Celestial Polygamy Question from Idaho Falls

Celestial polygamy

Public Forum Letter

Salt Lake Tribune

05/09/2008

   I am a mainstream Mormon. Thomas S. Monson is the president of my church, headquartered in Salt Lake City. Yet I am a polygamist with the blessing of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
    I married my first wife in the temple. I married my second wife in the temple while still temple-married to my first wife. I was divorced on Earth, but not in the next life. My second wife has asked the church to cancel my first wife’s marriage to me, but they say it isn’t necessary because my first wife needs the blessings of a husband. They say I can have two wives. My second wife asked why her marriage to her first husband was canceled by the church but mine wasn’t. She was told that only men can have more than one spouse in the church. In heaven I will have two wives; maybe more if I am worthy. Mormon men know they will have more than one wife in the celestial kingdom. It’s doctrinal.
    Why does the church distance itself from polygamy? Why do they say they don’t teach it or believe in it anymore? Polygamy started with Joseph Smith and is going strong with Thomas S. Monson. I wish the church would be honest.
   
    Dana Miller
    Idaho Falls, Idaho

———

Did a General Authority answer this question?

30 comments

  1. I truly don’t understand why sealed people who get divorced retain their seals at all. They couldn’t make it work for 80 years but they think they can make it work for eternity? “Eternal” marriage my ass.

    Todd, check out one of the old threads on sealing clearings & cancellations over at fMh. It’s fun to watch Seth piss people off.

  2. So am I. New sealings for divorcees, re-sealings for couples who got divorced and later decided to get remarried, I’m down with that. I’m just not a big fan of people sticking their fractured eternal marriage on a shelf and believing Jesus will fix it for them when they die. I don’t think there are any guarantees that death makes us better people suddenly able to make a failed marriage work, especially not if people don’t work towards that in this life.

  3. I never said there were any guarantees that “Jesus will fix it.”

    That seems a bit extreme.

    But it’s also extreme to rule out the possibility that he will.

  4. Seth it’s not really you who has some idealistic view of all divorced couples with sealings having perfect marriages in the next life. I’m sure your view is more tempered than that.

    I’ve met Mormons who seemed to think they could be huge boneheads about their marriages and divorces in this life because God would make it all okay for them in the next life. It’s appalling to see something that is supposed to be a high, sacred principle treated so cavalierly, and I don’t even believe in it. What the Bible actually says about divorce almost never comes into their minds, let alone what the church says.

    I wouldn’t call it extreme to assume that people who are divorced at the time of death will be divorced in the next life. Seems pretty practical to me.

  5. I’m trying to understand things from an LDS paradigm, Seth, and I guess I’m just not getting it. Isn’t a marriage covenant for life just as sacred as a marriage covenant for eternity? Why should God honor one if the other was flagrantly discarded? I get that children being sealed to the divorced parents presents something of a problem. Is that the main reason such sealings are left intact?

  6. I just think that people can be forgiven when the circumstances of their lives are taken into account. I think the pains of life can be washed away and broken things can be mended.

  7. OK, call me shallow and juvenille, but this made me laugh for 5 solid minutes

    They couldn’t make it work for 80 years but they think they can make it work for eternity? “Eternal” marriage my ass.

    Amen, sistuh
    GERMIT

  8. germit,

    Real life example.

    One of my best friends from high school got married to a nice girl. Very nice guy, and totally devoted to his wife. Had a couple kids with her.

    But about a year after their first kid was born, things started to get weird. She started exhibiting symptoms of paranoia, convinced the neighbors were trying to kill her. It took a while, but it soon became clear she was seriously emotionally ill. But by this time her paranoia had extended to her husband as well. She took the kids and left him. Her family (who seemed to have a few issues themselves) sided with her and an expensive custody battle ensued.

    Currently, she hates him and wants nothing to do with him. She still attempts to sabotage the agreed upon custody arrangements. He however, still loves the woman he married. He knows it’s not her fault and he still loves her.

    Now, assuming the Mormon view of eternal marriage is true, what do we do with this scenario?

    Is he just supposed to give her up?

    And when she arrives before God at judgment – presumably in her right mind again – are you saying God is going to say “tough beans?”

    That’s a pretty clear example to me. Now, where are you going to draw the lines on the more ambiguous cases? Are you going to sit in judgment of other people’s marriages and determine which ones were lost causes and which ones deserve another chance?

  9. Seth: before I answer, briefly, your post, let me offer a little apology. I found some humor in Jack’s post, but believe me that I find nothing funny about divorce. I’m one of nine kids, and five of my sibs are divorced and of the four of us who aren’t, two have married divorcees ( including GERMIT). That’s a lot of divorce…. If it sounded like I was being flippant about the topic, my fault for that, and I’m sorry.

    To your questions, do you want me to answer AS IF the LDS position on eternal marriage were true or take the ev. position ?? Not sure which you want.

    May your marriage, if you’re married, be a source of joy to you.

    GERMIT

  10. Seth, the anecdote you use is one of the few cases I can conceive of where neither party is culpable in the divorce. Well, sounds like the woman’s family is culpable, but I won’t get sidetracked. I don’t think most divorces are like that.

    We can anecdote the hell out of this subject, but I think it’s pointless. I have a serious view of covenants (“But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your yes be yes and your no be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.” James 5:12) and I draw a hard line on divorce (“For I hate divorce, says the Lord, the God of Israel,” Malachi 2:16a). I don’t think either of those things would change about me if I were Mormon and believed in eternal marriage.

    My concern is that some Latter-day Saints don’t take temporal marriage very seriously because they think it’s eternal marriage that matters. I sometimes wonder if that’s why my husband was so nonchalant and even blithe about seeking a divorce four years ago. He wasn’t messing with anything eternal, after all, it was just one of those lowly non-temple marriages.

    Guess I gave my own anecdote after all. Oh well. Can we at least agree that there’s mercy for people who divorce due to circumstances that were beyond their control or repent after the fact, and judgment for people who know what they’re doing, are just being selfish and never repent?

  11. I don’t know Jack…

    Time to consult a pastor.

    Todd, do you think mercy is only for “circumstances beyond our control?”

    (I do realize that mercy and marriage are not the same thing)

  12. Seth: since you didn’t ask for a particular direction to my respnse (whether I was to take the LDS position, or the ev’s) I’ll just do what I do: ramble.

    I don’t see not accepting eternal marriage as somehow giving up on GOD and HIS ability to mend, heal, and show forgiveness. I see it more as 1) HE honors the choices that people make, even the horrible ones 2)HE puts the marriage of HIS SON to HIS bride, the church, as pre-eminent. I DO believe in eternal marriage: that of the church to JESUS. I think there is very strong biblical support for that.

    While on this earth, we are to honor our commitments, esp. the marriage vows, but if one party wants out and demands their way, I think love lets them go. That’s not what GOD likes, but what HE allows, the alternatives are worse than staying together. I think it’s in Corinthians where HE says (thru Paul) to let an unbelieving partner go, if they insist. Will GOD clean that up in the next life ?? Well, we’ll see, but I think it’s largely a non-issue, because the marriage to the SON will take precedence…..this would be true for those who stayed married in this life as well.

    To me, the fact that we have this glorious wedding to look forward to gives us great HOPE, both for totally shattered situations, like the one you mentioned, or even marriages that are together, but not that great. We won’t be in those forever. Somewhere, Edith Bunker can say “Hallelujah”. and who knows, maybe my wife, as well 🙂

    GERMIT

  13. Germit, I was asking for a response based on the Mormon paradigm.

    Jack, I agree there are not solutions for things you refuse to repent of.

    One thing I’ve been thinking. Under the Evangelical view, we all seem to be aiming to be “wedded to Christ.” By extension, I guess you could say those in heaven would therefore be wedded to each other in a real sense.

    Isn’t this more radically polygamous than anything the Mormons ever cooked up?

  14. Seth ~ One thing I’ve been thinking. Under the Evangelical view, we all seem to be aiming to be “wedded to Christ.” By extension, I guess you could say those in heaven would therefore be wedded to each other in a real sense.

    Isn’t this more radically polygamous than anything the Mormons ever cooked up?

    You could look at it like that I guess, though since evangelicals have never speculated about sex in heaven it’s really not nearly as scandalous. I’ve actually always thought that since the ultimate goal of the LDS system is for all of humanity to be connected through sealings, the evangelical system is just a simpler version of that, minus the specific pairings of human husbands and wives.

    Personally it isn’t the celestial polygamy of the LDS system that I object to (if one is going to accept eternal marriage), it’s the polygyny. It’s the implication that men are capable of loving dozens and dozens of women if the need arises, but women can only love just one man.

    But you already think that’s something the LDS church should change, so I guess I’m preaching to the choir.

  15. Seth: based on the LDS paradigm, I’d say ANY kind of divorce is not in the picture, because who knows what will change in a millenia or two or three…??? I dont’ think you guys actuallly follow that approach, but it’s the one that makes the most sense to me, logically. I’m not saying that I find this compassionate, just logical, and an extension believing that GOD requires our vows to last quite literally forever. Like I said, I THINK the LDS view of divorce is actually quite a bit more liberal than that.

    GERmIT

  16. Seth: no more wedded to each other, in heaven, than we are right now. Eternal life, really, has already begun, so yes, we are related, and I would argue MORE related than even husband and wife (unless they are both believers, and then it is the spiritual bond that will last forever). The marriage picture breaks down, I suppose, with the sexual element: there is nothing said about sex in heaven, that I can remember, but I’m thinking that whatever the bond between us and Jesus, it will outshine even sex. That’s my conjecture. Your fantasy of heaven makes too much of sex, I think, but in a few years, we’ll find out….maybe GERMIT is wrong and SETH is on the money.

  17. Oi va voi, if bringing up sexual orgies at all is okay for your kiddies, I’m worried about them.

    I’m not certain why the comparison in the first place; I certainly don’t think celestial polygamy practiced in a system that accepts celestial sex = sexual orgies. All of the temporal polygamists I’ve known were clear that their sex lives were one wife at a time and that polygamy wasn’t an excuse for threesomes or foursomes or orgies. I don’t see why celestial polygamy would be different.

    Likewise I wouldn’t call evangelical heaven an emotional orgy. But what’s the difference? Sexual orgies are physical and biological. And gross.

    Germit, I don’t think Seth accepts sex in heaven.

  18. Evolution rocks! You both are so confussed with a king that rewrote a book. Can you honestly say that you really know what the bible says?

  19. Unfortunately the Corporate Monsonite Church has recently changed its policy on this anyway. Now men cannot be sealed to more than one women either, it just changed a year or two ago, look it up. I have a friend with a poor old grandfather who tried to get sealed to his second wife and was told they had just changed it and that he could not be sealed to his second wife, and since his first wife didn’t want it revoked he was stuck only being temporally married to his second wife. He just died without getting his sealing. Looks like the Ecumenical Church Empire and finally spoken.

    Samm

  20. has finally spoken*

    P.S. About the orgy thing I think you will be disappointed to find out that several high ranking Mormon officials back in the day did sleep with more than one wife at a time. Like Anson Call and Levi Hancock.

    Samm

  21. Oh and about “the men can have more then one wife but the women can’t have more than one husband”. I am afraid with a careful reading of Church history you will again be disappointed. Joseph Smith was sealed to Levi Hancock’s and Orson Hyde’s wives. Eliza R. Snow was also eternally sealed to Joseph and Brigham at the same time. Those are all historical facts, it was only Brigham that started putting prohibitions on gender. If we had it Joseph Smith’s way there would be a huge marriage Order with all kinds of intertwined marriages and sealings which is what he was trying to establish.

    Samm

  22. I do not know if we have met or not. I have been here in Idaho Falls for just a little over a year now, but I have been running the Voice of Zion site since about mid 2008. So I hope that helps, if you have any questions let me know and may God be with you.

    Samm

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