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Struggling with the teaching that there will be polygamy in heaven

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I just want to start by saying I am a devout member of the church. My cousin recently expressed her fear that she might have to be one of multiple wives in the Celestial Kingdom. Before this, I had never really thought of polygamy in heaven. I did a bit of research and found that it is true, the church does teach there will be polygamy in heaven. This is causing me a great deal of stress. I've read that no one will be forced into a polygamous relationship but what if the man wants it but the woman doesn't? That might cause some problems. Also, it just seems so unfair that a man can be sealed to another woman if his wife on earth dies but a woman cannot be sealed to another man if her husband on earth dies. While doing research, I read some disturbing things about Joseph Smith and his practice of polygamy. He would be sealed to women who already were married to living men. He would also lie to Emma about marriages. Do any of you believe that this was not a commandment made by God ? I'd appreciate any insight.

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I have always seen it this way, pertaining to myself:

Either I'll accept it and have no problem with it, and make it to the Celestial kingdom, provided I meet all the other requirements for getting there.

OR

I won't accept it and I will have a problem with it, thus I won't be in the Celestial kingdom anyway to have to do it. By that time it would cease to have anything to do with me, so I wouldn't have to worry about it anyway.

*shrug*

As far as whether or not it was a revelation/commandment, I believe that it was, however, I also believe it was misused in many cases, and was not always done in accordance with the way God intended.

I'm sure that in the Celestial kingdom it will be used righteously in all cases, so I don't worry too much about it.

As far as your question of what if the man wants it but the woman doesn't, this ordinance, like any other, is based on acceptance by the parties involved. So if the woman doesn't want it, she won't be forced into marriage. But again, if she doesn't want it and accept it, she won't have to worry about it anyway because she won't be there where it's happening. At least this is the way this issue has been taught to me.

Edited by Silhouette

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Guest LiterateParakeet

I just want to start by saying I am a devout member of the church. My cousin recently expressed her fear that she might have to be one of multiple wives in the Celestial Kingdom. Before this, I had never really thought of polygamy in heaven. I did a bit of research and found that it is true, the church does teach there will be polygamy in heaven. This is causing me a great deal of stress. I've read that no one will be forced into a polygamous relationship but what if the man wants it but the woman doesn't? That might cause some problems. Also, it just seems so unfair that a man can be sealed to another woman if his wife on earth dies but a woman cannot be sealed to another man if her husband on earth dies. While doing research, I read some disturbing things about Joseph Smith and his practice of polygamy. He would be sealed to women who already were married to living men. He would also lie to Emma about marriages. Do any of you believe that this was not a commandment made by God ? I'd appreciate any insight.

 

I just read a thread here on the forum a day or so ago that there is a ratio in the church of approx 100 single women to 19 single men.  To me, this is the biggest explanation of why there might be polygamy in the afterlife...necessity.  

I suggest putting this into a special box in your mind labeled, "maybe I'll understand this later"...and then put it on a shelf.  For example, remember when you were a kid and you thought kissing the opposite sex was gross?  I have a son that doesn't want to know anything about puberty that relates to girls, or anything about sex in general.  I'm guessing he will change his mind in another year or two.  What do you think?  Spiritually speaking we are as children.  We can't really grasp what we will feel in the next life about marriage and polygamy any more than an 8 yr old can understand that he might feel very different about sex at 18.

 

About Joseph Smith...what you are describing is called Polyandry.  The best description I have heard is that they believed at that time that this was the way to seal families together...I mean apparently everyone wanted to be sealed to Joseph in some way.  

 

I don't know exactly what happened between him and Emma...and really I think it is not our business.  Emma loved Joseph and mourned his death...she didn't appear to want to leave him at any point.  That's all I need to know.  I don't mean to be harsh--to you--about this.  I just mean, can you imagine if you were a "public figure" and suddenly people think every detail of your life is open for public discussion?  And Joseph didn't seek to be a public figure (the way actors and sports figures do).  He just wanted to know which church was the right one to join.

I'm not saying he was perfect.  I know he wasn't (only Christ was perfect), but I think he had a good heart and did his best to follow the Lord--as I hope we all do.  Sure it bothers me to imagine him lying to Emma about polygamy, but then I remind myself that what happened to them was THEIR business.  She didn't complain about him, so there must be something here we are missing . . . 

 

Just put it on the shelf.  Concentrate on the things that really matter...God is our Heavenly Father, Christ is our Savior....Christ restored the church through Joseph Smith and through that church we have the Priesthood, and temples etc.  That's what matters in our lives.  Polygamy can just go on the shelf for now.

 

At least that is how I look at it.  Your mileage may vary. ;)

 

ETA: corrected the numbers about single men and women in the church.

Edited by LiterateParakeet

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Why did God command Abraham to sacrifice Issac? God is against human sacrifice.  Abraham knew first hands the horror of the practice, and would have been sacrificed himself had not an angel rescued him.   And Issac was the vessal through which all the promises that the Lord had given Abraham were to be fulfilled.  So why would God give the command?

 

The answer is easy really.  Part of this life is to see if we will do all that God commands... All.  Sacrificing Issac was a command that Abraham could have reasonably and understandably said "No.. God you ask to much of me."  It was a test of Abraham.

 

I see polygamy as the same kind of test.  Everyone struggled with it... Many still struggle with it.  I see that as by God's design. 

 

The Idea that we will not have to act in faith, to accept things as the will of God that we do not fully understand is contrary to the plan of God.  It is by those struggles that we exercise our agency and determine what weight of Glory we will endure.

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Here's my perspective on polygamy, second wives that are sealed to husbands, and all the other messy marriage-and-sealing business:

God won't force us to be unhappy for eternity.  If we've earned the Celestial Kingdom, He won't force anything upon that will make us unhappy or uncomfortable, just to let us in.

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I just want to start by saying I am a devout member of the church. My cousin recently expressed her fear that she might have to be one of multiple wives in the Celestial Kingdom. Before this, I had never really thought of polygamy in heaven. I did a bit of research and found that it is true, the church does teach there will be polygamy in heaven. This is causing me a great deal of stress. I've read that no one will be forced into a polygamous relationship but what if the man wants it but the woman doesn't? That might cause some problems. Also, it just seems so unfair that a man can be sealed to another woman if his wife on earth dies but a woman cannot be sealed to another man if her husband on earth dies. While doing research, I read some disturbing things about Joseph Smith and his practice of polygamy. He would be sealed to women who already were married to living men. He would also lie to Emma about marriages. Do any of you believe that this was not a commandment made by God ? I'd appreciate any insight.

 

Note: I don't believe there are any official statements or doctrine on "there will be polygamy" in heaven (someone correct me if I'm wrong).  Thereby, in my mind this goes under the category of "I don't have do believe this to be Mormon" and it's definitely under the "not essential to my salvation" and "maybe I'll understand this later" category.  

 

When I do choose to visit speculation-land thinking about this, I recall Jacob and his wives.  Should he have to pick 1 and be eternally divorced from the other 3?  No, that doesn't sound like the God I know to force that.  The God I know wants people to be the happiest they can be.  So yes, Jacob will probably be polygamous in the next life.  Does that mean I'll be polygamous?  I don't thinks so (cause I have no reason to).  Again I also know that God will not have me in any situation that doesn't have me 500% happy (and I'm not much of a sharer).  

 

In regards to Joseph Smith, I was not there (to state the obvious).  I don't know what all went down with everything.  Did God command him to take multiple wives?  Quite ossibly.  Did maybe he screw up and get lustful?  Maybe that too.  One thing that's really struck me reading the Old Testament this year is that prophets are fallible humans too, and they do screw up-- frequently.  Whether it was from God or not, I think that the only one who show judge Joseph is the Lord.  Hence I'm staying out of it.

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This all boils down to mortal understanding of marriage versus eternal understanding of marriage as well as mortal understanding of love versus eternal understanding of love and its relationship to the Priesthood.

 

Possession and ownership is closer to greed and selfishness in its mortal state.  But in its spiritual state I imagine love to transcend past the desire to keep love to one's self especially when it is attached to the Priesthood.  I would imagine that in the celestial kingdom, my desire for another person to have the blessings of my husband's priesthood and his godly attributes would prevail whereas my desire to keep all that to myself will be stamped out.  As it is, I have been so blessed with having the husband that I have now and the priesthood which he righteously holds that I wish every other wife in the entire planet would experience the same blessings that I have.  That's a start - even if I'm still at the stage where I would rather they find that experience with another husband and not mine...

Edited by anatess

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Every time I hear someone say that we cannot know the will of god, and that, "The Lord works in mysterious ways." I feel like it is just a nicer way of saying, "I don't know." 

 

Back to your point Emi, I believe that what we know on the matter is simply the most basic understanding of how things will be. It is like attempting to explain to a child how magnets work. We start with the most basic concepts, and only when that child becomes an adult can we begin to talk about polarization and magnetic dipoles. It is something that a child, and many adults for that matter, is not suited to understand.
 

This verse has always resonated with me:

 

Romans 12:2

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

 
To me this renewal of your mind means that we CAN know. We may not have the fullness of the gospel, but if we are created in god's image and are really his children, then why can we not derive the purpose in his creation? I believe that you can know for yourself what others may not be ready to understand with study, and prayer.

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Re polygamy generally and whether the revelation was an error:  Why don't you read D&C 132 and take your question to the Lord?

 

Regarding Joseph Smith's polyandry:  I stand by what I have written previously:

 

I don't think there is one single answer as to why Joseph Smith would marry the wives of other men. I think that, depending on circumstances, there are several possibilities--any one, or more than one, of which may applied in any particular case:

--In some cases, marriages were intended to apply in the eternities, not in mortal life; and the unions were never consummated.
--In some cases, the women had actually left (or been abandoned by) their husbands and believed themselves (or at least, Joseph believed them to be) divorced.
--In some cases, the women were flat-out lying (e.g., Sarah Pratt). In other cases, some women may have been led to confabulate a bit about the nature of their marriages (platonic versus sexual) due to legal pressures and other circumstances under which their affidavits/depositions were obtained.
--Researcher Meg Stout is currently fine-tuning a theory that Joseph Smith may have married some women either to salvage the honor or provide some measure of spiritual/social protection to the women who may have been victims of John C. Bennett, who had organized an unauthorized (and wholly despicable) wife-swapping ring in Nauvoo that was exposed just as Smith was beginning to teach polygamy to a few trusted confidants; and suggests that these marriages, too, may have been platonic.

None of this, of course, offers any hard-and-fast proof of anything. Records from the period are vague (the Dutcher marriage is attested only by hearsay contained in a single letter written forty years after the fact, for example); and Victorian women didn't tend to say much about their sex lives--the best confirmation one could have would be a child between Smith and one of his already-married wives; and DNA evidence has failed to confirm the existence of any such children. Some of the primary sources are also problematic (i.e., much of what we have about Zina Jacobs is gossip that came through Ann Eliza Young).

You can learn more about this by visiting http://josephsmithspolygamy.org/ (especially here), but for me--here's what it boils down to:

I have applied Joseph Smith's teachings to my own life. The result is that my life has come out significantly, improbably, and spectacularly better off than it otherwise would have. My affiliation with Mormonism has resulted in my having spiritual experiences and an overall relationship with Divinity that, I am satisfied, I would never have received through an affiliation with any other religious organization. My research and spiritual witnesses have led me to conclude that Smith was, though gratingly imperfect, nevertheless a good, honest, and fundamentally honorable man.

Just as I believe that Jesus was not an adulterer or fornicator--even though He was frequently seen in the company of harlots; just as I believe He was not a drunkard--even though some who knew Him claimed that He was; just as I believe he did not have corrupt relationships with bureaucrats who lived and died by graft--even though he frequently dined with them: I also believe that Joseph Smith did not deliberately or knowingly commit adultery (as defined by D&C 42 and D&C 132) even though he did participate in sealing rituals with women who had already been legally married to other men.

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It's so very petty to presume that we know what will make us happiest. Maybe trust in God is a better choice than, "I don't like such-n-such so if I have to have/do that then...forget it" sorts of attitudes.

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I think that it is well documented that Joseph Smith lied to his wife about many of his marriages, and Emma went to great lengths to prove after his death that he did not practice polygamy, conversely the church at the same time went to great lengths to prove that he did. Did he practice polyandry I think that there is enough evidence to say that yes he did. It would be foolish to think that some of these marriages were not consummated. 

 

He married women as young as 14 and some much older, he was married about 34 times, he was married to Eliza Snow, which stands out as a notable to me. 11 of these women had living husbands. 

 

Let us not fool ourselves into thinking that everything was on the up and up in these relationships, he was a man of great power temporally and spiritually. 

 

This should not alter in any way your testimony of Joseph Smith, he still was who he was and accomplished great things in his short life. What we lose sight of as members is that he was still a man, he put his pants on one legs at a time just like me and you. He was susceptible to sin and clearly fell victim to it. We have scriptural references of him being scolded by God for being weak.

 

We fall into the same trap with all of our ordained leaders, they are put on a pedestal and when we actually find out that they are fallible our faith gets rocked..

 

To the OP I do not think that it has ever been "doctrine" that you "must" practice polygamy in the celestial kingdom. There are writing of our leaders were they offer opinions and such but certainly not doctrine.

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So it does not bother you that you won't get into the Celestial Kingdom unless you accept it?

Sorry to take so long in replying to this. For me personally, no, it doesn't bother me. One of my spiritual gifts is that acceptance of the Gospel has always come easily for me. I prayed about which church to join, just like Joseph Smith did. I received an immediate personal revelation to "Call the Mormon Church." So I did, the very next day.

Before my prayer, I wouldn't have known a Mormon from Adam's cat. Never had heard of the religion except having heard that the Osmonds

were Mormon. Because of this personal revelation, I know the Church is true.

Therefore, it is easy for me to accept abstract ideas that some other people might struggle with. God will make everything right, and is incapable of leading me astray. I know this. Now, someone has rightly pointed out that there is no direct doctrine in the Church that teaches that polygamy will be in effect in the Celestial kingdom. Personally, I've just always felt that there would be. It just makes sense to me somehow.

So I've been fine with the concept ever since I joined the Church.

Stuff just doesn't bother me. If there is a concept that I question, I seek answers from those who can teach me why the concept is there. My acceptance of the point in question usually follows rapidly upon the heels of the explanation .

If polygamy in the Celestial kingdom is going to be in effect, it must be how God wants it. And I want what He wants.

God will not allow anything that isn't a part of the Plan. If He allows it, it must be good, and I want in on that. So no, it doesn't bother me that polygamy mIght be in place in the Celestial kingdom.

I've got a great deal more to work on though, before I have the luxury of contemplating my being in the Celestial kingdom. I figure that if I get that far, I will have transcended the human weakness that would cause me to worry about plural marriage anyway.

Edited by Silhouette

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When I lived in another state, many years ago, we had some militant pioneer "wanna-bes" who frequently stirred up trouble in Relief Society with such notions, saying that women had to just suck it up and expect that their husbands would be required to have plural wives in the celestial kingdom.

 

This is a falsehood that Satan stirs up to trouble righteous women.  God respects agency.  There will be polygamists in the celestial kingdom.  Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and many more will be there.  Heck, Jesus even called heaven "Abraham's bosom."  Nevertheless, God honors agency.  If a man and woman keep their covenants made in this life, they will inherit celestial glory.  

 

Perhaps opinions and our desires will change when we gain greater light than we have now, but nothing compels a woman to accept plural marriage in eternity.  Many point to militant statements made by pioneer apostles like Orson Pratt in his writings.  Those statements were made in a time when the Church was under direct assault from the government.  The test for those saints was to stand against such persecution faithfully.  They showed their mettle by defiantly preaching and advocating for plural marriage.  Times have changed.  Conditions are different today.

 

I would encourage anyone troubled by this to consider Jacob chapter 2 in the BOM.

 

29 Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes.

30 For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.

 

The Lord said through Jacob that chastity and monogamy is the rule.  The Lord permits plural marriage when he needs to "raise up seed unto me."  The period following the great apostasy would be an example of a time when the Lord needed to build up his people rapidly.  "Otherwise," the passage says, the norm is monogamy and chastity.  The Lord goes on to say:

  

 

31 For behold, I, the Lord, have seen the sorrow, and heard the mourning of the daughters of my people in the land of Jerusalem, yea, and in all the lands of my people, because of the wickedness and abominations of their husbands.

32 And I will not suffer, saith the Lord of Hosts, that the cries of the fair daughters of this people, which I have led out of the land of Jerusalem, shall come up unto me against the men of my people, saith the Lord of Hosts.

 

The Lord hears and heeds the cries of the sisters of the Church.  Hears their prayers.  He loves them and he hates to see their hearts broken.  Can you imagine that he would force any of his dear daughters into an intolerable situation for eternity?  It is unthinkable.  Have faith in the Lord Jesus who loves you, sisters.  

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Perhaps I've missed it in my reading of the thread, but, while I agree there will be polygamy in the Celestial Kingdom (there have been thousands, if not millions, of polygamous marriages throughout the history of the Earth that have zero to do with Joseph Smith), but where is the source of the teaching that NEW polygamous marriages will be formed? Where is the source of the teaching that some of us may find ourselves being required to expand our marriages to include other persons?

 

I ask, because the ONLY time I've come across this teaching is in forums like this, or people making comments in Sunday School. I've never come across it in my scripture study or in any Conference talks. I wonder if we're all just getting worked up over a teaching that perhaps has no reason to be taught.

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Did he practice polyandry I think that there is enough evidence to say that yes he did. It would be foolish to think that some of these marriages were not consummated. 

 

If by "these marriages" you mean "polygamous marriages"--I'm inclined to agree.  If by "these marriages" you mean polyandrous marriages--D&C sections 42 and 132 have very specific definitions of "adultery" and very clear warnings of the consequences thereof.  I don't think it's foolish at all to think that Joseph Smith took these definitions seriously.

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its something I don't have to worry about now.  I need to worry about repenting and becoming as much like Christ as possible.  I'm failing, but I'm trying.  We will understand more in the next life and even more after judgment day.  I just can't see that anything we've been taught about the Celestial Kingdom is going to cause anything but joy when we understand the whole picture.

 

What I remember when I become upset or anxious about something like polygamy in the Celestial Kingdom is: My Heavenly Father loves me.  He gave me the wonderful gift of Agency.  He wants me to be happy.  Therefore if I do all I can to live as He would have me live whatever comes in the next life will be ok.

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Perhaps I've missed it in my reading of the thread, but, while I agree there will be polygamy in the Celestial Kingdom (there have been thousands, if not millions, of polygamous marriages throughout the history of the Earth that have zero to do with Joseph Smith), but where is the source of the teaching that NEW polygamous marriages will be formed? Where is the source of the teaching that some of us may find ourselves being required to expand our marriages to include other persons?

 

I ask, because the ONLY time I've come across this teaching is in forums like this, or people making comments in Sunday School. I've never come across it in my scripture study or in any Conference talks. I wonder if we're all just getting worked up over a teaching that perhaps has no reason to be taught.

 

In point of fact, no marriages will be formed in the Celestial Kingdom--James E. Talmage is very clear in Jesus the Christ (building on Christ's teachings to the Sadducees) that such questions will be resolved before the resurrection.

 

Now, as to the question of whether such marriages might occur between death and resurrection--I suspect it's more a matter of logical deduction.  We know that those who didn't have a chance to marry in this life but were otherwise worthy, will be given an opportunity to marry in the hereafter.  Unless there is a precisely equal number of males and females that fall into this category, the only possible resolutions are a) bigamy or b ) same-sex marriage. 

 

I suspect God finds a) more palatable. 

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I've struggled with this for years, but I've become accepting of it recently. I've met too many polygamists & find myself even envying their lives. The love the women share. The close friendships they have. Their burdens are lighter. & when you have such love for your fellow sisters you want them to be happy too. I've found myself becoming eager to share my husband with a very special, righteous lady whom I love someday.

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The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy. Others attain unto a glory and may even be permitted to come into the presence of the Father and the Son; but they cannot reign as kings in glory, because they had blessings offered unto them, and they refused to accept them. (Journal of Discources 11:269)

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