Finding My Heavenly Mother, Part 3 (Eternal Polygamy Edition)

October 16, 2012 | 66 comments
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Since polygamy will keep rearing its ugly head every time we try to talk about Heavenly Mother, I’ve given it its very own post, as promised.

Polygamy occupies an uneasy place in the psyche of many Mormons today. Although the practice was abandoned by the church in the early 20th century, it is exotic and taboo enough that it continues to be one of the public’s primary associations with Mormons. However, even within the church, the idea of polygamy (and specifically, polygyny) continues to complicate theology and life. Today I’d like to take a deeply personal look at some of the fruits of our lingering, troubled relationship with polygamy, and the effect it has on how we conceptualize and talk about (or don’t talk about) Heavenly Mother. If you’re feeling the need for conversational antecedents, please see Finding My Heavenly Mother, part 1 and part 2; also part 4.

In public and to their non-member friends, Mormons typically try to distance themselves from polygamy and its popular portrayals in the contemporary media. Church members, leaders, and political figures alike will explain upon being pressed that we haven’t practiced polygamy in a hundred years, and then try to steer the conversation toward less controversial topics. And while fundamentalist Mormons do continue the practice, they are vehemently disavowed by the mainstream church, which views them as apostates.

Polygamy is, of course, also a minefield for missionaries. It’s true that in my family we have accounts handed down of early pioneer ancestors being converted when the missionaries preached powerful testimony of what they called “plurality of wives.” On my mission, though, the best I could do when confronted with point-blank questions about polygamy from an intelligent young woman contemplating baptism was to tell her I didn’t like polygamy either, but I still believed the church was true. She got baptized and remained active, in spite of her distaste for polygamy. As do I.

While disavowing polygamy to the world at large, many Mormons simultaneously continue to believe that polygamy will be practiced in heaven. And it’s not historical polygamy, but this idea of eternal polygyny that I would like to address during this post.

Captain Moroni’s 16th Wife

The common Mormon belief in eternal polygyny rests largely on 19th century teachings by the early polygamous prophets, and readings of D&C 132. However, it is given added credence and modern relevance by current temple sealing practices.

In the early days of the church, of course, a man could participate in separate sealing ordinances with an unlimited number of living women, each of whom was to become his wife not only during life, but for eternity. While men can no longer be legally married to multiple living women simultaneously, a man whose wife has died can be (and routinely is) sealed to another woman without cancelling the first sealing. Even stranger, in the case of divorce, men are often left sealed to multiple living women. Many members point to these situations as modern-day affirmations of eternal polygyny.

Interestingly enough, a woman can also be sealed to multiple husbands, but only after all the parties are dead. And in fact, the current practice when performing sealings for dead ancestors is to seal both women and men to all the spouses to whom they were married in life (whether polygamously or sequentially), with the expectation that God will “work everything out” in heaven. Still, a prevailing folk belief remains that the way He will work it out is for men to be married forever to all their wives, while women choose one husband, even if they married and loved multiple husbands during their lifetime.

Needless to say, the doctrine of eternal polygyny is a painful one for many faithful LDS women, both married and single. I had a female Mormon friend, single and in her late twenties, who would often bemoan her future fate as “Captain Moroni’s 16th wife.” It was a joke, but our laughter was tinged with trepidation. I was single myself at the time, in a church for which marriage is the highest state of human happiness. More than once I pictured myself arriving in heaven and being “assigned” a husband who already had a gaggle of wives around him, so as to avoid the awful fate of remaining single and lonely forever. No, that didn’t really sound like heaven to me. More like hell.

Aside from being devastating to single women, a belief in eternal polygyny can have profound effects on a marriage relationship. I have a friend who says that her husband looks forward to polygyny in heaven, because his sex drive will finally be satisfied. He believes that polygyny is a divine solution for what he perceives as the disparity between the male and female sex drives. Perhaps the thought is comforting to him, but I don’t imagine that putting off the problem till eternity is helping them much to develop a mutually fulfilling sexual relationship in the here and now.

Personally, I struggled to emotionally connect with my husband during the early years of our marriage, because I could not face the pain of loving him completely, and then being forced to share him. We were married in the temple, and deeply in love. But I often felt that because of eternal polygyny, our true marital happiness was as ephemeral as we are taught to believe it is eternal. During our sweetest moments together, I felt a twinge of hopelessness that our beautiful relationship would only really last until we got to heaven. How ironic.

Nor am I the only woman I know who has wept to her husband over polygyny, and been told that if he has a choice in heaven, he will choose only her, but if God asks him to marry other women, he will do it. I could not fault him for his faithfulness to God, but my feelings of despair drove a wedge not only between me and my husband, but between me and God. For the first time in my life, I deeply doubted whether God really loved and understood me. I was jealous of my Protestant and Catholic friends, who were in love and didn’t know yet that God might make them share their husbands. Sometimes I even hoped that my husband would be a little less righteous, so he wouldn’t qualify for the ultimate reward of more wives.

Trophy Wives in Paradise

While some men do treat the topic with the sensitivity it deserves, the idea of eternal polygyny also feeds an ugly undercurrent of chauvinism in the church. My male LDS friends have told me about conversations in BYU dorms or between mission companions in which young Mormon men fantasize about heavenly kingdoms full of beautiful women for them to rule over and enjoy. Such attitudes, nauseatingly reminiscent of the eternal rewards in paradise promised to suicide bombers by certain terrorist groups, demonstrate a frightening lack of respect toward women–a sort of eternal objectification.

Sometimes similar comments are made even in the presence of the women concerned. One memorable day at a family gathering, my husband’s elderly grandfather spread an uncomfortable silence over the entire room when he gloated in front of his embarrassed second wife that he would have two wives in heaven.

I grew up being taught that doubting or repudiating eternal polygyny was tantamount to unfaithfulness, and a stepping stone to apostasy. Fellow members told me that God would change my feelings about polygamy after I died, or that I would have different desires when I was perfected. For some people, I know those explanations are adequate, and they just don’t worry about eternal polygyny. For others, resignation to eternal polygamy actually becomes part of their female identity and (for better or worse) renders them more accepting of gender inequalities in the here and now. But I felt trapped by my belief in a heaven I dreaded and feared.

I also felt cheated by the church’s unrelenting emphasis on the Family Proclamation, the political statements about “one man and one woman,” and all the endless photos in the Ensign of happy monogamous nuclear families. If we were all going to end up in polygamous harems in heaven, wasn’t it more than a little misleading to teach that our marriage relationships here were eternal in any substantive sense?

For my entire life up till a year or so ago, I struggled to reconcile the idea of eternal polygamy with my belief in God’s love for me. I tried hard to let myself love my husband completely, even while believing that after death he might someday take other wives.

But worst of all were the whispers that God approved polygyny because that’s how He lived. In fact, sometimes they were much more than whispers. During a discussion about Mary and the conception of Jesus, one of my MTC teachers stated baldly, “well, we know that God is a polygamist. But I’m sure Joseph will be well taken care of.”

How telling that it only occurred to him to consider his bizarre arrangement from Joseph’s point of view. Because after all, what woman wouldn’t rather be added to the millions of women married to God than remain the treasured monogamous wife of her loving mortal husband?

My 21-year-old self couldn’t have talked back to her MTC teacher, but 11 years (and 9 years of marriage) later, I can say out loud that I, at least, would not rather be married polygamously to God (or any scriptural hero, even Friberg’s Moroni) than keep the beautiful, tumultuous, and utterly exclusive relationship I have built with my husband.

Is My Mother There the Same as Your Mother There?

Besides the devastating emotional and spiritual damage that the idea of eternal polygamy inflicts on women in the church, it also has a curious dampening effect on our discourse about Heavenly Mother. In fact, one of the most common ways of shutting down discussion about Heavenly Mother (second only to the persistent notion of “sacred silence”) is for someone to remark that there are probably millions of heavenly mothers.

However, it’s not immediately clear why the idea of there being multiple heavenly mothers should preclude discussion about Her(/them). For some members the subject may be wrapped up in discomfort with polygamy in general. Perhaps this is also one reason our church manuals have become increasingly reticent about mentioning Her, in the same way that mention of the polygamous wives of the early prophets is suppressed even in biographical sketches in the church manuals.

For others, as I mentioned before, any recognition of the divine feminine smacks of idolatry, and the idea of multiple heavenly mothers just serves to tip the scale further toward polytheistic pagan pandemonium. The Mormon concept of God, which includes three unapologetically distinct persons (two with physical bodies no less), already stretches traditional monotheism. Mentioning out loud some fantastically large number of attendant goddesses might well exclude us permanently from the conventional Christian club. (Which is not to say that admission to that club is or should be a factor when it comes to defining doctrine. But there seems to be quite a push lately to try to get everyone to acknowledge that we are also “Christian.”)

Some people have articulated a fear of being lost in a sea of female faces, leaving them unsure which heavenly mother is theirs, or nervous to worship the wrong one. Ironically enough, when I posted about Heavenly Mother on my personal blog, my own (earthly) mother commented cryptically, “I’m thinking that perhaps my mother there is a different mother there from your mother there.” The question of whether we might be children of different mothers does make things a little awkward. In the case of heavenly mothers being multiple, the old adage about us all being children of the same God turns out to be only half true.

While it has been pointed out that much of what we know about God the Father comes indirectly through Jesus Christ, at least we never need wonder how many heavenly fathers we have. Imagine for a moment what your relationship with Heavenly Father (assuming you have one) would be like if you weren’t sure whether there was just one of him, or a million. Is it possible to even discuss a heavenly mother who’s just a face in a crowd, and not even the same face for all of us?

At this point in the conversation (if it’s even made it this far), a lot of people throw in the towel, and say, “see! This is why we don’t talk about Heavenly Mother.”

It seems to me that a more overt acknowledgement of Heavenly Mother by Church leaders would inevitably entail clarifying this persistent question of whether there is one heavenly mother or many, and possibly also the related (and seemingly inextricable) idea of eternal polygamy. That’s some pretty heavy stuff (I mean, look at the fuss we’re all making over the relatively minor policy change of lowering the age of female missionary service by two years). So in the meantime, as always, we’ll just have to press forward with the bits and pieces we have about Heavenly Mother, arranging them however we can to make a coherent picture.

As you’ve seen in this post, I’ve gone to considerable trouble to think through the idea of multiple heavenly mothers. If it’s a possible belief, I think we need to consider it seriously and feel out the implications. But that’s the thing. It really doesn’t work. The implication is that our Heavenly Mother is not worth talking about or coming to know because there are so many of Her. She’s not even, like Eve, “the mother of all living.” Heavenly Father is the really important one, because He’s the one we all have in common, and the one who’s really God. Eternal polygamy turns my Heavenly Mother into a sort of amorphous crowd, indistinct, unknowable, fading into obscurity. And by extension, I guess that’s what eternal polygamy would look like for me too.

When I try to imagine a heaven with one reigning Patriarch surrounded by many wives, my mind and soul descend into darkness, doubt and confusion. Trying to reconcile the idea of eternal polygamy, which deeply offends my heart and spirit, with my belief in a loving Heavenly Father has been a struggle for me during much of my life, and at times has distanced me from Him and from my husband and left me feeling depressed, worthless, and angry. That’s a scary, dark place to be.

Ultimately, I realized that either my belief in God or my belief in polygamy had to go. They were mutually incompatible. I was not capable of believing in the God of polygamy because He was no god I would ever want to worship. For me, the divine picture only comes into focus when I imagine my Heavenly Parents hand-in-hand, equally yoked, the ultimate image of male and female perfection fused into one divine and balanced whole.

Becoming converted to the reality of my Heavenly Mother was a game-changer for me. When I realized that I had a Mother who understood me because She was me, I felt liberated, renewed, and alive. As I contemplated the meaning of female divinity, saw Her hand in my life and the world around me, and felt Her close to me, the specter of eternal polygamy gradually faded away. I no longer fear eternal polygamy because I no longer believe in it. There is simply no room for it now that its shadowy millions of wives have been eclipsed by the gloriously felt reality of a Heavenly Mother who embodies every power and perfection in Her female form, and stands side-by-side with my Heavenly Father in wisdom, love, authority, and counsel.

Now that my eyes and my heart have been opened, it’s hard for me to imagine that for so long I tried to force myself to believe something so antithetical to the deepest feelings of my soul. President David O. McKay often quoted this statement by Rev. Theodore Hesburgh: “The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.”  No amount of telling me that “Heavenly Father loves His daughters just as much as He loves His sons” rings true to me, until I feel for myself the way He loves my Mother. My assurance of the love my Heavenly Parents have for me and my trust in their plan of happiness flow directly from my understanding of the even deeper love and partnership they share with one another.

photo credit: Caryatids at the Acropolis, Captain Moroni

66 Responses to Finding My Heavenly Mother, Part 3 (Eternal Polygamy Edition)

  1. Kevin Barney on October 16, 2012 at 10:43 am

    At the end of my Dialogue article on MiH I have a long footnote that is relevant to this post, which I will quote in part:

    There remain two significant issues concerning the nature of our
    Mother in Heaven that the information I have been able to tease out of the text is not really sufficient to answer. Here I will give my opinion (for whatever it may be worth) on these issues, with the understanding that it is simply speculation on my part.

    [First issue omitted]

    Second, is God the Mother one or many? One could make an argument
    for a plurality of Mothers. In the Canaanite pantheon, El had multi-
    ple consorts; and in nineteenth-century Mormonism when polygamy was
    actively practiced and defended, having plural wives may have seemed like the more natural arrangement. In my conception, however, there is only one Mother in Heaven to match our Father in Heaven. Such uniqueness is consistent with the Israelite evidence, which worships only Asherah in contradistinction to the multiple consorts of the Canaanite pantheon. Further, in my view a single Mother in Heaven is more consonant with contemporary Mormon thought.

  2. Tiffany W. on October 16, 2012 at 10:46 am

    I think there are some situations in which eternal polygamy may exist. My father’s first wife passed away when she was quite young and he then he married my mother. I don’t know how they’ll all work it out in the eternities. I am not sure how my mother feels about it, but I do think there will be a solution that will exist that will be satisfactory to all involved.

    But really, when you take into consideration all the millions of babies who have died, including a lot of boys, and the male soldiers who have died by the thousands and millions in centuries of bloody conflicts and wars, it seems really ridiculous to assume there won’t be enough men in the Celestial Kingdom for all women to have their own spouses.

    I have read some articles which speculate that polygamy is an earthly sacrifice and that it won’t continue in the eternities. I’m not at ease with the practice either anciently or in the early history of the church. I find it a practice that is remarkably cruel to the feelings of women.

  3. Skeptical on October 16, 2012 at 11:12 am

    Why would anyone *ever* choose to imagine an eternity exemplified by Old Testament practices and culture rather than by the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times? Sickos.

  4. Tiffany W. on October 16, 2012 at 11:40 am

    I have to add another comment. I think we do a great disservice to the women were entered into polygamous marriages. Our silence about them says that we don’t value their faith, beliefs, or sacrifices. Whatever we feel about polygamy and its practice in the early days of the church, hiding the multiple wives acts like we are ashamed of them, while we parade the “glorious lives” (I say that sarcastically) of their husbands and gloss over the fact that these men were indeed polygamists.

  5. Tiffany W. on October 16, 2012 at 11:44 am

    bleh. . . sorry for writing incoherently and poorly.

  6. Suleiman on October 16, 2012 at 11:58 am

    I also am of the opinion that a sacrifice was made by 19th century Mormons living the “principle.” It challenges my sensibilities nearly as much as the account of Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of Isaac.

    And I very much doubt there will be a large amount of plural marriage on the other side.

  7. mapman on October 16, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    I was born in the 90s, so I probably have had a different experience than you. I can’t recall anyone ever saying that they think God is polygamous. My impression is that most people would say that he is not if asked, or that they don’t know. Is this a widespread belief among church members then? I had no idea that people struggled with this. Forgive my ignorance, I’m now going to be sensitive of this.

  8. Sarah Familia on October 16, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    #7 mapman, I’m not positive how widespread it is. It’s one of those things that tend to be talked about in whispers, which is why I felt such a strong need to say all my feelings out loud. There was a poll about Heavenly Mother at BCC a year or so ago: http://bycommonconsent.com/2011/08/08/monday-morning-theological-poll-are-you-there-heavenly-mother-its-me-bcc-edition/. It’s not a very serious poll, but I think it sheds some light. Even out of readers of BCC (a fairly liberal segment of Mormonism, I think we can agree), fewer than half believe that Heavenly Mother is in a fully equal monogamous relationship with Heavenly Father.

    There’s been a fair number of articles written debunking eternal polygamy as well, which I think underscores the prevalence of belief in it. Some that come to mind are Cassler’s Abrahamic Sacrifice article (“Polygamy“), Dialogue’s “In the Heavens Are Parents Single? Report No. 1 by the Committee on Celestial Demographics” (and BCC’s similar “It’s Raining Men“) and Eugene England’s more prosaic “On Fidelity, Polygamy and Celestial Marriage.”

    I am hoping that your experience becomes more the norm. In the meantime, I’m sure your sensitivity will be greatly appreciated.

  9. Manuel on October 16, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Great post. It reflects so many parallels to my very own journey to discarding polygamy altogether in order to find meaning in the concept of God as Heavenly Parents.

    I share your feelings that the beliefs in a loving Heavenly Father and Polygamy are mutually incompatible.

    I share your concern about the LDS ongoing belief in eternal polygyny. I remember Elder Oaks as he spoke in a BYU devotional in 2002. He was talking about timing and how life does not necessarily happen as we expect or plan it. He said the following:

    “When I was 66, my wife June died of cancer. Two years later—a year and a half ago—I married Kristen McMain, the eternal companion who now stands at my side.

    I did not know why I received a “no” answer to my prayers for the recovery of my wife of many years, but the Lord gave me a witness that this was His will, and He gave me the strength to accept it. Two years after her death, I met this wonderful woman who is now my wife for eternity. And I know that this also was the will of the Lord.”

    I remember as I listened to these almost closing remarks, the rest of his speech faded away in my mind and my mind could not let go of the uneasy feeling of why he will have two eternal companions, while no woman will ever have this particular privilege (under our current eternal polygamy doctrine).

    I remember vividly when I was a missionary, and four of us shared one apartment. One night, the subject came up. The other missionaries came from LDS homes in Utah, but I am a convert, and I came from a small Catholic home in Mexico. As the conversation ensued, they thought I was “weird” that I wasn’t rejoicing with them that in the Celestial Kingdom, we as men would be able to “enjoy” the company of many wives. I conversely thought they were “weird,” and I wondered in my head if it was the fact that they grew up in larger families that they felt that way… I kept thinking “Do these guys not have a mother whom they respect and hope the best of things for her? Do they not have sisters? Do they realize any of these women in their life can end up in such an unequal arrangement?”

    Having never been able to embrace the current doctrine of eternal polygyny after death, it was one of the two main factors I decided then and there, there are many things wrong, unresolved and in need of clarification in the Church. But I couldn’t wait for these things to be resolved, as I needed to have, like you say in your post, “a coherent picture,” in order to be able to go on. Therefore, I had to decide then and there what that picture was, and it did not include polygamy (among other things).

  10. Carol on October 16, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    I was once very bothered by polygamy. After an anguished prayer, I received a very definite answer. “In this life, you are not capable of understanding it, but it won’t bother you any more.” It never has. I think our understanding will be different eventually, and it will all work out.

  11. Frank Pellett on October 16, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    I’m finding that I have a number of conceptions about the afterlife that I’ve placed into this pool of “not going to worry about”. Conceptions like polygamy, the nature of HF and HM, eternal gender. There are too many incomplete answers for me to place a definitive on any of them. What if I find some LDS concept were wrong? What if I die and find myself to be female, rather than male? Like it or not, I’d have to deal with it.

    My wife and I actually discussed polygamy on our first date. (yes, we’re wierd) Our concensus is that we’d do it only if we each were directed to by the President of the Church AND we each had a Heavenly visitation directing us to do so. I take pretty seriously my wife’s happiness. If she didn’t feel comfortable with it, not matter what confirmations I recieved or visitations I had, we would not do it. I believe she would do the same for me, no matter how much she loved the third person involved.

    My definition of heaven is simple – you will not be placed in any position or relationship where you would not be able to find joy. If there is polygamy, or any other sort of marriage, you will not be forced into it or forced to maintain it. If my wife or I die and we were to marry again, I can only hope we’d find someone that both of us could love as much as we love each other.

  12. Sam Brunson on October 16, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    Having never been able to embrace the current doctrine of eternal polygyny after death

    I’ve argued other places that there is no such current doctrine, and I stand by that. I sincerely doubt there will be any postmortal polygamy, though it will take some unwinding to figure out how to get there. (I suspect, frankly, that our picture of what the afterlife is like is way, way off.)

    That said, I really like your far-more-prosaic way of coming to that conclusion, Sarah. Thanks.

  13. Manuel on October 16, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Re:12

    I would like to argue the same and pretend there is no such doctrine or belief among the current LDS community. But I would be fooling myself to simply assume so.

    That is precisely why I added Elder Oaks’ remarks and how he states clearly his second wife is his eternal companion and his wife for eternity. I guess one could argue he didn’t state his first wife is “also” his eternal companion and his wife for eternity, but it would be naive (imo) to assume Elder Oaks believes his first wife no longer holds that status.

    And in the midst of this rhetoric, I find it a lost cause to argue definitively that such doctrine or belief is non existent among the LDS community, since it appears even the apostles share such belief.

  14. Rachel Whipple on October 16, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    Nicely done, Sarah. I have had similar struggles. The temptation to throw out everything, even God, is very real. It is good that you have found resolution and peace.

  15. Waylon Covil on October 16, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    I attended a FAIR conference last year and heard a talk from Valerie Hudson called “A Reconciliation of Polygamy”. It was most interesting.
    http://www.fairlds.org/fair-conferences/2011-fair-conference
    If you can get a copy of her talk or review her other writings about Polygamy, it will be worth your time.
    Most of the subject of Polygamy is based on conjecture. When you look for the Church’s official policy on Polygamy, you won’t find much. Where in Church doctrine do you find that men will indeed be sealed to multiple women in the eternities and have multiple wives? I’ve never read anything like that.
    Statically, there will probably be an equal number of men in the Celestial Kingdom as women. Do these men not get to be married because other men have multiple wives?
    We are also assuming a power structure in Heaven is the same as on Earth. How do we know that Heavenly Mother isn’t the final word? My wife certainly is in my house. :)
    The whole subject of Polygamy is based on our interpretation of a few points of interpreted doctrine and a whole lot of created Culture surrounding that doctrine. It’s possible that our culture surrounding Polygamy is far from the truth.
    In 1978, all worthy male members were able to hold the Priesthood. Where doctrinally will you find that persons should have been excluded from the Priesthood prior to 1978? I think you’ll find policies, but not doctrine.
    We need to be very, very careful that we don’t accept a policy as doctrine. We need to be careful that we don’t create doctrines in our minds.
    I bet that most of what we believe about Polygamy is false doctrine.

  16. Lala on October 16, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    Your thoughts and experience are almost identical to mine. Thank you so much for posting!

  17. Cameron N on October 16, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    Cool experience Carol (10). I’m a man, so maybe this bothers me less, but I think the main thing to remember is that we will never be asked to do something that doesn’t make us happiest. For that reason, I will forbear. That’s also why I like Carol’s story. I just avoid polygamy altogether in thought and conversation. I certainly wouldn’t communicate any hypothetical scenarios to my wife as others here have mentioned. No good can come from that, no matter what your sex drive is (and I’d bet most men are in a similar situation.

  18. Steve Smith on October 16, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    The question of what is doctrinal and what isn’t actually seems to be rather difficult to answer. Is something doctrinal simply because it has been mentioned by past LDS prophets within a certain context, or does there have to be widespread agreement among men in order to establish something as doctrine? If its the former, then polygyny in the afterlife could easily be established as doctrine. Here is Brigham Young in 1862:

    “Monogamy, or restrictions by law to one wife, is no part of the economy of heaven among men. Such a system was commenced by the founders of the Roman empire…. Rome became the mistress of the world, and introduced this order of monogamy wherever her sway was acknowledged. Thus this monogamic order of marriage, so esteemed by modern Christians as a holy sacrament and divine institution, is nothing but a system established by a set of robbers.”

    But if the establishment of doctrine requires more widespread agreement among leaders over time, then the body of what constitutes doctrine is certainly more limited.

    I think that we must accept that what is doctrinal in the church has and continues to experience change over time and even place. Some communities of LDS believers continue to hold on to old notions and beliefs (which they believe to be doctrinal) that are no longer emphasized, and even shunned, by other communities and leaders. Many accept Bruce R. McConkie’s philosophies as definitively doctrinal, while others are more hesitant to accept them.

  19. Blake on October 16, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    It seems to me that the doctrine is actually very clear: those who choose and desire to live the law of plural marriage and thereby reap whatever blessings and challenges come with it shall be able to — and those who choose not to won’t. Just because some don’t desire to live in polygamy because they believe that they would not be happy doing so doesn’t entail that others must be governed by that same judgment. No one will be forced to do anything. I know that is simple, but I don’t see any reason to make it more complicated than that.

  20. Manuel on October 16, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    I think I may have left something out of my comment regarding my approach to LDS views, beliefs or doctrines (I don’t necessarily place too thick lines between the semantics of each term when it comes to religious beliefs of a large community).

    I think poygyny in the afterlife is most definitely a doctrine and/or belief of the current LDS community, including the current leaders. This in my approach to religion, does not make it a “definitely correct” doctrine in the eyes of God. But it is a doctrine, whether implied or specifically spelled out, it is something that the community believes in general. The Church has held views/beliefs/doctrines that have been discarded/obsoleted/cancelled/shut down or whatever. You can argue they were “never doctrines” to begin with, except, they were in the time when they were taught and to the LDS community of the time that held it as a core view (you can add Adam God, spiritual adoption, blood atonement, explanations of pre-ordination of racial lineage according to character of unborn spirits, and whatever else you can find that we have discarded).

    To simply state these things were never doctrines creates a gross misrepresentation of the beliefs of the Church, whether in a historical or current context. They were doctrines and where held as doctrines even by prophets/apostles at the time they were taught, and that’s what it was and that’s what it is.

    I posed the question about afterlife polygyny to bishops, stake presidents, mission president and two temple presidents. They all have agreed that presently, men can be sealed for time and eternity to more than one woman and have them both as eternal companions in the next life provided they marry them consecutively in life and not concurrently, yet, they will live in polygyny concurrently in the afterlife.

    This is supported by Elder Oaks comments I posted above. This doctrine may be right or may be wrong in the eyes of God, but this is the currently held view and the currently ritually practiced view in the Temple, whether anyone likes it or not.

    Sometimes some members put some sort of hat on and act as “doctrine cleansers.” They think they can brush off, minimize or deny current or past LDS doctrines simply because they sound uncomfortable. This is where I believe clarification from the Church is needed, as, whether they like it or not, these “doctrine cleansers” have no authority to dismiss doctrines/beliefs/views held and ritually practiced by the Church in the Temple.

    So they can go ahead and argue all they want that something is not a doctrine or that something is, and add to the already endless ocean of misinformation and contradictions about LDS beliefs. We can drown our beliefs in semantics and create precise definitions for the term “doctrine.” Fine, but it is the view and belief currently held and it is a currently open possibility for all living temple worthy males (not females).

    What is the response of the doctrine cleansers to Elder Oaks? “Sorry Elder Oaks but what you are implying with your remarks is not supported by any doctrine, therefore I guess it will be an awkward day for you when you find out your expectations are absolutely non-doctrinal.” Well, good luck with that.

  21. Mark N. on October 16, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    “The Mormon concept of God, which includes three unapologetically distinct persons (two with physical bodies no less), already stretches traditional monotheism.”

    I prefer to think of it in terms of traditional Christian monotheism (with its incomprehensible 3-in-1 non-corporeal deity) being a distortion of the true concept of God. ;-)

  22. Jax on October 16, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    This is how 2 Nephi 14:1 reads

    And in that day, seven women shall take hold of one man, saying: We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel; only let us be called by thy name to take away our reproach.

    The way I read that makes me think that polygamy will be established in the church again during this dispensation. Does anyone read/understand it differently?

    Sarah, I love the image this sentence created for me

    For me, the divine picture only comes into focus when I imagine my Heavenly Parents hand-in-hand

    I loved the way you described how that image gave you strength and renewed your faith. For you do have a Father and Mother who do that, but can you explain why the idea of his also holding someone elses hand turns “dark” and “scary”? Can they not be just as in love and devoted if he also loves another? I have 6 kids, and I know that I don’t love the first less just because I had a second/third/etc. That didn’t divide or diminish my love to them, and I’m far less perfect and loving than Heavenly Father.

    My image is of a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother. Other women he might be married to aren’t MY mother, so I don’t fret about them. They don’t destroy my belief that I have a Father and Mother who love me because I’m their son. I grew up in Utah in an LDS family and had a polygamous one next door. Husband and 4 wives with 20 or so kids (when I left). They were all adults with no more than 3-5 years difference in age (He wasn’t marrying teenagers, not that kind of polygamist). If the abuse of young females can be avoided, I have seen that polygamist marriages can and do produce happy loving environments that provide for everything a family is supposed to provide… it wasn’t what I would describe as darkness. I’m not suggesting that you’re view is wrong or mistaken, I’m just asking WHY you view it that way?

    (I have no intentions of taking another wife. My wife and I have had this discussion, so I’m not hiding a secret “I hope I get more women” ideas from her. I don’t hope to get more… I got the best already!)

  23. Steve Smith on October 16, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    A couple of other points I just thought of after reading some comments. I don’t think that there is any way to determine whether or not there will really be polygyny in the afterlife. Hence I’m agnostic as to that question.

    Second, it should be noted that polygamy is a common practice in parts of Africa and the Middle East. It works for some societies and it is not inherently evil. The early LDS church was composed of a different culture from what we have today and I don’t necessarily condemn it for that practice. That said, I would be opposed to the church reinstating polygamy.

  24. jks on October 16, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    To say there is polygamy in heaven hurts people in monogamous marriages. To say there is no polygamy in heaven hurts many second wives and their husbands who don’t want to choose. Right now we know that widows who remarry and their husbands are left confused.

    All I know is that it is beautiful to have a husband and children that we created together. Does that mean people who adopt or who have a blended family can never be happy and be as happy as us with our perfect circumstance? No.

    Is it harder here on earth for stepparents and stepchildren to love each other? It can be done, though, and it often takes a lot of work. Yet, even here on earth we are willing to add extra members to our family because the are part of the package. Someday I will have imperfect sons in law and daughters in law that I will have to work hard to love. And grandchildren, or possibly stepgrandchildren that will take lots of work to love.

    I choose not to worry about polygamy, because I truly believe that we are limited in our understanding. My testimony of eternal families and sealings is a general one, not a specific one. I believe that we get to retain our relationships…..as in we don’t start fresh with no family and friends, what we built here we get to build on there. But I am quite sure my relationships with my children will be quite different later, and my best friend will still be my friend even though we aren’t sealed as family, and my husband and I won’t be exactly what we are now together, but something even better. Since I’m happy with him even with his faults here, I don’t imagine being unhappy with what we might have in the celestial kingdom.

  25. Sam Brunson on October 16, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    Jax (22),
    “Does anyone read/understand it differently?”

    Yes.

    Blake,
    “It seems to me that the doctrine is actually very clear”

    And what is your derivation of this doctrine?

  26. Moss on October 16, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    Bruce R McConkie (yes, that one) said in Mormon Doctrine that polygamy would not be necessary for everyone who wanted to achieve exaltation. Would not be necessary. I know, I was surprised to read that from him, too.

  27. Jax on October 16, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    Thanks Sam, can you add anything on HOW you read it differently?

  28. Sam Brunson on October 16, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    Basically, I don’t see much call for reading Isaiah literally. His imagery is, instead, symbolic.

  29. wreddyornot on October 16, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    Enjoying the posting and the comments. As for me, an inquisitive child of a Heavenly Father I believe in, I still have simply to ask: Where is MY Heavenly Mother? I think it’s also fair to ask, as His child: How many wives do You have? If there’s more than one, then: Why is that? Where are the others? Etc. Sincere curiosity advances knowledge and understanding.

  30. Frank Pellett on October 16, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    Jax #22 – From my reading of that passage, it seems like the polygyny in the last days would be a bad thing. I think it will at some point become legal, but it will not be allowed in the Church. If living polygyny is ever allowed in the Church, it will only be in the Millenial era, when we’ve been sufficiently instructed more on how it will be done.

  31. Tony on October 17, 2012 at 12:26 am

    When given the option, women don’t choose to be one of many wives…not now and not in the eternities. So for all the misogynist men hoping that in the eternal bliss to ensue, God will reign in their unruly wife and/or award additional wives…not gunna happen. No more than He will reward faithful women with multiple boy toys to reign over. It’s just not part of the program. The sooner our Church/(this world) can get over its male dominated culture, the better.

  32. Tony on October 17, 2012 at 12:29 am

    and please… let us not stoop to invoke “Bruce’s Book of Believe it or Not”

  33. Alison Moore Smith on October 17, 2012 at 1:10 am

    I have a very hard time reconciling the difference between the women’s live sealing practice and dead sealing practice. If God can be counted on to work out a dead woman sealed to multiple spouses, I can’t figure why he can’t do same if the sealing occurred when she was alive.

    I have a friend who was married about five years ago in the temple and her husband was killed in a motorcycle accident just a few months later. She went on a mission and when she returned she married a returned missionary, but they could not be sealed unless she was willing to cancel the sealing with her dead husband. Makes no sense to me.

    Anyway…

    Sarah, thank you thank you thank you for taking the time to put this in print. On most every point I agree with your precisely. So well said.

    My hope is that the church leaders will someday SEE the pain this causes to so many and it will become an important enough issue for them to clarify the whole crazy polygamy thing. I’m actually at a point where I’m SO tired of the gnawing at the back of my head, that I’m ready to hear the answer, no matter what it is.

  34. Sarah Familia on October 17, 2012 at 7:03 am

    #33 You are welcome, Alison. I was of course aware that the usual speculative discussions would ensue. If men like Jax still can’t understand why the idea of eternal polygamy bothers me, I really have nothing more to say.

    My intent in writing this post was to speak for all the women who have been adversely affected by a belief in eternal polygamy. I know that many of them believe that they are the only woman anguishing silently in the back of the room when an insensitive comment about polygamy is made at church. As Joanna Brooks said (and if you are reading this and are one of those women, please also read her wonderful post, “I’m Pretty Sure Mormons Still Believe in Polygamy. Am I wrong?” as well as the articles linked in my comment #8), “We need to talk about polygamy.”

  35. Lisa B on October 17, 2012 at 8:25 am

    I’ve heard differing accounts of what’s going on with multiple live sealings for women now, including some exceptions granted for women with multiple marriages (live sealings, rather than proxies). What’s the handbook say?

    Have long thought the conundrum of polygamy is actually a result of the doctrine of eternal marriage plus the practice of widows and widowers remarrying. Maybe no one is really “supposed to” remarry for eternity after all.

    Tony–awesome comment.

  36. Lisa B on October 17, 2012 at 8:43 am

    I must add if we’re going by “needs” I would venture a guess that there are a fair number of women out there (and likely some men as well) who are not getting their emotional needs met by their husbands for whom plural marriage as a reward could be argued by the same token. Seems divine beings ought to be less “needy” though.

  37. Frank Pellett on October 17, 2012 at 10:11 am

    Another side of this is that there are women who are currently in polygynous marriages, who entered them willingly and are very happy being there. They’d be the first to admit that it’s not for everyone, and that everyone should be given the choice, but that they’d rather not contemplate a life, or an afterlife, without their husband and sister-wives.

    I don’t think this can be universally condemned any more than it can be universally required.

  38. Steve Smith on October 17, 2012 at 11:28 am

    I think that the fact that church policy allows men to be sealed to multiple women (1st, 2nd wife) is evidence that church leaders hold on to the notion of plural marriage in the afterlife as doctrine. I am not really concerned at all that people are sealed to multiple spouses. However, I echo Allison (33) that the church really needs to allow women to be sealed to multiple men as well.

  39. Melissa B. on October 17, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    Thank you for this post. I have puzzled over this since I was a child. I continue my inner wrestling.

    I am descended from Mary Ann Angel, Brigham Young’s 2nd wife. I understood she gave her “permission” for Brigham to marry again (his 1st wife died). It must take a special person to agree to that. I think that (women’s tender feelings) must be part of the discussion. Men discussing polygyny after this life….what if your wife doesn’t agree? What about her thoughts on it? I personally wonder if we need to have a certain level of spirituality to for it to work.

    My thoughts turn to the scripture in D & C (can’t think of the exact reference at the moment) where the Lord says he “gave” David/Solomon wives and concubines. The fact that it was sanctioned by the Lord often made me wonder about those women and how they felt. What would I have felt if I had been given as a concubine (I don’t think I would have been happy)? I often wonder about the circumstances, did they volunteer, did they have a choice at all?

    I’m sure there is much we don’t know that we’ll understand after this life. This is one of those things that I hope will be cleared up. I will continue to ponder and wonder. Meanwhile, I too like to picture my Mother in Heaven hand in hand with my Father. Working together.

  40. Melissa B. on October 17, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Instead of “permission”, I think it was “gave her blessing”. Sorry, I’m having trouble articulating my thoughts and feelings.

  41. xena warrior scientist on October 17, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    I too decided a long way back to stop believing in polygamy because if it’s true, seriously, I don’t want to go “heaven.”

    The thing that still bugged me was how there were all these butt-kicking pioneer women doctors like Martha Hughes Cannon and Romania Pratt Penrose who were completely gung-ho for polygamy. And the thing is, their journals and letters make it very clear that polygamy made them very unhappy. Seriously, guys, WTF? It’s definitely not that polygyny “helped women be professionals b/c the other wives could watch their kids;” there are many things wrong with that logic besides the fact that it’s objectively untrue. (E.g., Martha did med school before getting married; Romania’s mom watched hers while she went East to study. The number of pioneer women I’m aware of who became professionals thanks to the household help of sister wives tops out at… one.)

    So when I ran across a study last year finding that polygamy drastically reduced the birth rate (for every additional wife in a marriage, each wife had one less child on average), I got super-relieved. BIRTH CONTROL! http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/feb/27/mormon-polygamists-fruit-fly

    Read in that context, I have a lot easier time grasping their devotion to polygamy in spite of the misery. If I lived in a place with third-world maternal/infant mortality and no contraception and wanted to make something of my life anyway, it’s sort of a darned-if-you-do-darned-if-you-don’t situation. For them it may have been a utilitarian choice. As an eternal principle for everyone though… BARF.

  42. Susan on October 17, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    The way I’ve tackled the polygamy issue is that it is the exception rather than the rule. Sort of like what is said in Matt. 19:12 “and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.” I see those who took up polygamy did it because it is one part of the law that needed to be fulfilled, it was by one group, at great personal cost, and, with hope, will not be asked of the Saints anymore.

    But the confusion of modern sealing practices does bother me. Having been sealed to my husband, should he die and I remarry, I would not want to sealed again. To me, it would be like a repudiation of the “oneness” of our eternal relationship. How would we feel if it was Adam & Eve & Judith? Three+ is a crowd.

  43. Manuel on October 18, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    “How would we feel if it was Adam & Eve & Judith? Three+ is a crowd.”

    Brigham Young: “When our father Adam came into the garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him.” (Journal of Discourses 1:50-51)

    ;) Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

  44. Lisa B. on October 19, 2012 at 9:26 am

    So Eve has two eternal husbands? What about Lileth?

  45. RT on October 19, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    Sarah,
    Thanks for your post. I think there are good grounds within LDS thought itself for rejecting the notion that God has multiple wives. Not only do the vast majority of leaders and members conventionally speak of a dyadic “heavenly parents”, but as Sam Brown has shown in his examination of Joseph Smith’s thinking about divine anthropomorphism, the earliest statements by W.W. Phelps and E. R. Snow (who presumably reflect J.S. ‘s thought) assume the same dyadic structure. It is only a few years later with the emergence of polygamy that the concept of multiple heavenly mothers takes real form.

  46. John Hamilton on October 20, 2012 at 1:23 am

    You know why we don’t pray to or specifically worship our Heavenly Mother? It drives a wedge between husband and wife down here. I end up having my God and my wife ends up having hers. When we pray to and worship God we are praying to Them Both as One. We cannot fathom a neuter or both-gendered god, so we must pick one or the other, or rather the attributes of God that we commonly associate with the male, to focus our worship. Hence God appears to us as male and He asks us to address Himself as such, though “He” is really both. We cannot fathom the billionth part of who God really is, so this hair-splitting over Heavenly Father vs. Heavenly Mother, or who has how many spouses of whatever gender in heaven is pointless.

    That said, there seems to be an equal one-to-one ratio of males to females in this world, so it should be safe to assume the same in heaven. Some women (very few) seemed to not mind sharing a good man, however, so if that’s their idea of heaven then that’s what they’ll get. Some, because of death, have two husbands or wives that they love equally and it wouldn’t be heaven without both of them, so something will need to be worked out. But of this I am sure: there is no force in heaven. If you don’t want to share your husband I’m sure you won’t have to.

  47. Cameron N on October 20, 2012 at 3:39 am

    My understanding is that the 1st wife has veto power.

    Also, I know a couple in our ward who have not been sealed. They are widower/widow following previous temple marriages and she is RS president.

  48. James Olsen on October 21, 2012 at 1:01 am

    Sarah, this is a wonderfully candid post, and more deeply personal than one can expect to see in a public forum like this. Thank you for talking so openly about all of this. For me personally I have no problem speaking in full voice about Heavenly Mother or polygamy. It’s all of the unfathomable and gut-wrenching things that Mormons I’ve come across say about it (and that you catalogue so well above) – that’s the stuff that gets me. I have a very hard time acknowledging in anything above a whisper in a back room that a significant portion of my fellow saints believe such things. Your post does us all great service in putting it all out in the light for examination.

    Also: I appreciated your personal experience about the melting of your anxiety in the wake of rejecting polygamy. In my own experience, all plausibility or argument or interpretations supporting polygamy likewise simply evaporate. It’s hard for me to even remember how D&C 132 could possibly be read as supporting eternal polygamy – it seems so clearly to say the opposite. The same thing happens to the myriad of other things used to support the idea.

  49. jader3rd on October 21, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    Wouldn’t a more divine solution to the perceived discrepancy among the sex drives be to “fix” the out of balance sex drive in heaven?
    Also, I kind of feel like potential reasoning’s behind polygamy may be similar to the recent conversation here about women and the priesthood; for some reason, to make up for some of our mortal imperfections, God has decided that the current revelations work best for the mortals currently on the earth.

  50. Tom D on October 26, 2012 at 1:20 am

    It’s probably presumptuous of me to say this, but worshiping/obsessing over a Heavenly Mother at this time is almost certainly idolatry and might well lead to apostasy. It reminds me very much of the devotion to Mary I saw among many Catholics on my mission. Many women told me that they felt that she could relate to them so much better than Christ/God could.

    I personally think that we have a Mother in Heaven, but I do not believe it wise to try to get closer to her when we have been repeatedly told to take upon us the name of Christ for “there is no other name given whereby salvation cometh” (Mosiah 5:8) and “thou shalt worship no other god” (Exodus 34:14). This search was pretty straightforward:

    http://www.lds.org/scriptures/search?lang=eng&query=no+other+name&x=0&y=0

    Someday, in the Lord’s good time we will learn more about this (at least by the time we are resurrected I am certain), but running ahead of the living prophet of God is always risky. Please don’t obsess too much over this.

  51. wreddyornot on October 26, 2012 at 9:56 am

    The child does not ask her/his father where a missing mother is, what she was like, and why she is absent in order to worship the missing mother or to detract from respect and love for those already lovingly present in her/his life. But the parent of a child with a missing mother answers the inquiring child with love and respect. Not answering a sincere, inquiring child may perhaps lead to aberations. The father who neglects answering sincere inquiry is not the kind of father worthy of worship.

  52. WD on November 5, 2012 at 10:29 am

    I’m not really sure why a discussion on eternal polygamy is being limited to polygyny. We know that polyandry has also been practiced as part of the Restoration, and that (as Alison pointed out in comment #33) it is still actively practiced in the Church. If we deny that women are being sealed to multiple husbands simply because those women have died, we deny the very efficacy of the sealing ordinance, which makes the whole discussion pointless.

    It seems pretty clear that eternal polygamy would be both polygynous and polyandrous.

    When I read Abraham 4 — especially in light of our full practice of polygamy — it sounds to me like we are the children of many gods and goddesses. Perhaps each of us has two theobiological parents, distinct maybe from the pairing that created every other human soul, or at least, every other human soul now on earth.

    But to focus on the distinctions among our parents (I’m the child of this Heavenly Father but you’re the child of that Heavenly Father) is to deny the fulness of the union that exalted beings surely enjoy in their marriage, for truly husband and wife are no more twain but are become one flesh.

    Our Heavenly Parents are fundamentally one because They’ve achieved real union in Their marriage, no matter how many exalted men and exalted women are joined in that marriage.

    The proper focus on celestial marriage is not on its apparently great diversity but on its far greater union.

  53. melodynew on January 20, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    I’m finally getting back around to reading the rest of your essays on Heavenly Mother. this is AWESOME! Thank you so much for writing it.

    Blasphemous as it may seem, I have never accepted polygammy as divine in any way. It just doesn’t ring true for me. I don’t have the answers yet about what IS true as far as early LDS church history goes. But I came to the same conclusion you did, “When I try to imagine a heaven with one reigning Patriarch surrounded by many wives, my mind and soul descend into darkness, doubt and confusion. . .” This alone speaks to the potential truth or error of the doctine of eternal polygammy. At least for some of us.

  54. Demaris on January 21, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    WD–Maybe Abraham (and Joseph Smith) could only envision eternal marriage as an extension of the kind of marriage they were currently practicing. The celestial model we are given in the endowment continues to be one man, one woman.

  55. Richard on February 4, 2013 at 8:52 am

    multiple heavenly mothers would explain the huge disparity between humankind

  56. Julie M. Smith on February 4, 2013 at 9:44 am

    Richard, I don’t know of any “huge disparit[ies] between humankind.” I do know that the scriptures teach repeatedly that all are alike unto God and science has shown that virtually all of our DNA is identical.

  57. Adam Greenwood on February 4, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Your take on male Mormon attitudes towards polygamy–”ugly undercurrents,” “fantasize about heavenly kingdoms full of beautiful women for them to rule over,” “gloating”–shows the same kind of gender stereotyping and othering that I would have thought you were against. Beware the object in your own eye.

  58. Richard on February 4, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    I was not referring to our Biology, but rather our intellect, our desire to do good, the things we learned in our first estate, etc. If we all have the same spiritual parents and maybe we do, would we not see less variation in man.

  59. Julie M. Smith on February 4, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    Richard, are you suggesting that some people are dumber and/or more wicked because they have a different Mother in Heaven than the people who are smarter and/or more righteous?

  60. Richard on February 4, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    I am suggesting this may explain part of why we see differences in people here and pre earth, if we have the same Father. We do not know how our intelligence becomes part of our spirit, but it happened when we were created by our heavenly parents. We inherit things from our biological parents, perhaps the same thing happened spiritually.

  61. Julie M. Smith on February 4, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    Richard, my main objection to that idea is that it suggests that there are some inferior Heavenly Mothers cranking out inferior spirits. I don’t know how that would be compatible with her perfected nature.

  62. Cameron on February 4, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    Extrapolating doctrine is rarely fruitful. Some of Richard’s ideas seem plausible, but it is looking beyond the mark and I think he draws some dangerous conclusions from. If there is one things the scriptures tell us, it is that genetics/good parents do not guarantee good/bad behavior.

    Elder Oaks was wise to say that we should not focus on the why but rather the what of a commandment. Not saying that we shouldn’t ponder such things, but there is a point past which it is productive in the short term.

  63. Richard on February 5, 2013 at 1:34 am

    I don’t spend a lot time with this issue or others like it. I stumbled on times and seasons just the other day and decided to comment. We don’t know the answer and don’t need to know today. I look forward to meeting my heavenly mother, either way, she will be my mother, the cocreator of my spirit, a relationship that will be eternal.

  64. Demaris on February 6, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Richard, if your the relationship with Her is eternal, that means past, present, and future. Also, restoration-era LDS scriptures teach that even BEFORE the creation of our spirits, our intelligence existed, already varying in degree of light one intelligence to another. So much for blaming anyone else.

  65. Maria on June 2, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    I appreciated this post because of my own struggle with polygamy. I struggled with it during my twenty plus temple marriage and never resolved the feelings, just really felt sympathy for what Emma had to put up with. But then in my second marriage finding out we would be eternal polygamist (he can get a clearance to be sealed to a 2nd wife and I would get a cancellation) left me befuddled and appalled. I couldn’t go through with it, acknowledging polygamy as valid at all and I can’t even be a part of the church anymore. The inconsistencies in the doctrine (practicing it in the temple and yet publicizing that we don’t practice it) is completely ridiculous. How do you reconcile the two? How do you participate in a church and just believe something different than what is taught? Why bother?

  66. hawkgrrrl on June 3, 2013 at 6:27 am

    What a great post. This was like reading my own thoughts written by another person. Thanks for putting it so articulately.

    “a common practice in parts of Africa and the Middle East. It works for some societies and it is not inherently evil” It may be a common practice, but bear in mind that every society in which polygamy is still practiced has a terrible track record for women’s rights. In many of these countries, marital rape is legal and women are blamed for their husband’s infidelity. Likewise, many women believe that they are to blame if their husband beats them. Most polygamy is practiced because these societies do not allow women to own property or to have any societal standing or rights if they are single, widowed or otherwise without a man.