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Friday, December 30, 2016

To the "Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy" People

Facts:

  • History has not yet proven that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy. This would require a living descendant of one of his alleged plural wives to have DNA links to Joseph Smith. Such a person has not been found, and may not exist.
  • History cannot prove that he did not. Because so many of his associates were proven liars, and because men of God have been known to justifiably lie in the past (see Abraham), statements from any party are insufficient to prove that he did not practice it.


Given these two facts, it really doesn't matter whether a person believes Joseph Smith was a polygamist or whether they believe he was not a polygamist.

However, what does matter is:

  • Whether you feel comfortable converting people to a position that cannot be shown to be right.
  • Whether you feel justified in spending your time on something so frivolous.
  • Whether your position is due to evidence or something more nefarious.
I know of at least three people who have dedicated a year or more of their time trying to prove to others that Joseph Smith did not practice polygamy. I can't help but wonder whether spending so much time trying to prove something so unestablished--if not unimportant--was justified given their lack of experiences with God. I wonder what experiences they would have had with God if they had spend even a quarter of that time seeking God instead. In fact, I have yet to find someone engaged in this debate who can afford to spend time on it. The time would be much better spent preaching the actual gospel (instead of their speculations) or seeking God. This seems a leisure topic that only those who are living with Enoch could argue to have the time to address.

The exception here, of course, is those who believe their position due to something more nefarious. These fall into both sides of the issue. There are those who believe Joseph was a polygamist who do so to justify their own lust in desiring to practice their incorrect understanding of plural marriage. Then there are those who believe Joseph was not a polygamist because they don't like the idea of a God who would expect them to do such a thing. Both types of people are damned. The first for lust, the second for unbelief. It seems worthwhile to call either to repentance, though my experiences in doing so have been fruitless thus far.

Most statements heard by the fanatics on either side are absolutely ridiculous. Some of these:
  • "Plural marriage is necessary for salvation." There is absolutely no proof of this.
  • "Plural marriage is an abomination." Actually, God expressed his approval and blessed several men who practiced it. In fact, he even commanded it in the Old Testament both generally (law of Moses) and on specific occasions, such as when God said he gave wives to David. Plural marriage is certainly not an abomination.
  • "Plural marriage requires keys." The subject of keys is much larger than one bullet point. However, suffice it to say that it is a grossly misunderstood topic. It would be more correct to say that you need just as much keys to marry as second wife as you did to marry a first wife. Last time I checked, you don't need any keys (the way most understand them, anyway) to marry a first wife. You can do that in a courthouse, or even just with an agreement between two parties. God has given that permission to us. Now, you can't make it eternally binding without him, but that argument applies just as equally to both monogamous and polygamist relationships.
  • "Joseph Smith never practiced polygamy." This statement might be true. However, it is impossible to prove. You would have to have a video recording of every moment of the man's life. No one has anything more that sparse journal entries that are known to have been doctored, written by a man who boasted about his ability to keep secrets. It would be much more credible to say, "There is no evidence that proves Joseph Smith practiced polygamy." Great, I agree, and no intelligent person can argue with you.
  • "Joseph Smith was a polygamist." This statement might be true. However, with what has been made public to date, no one can prove it. It would be much more credible to say, "There is no evidence that proves Joseph Smith did not practice polygamy." Great, I agree, and no intelligent person can argue with you.
  • "Plural marriage is not practiced in heaven." This may very well be true. However, the implication is that marriages that do not persist into the highest degree of glory in the Celestial Kingdom are not worth pursuing. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the vast majority of monogamous marriages--including those within "the remnant"--will not persist beyond this life. By this argument, I am not sure I know anyone who should be married.

Here are things every honest person should admit:
  • God can command anything, and whatever he commands is right.
  • We should expect that our fallen sensibilities and ignorant minds are not equal with God's wisdom and knowledge.
  • We should expect that a loving God would never ask us to do anything that is not in our best interest.
  • We should expect that if we have broken hearts, contrite spirits, and ask with real intent, he will explain his reasons for what he asks without upbraiding us.
  • Anyone who lusts after another person is sinning. This includes the married to anyone else, but also includes the married toward their spouse, the single towards their prospective spouse, the married towards their prospective plural spouse, and anyone else.
  • God has commanded polygamy in the past.
  • God has approved of polygamy in the past.
  • God has also disallowed polygamy in the past, such as with the Nephites.
  • Abraham lied about his relationship to Sarah on two occasions with God's approval and commandment to do so.
  • Joseph Smith publicly preached against polygamy. His private practice or avoidance of it is not clear.

What you make of those statements is up to you, but they are true, and you ought to admit that.

Let's stop putting forth silly arguments. Let's have open minds and avoid shutting down conversations  or running like cowards when we don't like something that is said. Let's stop spreading rumors and gossiping--which are sins.

Let's stop spending time justifying our sacred cows. Let's spend that time seeking God.