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Interesting Defenses of Polygamy (Part 4 of 6)

A non-Mormon man wondered if he might be able to participate in polygamy.  Helen Mar Kimball wrote a scathing response to this man while offering a strong defense of polygamy.   Dr. Larry Foster discusses this interesting defense of polygamy.

Larry:  There was a very interesting defense of polygamy by one of Joseph Smith’s plural wives, Helen Marr Kimball, who then became married to Whitney– Helen Mar Kimball Whitney, later, but I forget which Whitney she was married to, but she was briefly a plural wife of Joseph Smith. She wrote a defense of why we practice plural marriage. She starts with a very interesting story about a man who had written her. He described a very complicated situation in which he was unable to have sex with his wife.  He loved her. He was taking care of her, but it was impossible to have sex with his wife, and he wondered if he were to become a Mormon, if it’d be acceptable for him to have another wife. She wrote back to him, chastising him and saying, “This is terrible. You’re awful.” I guess he was living in this type of relationship and he wanted to see if it could be regularized as a Mormon. And she said, “This is terrible, your great sin,” and so forth. But if it had been under the authority of the Mormon Church, it would have been okay. This is very interesting to me. She was a very thoughtful writer. She appreciated the problem that he was in, but she really gave him an earful about how he really needed to repent.

GT:  It wasn’t under proper authority.

Larry:  It wasn’t under proper authority, and I don’t think she ever got to the question of what would happen if he joined and tried to do it?

We will also discuss Brian Hales‘ three-volume work on polygamy (Vol 1, Vol 2, Vol 3).

Larry:  Brian Hales, he’s done great work by giving us a 3-volume, 1600-page collection with accurate transcripts of virtually all the stuff that relates to polygamy, pro, anti, but he interprets it wrong, ahistorically.  I think his major goal is to actually argue that none of these women that were sealed to Joseph Smith, who were married to other men actually had sex with him in this life, that they were only sealed for eternity and did not have sex with him in this life.  I think this has been almost definitively disproven by Michael Quinn.  Michael Quinn is one of the most knowledgeable and most reliable, I think, historians of all aspects of Mormonism, especially 19th century Mormonism.  He’s done a lot on the 20th century as well.

GT:  Let me jump in there, because, and I’ll be a Brian Hales defender for just a moment, because I do know that he’s done at least two DNA studies with Dr. Ugo Perego.

Larry:  Right, but this is about possible children by some of these women.

GT:  But I know that Sylvia Sessions Lyon was one case, and he’s since changed his opinion since he wrote those books, but he was arguing with Sylvia Sessions that she was married to Brother Lyon, I can’t remember his first name–it was consecutive marriages.

Larry:  It doesn’t hold up.  If you look at the detail, and that’s what Michael Quinn has done, but here’s the thing about that particular case. In that particular case, she’s told her daughter.

GT:  Josephine Lyon.

Larry:  Josephine Lyon, just before she died, she said, “I wanted you to know this, I have kept this from you all these years, but you’re really Joseph Smith’s progeny.”

GT:  Yeah.

Larry:  Well, then we did the DNA testing and it showed that she wasn’t.

GT:  Right, she was a daughter of Brother Lyon.

Larry:  Listen to this. What does the fact that she told her daughter that she was Joseph Smith’s progeny mean? She then knew that she had had sex with Joseph Smith, even if that particular example of the sex didn’t produce progeny from him. It was exceedingly controversial to have children in Nauvoo from 1841 to 1844 as a polygamist.  It was illegal. It would have been totally disapproved up by most Mormons who were taught to have to be strictly monogamous and thought that was heinously sinful to have more than one marital partner, or relationship of any sort, outside of marriage. So, any children that would have been born, would have been covered up. I know we have some examples of how that happened.

Check out our conversation….

Helen Mar Kimball wrote a very interesting defense of Mormon polygamy.

 

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The Warsaw-Nauvoo Rivalry (Part 2 of 7)

There was a real economic rivalry between the cities of Warsaw and Nauvoo, Illinois.  Is that the reason Thomas Sharp hated Mormons?  Brian Stutzman will give us more information on this rivalry.

Brian:  So the Latter day Saints come up and they come to Quincy, and Joseph Smith eventually joins them. They come up and they’re they are settling. As they come up, people in Warsaw are saying, “Why don’t you stop here?”  See in 1837, there was this national depression. Half the financial institutions in the United States collapse, including our own Kirtland Safety Society. There’s these developers that have all this land, and they say, “Come settle here. So I don’t go bankrupt. I need to sell my land.”  There were people in Warsaw that said the same thing and Joseph Smith and some of the other leaders, Isaac Borrow, some of these guys sit down.  “We’re making this deal with Isaac Galland and we’re going to settle up here.” There were some good interactions between the two towns.

Brian:  Not everybody in Warsaw at the time, was necessarily anti-Mormon…there were some political tensions that way, but also the fact that you could vote after six months of being in the States, even if you were an immigrant. So all of a sudden, you had bloc-voting going on. The people of Warsaw said, “We’ll never elect anybody with 6000, 8000, 10,000 LDS people when were at 400-500 down here.

GT  24:24  Because Nauvoo was really large.

Brian  24:25  It got really big, really fast.  Those people could vote.  If Joseph Smith came out for a candidate, they’re going to win, at least locally. You had some economic issues as well. People tended to trade amongst themselves.  In 1842, I believe it was, Thomas Sharp wrote in his paper, he said, “It’s funny that the Latter-day Saints,” I’m paraphrasing, “up in Nauvoo don’t trade with us. We don’t have anything. You won’t find anything made in Nauvoo in Warsaw. You won’t find it.” He says, “We’re probably better off because of it,” as a joke. So economics also played a part in the expansion of the Church. Joseph set up what was called the hub and spoke idea of settlements. Nauvoo was going to be the hub, and then they’d have settlements. We did that in Utah with Salt Lake and all the little communities. So Nauvoo this is going to be the center and Montrose, which became Zarahemla and some of these other towns. Well, they were looking to put a Mormon settlement in Warsaw, just south of Warsaw.

Find out more about these early settlements.  Check out our conversation….

Hill-Dodge Bank in Historic Warsaw, Illinois. Brian Stutzman describes the rivalry between Warsaw and Nauvoo.

Don’t miss our previous episode with Brian!

306: The Anti-Mormon Triangle: Warsaw, Carthage, Nauvoo

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Revelatory Whiplash (Part 3 of 4)

(Updated-Fixed mp3-link) When the Nov 2015 policy was announced, many LDS Church members were hurt to learn that children of gay parents couldn’t be baptized, and gay couples were considered in apostasy. Fast forward to April 2019 and the policy was reversed, causing joy among some church members, and pain from other dues to the quick nature of the change.  Still others were outraged at the reversal.  Some church members may have felt a bit of revelatory whiplash at the sudden changes.  Dr. Greg Prince will talk more about the pain caused by the Policy and its reversal.

GT:  I know, some people made an interesting observation last night at your book signing, that there was not a single mention of that [in General Conference]. Why do you think that was?

Greg:  I think that’s because they had good input from Public Affairs, that if you’re going to announce something like that, which is not real cheery news for the institution, because you’re erasing something that people thought was permanent, when you called it a revelation three years earlier. The way to do it, essentially, is what the government does when it has bad news, you announce it after five o’clock on a Friday afternoon, so that by Monday, people have pretty much moved on. By announcing it a couple days before General Conference, and then not mentioning it, it became non-news. I think that was a good move on their part.

GT:  So, I know a lot of people, I know that I was very happy with the announcement. But I know a lot of people have been just as upset, and I think the main reason why is because there was no apology. I know Elder Oaks is often quoted as, “The church doesn’t apologize.”[1] Do you think it would have been a Public Relations win if the church had said we know there’s been some damage done here, or do you agree with Elder Oaks, “The church just doesn’t apologize.”

Greg:  No, I don’t agree with that. I think they should apologize on multiple things, and it would have been a P.R. win, if they had said humbly, “We apologize for the damage that this has done,” because demonstrably it did a lot of damage. Families were ripped apart. I think there’s good evidence that more than a few people took their lives over this, and you can’t undo that by reversing the policy. That’s the real residual damage of this thing. It’s not like okay, we went there, now we’ve come back, now let’s go on and life goes on as it did before, but it doesn’t. You step in something and you step out of it, but you still got it in your shoes, and that’s where we are? How do you undo that kind of damage? It also creates a dilemma that may even affect the orthodox church member more than the progressive church member, and that is, “Wait a minute, you told us this was revelation, and now three years later, you’re saying it’s back to where we were?”   That creates a real dilemma.

GT:  I have actually seen some orthodox members say, “I think the church is now in apostasy.”

Greg:  Yes. It’s an unforced error, but, nonetheless, it’s something that they’re going to have to deal with, and it has repercussions because it affects the whole brand of revelation.  If people thought that something being called revelation conferred permanence to it, now it becomes much more relative, and it has a ripple effect beyond that particular revelation. It calls into a question other [revelations] and say, “Well, how unchangeable is the rest of it?” In my mind, changeability is bedrock for Mormonism, but it’s something that makes most church members really nervous. They will embrace the concept of continuing revelation, but they’re really hesitant to accept change. It’s a paradox.

[1] See https://archive.sltrib.com/article.php?id=2122123&itype=cmsid

Check out our conversation….

The reversal of the 2015 Exclusion policy earlier this year has caused a bit of revelatory whiplash among more orthodox Church members.

Don’t miss our previous conversations with Greg.

284 – The Christian Right & LGBT Fight

283 – Mixing Church & Politics in Gay Fight