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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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Helping LDS Leaders Understand Faith Crisis

David Ostler is the author of “Bridges:  Ministering to Those Who Question.”  This book is designed for LDS Leaders to better understand a faith crisis, and how to help members in their wards and stakes to better empathize and maintain members who struggle with issues of faith.  David has interviewed several hundred people to better understand their perspective and shares that knowledge with all of us.

David:  When I started studying faith crisis, disaffiliation, my own background is in evidence-based medicine. So, you know, it’s like, what does the data say? It’s the first question we ask. So I spent time trying to understand what we knew about the problem, what people had written, what studies had been done, what data had been collected. Like most problems, we all have impressions about a particular area, but when we go in and study it systematically, sometimes we find those impressions are not entirely accurate. For my own life, that’s been the case often. But certainly with this topic, I found it to be the case. So I wanted to, as I learned about this for myself, and then ultimately, as I wrote the book, to make sure that I had the best information that can be brought on it, and where it wasn’t available to see what I could do to create more information there. So with regards to Leading Saints, and Kurt Francom, we were able to, using the leaders that subscribe to his newsletter, to be able to survey them and understand what local leaders thought about faith crisis, issues of faith, how they were responding and the like. So that’s been kind of a fun thing for me to get to know Kurt and that community a little better.

Check out our conversation…

David Ostler has a new book called “Bridges: Ministering to Those Who Question

 

And don’t miss our previous conversations with Kurt Francom!

223: Do You Disagree with the Exclusion Policy?

222: Should the Church Modify Bishop’s Interviews?

221: Results of Faith Crisis Research

220: “We’ve Got to Have These Difficult Conversations”

219: Ministering to the Faithful & Faithless

218: Is it Bad to be Called LDS or Mormon?

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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