Monday, March 17, 2014
# 34: Brazilian Saints Have Never Heard of Polygamy
I have good news and bad news. The good news is that members of the LDS Church in Brazil have never heard of polygamy. The bad news is that members of the LDS Church in Brazil have never heard of polygamy.
(I've got a little brother serving a mission there right now, and he told me that none of the members he had talked with down there had heard of the Church practicing polygamy. As my mother used to say, I heard it from the horse's mouth.)
Why is that good news? Because polygamy is terrible. It was a failed experiment, like the law of consecration. It's better that Mormons don't practice it. We've moved passed that. We don't need to talk about it anymore, and so maybe it's a good thing that converts never hear about it, except through forbidden sources. Maybe it's a good thing that members tend to not teach their kids about it. Members of the LDS Church don't practice it anymore, so why do we need to talk about it? Let's just move on.
And why is this bad news? Because it's anti-historical. When Brazilian Saints are ignorant of polygamy, they do not have an accurate picture of Church history. Plus, there's always a chance that they'll get on the Internet and go to the wives of Joseph Smith or some other website and find out that Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff and so many others were polygamists. If they find out, they might be shocked. Maybe they'll think, "What else don't I know about Church history?" and then they'll keep clicking and clicking, and their traditional testimony will start withering and withering.
So, I'm kind of torn.
One one hand, I think when the missionaries talk to potential converts, they should at least mention polygamy. It's a real part of our history. We should confront it, discuss it, and accept it. The prophets, seers and revelators should clear up doctrinal questions surrounding polygamy, as best they can. We shouldn't sweep it under the rug and pretend it never happened.
Plus, it's technically still doctrine. We still have D & C 132 in our canon. And it's technically still practiced. Members of the LDS Church don't practice it in mortality, but a widower can get sealed to another woman. So members of the Church believe that polygamy is practiced in the Celestal Kingdom. So shouldn't we be teaching it?
(But if you want my opinion, polygamy was a terrible idea from the start, and it will not be practiced in the hereafter.)
On the other hand, Mormonism is a better religion without polygamy. I'm glad we've moved on, thanks to pressure from the U.S. Government in the late 1800's, and thanks to divine guidance. And maybe on the issue of polygamy, ignorance is bliss.
So... if we don't really do it anymore, and if we want to move on, why bring up the ugly, ugly past? A missionary telling Brazilian Saints about polygamy kind of feels like a wife bringing up ex-girlfriends.
You should stay LDS because we no longer engage in the horrible practice of polygamy. And as the years go by, fewer and fewer Saints- at least the Saints in developing countries- will even know it was practiced at all. Of course, there is a push by both apologists and critics of the Church to get polygamy more openly taught in Church. So maybe as the years go by, more Saints actually will learn about it. Time will tell.
But my point here is that if we don't do polygamy anymore, and we don't talk about it anymore, and it's not affecting your life in any way, why leave the Church over it?