Posts Tagged polygamy

LGBTQ and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (aka Mormons) has room for all who are seeking to be more like Christ and follow His ways. While there are currently limitations, local and church wide, to participation in some parts of the Church, I believe that in the eternal scheme of things there is more than enough room. I believe in how LGBTQ individuals can and do fit as members of the Church despite the limitations currently given them.

To start, I should lay out what is currently outlined by the Church in the way of marriage. The Church has a long and storied history with nontraditional marriage, more specifically polygyny (marriage of one man to multiple women). While marriages are no longer sealed polygamously while the participants are still alive, we allow marriage between any number of men and women who have passed away. Men are allowed to be sealed/married to only one living woman at a time, but may be sealed to any number of women for eternity. Women may also be sealed to any number of men if they are all deceased. My (distant) cousin who survived five husbands can be sealed to all of them just as can my cousin who has survived four wives.

I believe that those who marry in this life, no matter their gender, will be allowed to maintain that relationship in the next life, just as every other relationship sealed in the Temple and honored by those involved will be.

With all that being said, the Church will not seal same gender members in the Temple, believing that such relationships cannot be eternal. Locally, members may be shunned for expressing homosexual feelings. We should strive to be better than this. Even if we don’t believe that such a marriage could be eternal, we should welcome them just as we would anyone else who is married for only this life. They are children of God who are striving to be better. Whatever mote you perceive in their eye, you should concentrate more on the beam in your own eye. The ultimate status of their marriage and relationship will be determined by themselves and God, just as any other marriage relationship will be.

But. as for those who are of atypical gender, while we believe that “gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose“, there is no method to perfectly determine what spiritual gender someone may be. We can guess with a fairly high degree of accuracy, based on bodily sexual characteristics, but we have enough exceptions to know that this determination may not be clear cut. The mortal body develops based on an array of physical, genetic, and hormonal functions, any of which may work differently than expected, making the determination of gender fraught with possible exceptions. We may not know yet all the exceptions possible, so how can we say with surety that someone else’s gender is what we believe it to be?

For the Church, there has been a case of a person who was determined to be one gender at birth and was allowed to change their gender later in life. There was also an instance where a transgender woman was allowed to be sealed to her husband in the Temple. These cases were reviewed and approved by the First Presidency of the Church, the highest level of leaders in the Church. Since these instances, the Church is still trying to work out what their stance should be. Local reaction has varied greatly from congregation to congregation. The handbook for Church leaders does mention that “elective transsexual operations . . . may be the cause for formal Church discipline”, which leaves the decision up to local leaders. As such, Bishops who preside over said congregations have also been varied in their reactions, from acceptance through recommending excommunication.

Despite the cultural limitations, I don’t believe there are any doctrinal or theological reasons we should treat our LGBTQ siblings any differently than any other, as they are also children of God, striving to become more like Christ and progress through this life.

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My thoughts on polygamy

In the early decades of the Church, one of the practices that came from questions about some of the ancient prophets having more than one wife was the practice of polygyny (one man having more than one wife).  Instruction was received by revelation, and it was practiced by a number of the leaders and others in the Church.  This caused some divisions and also had some strong supporters, both of those within and without the practice.  The Church officially discontinued the practice (leaving those marriages already entered into intact) in 1890.  The Church had to further crack down on those entering into these marriages since then by excommunicating those within polygynous marriages, and continues to do so today.  This is not only to remain compliant with US law, since even in countries where polygynous marriage is acceptable and allowed, the Church does not allow its members to marry polygynously to more than one living woman at a time.

The “living” part is the one catch that still bothers some now.  Since we believe that marriage is eternal, it is possible to be married to more than one person at a time, which is polygamy (one person having more than one spouse).  While there have been scriptures that can be interpreted as saying that polygyny is an absolute must for anyone desiring the highest order of Heaven, as well as statements from Prophets that it must be so, we also have statements from all the modern-day Prophets and scriptures that say that is not so.


For me, one of the big definitions of the Celestial Kingdom (the highest level of Heaven) is that you won’t be stuck with someone you don’t want to spend forever with.  That means whatever marriages are entered into here, even those sealed in the Temple, will not be enforced not only if either party has not lived up to their covenants required for this level of Heaven, but if any of the parties involved does not want to be part of it.  People will not be “stuck” with their abusers, nor will they be forced to stay in a polygamous marriage (men or women) if they cannot wholeheartedly love every other person in that marriage.  When the time for the ultimate decision comes (of which there may be many), we will all have the clarity of mind to know exactly who these other people are and how we feel in ourselves about being with them forever.  Also, those who decide to break from their Earthly sealings because of sin (not their own) or other reasons will not be without hope of finding the marriage they can be in for Eternity.  There will not be an “odd man (or woman) out” because they couldn’t find someone.  Being alone, and the path where that leads, will be that person’s choice, without lack of knowledge or need for excuse.

I don’t find polygamy to be inherently problematic in this age.  In the past, it has been used to control women, but it has also been used to give women more freedom.  That was a side effect of marriage in general in the past, there the woman was considered the property of the man, either her husband or father.  I don’t think that is the optimal way to view a marriage, or has ever been, and we are still working to move to a more egalitarian and balanced approach to men and women in general.  I believe that we are capable of polygamous marriage, but only if is directed toward that Celestial ideal.


My wife and I actually talked about polygamy on our first date.  (We talked for a number of hours, so it was one of many things we talked about, the list of which would show how odd we are.)  Our take is that we could accept it if it were asked of us, but we would each need individual confirmation of it and specific direction on it from the Prophet.  That personal direction is important to us, and we’ve had many experiences where we’ve done things as a family that we each got individual direction on.  I imagine a number of LDS couples have had to discuss it at some point, because of the possibility of death and remarriage, since we do believe in marriage for Eternity, rather than “til death do you part”.  Could I ever find someone I love as much as I love my beautiful wife?  I don’t know.  I’d rather not find out.  I would hope, however, that if my wife ever passed away (perish the thought) that I would only accept as another wife someone who my wife could also love with all her heart.

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Men and women being friends without being romantic

In relationship advice, it is often pointed out that men and women are not able to be good friends, because romantic and/or sexual feelings always get in the way. What I’m wondering is – why not?

I mean, I know they can get in the way (and can become problematic if left unchecked) but does that need to limit having good, “just friends”, relationships with others?

I know of one particular male-female relationship where romantic/sexual feelings rarely (if ever) get in the way – those involving familial relationships. Not spouse (obviously), but those of parents and children or brothers and sisters. So how to get to this point with someone who isn’t an immediate relation?

This is one thing I worry about, so much that I tend to over communicate with my wife whenever I have any contacts with other women, not to mention various disclaimers I tend to stick in other (not in person) relationships. I’ll throw in caveats that I’m not looking for a second wife or any other kind of romantic relationship in a rambling way indicative of my uncomfortableness with the idea of it, and often have my wife read it before sending. In day-to-day interactions, to those who don’t know me very well, I tend to come across as flirting. When I first met my now wife, months before we started dating, her reaction was thinking that I was flirting with her roommate, then her. She has, since knowing me better, amended her original impression.

In a few months, after our ward goes to a more conducive meeting time for kids naps, I hope to start once again inviting couples and families over for dinner with us, to get to know our ward better, and I want to also include our singles in pairs. In pairs is important to me, since I don’t want the sisters to get the idea that we’re looking for another wife to join the marriage. I don’t know how it will go, but I do hope to become better friends with the members of our ward. I’ll probably write about it.

So, to get back from rambling (see?), what do we need to do to be able to have close relationships with others without falling into romance? On a related note (not that this is even close to a problem with me right now), how do we draw back from romantic feelings with someone who is “out of bounds”?

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Polygamy and the end of days

For those who dont know, polygamy (here defined as 1 man marrying many women, not a correct definition) was practiced by the early LDS church and discontinued in 1890, when the US Supreme Court declared the laws against it Constitutional. Even in places where polygamy is lawful and culturally acceptable, the LDS church does not allow it members to have more than one living spouse at a time.

One of the rather weak arguments against gay marriage is that it will allow for the easing of restrictions on other unlawful unions, such as those involving incest and polygamy. While I don’t believe this to be true, I believe there is the possibility of polygamy being allowed in the United States and the rest of the world, but not in the Church, from the following verse in Isaiah (Chap 4, Verse 1):

And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach.

Before the 20th century, it was difficult, if not impossible, for women to be independant of men. In most places, they had no voice or consideration as people, which may have necessitated them to marry, even sometimes more than one to the same man, to be able to live and accomplish in the world. In the later 20th and 21st centuries, this has changed dramatically. Women have the ability and cultural acceptance to do whatever they want to do, making marriage a luxury rather than a necessity.

One of the reasons I have heard for same-sex marriage is in the ability to have the tax benefits given to opposite-sex marriages. In the case of polygamy, this would be especially true, as it would allow for men and women to have marriages in name and benefits only, no matter what their desire to cohabitate or even have sex within the marriage. Yes, I know that can happen now, but I was trying to make a point toward the scripture I cited, of more than one woman marrying the same man to remove their responsibility.

Do I have any idea how or when this is going to happen? Or even if? Nope. Its just one of those random thoughts.


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