I’ve frequently seen complaints that Joseph Smith’s practice of marrying already-married women is “particularly troubling.” That is, that marrying married women is somehow worse than marrying single women. Why is that? Why is men sharing a wife somehow worse than women sharing a husband?
Furthermore, looking over Todd Compton’s list of JS’s wives I noticed a pattern. Until roughly July 1842, JS mostly married married women and the single women he married were “older,” that is late 20s, 30s, 40s (with the exceptions of Fanny Alger and Sarah Ann Whitney). Then in the spring of 1843 he starts marrying young single women. This looks like a policy shift to me. The median age for the first group is 33, while the median age for the second is 19.
I find the quote from Jedediah Grant on the matter useful. “When the family organization was revealed from heaven–the patriarchal order of God, and Joseph began, on the right and the left, to add to his family, what a quaking there was in Israel…. Did Joseph want every man’s wife he asked for? He did not.”
It looks to me that JS began with policy “A” (married women and “older single” women) but then switched to only single women (policy “B”) when the elders balked (I see Alger as prior to implementing policy A and Whitney as anticipating policy B). If he now had to marry women before they married anyone else, it meant he needed to marry the women at a younger age. Thus the age drop. Which is preferable, teenagers or married women?
Anyway, if one is willing the think outside the box, what’s so THEORETICALLY bad about polyandry along with polygyny?
Frequent blogger Tatiana posted this comment over at Mormon Matters a few months ago that I think really hits the nail on the head:
May 27th, 2009 at 6:38 am
I think there will be voluntary polygamy [in the next life], including equally likely polygyny and polyandry….
… I think nobody will be in any sort of relationship they don’t want. I also think the only reason “the principle” was practiced here on earth as mostly polygyny with the males doing the asking is that our patriarchal culture was/is slanted that way. I expect matrilineal matriarchal cultures in other times and places have probably slanted the opposite way. Of one thing I’m absolutely sure and that is that heaven is fair. Women aren’t second class citizens there. If there’s polygyny, then, there must also be polyandry to the same degree.
I have a testimony that polyandry would be a great form of marriage, even a higher form than monogamy, in the same way that the law of consecration is a higher law than the law of tithing, but requires us to be a whole lot less selfish. Since I expect we’ll have plenty of time and attention to spare in the hereafter, I’m thinking we’ll be able to do justice to more than one spouse. It’s something that feels right to me, though I would never practice it without the blessing of the church.
Oh and let’s not forget DC 132:41: “And as ye have asked concerning adultery, verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man receiveth a wife in the new and everlasting covenant, and if she be with another man, and I have not appointed unto her by the holy anointing, she hath committed adultery and shall be destroyed.” This or course suggests that if the wife is “appointed by the holy anointing” then being married to two men is okay. Why not (theoretically)?