Surprising Speculations — where can practice and theology take us?

Stephen Marsh Mormon 16 Comments

There are some speculations I learned about by all the sermons to the contrary.  When I was much, much younger, I read a lot of sermons and essays and excerpts.  One thing that struck me was the number of talks by Prophets and Apostles who spent a lot of time lecturing that speculation born of the mores of the day was wrong and that women were equal to men and to be treated as equal partners in marriage, not treated as property or subservient.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve constantly run across speculation to the contrary.  That proves just how dense some people are and explains why the huge mass of preaching correcting that conclusion.  It is obvious that some people just don’t get the message about what the doctrine really is and what the scriptures should mean, out of all the possibilities.  My thoughts, on realizing that point, were wondering what in all the sermons I had probably missed (just like those guys missed the point) and I got to wondering about my own blind spots.

Rather than leave you guessing, I am going to engage in some speculation so you won’t have to wonder where my blind spots are.  Don’t worry, I’ve more than enough mistakes for a lot more posts.

Consider, we know that the Church approves of some people fully cohabiting with each other who can never be sealed to each other.  How do we know that?  Because it approves of cohabitation between people who are married and sealed to other people.  There is no question that widows and widowers, when sealed to others, can still be married for time or joined in civil unions without any disapproval and with official Church sanction.  Apparently if your spouse is just far enough away (as in Paradise, rather than just on a mission or to another country) cohabiting with someone else is considered appropriate.

Think about the implications for theory and practice.  Obviously I’ve a blind spot there or you would have had many other essays in the bloggernacle in favor of weddings involving people who theology currently does not allow to be sealed using that point.

Go ahead, explain my mistakes on this point and other points I’ve made.  Comments are open 😉



Comments 16

  1. Umm, maybe I’m missing the point here, but doesn’t the church approve of cohabitation with anyone who’s married? I mean, think about all the stories you hear about people in the Amazon jungle who have to trek like four months to get to the temple to be sealed. They cohabit. That is different than your last paragraph. But the church encourages cohabitation in part-member marriages too. The point is that you’re married. Maybe I’m completely missing your implications here, but I think you’re stretching a bit far.

  2. Post

    J.Ro, I could well be stretching much too far, that is why I invited criticism. You’ve made a good point, that there are many instances where people can cohabit. I was just discussing the instances where they are doing so in a situation where they can not be sealed (which would apply to a widow and a widower both sealed to a deceased spouse and now joined for time only).

    I’ll have to think.

  3. Got it. What do you know about the Church’s policy on getting sealed to a second person without annulling the first one? I know the D&C states that men can be sealed to more than one woman (provided, with the elimination of plural marriage, that the first was deceased or long gone), and as far as I understand women could not be sealed to more than one man. But I read somewhere else that this policy has changed somewhere in recent years. I’ve never heard/read an official statement about it, and can’t find any official documentation. And my source wasn’t exactly a General Authority. My wife has an issue with the possibility of me someday being sealed to another woman (which is also a stretch:)).

  4. Post

    I do know that the family history web site allows for women to have all the men they were married to sealed to them, so that women can be sealed to more than one man (at least after death). Current practice is something I’m more likely to read about on the Bloggernacle than know about otherwise, though while I was at BYU I knew at least one widow who was sealed to her departed, then later sealed to her new husband, so who knows.

    The standard practice, though, for widows and widowers who are sealed to others and who then marry is for them not to be sealed to each other.

    So I may be wrong in more ways than one.

  5. I’ve always understood that widowed women who have already been sealed to a man can only be sealed to a new husband if they “cancel” the sealing to their first husband. And I’ve always thought that that must be an excruciating decision, particularly in the case of young widows, who lose their husband and are young enough to remarry and have more children. It seems rather unfair for her to have to “dump” the dead husband for Eternity in order to be sealed to a new man and have children born in the covenant.

  6. Solution for women: Marry as many men as you want to in this life, and leave instructions with your children to seal you to all of them once everyone is dead.

    See, that was easy.

    I’ll have to think about the other stuff.

  7. On my blog, I did a few posts about a book called, “Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait of Religious Excess”, by Richard Van Wagoner. Since you’re speculating anyway, one of the footnotes addresses Emma being married to more than one husband. As we all know, Emma Smith did not like polygamy, and threatened Joseph on several occasions.

    Footnote 26 on page 305.

    “Emma’s threat to “be revenged and indulge herself” may have been merely a warning to the prophet to give up his spiritual wives. But Joseph H. Jackson, a non-Mormon opportunist who gained the confidence of the prophet in Nauvoo, recorded in an 1844 expose of Mormonism: “Emma wanted [William] Law for a spiritual husband,” and because Joseph “had so many spiritual wives, she thought it but fair that she would at least have one man spiritually sealed up to her and that she wanted Law, because he was such a ’sweet little man.’”

    Although there is nothing to suggest that Law and Emma were more to each other than friends, Law later confirmed that Joseph “offered to furnish his wife Emma with a substitute for him, by way of compensation for his neglect of her, on condition that she would forever stop her opposition to polygamy and permit him to enjoy his young wives in peace and keep some of them in his house and to be well treated, etc.” (Salt Lake Tribune, 3 July 1887.)

    Perhaps polygyny and polyandry were in the works if Joseph had lived longer???

  8. Speculation? Even with monogamy as the mortal norm, there are an infinite number of parallel universes. You folks are going to end up with a lot more husbands, wives, and children sealed to you than you ever imagined. :>)

  9. “Consider, we know that the Church approves of some people fully cohabiting with each other who can never be sealed to each other…it approves of cohabitation between people who are married and sealed to other people. There is no question that widows and widowers, when sealed to others, can still be married for time or joined in civil unions without any disapproval and with official Church sanction.”

    This needs more consideration. I’d say, imho, that the concept of “sealing” is misunderstood.

    It’s actually “legally married” who can then go on and have that “legal marriage” (lets call it X) sealed to be recognized by God for all eternity. But the concept is “legally married”. That’s the important part, either it’s a marriage or it’s not. If we see the ‘Sealing'(call it Y) as a marriage then we get into these problems.

    Summary: X doesn’t = Y. X is important, and it is either an X that is till death do us part (or divorce these days) or its an X that becomes an XY. (See we all become male! …….get it, xy …get it??)

    Anyway, the problem is that over time we have had it beaten into us that a ‘sealing’ in the temple is important and more so that an ordinary marriage when it isn’t. A marriage is a marriage period! (no pun..)
    Like the marriage that President Kimball had was just as valuable as the Hinkleys even though the Kimballs had their marriage sealed a year later while the Hinkleys had it sealed at the same time they married. Both will be recognized as a marriage in the here after, the Clinton’s probably won’t ?

    Then we need to understand that once death happens, well death happens and the marriage on earth ends -the person is a ‘single’ person. The fact that their pre-death marriage will be recognized in the next life if they are worthy etc, isn’t part of the equation here. Here the person is still ‘single’ albeit a widow/widower or divorced, because they were once married. They can rightly consider their partners only gone for a while if they wish to, or they can marry again and be then a married individual. But all this certainly needs more discussion because the current sealing policies are a mess and usually only end up hurting the innocent, even though the brethren don’t or can’t see it. Those of us at the stake level do see it frequently but the top brass don’t bother asking about it and no one has the balls to tell them! (pardon the expression)

  10. Ray,

    They only allow this so that children can be sealed to both parents not so that women can have many husbands.

  11. J.Ro “I mean, think about all the stories you hear about people in the Amazon jungle who have to trek like four months to get to the temple to be sealed.”

    Happens a lot in the many countries were a religious ceremony is not accepted, others specifically don’t accept the LDS ceremony as legal. The instruction though is to travel to the temple when first possible or otherwise wait a year to then go..

    But certainly I agree with you in that “The point is that you’re married.”

  12. #12 – I probably should add an emoticon every time I am joking – although, fwiw, I agree that we probably misunderstand greatly what it means to be sealed. More importantly, I think we misunderstand even more greatly what spiritual creation entails – but that might describe just me. In the end, I really have no clue.

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