Mormonism and Polygamy

I’ve posted a number of times now about polygamy, so it’s occurred to me that y’all might think it’s a topic I like to dwell on a lot. Or at least y’all might just be wondering what I really think about it. I just don’t want you to think that I’m sitting around fretting about polygamy, or that it’s something I “struggle with.” It’s not.

So here’s a numbered list that pretty well outlines where I stand on polygamy re: Mormonism.

1. I don’t care what Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Bruce R. McConkie, or anyone else said about polygamy. I believe what feels right to me, which might be different than what feels right to you.

2. I’m not embarrassed that polygamy is a part of Mormonism, nor do I believe that the Church (or anyone individually) needs to apologize for, or be ashamed of, their participation in polygamous marriages. I am entirely comfortable with allowing consenting adults to enter into any type of committed family structure they please. I have no personal interest in being part of a polygamous marriage, but if you do, whatever…

3. I really like the sealing theology behind the polygamous marriages. In it’s simplest form, sealing ceremonies are a ritual symbolic of our hope to perpetuate our love for each other for eternity.

4. The specific circumstances surrounding many of the polygamous marriages in Mormonism’s history are troubling because they were often the result of coercion, fear, or spiritual manipulation. Physical and emotional neglect were also rampant among polygamous marriages. These elements are abhorrent regardless of the family structure. Theoretically, I’m open to the idea that polygamy (including polygyny and polyandry) could exist without these elements.

5. Polygamy is problematic for the LDS church primarily because the Church began teaching that polygamous marriages were necessary to enter heaven, or that they were inherently better or more righteous than monogamous marriages. This is the primary message of D & C 132, which the church now has to more or less ignore or reinterpret to match the Church’s modern message about monogamous marriage. It’s an elephant in the room, but one that the church and most members have learned to comfortably ignore.

6. My interest in polygamy is primarily an academic exercise, since I find it (along with much of early Mormonism) nearly irrelevant to modern Mormonism. I like that modern temple practices allow persons to be sealed to more than one spouse. I think most of us would agree that there are circumstances where, for example, a widow or widower remarries, and the new marriage does not diminish or replace their love for their first spouse. Temple sealing practices should be changed to treat men and women equally.

7. My only real problem with polygamy and Mormonism is that so many modern Mormons feel like they need to defend or justify polygamy. We don’t have to defend the decisions made by past members of the church, nor do we have to believe that everything past members (or leaders) of the church did or said was inspired or “correct.” We can draw our own conclusions about it, and it’s ok if we disagree, both with each other, with earlier generations of Saints, and with early or current church leaders.

Ok, well that about sums it up. Reactions? Got anything to add? How do you feel about it?