Snuffer’s Take on Polygamy

by: Mormon Heretic

October 7, 2013

Denver Snuffer has generated a bit of controversy on the bloggernacle lately, though I suspect your average member has never heard of him.  My post Is Excommunication Useful? got over 300 comments, and Tim Malone’s Q&A about Snuffer also got over 300 comments.  One Who is Watching noted “an obscene amount of traffic to my site” when he advertised that he was going to do a review of Snuffer’s book Passing the Heavenly Gift, the book that got Snuffer excommunicated.  Well, the Watcher is dragging out his review, though he did post bullet points to 25 things he found wrong with the book.  He is creating a PDF, and I’m sure it won’t be short nor concise–Watcher never is.

I first became acquainted with Snuffer when John Dehlin interviewed him on Mormon Stories.  John called Denver “A Progressive, Fundamentalist, Non-Polygamist Mormon Lawyer Who Claims to Have Seen Christ.”  I transcribed the last 20 minutes of the interview in which Denver claimed to talk with angels.  I’ve read about 40% of Snuffer’s newest book Passing the Heavenly Gift–the book that got him excommunicated.  This book addresses church history, not angels (at least so far), and I’d like to give some initial impressions.  In today’s review, I’d like to talk about Snuffer’s position on D&C 132, which I think many of you will find tremendous agreement with.  Snuffer introduces his controversial book this way:

Mormonism has undergone four distinct phases. The first began in 1820 and ended with Joseph Smith’s death in 1844. The second began upon Joseph Smith’s death and ended with abandonment of plural marriage, publicly in 1890 and privately in 1904. In the third phase Mormonism denounced as apostasy its practice of plural wives, marking the first time an orthodox practice became grounds for excommunication. The fourth phase began with David O. McKay and is still underway. In it Mormonism has adopted corporate management techniques to consolidate and direct central church decision-making.

Denver says that anyone can write history, and he is as qualified to write history as the next guy.  While he does refer to Mormon Historians like Richard Bushman, Michael Quinn, and Polly Aird (to name a few), Snuffer’s opinions don’t always mesh with “traditional” history.  For example, most historians (and even the D&C) state that the earliest revelations on polygamy date to about 1831.  The heading to D&C 132 saysJSd-c132

Although the revelation was recorded in 1843, evidence indicates that some of the principles involved in this revelation were known by the Prophet as early as 1831. See Official Declaration 1.

Most historians believe that Joseph’s translation of the Bible in 1831 caused him to wonder about Old Testament polygamy; however, Snuffer pushes back the timeline a bit.  He notes that Joseph translation of the Book of Mormon has Jacob talking about polygamy. Snuffer quotes an 1872 address by Brigham Young stating

[While] Joseph and Oliver were translating the Book of Mormon, they had a revelation that the order of Patriarchal marriage and the Sealing was right.  Oliver said unto Joseph, “Br. Joseph, why don’t we go into the Order of Polygamy, and practice it as the ancients did?”

Pushing the revelation to 1829 during the Book of Mormon translation process is an interesting proposition, and I don’t know why traditional Mormon historians don’t give this more credence other than the fact an 1872 quote isn’t as good as a contemporary (say 1830) quote.  But what I find interesting is that Snuffer claims that Brigham conflated plural marriage with eternal marriage, making plural marriage a requirement when it was never supposed to be.  Snuffer claims that D&C 132 was written in 1843, but it was actually a combination of 4 revelations.  From page 154, Snuffer writes

Section 132 is not a single revelation, but instead contains several revelations received at different times separated by years between them.  Since none of them had previously been reduced to writing, when it was finally written in July 1843, all of them are set out as a single narrative.  The first revelation included only the announcement of the possibility of an eternal marriage covenant, and an answer to the inquire about Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, and Solomon’s multiple wives.  A subsequent revelation (vs. 45-50) approves Joseph’s “sacrifices,” [verse 50] confirms his “exaltation,” [verse 49], and confers the power to “seal on earth…and in the heavens.[verse 46]”    Between the first portion and the second of these recorded verses, there was another unwritten revelation.  In it Joseph had been commanded to take plural wives.  He obeyed, and merited the sealing power by his obedience and sacrifice.  He had offered what was necessary to be able to lay hold upon eternal life.[footnote references Lectures on Faith]

This means Joseph received the revelation on eternal marriage, (verses 1-33) and plurality of wives (34-40 or 44) first.  Then later Joseph was told by an angel “with a drawn sword” that he was commanded to practice this form of marriage.  The time, place and language of that second revelation concerning plural wives was not recorded.  Only after living it did he obtain the keys to be able to perform such marriages, marking the third revelation set out in verses 45-50.

Frankly, I think that many Mormons are uncomfortable with polygamy being a requirement of the Celestial Kingdom.  The church currently emphasizes the sealing power in section 132, and de-emphasizes plurality of wives.  Reducing this to a misunderstanding by Brigham Young conflating these would probably make a lot of Mormons feel better about D&C 132.  Snuffer seems to get sidetracked here, not directly referencing the 4th revelation in D&C 132, but verses 51-57 seem directed squarely at Emma telling her to “receive all those that have been given unto my servant Joseph” and “forgive my servant Joseph his trespasses” or “she shall be bdestroyed, saith the Lord.”  On page 157, Snuffer immediately tells about Emma’s reaction to this 4th revelation by quoting William Clayton journal entry for July 12, 1843.

she did not believe a word of it and appeared very rebellious.  J[oseph] told me to Deed all unencumbered lots [Joseph’s remaining building lots in Nauvoo] to E[mma] & the children.  He appears much troubled about E[mma].

Snuffer goes on to explain that Emma wanted the lots

“to prevent other women from claiming they could share in the property.”

The following day Joseph and Emma reached a division of property between them.”

Snuffer goes on to say that plural wives were only supposed to be for Joseph[‘s trusted inner circle**added due to Ebenezer’s comment below], but he did test some of the other church leader’s loyalty by an Abrahamic test.  For example, Joseph asked for Heber C. Kimball’s wife.  After 3 days of anguished prayer, Kimball finally agreed to give Joseph Heber’s wife.  Passing this Abrahamic test, Joseph then sealed Heber and Vilate together.  Snuffer says that plural wives were supposed to be reserved only for a small group of people, stating on page 160,

In the first phase of Mormonism, this practice was secret, closely guarded, and involved only a handful of trusted inner circle.  No public teaching, or general practice of plural marriage was begun.

Things changed dramatically in the second phase.  After Joseph’s death, and the relocation west, the saints began to speak openly among themselves about the practice.  They also began to spread it beyond the inner circle.  However, until 1852 it was kept secret, and publicly denied.

With the public unveiling of plural wives, it became the teaching of the church that plural wives and exaltation were synonymous:

Snuffer believes that eternal marriage and plural wives are not synonymous and that “proof of that cannot be established through Joseph’s actions.”  Snuffer quotes an uncanonized revelation from John Taylor where Taylor asked God about “ending the practice.”  Snuffer quotes the entire revelation (which is found in Unpublished Revelations of the Prophets and Presidents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Compiled by Fred Collier.  Salt Lake City:  Collier’s Publishing Co., 1979, pp. 145-6).  For brevity, I will quote the most relevant parts,

My son John:  You have asked me concerning the New and Everlasting Covenant and how far it is binding upon my people….I have not revoked this law nor will I for it is everlasting and those who will enter into my glory must obey the conditions thereof, even so Amen.

Snuffer provides explanation on page 165,

You can read this again and again, but you will not find the words “plural wives” or the plural form of “wife” anywhere in this revelation.  It is true by 1886 “New and Everlasting Covenant” had acquired a new definition.  The “New and Everlasting Covenant” as revealed to Joseph Smith required “a wife” to be sealed to a man.  Interpretations and dramatic claims by the church’s leaders revised the way the words were interpreted.  But his 1886 revelation and the one recorded in 1843 should be read together.  If they are, it is clear the requirement for eternal marriage was, is, and will remain a requirement for exaltation.  But multiple wives is not, and never has been required.

Snuffer continues on page 166 that

On November 24, 1889 President Woodruff received a revelation very similar in word and content as John Taylor’s in 1886.  The words “plural wives” are also absent from the Woodruff revelation.  There is no word in the revelation that includes the concept of a plural wife, or anything abrogating the first 33 verses of Section 132 respecting the necessity of marriage between a man and “a wife.”

Snuffer explains back on page 80 that

Plural marriage is one subject, the sealing power is another.  Both topics are covered in section 132.  But they remain two, distinct topics.

Snuffer makes a distinction between commanding plural marriage, and permitting plural marriage.  From pages 147-8, Snuffer writes,

Joseph’s revelation on eternal marriages included the possibility of a man taking plural wives.  However, the first 33 verses of the revelation do not mention plural wives, apart from acknowledging that Joseph asked about the issue. [D&C 132:1]  The entire discussion within the revelation about “obeying the law once it is revealed” is referring only of marriage between a man and one women.  The qualification for godhood, and promise of continuation of the family are explained in the portion of the revelation dealing with marriage between a man and one woman. [The singular (“a wife”) is used in verses 15, 18, 19 and 26.  Exaltation or godhood and posterity are explained in verses 17, 18, 19 and 20.]  (emphasis in original)

[page 148]  The answer to that separate question begins in verse 34 with the case of Abraham.  [Snuffer quotes D&C 132:34]… Instead of being an endorsement for taking multiple wives, the revelation explains Abraham was not condemned for doing it:  “Was Abraham, therefore, under condemnation?  Verily I say unto you, Nay; for I, the Lord, commanded it.”  (Id., v. 35.)

As to Isaac and Jacob, they were also not condemned because they did what they were commanded to do.  (Id., v. 37.)  As to David, Solomon, and Moses, the revelation states:  “David also received many wives and concubines, and also Solomon and Moses my servants, from the beginning of creation until this time; and in nothing did they sins save in those things which they received not of me.”  (Id., v. 38)…These words of revelation fall short of an outright endorsement for taking multiple wives.  The language only permits it in two narrow circumstances:  when the Lord commands, or when someone asks who has the right to ask–but not until after the Lord first approves the request.  In contrast, the law which must be obeyed, the law “no one can reject…and be permitted to enter into [God’s] glory” [D&C 132:4] is the everlasting marriage between a man and one women.  [D&C 132:13-20]

[page 151]  the revelation requires any relationship the parties intend to endure beyond death must originate under the Lord’s authority…. [page 152]  The second issue addressed by Section 132 involves the direction to take more than one wife.  For that second event to happen, the Lord will need to either “command” it be done, [he commanded Abraham.  See verse 35]   or the person must ask, and be permitted.  [David asked and received wives from Nathan, the prophet.  See verse 39]  Unless the Lord either commands or gives permission, it is a sin for a man to take additional wives.  [For taking additional wives as a sin, read verse 38]   (emphasis in original)

I think that separating these two concepts, instead of conflating them as Snuffer claims that Brigham Young did, would appeal to a lot of Mormons and even some church leaders.  On the other hand, perhaps church leaders are concerned that Snuffer is claiming Young, Taylor, and Woodruff all misinterpreted revelations.  Personally, I don’t think church leaders are very concerned on this point (perhaps you disagree?), but I think there are other areas of the book I have not discussed in which I think Church Leaders are concerned.  In these ares, I think I can understand why the Strengthening the Church Members Committee are concerned, though I still disagree with their decision to pressure Snuffer’s stake president into excommunicating Denver.  I’ll save those topics for another post.  What do you think of plural wives, sealing power, or Snuffer so far?

Finally, one last note.  Some people here claim that “W&T is like the other major blogs in the ‘nacle, the use of scripture is almost entirely absent.”  I hope that those people (like Jared) can see that this entire post is entirely about D&C 132, which is quoted and linked liberally.  Additionally, Hawkgrrrl’s post about the Tower of Babel a few days ago is about scripture.  Sure, this isn’t the type of discussion you’ll have in Sunday School, but it is completely erroneous to claim that “scripture is almost entirely absent.”  I’d love to hear anyone support/refute Snuffer’s interpretation of scripture whether they be TBM (True Believing Mormon), UBM (Unorthodox Believing Mormon), NBM (non-Believing Mormon), NOM (New Order Mormon) or any other group not mentioned.

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53 Responses to Snuffer’s Take on Polygamy

  1. Hedgehog on October 7, 2013 at 1:32 AM

    Sounds like he’s more in line with current teaching on polygamy than opposed on this subject, except he spells out his reasons clearly, where otherwise discussion is mostly absent.

    Got no mention in Sunday School in my ward during the lesson on section 132 this year. There is are notes for the teacher at the end of the lesson in the manual to be used ‘if class members have questions’, which at least acknowledge JS practised polygamy, but no detail (—for-time-and-for-all-eternity?lang=eng )

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  2. Orson on October 7, 2013 at 10:45 AM

    There is a case to be made that D&C 132 dates as early as 1829. One little scrap of evidence shows up in some of the phraseology of the section.

    First a little background. It’s no secret that the D&C is in faux-KJV prose. That was the language of scripture, and it was given “in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding.” (D&C 1:24) Biblical phrases crop up in the D&C all time.

    More interesting is when distinct Book of Mormon phrases show up in the D&C. D&C 18 contains four references to “taking upon the name of Christ,” a distinctly BoM articulation. Not surprisingly, D&C 18 was received in 1829, in tandem with BoM translation. BoM phrases were in Joseph’s vocabulary grab-bag, and they subsequently got used to put his concurrent revelations into words.

    D&C 132 contains a curious phrase to Joseph: “I make a way for your escape.” (v. 50)

    As it turns out, this might also be a BoM borrowing. In 2 Ne 4:33, Nephi exclaims: “O Lord, wilt thou make a way for mine escape before mine enemies!”

    If Snuffer claims that translating Jacob 2 is what prompted D&C 132 (much as translating 3 Ne 11-27 prompted D&C 13) then Joseph would have produce the text of 2 Ne 4 just a little over a week before encountering Jacob 2 (in June of 1829)

    It should therefore come as no surprise that a phrase from 2 Ne 4 appears in D&C 132, if they were produced almost concurrently.

    This doesn’t prove anything, really. It could just be an echo of 1 Corinthians 10:13. But it does offer a potential shred of credibility to the idea that D&C 132 dates to 1829.

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  3. nate on October 7, 2013 at 11:43 AM

    Snuffer’s view is a bit complicated, but it sounds like the history is very complicated too. Let me see if I can get it straight: In brief, Snuffer believes polygamy is not required for exhaltation, but that in the case of Joseph Smith, it was “permitted” because he asked the Lord about it, “as David did to Nathan.” But that elsewhere, he was also commanded to practice it. I’m not sure I’m clear on whether Joseph was “commanded” or “permitted,” or both, and if both, when he was commanded, and when he was permitted. It seems more clear that Joseph Smith used polygamy as a commandment to “test” other close followers, like Heber C. Kimball. Then Brigham Young misinterpreted the revelations by conflating polygamy and exhaltation, is that correct?

    But in any case, Snuffer’s view would probably be attractive to most Mormons, who don’t want to hear that it is a requirement for them in the eternities. Blaming Brigham Young is also fair game for orthodox members, given the Adam God Theory and such.

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  4. Howard on October 7, 2013 at 12:50 PM

    After experimenting with poly relationships and studying the results I believe a group of people who have faced into and resolved the natural man insecurity issues of jealousy and possessiveness occasioned by sharing one’s mate with other(s) over time will arrive at the Celestial Kingdom much more Christlike than any group who have not resolved them. Do we really believe we will be invited to bask in the presence of the Godhead as immature, insecure, childish beings?

    Temple marriage as we know it today is deliberately constructed to avoid challenging these insecurities, but plural marriage is the opposite it obviously triggers these issues giving women the opportunity to work through them in a similar way that praying for patience often results in being placed in a situation that requires one to deal with a particularly trying person. What about the men? Well, Joseph seemed to be experimenting polyandry as he experimented with polygyny before announcing plural marriage, had he lived I suspect polyandry would have become a part of it.

    I believe plural marriage was commanded to refine us to a more Christlike maturity that simply isn’t possible via monogamous temple sealing. I believe it’s that refinement that lies behind the linkage of plural marriage to exaltation.

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  5. nate on October 7, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    I share Howard’s view that poly relationships are part of the ultimate practice of Law of Consecration, where sexuality is shared freely and possessiveness is set aside.

    But that’s easy for me to say because I am not naturally sexually possessive, and would be content to share my spouse in a larger union. Is this true for Howard as well? For me, monogamy is the sacrifice, and because I see it as unnatural, that makes it the ultimate Celestial endeavor for me personally, where love is focused and disciplined upon a single person, and even in its singularity, it is shown to be infinite.

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  6. Howard on October 7, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    Is this true for Howard as well? It is now but I had to work through those issues as most would and beyond them in order to get to a place similar to Nate. For me it began more than 25 years ago when my wife whom I loved very much began what turned into a two year affair. It was very painful and I was very jealous at first but eventually I came to understand I was causing my own pain! It wasn’t something “she was doing to me”. Non-physical suffering is caused by clinging to the way we want things to be rather than accepting them as they are.

    Beyond this growth lies a concept called compersion which extends the idea of sympathetic joy to taking joy in your partners joy with another. This approaches divine love.

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  7. nate on October 7, 2013 at 3:29 PM

    “taking joy in your partners joy with another. This approaches divine love.”

    Not to get sidetracked, from Snuffer, but I love this quote from Howard. If you don’t know it already, Strauss’s opera Der Rosenkavalier takes this sentiment to its ultimate fulfillment in the final trio, which is one of the most equisite moments in classical music.

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  8. Jared on October 7, 2013 at 3:39 PM

    “What do you think of plural wives, sealing power, or Snuffer so far?”

    MH mentioned my remark about scriptures and blogging. I think it is a good idea to incorporate the scriptures in blog post when they add depth and breadth to the subject being explored. Certainly, the subject of this post invites the use of scripture. Thanks to MH for this.

    For me, the subject of polygamy isn’t on my top 10 list of important gospel subjects. I’m think its important to be conversant about polygamy but there are many other subjects that need to be focused on if we’re going to draw nearer to the Lord. I enjoyed this post–thanks to MH.

    I think Denver Snuffer is an interesting subject. Not necessarily for drawing nearer to the Lord, though I did enjoy his first book on the Second Comforter. But even then, in my opinion, he missed a more vital subject–the First Comforter.

    It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me to focus our spiritual energy on the second comforter until we have experience with the first comforter–the gift of the Holy Ghost. The Book of Mormon is filled with direction on how to fulfill our baptism covenant by receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. Until we on track with that part of the gospel covenant why focus on the second comforter.

    I feel sorrow for Denver, his family, and those who have adopted him as a teacher. After reading his first book, I was excited, but when I prayed about his material I decided not to buy any other of his books, and took a wait and see attitude. That was in 2008.

    I recently purchased a used copy of PTHG and have read the first few chapters.

    The fact he decided to be excommunicated doesn’t sit well with me. I personally believe he is more likely to be a mixed up saint or a calculating deceiver than the genuine thing.

    I think one way to evaluate Denver is to measure his message in comparison to the General Authorities. I watched every conference speaker and felt the Spirit of the Lord in their admonitions and and teachings. I don’t think anyone need look beyond the GA to draw nearer to the Lord.

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  9. Howard on October 7, 2013 at 3:43 PM

    I didn’t know it, but had all three achieved compersion there would have been no need for the three to become two. As byproduct of compersion a search for “the one” isn’t nearly as important or compelling as it is with monogamy, competition is reduced allowing you to love the one(s) you’re with and resulting in far fewer wall flowers or third wheels.

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  10. MH on October 7, 2013 at 6:16 PM

    Nate, yes Snuffer’s view is complicated. He said that Mormon history is often contradictory, and he allows for those contradictions. It appears that Joseph was commanded (note “angel with a drawn sword”), but Snuffer says that polygamy should be reserved for a small group of people, not everyone.

    Jared, I’m not surprised that polygamy isn’t in your top ten list. But still, I had hoped that you would weigh in on Snuffer’s interpretation. For example, I hoped you would say “Snuffer is right/wrong because scripture x says…” I’d even be fine if you wanted to “measure his message in comparison to the General Authorities.” Instead you got sidetracked in feeling sad for him. Yes, I feel sad for Snuffer too (and we mentioned that on my previous post), but I hoped you would really start quoting scripture like you did on Jake’s post. To me, it’s much more relevant here than on Jake’s post.

    Since the stake president referenced Snuffer denigrating every prophet after JS, I’m also wondering if others think saying BY conflated the doctrine, is this considered denigrating the prophets?

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  11. Rigel Hawthorne on October 7, 2013 at 6:35 PM

    Section 132 is not a single revelation, but instead contains several revelations received at different times separated by years between them.

    I find this assertion interesting, not only in terms of how the compliers of the D&C wanted the church to interpret the revelations, but as to how the D&C was compiled in general. I was studying D&C 88 recently as verse 73 about hastening the work has recently been frequently quoted. It seems that section 88 (the Olive Leaf) was received on more than one day…but not years apart.

    I also remember reading Mormon Enigma by Avery and Tippetts and there was an account that Joseph penned a revelation about polygamy that was to have been taken by Hyrum to show to Emma in the hopes that seeing the written word of the Lord would soften her heart or something. It seems like this revelation was torn up in that account and possibly never re-transcribed?

    Any other support for section 132 being an amalgamation?

    I am not sure that I would phrase it as Young, Taylor and Woodruff misinterpreted revelations. I think that they lived plural marriage and ‘succeeded’ because of their faith that it was a key to Celestial Glory for them. If it was not an ‘eternal principle’ to them, they would have failed in it. I guess you could characterize this as a misinterpretation. It is similar to Zion’s Camp heading to Missouri to fight a war and then on the way they are told that fighting a war is no longer the principle of the mission.

    I think it is also important to remember that Hyrum had seniority over Brigham Young and would likely have become Joseph’s successor had he not been with Joseph at the martyrdom. Hyrum was persuaded by Joseph to support polygamy after opposing it. Reportedly he was promised that if he entered plural marriage, he could then have his deceased wife Jerusha sealed to him as well as his living wife Mary Fielding. While Brigham may have been MORE supportive of plural marriage and may have exerted influence on Hyrum to enter plural marriage, Hyrum’s indoctrination supports that the vision connecting plural marriage to eternal marriage preceded Brigham’s assumption of church leadership.

    “Frankly, I think that many Mormons are uncomfortable with polygamy being a requirement of the Celestial Kingdom.”

    I am uncomfortable when it is phrased like that and would find disagreement with statements of Joseph’s successors that say otherwise. I just don’t think they were able to have all truth circumscribed into one great whole at the time–as we don’t at this time.

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  12. katie88 on October 7, 2013 at 8:20 PM

    I find polyandry reprehensible, a betrayal of one’s marital covenants and temple covenants. I cannot imagine a loving God condoning such an evil, heart-breaking practice.

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  13. Howard on October 7, 2013 at 8:42 PM

    Humm, well how do you explain Joseph marring already married women with living husbands? Why would polyandry be more reprehensible than polygyny?

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  14. mh on October 7, 2013 at 9:46 PM

    Howard, I suspect Katie (like me) finds both polygyny and polyandry equally reprehensible. I guess I’m just a terrestrial being, unable to live this so-called higher law. I do find Snuffer’s reasoning about permitting vs commanding more palatable. Frankly I find the angel with a sword hard to swallow, and like Emma, I do find it more convenient for Joseph than convincing. This whole notion of separating D&C 132 into 4 revelations is rather appealing to me. I love the sealing ordinance. It feels right to me. I don’t feel the same thing for plural wives (or polyamory). I can appreciate that a widow or widower may have multiple partners in the next life, perhaps it permitted in heaven under that special circumstance, but I don’t think it was meant for this life.

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  15. Ebenezer on October 7, 2013 at 10:44 PM

    I enjoyed your post. I would challenge one statement you made, however.”Snuffer goes on to say that plural wives were only supposed to be for Joseph”. This is overreaching. Denver did not make such a statement. Joseph sealed many other men and women together in plural marriages and Denver knows this.

    On balance it was a fair review. Keep up the good work.


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  16. swplaza on October 8, 2013 at 2:07 AM

    Polygamy is a strictly inferior practice to monogamy. It was only ever tolerated (suffered) by God, it was never sanctioned by Him, let alone initiated by Him. The Bible shows us how this practice led to all sorts of ills. Anyone who tries to wrest the Bible or Book of Mormon into an advocacy for that inferior practice does not understand the scriptures and does not have the right spirit. The Book of Mormon warns against false interpretation of the scriptures for this purpose, but the evil spirit has deceived them to twist even that plain admonition.

    Break the cycle. Your ancestors and friends were unfortunately misguided if they lived/believed polygamy, regardless of the extent to which it visibly affected their lives. You do not have to leave the door open because of their faults. God will sort it out—His house is in order and has been since the foundations of the world. The many machinations in which men and women entangle themselves in this world do not confound God’s plan. All of the marriages, divorces, relationships, etc. do not undo or rearrange the plan before the foundations of the world and the nature of the creation. This fact was made clear by Jesus in the New Testament. They tried to give Jesus all kinds of complicated relationship entanglements and he essentially told them that they do not understand the scriptures, particularly the creation and the nature of heaven.

    In accord with those and other scriptures, just as Adam and Eve were created uniquely for each other to fill the measure of their creation, and Noah’s family of monogamists were chosen to reboot the human family (and two-by-two every living creature entered the door), we can be assured that in the next life everyone will be united to their proper counterpart designated from before the foundation of the world. Some will have a relationship here continued, others who never found the right one in this life will not be forsaken, and relationships that do not accord with the creation plan, however seemingly nice here, will dissolve. There is no need to rely on inventions and arrangements of men to account for your ancestors’ fate, or your own.

    God approves of and encourages monogamy as the best institution for raising righteous families. He has tolerated other arrangements in certain cases despite the evil it brings, to bring about other purposes, just as He tolerates other sins because men are sinners. Nevertheless, God hates hearing the sorrow and the mourning of his daughters under the evils of polygamy, Yes, those problems necessarily occur under that system. So, although He sometimes tolerates it to persist, He never causes or commands it to be so. Those occurrences result from the mistakes and sins of men and thus it becomes a curse to them, and men have tried to excuse and justify those sins on appeal to authority from God. They are not justified. Those who engage in the practice are turned over to judgment and will be accountable for their choices and for the mourning of his daughters.

    Every person is born with the light of Christ, the ability to discern right from wrong. No principle that requires you to ignore that discernment because of historical or logical arguments, or appeal to authorities possessed by man, can possibly be correct.

    You don’t have to look much further than the D&C 132 fraud. It contradicts the Bible and Book of Mormon. It is an utter and total fraud. The absurdity starts immediately in verse 1 and digs deep:

    “1 Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you my servant Joseph, that inasmuch as you have inquired of my hand to know and understand wherein I, the Lord, justified my servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as also Moses, David and Solomon, my servants, as touching the principle and doctrine of their having many wives and concubines—”

    It claims that Isaac had many wives and concubines, but he did not. Isaac had one wife only. He received the special covenant with God for great blessings and billions of descendants and he only had two children from his one and only wife. Obviously, it would be through his extended posterity over many generations. Furthermore, God did NOT change Isaac’s name to a righteous/spiritual version like he did with Abram (to Abraham) and Jacob (to Israel) when they finally came around to God and made similar covenants. I repeat, they had their names changed as part of the covenant, Isaac did not.

    It claims that Abraham had many wives and concubines, but he did not. Abram, not Abraham, had one wife and one concubine. Abraham took to wife one other woman AFTER his first wife Sarah had died and the concubine Hagar had been banished by Sarai. God would have known this given the fact that His covenant with Abram specifically required Abram to change his name to Abraham, and Sarai to Sarah, AFTER both of them turned to God (to solve her barrenness problem instead of trying to solve it themselves using a surrogate mother, AKA concubine, which caused contention and later on countless wars). Abraham took no one else to wife after making this covenant until Sarah had died, when it is lawful and ethical to do so.

    It claims that Jacob had many wives and concubines. He did not. He had two wives, and two concubines. First, that is not many, that is two. Second, he was tricked into taking the first wife, and then insisted on taking a second after the trick. These wives then coerced Jacob to take each of their handmaids to wife as they battled with barrenness and jealousy issues (a double repeat of the Abram/Sarai faithlessness combined with jealousy). Jacob, which name means “he who supplants, or leg-puller”, cheated his brother out of his father’s blessing and took his birthright, and literally had a fist fight with God, eventually, after many years of struggles with the divine and with men, then turned to God, at which point God accepted his repentance and changed his name to Israel as part of a covenant like with Abram/Abraham and Isaac. He took no one else to wife after this covenant.

    There is a pattern here that is clear. In all cases involving multiple wives and/or surrogate mothers (i.e. marital, fertility problems), the practice occurred before the prophets made the everlasting covenant with God, and their names were changed as part of that deal. Moreover, faithlessness on their part, worries about barrenness, and jealousies, instigated the practice, not any kind of righteous behavior. Isaac did not have those problems with his wife, and did not get a name change as part of the everlasting covenant he made with God.

    Moving on, D&C 132:1 claims that Moses had many wives and concubines, but he did not. In his long life, he had no concubines, he married Zepporah, both late in their lives. We hear a few things about her for a while, and then nothing about her many decades later. Eventually she likely had died, and eventually much later we read that Moses takes to wife “an Ethiopean” not long before he eventually dies of old age. Again, Zepporah was likely dead by then, because she is not mentioned at all.

    Moving on (still verse 1!), it claims that Joseph Smith asked the Lord how David and Solomon were justified in the principle and doctrine of their having many wives and concubines. According to the Book of Mormon, which Joseph Smith had just a bit of familiarity with, they were not justified in “their having many wives and concubines”, and in fact, those were an abomination. (I know that later in D&C 132 it tries to talk about some exception in the case of the wife of Uriah, but the Book of Mormon condemns “wives and concubines”, plural, not any one-off case.) So this is just foolish.

    So, D&C 132 is a total and utter fraud “from the word go” in verse 1. This is just the logical fallacies and scriptural inconsistencies of one verse! It tumbles down into the depths of stupidity thereafter. D&C 132 is a stupid fraud written by someone who does not understand the scriptures and struggles mightily with logic (and obviously morals).

    This absurd “revelation” has nothing to do with God. Those who try to appeal to historical arguments or authority saying that so-and-so prophet blah blah blah did this or that, are trying to fool you and themselves.

    Empty your glass of that corruption and read the scriptures again with clear eyes and an empty glass so you can actually understand them. Stop reading about the things of old (Old testament or Joseph Smith and early church leaders) and looking for ways to justify it. This is exactly what Jacob warns against in the Book of Mormon. Jesus also explains that trying to fit these complicated relationships devised and entered into by men is futile and betrays a fundamental lack of understanding of the scriptures and the nature of God. Take comfort that God is a God of order and has well-planned the creation and all things in it from the beginning, including proper pairings, and what God has joined together from before the foundations of the world, no man can put asunder. Period.

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  17. Howard on October 8, 2013 at 8:37 AM

    Your argument assumes the natural man can never be overcome, that polygamy will always result in abuse rather than mature love. That argument is false, the natural man can be transcended and poly relationships can be a major lesson that facilates that transcendence. Is Christ insecure? Selfish? Possessive? Jealous? Christ is our example, how do you plan to become like him?

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  18. Mormon Heretic on October 8, 2013 at 9:23 AM

    Ebenezer, I fixed the post to more correctly reflect Snuffer’s position (though I quoted him immediately below my misstatement.) Thanks for the correction.

    Howard, I think that Swplaza very cogently argued that the wording of D&C 132 has problems (especially in referencing concubines). Such a scriptural position ought to make Jared proud that we engage the scriptures (and swplaza does it quite well I might add) plenty here at W&T. I have to say I’ve always felt as Snuffer did about 132, but I’ve never been able to be as articulate in my position as he did here.

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  19. Howard on October 8, 2013 at 9:49 AM

    That may be MH but the mindset assumes little or no future natural man growth, how can this be assumed if we are to become Christlike?

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  20. mh on October 8, 2013 at 10:11 AM

    Howard, there is zero evidence Christ was a polygamist. To claim otherwise if to wrest the scriptures. I find your ASSumption to be seriously flawed and not at all based in scripture.

    God may permit, but I think a monogamist can show christlike love just fine.

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  21. Howard on October 8, 2013 at 10:23 AM

    MH I’ve said and implied nothing of Christ being a polygamist. That is a strawman, it has nothing to do with anything I’ve said here.

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  22. Bob on October 8, 2013 at 11:59 AM

    @swplaza I must respectfully disagree with your premise that D&C 132 is an utter and complete fraud. From my POV you rely an incomplete historical record (Bible) as justification that polygamy was never practiced or sanctioned by God. Then you play semantics equating that 2 wives and 2 concubines does not equal many. I can just as readily point to scriptures that say beware those that will take that which is good from God and decry it as naught. You do not have the complete record any more than I do. You have instead, brought your apparent deep seated dislike for a principle that many believed to be from God to the forefront, discounting that in fact you may be wrong. The record as it pertains to the prophets listed is limited and incomplete at best. Who are you to decree that they were incorrect in these principles?

    For me D&C 132 speaks in plainness and love, whether that be to a single eternal companion or multiple companions for both spouses. The principle that we are linked or rather sealed, in an unbroken bond by the priesthood power through generations is awesome. I can be bound to my parents and my children can be bound to me, that my family, however large or small, can be one is amazing.

    Just my two cents.

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  23. Mary Bliss on October 8, 2013 at 1:35 PM

    Eugene England and Valerie Hudson have both weighed in on this topic in very interesting ways. I think you would find England’s article in Dialogue (20. no. 4 Winter 1987) “On Fidelity, Polygamy and Celestial Marriage” and Hudson’s chapter on polygamy and Doctrine and Covenants Section 132 in her book “Women in Zion, Women of Eternity”, compelling reading.

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  24. Bob on October 8, 2013 at 7:05 PM

    @ Mary Bliss. Here are the locations of the articles that you reference: – Eugene England. – Valarie Hudson (was unable to find a full copy so the selected chapter has some pages missing).

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  25. MH on October 8, 2013 at 11:47 PM

    “That may be MH but the mindset assumes little or no future natural man growth, how can this be assumed if we are to become Christlike?”

    Howard, it sure seems like you were trying to tie polygamy to being Christlike with this question. If not, then I don’t understand why you asked the question. That’s why I said Christ was not a polygamist. One does not need polygamy to be Christlike. I guess I don’t understand where you’re going with this.

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  26. Ana on October 9, 2013 at 12:31 AM


    “For me D&C 132 speaks in plainness and love, whether that be to a single eternal companion or multiple companions for both spouses.”

    I disagree that D&C 132 speaks in plainness and love. There are reasons why the church curriculum avoids section 132 and does not make it required reading (in its entirety) in seminary classes or in Sunday School classes. The decree that Emma (and to generalize) and every woman will be “destroyed” if she/they do not accept and practice plural marriage is far from loving, and it’s shouted over and over. I know of at least three young women who have freaked out when they have read that section when they were trying to read all of the D&C for seminary. It left them feeling horrified, afraid, confused, and betrayed. NOT LOVED.

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  27. Howard on October 9, 2013 at 6:14 AM

    Jesus was the son of God, a demigod at birth if you will. He was sent as an example to us. Does that mean we need to do exactly what he did and only what he did? I sure hope not because I’m not looking forward to crucifixion! It means we are to become like him. Was/is he insecure, selfish, possessive and/or jealous? No. Are we? Most of us are. How are we to refine the immature traits? Polygamy offers a very potent way. Do you know a better way?

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  28. mh on October 9, 2013 at 6:37 AM

    Yes, monogamy.

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  29. Howard on October 9, 2013 at 7:02 AM

    Of course! Silly me. why didn’t I think of that?

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  30. MH on October 9, 2013 at 7:24 AM

    I don’t know. I’ve been wondering that for weeks.

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  31. Justin on October 9, 2013 at 2:24 PM

    I wasn’t planning on saying anything about this topic on this post [I’ve written so much about poly+gamy vs mono+gamy as it is] — but I’ve decided to go-ahead anyway …

    … The problem with mono+gamy, for me, is that it offers the illusion that we “own” our spouse — or at least that we have claim on their behavior based on the relationship we feel we’ve created with them. We’ve ascribe exclusivity upon their actions — just for the purpose of protecting our own feelings [e.g., “I don’t want you to love other people because that would make me feel less-loved”].

    Naming myself “husband”, then makes someone else become “wife”. With mono+gamy — now a desire has been formed within me – but not a desire for the connection made between me and her – but rather for the credentials I received from the connection. The fear of not having such a connection is just replaced with the fear of losing it.

    If we are not poly+amorous, then I see people as ready to freeze a relationship, box it up, and own it – despite the fact that the connection is alive. Labeling is a form of slavery, and with mono+gamy we become willing to shove a living, breathing human-being into a conceptual box and deny her/him the right to freely express their will – all in the name of pretending that they’re something they’re not [i.e., “mine”].

    I think that a man and a woman who vow to:

    * come together as husband and wife
    * cohabitate
    * make love
    * remain together permanently

    represent a “marriage”.

    And in a gospel-centered marriage, this man and woman will also have covenanted with Christ — binding them both to Him as individuals, as well as to each other. Once formed, a marriage family should grow — both horizontally [by adding additional spouses] and vertically [by having children]. In neither dynamic should a family limit itself – because that is an attempt to place bounds on the human ability to love, which since “God is love” — we are meant to develop and foster that ability [not box it up].

    As such — I share the official LDS and predominate Christian creed that “marriage is the union of one man and one woman” — it’s just that I’ve never seen a satisfactory reason to forbid people to only one such marriage union during their lifetime [mono+gamy].

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  32. Anabelle on October 9, 2013 at 7:32 PM

    Sounds like doublespeak for sexual freedom.

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  33. Rigel Hawthorne on October 9, 2013 at 7:38 PM

    I admire your consistency Justin, even if I disagree with you. I have a hard time believing polygamy would put an end to one tending to feel less loved because of covenanting to love multiple spouses. My Aunt grew up in a polygamous home and had to deal with the situation that they were lower on the totem pole (in her eyes), then the other family. The other wife’s children always had newer things, the father spent more time with the other family than with hers. It left a lasting tendency to hang on to what she had tightly, even later in her monogamous temple marriage to my Uncle. She had difficulty not being content with what she had–always checking to see if her in-laws were getting ‘more’ out of a mutually beneficial situation than she. My mother came to see this and, recognizing this, negotiated a peaceful and lasting/loving bond with her. So if pride is the sin, it needs to be overcome in monogamy. If we learn to love our spouse as the Savior loves, then nothing they do should make us fell less loved. I don’t think the challenge of feeling betrayed would be less difficult in having a plural spouse who is unfaithful any more than it would in a monogamously covenanted spouse.

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  34. Howard on October 10, 2013 at 1:43 AM

    #30 Great comment Justin!

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  35. Rockies Gma on October 11, 2013 at 3:37 AM

    It seems to me that God, Himself, proclaimed that we should have no other Gods before Him because He is a jealous God. He requires our fidelity, our exclusive worship, and He’s very possessive of these things and of us. He’s also perfect. So I have never believed these requirements made Him selfish or possessive, or that rational jealousy was a bad thing, and certainly not immature, for no one would claim that God is immature.

    Rather, It seems to be absolute selfishness to justify adding spouses by saying the one left behind in pain is selfish, possessive and immature. Jealousy is emotional pain that indicates danger, harm and destruction to a relationship…..just as physical pain indicates danger, harm and destruction to the body. When a person falls and breaks a leg, the severe pain warrants proper nurturing care, treatment, and healing — we don’t tell that person their physical pain is selfish and immature, and needs to be overcome.

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  36. Howard on October 11, 2013 at 8:19 AM

    There is quite a difference between physical suffering and nonphysical suffering. Nonphysical surrfeing is caused by clinging to the way you want things to be rather than accepting them as they are. As soon as as we accept things as they are the suffering stops. This works considerably less well with a broken leg.

    So you believe Christ is insecure, selfish, possessive and jealous? Do you expect to bring these traits with you to the Celestial Kingdom?

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  37. Howard on October 11, 2013 at 8:34 AM defines jealousy two different ways: Rockies GMA’s example is defined as having fervent feelings as opposed to being envious or suspicious.

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  38. Howard on October 11, 2013 at 8:57 AM

    RG, do you imagine the CK to be a place that one must jealously and possessivly guard their eternal companion from affairs with others?

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  39. Jeff Spector on October 11, 2013 at 9:07 AM

    Justin #30,

    “… The problem with mono+gamy, for me, is that it offers the illusion that we “own” our spouse ”

    This is one of the most bizarre explanations I have ever read on justifying polygamy. And while I am not anti-polygamy pre se, I do take this scripture very seriously:

    “And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Matt. 19:5-6)

    Seems to me, we do not “own” our spouses in the material sense, but we do “own” our relationship with him/her in an emotional, spiritual and physical sense. And it seems difficult to be “one flesh” with more than one other person. It’s probably one of the reasons why many women have a problem with polygamy is that one or more other wives will get short changed in becoming “one flesh” as the Savior has commanded. And no man (or women) should come between that relationship.

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  40. Howard on October 11, 2013 at 10:10 AM

    Ownership is a strange manmade concept. What did Adam hold deed to? Wasn’t he free to use any land he could access? Since he arrived first does that mean he “owned” the earth? Isn’t ownership about selfishness? Isn’t deeding land hubris? Who actually owns the earth? God? Humankind? No one? Certainly it is not owned by those who hod the deeds for at some early point in history the land was seized by greed and held by force or threat of force. Ownership is an unbridled 3 year olds concept often witnessed when they hold a toy firmly in their hand and loudly and defiantly declare “mine!”. Ownership is about selfishness, capitalism is about greed. Both are the best system in the world so far because our motivation is spiritually immature.

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  41. Jeff Spector on October 11, 2013 at 10:53 AM


    If I recall, God “gave” the garden to Adam to take care of it. Does that not imply “ownership” to some degree. I do not see how ownership implies selfishness unless that ownership is taken by force and not exchanged as is today. that may have been true of the feudal system in the middle ages, but perhaps we have come some way in the meantime.

    However, capitalism is mainly about greed and acquisition, which makes it so ironic how Church members seem to embrace the concept so heartily.

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  42. Howard on October 11, 2013 at 11:13 AM

    Stewardship is not ownership. The Law of Concencration was offered in part to move us away from the selfishness of ownership, it was designed to be stewardship but selfishness brought it down. How are Mormons doing with Adams stewardship of the garden and the world?

    As we discussed before most people today find it self-evident that one person should not own another and many including me extend this to spouces as well.

    I agree many Mormons relish anything that approaches prosperity gospel approval of their materialistic lifestyles.

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  43. Jeff Spector on October 11, 2013 at 11:35 AM


    “Stewardship is not ownership. The Law of Concencration was offered in part to move us away from the selfishness of ownership,”

    OK, I agree with that.

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  44. Howard on October 11, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    Stewardship is more parental, ownership is more child based.

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  45. Rockies Gma on October 11, 2013 at 6:13 PM

    Howard, bull! You know I didn’t say the Savior is selfish. I said He said He is a jealous God, so we — all humans can have no other God before Him. If husbands wish to be like Him, they will not put someone they love through pain and then have the GALL to blame their pain on them and call it non-physical suffering. Emotional, spiritual and mental anguish is absolutely as real as physical pain. Choosing to not feel pain doesn’t mean it isn’t real and hurtful. It means you deny the reality of it. Expecting wives to suffer and calling it immature is very, very un-Christlike.

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  46. Howard on October 11, 2013 at 10:42 PM

    RG wrote: Choosing to not feel pain doesn’t mean it isn’t real and hurtful. It means you deny the reality of it.

    This statement shows you have no experience with what I have been talking about. You are not denying the reality of the pain, the pain is caused by your denial of the reality of the situation, rather you are accepting the reality of the situation and that ends your pain! Try it, it works great! But Mormons generally reject the concept because they have been taught to revere suffering so don’t let me stop you, go right ahead and suffer if you still find value in it. But it is optional.

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  47. Rockies Gma on October 12, 2013 at 4:13 PM

    Okay, Howard, I leave you to your lifestyle. If you and a thousand women wish to live together and the women “feel” loved and are happy in their small portion of you, who am I to say these women and especially you need help? I’ll let you figure that out for yourselves.

    But surely the Mother and Father of All are One and do not live outside their perfect Oneness. For that I am grateful, and will follow Their perfect path.

    There is no escaping facts, though, that when man or woman goes outside monogamy, they rob their one spouse of time, affection, comfort, and thoughts given to others. If that doesn’t bother you to inflict such robbery, go forth. If it doesn’t honestly bother your wives to be so robbed of ALL your time, affection, comfort and thoughts, they too can go forth. When you do these things, doesn’t it bother you to be getting all your needs fulfilled while your many wives must overcome the loss of…..well…..all you could have given the One? In this scenario, what, exactly are you overcoming Howard? You get your desires and needs met? What do they get, besides a small amount of you, and constant overcoming?

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  48. Rockies Gma on October 12, 2013 at 4:39 PM

    And I have never been taught to revere suffering. I have accepted the loss of a child, but the pain exists to this day. I have been abused, and while the physical pain and damage healed quickly the emotional, mental and spiritual pain lingers decades later. I long, long ago accepted that it happened, but the non-physical suffering, as you call it, is with me in various ways still. You either don’t comprehend pain, or validate it, because you aren’t able to have empathy for the pain plural marriage did inflict, and would inflict if it was reinstated, nor accept any responsibility that the husbands caused it. You pick one sentence that is only a potion of a whole point and pick at that, but you don’t answer the hard questions. I’ve read where women who abide polygamy back off in their level of love and desire for their husband in order to survive the loss of his full love and devotion, or….they accept that a mere portion of him is better than none at all. Of course, this is very sad for them either way. But if some believe that is good, healthy and brings happiness, I leave them to it.

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  49. Howard on October 12, 2013 at 9:57 PM

    RG, did you miss the part about polyandry in my early comment? I’m not talking about a double standard here, yet you seem to be going on as if I was so I don’t think you really grasp what I have been talking about.

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  50. Howard on October 12, 2013 at 10:07 PM

    I haven’t lost a child but I have had many losses of loved ones to death. I’m the oldest and only survivor of four children and my parents are both gone. It’s healthier and far less painful to accept death as it’s happening than some time after the fact, those are the ones that you linger in pain with. But don’t believe me, I don’t mind. It isn’t an original concept Buddha solved suffering long ago.

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  51. Mormon Heretic on October 13, 2013 at 9:52 AM

    I’m not sure why Orson’s comment (#2 above) hit our spam filter. I just released it, and want to point it out to Rigel who asked specifically about a polygamy revelation coming in 1829.

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  52. Why Snuffer Got Exe’d | Mormon Heretic on November 30, 2013 at 11:11 AM

    […] history and scripture.  I did a partial review of his book a few weeks ago when I talked about Snuffer’s position on polygamy (Snuffer believes that God permitted, rather than commanded polygamy, and that Church leaders […]

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  53. Why Snuffer Got Exe’d | Wheat and Tares on December 2, 2013 at 1:01 AM

    […] history and scripture.  I did a partial review of his book a few weeks ago when I talked about Snuffer’s position on polygamy (Snuffer believes that God permitted, rather than commanded polygamy, and that Church leaders […]

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