Why didn’t the Church teach me this stuff?

In the wake of media attention regarding the Church essays on polygamy, one of the refrains you will hear from some members of the Church is, “why didn’t the Church teach me this stuff?”

I do not want to diminish the emotional toll that further disclosures on polygamy may be having on some members, but I would like to posit that if you are claiming you never were taught about polygamy you are a bit naïve. For several reasons.

The first is that the Church clearly has taught about polygamy in many formats: in Sunday School, in seminary, in official Church histories. In fact, if you go to lds.org and do a search for the word “polygamy” you will get literally hundreds of hits, including links to Church manuals that discuss the issue.

The Church has repeatedly encouraged you to read the scriptures (I know, I know, if you want to keep something secret, put it in the scriptures because nobody ever reads them). You may have noticed that there is a rather long section of the Doctrine & Covenants, D&C 132. That section includes this provocative excerpt:

61 And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood—if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else.

62 And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified.

So, if you have read the scriptures and were even a little bit curious, this particular section may have jumped out at you. Yes, the Church taught you things.

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Mormon founder Joseph Smith wed 40 wives

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I recall blogging about the new articles on lds.org regarding plural marriage nearly a month ago (Mormon Polygamy, the Short Version). CNN (Daniel Burke) has finally twigged to these updates.

Of course, CNN uses a pithy title that lacks all nuance but is sure to catch the attention of random readers, Church: Mormon founder Joseph Smith wed 40 wives. Interestingly enough, the factual content of the lds.org articles does deflate the sensationalism one might have expected from an article with such a title. Continue reading

Millennial Miscellany

Trees on the north tip of Manhattan

I’ve collected a range of thoughts in the past two weeks as I flitted between DC, Manhattan, and Tokyo. Individually they might not merit a post here at M*, but as a collection might be interesting. These are:

  1. How Barack Obama caused Prop 8 to be passed
  2. How Moroni 9 argues for the truth of the Book of Mormon
  3. The contemporary importance of the Articles of Faith, and
  4. More cool stuff about the Word of Wisdom

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In Defense of Harry Reid – Or Why I am Not a Democrat

This week, Republicans took back the Senate as well as several state houses and across the country. This victory has variously been described as a wave or a flood. I gratefully celebrated on Tuesday night as the election results came in. Yet, that celebratory spirit turned a bit sour as I read the now infamous post, Good riddance to Harry Reid, the Mormon Senate leader, by member and current Bishop Mark Paredes. I don’t know brother Paredes personally, bu I have greatly enjoyed some of the other posts that he has written on other topics and appreciate the vital role he is playing in reaching out to the Jewish community. Nevertheless, I think Paredes’s post is needlessly divisive and ultimately misguided. While many have already written on this topics, in light of the national attention given to this post, I feel that I should also share a couple of thoughts on the subject.

First of all, I would urge everyone to read Elder Oaks’s masterful talk from this most recent conference entitled Loving Others and Living with Differences. Elder Oaks specifically talked about rancorous discourse in politics. Continue reading