About 18 years ago, Eugene England published his essay, “On Fidelity, Polygamy, and Celestial Marriage,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 20/4 (Winter 1987): 138-54, which has since been reprinted in a couple of different venues. A copy is available at the University of Utah Dialogue archive, here.
This article was an exercise in speculative theology, in which England took the position that the marriage relationship in the Celestial Kingdom will be monogamous, not polygynous.
He basically recited five reasons for his point of view:
1. A requirement so central to our future salvation should be firmly grounded in the scriptures, but this one (celestial polygamy) is not.
2. If polygamy is the highest marital law of heaven, surely the Lord would want us to practice it whenever and wherever we can on earth, but such is not the case.
3. That women can be sealed to more than one man, and that we do not assume a practice of celestial polyandry, suggests that men being sealed to more than one woman may not have the significance we assign to it.
4. He rejects the assumption that there will be a surplus of women for the CK.
5. The idea is destructive to women’s sense of identity and self-worth *now*.
Well, that’s a brief summary so that people can comment without having to go back and read the whole article if they don’t want to.
When I read the piece, I thought that, although it was definitely outside the box at the time, I could see it becoming a more and more mainstream position in the Church as time went on, maybe 20, 50, 80 or 100 years from then.
Well, we’re not quite to the 20th anniversary of the article, and certainly celestial polygamy is by no means dead in Mormon thought. But what do you think: is England’s position at least an acceptable mainstream option (if not yet the definitive position)? IE is it permissible to think about the CK in these monogamous terms? And if not, do you think we’re indeed moving in that direction, however slowly? Or is celestial polygamy going to be our default understanding for the foreseeable future?