Did D&C 132 Allow Mormon Polygamy Without A Wife’s Consent?

“The only form of polygamy permitted by D&C 132 is a union with a virgin after first giving the opportunity to the first wife to consent to the marriage. If the first wife doesn’t consent, the husband is exempt and may still take an additional wife, but the first wife must at least have the opportunity to consent. In case the first wife doesn’t consent, she will be ‘destroyed’.”
(CES Letter)

Consent Required – This is completely false. If a man intended to marry polygamously, his first wife had to give her full consent. There was no allowance in the church for anyone to be forced, coerced, or manipulated into anything. Personal agency is an important concept that protects members of the church.

“And if her husband be with another woman, and he was under a vow, he hath broken his vow and hath committed adultery… if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified.” (D&C 132)

Perhaps CES Letter is referring to the final verses of D&C 132. This law fulfills the promise to Abraham’s descendants that their seed should “continue as innumerable as the stars.” Sarah consented to give “Hagar to Abraham to wife. And why did she do it? Because this was the law; and from Hagar sprang many people.”

So, the commandment was for a wife to attempt to propagate and have children. If this required consent to allow an additional wife in order to make it happen, as was the unique case with Sarah who couldn’t have children with Abraham, then she was supposed to consent:

“If any man have a wife, who holds the keys of this power, and he teaches unto her the law of my priesthood, as pertaining to these things, then shall she believe and administer unto him, or she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord your God; for I will destroy her; for I will magnify my name upon all those who receive and abide in my law.

Therefore, it shall be lawful in me, if she receive not this law, for him to receive all things whatsoever I, the Lord his God, will give unto him, because she did not believe and administer unto him according to my word; and she then becomes the transgressor; and he is exempt from the law of Sarah, who administered unto Abraham according to the law when I commanded Abraham to take Hagar to wife.” (D&C 132)

This did not make it okay for a man to take another wife just because he wanted to and to, and that is not what ever happened in Mormon history. This was a rare case, not the “only polygamy permitted.” Orson Pratt explained:

“When a man who has a wife, teaches her the law of God, and she refuses to give her consent for him to marry another according to the law, then it becomes necessary for her to state before the President the reasons why she withholds her consent; if her reasons are sufficient and justifiable and the husband is found in fault, or in transgression, then, he is not permitted to take any step in regard to obtaining another. But if the wife can show no good reason why she refuses to comply with the law which was given to Sarah of old, then it is lawful for her husband, if permitted by revelation through the prophet, to be married to others without her consent, and he will be justified.”

Obsolete – Polygamy is banned in the Mormon church today. It is quite manipulative for CES Letter to use present-tense grammar when discussing this:

“The only form of polygamy permitted by D&C 132 is a union with a virgin.” (CES Letter)

It was permitted. Not is permitted. Past tense! Additional D&C scripture superseded this polygamy policy, and now it is not permitted in any case, though the general doctrine of eternal sealing for the afterlife is very much alive.

Promotes Chastity – D&C 132 states if a man espouses a virgin and seeks a second, and the first consents, then it is not adultery. There is no commandment that she must be a virgin, however. It never says only virgins may marry. Divorcees and widows were remarrying all the time despite not being virgins. Clearly, the issue here was to marry a woman who was not currently married or living an unchaste life.

CES Letter references verse 41 that “the new wife must be a virgin before the marriage,” but it says no such thing. It makes no mention of virginity, only that the woman can’t currently have a husband.

Polygamy is obsolete today, but the expectation to abstain from sexual intercourse prior to marriage is still very much alive. I don’t see what is so bizarre or creepy about the expectation to abstain from sexual intercourse outside of marriage. I don’t see why this is something to complain about. The church has always expected this from men and women. I think any healthy society expects this.

D&C 132 talks to men and women equally in regards to polygamy and eternal marriage. Other religious movements of the time introduced polyandry, where men and women were having with multiple people. D&C makes it clear women were to have only one husband at a time.

CES Letter Logical Fallacies

Falsehood The premise of this argument is false. Mormon scripture did not allow men to be polygamous without the woman’s consent, nor did Mormons do this. The only rare exception was if there was a compelling reason for the sake of propagation and he mediated with the church President.
Shifting Goalposts CES Letter (incorrectly) condemned Joseph Smith for supposedly marrying women already married. But now suddenly CES Letter claims “the only form of polygamy permitted” was a man with a virgin.
Argument From
Ignorance
CES Letter ignores the reason why D&C 132 directs women to have only one husband. They claim: “the new wife must be a virgin before the marriage and be completely monogamous after the marriage or she will be destroyed.” Actually, widows and divorcees could remarry.
Strawman Argument This and the other related arguments set up a false characterization of Mormon practices in history and today.

This argument seems to assume that D&C 132 approaches polygamy from a man’s perspective. Actually, it addressed men and women equally.

Cherry-Picking This argument cherry-picks verses about virgins–or supposedly about virgins–but mischaracterizes what these verses are actually about and their context.
Etymological Fallacy CES Letter makes it sound like women were to be physically punished, “destroyed.” But D&C 132 says it is God who “will destroy her,” through natural consequences.
Repeition CES Letter repeats this argument on p.69.

CES Letter repeats the word “consent” within the argument to emphasize the false allegation of coercion.

CES Letter uses an emotional argument for polygamy, whereas they used intellectual arguments against the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham. In each case, they set a rigid binary standard for right or wrong based on modern, popular sensibilities and apply that to Joseph Smith’s history, as if this is real history.

We saw their modus operandi at work as they stuck with modern Egyptologist’s translations of the facsimiles and acts like this contradicts Joseph Smith’s interpretations for the Book of Abraham. This is how CES Letter works. They give a few bits of incorrect leading evidence in a constrained context; the reader connects to dots in their mind; and CES Letter pushes it to a sweeping generalization.

Big Lie Tactic – In this argument, CES Letter approaches marriage from our modern society’s definition, ignore all historical context, and perpetuate the big lie that eternal sealings in the temple were the same as a civil marriage with a physical relationship. If Joseph Smith was a prophet, why did he violate women’s rights? Well, he didn’t! But people are much more likely to believe CES Letter‘s string of illogic because they connected the dots out on their own, subconsciously. They are also more likely to believe the evidences for that deduction, which in this case are falsehoods.

Why do so many “pro-equality” activists, good progressives who say people should be free to marry whoever they love, condemn Mormons for their history with polygamy? The same anti-Mormons who attack us for the old history of polygamy also endorse “progressive” ideas about marriage and love. Shouldn’t polygamy be on their list of marriages that deserve equality?

Well yes, it should, and this is why anti-Mormons spin polygamy as something that coerces and manipulates women into subjugation. Lately, this narrative has become evens easier as there really are crazy cults that actually do victimize young girls and force people to marry, criminals like Warren Jeffs. Interestingly, we only seem to hear about splinter groups in Utah, however…

This is why this argument’s narrative about women being victimized is so important. Opponents in the media have trumpeted this narrative since the beginning. In the 1800’s, American newspapers were putting out story after story about how women in Utah were treated as “slaves.” It led to the federal government for the first time registering all marriages, controlling the definition of marriage, and jailing Mormons who did not fit that definition. Still today, Mormons are persecuted as some kind of oppressive patriarchy that victimized women. This narrative gives opponents justification for attacking Mormons while claiming to be “pro-equality.”

The key component is the claim that men are victimizing women. This frame of ‘predator versus victim’ leads us to a Marxist ideology. Marxism is all about protecting victims from the predators. Marxists think the biggest miracle about mankind is that we evolved to the top of the food chain without ever becoming predators of other animals. Economically, Marxists protect working classes from a predator class.

Marxism is all about protecting the vulnerable from those seeking unequal advantage–and all about keeping people weak in order to keep them reliant on a benevolent dictator for safety.

A major part of Marxism is the deconstruction of masculinity.

They seek to pick positive masculine traits that propagate the ideology, such as the gusto to fight for the cause, and eliminate “toxic masculine” traits such as the desire to marry and have children in a traditional family. They think traditional families are evil because men contribute labor to the economy while women are “subjugated” as mothers and do not perform labor. The ideal for Marxists is a state where men and women are completely equal working bees and children are grown and raised by the benevolent dictator state. Nobody is preying on anybody.

Marl Marx used the exact same argument that CES Letter is using here. In the book Dominion and Wealth: A Critical Analysis of Karl Marx’s Theory of Commercial Law by D.C. Kline, we read the story of Christians manipulating women into marriage using threats:

“On the way to the church, he informed her that if she did not marry him immediately, he would blow his brains out. They went through the form of a marriage ceremony, which she later attempted to invalidate on the ground that she acted under duress. The court rejected her claim, feeling that the facts did not reveal the existence of duress.”

CES Letter wants us to believe Mormons were manipulating and victimizing women in the same way as this Marxist narrative. The narrative that women are coerced into marriage because of Christianity comes straight from Karl Marx, and it is nothing but an attack on the traditional family. CES Letter‘s appeal to emotion is not only about attacking the church. It is about replacing the testimony of a gospel with… something else. Marxists believe females are oppressed by men in a giant class struggle that hinders their economic output. Polygamy in the Mormon church was problem for Marxists because the higher law of eternal marriage is the perfect example of “inequality” that Marxists hate.

Big LieCES Letter uses the same big lie tactic that they used against the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham. They start of with the big lie that marriage for time and for eternity were the same. This compounds and leads to other lies to attack Joseph Smith’s character, such as this ridiculous lie that Joseph Smith was victimizing women. One lie leads to another. The first lie was that Joseph Smith married women already married without their husbands’ consent. Then they told the lie that he married underage girls, who obviously can’t consent because they are underage. Now they tell the lie that Mormons married other women without the consent of their wives. Each time, they hammer home the big lie: that Joseph Smith violated people’s right to consent.

This lie is easier for the reader to accept after all those earlier arguments that attached the same kind of narrative about the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham. If Joseph Smith made up all these books of scripture haphazardly, isn’t it reasonable that he made up revelations about marriage in order to steal underage girls?

CES Letter can get away with this Big Lie because it is the consensus among so many fake scholars that Joseph Smith had carnal relations with girls, and because it takes so long to actually investigate the evidence. People are too lazy to actually look through all the historical documents. Even mainstream church apologists are beaten down by all of the accusations and have give way to the big lie. They are too tired defending against it. They let CESLetter get away with the lie that Joseph Smith “married” underage girls, as we understand the definition of marriage today which involves sexual relations. Even if you don’t believe the allegations, just this association frames Joseph Smith as a creep.

For the Book of Abraham, the big lie was that the book was “translated” from a recovered fragment of papyrus that we now know is the Book of Breathing. They repeat it over and over. With polygamy, the big lie likewise will be used by CES Letter to make all sorts of implications to attack Joseph Smith’s character.

Contradiction StrategyCES Letter gives a few bits of incorrect leading evidence; the reader connects to dots in their mind; and CES Letter pushes it to a sweeping generalization. If Joseph Smith was a prophet, why did he manipulate women into having carnal relations with him? People are much more likely to believe CES Letter‘s string of illogic because they connected the dots out on their own, subconsciously, even if they don’t agree with it at first. They are also more likely to believe the evidences for that deduction, which in this case are falsehoods.

We could see the intellectual tricks and sophistry CES Letter used to portray Joseph Smith as a fraud in their arguments about the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham. Well, even if that were all true and he were a fraud, so what? Aren’t Mormons still nice people who make the world a better place? The powerful thing with these polygamy arguments is that CES Letter tells you why Mormonism is still evil: it victimizes girls. It matters because Joseph Smith was a creep who preyed on women. This is easy rhetoric for them to push, as the internet is filled with all kinds of false rumors about Mormon polygamy and because the fake news media labels modern-day polygamist cultists as “Mormon”. It is easy to just repeat claims over and over, not give any evidence, and make the issue personal through manipulative repetition.

Total Hypocrisy From Anti-Mormons – Yet, in the Soviet Union the minimum age of marriage was 16! And age 15 was considered old enough and were quite common. By age 25 Russian girls were considered “old maids.” So Marxists really have no reason to complain about Joseph Smith even if the phony allegation were true! According to Marxist law, he didn’t do anything wrong–even if they were earthly marriages, which they weren’t.

Therefore, any Socialist-leaning anti-Mormon is a total hypocrite when he complains about Joseph Smith’s polygamy. They are only pushing the rhetoric to attack the Mormon traditional family and smear Joseph Smith’s character.

This argument appeals to a woman’s desire to be “free.” It appeals to a man’s desire to protect women from harm, a very strong instinct in men. Men are highly protective of women and easily shamed for letting women down. Men with weak testimonies tend to be insecure sexually and eager to be empowering. The truth is eternal marriage is the most empowering thing there is for men and women.

The arguments are contradictory–CES Letter incorrectly complained that Joseph Smith was marrying other men’s wives, but now suggests that only men and not women were allowed to by polygamous. But the narrative doesn’t need to make sense, because it is a purely emotional appeal.

Meanwhile, the “marriage equality” crowd pushes children to make ‘choices’ about their gender and applauds drag parties for 10 year old boys. The age of consent completely flies out the window when it comes to influences pushed onto children in the name of Socialist “equality.”

CES Letter says he was led to believe something different about Joseph Smith. “This is not the Joseph Smith I grew up learning about in the Church and having a testimony of.” This shows how dependent and weak CES Letter was, demanding the church to hand them all the answers instead of researching things for themselves. It also suggests that the definition of “testimony” was depthless. If a testimony is indeed crushed by new information, it wasn’t much of a testimony to begin with, because truth doesn’t change. Truth changes for Marxists and worldly Socialists, and they believe whatever narrative they need to in the moment for their ideology and universal salvation and dictatorial control, but real truth is never altered by “new” information, only solidified.