One argument for polygamy that was presented by early LDS authorities is that if a man is married and his wife die, it is perfectly acceptable to marry another wife. Therefore, it should be acceptable not to wait, but to have more than one wife at a time.
Of course the same argument could be made for women: that since she can have another husband if one dies, then why should she wait. She should have more than one husband at a time. I’m sure that would make the elders turn in their graves–of course with no jealousy.
And don’t give me that old argument that the men were better equipped to take care of wives and children than women would be. The polygamist wives took care of themselves and their children. That’s one fact I’ve learned from studying the history of the Church. Think about it! The men were off on missions–taking only one wife – or off settling new towns–taking only wife – or off exploring–taking only one wife – or making a trek to Salt Lake City–taking only one wife, etc.
The women took care of themselves, their children, and contributed to whatever project their husband happened to be engaged. I dare you to study what happened to wives in their older years. How many do you think still resided or had interaction with their husbands. How many do you think ended up alone or being cared for by their children. I believe it was Heber C Kimball who boasted over the pulpit that not one of his wives had cost him a penny!
At least with monogamy if a husband strays a woman has the right to be mad, jealous, get divorced, find another man and get on with her life.
Church Historian Marlin K. Jensen has issued a formal Church response to Egan’s piece in the LDS Newsroom website. It’s worth checking out.]]>
Let me see if I can help with context a bit. I have previously done a study on marital age in 1850, about the time of Aaron Johnson’s marriage to Harriet. If you look beyond anecdotes, and at statistics for that era, Mormons seem a close match with their contemporary Americans on the age issue.
The same appears to be true of marriages between uncles and nieces. There is some interesting history associated with this covered by Ottenheimer and Bittles. If you want to hunt down some of the lit I have recently read try searching “consanguinity” and “cousin marriages.” There is more information on the latter than there is uncle-niece marriages.
Here is a brief historical synopsis.
1) Early on the Catholic Church banned cousin marriages, but for a fee could grant a dispensation for them.
2) As Protestants revolted, they thought the fee aspect was corrupt. So they simplified the relationships that couldn’t intermarry based on Leviticus. Under that schema cousins and uncle-nieces were permissible, but some in-laws weren’t (affine relationships)
3) Protestants debated on whether to expand the list to 1st cousins and uncle-nieces as they passed state legislation in American colonies.
4) So by about 1850 or so I think uncle-nieces marriages were still a gray area with standards varying from region to region. For example an 1830 New York law only banned marriages between lineal ascent/descent lines and brothers and sisters. New England and the South had similar values. Massachusetts’ politicians flip-flopped. Note that cousin marriage is still a gray area varying from state to state.
5) Around the mid 19th century, genetics started to be better understood (prior to then there wasn’t much that separated consideration about consanguinity and affinity) and concerns about inbreeding defects began to arise. Darwin (who had married his cousin) and his sons began to study the issue as did many others.
6) Around that time in Britain 4.5% of the aristocratic class had married their cousins while 3.5% of the middle class did. Another study in America showed 20% cousin marriage among a Scot-Irish family.
7) So during the period between 1855 until 1889, states gradually adapted their laws in light of these emerging studies.
8) Interestingly Rhode Island still has an exceptional circumstance it allows uncles to marry nieces.
So there you have it. To judge ancestors on our current scientific understanding would be to engage in the fallacy of presentism.]]>
As far as I understand it, polygamy in the early days of the church did not include forced marriages, or the absolute power of leaders to determine family relationships. This whole FLDS controversy is about control, the usurpation of free will, sexual abuse and other forms of emotional abuse. The practice of polygamy in the early church bears only a superficial resembalnce to what the FLDS are doing.]]>