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Polygamy is a difficult concept for many to grasp, but Hanna dives into the Hebrew Bible and the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint’s to understand polygamy in a way that shows how it was not just acceptable– it was ordained and good for the time. She unapologetically explains how God consecrates everything for our good and how polygamy made sense for the time. She, then, dives into 1 Corinthians 13 and expresses love for the idea of love.
Hanna Seariac is a MA student in Greek and Latin at Brigham Young University. She is writing a book on the history of the priesthood and another one that responds systematically to anti-LDS literature. She works as a research assistant on a biblical commentary and as a producer on a news show. She values Jesus Christ, family, friends, hiking, baking, and really good ice cream.
Lamarr S Jones says
This is a great teaching and has blessed our family. My great grandfather Thomas Jefferson Jones was given three wives to care for and to bring them to Utah. Two of them had their husbands killed or died just before the exodus to Utah. They kept their last names…Halls, Miller. when they got to Utah they found husbands and went their ways ..still full of love for the programs that allowed them to get here safely. The halls went to southern Utah and we still talk and laugh at the stories of our paths crossing again and again. Miller’s stayed in northern Utah and their names are still part of the makers and shakers in Utah’s history and they are revered highly to this day. Grandpa Thomas was sent to Parowan Utah and made the stake president of a huge area stretching to Las Vegas. He had several children that helped settle major areas throughout the west: Overton, Nv, Las Vagas, Nv, Enterprise,Ut, Esclante, Ut, Filmore, Ut, northern Mexico, Millard county, Utah county. We have books written of the stories sense him.
He had two sons that he gave each a horse and a wagon then sent them to Delta Utah to help build the Damad Dam and all the cannels and ditches down stream. Told them to find a wife and settle there. They did. At the same time a daughter of a son of Amasa Lyman and a daughter of Edward Partridge named Belva was given a patricial blessing that she would fullfil the scriptual promise of making “the desert blossom as a rose”. She was 6 ft 4in…was tall yet beautiful. When the local match makers saw her and my grandfather Jeff, they arranged for them to meet at a dance…they fell in love, had 11 children which only 5 lived. One was my dad Sherman Lovell Jones. He had 6 kids…they most all had 6 kids….and that is wht these valleys are so crowded…Anyway back to the DESERT BLOSSOMING AS A ROSE. She married Jeff…he built cannels, ditches…His sons did the same things yet expanded it to all over the state….AND STILL to this day we are making the deserts blossom with roses…we are son’s of ditch diggers and the state is wetter because of our families and following the teachings of Jesus Christ. Our son’s and daughters have gone on missions worldwide and given the “Living water’s” of Christ’s messages to the world and there to lies another story of Making the Desert World Blossom …Christ’s words have power and protection….if He says to have more than one wife…do it…the blessings are incredible..
we have pictures too..
Send me the email to where I can send them..
Nicholette Lambert says
I think you are onto something with the idea that the covenant is what matters and not so much the particular individuals. That idea has come to me before as well. One interesting thing to me with the idea of a man having more than one wife is that throughout history you do have these periods of time with imbalances in sex ratios, particularly in times of warfare when many young men die. If you want pull out a little bigger on a global scale, males are more likely to suffer from certain genetic disorders because of heritability patterns. So polygyny specifically can be a legitimate biological way to rebalance those sex ratio imbalances and ensure that a society can sustain itself and survive. Not everyone in history has had the luxury of a large pool of potential mates. Multiple marriages have been a way to handle that.
Steen Johnsen says
Great podcast but I missed a discussion about The Law of Adoption and Plural Marriage. If you understand The Law of Adoption in Joseph Smith’s time you’ll also understand the purpose of polygamy.
Winona Davies says
I appreciate the thoughtful and clear way the historical facts are presented. Diantha Huntington Young is another fascinating example of how polygamous marriage offered more freedom in a Victorian culture, which was very restrictive to females in general. It’s also of note that even outside of Latter day Saint religious practice, during the 19th century, marriage was not always as clearly defined as the 20th century. With poor record keeping at government level, it was not that rare for people to simply walk away from a spouse and remarry someone else (as an example, Andrew Jackson’s wife may not have been divorced when she married Jackson. )
I believe polygamy was God’s way of taking care of women. At the time woman had no rights to property.
John Perry says
Thank you for your discussion about plural marriage. I hadn’t thought about it in the covenantal terms to the extent you have. I also agree with previous commenter Steen Johnsen about the primary reason for plural marriage in Joseph Smith’s time. I think this is similar to the “Dynastic” type of marriage that Todd Compton refers to.
Before reading GD Smith’s “Nauvoo Polygamy”, I hope you read Gregory L. Smith’s 2008 review where he exposes the author’s biases and blatant abuse of sources.
Gregory Smith also gave a FAIR conference talk in 2011 on the topic that is quite revealing regarding several authors who have attempted to address the subject.
Modern attitudes about plural marriage are highly influenced by personal experiences and attitudes. Polygamy has been practiced all over the world at different times. We have only to look at the film adaptations of “Anna and the King of Siam” to see the intersection of polygamy and late 19th century Victorian culture.
No other topic is subject to the fallacy of presentism than is the teenage bride discussion. If someone is shocked by this, then they just might need to do more family history. On my wife’s line, her 3rd great grandmother was 13 when she married her 25 year old husband in 1845. They were not Mormons. On another line, her 4th great grandmother married at age 15 in 1812. We also stumbled upon another distant relative who, at age 41, married a 17 year old in 1814. This has made the past acceptance of young brides a reality for us.
But have we more recent examples of tolerance for these kinds of relationships.
My wife and I went to see a theatrical version of “Little House on the Prairie” in 2008. I was surprised that the female director retained the mention of one of Laura Ingall’s 15 year old school mates who dropped out to get married. This was in the 1880s. (Laura Ingalls herself married at age 18 to the 28 year old Almanzo Wilder in 1885).
The 1958 film “Gigi” was about a 33 year old playboy in 1900 Paris courting a 16 year old girl to be, not his wife, but his mistress. The film won an unprecedented 9 Academy Awards in 1959, including Best Picture. It also features the startling song “Thank Heaven for Little Girls” by 69 year old Maurice Chevalier.
More recently in 1972, 32 year old Ringo Starr had a #1 hit with his version of the song “You’re Sixteen” about having a 16 year old girlfriend. Where was the public outrage? The group KISS, in their late 20s at the time, sang about ogling girls outside of a high school in their popular 1977 song “Christine, Sixteen”. A few radio stations began to blush just a bit when they limited playing this song to after 7pm.
In short, the intolerance toward older males and younger brides/girlfriends is fairly recent to the last couple of generations. While I am very grateful for this change in attitude, it is extremely unfair to judge historical figures for living according to and within their contemporary societal norms.