Except me, of course. I let it simmer in my mind for much longer than I should have.
I eventually reached out to say that while I appreciate the perspective, this conclusion is not official doctrine* and I for one do not believe it, so please be mindful there are differing views in the room. We had a pleasant conversation from there, but the usual tropes came out...
- I was encouraged to read the scriptures and pray on the eternal nature of polygamy.
- I ought to think of the sister who never married. --I wouldn't want to let my jealousy stand in the way of her exaltation, right?
All of this assumes God didn't have the foresight or math skills to get the ratio of righteous men and women right in heaven. It also ignores the fact that many more male infants die in their angelic state than females.
So what do I say in response? First, my typical snarky comeback:
"Okay, well, if you're all cool with polygamy, I'll be sure to volunteer you to share your husband with the billions of women who need him to get into Heaven." Thanks for taking a hit for the team!
(I'm a jerk.)
But in all seriousness, my next favorite line to deliver in this case is:
|"Don't stop me now, I'm having such a good time. I'm having a ball!"|
We should look forward to polygamy in the Celestial Kingdom as much as we would gleefully anticipate sacrificing our sons on altars there, too.
Which is not at all.
Indeed, when referencing polygamy in Doctrine and Covenants 132:50 we read:
Behold, I have seen your sacrifices and will forgive all your sins; I have seen your sacrifices in obedience to that which I have told you. Go, therefore, and I make a way for your escape, as I accepted the offering of Abraham of his son Isaac. (Emphasis added.)
Polygamy hardly seems like a celestial reward when it's likened onto a great trial. Note too that God intends to remove this hardship at some point, though the timing of that is unclear.
How then can people say polygamy is eternal? I used to approach this topic from the point of defending my conclusion, but today I've had enough of that. Today I play the offense and ask others how they can still promote an ideology that is not only blatantly false, but just as important hurts so many women!
I could concede a fair counter-argument in favor of polygamy...
If The Creation story featured Adam and Eve and Janet and Cindy. That is to say, if the Male:Female union weren't the standard and ideal from the beginning.
If LDS polygamy produced more children than would have otherwise been expected of traditional marriage (news flash: It didn't).
If men routinely outlived women (the opposite is true), allowing them more opportunities to remarry.
And especially if The Book of Mormon didn't deliver a scathing condemnation of polygamy except to allow the case where God tries his people with it (see Jacob Chapter 2, also Genesis 38:9-10).
|Bonded, but not sealed by Krazy Glue|
At this point, some might point out that sealings have been performed for multiple women to one man and that this practice still goes on today. That is true, that's not wrong, but it's not entirely correct to understand it that way. One must first realize that the word "sealing" as it is used to describe temple marriage is a misnomer. A "sealing" is not actually a sealing (i.e. enduring) until it is bound by the Holy Spirit of Promise, this is generally understood to take place with a Second Anointing ordinance that includes the Washing of the Feet. When the sealing power was restored to earth and in both Kirtland and Nauvoo, men were married and "sealed" to multiple spouses, but second anointings were reserved (in almost all cases) to the first wife only. This would support the 1:1 male-female union as eternal in nature and anything else as temporary.
Furthermore, Jesus our Exemplar repeatedly showed us that female singularity is key along the path to exaltation. Though obvious, Jesus was born of ONE woman, from a virginal womb. In death, he was laid to rest in a virginal tomb (never used before) and returned into the presence of ONE woman, Mary Magdalene. Similarly, though Abraham had other wives and far-outlived Sarah, when he died he was interred next to his first wife's grave and hers alone (Genesis 25:10). This pattern would be repeated with Emma Hale Smith laid next to Joseph Smith Jr.. These examples give a picture of what the morning of The First Resurrection will look like, and it's not a polygamous model.
Do I point these things out to dig at subsequent wives and single ladies? Do I not care about their eternal destiny? Am I motivated out of jealously to share this viewpoint?
I've taken away nothing. The concluding argument pro-polygamists have always given is not to worry, "everything will work out in the end." That last bit remains true. We both agree that God is love, He is merciful and will take care of everyone in His great plan. The fundamental point where we differ is, I have faith that His plan does not handle women as expendable, dime-a-dozen figures in a play centered on man. Rather, I propose this radical thought that we are of equal worth, and that the singular male-female union is celestial. Worlds without end.
Addendum: I was asked when, if ever, God gives the "green light" to the practice of polygamy. To that I say at most He will give at most a yellow light, which is to proceed with caution in the following circumstances based on scriptural references:
- The Law of Sarah is invoked in a permissible season. That is, when a woman requests that her husband take an additional wife and the Prophet approves it.
- As in OT times, when a man dies and his brother is legally required to marry his widow for protection and provisions. Perhaps today there are men who are prompted to marry a widow who had been sealed to her first husband in order to "raise up seed" to him,
- When God decides to try his people? Maybe.**
In 2/3 cases, the focus appears to be doing what is in the best interest of a woman, which I found to be fascinating. And note that the third item can be satisfied by the second scenario described.
Also interesting, the Second Chapter of Jacob says polygamy is not to be practiced unless God commands it for "raising up seed." A search of the scriptures reveals that the phrase "raising up seed" by itself is typically used in only two ways: To describe the Old Testament setup of brother-in-law duty to widows mentioned above (today the equivalent would be if a man was told by God to marry a woman who remains sealed to her first husband), and in the general sense of righteous branches of The Tribes needing to keep their line going.
*Ironically, Bruce R. McConkie in his book Mormon Doctrine (which is not actually Church sanctioned) says that polygamy is forever... But he also said blacks would never get the priesthood, so miss with me that.
**This one still gets the "proceed with caution" warning because any man who enjoys polygamy while ignoring the pain it inflicts upon women will be sorry in the end, of this I am certain.