywhere in the world: New York, Jerusalem, Amsterdam. It doesn’t matter. It will withstand scrutiny. As a…
GT: Are you sure? I’ve heard there’s a saying that, take two Jewish rabbis and you’ll get three opinions. [chuckles]
Denver: Well, they may differ on what they do with the text, but they won’t differ on language that got used in order to bring it about. But we’re doing an equally serious effort with Native Americans and the remnant there. We don’t necessarily want a lot of attention for the effort that’s being made. In fact, there’s a lot of disappointment, even bitterness among Native American people because of what happened historically with the Indian placement program, with that Indian School that’s now abandoned. Much of it’s been dismantled up in Brigham City.
GT: The Intermountain High School.
Denver: Yeah, the Intermountain High School. There are children who were run through that program who are now adults, who felt that they had been put upon, abused, belittled, discriminated against, mistreated at the hands of an institution. So [for us] to say, “Hey, we’re Mormons, kind of,” or, “We aren’t Mormons, but we’re bringing you the Book of Mormon.” It’s off-putting. You’re going to have an uphill battle to even get a fair hearing because the LDS effort has been disastrously off-putting.
As we move from the Remnant scriptures, I asked Denver about his position on D&C 132. In Denver Snuffer’s book, Passing the Heavenly Gift, he argued that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy. Since that book was written, Denver has changed his mind and now believes Joseph was a monogamist. How did he come to change his mind?
Denver: The Fanny Alger stuff, and you’ve got all of these points to triangulate from. What do you make of it? I can tell you that story and make Joseph Smith an adulterer, and a plural marriage practitioner, or I can tell you that story, and I can make Joseph Smith absolutely chaste, and that what happened there was not by any stretch, a sexual liaison. Fanny Alger would have nine children from a husband.
Denver: Joseph Smith fathered eight children through Emma Smith. They were both at the peak of their fertility when the two of them had something going on, and yet there was no progeny. There was no child. In fact, there’s no child born, that was fathered by Joseph Smith, other than the children that came through Emma Smith. So if you’re going to turn Joseph Smith into something that is akin to the narrative tour by the LDS Church, one of the questions that ought to enter into your balancing of what happened, is the absence of any progeny when you’ve got a fertile man, and you’ve got fertile women who bore children to other men, but never bore a child for Joseph Smith. What effect ought that have on your thinking and interpretation of the historical events?
Denver: You consider nothing that got written down or got introduced after June 27, 1844. You are limited, absolutely, to the material that got its existence, put pen to paper before that date. Okay. What do you have? What do you have to support Joseph Smith practicing plural marriage with sexual relations with other women than Emma?
While I understand that Denver is a lawyer, it seems inapproprate to throw out all evidence after the death of Joseph Smith. Do you agree or disagree? (I’d love to have lawyers weigh in on this issue of throwing out all evidence after June 27, 1844. Would a judge say that was legitimate?)
“I’d love to have lawyers weigh in on this issue of throwing out all evidence after June 27, 1844. Would a judge say that was legitimate?”
Well, in American jurisprudence there are a number of issues involved in addition to rules of evidence. And there are a number of rules of evidence that might be relevant to specific situations not set out here in a hypothetical. But, generally, the answer is “no, evidence would not be excluded merely because it appeared after June 27, 1844.” Testimony given later by witnesses involved in the matter would be admissible. Whether it would be persuasive is a question of its credibility, relevance and credibility of any contrary evidence, and, in practical application, the attitudes and understanding of the finder of fact. Late reporting is only one factor that might be considered in a determination of credibility by the finder of fact (sometimes the judge, sometimes a jury). On this subject, there are, of course, multiple reasons for incomplete contemporaneous reporting. Those might also affect a decision on credibility and the weight of the evidence.
Denver’s argument is that what BY introduced was altogether different from JS practised. Hence, JS’s theology/practice should be measured only by what was recorded during his lifetime. What was recorded after JS’s death is suspect and can’t be trusted. If, in fact, JS was a polygamist, shouldn’t we expect to find something recorded during his lifetime that supports that view?
The only real document recorded during his lifetime that supports that view is D&C 132 but that revelation can’t be trusted either.
The church does not have the original written revelation.
D&C 132 is based on a copy of a copy of the original written revelation.
Sometime after Joseph dictated a revelation to William Clayton in July 1843, the transcript was lost, misplaced, hidden or destroyed. The version everyone is familiar with is in the handwriting of a store clerk Joseph Kingsbury, who never acted as scribe for Joseph. It is Kingsbury’s (not Clayton’s) handwritten document which has been accepted as the official revelation. The earliest descriptions of the original document do not match the Kingsbury text. The Nauvoo High Council had the original read to them, and they reported it had nothing to do with modern practice, but was only related to explaining ancient events.
Additionally, although that revelation was originally written in 1843, it wasn’t made public until 1852.
Because we only have a copy of a copy and it wasn’t published until almost a decade after it was originally put to paper that we have no way of knowing whether the content or the text of D&C 132 reflects that revelation as it was originally recorded.
Some have even suggested that due to certain internal incongruities and inconsistencies through D&C 132 that there is evidence that the text has been altered from its original form.
Examples of internal inconsistencies/incongruities are as follows:
Verse 7 has a parenthetical thought which limits sealing authority to one man at a time on the earth. Brigham Young made this claim for himself, and the insertion conveniently ratifies his claim to complete control. That claim by Young and his successors has produced a great deal of harm (for LDS believers and offshoots of LDS Mormonism). In contrast to the exclusive authority of a single man in verse 7, verse 39 refers to Nathan and “others of the prophets who had the keys of this power” who sealed many wives to David. Verse 39 allows more than “one man at a time” and contradicts Brigham Young (and his successors’) claims. By dropping the parenthetical from verse 7 it harmonizes verses 7 and 39. More than “one man at a time on the earth” is also inconsistent with the sealing power given to Hyrum Smith in a revelation (D&C 124:93).
The thought that begins in verse 40 is interrupted by 4 verses, then continues in verse 45. The content in-between (verses 41-44) appears to be an interlineation. The addition of those 4 verses seems unnecessary, and invites abusive intrusions by a man pretending to judge others.
Everything after the Lord confers the sealing power on Joseph Smith and forgives his sins appears to be either unnecessary, a contradiction, or was used to support Brigham Young’s campaign against the influence of Emma Smith and Joseph’s descendants. The “10 virgins” material (verses 61-63) are in particular a contradiction of the earlier limitations found in the earlier text.
The threats against women in verses 64 and 65 not only abrogates a wife’s agency, but introduces a strange contradiction. An “espoused virgin” has to give her consent for her man to take others (“and the first give her consent”–verse 61). But a wife “becomes a transgressor” if she doesn’t welcome her man’s additional women (verse 65). The practical effect is to let “virgins” make the decision regarding the additional women, but wives get condemned as transgressors, and once they transgress the man is “exempt from the law” (verse 65) requiring her consent.
There are other sources of evidence before Josephs’ death: The Nauvoo Expositor is probably the best, and Oliver Cowdery was excommunicated for calling it a “nasty, filthy affair/scrape” with Fanny Alger. John C. Bennett was also writing about “Spiritual wifery” prior to Joseph’s death.
I’m rather surprised that Denver would posit the lack-of-progeny argument as proof of Joseph Smith’s monogamy and fidelity. Throughout history, men have managed to have sex without creating children. Why would Joseph Smith, an intelligent man, not have been able to use available methods to prevent pregnancy?
Rick: It’s somewhat humorous that you cite the Church’s enemies as “evidence” of JS’s polygamy. It would appear that you are determined to defend the LDS position at all costs.
The LDS Church has skin in this game because for a century after JS all of their leaders were polygamists, so the church is interested in “tracing” this practice back to JS (rather than BY).
When I referred to anything recorded about polygamy during JS’s lifetime I was referring to anything authoritative from him.
The Fanny Alger incident is referred to as a “transaction,” which turns out to be Levi Hancock officiating an ordinance between the two.
It is ironic that LDS members don’t see the irony is their view that JS was a polygamist.
That would mean that JS is a liar and charlatan, because according to this view, JS said one thing in public and did another thing in private.
Denver simply says that JS was a man of integrity and how he conducted himself in private squared precisely with what he taught in public.
It could be said that the latter kind of person qualifies better to be a prophet than the former.
By the way, Denver’s comment on JS’s lack of progeny isn’t his only argument for JS as a monogamist.
If you want to see his full argument, you can see it here: http://denversnuffer.net/resources/Plural-Marriage.pdf
In addition to pregnancy prevention, I understand there were also well-known herbal miscarriage inducing methods. The lack of progeny from plural wives proves exactly nothing.
The problems with the provenance and coherence of the received Section 132 are real, but also do not prove anything about JS’ polygamy. The entire argument set out by arelius11 is a demonstration of weighing credibility of evidence, lack of contemporaneous evidence, ignoring evidence mentioned by Rick B as prior to JS’ death, all seen through the arguer’s preferred view of history, who then makes inferences. That’s an entirely normal human approach, but has next to nothing to do with admissibility of evidence and nothing to do with how someone else may weigh the evidence.
Why does their death date matter in this discussion regarding admissibility of evidence?
As soon as Joseph Smith died, a spirited competition developed to control the documents and access to information. One writer described it:
The official History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was published in book form under the direction of the First Presidency in 1902. The introductory assurance that “no historical or doctrinal statement has been changed” is demonstrably wrong. Overshadowed by editorial censorship, hundreds of deletions, additions, and alterations, these seven volumes are not always reliable. …The nineteenth-century propaganda mill was so adroit that few outside Brigham Young’s inner circle were aware of the behind-the-scenes alterations so seamlessly stitched into church history. Charles Wesley Wandell, an assistant church historian, was aghast at these emendations. Commenting on the many changes made in the historical work as it was being serialized in the Deseret News, Wandell noted in his diary: “I notice the interpolations because having been employed in the Historian’s office at Navuoo by Doctor Richards, and employed, too, in 1845, in compiling this very autobiography, I know that after Joseph’s death his memoir was ‘doctored’ to suit the new order of things, and this, too, by the direct order of Brigham Young to Doctor Richards and systematically by Richards.” The Quorum of the Twelve, under Brigham Young’s leadership, began altering the historical record shortly after Smith’s death. Contrary to the introduction’s claim, Smith did not author the History of the Church. At the time of his 1844 death, the narrative had been written up to 5 August 1838.
[Richard S. Van Wagoner, Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait of Religious Excess, Signature Books (Salt Lake City, 1994), p. 322.]
The LDS twist themselves into a pretzel trying to show how JS can be a polygamist and NOT hypocrite or a polygamist and NOT a pedophile.
Good luck with that.
Vaughan Harris, If you are referring to admissibility of evidence in American jurisprudence, the argument I infer from your lengthy paragraph is not relevant. If you are referring to credibility of that evidence, it is very relevant.
arelius11, Some LDS do that. Some don’t. And, of course, “pedophile” status depends in part upon definition of the term. Some LDS believe JS was a polygamist, that any “revelation” authorizing — let alone commanding — polygamy was either fraudulent or imaginary. Some value the Church and what they understand as its basic principles and theology, despite some [despicable — or whatever adjective you prefer] actions of some of its leaders..
I confess to having little patience with the “Joseph was a monogamist” crowd.
To quote Dr. Larry Foster, who is a non-Mormon and has no dog in the polygamy fight between LDS and RLDS historical positions. He said, “It’s totally impossible to argue that [Joseph was monogamist.]”
Oliver was 2nd Elder of the Church and close friend of Joseph. William Law was well-acquainted with Joseph Smith. Nancy Rigdon, daughter of Sidney Rigdon of the First Presidency and Joseph Smith’s running mate for POTUS. These were Joseph’s friends that you call enemies, to say nothing of Brigham Young, Parley Pratt, Orson Pratt, Helen Mar Kimball, Eliza Snow, the Partridge sisters, etc. etc. When friends and enemies agree on something, it is likely true.
Joseph used carefully worded denials. Arguing JS was a monogamist is no different than arguing with flat-earthers. Bill Murray said, “It’s hard to win an argument with a smart person, but it’s damn near impossible to win an argument with a stupid person.”
Rick: I respect Dr. Foster’s opinion but this is simply an appeal to some “authority.”
And I appreciate you citing others that lived during JS’s lifetime who affirmed that he was a polygamist. But, other than D&C 132, where is the authoritative statement by the Church’s founder regarding polygamy?
I might mention that, in addition to Denver’s 48-page argument against JS as a polygamist, he also claims that Joseph and Emma have visited personally with him.
Assuming that claim is true, then I assume he was able to ask Joseph himself regarding polygamy. Therefore, his arguments wouldn’t be limited to reason but he would have first-hand testimony from Joseph himself.
Rick: I’m happy that you recognize your impatience with the “JS is a monogamist” argument.
I, likewise, am impatient with the “Joseph can be a prophet AND lie in public but contradict his public statements in private” argument.
Such a person isn’t a prophet worth his salt, in my view.
A real prophet’s private life is consistent with his public teachings.
I’m not sure how that can be controversial…
Denver and the Remnant Movement are simply advocating that Joseph was a true prophet not just in word but in very deed.
I think Denver Snuffer and anyone else who denies Joseph Smith’s polygamy need to ask themselves a simple question: do you believe that because you want to believe it, or do you believe it because the evidence points that way?
I’m a life-long member of the Church who in the last few years has come across a great deal of concerning historical information about the Church. I gain nothing one way or another whether these “concerning” stories are true or not. I have no motive but to know the truth. I suspect the anti-Mormon Mormon haters want all the controversial stuff to be true. And the Church faithful and the apologetic crowd want none of it to be true. But most of us on WheatandTares just want the truth.
I suspect Denver Snuffer has reasons to want to believe the polygamy stuff started with Brigham Young and because he wants to believe that, he does believe that.
LDS are believers. We worship beliefs like the Israelites worshipped the Golden Calf.
Denver is right to question the assumption of polygamy. Scholars have NOT spent enough time on the question, “What is polygamy?”
(Most folks hear the word “polygamy” and assume the word describes the image we have about polygamy. This might not be the case. The image we have of polygamy may be distorted).
And there we see that arelius11 is committed to a definition of “prophet” that is not the same as some others’ definitions. Augelius11’s definition seems to be part of the attitudes and understanding that contribute to his evaluation of the evidence.
If he can’t see how it could be thought that a “real [human] prophet” might do things inconsistent with his public teachings, then lack of patience with that view is to be expected. Others who don’t have that same expectation of prophets might well lack patience with historical arguments about a prophet’s behavior that seem to depend in part on starting from the idea that he’s a “real prophet” and therefore could not have done the things attributed to him.
I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect anyone claiming to speak for God to abide by God’s law.
If your idea of a prophet is someone who speaks out of both sides of his mouth, then we’ll have to agree to disagree.
Hi “A Lawyer.” Whether in the context of American jurisprudence or someone just trying to ascertain the truth of something, reliance on evidence that has been tampered with is not advised.
arelius11, the thing that’s fascinating to me is that both L-dS’s and critics of Mormonism have the exact same motivation and need: they both dearly need Joseph Smith to have been a liar, bigamist, and adulterer to support their already assured views. And other outsiders are happy to rely on the confidence of these unusual bedfellows and agree on their combined conclusion, supposing that such agreement by itself is strong enough evidence to convince anyone. From these perspectives, only a fool would ever believe what Joseph said–what Emma said, what their son said, and with how the judge in the Temple Lot case judged the matter. I’ve personally spent a *lot* of time on both sides of this and can see big gaps in the argument both the L-dS Church and its critics unitedly espouse. And I agree with you in that I’m similarly baffled how anyone could believe Joseph could act in such a way and possibly be one trusted by God to represent Him in anything at all. But there are millions happy to adopt accept that cognitive dissonance as perfectly fine. If that’s the kind of messenger “god” would send with “his” words, then I have no interest whatsoever in that god. And with that understanding, I can see why anti-Mormons would feel that way, too.
arelius and Vaughn,
Your view of a prophet is a cartoon character. that is completely 100% inconsistent with the Bible.
Noah got drunk. Abraham lied and said Sarah was his sister. Jacob/Israel lied to get the birthright. The Old Testament is full of incest, slavery, and a god who commands genocide of Jericho, as well as many other cities. Moses was a polygamist. Abraham was a polygamist. Israel had 11 sons who were juvenile delinquents from 4 wives (2 of who were slaves) and his family is the definition of dysfunctional. His sons sold Joseph as a slave to Egypt. His sons were involved in incest and had sex with prostitutes. Jonah disobeyed God. Abraham sent his wife and son into the desert to die (Hagar and Ishmael.) Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines who were idol-worshipers. David supposedly wrote Psalms. He killed a man to cover for his own adultery with Bathsheba. Do you reject them as prophets because of “your idea of a prophet is someone who speaks out of both sides of his mouth?”
Because the Bible is full of characters who not only practiced polygamy, but lied and killed to cover it up.
Let me also add that yes I am appealing to authority of scholars. The internet is full if morons who think they know more than Ph.D.s These morons think masks are unsafe and are dying from this belief. These morons think the earth is flat. These morons think vaccines cause autism. These morons think Joseph didn’t practice polygamy.
We need to start listening to the experts. Now there are lots of experts with whom I disagree, the there is not a SINGLE reputable historian who believes Joseph was a monogamist. Experts disagree with Brian Hales about his take on polygamy, but everyone with a Ph.D. agrees Joseph wasn’t a monogamist. People who think Joseph was a monogamist, I simply ask you to get your article published in a peer-reviewed journal to show you’re not full of it. Get a Ph.D. in History. Convince your Ph.D. Committee to let you do your dissertation on this topic. And when you do, I’ll be happy to interview you. Until you’re willing to do that work, I will write you off as a hack. Because that’s what you are. A hack conspiracy theorist.
Labels are problematic. What does “monogamist” mean? What does “polygamist” mean? What does “sealed” mean? What does “married” mean?
I think the record is clear that Joseph Smith was sealed to several women. I don’t think it is clear that he was married to them.
To some extent this discussion has seemed to founder on differences in word usage. E.g., I agree with Vaughn that “Whether in the context of American jurisprudence or someone just trying to ascertain the truth of something, reliance on evidence that has been tampered with is [generally] not advised.” But that’s a question of first determining what has been “tampered with” and then whether the scope and nature of the “tampering” is significant relative to the particular issue for which one is considering the evidence and trying to evaluate its credibility and its weight relative to conflicting evidence.
“Admissibility” in American jurisprudence and reliability and credibility are not the same thing, though some kinds of purported evidence are, by rule, not admissible for certain purposes, because the rule-makers found them inherently unreliable. Generally speaking as to American jurisprudence, the subject on which I responded to the OP’s inquiry as to excluding evidence based on JS’ death date, admissibility of evidence to be considered is a separate analysis from evaluation of the credibility or persuasiveness of that evidence and a separate issue from what weight it is to be given relative to conflicting evidence.
BTW, while I haven’t taken any position in this thread on whether JS was or wasn’t a polygamist or pedophile or prophet, I have wondered why some would appear to take JS’ polygamist or pedophile behavior (if it existed) as somehow invalidating a prophetic calling with respect to (a) revelations claimed to have occurred prior to any such behavior — or even (b) later “revelations” on an unrelated subject.
Hi Rick: Thanks for the compliment! I’d rather believe the God of heaven than trust in the arm of flesh (and their PhDs)…
arelius the hack, if you’re going to argue belief instead of history, then you should stay out of all historical conversations. Clearly my appeal to the Bible left you speechless.
Thanks for confirming your view on the topic and your thoughts on anyone who is persuaded differently than you. I did not expect to persuade anyone here to change their minds–certainly not you, Rick. I understand you feel you’re done looking into this subject and that your conclusion is unassailable. But it is disappointing to read your ad hominem attack of commenters here you know nothing about. I didn’t get the sense from watching many of your interviews that this is the way you deal with people.
In one of Joseph’s last public statements, he said: “You don’t know me; you never knew my heart. No man knows my history. I cannot tell it: I shall never undertake it. I don’t blame any one for not believing my history. If I had not experienced what I have, I would not have believed it myself. I never did harm any man since I was born in the world. My voice is always for peace.”
He was speaking to and about all those you listed above as “friends.”
Personally I’m grateful to believe in a God who is no respecter of persons, who is willing to show the truth of anything to anyone who earnestly seeks it. (even if they are not credentialed with a peer reviewed paper to “prove” something to themselves) Nephi’s observation about the inclinations of the God he personally met and knew was that: “Whoso knocketh, to him will he open. And the wise, and the learned, and they that are rich — who are puffed up because of their learning, and their wisdom, and their riches — yea, they are they whom he despiseth. And save they shall cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them.”
If these things really might have any significance beyond this short, challenging life, it seems that some humility in how certain we are of things would be in order.
God bless you, Rick.
Nobody has mentioned the Article on Marriage, with an affirmative vote to include it in the Doctrine and Covenants. It states, in part, “Inasmuch as this Church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe that one man should have one wife; and one woman but one husband, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again.”
Supporting the theory of Joseph as monogamist: This article was around for the last 9 years of his life and was not removed until later.
Supporting the theory of Joseph as polygamist: Why was it an issue to be addressed in 1835?
Hypothetically, if LDS come around to the idea that Joseph Smith likely had sex with more than one woman over his lifetime—then what?
In your view, what is the significance of this?
Travis, that is not a hypothetical. That is what I believe happened. I’m unclear why you are asking me the question. Do you think this information should be jarring? It is reality, so I don’t know what profound answer you are expecting from me.
It’s not a trick question. What is the significance of the idea that Joseph had sex with more than one woman over his lifetime?
Put another way, What conclusions do you draw from Joseph’s sex life?
I conclude that he had sex with more than one woman. Maybe you should answer the question. I am not all that concerned about his sex life. It seems like you are. Why did you ask the question? (And Why is my answer significant to you?)
Emma’s reaction and using the RS to find the polygamists and the subsequent shutting down of the RS by Joseph Smith is the biggest evidence to me. Oliver leaving the church over finding Joseph in the barn is the second biggest evidence to me. I also trust Sarah Pratt above any priesthood leader in Nauvoo. I am a little rusty on the history, but when she told Orson about Joseph’s proposition, Joseph called her a whore and accused her of an affair with Bennett. I also think Joseph was thinking about polygamy at least in 1829 when he plugged it into Jacob or read Jacob’s words as they appeared on the stone.
Do any statements prior to 1844 or after 1844 hold weight? They all were liars. Later in Utah they were encouraged to lie to outsiders to protect the practice of polygamy. Any statement in Utah that was gathered by Brigham to prove Emma a liar holds no weight to me. Those people in Utah did what they were told, especially the women. Emma lied about it afterwards by denying Joseph did it. Joseph lied about it just like he did with his ability to translate. Pious fraud here too?
The bottom line for me is that it is still woven into our theology . BY had 33 years to make his mark and define God, and I’ll be damned, it turns out that God resembles BY in just about every way possible. I do believe that BY’s idea of polygamy was vastly different that JS’s view of it.
We still teach that men are to preside over their wives and that polygamy exists in heaven. Many believe that men are to provide spirit bodies by celestial sex with their many wives. If this is your viewpoint or the viewpoint of some of the men in church, it drastically affects the way we look at women in the church today and treat the women in the church today.
Overall, I am on the side of Rick here. JS liked women before he thought of polygamy and after he thought of polygamy. He practiced polygamy and taught it in Nauvoo. Polygamy sucks!!!!
Travis, I still don’t understand why you are asking me that question. (It seems way off the mark, IMO.) Maybe this is your round-about way of asking me what I think of polygamy?
I have a real theological problem with D&C 132. In some ways, I agree with Denver that there are contradictions in 132 (which we will cover next week.) I don’t like the condemnation of Emma. AT. ALL. I think that part specifically is not scripture and is manipulative. I think in >95% of cases, polygamy in the Bible was wrong. The Book of Mormon condemns polygamy. I don’t like polygamy at all.
Now, I LOVE the sealing ordinance. I think we don’t understand it well. I think it is a great thing for a husband and wife for the marriage to last past death. I also can see that it can work in some cases, and I think in the case of Hyrum losing his first wife, the ability to be sealed to her and his present wife might not be terrible. But I think what David and Solomon did were abominable. I’m mad at Abraham for sending Hagar and Ishmael into the desert to die (but grateful for the angel that saved them.) In short, I think there are major problems with polygamy.
But I believe that David and Abraham and Solomon and Joseph Smith, and Brigham Young and on and on practiced it, despite my problems with it. I am interested in Mormon history, warts and all. I view polygamy as a wart. It’s ugly. I don’t like it. But I’m not going to create a false history to save my conscience from the ugly practice. I think whatever happened with Fanny was wrong, whether there were sexual relations or not. Same with Helen Mar Kimball. Same with the Partridge sisters, Eliza R. Snow, and the 30ish other wives attributed to Joseph. But I’m interested in accurate history, and I’m not going to whitewash polygamy away because I have a personal theological problem with it. It happened. We need to put our big boy pants on and not deny history.
My next interview (in a few weeks) is with Will Bagley on the Mountain Meadows Massacre. It is ugly. It was wrong. Brigham deserves a lot of blame for his violent rhetoric. Will thinks Brigham ordered the massacre. I’m willing to look at the evidence. I hope Brigham didn’t order it, but I’m not going to change history because of hope. I’m going to look at it, warts and all. I’ll condemn the actions of those men in southern Utah. But I won’t deny what they did.
It’s the same with polygamy. I don’t like it. I don’t get a thrill knowing Joseph practiced polygamy. I don’t want to practice polygamy. I don’t personally get anything out of it, other than a sense of understanding what really happened. I’m not putting my head in the sand to bad news. I won’t justify Brigham or Joseph. But I will hopefully understand them better.
Having said that, you will hear in my interview next week that I actually LIKE some of the changes Denver made to 132. But 132 was a legit document, even with the ugly stuff about Emma. I would like to excise that from my scriptures, but that’s not my job. Denver thinks it’s his job. I can sympathize, but I won’t hide my eyes from the ugly. It’s there, even if it is ugly. On the other hand, I LOVE the sealing ordinance, which is also part of 132. I haven’t read Denver’s re-writing of 132 yet (it is on order), but I have a feeling I will like Denver’s version much better than the LDS version of 132. That doesn’t make Denver’s version historically correct, however. We have the history of polygamy, and it has warts. I’m not white-washing the warts, even though I can understand the desire to whitewash. I won’t do it. I will face it honestly.
Does that answer your (odd) question?
Not siding with Snuffer here at all. But I think a redacted version of D&C 132 is quite a different proposition than a “rewritten” D&C 132 (I don’t know if that is what Snuffer has done). Would you say that Joseph’s letter from Liberty Jail was “rewritten” when only portions of it were canonized? I would not. Now redacting as I am proposing is not quite the same because the entirety of Section 132 has been canonized and redacting it would involve decanonizing parts. But we decanonized the Article on Marriage, why not parts of D&C 132? Everything that remains would be historical. But just as Section 132 had to replace the Article on Marriage to conform to what the church actually taught, so could a redacted Section 132 conform the scriptures to what we actually teach now.
I like your take. I asked because I’ve discovered that some LDS don’t like polygamy because they believe it isn’t moral, and others don’t like polygamy because it objectifies a woman. I think we can find evidence for both.
However, could there be a form of polygamy that is both moral and respectful to women? Maybe. We see evidence in society that expresses how some women are okay with being the second, third, even fourth girlfriends of wealthy and famous already-married men. We also see evidence in society showing that some women are okay with a husband’s promiscuity.
Devil’s advocate here, Why isn’t a woman allowed to choose polygamy?
Does a woman have a right to choose to be a second or third wife? Does a woman have a right to choose to add another woman to her household? In a round-about way, polygamy expresses a woman’s right of her household—so long as she’s in charge. Like Sarah to Abraham.
Men in charge of polygamy seems the problem. What would we say if women were in charge of polygamy?
@Travis, no. Personally I do not think that any free, secure woman would choose to share a partner with a bunch of other women. Your example of someone being happy to be the second or third or fourth girlfriend of a married famous & wealthy man only highlights that—clearly there is a power differential there in terms of status and power. To me polygamy inherently says men are worth more than women.
In any event, not sure that’s relevant here. Perhaps there are a few women who, holding all the money and relational power in the world, would freely choose polygamy. But that’s not what happened in the early history of the church. Emma didn’t like it or choose it. Many of the other women were coerced—even if they didn’t feel they were being coerced, there’s nothing free about a prophet telling you that you have to participate or be damned.
According to Amazon, My Teachings & Commandments will be here tomorrow, so I will be able to tell you what Denver did to change 132.
Travis, could there be a form of polygamy that is both moral and respectful to women? If I were to embrace polygamy (which I most decidedly am not) Kody Brown from the AUB is more respectful to women, but still extremely difficult to implement, IMO.
Why isn’t a woman allowed to choose polygamy? Kody’s group does. But I think you probably intended to say polyandry (1 woman, multiple men.) In my opinion, that is more fair that polygyny (1 man, multiple women) only. Believe it or not, the church does seal women to multiple men, but only after they are dead, with the idea that the women will get to choose which husband (only 1) they will live with in eternity. This was suggested by Howard W. Hunter, and approved by Pres McKay. Perhaps you were not aware of this? See https://mormonheretic.org/2011/07/24/multiple-sealings-for-women/
I think Sarah and Hagar is a horrible story. I’m not a fan of that arrangement. AT. ALL. This is known as the Law of Sarah, and I talked about it with Anne Wilde: https://gospeltangents.com/2017/11/22/anne-justify-concubines-law-sarah/
I do know of one polygamist group that has a Law of Joseph which allows a woman to be sealed to more than 1 man. It is rare, but it is named after Jesus’ father Joseph. The idea is that Mary was sealed to both Joseph and Elohim. It isn’t talked about openly, and even more rarely applied, but I know of a case. (I wonder if Lindsay knows about this!)
If you want to propose egalitarian polygamy by allowing both polygyny and polyandry, I agree that is more fair than polygyny only. But it is not what D&C 132 says, and is against the Patriarchal Order, so you’ll have to petition for a new revelation if you want the brethren to embrace that (or join that polygamist group.) I’m happy with monogamy only policy we have now, and think polyandry would introduce the same can of worms that polygyny does. It’s not a solution. But I do support living women being allowed to be sealed to a 2nd husband if the first is deceased. This is not allowed under current LDS practice, but I think it should be. It’s only fair if a living man can be sealed to multiple women because the first wife died.
Better get out your pen an petition Pres Nelson. for this change You won’t see me petitioning though.
Also the Sarah example is not great either. To the extent she “chose” polygamy it was because society told her she was worthless without producing a child for her husband. So she let someone else come to do that. I hardly think that was a happy situation for her.
The example of Abraham and Sarah is also egregious in how poor Hagar is treated. She had zero consent in the matter, and when Sarah no longer liked the situation Hagar and her child are thrown out with nothing to do but die. So I don’t think having a woman direct the situation and be in a position of power over other wives worked out all that great, either. They all seemed pretty miserable.
Rick B, well said. I’m looking forward to more YouTube Gospel Tangent uploads.
Elisa, your view on Sarah is warped. She was so valued that the most powerful man on earth, Pharaoh, sought her to wife. To assume Sarah was some insecure damsel shows how little exposure you have to literature about her.
Besides the Bible, the Qu’ran, Midrash, lots of extra-canonical and pseudo-texts, speak of Sarah as a Queen of Heaven, sovereign, most-wise, etc.
@Travis and yet, with all her power, Sarah still felt compelled to offer her husband a second wife so he could have off-spring.
My point isn’t that Sarah was some “insecure damsel” but that I’d hardly use her as an example for why polygamy could be great.
And ditto to what Moss said. Certainly didn’t work out great for Hagar.
Also … “she was so valued that the most powerful man on earth sought her to wife”. @Travis you keep using examples of women’s power and position w/r/t their relationships to men. Sarah the object of Pharaoh’s desire, the second and third and fourth girlfriends of famous and wealthy men. That doesn’t sit well with me and it’s not really recommending your views on women and polygamy.
Honest to goodness question for arelius11 (or anyone who agrees with him/her): Assuming JS was a polygamist, could you maintain faith in him as a prophet?
(Forgive me if this is addressed above; I didn’t have time to review all comments and genuinely want to know your response.)
I have a colleague who is a convert. She fully believes JS is a prophet, but polygamy is wrong. Her conclusion was, ” God will never let a prophet lead us astray. Joseph led the people astray with polygamy and was removed from leadership. BY, while full of errors, had the gift of leadership which was needed to move across the plains. He was kind of like a necessary evil. Once he died, the Lord worked to remove polygamy.
Personally, I believe JS was a polygamist. I have no problem with God choosing a person as a prophet and that prophet fighting human urges and temptations while still being chosen by God. He can still be a prophet and tell half truths. I agree with BY when he said the truth is not in the man, it is in the doctrine that was taugth.
Also, the biography of JS’s son, David, is a good insight to the witnesses of JS’s polygamist past. He came to declare JS monogamy, yet left despaired that his father was not the perfect man he once thought.
You noticed that I noticed the problem with power dynamic in the polygamy-relationship—which is why I asked to explore the idea of women-managed polygamy as a counter. This was for the sake of discussion, and has nothing to do with personal beliefs or opinions. For you to assume that I have any personal opinion on polygamy—particularly given the thread of the discussion—is to assume too much, I’d say it goes as far as to accuse.
Your unclear comment, “That doesn’t sit well with me and it’s not really recommending your views on women and polygamy,” and your earlier comment, “My point isn’t that Sarah was some “insecure damsel” but that I’d hardly use her as an example for why polygamy could be great,” illustrate that you seem to think I am arguing for polygamy instead of (as I clearly indicated at the beginning of the thread) exploring the question “what is polygamy?”
We differ in that I use the blog to explore and argue ideas and have discussion with a mix-LDS framework, while you use the blog to express beliefs and opinions.
We also differ in that I tolerate and entertain different ideas without forming beliefs and opinions around them. Highly recommended.
Travis, I don’t need “sake of discussion” conversations. I find it offensive, and I’m sure others do too. If you haven’t given polygamy much thought, proposing an offensive solution is, well, offensive. You should expect blowback.
I’d prefer a carefully thought out argument for/against something. This isn’t the place to shoot off offensive ideas and then blame others for getting offended. Think before you write. It makes for more thoughtful, respectful, and better conversations than what you are trying to do here.
Appeals to authority on this subject suffer from two problems: 1) History isn’t a hard science. It can only rely upon the evidence that is available. Much of the polygamy evidence has been tampered with and hugely curated. 2) The authority pool is relatively small, and includes people who have in interest in the Mormon or anti-Mormon argument, which in this case, mostly agree. We have new information in the last 10 years that seems to be moving the consensus argument back away from Brigham inheriting his sexual polygamist practices from Joseph Smith. DNA studies alone are the primary showcase. The fact that we have a lengthy discussion on this right now is evidence of this. Denver Snuffer has published on this and can be considered an historian here on this subject, regardless of his status as a “prophet.”
But I congratulate Rick on not murdering Denver when he gave his opinion on Joseph’s polygamy.
What’s offensive? You admitted being more open to some type of polygamy(Kody Brown). I haven’t said as much. I offered a woman-run dynamic idea, after suggesting that perhaps our assumptions about polygamy are distorted. Review the thread.
Clearly you are new here. Clearly you don’t understand what a minefield the topic of polygamy is. Clearly you don’t understand that women react strongly to LDS polygamy. I try to take care when I present the topic of polygamy, and even then it goes off the rails sometimes.
When you try to suggest
That’s offensive not only to women like Elisa here, but to me as well. You’re going to get pushback on this non-chalant attitude. Mormon polygamy is offensive to many. For you cavalierly say to Elisa ” For you to assume that I have any personal opinion on polygamy—particularly given the thread of the discussion—is to assume too much, I’d say it goes as far as to accuse.”
Trust me as someone who has been through MANY discussions on polygamy. You need to tread more lightly on the topic. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that this was a CARELESS mistake and you playing games “for the sake of discussion” and as a “devil’s advocate.” Just don’t. Emotions run high on this topic and your game-playing is playing with people’s emotions. It’s not welcome by me, and I feel confident that I speak for many here. You’re going to get a lot of arrows if you persist with this cavalier attitude, and I recommend you stop. It is offensive, even it you didn’t recognize it as offensive.
I also don’t like that you conveniently chopped off my Kody Brown comment. That’s called taking a quote out of context, and very not cool. I think Kody’s version of polygamy is better than most, but it’s still bad, and I am not open to it (although I would love to have him on my podcast. I’ve tried, but his contract won’t allow it.)
@Travis, I don’t usually get into this back and forth but I would reconsider your view of this exchange.
(1) You asked whether polygamy could ever be good. You gave two examples where maybe polygamy wasn’t quite so bad.
(2) I said no, I don’t think polygamy could be good, explained why your two examples didn’t support a position that polygamy could be good, and said I thought it was beside the point since (in these cases) it wasn’t women-led anyway.
(3) You disagreed with my interpretation of my examples, telling me that my view was “warped” and that my comments showed “how little exposure [I] have to literature about [Sarah].”
(4) I explained why I continue to believe that Sarah is a bad example of “good polygamy” and pointed out some problematic assumptions in your arguments so far. And I said, “That doesn’t sit well with me and it’s not really recommending *your views* on women and polygamy.”
I very intentionally said “your views” because I don’t know you as a person and have no idea what you think about women / polygamy (although if you aren’t open to the idea that it could be good, I’m not sure why you’d pose that as a question? And then continue to argue with people who answer “No”?). I have no intent to attack you personally, and have been engaging this entire time only with the views you’ve expressed about polygamy and the examples that you used and arguments you set forth as part of your thought exercise. I can understand why you would perceive that sentence to be a personal attack and I could have worded it more carefully – apologies for that, truly, as I try to avoid that and agree it’s unkind and unproductive.
(5) You then said the following about me (on top of your earlier assertions that I’m “warped” and not well-read):
“We differ in that I use the blog to explore and argue ideas and have discussion with a mix-LDS framework, while you use the blog to express beliefs and opinions.
We also differ in that I tolerate and entertain different ideas without forming beliefs and opinions around them. Highly recommended.”
I would humbly submit that you don’t know me either, that you make a lot of assumptions here about me to, and that those were rude, personal attacks about my ability to entertain ideas and overall intelligence. Your comments were much more personally attacking than anything you think I “accused” you of (being wrong about polygamy???).
I don’t care one way or the other whether this is a thought experiment or your actual views. I’m with Rick B in that I don’t highly value devil’s advocacy on hurtful topics; I’d never suggest we do a thought experiment “let’s think of a universe in which a priesthood ban is a good idea!” I was offering my response to your thought experiment and you didn’t like it, took it personally, and then attacked me about it. No thanks.
It seems Travis wants to troll now, so I think this conversation has concluded its productive conversation at this point. Thanks for playing everybody.
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