Polygamy in Pieces: Part 6 - Current Standings & Feelings (Doctrine & Covenants 132)

Saturday, November 13, 2021


 Transcript for this episode by the wonderful Heather B!

Works Cited for this episode:
Additional Relevant Resources for this episode:
  • "The Polygamous Wives Writing Club: From the Diaries of Mormon Pioneer Women" by Paula Kelly Harline
  • "Joseph Smith Revealed: A Faithful Telling" by Whitney N. Horning
  • "Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy" Volumes 1 & 2 by Richard and Pamela Price
  • "The Secret Chamber" by Val Brinkerhoff

Channing: Hi, friends! I’m Channing.

Elise: And I’m Elise.

Channing: And this is The Faithful Feminists podcast.

Elise: [00:00:12] But this is not just any Come Follow Me podcast. We do things a little differently here. We offer approachable feminist interpretations of the Come Follow Me manual for those who want to study and understand the scriptures in a framework of equality, social justice, and sisterhood. We are here to show you all the really good ways faith and feminism work together to illuminate and deepen the gospel experience. 

Channing: We’ve saved you a seat on the soft chairs, so join us today for a conversation about Doctrine and Covenants sections 129 through 132 for November 8th through the 14th. This week, it's going to be a little different.

[00:01:03] Because there is so much content and so many feelings and so many resources about this week’s sections, especially section 132, we've decided to do a miniseries titled “Polygamy in Pieces.” Each day we'll release a new episode covering a different aspect of early Mormon polygamy. We hope that this series is a deep dive but comes to you in manageable parts.

[00:01:31] Today, we'll be unpacking our emotions about polygamy and how it's being talked about today. 

Elise: [00:01:38] If you've listened to every single episode in this series, you probably have a good idea of how we feel about polygamy. And it is still mind blowing to me that after all of this, again, this is only kind of skimming the surface of what's really here for polygamy, but after all of this, it is still mind blowing to me that the church will still stand by and say that polygamy is a thing of God.

[00:02:04] In fact, in the Come Follow Me manual, this is what it says: “But then sometimes God may ask us to do things that are so uncomfortable that they do seem unreachable. For many early saints plural marriage was one such command. The commandment to marry additional wives was a severe trial of faith for Joseph Smith, his wife, Emma, and almost everyone who received it. To make it through this trial they needed more than just favorable feelings about the restored gospel. They needed faith in God that went far deeper than any personal desires or biases. The commandment no longer stands today, but the faithful example of those who lived it still does. And those examples inspire us when we are asked to make our own sacrifices in obedience.”

[00:02:48] So, okay. Let me translate. The church still considers and teaches that polygamy during this time came from God and the line here about the Saints needing more than just favorable feelings, but instead needing a faith that “goes far deeper than any personal desires or biases” means that what the Saints, specifically women, needed to participate in polygamy was an absolute denial of what they knew to be true. They had to deny their bodies and their intuition and their true relationship with God, the loving God that they have come to know, you had to deny all of that in order to (air quotes here, and in my outline, it's in all caps) in order to “be in relationship with their husbands and with the Mormon God.”

[00:03:37] And I hope that we can see that this is a tragedy. Having to deny all that you know is true, that true loving, tender relationship that you have based on love with your God, having to deny that because the Mormon church says, “no, no, no, that's not a real relationship with God or your husband in order to have a real true (air quotes again) relationship with God and your husband. You actually have to participate in polygamy.” So it's this tragedy of sacrificing your inner bit of knowing for an externally defined relationship that you know, in your heart of hearts, isn't true. It's so sad.

Channing: [00:04:14] Yeah. Something that's coming up for me as I'm listening to you, is this amazing art installation that Elise came across at the Phoenix Art Museum.

[00:04:26] I only got to see the tiniest portion of it, but she got to see it in its full glory. And yeah, Elise, please, please share with us what that one was. 

Elise: [00:04:35] Yes. Okay. This was an installation that I had seen in the past, like maybe a few years ago, and it came back to the Phoenix Art Museum earlier this year in July of 2021.

[00:04:44] And when it was here, I think I Marco Polo’d you or I sent you pictures like, “oh my gosh, this art installation is back.” And you had said, “Take lots of pictures, like, save it for the polygamy episode. We have to talk about it.” So this was an art installation that's called “Seer Bonnets: a Continuing Offense” by artist Angela Ellsworth.

[00:05:01] And from her website, here's how she describes the art installation. “Seer Bonnets is an ongoing series of sculptural pioneer bonnets covered in thousands of steel pearl-tipped corsage pins that creates subtle patterns on the exteriors and sharp, rugged interiors. Standing in for the estimated 35 wives of Joseph Smith, the bonnets became the tools of translation, which allowed these resilient wives to see messages and translate them into visions. This is a nod to the tools Smith used to translate the Book of Mormon. Ellsworth re-imagines this community of women with their own visionary and regulatory powers as they pioneer new personal histories.”

[00:05:43] So you have a couple of things going on here. These bonnets are so intricately crafted. And from far, far away, the bonnets kind of look like fabric, like white, kind of pearlescent, fabric and each of these bonnets, all 35 of them, are just standing on these tall poles. So you have the bonnets and then the long ribbon ties.

[00:06:03] But as you get closer to the bonding the texture starts to appear, and you start to see that on the outside, there's all of these circles like these pearls on top. And at first you think maybe the bonnets are made of pearls. And as you get closer, still, you realize that they're not pearls, but in fact, they're metal or steel pins so that on the inside of the bonnet, if you were wearing it, you're you would be pierced and poked and cut and severed with all of these pins pushing down on you. 

Channing: Like thousands of them.

Elise: Oh my gosh. Thousands and thousands of them. And for my first understanding of what I thought was going on, I knew that these bonnets represented all 35 of Joseph Smith's plural wives. And I think that there's a powerful interpretation to be offered here. How polygamy on the outside is meant to look like a godly celestial beautiful thing, because on the outside, these bonnets are beautiful. They shimmer, they glitter. They're glorious in that way.

[00:07:04] But if we push past the outward story of how polygamy is told to us, what we find is that so many women are suffering and in pain because of what is supposed to be this glorious commandment. 

Channing: [00:07:18] Yeah, I think that for me, whenever I think about polygamy, this is what I remember. This is the image that comes to my mind is these beautiful bonnets that are made of pins on the inside.

[00:07:30] And I keep thinking about these women and yeah, just like you said, even in their own experience, and even from the stories that we heard from Kahilie Mehr's article, these women on the outside are presenting this, like, “okay, I'm going to do it. This is our trial of faith and I'm going to bear it well, because what other choice do I have?”

[00:07:53] But then on the inside those pins, poking and pricking, and I can imagine making the wearer constantly aware of the pain that they're experiencing, that pain of disassociation, of denying the body, of denying the experience and the emotions and the real life feelings that they have about this. I just think these bonnets are the perfect representation of what life was like for  wives involved in plural marriage. And for me, I can't call that a trial of faith. 

Elise: [00:08:28] Oh my gosh, no. 

Channing: [00:08:29] I can't do it! It's just, I cannot remain so blase and so neutral about it because, and I also have to remember like, “okay, well who's writing the manuals? It's probably not women most of the time.” And for all of the content that we see, there's not a lot.

[00:08:49] For some of the stories that we come across about how polygamy hurts men too, the pain is not equally shared.

Elise: No.

Channing: The pressure and the weight of polygamy is not equally shared. And it's women who are constantly... And it's women who are bearing the brunt of the burden. And I think it's telling there's a reason why the bonnets are made of pins and not ties, not white shirts, not all of those things.

[00:09:20] It's bonnets: a specific piece of clothing that belonged only to women of that time.

Elise: [00:09:26] That's right. One of the things that is also coming up for me is this passage from Fannie Stenhouse again. So what happens is, after she's introduced to the revelation of polygamy, all of the men say like, “well, now that you know, can you just take the responsibility and tell all of the other women in the community about it?Thanks.”

[00:09:46] So she's like, “no, I'm not doing that.” But they basically, like, tell her she has to break the news to all of the other women and here's just kind of a snapshot of what those scenes look like. And as you listen, listen for the ways that this anger and this rage shows up, but then the women feel like they have to suppress that and push it down in order to be Good Mormon Women.

[00:10:10] It is so sad. This denial of pain. She writes about a scenario where she just has introduced the revelation of plural marriage to another woman. And she writes, “Then followed another outburst of grief and rage fearful to witness. I tried to soothe her, but it was useless. She was one of those gushing impulsive women who give way to passions of grief.

[00:10:33] And I saw that it was best to leave her alone. When she became more calm, we talked it over and wept together and together knelt and prayed. I was almost going to add, we swore together in the same breath. This of course we did not do. It was something else. Finally, we came to the conclusion that we would, both of us, fight against the doctrine and that we would likewise teach all the sisters to do so.

[00:10:58] This was certainly a pretty state of affairs. After she left the room, I began to feel ashamed of myself that I, a missionary’s wife, should have thus given way. Here, I thought, is all my work to do over again. However, she repented and I repented, and we now agreed to talk to the other sisters about it and see how they would take it.

[00:11:20] I felt a little better now that I had a companion in misery who could sympathize with me and we consoled each other, neither of us believing that our husbands would ever practically adopt the doctrine, or at least not for a long time to come. We taught it to the other sisters, but it was the same sad story over and over again, some rebelled and some even fell sick.

[00:11:43] They lost all their joyous happy looks and now understood why for some past time I had appeared so unhappy and miserable.” Even here I'm reminded again of the bonnet. It's like having only women to turn to, to be your companion in grief and sorrow. Knowing that even as you want to resist and rebel, there's also a part of you that shows up that says “No, no, no. You should be ashamed of that feeling to rebel because you would be rebelling against God. And that's not what good Mormon women do, right? “

Channing: [00:12:17] It's so heartbreaking. It's so heartbreaking. Something else that I'm remembering is another passage from that same essay “Early Polygamy in Nauvoo and Kirtland.” It's this quote, it says, “Plural marriage was among the most challenging aspects of the restoration. For many who practiced it, plural marriage was a trial of faith. It violated both cultural and legal norms leading to persecution and revilement. Despite these hardships, plural marriage benefited the church in innumerable ways. Through the lineage of these 19th century saints have come many Latter-Day Saints who have been faithful to their gospel covenants as righteous mothers and fathers loyal disciples of Jesus Christ, devoted church members, leaders, and missionaries, and good citizens and prominent public officials.

[00:13:08] Modern Latter-day Saints honor and respect these faithful pioneers who gave so much for their faith, families and community.”

And for me, like, here is where I'm like snapping my fingers and I'm like, oh no, you didn't. And because that line that I paused and read very slowly- “plural marriage benefited the church in innumerable ways”- who bore that burden? It was the women in bonnets. These women benefited the church. Look at all these things that these women did for the church. And isn't that their greatest sacrifice? And isn't that their legacy of faith? I am honestly sick over this because for me this passage feeds that narrative that, “women, your responsibility is not to yourselves. It's to your husband and it's to the church because the church is God.

[00:14:06] And the sacrifices that you make, thank you so much. Look at all you've done. You've given us, through your children, faithful leaders and missionaries and good citizens. And you are a righteous mother.” And I'm like, “No.” I very much bristle at that and I resist that because I'm so tired of women being used to benefit the church and their pain and their suffering not being acknowledged and in fact, renamed and rewritten as a trial of faith. 

 Elise: [00:14:41]Well, and you've taken this whole experience of oppression and coercion and manipulation, and you've now, like, spun it to be an honorable legacy that benefits the church. What an absolute, heartbreaking disservice to all of the women who suffered during this. 

Channing:[00:14:58]  From the Come Follow Me manual for this week, there are also some intriguing, compelling questions that I wanted to present to the listeners and maybe answers as well. The manual states, “One of the most comforting truths restorative through the prophet Joseph Smith is that marriage and family relationships can last forever. Through Joseph Smith, the Lord restored these ordinances and authority needed to make these relationships eternal.” It quotes from section 132 verses seven and 18 through 19. It encourages, “Think about the family relationships you have or hope to have in the future as you read the sections. How do these verses affect the way you think about these relationships?”

“Sometimes, however,”  the manual continues, “The principle of eternal families is not so comforting. It may bring anxiety or even sadness when our current family situation does not fit the celestial ideal. When president Henry B Eyring worried about such a situation in his own family, he received the wise counsel from a member of the quorum of the 12 saying, “You just live worthy of the celestial kingdom and the family arrangements will be more wonderful than you can imagine.” How might following this council bless you in your current family situation.”

And so I'm reading through this manual, after I've done all of the research about polygamy and I'm like, “oh no, no, no, no, no.” Because here's, here's how it goes. And I think we've covered this before. Doctrine and Covenants section 132 is still canonized.

[00:16:33] It's still included in the church's official teachings, which means that the institution teaches this as true. This is going to actually happen when this revelation was written, it was understood that polygamy was celestial marriage. Not sealings, like, not just being sealed to your spouse, that didn't get you into the celestial kingdom.

[00:16:56] Plural marriage was the eternal and lasting covenant that got you into the celestial kingdom. And guess what? There has been no statement otherwise. The only thing that I could find on the church website was the statement from a seminary manual, that warns teachers specifically about the section, “avoid speculation. Do not speculate about whether plural marriage is a requirement for the celestial kingdom. We have no knowledge that plural marriage will be a requirement for exaltation.”

And so for me, I'm like, “Okay, here's my question. Do we really not know?” I mean, truthfully, like, capital T Truth, we really don't know, like, what comes after this afterlife, so that, you know, that's probably true, but my other question, the next question that I have about that is, “Do we not know, or do we not want to own up to what we think we know and what has been taught in the past and the harms and the consequences that those teachings have caused?”

[00:18:00] And so for me, like that's also very concerning that we're like, “oh, family's forever.” And that's how I grew up in the church, like, “Families are forever! Aren't eternal families the best?” And only now this week as I've been researching polygamy, have I found out that plural marriage was considered and still is by most church teachings to be the celestial and everlasting covenant.

[00:18:28] And so for me, I'm like, I cannot reconcile that. Like I don't, I can't do that. Like, sorry. No. 

Elise: [00:18:37] Well, and also, we've had lots of conversations with women who are worried and really, really anxious and afraid of what would happen if they were to pass away and their husband marries another woman. And then in the afterlife, are they now in a polygamous, plural marriage without their consent? Like that is a real anxiety that lots of women still experience because the church hasn't done any type of apology or clarification and still holds by the understanding that this was from God. 

Channing: [00:19:10] Right. “Avoid speculation, avoid speculation.” And that's for me, like that's just code for, “don't ask the next question. Don't go digging.” And also to speak to that as well, this concern that a lot of women in the church share about being in a non-consensual non-monogamous relationship author, Carolyn Pearson, who is fantastic. We love her work, but I haven't had a chance to read this one yet.

[00:19:39] She has a book titled Ghosts of Polygamy that I think would be a valuable read for anyone specifically working through these feelings. I'm definitely going to add it to my bookshelf, but yeah, just offering that as a resource, because I think our readers and listeners should be able to get all of the resources that they need, even if we haven't read them yet.

[00:20:02] Also for me, some of the issues that I take with the way that the manual treated polygamy is that it wraps section 132 in with some other chapters, some other sections that honestly have some really compelling theological components. And I'm really disappointed and Elise and I even talked about this before sitting down to record like, “oh man, we don't get to talk about some of the coolest stuff, like line upon line precept upon precept. We don't get to talk about, like, obedience to a law.” We don't get to talk about any of those things because we need to spend all of this time talking about section 132. And so, I also was telling Elise, I feel like, “wow, what an easy way for the manual to give everybody an out for not having to talk about the awkward topic of polygamy.”

Elise: [00:20:53] Well, exactly. Like, imagine the lessons that are going to happen on Sunday. I would say this is a non generous reading, I get that, but I would guess throughout every single place that's being taught this Come Follow Me lesson on whatever Sunday, that the majority of teachers would either do what you said: they would skip having the difficult conversations about polygamy altogether, or they would have a conversation about polygamy that doesn't do anything other than repeat what the church manual says. “This was a hard trial, but if you have faith, you can get through.” So those are the only two options that I can see coming out of a Come Follow Me lesson, but I would hope that our listeners or people who are passionate and upset and angry about polygamy do something different. 

Channing: [00:21:41] Yeah, I agree. And like, for me, especially... we talked about this too. We just did an episode last week about honoring the people who came before us, about honoring the dead, connecting with our forebears, our ancestors. And for me, I'm like, isn't that part of it? Like, isn't this part of it to tell their stories, to know what their lives were like and to tell the truth about them?

[00:22:06] And also the other question that I have about why would we not talk about it? Well, what's the benefit? What's the benefit of not talking about polygamy? What does it do for us? Well, for one, it makes questions feel icky and yucky and uncomfortable. And it keeps women silent. It keeps us in the dark about Emma, who we've talked about this week, about all of the examples of resistance to polygamy that we have.

[00:22:32] It makes polygamy seem like something that only feminists are concerned with rather than addressing the many ways that it still influences the church today. Lindsay Hanson Park, who did the Year of Polygamy podcast has an excellent article in which she outlines all of the many ways that polygamy still influences the church in places like the temple and sealing ordinances, the wearing of garments, the temple recommend questions and even the hierarchical leadership in the church. And so we have the opportunity to really go in depth into how this teaching and this revelation in section 132 still affects us today. But instead the church institution in general opts to leave it in the past as this kind of, like, weird and awkward thing that we'd rather just ignore.

Elise: [00:23:23] As you all can probably tell because I've been sharing so many quotes from Fanny, I'm a big fan of her writing and I think that she gets it just right. And throughout this whole expose that she's been doing on polygamy I really appreciate how honest she's been in her experience, because she talks about how difficult it's been for her this entire time to really accept the practice of polygamy as being something true and from God. And that's some of the same struggles that I and Channing struggle with too. And we're getting to the point where- not even getting to the point, we're at the point!- where we don't think that this is from God. We think it's abuse. We think it's manipulation. And I really just want to read these two passages from Fannie because she gives me confidence in language to say this outright.

[00:24:06] So after her husband wants to take a third wife she writes, “I had come to the conclusion that if the Lord would not give me salvation without it,” like, without my husband taking this third wife, “I would have to do without it.” Like, I'm going to have to go without salvation then. Hard pass. Right?

[00:24:24] Like, no, thank you. She continues, “I had striven hard to do God's will, but I had failed in every single instance to see in what I was called upon to suffer any indication of a God of justice. How, said I, could the humiliation of debasement and misery of thousands of women contribute to the glory of God.” She continues to write, so this is a little bit later after she's like worked through her entire disillusionment with polygamy, she says, “I've watched the whole system of polygamy closely, and I've tried earnestly to discover wherein it is productive of any good. But in not one single instance could I find, after the most diligent observation, any but the very worst result. On the contrary, it was the same story again and again, repeated: evil, evil, evil.”

Ah, who can speak with so much boldness! Like I love Fanny's words here because it reminds me that, like, “No, no, no. It's more than okay or appropriate to condemn polygamy as something that is evil, as something that isn't from God.”

[00:25:32] And I hope that this gives other people like a little bit of confidence to do this too simply because the church as an institution espouses the practice of polygamy doesn't mean that it's true or that you have to accept it. Right?

Channing: [00:25:44] Right. Ah, Fanny. So good. “Evil, evil, evil.” I'll just remember that forever.

[00:25:50] I will forever be angry about polygamy, right? Alongside Fanny. Something else that Elise and I have talked about as we've been exploring polygamy and talking about, “oh, how do we feel about this? What are the feelings that we have?” And for me, and a lot of what we've been sharing between ourselves is this discomfort, this idea of like, this feels wrong in my body. This does not feel right. And I wanted to share something that I came across in a children's books that I have. It's titled, “I Said No, a Kid-to-Kid Guide to Keeping Private Parts Private” by Zach and Kimberly King. This book was given to me when I had my first child and it's been a great resource in teaching my kids about body safety, privacy consent, and sexual abuse.

[00:26:41] I like this book because it uses the concept of green flags and red flags. “Green flags are representative of situations and people who make a child feel happy. They make a child feel like everything's okay. It says you feel safe and comfortable and you're happy the book continues, but a red flag is raised when there is danger.

[00:27:01] Red means bad. Red means stop. Red flags should go up on your ship if you are with someone and you find yourself feeling upset, uncomfortable, lonely, sad, angry, scared, yucky or in danger.” The book provides examples, “like if people who are not taking care of you want to see or touch your private parts, put up a red flag. If kids or grownups offer you candy, money or toys to look at or touch your private parts, put up a red flag.” And so I'm, like, listening to this and I'm like, “okay, yes. This is like really basic stuff. Right. This is stuff we already teach our kids, like,  don't take candy from the creepy guy in the van. Okay.”

[00:27:41] But most relevant to this conversation and what most surprised me as I was going through and reading this book was they also ask questions like, “If you get that feeling inside, like something isn't right, even if somebody tells you that it is, put up a red flag. Say no. Those feelings are called instincts. Follow your instincts.” For me, I really strongly believe, and research shows, that instincts are an important part of our body and our psyche. Our instincts and our intuition are highly complex parts of our awareness that pick up on cues that would otherwise go undetected logically. They're an important part of how your body stays safe. And I believe that as Mormon women in general, we have been cut off from our intuition, this intuition that keeps us safe, especially in a religious setting because we have been taught to defer to outside authority. There are countless examples that I've shared over this last week and that Elise has shared too where we've seen women say, “This doesn't feel right to me, but someone else says it's okay.” Just like Fanny did like, “okay, well this is what God wants. And because I trust-” and I'm, like, speaking as if I'm one of these women- “Because I trust and respect and honor that person or that figure or that God, more than I trust, respect, and honor myself. Then I should do it, even if it means betraying the wisdom of my body and my experience.” And so I’m remembering this kid's book, this really basic concept.

[00:29:18] And in here they have questions like, “Can you think of something that a red flag person might say?” And I'm remembering some of the examples of Brigham Young saying, “Hey marry this immigrant girl whose parents haven't gotten here yet.” And she says, w”ell, I don't know about that.” And he's like, “well, just do it, ‘cause it's going to be okay. “And so she does. And then they also have questions too. “Can you think of an example of a bribe?” Yeah, we've come across that here too, where men have been offered Priesthood offices or Bishoprics or whatever, and salvation! Like, the biggest carrot at the end of the stick!

Like you're going to get to the highest point of the celestial kingdom.

[00:30:00] Like that is a bribe. It also asks, “Can you think of an example of a threat?” Yeah. We've covered that too! Condemnation, damnation, destruction. We're going to do it anyway, like all of those things. And so I appreciate this children's book because it's such a useful context to understand polygamy in.

[00:30:24] I have questions. Does it feel yucky in your body to hear these stories? Why? And then ask yourself the next question. Why are you upset? What makes you uncomfortable? Are you raging angry? Just like me and Elise. If so, why? And if it's okay for me to ask a follow-up question, which it is, I want to know if you don't feel yucky about teenage girls, marrying men twice their age, who may have grown up with, or teenage girls coerced into marrying their stepfathers, or a distraught pregnant wife finding her husband with her sister, ask yourself why? Who told you this was okay?

[00:31:04] Does it feel okay in your body? And if it is, why? And these are questions that I think are really valuable, especially to the modern Mormon woman as she's going through and learning about polygamy. And so, as you're listening to this episode, as you're listening to any of the episodes in this week's series, I really encourage you to listen to the wisdom of your body.

[00:31:29] And this might be the yoga teacher in me that's coming out really strongly in here, but your body is so wise and all it wants to do is take really good care of you. It loves you so, so much, and you can trust it, even though for the longest time, you might've been told that your body is bad and it's the natural man and you have to cut it off or bridle your passions. Like, your body loves you and the whole reason it's here is to take care of you and keep you safe and you can trust it. So just sit with this and notice what comes up for you. And we are holding you and that experience with so much love and so much care.

To wrap up this series and to kind of finish this conversation about polygamy, as if it ever really could be done, we wanted to pull some examples from a previous section that we encountered.  

Elise: [00:32:23] Maybe you'll remember from a few episodes ago when I ended the episode, when we talked about section 121 with a kind of a mic drop moment where I said, “Section 132, like, we're coming for you with these verses.” I think that's what I said.

[00:32:37] And so true to our word, we are coming for you section 132. To help jog our memory, section 121 focuses a lot on the priesthood and usually Channing and I don't love coming across these sections because what more is there to say about the priesthood then we've already said? But one of the things that we think is so powerful and I hope might be able to illuminate another reason why polygamy isn't from God is because of what we see about midway through section 121 .Starting in verses 36 it says, “the rights of the priesthood are connected to the powers of heaven, but only when they are handled and enacted upon by righteous principles.” Things like long suffering, gentleness, meekness, love unfeigned, kindness, pure knowledge, those are the principles of righteousness, the principles that bring us closer to the message of love and radical, welcoming, and acceptance, like Jesus Christ. And so even if people are given Priesthood authority, if those people use it to cover their sins, to gratify their pride, use it for their own vain ambitions, or if they use the priesthood to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men.

[00:33:56] In any degree of unrighteousness, the scriptures say, “Behold, the heavens withdraw themselves. The spirit of the Lord is grieved and when it is withdrawn, amen to the Priesthood or the authority of that man.” We've already talked about, numerous times, how one of the biggest threats or coercive pieces of polygamy was that it came from the prophet, is that it's a commandment of the priesthood and that it's a requirement in order to gain salvation. All of these things are connected to both heaven and Priesthood. But I think this is where we see the undoing of polygamy or the undoing of the justification of polygamy, because polygamy doesn't operate on principles of righteousness. In fact, polygamy is an entire practice and system built on exercising control and dominion and compulsion upon all of the children of God, specifically the women here.

[00:34:51] And continuing on, like, when I remember how soon Joseph Smith started practicing polygamy, right after the church was established formally, I'm also reminded of this verse in section 121. God is saying, “We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.”

[00:35:17] As soon as people get a little power and a little authority, they will begin to exercise unrighteous dominion over all of the other people around them. And I think that's what's happening in the law of polygamy right here. So I hope that this shows there are so many ways that you can work through and undo the practice of polygamy or, like, the justification that it's from God and that was that it was a good thing. And it was just a trial of faith. There are so many ways that you can work through that and undo it, whether it's listening to your body, whether it's reading the personal accounts and stories of women who actually experienced polygamy. Whether it's studying what Jesus and God and all of the profits of old say about what to do when people oppress other groups of people and how that's not of God or whether it's coming directly from the Doctrine and Covenants itself in section 121 where it says, “no, no, no, this isn't from God. This isn't the priesthood because it's exercising control and oppression. 

Channing: [00:36:17] I love that. And I love that there's so many different avenues for exploring this and you get to choose the one that feels right to you. After all, that's bodily autonomy, your body, and you get to decide what you do with it.

[00:36:34] Thank you so much for joining us for this series of “Ppolygamy in Pieces.” We hope that throughout all of these episodes, you've gained a better understanding of the historical timeline of polygamy in early Mormonism. We hope that you've gained a good understanding of why women might have participated in it, what consent is and what it's not, all of the ways that women resisted the practice of polygamy, how it's still being taught and talked about today, and opportunities to explore your own feelings and explore ways and pathways out of polygamy. To complete this mini-series we will also be sharing on our website all of the resources that we've come across in our research about polygamy. We hope that you'll use that as a jumping off point to continue and deepen your own personal research. 

We love you so much and we can't wait to talk to you next week, friends. Bye.

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