An enduring folk apologetic for 19th century plural marriage has been to assert that it was justified because a shortage of men. Looking at raw Census data, John Widtsoe  debunked that notion, but did not end its popular appeal. Widtsoe’s conclusions have been embraced by critics  who wish to create cognitive dissonance for members who may have put too much weight on that folk rationale for plural marriage. On the other end of the spectrum, Brian C. Hales , a speaker at this year’s FAIR conference, also dismissed the folk apologetic and concentrated on rebutting critics’ plural marriage rationale (primarily as lust fulfillment) and supporting theological rationales (primarily as part of the restoration and preparation for conditions in the next life).
We had another great conference this year, with 350 people attending in person, and about 50 listening online. We were treated to 15 presentations and also had the opportunity to socialize, browse the bookstore, and bid in a silent auction. Tanya Spackman received the John Taylor Defender of the Faith award for her work on Mormon Scholars Testify. You can view photos of the conference at the FAIR Facebook page.
William Schryver’s presentation on the Kirtland Egyptian Papers received some press before the conference, and did not disappoint. You can view it here. (A browser plug-in may be required.)
There have been articles about many of the presentations published in Mormon Times, Deseret News, and LDS Church News:
- FAIR conference: Same-sex marriage and the role of religion
- FAIR conference: Secret Mormon codes and Egyptian papers
- FAIR conference: LDS doctrine clear on divinity of one God
- FAIR conference: ‘Gender equality is the brick of Zion,’ speaker says
- FAIR conference: What if the U.S. president were a Mormon?
- FAIR conference: Joseph Smith’s discovery of ancient patterns
- FAIR Conference: Roper’s take on Book of Mormon geography
- Mormons need to work to increase favor
- FAIR conference: Defend the Book of Mormon by studying names, origins
- Nibley editor says scholar was bolstered by research
- ‘Be Ready’ to Defend Faith
Here are some resources available from FAIR about the priesthood:
Gregory L. Smith discusses apologetics, plural marriage, and maintaining faith in the face of difficult questions in this first episode of the new FAIR Podcast with host Blair Hodges. Latter-day Saints who struggle with difficult historical information about the Church will be interested in his reaction to difficult subjects including plural marriage.
Smith received a medical degree (after also studying physiology and English) at the University of Alberta. He completed his medical residency in Montréal, Québec before becoming an “old-style country doctor” in rural Alberta. His interests include internal medicine and psychiatry.
Previously, Smith has spoken to the Miller-Eccles study group on the topic of plural marriage. He’s also published several articles in the FARMS Review and edited countless FAIRwiki pages. His 2009 FAIR Conference presentation, “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Plural Marriage* (*but were afraid to ask),” can be read here.
Questions about this episode and ideas for future episodes can be emailed to [email protected].
FAIR relies on contributions from readers and listeners. To help support FAIR, make a donation today.
I have been involved in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints all my life. I was raised into it, nurtured by it, and used it as a crutch to lean on when things in life became difficult. And things were often difficult. My childhood was spent in the small Santa Cruz mountain town of Boulder Creek, California. Population 8,000 where true civilization is miles away and there are more tattoo parlors and tie dye shops than grocery stores, drug stores and gas stations combined. [Read more…] about Real Life as a Teenage Mormon
When we speak plainly of divorce, abuse, gender identity, contraception, abortion, parental neglect, we are thought by some to be way out of touch or to be uncaring. Some ask if we know how many we hurt when we speak plainly. Do we know of marriages in trouble, of the many who remain single, of single-parent families, of couples unable to have children, of parents with wayward children, or of those confused about gender? Do we know? Do we care?Those who ask have no idea how much we care; you know little of the sleepless nights, of the endless hours of work, of prayer, of study, of travel—all for the happiness and redemption of mankind.Because we do know and because we do care, we must teach the rules of happiness without dilution, apology, or avoidance. That is our calling.I once learned a valuable lesson from a mission Relief Society president. In a conference, she announced some tightening up of procedures. A sister stood up and defiantly said, “Those rules can’t apply to us! You don’t understand us! We are an exception.”
That wonderful Relief Society president replied, “Dear sister, we’d like not to take care of the exception first. We will establish the rule first, and then we’ll see to the exception.”
— Boyd K. Packer, General Conference, April 1994
I sit in a house wanting for housework but housework has a churchy quality about it. It is always there and there is never a time when I can say it’s perfect. A recent event occurred with Sister Beck’s talk entitled “Mothers Who Know”. A firestorm of protest erupted from women who were left out of her picture that seemed to put too much emphasis on housework. I think a few of Sister Beck’s sentences could have been better thought out but as a woman who knows how difficult it is squeeze the thoughts in my head past the tongue in my mouth, I know that with time and experience Sister Beck will parse her few allotted words more precisely. So the issue for me is not about the first brief talk of a new Relief Society President, it is in how we as members react to statements from leaders that leave us wanting.