Carol Lynn Pearson and Lindsay Hansen Park want to hear your stories! We are developing a permanent archive to document the damage done by current LDS teachings regarding polygamy and the inequality of the sealing practices. How have these affected you or your family?
“In Polygamy’s Shadow: From a Mormon Childhood to a Life of Choice” – my memoir, is available on Amazon
I just listened to episode 80. I loved every bit of it. Irene Spencer is my aunt whom I’ve never met. In this episode the interviewer wondered if anyone is still practicing today, well yes, they are! In December 2021 I took my third trip down the to Quintana Roo jungle to stay with some cousins. One night I asked my cousin why they had the Book of Mormon on their bookshelf if they don’t actually practice the teaching. We compared the teachings of the LDS church (which I grew up learning) with the teachings of the Church of the Firstborn, or prophet Joel’s church (which he grew up learning). The next morning we decided to go to their church meeting held at a neighbor’s house. The teacher that Sunday read from a big book titled “Disclosures of the Prophet Joel LeBaron”. Knowing so little of my dad’s family history, I was still astounded to find out that this was still being taught and practiced within my family and among people my age. The next month I attended a polygamous wedding. Everyone gathered in a neighbor’s backyard to watch the first wife accept her first sister wife and to get lectured on the important blessings of plural marriage, “God’s greatest gift to man”. I got a rare experience to say the least. To this day I wish I had photos or videos of the wedding, but cell service isn’t a thing in the jungle and I was constantly leaving my phone back at the house I stayed at. I love everyone on that ranch so much and I know many of them might think I’m an evil worldly outsider, but I couldn’t help feeling for the first wife. It seemed apparent to me that the first wife was less than thrilled and maybe even sad. Holding her young son she said “I know it will be hard, but it’s what god wants.” It makes me wonder if she’s ever really thought about what SHE wants. The vibes there’s seemed to be a bit off as about half of who attended were believers of polygamy, and the other half not at all. Anyway, can’t wait to listen to the other episodes!
[…] Tell your own story about polygamy here. […]
At the age of fourteen, I learned that early leaders of the Church had lived polygamy. We discussed the issue for several lessons, and then I learned that in the future, faithful members of the Church who are headed to the Celestial Kingdom will be required to live polygamy. Many quotes from Brigham Young were evidence that no one could be part of that Kingdom without living polygamy.
My heart was pierced with sorrow. From the time I was about ten years old, all I had wanted was to get married and have children. But my lifeview never included sharing my husband. This doctrine continued to trouble me for the next thirty five years. When I was twenty-seven years old, I decided to have an affair, to show my domineering husband what it feels like to have to sexually share a spouse. He is a convert to the Church, and when he found out that he was going to have multiple wives, he was ecstatic.
In our first few years of marriage, he sometimes fantasized out loud about what it would be like to have sex with me, and with another wife in the same bed at the same time. I was sickened. He talked about how he would keep all his wives in the same house, giving each one a room for his convenience. He looked forward to the power and the variety. He actually told me, “sometimes you like apples, and sometimes you want a peach, variety is good.”
I hated it. I tried talking to my bishop about it, and he just smiled and chuckled a little wryly and told me it was silly for me to worry about something that would not take place in this life, unless the Church began commanding it, or if Jesus Second Coming were to take place in my lifetime.
I poured my heart out to God over and over again. I also was a woman who asked God, “why do you love your sons more than your daughters?” I was heartbroken, and I did not believe God loved me.
It did not occur to me that the Church might not be true, or that Joseph Smith may have instituted it on his own, or that Satan might have been behind it. I talked a little to some of my friends, but most of my LDS friends seemed to support it. One of my friends told me, “Just think of the glory that will come upon your husband!”
We were sealed in the temple in 1977. At that time, women covenanted to obey their husbands. I balked, not wanting to commit to something I was not sure I could do. I wondered why my husband had the privilege of obeying God, but I had to obey him!
Now I am 58 years old. I am still married to the same man, and we have been married for 40 years. I am still a member in name only in the Church, but I no longer believe it is God’s Church. I do not believe God has established a specific Church on the earth. I believe God’s Church consists of those who believe in Him and obey Him and love Him. I no longer believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet, nor Brigham Young, nor any of the other presidents of the Church, including Thomas Monson.
Now that I no longer believe in the Church, it is easy to see the flaws in it. It has crumbled before my eyes. I have not told my elderly parents or my daughters that I no longer believe in the Church, the Mormon scriptures, such as the B of M, D&C, PoGP, Articles of Faith. I believe in God, and in Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. I pray to know the truth and I am much happier. I have considered leaving the Church, but I do not do so, because it would break my parents hearts. They would believe I would go to Hell.
Believe me when I tell you that I have always believed that living polygamy would be worse than living in Hell. I would have thrown away my salvation based on a false doctrine. How many lives have been destroyed because of this?
It’s not true that polygamy is required to enter the Celestial kingdom. However, some women are not troubled by the prospect of polygamy. I believe we should take them at their word, just as we believe those who say they are troubled by it.
None of us on Earth can truly understand all the implications of a temple marriage and it’s potential blessings.
God does not love his daughters any less than his sons, and he loves you no matter what do.
Joseph Smith did not invent polygamy as it was practiced in Old Testament times, by prophets.
I think you mischaracterized your being obedient to your husband and the context. It sounds like there has been some real pain in your marriage. I suppose if you want to find a reason to leave the church, it’s easy to find one.
The church is true because it has the authority to administer saving ordinances among other things. No one in the church is perfect, or has a perfect understanding of the eternities.
Our relationship with God and Jesus Christ is a very personal one, but if we are expecting to understand everything or are expecting this life to be “fair”, we will be disappointed.
Your husband sounds horrible. Self-righteous, vain, sexist, hypocritical. I hope you know how wonderful you are. I hope you find peace.
I think Joseph was horney & that’s why God let him die. What the Book of Mormon says about having more than 1 wife. It’s NOT Gods way!
And now it came to pass that the people of Nephi, under the reign of the second king, began to grow hard in their hearts, and indulge themselves somewhat in wicked practices, such as like unto David of old desiring many wives and concubines, and also Solomon, his son.
Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.
Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none.
For behold, he did not keep the commandments of God, but … he had many wives and concubines.
Riplakish did not do that which was right in the sight of the Lord, for he did have many wives and concubines.
I left the church 30 years ago and have been punished by my family all this time. One of the principles I could not accept was the principle of polygamy bothe in Joseph Smith’s time and on into eternity. I have much to say about all this and am writing a book myself.
[…] Tell your own story about polygamy here. […]
[…] Click here to share your ‘polygamy’ story. Click here to listen to ‘Year of Polygamy’ […]
This is a sealing story but not polygamy.
In 1971 I was single and pregnant and lost my baby to adoption through LDS Social Services. That was right during the Baby Scoop Era something every feminist should know about but few do. Through pressure and no help I signed that vile paper and lost any and all rights in a heartbeat. So another woman was later sealed to my son. The Mormon Church still coerces young women into giving up their babies so a more worthy woman can have a child. I no longer believe I have lost my firstborn eternally. It is wrong to separate a mother and her baby. I don’t accept the sealing of my son to someone else. Just another place the Mormon Church is off track. Left the Church 25 years ago and every day I am more relieved. If you care about injustice maybe you should look into this.
It’s so sad to hear you compare yourself to the adoptive mother of your child as more worthy than you. Complete repentance will make you just as worthy as the adoptive mother.
It is important for a child to have a mother and father to raise them, and whenever possible to be sealed to parents. There are potential blessings afforded to the child through this ordinance.
There is no pressure for an unwed mother to put a baby up for adoption. I know this because my wife was pregnant and unwed as a teen, and the church was supportive of any decision she made. As it turns out, she married the father but it did not work out. I subsequently married her in the temple, and eventually adopted her (our) son and he is sealed to us.
It of course is not fair for the adoptive mother to have the child she loved and raised sealed to the biological mother after raising the child?
You did a very unselfish thing that was very difficult. I hope you find your faith again and realize that your child will forever appreciate your selfless act .
I was adopted in 75 and sealed to my adopted parents 6 months later. I have since searched for and found my biological mother, father, and 14 new siblings. I urge you to do a DNA test, through ancestry.com, to aid in finding your son. If nothing else, go to the state where you placed him for adoption, and register. It costs money, but it is the only way to find each other in most states. I wish you the peace and love that can only come with following your heart through the difficult door of truth. From an adoptee, to a grieving birth mom, know that you are loved.
I have always had a hard time with D&C 132. The language is so much harsher than in the rest of the Doctrine and Covenants. My sealing to my first spouse was cancelled so she would remarry. My children choose to use their stepfather’s name. So, my only other connection to them is biological. I wasn’t the kindest or most engaged parent to them, so I just figure that it will have to be sorted out on the other side. I came away from The Ghosts of Eternal Polygamy wondering if the anxiety so many readers have expressed is more about the fear of abandonment or separation at death. The study of the afterlife is fascinating, with so many people relating their near death experiences nowadays. At the same time, I choose not to worry about who will be eternally with whom. I am reading feminist theory currently about the divine feminine, hierogamy, sexual mysticism, tantrism, and the origins of Christian celibacy. I have decided that the old Victorian values so many believers cling to are inadequate in a world awash with sexual slavery and pornography. With all of the serial monogamy, unwed cohabitation and casual hook-ups in today’s culture, people have forgotten the holiness of intimacy. They may understand the mechanics of sex and reproduction (though even that is a dubious assertion, since religious conservatives oppose sex education). But hardly anyone understands love. I think our culture invests too heavily in romantic love, which is inherently unstable. For relationships to work, something more profound is needed. I also think that not many people understand true friendship and loyalty. I don’t know why males produce so much sperm even late in life, while females have a more limited supply of eggs and a fixed timetable. I do think that the most important test of life is learning to love another person and stay faithful to that person in the end. I now believe plural marriage was an outgrowth of the adoption practices of the early LDS church, and that it is no more workable in our day than living the law of consecration was for the Mormons in Missouri in the 1830s. It is too hard for a man to fully love his own wife and children, let alone multiple spouses and a huge family. When visiting in Wyoming, where some of my ancestors lived, I was told that one wife was so upset about the situation, possibly from having a fight with her husband or the families of his other wives, that she burned the house down which he had built for her. I have noticed with my family, and others I have met, that many polygamous families don’t tend to be that close, or that they are only interested in their own maternal line, not those of their kin through different spouses. In any case, it’s a sad legacy. I am interested in genealogy, One finds frequent infant mortality and mothers dying from child bed fever in older records. One marvels at the resilience of forebears in dealing with frequent loss of loved ones. At the same time, they usually didn’t wait long to remarry. One wonders how surviving children felt about their step parents, step siblings, and half-siblings. How did people cope with such precarious living for so many centuries? Nowadays, the loss of a child frequently contributes to divorce. Marriage is a fragile thing. A doctrine, which most people tend to misunderstand, or misappropriate as an excuse for adultery or “open marriage”, needs to be seriously reexamined. It may be a higher law, but it won’t work in our telestial society. People need to worry about staying together, about raising children in a volatile, narcissistic world. They shouldn’t have to worry about trading a spouse in for a new model, or who will take care of the kids when they’re gone.
I grew up in the church in a semi active family in Oregon. My parents paid tithing long enough to get the -temple recommend- and then we were sealed when I was 11…me and my 5 siblings. (It was a beautiful experience!) I am now 45, an active member but I feel like I have to qualify that with saying that my husband is no longer a believer. We go together though, with our 3 children. I do have a polygamy story….My first year of college in 1991 I was rooming with an LDS girl (sort of by chance really that I later felt was divine intervention) who said she had fallen in love with a polygamist and he had had a dream that she and he and his other wife were working in a field together pulling up potatoes or something. She was 18 and absolutely head over heals for this young man and searching the scriptures for confirmation that what he was telling her was true. I thought she was insane! I had never heard of such a thing and had little dealings with polygamy coming from the back waters of Oregon. She and I became good friends and I met my own husband because of her! She had such a good heart and a seeking mind and was just a lovely soul. She eventually gave up the guy and married someone who probably was not good for her. She later divorced him. I felt like she was searching for that first love. She was from southern Utah. It makes a little more sense now after listening to the Mormon Stories 551. Thank you for all your work.
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Do you suppose Joseph Smith was acquainted with or had knowledge of Scottish immigrant Robert Owen who experimented in communal living in New Harmony Indiana in the 1820’s?
Would this be a possibility that lead Joseph Smith to practice stuff like polygamy and the law of consecration?