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The other problem is that the model of 19th century polygamy in Utah illustrates that polygamy led to fewer children overall. That's important since a lot of 20th century apologetics, latching onto Jacob 2, defended it in terms of raising up children. Yet a more efficient method would be to have monogamy.

Of course one could argue that most of the people practicing polygamy also were often given to missions or political responsibility which decreased significantly the amount of sex that could result in posterity. (Something else to keep in mind when saying 19th century polygamy was about sex -- the men were absent enough that I don't think there was a lot of sex going on as can be seen by the relatively few children per woman of the era) There were exceptions of course. But then the whole 19th century polygamy among the Mormons was kind of weird all around for a variety of reasons.

Clark, I think every society that practices polygamy will be odd in some way, simply by virtue of being a particular society. The paper that the post linked to applied the model to 1986 cross-sectional data from Cote d'Ivoire. The paper noted that 41% of the women between 18 and 40 were living in a polygamous marriage, with a lower percentage for Catholic women and a higher percentage for Muslim women.

One other flaw that I see, using the "sex with multiple women" model, is that two or three women are still not quite enough. I assume that most philanderers would be quite displeased with being restricted to 2, 3, or even 6 women. Power/sex hungry men usually feel pride in the conquest, with the feeling not lasting long enough for marriage. I would also assume that more than one wife would not be worth the bother or expense for these guys.

I didn't see the book Under the Banner of Heaven?

19th Mormon polygamy was iconoclastic in nature. It was defying convention with what was considered a superior value structure. I just skimmed the paper, but there are a lot of aspects of the model that seem anachronistic when applied to 19th Mormonism.

On a side note, the Appendices delineate their model and shows how they tried to break out the variance by religion:

Muslim Men
Anamist Men
Catholic Men
Protestant Men
Other Christian Men
Other Religion Men

What are “Other Christian Men”? We used to have a mission there, but Mormons account for only 0.05% of the population so I would think it was not us.

By odd Dave, I meant that the system hadn't been given the time to normalize. The practice was forced underground fairly quickly. The main practitioners were usually away due to religious or political commitments. There was constant war or similar conflict. Further there was only 40 years when the practice was semi-public. It also took place during a period of massive immigration and colonization of a desert.

It's simply hard to tell if the activities would be similar were there less stresses and more familiarity with the practice.

Dave, I agree that one of the potential evil's of polygamy is that it 'lures' in young women who may be vulnerable or influenced by a patriarchal society structure.

But I'm not as convinced of your point that it can't be a high-quality family situation. Perhaps the 'dad has good genes' argument isn't all that convincing either, but to say that we mainly have negative accounts of polygamy probably says a little more about the kind of materials we decide to read than about an empirical understanding of what life was like in a polygamist home in the 19th (or 20th) century.

I'm not defending polygamy as preferable, but I think it can be practiced in such a way as to provide a high-quality upbringing, just like a monogamous relationship.

Interesting how the paper conflates "high quality" with "spends time/resources on accumulating money."

Reminds me of the quote that a man will forgive you killing his father faster than he will your taking his money from a famous Italian Philosopher.

Of course that is true of someone who puts money first (and who is most likely to have it to take away if you are the Prince). Had a long discussion about that with my daughter last night.

But the posters have caught the core of the LDS experience, which is that polygamy as practiced never fully jelled into a normative practice or situation (similar to people being sealed to each other for all sorts of reasons -- that entire process took a long time to sort out).

Which is why the millineum will be a thousand years of temple work, among other things, sorting out the paperwork in Heaven, by proxy, for all the relationships we got wrong before.

Clark, Jacob 2 doesn't just say `raise up children,' it says `raise up children unto the Lord.' Who the children are being born to and how they'll be trained may have been more important than how many total children are born. Recall that this point was made in infamous remarks by Orson Pratt in the (1852?) address announcing polygamy to the world.

Steve, why would you be taking a man's money from a famous Italian philosopher? For that matter, why would the philosopher have the man's money in the first place?

Christian, I'm not sure I buy that line of reasoning. For one the children born to general authorities especially Orson Pratt were largely neglected by the father. When one father has so many kids and simultaneously is being called away regularly to foreign missions, it's hard to devote much time to each kid.

Secondly, a big problem in polygamist societies including LDS ones is that young less powerful single males don't have an opportunity to find spouses as easily. Some of this was alievieted by taking wives from converts (which had its own share of problems, as Pratt's brother found)

It seems far better use of resources to have righteous men spending as much time with children as possible than to have a few righteous men spend little time with many kids.

Clark, I agree with your criticisms in practical terms. I was just trying to clarify how one would make an argument reconciling Jacob 2 with the empirical outcome of Utah polygamy. These criticisms you give go beyond that, and I largely agree with them.

When does the number of children get to the point that Dad can't or doesn't spend enough time with each of them. To the world today 1 or maybe 2 is plenty. We had 6 children and though I wish I would have spent more time with them, ask them and I don't think they'll say they were deprived of my time. If I would have had 9 would it have made a difference. What number becomes too many.

The children born in polygamous families were often raised by especially devout and committed women. Also, the active, engaged father is largely a modern construct. I think "raise up a seed unto me" is a valid argument for the transient nature of the commandment (if it was one) for the early Saints to practice plural marriage.

There absolutely was a hierarchy of participation in polygamy among the early saints, and one could certainly identify who the powerful men were by the number of their wives.

One of the more spirited defenses of polygamy by Helen Mar Kimball Smith Whitney pointed out the hypocrisy of the monogamous system, and how polygamy allowed men to not be corrupted by it. I have interpreted this as: powerful men usually had a little something on the side. In polygamy, men married their "little something on the side."

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