Dear Joseph,

It can be neither shallow nor myopic to tie polygamy to the LDS Church considering that it is a practice which defined the church for almost the first half of its existence. I understand your point, of course -- Joseph Smith did not originate the practice of polygamy, he merely adopted it from earlier religious traditions. But this does not mean that the LDS Church is thereby absolved of the responsibility of clarifying whether or not polygamy will be the standard practice in "heaven" (or the celestial kingdom).

I find it disingenuous, therefore, to suggest that the LDS Church follows the guidelines of Jacob 2 (which I believe you correctly summarize as "marriage is to be monogamous ... unless God commands otherwise") when Brigham Young said clearly (as you might have remembered if you read my article more carefully) "The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy.”

Thus I agree with you that polygamy is not a (uniquely) "Mormon" problem, in the sense that every religion who believes that Abraham or David were inspired prophets must explain the polygamy of those individuals. But, as I assume you are aware, there are still *many* members of the LDS Church who believe with Brigham that polygamy will be practiced in heaven. This belief seems to be unique within Christianity -- though it is shared by some sects of Islam and other religions -- and is thus particularly troubling to many faithful members of the church, since the church has almost completely abandoned teaching about the issue. The silence from the pulpit on the issue of polygamy in heaven has led to suffering and confusion for many (and if you doubt this fact I recommend the book 'The Ghost of Eternal Polygamy'). Suffering and confusion are sources of separation from God. And this is the opposite of what a church should provide.

One more thought on your last paragraph. I believe that "[doing] what you can in your spheres of influence to improve and bless the lives [of] others" includes asking important questions of God and those who claim to be the prophets of God. God loves us. God wants us to resolve confusion, as best we can. Currently, there is hopeless confusion within LDS theology on the doctrine of polygamy in heaven. It seems, therefore, well within the sphere of influence of a concerned individual to ask a question like, "Could church leaders possibly clarify whether marriage in heaven is necessarily polygamous, optionally polygamous, or necessarily monogamous?" Wouldn't you agree?

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“I do not understand one thing in this world. Not one.” — Marilynne Robinson, ‘Gilead’

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Abe Collier

Abe Collier

“I do not understand one thing in this world. Not one.” — Marilynne Robinson, ‘Gilead’

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