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"[T]he last thing on heaven or earth that the Utah Church wants is for polygamy to be legalized in the US..."

Oh, I dunno. I can think of a couple that probably rank higher. A court ruling that not extending the priesthood to women is a legally-actionable case of discrimination, and that the church has to rectify this by ordaining a substantial number of women to leadership positions, would certainly do it. Or maybe just a ruling forcing Church-owned businesses to extend health other coverage to newly-legal same-sex spouses.

I see a big difference, Nathan. The hypos you mentioned would be the government twisting the Church's arm to do something it doesn't want to do, which generally causes members to close ranks behind leaders and increases overall organizational cohesiveness. Nothing like a common enemy to keep the troops loyal and motivated.

Legalizing polygamy would give the Church something which, doctrinally and historically, it has always claimed it wanted, so leaders couldn't portray the government as the enemy. They would have to finally deal with polygamy in a definitive way. And that would be terribly difficult, as leaders have spend a hundred years simply avoiding the topic.

i have to agree with dave. if you read what the leadership of the church said around the time of the 1890 manifesto it was clear that they were stopping polygamy not because they thought it was wrong, but rather because they feared what the government would do to the church if they continued. most of them thought of polygamy as a precious part of mormonism and wanted it to continue (and did continue it well into the 20th century, although the general membership was unaware of this).

contrast that with what we hear today in the church. i constantly hear members spreading the myth that polygamy was not widespread and was mainly done to help out widows and other needy women. and pres. hinckley went as far as to say on larry king live that 'it is not doctrine.'

but this was clearly not the case. we still have d&c 132 in our scriptures, and i believe that in and of itself makes it doctrine. contrary to what most members believe, the true and everlasting covenant is not merely eternal marriage, but rather plural marriage. if you read d&c 132 and statements by joseph smith and other early church leaders it is clear that they thought this, and believed that you had engage in plural marriage to reach the highest levels of the celestial kingdom. it was only when the church tried to create a more mainstream image in the mid-20th century that they really tried to distance themselves from the practice.

if the practice of polygamy were legalized it would force the church to take a real position on the issue and state whether or not plural marriage is indeed doctrinally sound, or rather was an instance in the past where the prophets led us astray.

I disagree with Dave...I don't think the church will have any trouble merely saying that polygamy was ended by a revelation in 1890 and we don't practice it anymore even if it's legal. Very few people will worry about the questions mike raises, and if anything most members will be relieved.

The Church hasn't completely given up on polygamy, since male members of the Church are allowed to have multiple women sealed to the for eternity in the temples of the Church. They're just required to practice their polygamy serially instead of concurrently.

For the time being.

Interesting comments. Yes, if polygamny were "legalized" in the US, the Church could simply reaffirm that polygamy was ended by revelation in 1890, but that's not likely to happen. First, polygamy wasn't really "ended by revelation" in 1890, so trying to declare so runs into difficulties. Second, there is a great deal of latent sympathy for polygamy among traditional Mormons that will be stirred up if the Church makes such a direct pronouncement.

On the other hand, I don't make much from the practice of "sealing" men to second wives in temples whereas wives can only be "married" to second husbands. First, I've heard women can now be sealed to second husbands under the generous theory that God will straighten it all out in the next life. Second, while Mormon may view the practice in terms of "polygamy in heaven," Protestants practice remarriage while generally feeling there is some continuation of marriage in heaven (although they don't see heavenly procreation as part of the package). They aren't troubled by the confusion of having a variety of 1st, 2nd, or 3rd spouses around. So if Protestants aren't describable as serial polygamists, neither are modern non-FLDS Mormons. Incidentally, I first heard the term used by secular researchers describing 20th-century secular marriage patterns, not in any religious or LDS context.

Well, the church has been teaching that polygamy was "ended by revelation in 1890" for some time now, and it doesn't seem to bother most people, even if it's not exactly accurate. Why do you think the church would "run into difficulties" any more it does already? In any case, I think any other response by the church would run into even more difficulties. I think I've seen you make this point before, and it still puzzles me.

Women can only be sealed to multiple husbands posthumously, and there is no expectation that a woman will have multiple husbands in the eternities.

Ed, the present official line of the Church as understood by most rank-and-file Mormons is that the 1890 revelation ended the practice of polygamy because of government pressure and escalating threats to the Church as a body, but that the Church still affirms the doctrine (as represented in D&C 132) and believes polygamy will be practiced in the higher levels of the hereafter.

The difficulty is that if polygamy is legalized the Church will have to modify this understanding and that some people will object. Either the Church repudiates polygamy in principle as well as in practice (offending many Mormons, including most of the leadership, who have polygamous ancestors and therefore have great sympathy for The Principle) or the Church is forced into a dialogue concerning when or with whom or how the practice might be renewed.

In other words, I think leaders are very happy to be able to affirm polygamy in principle while denying its practice, which they can do only because the government forced them into that position and maintains it by keeping polygamy illegal in the US. That game is up when the government no longer considers polygamy illegal in the US.

In other words, I think leaders are very happy to be able to affirm polygamy in principle while denying its practice, which they can do only because the government forced them into that position and maintains it by keeping polygamy illegal in the US. That game is up when the government no longer considers polygamy illegal in the US.

I don't think it unimaginable that we would hear something similar to this in General Conference, should polygamy be legalized:

"We recognize that not all of God's people in all ages have been called upon to live in this manner. The Lord commanded Lehi and his children that 'that they should have save it were one wife,' and further that '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.'

"We recognize that the laws of the land have recently ruled polygamous marriages to be legal. However, as you well know, just because something is legal does not mean that the Church will embrace it. We rely on the Lord for guidance in our marriages and families, not the courts.

"The authority to enter into plural marriage in this dispensation was given by the Lord, and it was withdrawn by the Lord. If it ever to be given again, it will be given by the Lord, in His own due time."

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