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Gospel Topics Chapter 8 Smith Part 3

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
May 25, 2021 9:38 pm

Gospel Topics Chapter 8 Smith Part 3

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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May 25, 2021 9:38 pm

We continue our series reviewing the 2020 book The LDS Gospel Topics Series, this time chapter 8 “Remembering, Forgetting, and Re-remembering 19th-century LDS plural marriage” written by Signature Book publisher George D. Smith. For more on the Gospel Topics essays, visit mrm.org/gospel-topics-essays

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Unprepared to engage Mormon missionaries when they knock on your door. Perhaps the book is 101 will help Mormonism 101. Published by Baker available at your favorite Christian bookstore viewpoint is it examines the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from a perspective view .1 Mormonism is sponsored by Mormonism research ministry since 1979 Mormonism research ministry has been dedicated to equipping the body of Christ with answers regarding the Christian faith in a manner that expresses gentleness and respect. And now, your host for today's viewpoint on Mormonism. Our thanks to Adams Road band for that musical introduction welcome to this edition of viewpoint on Mormonism on your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director Mormonism research ministry in with me today is Eric Johnson.

My colleague at M. R.

M.

The LDS gospel topics series a scholarly engagement, a book published by signature came out in late 2020 contains 13 chapters which critique the third teen original gospel topics, essays that were posted online on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints official website and these chapters in the one we're looking at today's chapter 8 written by George D. Smith titled, remembering, forgetting and remembering 19th-century LDS plural marriage. These chapters, critique each of those original essays. There were three originally written on the subject of plural marriage that is not the way it is today. They have taken the three and move them over to another section on their website and have written a new essay on the subject of polygamy and in many places have taken from the other three essays that were written but today we are going to start again with page 215. I want to recap what we were talking about yesterday because it's pertinent to what were going to discuss today and that is the demise of plural marriage officially in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints noun yesterday show. We were talking about the pressure that was being put on the LDS church to abandon the doctrine of polygamy. We mentioned the moral anti-bigamy act of 1862. This was a bill that was put together by Congressman from the state of Vermont Justin Smith moral MORRILL we also talked about the Reynolds versus the United States decision of 1878 were George Reynolds was found guilty of unlawful cohabitation yesterday. We also discussed in his same paragraph that Mr. Smith writes about Brigham Young marrying some 58 women supporting more or less 27 families and participating in at least 31 afterlife ceilings. That's quite a few women that were attached to Brigham Young, at least in this official capacity within the context of Mormonism. But there was a statement that we didn't really talk about is I think we should. And that statement has to do with why.

Brigham Young thought that plural marriage was a moral alternative to prostitution. Eric we were talking off the air and I had asked the question how many women in the early years of the Mormons moving out to Utah.

I really thought that prostitution would be an alternative do they did they really think there would be a big market among a bunch of religious man who would come to Salt Lake City.

I don't know maybe later on that could've certainly been the issue, especially after the railroad came through in 1869, but Mr. Smith writes that Brigham Young declared that plural marriage protected women who would otherwise be single and would have no proper means of financial support. See that's the question that I have often asked when I visited the beehive house because when you bring that up. It's not uncommon for the tour guide to say. Well polygamy was used to help the financial needs of single women. My rebuttal question to that is always been, but why did he have to marry them in order to meet the financial needs of some of these women you have to do that, you can merely set up an endowment fund of some sort that would help these women out who perhaps did not have a husband at the time but why did you have to marry them. I had one tour guide say well it was for legal reasons such as land, and I responded by saying all that can't be because moral act of 1862 made it illegal to begin with. So this, the government never recognized plural marriages to begin with.

Now they might argue well in the territory of Utah, I did. Maybe that's how they're going to argue that one but the fact is, the United States did not agree with Brigham Young's reasoning or the church's reasoning the United States didn't care what God commanded it for us care about that.

So this is going to cause some friction and George Smith goes on to say at the top of page 216 that that after Young's death, his later successor as church president Profitt apostle in Revel. Later Wilford Woodruff traveled to San Francisco to negotiate a deal with the US government in 1889. This would be one year before the manifesto comes out. Wilford Woodruff eventually agreed with Sen. Leland Stanford and others to end the practice of plural marriage. Now Leland Stanford is the one that put up the money for Stanford University in California. It was named after his son Leland Stanford Junior who died of typhoid fever. Now we come up to the point of the manifesto being made public, which is supposed to officially bring plural marriage to an end, it doesn't. In fact there's an essay that deals specifically with plural marriage after the manifesto that we will be eventually getting to but this is where we are in this chapter written by George Smith. He writes on page 216.

The energy generated in ending plural marriages fueled some hundred years of institutional suppression about the practice and its memory this century of officially forgetting the Church's history of plural marriage began in the late 1800s as church officials pursued that statehood establish their American bona fides both processes remembering their past with pride in suppressing both the practice in memory of polygamy in the early LDS church took place simultaneously as the saints attempted to accommodate and conform to the marriage laws considered moral by the rest of the country. First-person accounts of plural marriage gradually diminished from common view LDS manuals erased most mention of plural wives and church colleges and universities discourages research on the subject. Eric let me ask you, how do you think that may have affected a lot of the LDS members living towards the end of the 19th century.

He's going to be getting into some quotations by Mormon leaders regarding the importance of this practice. And yet, in 1890. All of a sudden they have to stop taking those statements seriously any longer. You can understand why this would cause a lot of faithful Latter Day Saints to wonder what in the world is going on here we been told were never going to give up this practice. No matter if it's illegal we been told that it's an act by God for us to practice we been told that if we don't practice that were not going to receive the best. Our religion has for us and now all of a sudden that's over with.

That's just for the lay people who are confused, but I think this also had a part in why Mormonism and its leaders continue to practice polygamy after 1890.

It took a number of years really for many Latter Day Saints to get that out of their system will you would ended that paragraph with the sentence. LDS manuals erased most mention of plural wives in church colleges and universities discourages research on the subject.

What does George Smith say in footnote number seven on page 216 he says in 1973 LDS church archivist Earl E. Olson specifically identified plural marriage as a topic to be restricted for research and he says that he has is from a statement dated January 30, 1973 photocopy in my possession.

That's an interesting statement that this man early Olson would say. Now he doesn't seem to say it publicly because it's a statement that apparently George Smith has on paper as it mentions here realize something as important as plural marriage had everything to do with your status in the next life. And now you get to a point where Earl Olson says in 1973. It's a topic that is restricted for research your muscles talk about it. Notice also on the chart that George Smith has on page 217 he shows how the quote mention of polygamy and plural marriage in LDS Gen. conference talks between 1850 and 2010 diminished drastically. What is the show under the years 1850 to 1890. How many occurrences does he list where polygamy or plural marriage was talked about 528 times in that 40 some odd year. Versus the 1900s to the 2010, which is over a century, only 97 so we go from 528 times over 40 years to only 97 times is this mentioned over a period of 110 years so I think the church was probably fairly successful. You might say in making sure that this was not a topic of discussion, at least not in general conference. Let me give you one talk that was given by Gordon B. Hinckley in October 1998. This is printed in the & conference edition November 1998, page 71. This is what he said about polygamy.

If any of our members are found to be practicing plural marriage, they are excommunicated.

The most serious penalty the church can impose not only are those so involved in direct violation of the civil law they are in violation of the law of this church.

What's interesting to is when we do find certain church leaders using the word cult they use it within the context of plural marriage, for instance, there is the first presidency statement and you can find this in the teachings of Spencer W. Kimball on page 447 where it says plural marriage ended through revelation, we warn you against the so-called polygamy holes which would lead you astray. Remember, the Lord brought to an end to this program many decades ago through a prophet who proclaimed the revelation to the world. Here's what I find interesting about that they referred to people who are practicing polygamy plural marriage as cultist but they certainly would not look at themselves when they were practicing polygamy as cultist and how do they excuse this they excuse it because the membership had been told that this was commanded by God. Well, in 1890 with the manifesto that command is rescinded, and so now if you practice polygamy after 1890, you are classified as a coldest will. Maybe we should sing 1904, because they didn't have to come out with another manifesto in 1904 and if you heard me talk on this subject, I casually refer to it as the now we really mean it. Manifesto because that's when they started excommunicating people who were engaged in this practice.

Thank you for listening. If you would like more information regarding his research ministry. We encourage you to visit our website www.mrm.org you can request a free newsletter Mormonism research. We hope you will join us again as we look at another viewpoint is sharing the good news with Mormons edited by Sean McDaniel in my medicine research ministries. Eric Johnson offers practical witnessing strategies by a number of Christian missionaries and scholars and pastors sharing the good news with Mormons is published by harvest House and is available at your favorite online bookstore or order it directly from MRM.org. If you're looking for practical strategies for getting the conversation started. Be sure to check out sharing the good news with Mormons


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