Teaching Polygamy at BYU

By April 23, 2015

So I recently finished teaching the second half of the Doctrine and Covenants at BYU, which I enjoyed very much. When we got to some of the harder issues that are part of the curriculum, especially polygamy and blacks and the priesthood, I wanted to cover them in a way that was both direct and helpful. I applaud the church’s essays in these topics, assigned them, and wanted to cover these topics in the same spirit of openness. Yet these are tough and as 132 approached, I was trying to thing about how to go about it. To me it seemed like I had three options. 1) Dodge it. Again, I didn’t want to do that. 2) Tell the students information that I felt pretty sure was incorrect. As I mentioned in this previous post,  I like the articles but think there are some mistakes, especially eternity only sealings. 3) Tell them what I believe is correct. Having tried this out on my own kids and feeling it went well, I decided to give my assertion about shared marriages a shot. So I got my powerpoint ready and headed to class.

I begin each class with a quiz so that they’ll read and have things to discuss. For these class periods (the difficult issues) I just had them write down any questions.  The first hand after they turned them in: “Explain to me eternity only sealings because that doesn’t make sense to me.” “Oh boy,” I thought, “getting right to it.” After a little hedging I decided to simply answer the question. “I don’t believe there were any eternity only sealings.” He nodded and said, “Okay that make sense.” Knowing that I was differing from the church’s article, I then told the rest of the class, “Feel free to disagree with me. I won’t quiz you on that, but I don’t believe there were any eternity only sealings.”

After some more questions, I moved on to my power point. I started with a quote from President Uchdorf’s October 2013 conference talk. “Sometimes questions arise because we simply don’t have all the information and we just need a bit more patience. When the entire truth is eventually known, things that didn’t make sense to us before will be resolved to our satisfaction. Sometimes there is a difference of opinion as to what the “facts” really mean. A question that creates doubt in some can, after careful investigation, build faith in others.” I then told them that polygamy was such a topic and that we were still trying to figure out what it all meant.

Then I thought I’d give them some background which included a few things were know about Fanny Alger. There were audible gasps at each fact listed: young *gasp*, servant *gasp*, close to Emma *gasp*. “Oh no,” I thought, “I’m traumatizing them with stuff that feels second nature to old-hand MHA types.”

Then I showed them Smith’s marital pattern: how he married mostly married women, and then shifted to single. How the median age for the first group was 33 and for the second was 19. They seemed curious but no gasps like there were for Alger. I also went over DC 132:41. No gasps. I proposed to them they could think of the shift from married to single women like the shift between all things in common and tithing, shifting from the higher to the lower. Some head nods. I also proposed that we could view the first system, shared wives, like the law of consecration: i.e. sharing. More nods and even questions about what that might be like in the next life (I told the I didn’t know.)

I then quickly went over Heber and Helen Kimball to illustrate what I argue was the shift between married and single wives. When I wrote the number “14” on the board, *gasp*. I explained that this was probably Heber’s idea.

On the “quiz” one of my students had asked about Emma’s reaction and so even though that wasn’t in my powerpoint (oops) I decided to give a stab at it. Thinking on my feet, I told them to read 132:51 and asked them what they thought it meant. One student who had usually seemed pretty disengaged, raised his hand and said, “It seems like it’s saying that Emma could have additional husband but that now she can’t.” I told them that that was what I thought it meant.

I then, as an aside, mentioned that there was a lot of tension over this issue between Joseph and Emma at the time section 132 was revealed and that Emma was really upset. More gasps.

I concluded by saying that this was kind of a disaster but that so were attempts to establish Zion in Jackson County. Head nods.

So what I noticed was that the gasps came at information that is pretty agreed upon: young wives and disputes with Emma. They didn’t seemed traumatized by shared wives.

We discussed the topic some more when we got to Official Declaration 1. For that one, I had them read the church’s essays on Utah polygamy and Spencer Fluhman’s article on Helen Kimball. They had a lot of questions about why it stopped and we brainstormed about that. When we got to Helen, my normally chatty group got pretty quiet. I kept trying to prod them with questions but they just looked somber.

After class, I read their questions and one said that the article had really bothered her. I tried to write something encouraging and handed it and the other quizzes back the next class period.

Anyway, I was sort of curious how all this went over, so on the final, which was all essay questions since I didn’t have many students, I asked, “In what ways could plural marriage be related to the building of Zion.” It was one of 8 questions I asked on the final and they only had to answer 5, so they didn’t have to answer that one if they didn’t want to. I was curious if any would and what they would say.

I was intrigued when they handed them in and I saw that only one of my female students didn’t answer it (most of my males students did to, but not as high a percentage, and the one female student that didn’t answer the question was the one who asked on the first day why we weren’t practicing it anymore.) Apparently most wanted to answer the question. I was also really intrigued by the answers. Here are a few, numbered and genders listed.

1 (F) “To build Zion is to build a people that are one in everything.  D&C 78:5-6  ‘That you may be equal in the bonds of heavenly things, yea, and earthly things also, for the obtaining of heavenly things.  For if ye are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things.’  As the saints practices polygamy it helped them become more equal in earthly things and to also watch out for one another more.  The sharing of earthly things with more [?] helped them become more closely knit together and they became closer to becoming one.  This also helped there be no poor or rich among them which is the key to building Zion.”

and

2 (M) “Plural marriage can be related to building Zion in a few ways.  During this time in the Church there was a focus on consecration and on caring for the needs of others in order to build Zion.  I believe that a righteous family setting is the best place to not only have everything in common, but also to better understand the needs of others.  The Lord knew that members of a gospel centered family were much more likely to care for and serve one another, so I believe He tried to create as many of that type of family and get as many people into them as He could.  The vehicle for accomplishing this was polygamy. Throughout the Doctrine and Covenants the saints are counseled to look after one another, “widows and orphans shall be provided for, as also the poor” (83:6) which would help them to become of  “one heart and one mind” (45:65). I believe that the family served and still serves as a microcosm for the true Zion society.  In a family everyone gives all that they have and takes what they need.  Though the Saints struggled to live the law of consecration and build Zion as a whole, I believe that there was and still is today much success in living these principles in the home.  In an effort to bring more children into this situation and allow even more to experience the blessings of Zion, the Lord instituted polygamy.”

and

3 (M) “Plural marriage was another element of the “Zion project.” Plural marriage seems to relate very closely to the building of Zion with relation to the Law of Consecration.  There are many principles in the Law of Consecration that are comparable to what the practice of plural marriage was doing.  For example, “order established that the saints may be equal in bonds of heavenly and earthly things” (78:5).  This notion of equality and “all things in common among the saints was very prevalent.” [source?] Other scriptures in reference to the law of consecration say, “one man should not possess above another;” (49:20) and also that, “every many equal according to his family” (57:3).  Zion was intended to be a God-like society wherein it could truly only function and be build upon ‘principles of celestial law’ (105:5). Part of the Celestial Law was sealing people together to abide by the principles of a Zion like society.”

and

4 (F) “D&C 78:5 says, “That you may be equal in the bonds of Heavenly things, yea, and earthly things also.” Polygamy, particularly in the early stages, allowed for multiple people to be sealed to each other.  This led to sharing more of everything, as well as being bonded to each other.  Those with more money often had more wives and children.  This allowed them to spread their wealth.  In doing so, they were working towards practicing the Law of Consecration. This is a very difficult law to live by and it is required in Zion.  Polygamy gave the Saints a chance to work on and improve this skill, especially because their last attempt failed.”

and

5 (F) “Another way plural marriage can be related to building Zion is it established a feeling of family in the church.  As a result of plural marriage, many of the Saints were consequently related through marriage.  One of the characteristic of Zion is the great love for one another that the people will have.  By establishing greater family bonds though temple sealings the Saints could increase in charity.  Temple sealings of one family to another was also important for the reason it sealed the human family back to God so that in the eternities we can be linked together.”

Oh and the student that wrote that she had really been upset by the article on Helen, later wrote me this email

“Brother Fleming,

I simply wanted to say thank you for teaching about the difficult subjects that you did and in the way that you did. It’s true: I would have been upset reading that essay about Helen without any prior knowledge of it. (More upset, I guess. It still took some effort to be ok with all of that. Still working on it!). I have truly enjoyed this class and I have learned so much and gained a much greater appreciation for the Doctrine and Covenants as well as for the history of the Church and those who were called to build Zion.

Thank you for your preparation and for the Spirit with which you have taught.”

So I felt pleased with the results.

Article filed under Miscellaneous


Comments

  1. I have to admit, that as one who is still unconvinced by your line of reasoning on eternity only sealings/shared marriages (don’t get me wrong, I think it is an interesting proposition, I’m just unconvinced), I wish you would have given the students a more multi-vocal approach.

    Comment by J. Stapley — April 23, 2015 @ 3:01 pm

  2. …that said, I think your post shows how students and BYU (and Mormon students more broadly in faithful settings) can process challenging material. Pretty great.

    Comment by J. Stapley — April 23, 2015 @ 3:03 pm

  3. This was great, but I’m not convinced by your “another husband” argument for Emma. I believe that the argument for something else (divorce?) is more plausible.

    Comment by Terry H — April 23, 2015 @ 3:22 pm

  4. Thank you for the peek behind the curtain about how to think through these issues as an educator (and every educator is going to need to consider how to teach this in their local contexts, whether Seminary, institute, Sunday School, higher ed, secular ed, homeschool, etc). So this kind of pedagogical process and nuts-and-bolts is hugely generous of you to share.

    Comment by Tona H — April 23, 2015 @ 3:37 pm

  5. Thanks all. J. with my teaching, I try persuade rather than dictate, so I showed them data and asked them what they thought of it and then gave them my opinion. I would always say “what I think this means is …”. And then ask for their thoughts. In the case of DC 132:51, we happened to have the same opinion.

    I just shared those five; there were a handful of others. Most of the other answers followed the article and made the point about “raise up seed” and bringing up righteous children. So there were other takes. I just found the ones that I shared here to be the most interesting.

    Anyway, no doubt these are areas of dispute, but I was very interested in how they processed it.

    Comment by Steve Fleming — April 23, 2015 @ 3:47 pm

  6. The simplest explanation for why Joseph Smith tended to have already-married plural wives, especially in the beginning of his restoring the practice was that, when he received the revelation in 1831 the Lord showed him the women who were to engage with him in establishing that principle in the Church. According to Joseph F. Smith, who shared some of this information at the funeral of Elizabeth Ann Whitney (as reported in the Deseret Evening News, 18 Feb 1882), at the time of the initial 1831 revelation some of the women were named and given to him that were to become his wives when the time should come that the principle should be established. In the case of several, the women were single at the time their identities were revealed to Joseph Smith but married before he acted on the revelation.
    I think these circumstances say a lot about the purposes of plural marriage. That there were premortal commitments involved, I have no doubt (but how unscholarly to think so). I am completely unconvinced by your shared marriage theory (but do not begrudge you the opportunity to think originally). Nice try.

    Comment by Avila S. — April 23, 2015 @ 3:51 pm

  7. I’m sorry I failed to convince you Avila 🙂 but I do agree with your point about preexistent connections. Mary Lightner said that Joseph told her that. I go over that in my dissertation.

    J. here’s my breakdown of the different reasons they gave. A lot gave multiple reasons

    faith/trust 3
    more faithful women 2
    more families/marriage opportunities for women 2
    more/better children/ raise up seed 6
    sharing/consecration 5
    spread the wealth/richer men marrying poorer women 2
    more sealings 6
    tried as Abraham 4
    set them apart as a people 2

    And here’s what I considered to be the best answer (despite a few inaccuracies). It’s the full answer of #5. I was happy about this because she seemed upset during the discussion and didn’t come to class the next day.

    Plural marriage was a very difficult commandment for the Saints and Joseph in particular to obey. In the end though, the Saints received many blessings as a result of their obedience. In Section 132, the section pertaining to marriage, the Lord states in verse 5 that “All who will have a blessing at my hands shall abide the law which was appointed for that blessing.” This can be applied to all aspects of the church. If we wish to keep our current blessings and continue to receive new ones, we must do our best to obey the Lord’s commandments, even if they are hard. By asking the Saints to practice polygamy, the Lord was opening them up to the possibility of trials such as outside persecution, family problems, financial difficulty, and legal ramifications. In Zion, difficult things may be asked of us, but we need to be selfless and obedient. By following the commandment of polygamy, the Saints were demonstrating their faith in the Lord and His plan and their willingness to follow Him. The Saints were also commanded to “raise up seed” and “multiply and replenish the Earth (Gen 1:28)”
    After the Saints moved West there were more women than men, which combined with the commandment to “raise up seed” or have multiple wives, led to many plural marriages. Though this, many formerly single women, as well as widows were able to fulfill the commandment to “multiply and replenish the Earth.” Following this commandment not only demonstrated the Saints’ obedience, but it also allowed more Spirits to come to Earth to learn and prepare to live in Zion. D&C 78:5 says, “That you may be equal in the bonds of Heavenly things, yea, and earthly things also.”
    Polygamy, particularly in the early stages, allowed for multiple people to be sealed to each other. This led to sharing more of everything, as well as being bonded to each other. Those with more money often had more wives and children. This allowed them to spread their wealth. In doing so, they were working towards practicing the Law of Consecration.
    This is a very difficult law to live by and it is required in Zion. Polygamy gave the Saints a chance to work on and improve this skill, especially because their last attempt failed.

    Comment by Steve Fleming — April 23, 2015 @ 5:50 pm

  8. We tend to emphasize how difficult this principle was to establish and the problems it created for Joseph Smith’s domestic tranquility, but it might be useful to round out that awareness with the fact that plural marriage in the eternities was a concept that seemed to fill the Prophet with awe and wonder. His personal secretary, William Clayton, said Joseph would talk with him and others he could trust about it every chance he got in the last long while before the martyrdom. So, while all the reasons you listed were great reasons why the the Saints needed to have those experiences with plural marriage, everything I’ve seen indicates that the grand reason for it is because it is after the pattern of Heaven. Ever hear a non-fundamentalist woman say that before? 😉

    Comment by Avila S. — April 23, 2015 @ 9:51 pm

  9. Interesting discussion, Steve. However, I am not sure you can really present student test responses as candid, reflective responses on the topic. An exam is an inherently coercive instrument — controlled by a superior (you) directed to an inferior (students) who will then be evaluated based on the responses given. In the same way, you don’t often hear sincere, reflective answers in Sunday School. I am sure the students learned something in your class (a refreshing result) but what they said on your quiz and what they learned may be two different things.

    Comment by Dave — April 24, 2015 @ 5:01 am

  10. Sure, Dave, but I’d again note that they did not have to answer the question and also that the answers varied widely. So they don’t seem to have been pushed into a particular line of thought.

    Avila, no doubt JS considered his practices to be the order of heaven.

    Comment by Steve Fleming — April 24, 2015 @ 6:30 am

  11. Thanks for this, Steve. I’ve been teaching early-morning seminary and I’m always thrilled/surprised when the students take things in stride and/or ask follow-up questions. I think straightforward answers, even if they’re uncomfortable, are always the way to go.

    I guess we won’t know for a few years whether straightforward honesty or “inoculation” works, but I believe that it will.

    Comment by J Stuart — April 24, 2015 @ 7:55 am

  12. Thanks for that breakdown, Steve. Really interesting.

    Comment by J. Stapley — April 24, 2015 @ 9:52 am

  13. So would you be willing to let another man sleep with your wife in the spirit of consecration and sharing all things? Its all nice to look back 100 years ago and say that was nice, but it would be another to be asked to do it today.

    Comment by pat white — April 24, 2015 @ 10:03 am

  14. This piece would be a lot easier to read if you would go through it once and fix the numerous grammatical errors and typos.

    That said, as the descendant of polygamists on both sides of my genealogy, I am resigned to the fact that I will probably never come to terms with it. I don’t believe Joseph was infallible, and this is one area where I believe he made numerous missteps. For starters, the secretive nature of how it was implemented runs directly counter to the law of common consent. And how polygamy unfolded is, for me, far more troubling than the fact that it was introduced in the first place.

    Comment by Lew Scannon — April 24, 2015 @ 10:15 am

  15. In any of these discussions with students, was there accommodation made for the possibility that Joseph made mistakes in doctrine and/or implementation? What would have been your reaction to a student who chose to answer the question that way?

    It it very much implied in the church’s manuals and recent essays that polygamy was commanded by God. I wonder if in 20-50 years we’ll be looking back on these justifications in much the same way the church is approaching the priesthood/temple ban now.

    Comment by BYUparent — April 24, 2015 @ 10:26 am

  16. J and J, thanks. And good point about having to wait a while to know the results, but, as we’ve talked about a lot, one of the biggest complaints is not being told about these things, so I at least covered that base. And these various assessments were encouraging.

    Pat, good question and I would simply say that the reality is that this didn’t really work (for obvious reasons) but I’m not sure that having unworkable ideals is such a bad thing. As the medieval poem PEARL says, “We all in bliss are Brides of the Lamb.”

    Lew, sorry about the typoes, tried to fix a few just now. This no doubt upsets a lot of people. I talk about the issue of polygamy and esotericism in this post. http://www.juvenileinstructor.org/esotericism-in-the-internet-age-or-how-do-we-teach-our-secrets-now/

    BYU parent, I did not present that particular interpretation because 1) I don’t believe it myself and 2) the institution I was working for really doesn’t believe it. However, we did spend some time going over the issue of imperfect prophets and some possible mistakes that I think Joseph made (the bank, Missouri stuff). One of the questions I gave them on the final was “What were some of Joseph Smith’s weaknesses? What can we learn from them?” Interestingly, that was the question that the fewest of them answered. (My most answered question was “How are learning and knowledge important in Joseph Smith’s teachings and revelations?”)

    However, on the last day of class the quiz I gave them was to tell me the major themes they had learned and if they had any more questions. Most of them said they had learned that prophets weren’t perfect and that’s okay. So I did try to accommodate questions and doubts.

    Comment by Steve Fleming — April 24, 2015 @ 10:43 am

  17. Oh and another way I tried to accommodate doubts and questions was by having them write down their questions and turn them in. As I said above, the student that was upset by Fluhman’s article expressed her concern that way.

    Comment by Steve Fleming — April 24, 2015 @ 10:46 am

  18. It is never ok for men to use their ecclesiastical authority to coerce women into doing something that they would find immoral under any other circumstances. I am appalled that the church and seminary/ institute teachers are teaching impressionable young men and women that this is somehow divine. I am an active mother to seven children, but there is no way I would allow them to believe this is some sort of divine principle. It was and is wrong and I weep to think of the lives and families it has and continues to destroy. We should have the courage and integrity to admit that it was wrong if only to prevent any more 12 year old girls being forced into marriage and raped by their religious leaders in fundamentalist groups today. All in the name of Joseph Smiths polygamy. If you are testifying of his marriage to 14 year old girls and servants, you are enabling the abuse to continue.

    Comment by Rachel — April 24, 2015 @ 11:09 am

  19. No doubt there are a lot of potentially upsetting issues involved in all this, Rachel, but I don’t consider your characterization of what I taught my class to be fair or accurate. Instead I’d encourage you to read my chapter on the issue in my dissertation, “The Fulness of the Gospel,” for a fuller examination. I give a summary of it here
    http://www.juvenileinstructor.org/thoughts-on-polyandry/
    And when I presented the idea at MHA I highlighted the two patterns–the married one where the average age was 33 and the single one where the average age was 19–and asked the question “which is preferable?” To me, the married wives seems like a better system than young single wives. Again, I go over why I think it changed and use Heber and Helen Kimball to explain the change.

    Comment by Steve Fleming — April 24, 2015 @ 11:19 am

  20. Steve, while I’m obviously sympathetic to your views, I wonder if you were nervous about BYU’s reaction? Things have obviously changed since I attended in the early 90’s. But back then it seemed like parents terrified that anything would shock their children led to some bad incentives. Did you feel any pressure in teaching this?

    I should add that even then, there was a *huge* difference between religion classes taught in the honors department and normal religion classes taught by the religion department. The latter seemed to discourage real inquiry with an emphasis on standard “Sunday School answers” combined with the occasional motivational speech. The teachers in the honors department were far more open to doing the sorts of things you mentioned. (Heck, I read Nietzsche first in my Pearl of Great Price class)

    Comment by Clark — April 24, 2015 @ 1:15 pm

  21. I’m sorry but it just makes me sick to think of all the great kids in our church being told authoritatively that we not only accept Joseph Smith’s polygamous behavior but that it originated with God. My son just had the D&C 132 lesson in seminary. He was incredibly skeptical after reading the entire section on his own. The essays are pretty clear about where the church stands. We are done. This is not a worldview I’m willing to pass on to my children.

    Comment by Concerned mother — April 24, 2015 @ 2:38 pm

  22. Steve – Just to confirm, is this the Fluhman article you are referring to?

    http://rsc.byu.edu/archived/no-weapon-shall-prosper/subject-can-bear-investigation-anguish-faith-and-joseph-smiths

    Comment by JT — April 24, 2015 @ 3:02 pm

  23. Clark, yeah, I did feel uneasy, but as I said in the OP, I felt like I had three options and I didn’t think the other two were very good. In making decisions for the class, I decided that I ultimately needed to focus on what I felt was best for the students, so after prayer I decided to do what I described above. If someone had come to observe that day (no one did), I would have hoped that they would have understood that my motivation was to be helpful and I hope that readers of this post will view my actions in that light.

    Concerned mother, again, I understand that this topic raises a lot of concerns. And I sympathize that there are a lot of concerning elements in section 132. Such questions led me to do a lot of research on the topic (again, I argue that 132 was a change of policy, and I wanted to figure out what the previous policy was) and tried to share what I had learned with the class.

    JT, yes, that one. I should have posted the link. Thanks.

    Comment by Steve Fleming — April 24, 2015 @ 3:28 pm

  24. I can’t imagine being in the position of teaching this subject and I’m glad you approached it so thoughtfully. I just can’t reconcile it and won’t subject my kids to it. I mean no offense to you. I don’t know who you are but I’m sure you’re a wonderful person. I haven’t yet dared to vocalize my thoughts on this and they just happened to come out here. I’m normally not a critical person, but this subject… We NEED to explore the possibility of it not being right because it feels so wrong. Sadly, 132 gives the harsh impression that women’s consent or opinions on this topic don’t matter. How do you think that affects the way many women see God? How do you think it affects the way we think God sees us? We never get to talk about this side of it and it is so unhealthy.

    Comment by Concerned mother — April 24, 2015 @ 3:58 pm

  25. Okay, some of the comments got a little nuts. Let’s just remember the comments policy about being respectful.

    Concerned mother, a lot of people do feel that way, but you’ll probably be more successful finding like minded individuals on line than in your ward. Again, I agree that section 132 is troubling and hope that you find ways to express your concerns.

    Comment by Steve Fleming — April 24, 2015 @ 7:19 pm

  26. Thank you for being understanding, that means a lot!

    Comment by Concerned mother — April 24, 2015 @ 7:43 pm

  27. There is a theme that runs through just about every student response you showed and that is one of shared “things”. It’s a revolting under current that women are things to be shared by men.

    Comment by Nan — April 24, 2015 @ 10:39 pm

  28. I have never seen anywhere any credible evidence that there were more women than men after the Saints moved west. Every thing I’ve seen shows the exact opposite.

    Comment by Nan — April 24, 2015 @ 10:43 pm

  29. Yeah, that was a mistake, Nan. I had told them about claims to more “faithful” women (people did make those claims). That’s why I put in the caveat about inaccuracies.

    Comment by Steve Fleming — April 24, 2015 @ 11:09 pm

  30. I have to agree that Dave (#9) that you must assume a certain level of bias. It is much more typical for college students (especially BYU religion students) to write essays arguing for what they believe the teacher would agree with. You’ll get some students going against the grain, but not many.

    I’m also still unconvinced on your polygamy/law of consecration take, but I think the presentation to the students was solid and reflective of the murkiness of the subject. Not sure I’ll ever come to terms with historical polygamy (my ancestors were heavily involved during the early days as well as post-manifesto), but I think the Fluhman article was a good move. Helen Mar Kimball is a critical figure in attacks against the church’s establishment of polygamy, so students understanding her version of events will be much better informed in developing their own judgments on historical polygamy.

    Comment by Mary Ann — April 25, 2015 @ 1:43 pm

  31. Thanks, Mary Ann. I’d just point out that on the polygamy question, most of my students didn’t mention consecration, but instead brought up other points and that the answers varied. Also, I’m not trying to talk you or anyone else into this, but just to present it as another possibility. I even emailed my students the students after the exams were done and pointed out that the shared marriage idea is a “novel” one.

    Comment by Steve Fleming — April 25, 2015 @ 3:27 pm

  32. Steve, a great post. I don’t mind the spelling and grammar problems, since this is not peer review, just some friends having an interesting discussion. (I hope?) Writing these posts is not easy. I have a son attending BYU currently and I will direct him to you. He quickly changed out of a devotional class this last semester. Is there an underground bulletin board to direct students to your style of classes?
    I don’t buy into the D&C78:5 argument. It seems too much like a basis for a blind obedience mindset. However, I have wondered if Joseph’s and many others at the time belief of an impending end of the world hurried them into implementation scenarios that , in retrospect seem ill advised. That may account for some of the very young marriages. I am very willing to believe that if Joseph could now look back at some of the things he did, he may want to have a few do overs. I am convinced that he was correct in the principal but may have pushed to hard or too fast in some of the situations. Maybe with some time and a different perspective he may wish he had just let go of some of the more problematic situations.

    Comment by Shannon Flynn — April 26, 2015 @ 8:50 pm

  33. Thanks, Shannon, and that’s very flattering that you would direct your son to me. Unfortunately, I was only adjuncting and will not be teaching there in the immediate future (moving to California), but will keep my fingers crossed for future opportunities. In terms of others, I know there are a number of the type you are asking for, but I’m not sure I could give an exact list (though I’m sure others could). I’ve heard rate my professor might be helpful in that area.

    I did toss out the idea of polygamy as consecration but did not specifically mention 78:5; the students came up with that on their own (we had talked a lot about consecration in the beginning of the semester).

    And, no doubt many mistakes were made.

    Comment by Steve Fleming — April 26, 2015 @ 9:55 pm

  34. […] the D&C class I taught at BYU, (see my previous post on teaching polygamy), when we got to Official Declaration 2, my objectives were to cover the difficult issues and […]

    Pingback by Juvenile Instructor » Teaching the Priesthood/Temple Ban at BYU — May 6, 2015 @ 8:07 am

  35. It’s kind of creepy that they are OK with the model of women as objects to be part of things kept in common under the Law of Consecration.

    Comment by sue — May 15, 2015 @ 9:50 am

  36. That’s not how I see it at all, sue. People can share relationships and not be objects (like parents with multiple children). And I’d note that multiple spouses applied to the men too. We don’t often say that JS was a “shared object” of his 30+ wives.

    Comment by Steve Fleming — May 15, 2015 @ 10:00 am


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Trevan Hatch on THE ARRINGTON CHAIR: : “Also, if LDS non-academic stakeholders are going to impact the decision (at least traditionally that has been the case with both Jewish studies and Mormon…”


Christopher Blythe on THE ARRINGTON CHAIR: : “Thanks, Trevan. I was not aware of the University of Nebraska case.”


Trevan Hatch on THE ARRINGTON CHAIR: : “I see no problem with Chris posting his thoughts on the chair in this blog. The finalist list is public knowledge, their CVs and publishing…”


Christopher Blythe on THE ARRINGTON CHAIR: : “Thanks, Amanda, if I thought they would be concerned by it, I would not have posted it.”


Amanda Hendrix-Komoto on THE ARRINGTON CHAIR: : “Chris, I will say that if a former member of my department posted this, we would be having a conversation about it and would ask…”

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