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Ailing Church Leaders: “Not Ideal Governance”

I enjoyed our latest conversation with Greg Prince.  We talked about incapacitation of church leaders due to medical factors.  Is this a problem in our church ailing church leaders having such an advanced age and becoming incapacitated due to medical issues?

Greg: So, if you’re just looking at this from a medical standpoint, it’s inevitable that incapacitation of an LDS Church president will be both more frequent and longer lasting.  In a fast-paced, complex world with a growing church, that may not give you the ideal governance.  So the question is, what do you do about it?

What we did about it is to say look.  Here’s the medicine involved in this, period.  If they choose to address the situation at some point, it’s their call.  But what we can say with a high level of confidence, because we looked at this through the eyes of medicine is, this is the situation.  It’s going to happen more frequently, and last longer.

Now a few month ago, Greg took some flak over a comment he made about church policies changing.  He made a similar comment to me when I asked if he saw the succession policy changing.

GT:  Do you ever see this policy changing?

Greg:  I see virtually anything changing because I have seen everything change.  I’m not aware of a single LDS doctrine of any significance that from 1830 forward has gone completely unchanged.  You’d think a lot of them would, but it turns out, no there were some substantial changes in many cases very early on.  If you just look at the First Vision narratives, you see the evolution of Joseph Smith’s theology of deity, and it’s taking place in a very rapid fashion and in a very dramatic fashion.

It wasn’t just nibbling at the periphery.  He was going through evolutionary leaps in the way that he portrayed the godhead.  That was reflected in his subsequent retellings of the story of the First Vision.  Each time he told it anew, it incorporated the then current version of his theology of deity.  That’s why those different versions are telling different stories, because they became theological narratives rather than historical narratives.

What do you think?  Are LDS policies changing?  Has there really been no LDS point of theology that hasn’t changed significantly over the history of the church?  Don’t forget to talk about our previous conversation on the leadership vacuums caused by extended periods of incapacitation.  Check out the conversation…

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Mormon Polyandry: More than One Husband

When we talk about Mormon polygamy, we usually mean polygyny—where a man has more than 1 wife.  The opposite of that is polyandry, where a woman can have more than 1 husband.  Did you know that Joseph was sealed to women who were already married?  In this episode, Dr. Brian Hales talks about several of these instances.  We’ll talk in detail about one of these women, Sylvia Session Lyon.  She gave birth to a girl named daughter, Josephine, and Josephine’s mother said she was the child of Joseph.  They did a DNA test to see if Josephine was the daughter of Joseph or Windsor.

I theorized that the marriage between Joseph Smith and Sylvia Sessions Lyon did include sexual relations in that plural marriage, and I had some theories as how that might have unfolded.  When the DNA evidence came back—and part of the theory was that Joseph was the father of Josephine [daughter of Sylvia Sessions Lyon.]  That’s an important point.  But when the DNA evidence came back that Windsor Lyon was the father, it required me to re-write things.  I’ll be honest with you.  It wasn’t what I expected, but it was what I had hoped.

Brian now believes that there were no sexual relations between Joseph and any of these 11-14 polyandrous marriages.

Brian:  Why the women chose Joseph over their legal husbands, sometimes these men were active Latter-day Saints, we don’t know.  It seems odd.  But it’s not as odd as them practicing actual sexual polyandry without anybody ever talking about it or finding that to be controversial.

GT:  Ok, so your opinion is of all the eleven polyandrous marriages, where a woman could have two husbands essentially, none of them involved sexual relations.

Brian:  Correct.

GT:  That’s your opinion.  Ok.  So let’s talk a little bit about…

Brian:  Rick, let me interrupt though.  If people go to my books, they’re going to be confused because I used the word eleven.  The twelfth polyandrous marriage on the chart is Sarah Ann Whitney to Joseph C. Kingsbury, which was a front marriage.  Everybody involved with that realized that she was sealed to Joseph but apparently there was some legal issues going on, so Joseph asked Kingsbury to have a legal marriage but not consummate the marriage.  Everybody agrees that was the relationship.  That’s number twelve.

Number thirteen is Lucinda Pendleton who we just know nothing about, and the fourteenth one is to Mary Herron who we have one attestation that connects her to Joseph sexually but we don’t know any of the details.  If somebody goes to my chart, there’s actually fourteen women on that but eleven of them we believe were eternity-only, two are undocumented so just take your guess, and then we have this pretend marriage with Sarah Ann, so fourteen in total.

He theorizes that this was Joseph’s attempt to satisfy the angel with a flaming sword.  Joseph was completing these sealings in order to fulfill the angel’s command and also placate Emma. We also address the rumor that Joseph sent men on missions so he could marry their wives.

Brian nods:  The problem is we have two sealing dates for Joseph and Marinda.  The other date is from an affidavit Marinda signed that is well after Orson Hyde returning from Palestine.  Even the one that appears to be a case where Joseph might have sent him on a mission, then he waits a year—it doesn’t make sense.  A year later we have Joseph being sealed to Marinda, but again we have a second date.  The second date is a signed affidavit which we probably would consider to be more reliable than something that was just scrawled on a page in Joseph’s journal, not in his handwriting but in I think Thomas Bullock’s [handwriting.]  Again that story is false, yet it’s a sound bite.  It’s all over the internet.  We’ve got to kill it.  It’s wrong.  It’s false.  Joseph did not send men on missions and so he could marry their wives according to any reliable documentation.

Why do you think that Joseph was sealed to other men’s wives?  Were you aware that most of these men were ok with Joseph being sealed to their wives?  Do you think that made it easier for them to consent because there were no sexual relations (no sexual polyandry)?  Why would God command Joseph to do this?

Don’t forget to check out our previous episode on Fanny Alger, as well as parts 15 of our conversations with Brian.  Check out our conversation…

Our New Contest!

Don’t forget to sign up for a contest to win a free book!  You can sign up here!  It is the Parallel Doctrine & Covenants that contains the 1832, 1833, and 1835 Doctrine & Covenants side by side so you can see the changes.  When it was originally published, it was about $50, but the book is now out of print.  Curt Bench was actually the one who wrote the introduction to this book.  It’s a fairly recent book, but if you find it on Amazon now, check this out.  It’s $175.  On Abebooks it’s even higher–$260!  This book is a valuable book and has become a collector’s item, especially for historians or those seriously interested in Mormon history.

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