Why Would a Loving God Demand Polygamy?

Pat Chiu, Sketch of Salt Lake Temple

Pat Chiu, Salt Lake Temple

[This is the second post in a series. To read the series from the beginning, go to A Faithful Joseph.]

This week our home teacher stopped by to cheer us. For his lesson, he told us the Christmas story from memory. Two verses stood out in particular:

Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 1

Joy to All People

The manner in which we are to be saved is explained in the story of Nicodemus, recorded in the Gospel of John:

Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 2

God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 3

Throughout scripture, the Lord speaks of the salvation of all mankind, of whosoever believeth in God. Yet when Joseph knelt in the grove to pray, there was no theology that had a mechanism that might save all mankind. On that bright spring day in 1820, 4 all Joseph knew was that God lived and there was something about the religions of the day that was not right in God’s eyes.

I submit that it was the loss of the doctrines that would save all mankind that God mourned.

Lest the World be Wasted at His Coming

Joseph’s earnest prayers years later provoked the visions that truly commenced Joseph’s life work. In September 1823, the Angel Moroni appeared several times to Joseph. While each repeat visit covered additional material, the angel’s initial description of Joseph’s missions was the same each time.

Joseph’s first mission was retrieval and translation of a book written on gold plates containing the fullness of the Gospel.

Next the angel spoke of Elijah, who would come and plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children would turn to their fathers.

If the children did not fulfill the promises made to the fathers, the whole earth would be utterly wasted in the great and dreadful day of the Lord, when the wicked would be left without branch or root.

I like to think that if Nephi were the angel, he would have spoken more plainly: “If the people of your day do not fulfill the promise God made to save all mankind through baptism, those unable to be cleansed by baptism will remain in their wickedness. They will remain cut off from God and from both their parents and their children in eternity.”

However, Moroni spoke in language close to the biblical original. 5 Therefore Joseph would not comprehend for many years how God could keep the promises made to the fathers, or even how we could be saved with our fathers and our children (with our branch and root).

The Two Joseph Loved and the Book in the Hill

There were two people in Joseph’s life who were set apart to be symbols of God’s salvation. These were the two individuals Joseph was told to bring with him if he was to successfully retrieve the ancient writings from the hill.

The first person crucial to understanding the salvation of all was Joseph’s brother, Alvin. The designation of Alvin as the one required to bring forth the book 6 endowed Alvin with intense importance for Joseph.

Then Alvin died.

How could this be, that the person identified by the angel could die? Joseph would have mourned Alvin’s death in any case. Having Alvin die under these circumstances was soul-wrenching. Joseph pondered the fate of his dead brother intensely for years.

Since Alvin died while the ancient writings remained hidden in the hill, Joseph was commanded to bring another, The angel reassured Joseph he would know who that right person was. This second person, so important to the emergence of the restored gospel, was Emma Hale.

When Joseph realized she was the one that was to accompany him, 7 it became clear to him that she was not merely to stand at his side in retrieving the book from the hill. She was to stand at his side in life, as his partner and helper, the Eve to his Adam.

Weaving the Family of Mankind Together

We know that Joseph eventually realized baptisms needed to be performed on behalf of those who had died without baptism. The message contained in the book from the hill is the salvation of all mankind via baptism. The comprehension that baptism could be performed on behalf of the dead was inspired by Joseph’s vision of Alvin in heaven. 8 It was brought to a head by the grief of Jane Neyman, a mother who believed her teenage son was condemned to hell when he died without baptism. 9 But the salvation of all mankind was not to be accomplished by merely performing masses of anonymous baptisms on behalf of unknown generations gone before.

The promise made to the fathers was the binding together of the human family. This is the great promise Jacob [Israel] wrested from God. 10 This was the promise Abraham received of his seed like the stars in heaven or the dust of the earth. 11 This was the covenant Isaac obeyed when he married an unknown woman from a distant land because such an one alone would honor the authority of Melchizedek. 12

The work of Joseph’s life was to put in place the mechanism to eternally join parents to their children throughout all the generations of mankind. To us who believe Joseph Smith, this is the clear meaning of the prophesy about Elijah. This was the work of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob.

The binding of children to their fathers was a work so sacred that the ordinances would not be performed until after Joseph died, as he wouldn’t allow them to be performed outside a temple of God. 13 But merely binding parents and children across generations would not be sufficient any more than simply stringing the warp threads on a loom is sufficient to create cloth.

Binding together husbands and wives would be required to weave the family of mankind together, like the weft thread on the shuttle in the weaver’s hand. How could Joseph imagine being bound to his children without also being bound to Emma, their mother, his beloved? He could not think of being bound to his father without also being bound to his mother.

Orphans without Root

If Joseph had lived a thousand years earlier, he could have restored the sealing ordinances without any complications. A thousand years earlier, the occasional polygamous marriage was accepted. All wives would have been able to be sealed to their respective husbands, with no cognitive dissonance if existence of a prior wife transformed a man into a “polygamist” in eternity.

But in the 1050s the Roman pope strengthened the impediment of affinity, which holds that the union of a man and woman creates a blood bond that should prohibit marriages of their respective relatives as though they themselves were related by blood (the impediment of consanguinity). 14 In following years, the Catholic faithful would adjust their laws to align with the realities of the impediments of consanguinity and affinity, 15 leading to almost total cessation of polygamous marriages. 16

If monogamy were allowed to remain as the only valid form of marriage, huge tracts of the human family would remain stranded, forever cut off. It’s not clear Joseph understood this at first, since he initially tried to teach eternal marriage without teaching polygamy. One early saint, William W. Phelps, wrote his wife in 1835. “Sally, you will be mine in this world and in the world to come… I have no right to any other woman in this world nor in the world to come according to the law of the Celestial Kingdom.” 17

Romantic though Phelps’ statement seems, this idea of eternal marriage would prohibit him from remarrying were Sally to die.

Even if Mormons could have lived strict eternal monogamy from that point forth, imagine our anguish as we did the work for our dead. Think of how you would feel if a loved ancestor couldn’t be sealed to her husband because she wasn’t the first wife. The children of women who couldn’t be sealed would be considered eternal orphans, never to be sealed to the family of mankind. Imagine how conflicted we would be sharing the gospel with a friend who had remarried after the death of a first spouse.

How could God allow Joseph to restore the sealing ordinances if we in these last days still held fast to strict monogamy? We children of God trusted our Father’s covenant that Christ would be our Savior if we came to earth. God could not allow any of us to become eternal orphans, unless it was by our own choice.

I contend God refused to allow Joseph to restore the sealing ordinances until it was clear that every woman and every child had a way to be sealed into the family of mankind. This required God’s people embrace the possibility of plural marriage, so none would be excluded from the fulfillment of the promises made to us before the world began. Thus the reason Joseph instituted polygamy was to permit universal salvation through baptism and sealing for all who love God.

Over the next few weeks, I will demonstrate how every story about Joseph and polygamy can be understood through the lens of God’s desire to save all mankind.

The next post on 12/30 discusses important precursors to Mormon polygamy.

Notes:

  1. Luke 2: 10–11
  2. John 3:3
  3. John 3:16
  4. John Lefgren’s analysis of local weather patterns and the science of maple syrup place the date of this vision on Palm Sunday, 1820
  5. Malachi 4:6, cf. Luke 1:17
  6. Smith, Lucy, “Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith, the Prophet, and His Progenitors for Many Generations,” Liverpool, 1853, p. 88
  7. Joseph Knight holograph, see Jessee, Dean, Joseph Knight’s Recollection of Early Mormon History, 1976
  8. Doctrine and Covenants 137:5
  9. Church History In The Fulness Of Times Student Manual, (2003), p. 251, Baptism for the Dead
  10. Genesis 28, Genesis 32:24–30, Genesis 48:16
  11. Genesis 13:16, Genesis 15:5
  12. Genesis 24:1–7, 58–67
  13. See Joseph Smith’s Polygamy, Volume 3: Theology, chapter 7
  14. See Calisse, Carlo, A History of Italian Law, Volume II, p.545 for the 1054 laws declaring affinity by betrothal sufficient to create an impediment to marriage. The Catholic Encyclopedia article on Affinity (in Canon Law) discusses the eleventh Council of Rome in 1059 which established the impediment of affinity (and consanguinity) to the seventh degree.
  15. Queen Margaret of Scotland tried to persuade the Witanagemot to revise the marriage code to wholly align with the papal position in the 1070s , but was only able to wrest an agreement that a widow ought not be forced to marry her step-son, a change to marriage law that was one of the five reasons cited for her canonization. By the time of King Henry VIII, traditional biblical forms of marriage were so suppressed that Henry had to petition Rome for special permission to marry his brother’s widow, even though levirate marriage is very clearly a duty imposed on a dead man’s brothers (Genesis 38:8, Deuteronomy 25:5,6, 9–10, Ruth)
  16. Even though Church laws had fought strenuously to end polygamy for hundreds of years prior to the reformation, Martin Luther wrote in the early 1500s: “I confess that I cannot forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict the Scripture. If a man wishes to marry more than one wife he should be asked whether he is satisfied in his conscience that he may do so in accordance with the word of God. In such a case the civil authority has nothing to do in the matter.” (De Wette II, p. 459)
  17. William W. Phelps to his wife, Sally, dated 16 September 1835, see Van Orden, “Writing to Zion: The William W. Phelps Kirtland Letters (1835–1836),” BYU Studies 33, no. 3, p. 16, 1993.
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About Meg Stout

Meg Stout has been an active member of the LDS church for over four decades. She lives in the DC area with her husband, Bryan, and several daughters. She is an engineer by vocation and a writer by avocation, and is working on a midrashic treatment of the events in Nauvoo associated with early polygamy.

30 thoughts on “Why Would a Loving God Demand Polygamy?

  1. “But in 1050s the Roman pope strengthened the impediment of affinity, which holds that the union of a man and woman creates a blood bond that should prohibit marriages of their respective relatives as though they themselves were related by blood (the impediment of consanguinity). 14 In following years, the Catholic faithful would adjust their laws to align with the realities of the impediments of consanguinity and affinity, 15 leading to almost total cessation of polygamous marriages. 16

    If monogamy were allowed to remain as the only valid form of marriage, huge tracts of the human family would remain stranded, forever cut off. It’s not clear Joseph understood this at first, since he initially tried to teach eternal marriage without teaching polygamy. One early saint, William W. Phelps, wrote his wife in 1835. “Sally, you will be mine in this world and in the world to come… I have no right to any other woman in this world nor in the world to come according to the law of the Celestial Kingdom.” 17″

    Meg, this is absolutely a central doctrine, and thank you for reminding us of this.

    Think of all of the literally billions of people over the centuries who have been the products of polygamous marriages. If we truly understand that we are a human family where all people must have the opportunity to be saved, then this means that there must be some vehicle for the people from polygamous marriages to be saved, and Joseph’s doctrine has much greater meaning.

  2. Help me think this through. This is a sincere question. Meg, doesn’t your line of reasoning also apply to or require polyandry beyond the veil as well as polygyny?

    If it does not require polyandry, then a man’s biological children would not be sealed to him if he married a widow (and had children by her) if she was previously sealed to her deceased husband; he would in essence be raising up seed to her deceased husband.

  3. This line of reasoning also raises a question in my mind about two types of eternal family sealings.

    The “chain” that we are forging in temples from parent to child is apparently going to criss-cross back and forth across the three kingdoms or degrees of glory. THe people in one kingdom are going to have ancestors and descendents in another kingdom.

    It is easy to envision that even among those who are sealed as husband and wife (and were married to none others in mortality) one of the spouses “makes it” into the Church of the Firstborn, and one doesn’t.

    Yet at some point, those in the Church of the Firstborn, ie, those in the highest degree within the Celestial, are going to “move on” to something we call “eternal’, a state of being and a location/dimension we only know as being “like Heavenly Father” and dwelling somewhere where they can “look down” on our 3-dimensional universe.

    The lower two orders of the Celestial, and the entire Terrestrial and Telestial will not “move on”, and will remain in a saved condition, but time-bound while still immortal, or at least exist until the “end of time” if there is such an end.

    Therefore, not all those in the Church of the Firstborn are sealed in a parent/child link or a spousal link to someone else in the Church of the Firstborn. Or, in other words, the “fabric” of the Church of the Firstborn (taken as a unit by itself) is not complete and whole if the only sealings we know of are those we currently do in the temple, which are based on sealing only those who had earthly marriages while they were in mortality.

    Therefore, I speculate that there is an additional type of sealing to “connect in” all those who are worthy to be in the Church of the Firstborn, but whose spouse/parent/child did not “make it” .

    Perhaps a more clear example would be those who die as infants, who are guaranteed exaltation. Yet we have no idea to whom they are sealed to as spouse, even though we believe a spousal sealing is a requirement of exaltation.

  4. Geoff, you’re response captures the “Aha” reaction I hope many experience when reading this post. Once we understand that there could be some divine impetus for the brief practice of mortal polygamy in the Church, we have the ability to perceive something other than merely the sexual appetite of Joseph Smith as cause.

    Bookslinger, you’re asking three questions. First is why we honor polygynous marriage but not polyandrous marriage in our sealing practices. The second is what happens when select individuals fail to live a life consistent with salvation in the highest kingdom of Heaven. Third, you wonder about the fate of those who die without benefit of marriage (if marriage is required to enter the highest Heaven).

    The Old Testament is clear on how marriage is to be handled. As for the Mormon view, I cite the example of my friend, Don Redd. Later in life Don married a lady named Winn, who was previously sealed to a prior husband. Don and Winn were absolutely precious together. But when Winn died, there was no question that in heaven she would be with the husband to who she had been sealed.

    When it comes to how we conduct sealing ordinances for our deceased, current policy allows a man to be sealed to all women with whom he had a marital relationship (either legal marriage or production of children). Similarly sealing ordinances may be performed between a woman and all men with whom she had a marital relationship. However it is understood that in Heaven the woman will select only one of those spouses to be her companion in eternity.

    Given the assymetric nature of human procreation, eliminating eternal polyandry does not create the phenomenon of eternal orphans. The policies allowing all husbands to be sealed to a woman ensures that the work of salvation via baptism proceeds undisturbed, despite the expectation that the woman will be the wife of only one man in eternity.

    This raises the interesting question of the parentage of those raised in same gender households. I don’t have any reason to expect the Church will solemnize same-gender unions. However I can imagine that when temple work is done for such families, the children will be allowed to seal themselves separately to each of their same-gender parents, the way we currently seal children to all possible parents today, even though it is expected that not all these sealings will remain in force in Heaven.

    As for what happens when individuals in a larger family fail to desire salvation in the highest heaven? I say desire rather than “merit” or “earn” since God and Christ will save all who truly seek them. I once explained it to someone that there will be families that are like a solid cloth, with every strand in place. Other families will be like lace, the faithful linking across generations despite the absence of loved ones who did not seek to rejoin God in Heaven. I personally expect that the great work on behalf of our dead here in mortality coupled with the persuasion of loved ones in the afterlife will redeem many we are judging to be lost. So don’t judge, eh?

    If you consider the infant mortality rates for prior eras of human history, nearly half of all children born died before the age of accountability. Folks who argue with me about polygamy posit that the need to fashion eternal couplings between these innocents will eliminate the “need” for polygamy in the highest Heaven, since more of these innocents tend to be male, if current infant mortality patterns are true for all human history.

    Personally, I consider there to be two familial topographies in play here.

    The first is the operational family, the way we have been here on earth. We must perform the sealing work for these families so everyone is saved, regardless of the possibility that some members of these families do not end up in a place where family relationships matter. This is the topography where solemnization of intergenerational relationships is so critical, that our dead not be damned at the great and terrible day of the Lord. This is where we have to embrace the multiple wives a man may have had if we are to bring the entire family of mankind together.

    The second topography is the way those of us in the highest heaven provide spiritual life to eternal entities. I expect each man and woman working together are operating directly under the guidance of God (organizational folks call this a “flat” organization). I suspect there may be a bit of jockeying to get everyone sorted into pairings, given the huge number of infants who never had a spouse in life, not to mention those mortal marriages where a partner isn’t present in the highest Heaven.

    When it comes to this second topography, I just know that were there an odd woman out, I would be happy to welcome her as a sister wife (assuming she so wished). I do tend to think that there will be a minor surplus of ladies, so that the required adjustment is polygynous in nature rather than polyandrous. But I’m sure that I’ll be fine with whatever happens in this Heaven.

  5. I find the imagery of a chain—and even of a web—rather unfortunate. To my understanding, you are being sealed into the family of Adam: aka. the covenant of Adam. This covenant was, in essence, that humanity would suffer in a mortal sphere, cut off from the presence of God to suffer both good and evil, pain and pleasure, joy and sorrow, in order to learn wisdom and who they would follow. In return, God would provide a Savior who could reconcile the fallen man with God again.

    When we are sealed, we are entering into this covenant, becoming Sons and Daughters of God as opposed to sons and daughters of man. Who we are sealed to is less important than that we are sealed. When we are sealed to a spouse, we are taking on that part of the covenant which leads to eternal increase. Not only partakers of the covenant, but performers of it.

    This covenant was renewed through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob which is why it is often called the Abrahamic Covenant.

    Of course, there is more to it, but that’s the gist of why I see it as more of a pot than either a chain or a web. (Though I’m not enamored of that analogy, either.) Being sealed to family members is a method of organization, and significant because it is our family to whom we are most proximal within that covenant. But while family is a vehicle for the covenant, it is not the definition of it. There is no further sealing required.

  6. Also . . . it is of importance to note that the sealing-to-parents passes through the woman. I’ve touched on that before here, I think.

    But it is helpful to read the exact nature of the “curses” placed upon Adam and Eve, and note their significant similarities and differences.

  7. Hi SilverRain,

    The human family is what it is. Neither a pot nor a web nor a chain. The LDS standard for the saving ordinances for members of the human family seems to be that they are offered individually by name, not anonymously in bulk.

    Personally, I’ll be fascinated to see how this is to be done for those branches of the human family that are lost to extant knowledge. But as I have friends for whom the veil is crazy thin, I assume something will be worked out.

  8. SR,

    I agree with everything you said about sealings. The church is far more interested that you are sealed than who you are sealed to, because its always assumed adjustments can be made after death as needed.

    But I’m not clear how that avoids a chain or web? Even after adjustments, isn’t it still a chain back to Adam?

  9. Bruce, I don’t think that “adjustments” are why the Church is less interested in who you’re sealed to. I think it is because, like I said, lineage is a vehicle, not a definition or even a defining characteristic.

  10. I thought you were saying that I had suggested the imagery of the chain, but chain was mentioned in bookslinger’s comment. You mentioned both the web and pot. I was merely indicating that the family of mankind doesn’t resemble any of these three things sufficiently to make them robust analogies. Your proposal of a “pot” analogy led me to infer you were supposing that it isn’t important to trace actual lineages.

    Otherwise, I think what you and I are saying is fairly consistent.

  11. No, Meg. That is the precise reason I don’t like the pot analogy, because of that connotation. But that is not what I meant at all. Still, it is closer than either a web or a chain construct . . . ie. one where there even CAN be “holes.”

  12. Just to clarify, when you suggest there ought not be “holes,” I assume you do admit the possibility that some individuals won’t return. How do you characterize their absence in the family of mankind?

  13. It would be easier to discuss in person, but I’ll give it a shot.

    Let me try to approach it from the other direction. Do you think God is incomplete? (Partially rhetorical, I’m assuming you’d answer “no.”)

    If He isn’t incomplete, than how could the Celestial Kingdom be incomplete (or with “holes”) just because some people choose to exercise their agency to opt out? I don’t like the term “making it to the Celestial Kingdom” for similar reasons. We don’t “make it” we choose it by choosing the laws upon which those blessings are predicated.

    If someone does not choose it, it leaves no holes. In fact, I would suggest that it is because some people don’t choose it that it IS whole. Because without the principles of agency, including even the less pleasant consequences of agency the Kingdom of God could not exist. Agency is a Celestial principle. And if we hope to the blessings of the Celestial glory, we must also comprehend agency. Therefore, no holes.

    If that doesn’t make sense (and I don’t blame you if it doesn’t) I’m not sure how to better explain.

  14. But I do want to make it clear, I’m absolutely not suggesting that there “ought not to be holes.” I’m saying unequivocally that there are NOT holes, that holes are not possible. Which is why the image of fabric, web, chain, etc. falls short.

  15. I suppose I see it that the heaven each person gets in eternity is the best heaven they are willing to bear.

    Those in the highest Heaven are those who love God so much that they truly do want to effect His work and His glory in assisting eternal beings who have not yet experienced spiritual birth to commence the journey towards exaltation. Forcing others to be in that sphere when it is not their desire to be there would not be right. Permitting feckless folk to be there who don’t truly desire the good of these eternal beings would also be wrong.

    I do reserve for myself the possibility of feeling pangs of sorrow if someone I love chooses not to be part of the highest Heaven, however. I would call that a hole, if not something God will force to be different that the individuals involved have chosen.

  16. Sorrow is a part of Adam and Eve’s curse for a reason. Not all sorrow leaves a hole. There is much to be learned from scripture about sorrow and about joy, too….The eternities are not boundaries between sorrow and joy, but only between joy and joy.

  17. Meg, I think that the way you are describing vicarious sealings is the modern, post-Heber J Grant way of understanding temple work. Jonathan Stapley’s research on the Law of Adoption shows that early Mormons didn’t have any kind of goal of sealing their dead ancestors to their whoever their earthly spouses happened to be. The point of sealing was to graft a deceased loved one into one of the “legit,” non-apostate family lines where they would have the full blessings of the priesthood. Hence why thousands of people living and dead were sealed to Joseph Smith after his death. The earthly ties were of little consideration. That is a romantic notion that has been adopted since.

  18. Nate,

    The “romantic” notion of sealing actual family members was what was originally intended. John D. Lee was the fellow who came up with the adoption sealing ponzi scheme concept. Brigham Young was originally persuaded to consider the adoption scheme, but a vision of Joseph indicated that he should seek the guidance of the spirit on this.

    Malachi 4:6 and the various places it is restated are pretty clear about children fulfilling the promises made to the fathers. Joseph himself was clear about the sealing between generations – except this kind of sealing never happened during his lifetime, since he felt it was an ordinance that must be reserved for the temples.

    Alas, by the time they had the temple, they were a bunch of hunted men, under threat of death, trying desperately to get “the work” done in less than three months. They did a bunch of odd things, like the policy of allowing any woman who wanted to be sealed to Joseph (with the proxy becoming the woman’s earthly husband). As few saints had parents who were believers, the only way they could comprehend of sealing themselves into family units was to seal themselves to some church leader as “father.”

    One such case was the sealing of numerous folks to John Taylor (in the wee hours of a February morning, I believe). One of those folks was George Q. Cannon, nephew of John Taylor’s wife and later a high-ranking official in the Church (as I’m sure you know). Next to this entry in the Nauvoo record book is an indication that the sealing to Taylor was cancelled (circa 1878, I believe) to allow Cannon to be sealed to his own father in the Saint George temple.

    So did silly and desperate folks in Nauvoo seal themselves in ways that make no sense and had no eternal purpose? Sure.

    But to claim that these Nauvoo sealings were therefore the proper pattern, before Mormons got all romantic about family, is a statement I reserve the right to mock.

  19. “John D. Lee was the fellow who came up with the adoption sealing ponzi scheme concept. Brigham Young was originally persuaded to consider the adoption scheme, but a vision of Joseph indicated that he should seek the guidance of the spirit on this.”

    Meg, I’d be interested to hear more about this history because I’d never heard what you say, and Jonathan Stapley didn’t cover it.

    I can accept that our modern ideals of vicarious sealings are embodied by the Malachi scripture. But that doesn’t change the fact that there is a strong “non-romantic” tradition in LDS historical practice.

    Even if God instituted polygamy solely to give “compromised” polygamous families a chance to eternally stay with their loved ones, you have to admit that this did not seem to be at all the motivation of Joseph Smith or other early Mormons in their sealing practices, nor was it at all present in God’s thorough explanation of the practice in D&C 132.

    Your theory strikes me as exactly the kind of modern moral rewriting of God’s nature that Michael Towns is railing against in his post.

  20. Thank you for the referral to the Stapley article.

    I would say that the Stapley article contains everything I talked about. He dates George Q. Cannon’s sealing cancellation as 1890 (I was working fro memory, since I couldn’t find the scrap I wrote the notes on from my visit to the SLC archive).

    The Stapley article does mention that John D. Lee was a bit odd on this point, and that everyone (including Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and Newel K. Whitney) felt to some degree that biological parent to child sealings were preferred. Brother Whitney was very strong in his opposition to the adoption stuff (despite the ordinances in Nauvoo where he was adoptive father) – this is particularly germane because his instruction on the matter was received from Joseph in conjunction with Whitney’s sealing to his own wife and the sealing of their daughter to Joseph. John Taylor seriously downplayed adoption sealings during his time administering the Logan temple. Wilford Woodruff, of course, was the one who received the revelation directing folks to seal themselves to their own parents. Even Brigham Young (Feb 17, 1847) declared that he was not adopted to any man and would only be adopted to his father.

    In this life we are to seek our own ancestors and bind them to us and us to them, going back through time until the entire human family has been ceremonially so linked.

    The big problem, circa 1845-1895, was lack of comprehension that the proxy ordinances could qualify those who died without the gospel to become the righteous, endowed folks to whom children *could* be sealed.

  21. Meg says “However it is understood that in Heaven the woman will select only one of those spouses to be her companion in eternity.” Who understands it to be so? Not the Handbook, I can assure you. In fact, it says all ordinances are binding so that if the deceased parties accept the ordinance done on their behalf, the ordinance is valid. Much more to write but will have to wait until after New Years.

  22. IDIAT writes “Who understands it to be so?” to my assertion that a woman may select only one spouse to be with in eternity.

    Sigh. Certainly in live ordinances, a woman may not be sealed to a man unless her prior sealings have been cancelled. Men don’t have to have their prior sealings cancelled, though the furor over the assymmetry caused the policy to be updated so that now a man getting sealed in the temple to a subsequent wife needs to go through the same paperwork allowing a former spouse to comment (or whatever they call that process I had to go through when I got my first sealing cancelled).

    I think the church has a toll free number if you are an ecclesiastical leader and have questions about stuff like this. If you are not an ecclesiastical leader, feel free to ask your ecclesiastical leader about this stuff. I (and SLC) will be very surprised if you find a bona fide ecclesiastical leader who agrees with the position you’re taking, that a deceased woman sealed to all her possible husbands by proxy will actually remain sealed to all of them (polyandrous marriage like sealed to all of them) in eternity.

  23. Ok. Time for a marriage joke.

    Two guys are sitting at a bar.

    First guy says to the second guy: “My wfe’s an angel.”

    Second guy says: “You’re lucky. My wife’s still living.”

    [rimshot]

  24. “The rim is hot?” I thought.

    Interesting that “My husband’s an angel” isn’t a phrase that trips easily off the tongue. Now, “My husband’s amazing” trips off the tongue, and it scans like the angel phrase, so I don’t know why the difference, unless there’s an implicit feminine implication to the term “angel.”

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