In exploring the question, is Section 132 Christian, bear with me while I briefly discuss how I understand Christianity came into being and review what the experts have to say about religion. That done we can compare Section 132 with Christianity at large.
Consider the impact of Constantine The Great, c. 280 – 337, and how his adoption of Christianity has shaped a good portion of the world. Constantine was a Roman warrior ruler. In order to become sole ruler he had to defeat his rivals, primarily Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, and also Licinius who ruled the eastern half of the empire.
The Edict of Milan changed Christianity from a persecuted religion to a “legal and tolerated religion.”
In 325, Constantine convoked the Council of Nicaea which was the first general meeting of the Christian elders and the general beginning of the Christian Church. What we know as the Holy Bible evolved from the Council of Nicaea.
Constantine’s civil legislating helped establish the social structure of Europe. He decreed that “tenet farmers” could not leave the land giving rise to serfdom. He also made it a law that sons had to follow the profession of their fathers.
Just because Constantine played an important role in the establishment of Christianity does not imply that he was benevolent and had the best interest of humanity in mind. On the contrary, he was fierce and merciless. He had his wife and oldest son put to death.
What Constantine did for Christianity, the Apostle Paul did for the New Testament. Since Paul and the establishment of the Church, millions of Christians believe that the Holy Bible is the express word of God. In that regard, who can deny the influence the Bible has had in Europe, North and South America. But is the Bible really the word of God or was it inspired by the Y-chromosome? Yes, I’m taking a gigantic leap but bear with me.
The question of who is in charge, evolution or a Supreme Being is a well documented debate. I am not so foolish that I am going to take sides, at least now. The debate seems to have narrowed down to science and Intelligent Design. In tracing the origin of life it appears that science has at the moment reached a dead end at the gene. Who knows how, by whom or what created the gene? But from my perspective there is a plethora of circumstantial evidence that the Y-chromosome played a major role in the shaping of Christianity. For example, by modern moral standards, what logical motivation was there for the Crusades? Was it inspired by the Old Testament God or the New Testament God? Or were the Crusades inspired by diabolical men claiming to be the agents of God? But rather than concentrating on the Crusades lets go back to the beginning of Christianity.
The ancient pagan religions worshiped a goddess, imagine, a feminine god. Even today we refer to the earth as Mother Earth, the giver of life. Fertility became paramount in hunter-gatherer, pagan rituals due to the high infant death rate. Fertility then spilled over to agriculture. Men thought that supernatural forces were behind changes in the weather and natural disasters like earthquakes and volcanoes. From this fear or belief evolved the concept of a god, or gods, as portrayed by the ancient Sumerians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, Chinese, Hindus and Romans. Priests and prophets evolved who claimed to be inspired, or were in direct contact with the gods. These so-called godly men found that the masses were yearning for someone to tell them of the purpose and meaning of life.
Someone concocted the Garden of Eden story. And what is the finale of that story, the moral message? It is for Adam and Eve to “multiply and replenish” the Earth. In other words have children. Who was the villain of the Garden of Eden story? It was Satan. Esoteric Mormonism, and I think a portion of esoteric Christianity avers that the “forbidden fruit” was sex. And who was the transgressor? It was Eve who submitted to the temptations of the Devil and brought sin to the world. The Garden of Eden was a beautiful place of perfection, sex, sin and submission. As a result the female of our species has been fettered and punished by the male. But on the other hand, her indiscretions brought about the “knowledge of good and evil,” in other words free agency of which she has never received proper credit. We became like the gods. But of course, reasoning tells us the Garden of Eden like Camelot is nothing but a fairy tale with a moral.
Thinking men like Socrates and Aristotle emerged who looked for natural explanations for the phenomenon that so often influenced the behavior of men. From all that thinking and reasoning the institution of philosophy was born.
Without intentionally ignoring the religious contributions that occurred in China and India, the land mass surrounding the Mediterranean Sea was a hotbed of religious innovation that directly impacts my thesis. In what was called Palestine, and now Israel, there lived a Semantic people called Hebrews. They were a deeply religious people and had accumulated over many centuries a history of their people which we know as the Old Testament. Besides Judaism, there evolved from this text three great religions – Christianity, Islam and Mormonism.
In three short paragraphs I have attempted in an anthropological fashion to preface a history of religion, beginning with the cave man and pausing at the time of Jesus Christ, a prophet or a god who is believed to have once walked the earth as a mortal man.
The invention of agriculture and the domestication of animals were consequential events in civilizing man. A written history of everything that has taken place since man moved from the cave to a house and how he thought, and how he invented religion, and formed cultures, societies, governments would take innumerable volumes, but if one were interested in a synopsis, a good start would be Will Durant’s eleven-volume, The Story of Civilization. In those epic volumes Durant suggests it was the woman who civilized the man. In other words, women were behind civilization as we know it. It was she who civilized the Y-chromosome.
How did the Holy Bible come into being? In deciding what literature should be used to compile the Bible, the 318 bishops who met at the instructions of Emperor Constantine at the First Council of Nicaea, 325 AD, had many transcripts to choose from. Until the Discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls between 1947 and 1956, and the discovery in December 1945 of the Gnostic Gospels at Naj Hammadi in Upper Egypt, we had no idea how many gospels and how many interpretations there were. With so many to choose from, at least sixteen from Naj Hammadi; and where scholars have identified fragments of over 800 manuscripts found in the eleven caves near Qumran, manuscripts that were no doubt available at the time of Constantine, why were those that appear in the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, chosen? Scholars have debated and attempted to answer that question for decades.
There have been many books authored by prominent scholars about the Gnostic Gospels and Dead Sea Scrolls. In that regard the Internet is a fountainhead of information. Although I have several books on both subjects I do not pretend to be an authority. I read for knowledge and understanding, retaining what is meaningful and important to me. With that in mind I will share what I have learned as I think it affects Mormonism.
Orthodoxy means “conforming to established doctrine.” The early Roman Catholic Church is referred to as the “orthodox” church. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is considered “orthodox” as opposed to the splinter churches found in Mormon fundamentalism. The New Testament as opposed to Gnosticism and the Dead Sea Scrolls is considered “orthodox,” not because it may be truly “orthodox,” but because it is by far the most readily accepted. The same paradox applies to Mormonism.
Orthodoxy also means “there is no other way.” Orthodoxy is truth. Any doctrine or act that does not conform to orthodoxy is blasphemous. Early orthodox Christian leaders Tertullian and Irenaeus, the Bishop of Lyons, were outspoken defenders of orthodoxy, or from another angle, fiery enemies of Gnosis. Irenaeus is the author of a five volume, On the Detection and Overthrow of the So-Called Gnosis. In Latin it is entitled, Adversus Haereses, (Against Heresies.) Even though many scholars believe Gnosticism predates Christianity and Christianity evolved out of the many Gnostic Christian sects, sympathizers of Gnosticism are considered heretics.
Gnosis is translated as knowledge. To be Gnostic is to seek knowledge and to know. Agnostic is not to know. Gnosis also implies secrete knowledge that is passed on to a select few. In the Gnostic Gospels insight through observation and experience is paramount. “Gnosis involves an intuitive process of knowing oneself.”
Elaine Pagels, author of The Gnostic Gospels, has this to say about Gnosis, “…to know oneself, at the deepest level, is simultaneously to know God.” She quotes Gnostic teacher, Monoimus:
Abandon the search for God and the creation and other matters of a similar sort. Look for him by taking yourself as the starting point. Learn who it is within you who makes everything his own and says, “My God, my mind, my thought, my soul, my body.” Learn the sources of sorrow, joy, love, hate … If you carefully investigate these matters you will find Him in yourself.
When I first read the above passage I couldn’t help thinking, I wonder if Monoimus was referring to our genes. If we are indeed God’s creation where better to look than inside us, and at the uniqueness of the plants and animals around us?
The arch antithetic, Irenaeus, makes no attempt to hide his contempt for the Gnostics. He boldly declares that to believe in Gnosis is madness and “blasphemy against Christ.”
When the orthodox Christians came to power, Gnostic books were denounced as heretical. They were sought out and burned which is no doubt why the survivors were placed in huge ceramic jars and buried. Nor is it unreasonable to suspect that the Dead Sea Scrolls were hidden away in caves for the same reason.
The Gospel of Mary (Magdalene) is a Gnostic Gospel. It and other gospels placed Mary, a woman, on an even keel with men. According to research which can be found on most of a dozen Internet websites focusing on Mary, she was one of the apostles and some, mainly Peter, was jealous of her intimate relationship with Jesus. The theme and message of the Gospel of Mary is not consistent or harmonious with the gospels that make up the New Testament. It is a safe guess that the main reason Mary’s gospel was burned is that Mary was a woman and was equal with the apostles.
Orthodox Christianity was about power and authority, absolute authority – there was no room for competition. Was it the Y-chromosome that was at work? Is that why Eve was made the miscreant of the Garden of Eden? Was it the influence of the Y-chromosome that reduced a woman’s status to that of property?
In comparing the Gnostics with the orthodox, those that were in charge of orthodoxy couldn’t let the other Christian sects make their own way because they knew too much, and they criticized the orthodox doctrine of resurrection. Gnosticism was obviously perceived as a threat. The resurrection was the key to orthodox power. Once the early Christian church came to power, the once persecuted became the persecutors. The ruthlessness of Christian orthodoxy reached its peak during the Spanish Inquisition. Only the faithful, reaffirming their faithfulness, were safe.
Why was the resurrection the key to power? The Gnostics taught that the resurrection was a spiritual transformation. The orthodox Christians taught a resurrection of a body with flesh and bones. It sounded absurd to the Gnostics but Tertullians countered by saying, “What can never be proven or verified in the present must be believed, because it is absurd.” And the people bought it, and the Orthodox Church, because it was the only religion empowered to act and speak for God, was the only route in which the people could attain a resurrection.
The Mormon priesthood is the only way one can be resurrected and ascend to the highest degree of the celestial kingdom.
Elaine informs us that orthodox Christianity has held that the apostles alone possessed what she calls, “definitive religious authority,” and have done so for 2000 years. She points out that the pope traces his authority back through the generations of apostolic successions, arriving at Peter. Pagels’ Catholic definition of “divine authority” is significant because it is the same definition used by the Mormons which appears in Verse 7. It is the same kind of claim to authority that gives one man – pope or prophet – authority and control over millions.
Elaine Pagels also explains that “divine authority” means men are selected by God to be his “kings, judges and generals for the purpose of presiding in God’s place.” We, the subjects who yield to this divine authority, refer to God’s emissaries as popes, prophets, priests, monarchs, mullahs, etc. ….
Millions upon millions of people have yielded or submitted to this “divine authority” based solely on faith and tradition. The reality of “divine authority” is that a mortal man may claim or fashion doctrine to show that he has been selected and given “divine authority.” It is a testament to the power of belief, that men will merely take the word of a priest, prophet, pope or mullah – and in the case of renegade fundamentalist mullahs, take the lives of innocent people.
Now let’s shift for a moment to the Dead Sea Scrolls. Robert Eisenman, author of James the Brother of Jesus, The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls, and co-author of The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered, is a recognized scholar and Professor of Middle East Religions and Archaeology. Eisenman is an expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls and was instrumental in providing worldwide access to the Scrolls. His research provides new insight into the origins of Christianity.
We learned from the Gnostics that there were several Christian sects. Eisenman makes a convincing argument that it was James, the brother of Jesus, who was the legitimate successor of Jesus, not Peter. Christianity started out as a strictly Jewish sect. To marry outside of Judaism was to pollute the race. It was Paul, an apostle who never knew Christ in the flesh that gave Christianity to the gentiles. Paul, the usurper, literally plucked Christianity from the Jews and in doing so introduced into the New Testament the seeds of anti-Semitism
Eisenman points out that we can trace the “blood libel” in Christian history to the New Testament. By “blood libel” he means anti-Semitism. When Jesus stood bound before the people who clamored for his death, Pilate said, “I am innocent of the blood of this just person:” (Matthew 27:25) And the people yelled back, “His blood be on us, and on our children.”
It is a known fact that the Jews have been persecuted for generations and made the scapegoats by unscrupulous men seeking power – Adolf Hitler being the ultimate persecutor of the Jews. Even in my own time I have heard grown men call the Jews, “Christ killers.” Eisenman seems to think that this hatred stems from Paul and points at I Thessalonians 2:15 as the source. Apparently, this passage has been interpreted to mean that the Jews are the “people who put the Lord Jesus to death,” and as such, are the “enemies of the whole human race.”
I will now quote from I Thessalonians 2:14-16, to see if you arrive at the same interpretation.
Verse 14. …. For ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews:
Verse 15. Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men:
Verse 16. Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins always: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.
There can be no question that Paul is condemning the Jews, and it is easy to see how a supposedly holy man, Christian or otherwise, could interpret the above verses in such a way as to accuse the Jews of being the “enemies of the whole human race.”
It is shocking to think that those three Verses could have been the impetus that resulted in not just the Holocaust but the generations of persecutions suffered by the Jewish people. Once again the power of belief comes to the fore, even a belief as idiotic and evil as the “blood libel.”
Much of the senseless killing going on in the Middle East has its roots in religious dogma – dogma that is taken solely on faith. A history of civilization is in reality a history of wars – what a contradiction. And many of the wars have a religious antecedent. If you put two roasters or two dogs in a pit they will fight. They fight not over religion, politics, etc, but for dominance and the right to spread their seed. They fight out of a genetic programming. But we humans, when we fight, we justify it with all sorts of fancy rational and interpolations. In relative peace time our urban and ghetto youths form gangs, and pump themselves up for battle. I submit that given the right situations we humans are genetically programmed to do battle. Holy wars, boundary wars, racial wars, economic wars, all have a genetic antecedent.
Eisenman questions the authenticity of some of what is contained in the Gospels of the New Testament because it does not conform to the Gospel of James, but that is another matter that you can investigate for yourselves. What I found of particular interest is that according to Eisenman’s research, polygamy among the early Christians was ranked with the sin of fornication. Consider the following:
Groups like those at Qumran and early Christians of the ‘Jamesian’ persuasion were opposed in the most extreme manner the sexual and marital practices of polygamy and incest, which the Pharisees and Sadducees turned a blind eye too. So far as Qumran was concerned those incestuous practices included polygamy, divorce and, most importantly, marriage with nieces or close family cousins. This last sin was simply considered an extension of the ban on incest at Qumran.
Eisenman comments several times on the early Christian attitude towards polygamy. On page 104 he discusses “The Marriage Policy of Herodians.” Those who have read the New Testament will remember that Herod , the father and the son, were bad guys and the enemy of Jesus. I find it ironic that Mormon morals are more in line with Herodian morals than the morals of early Christians of the “Jerusalem Church” which Jesus presumably established, followed by his brother, James. Eisenman had this to say:
Herod pursued the policy for his descendants of niece marriage or marriage to close family relatives, usually cousins.
Eisenman tells us that the Qumran documents seemed “obsessed” with condemning Herodian kind of sexual and marital behavior, which of course meant divorce, incest and polygamy.
In the more closed secretive, isolated contemporary, Mormon polygamist groups where growth comes from inside – marriage eventually becomes incestuous, which is where we are today. On October 24, 2006, The Salt Lake Tribune published an article where an attorney by the name of Bill Morrison, representing the Kingstons, revealed that the group was under investigation by the Utah Attorney General for incest. The attorney suggested that in closed societies the people may be forced to marry within the fifth consanguinity and that marrying first cousins should be as acceptable as polygamy. If I understood the substance of the article, Mr. Morrison was suggesting that incest, at least the kind of incest suspected to be practiced by the Kingstons, should be a right – a civil right.
Incest in some polygamist groups is not a sin because there is no rule in Meme 132 against it. Nor is there a rule stating how old the wife must be, or how many wives a man can have. In fact, it is incumbent upon the man to have as many wives as he can because the more wives and children, the greater his kingdom. This all goes towards the prolificness of Meme 132.
Incest occurs when men wanting plural wives have nowhere else to go except within the fifth consanguinity. To justify their action they invent new adaptive, or co-memes. Here are a few:
* The elite family blood is so pure and superior that it is a good thing to marry a half sister or niece. There is no danger of defects or deformities in the offspring.
* Through some miraculous occurrence the pure blood of Christ surges through the man’s veins. When blood is that pure there are no dangers.
* Father Adam came down to earth and had sex with his daughter, 13 year-old Mary, and Jesus was born. This signifies that it is permissible to have sex with your daughter and pubescent girls.
* The ancient Egyptians practiced incest with their daughters believing that it established a pure strain of blood.
* There is competition among men for plural wives, which should be no surprise. One fundamentalist claimed to have hijacked from the LDS Church archives a little known doctrine believed practiced by the early Utah Mormons called the Law of Adoption. This man, Fred Collier, published pamphlets on the Law of Adoption and the doctrine spread throughout the fundamentalist groups. John D. Lee, the only Mormon executed for the Mountain Meadows Massacre was reputed to be the adopted son of Brigham Young.
The Law of Adoption sounds like a harmless doctrine and ritual. The idea is suppose to be a devise for building up one’s kingdom with adopted sons. For a man to attach himself to an important icon like Brigham Young enhances his chances of going to the celestial kingdom.
But there is a serious caveat. In some circles the patriarch, that is the icon head of the family, according to Collier, has conjugal rights to the wives and daughters of his adopted sons. This is just another problem that comes from a doctrine like Meme 132 that imposes no rules. Pedophiles, of which I have reason to believe there is an abundance in Mormon fundamentalism, also find no rules attractive.
In all cases “co-memes” or “adoptive memes” are invented to give aberrant plural marriages respectability. One of the more imaginative co-memes is when a man pretending to be a prophet claims that an angel appeared sword in hand and threatened to lop off his head if he didn’t marry a certain female, usually much younger than himself. Joseph Smith used this yarn with Benjamin Johnson (see Johnson’s autobiography); it is reported that Rulon Allred and James D. Harmston used the same farce. In Mormon fundamentalism there is always a reason, often cryptic, and always associated with authority – and a Y-chromosome antecedent.
Another ploy is to claim that God revealed that a certain young lady should be part of his family. A 17 year-old girl in AUB confided that she had received a total of eleven such claims from men of all ages. Her reply was, “When God reveals it to me I will take it under consideration.”
I am told that in the Jewish Torah there are 630 rules designed to influence the behavior of the faithful. God left no doubt that he wanted his chosen people to conduct themselves in conformance to a specific code. This code had to do with secular behavior, in other words, how the individual should conduct himself in relation to his environment and the rest of humanity. Among these many rules were conditions pertaining to diet and the Sabbath. In contrast, Christian scripture tends to orchestrate human behavior in a manner that prepares the individual for a life after death. This contrast is particularly evident in Mormonism where ostensibly the goal of the faithful is a celestial exaltation.
Mormonism is not necessarily a “here and now” religion. By that I mean it is not a religion that necessarily emphasizes the Second Great Commandment, “love they neighbor” – and how to make the world a better place by getting along with the rest of God’s [Nature’s] inhabitants. (However, the LDS Church has taken great strides in attempting to get along with other faiths.)
Mormonism conveys the notion that it is the Mormons who are the “chosen people.” As such they differentiate themselves from the rest of humanity – borrowing the word “gentile” from the Hebrews in labeling non Mormons. They band together in a common cause. This trend is not so obvious in the LDS Church but is very apparent among the fundamentalists.
Mormonism has the appearance of Christianity starting all over again from scratch – articulated as the “restored gospel.” But if we examine its doctrines, Mormonism borrows from the Bible (Abraham, Jacob and Moses), Judaism (temples), Free Masonry (temple ceremonies), Catholicism (one man rule pope/prophet and priesthood), Islam (plural marriage) and puts them altogether with some modifications. But in all the borrowing few rules were included, not even the Ten Commandments. The closest Mormonism comes to the Ten Commandments are the Articles of Faith, but even then, the Articles of Faith I was encouraged to memorize as a lad in Primary, seem to have been dropped by the wayside. In fact, it would be more accurate to say Mormonism invented its own rules, especially when it came to plural marriage.
I won’t repeat the Ten Commandments but will mark those Commandments that Mormon fundamentalists and their Nineteenth Century ancestors repeatedly violated: Thou shalt not murder – thou shalt not steal – thou shalt not bear false witness – thou shalt not commit adultery – thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife. I could write a long chapter documenting these violations, but that would take me off the subject.
You would think that with a doctrine as important as plural marriage there would be direction, or rules to go by – rules like (1) how old a boy and girl must be to marry; (2) who they can marry; (3) how many wives one man can marry; (4) that a man must be financially able to care for his wives and children. None of these important issues are even mentioned – they are left up to the prophet or individual Section 132 only has one rule which comes in two parts – plural marriage must be lived, but only the prophet has the authority to seal plural marriages.
Rodney Stark, author of The Rise of Christianity stated that “ it is deemed bad taste nowadays to suggest that any one religion or doctrines is better than any other.” We have already addressed that “unwritten rule” in the Preface, but Stark also said that the “Central doctrines of Christianity prompted and sustained attractive, liberating, and effective social relations and organizations.” The word “liberating” is what I will focus on. It is true that the doctrines of early Christianity were “liberating,” but we can’t say the same thing about Nineteenth Century Mormonism, or contemporary Mormon fundamentalism.
Polygamy is no doubt attractive to many men, and attractive to some single moms, and unmarriageable women. But is it liberating?
Mormon polygamy apologists argue that it is societies discriminating laws and intolerance of polygamy that has forced the fundamentalists to isolate themselves. This is an inaccurate assumption. The fundamentalists chose to isolate and insulate themselves from the corrupt influence of apostates and gentiles, but the real reason is so the prophet and priesthood can control information.
The more isolated and insulated the group, the more unified they become. In other words, the more observant, predictable and malleable they become – like the people in the FLDS where some parents seem to have placed obedience to Warren Jeffs over the love and welfare of their sons and daughters. Dissidents from the FLDS tell us that if Warren tells a father to take his son and dump him on the streets of St. George City, it is done. If Warren wants a 14 year-old daughter, the mother takes her daughter by the hand and presents her to Warren.
The FLDS is probably the most isolated and insulated of the several organized groups. By insulated I mean difficult to penetrate. They don’t proselyte like AUB and TLC. For an outsider to be accepted in the FLDS is next to impossible. Consequently, growth comes from inside with each new crop of offspring.
Each new generation is inculcated with the belief that living polygamy and absolute obedience to the prophet are essential for exaltation. This behavior, polygamy and obedience, is reinforced by the notion that only the prophet has the authority to say who and when a member will marry. This is the source of the prophet’s power.
The prophet knows that there is an innate desire [the Y-chromosome] in man to want to mate with a woman, and if he can, mate with many women. The plural marriage doctrine [Meme 132] reinforces that innate desire. As previously mentioned, only the prophet has the power to say who and when a person can marry. The situation is analogous to a corral filled with hungry sheep. Beyond the gate is a pasture teeming with lush, green grass. The rancher controls the gate. Before he allows a sheep to pass he exacts a tribute – wool. Wool in this case is analogous to time, talents, loyalty, money, labor and daughters. He places other men’s daughters in those families that will reinforce his power and authority.
Where fealty to prophet is paramount as in the FLDS, the prophet watches closely the young boys as they grow and mature. If any boy shows signs of rebellion or non conformity he is mercilessly expelled from the group. This accomplishes three things, it eliminates the potential of non conformity, it is a warning to others, and it reduces the competition for plural wives.
If a young girl shows signs of rebellion, as in the case of Flora Jessop, she may be isolated within the community and tutored until the indoctrination results in absolute conformance. Unlike the “lost boys” it would be rare if she was driven out of the community because she is an asset – a commodity – a female body that is wanted.
In contrast to the FLDS, AUB’s growth comes primarily from the outside – the frustrated ranks of the LDS Church. With new blood comes liberal habits and ideas. As a result AUB is the most open of the polygamous groups and the most reformed – meaning that except for plural marriage and authority, AUB is the most like the LDS Church in habit, looks and conduct. But even then members tend to stay to themselves and avoid outsiders. Isolation and insulation is as much a part of Mormon fundamentalism as plural marriage.
To Owen Allred’s credit he tried to implement rules pertaining to age and number of wives one man could handle. But there seemed to be one set of rules, or lack of rules for the elite, and another set of rules for the secondary families. There were a few men who ran roughshod making up their own rules, sometimes getting into trouble with the priesthood. These were the men receiving their own revelation regarding young women, and sometimes the women of other men. Still others tried to live the “principle” in as righteous a manner as they knew how.
I asked LaMoine Jenson, the current leader of AUB, why he thought Owen Allred and AUB held all the keys of authority mentioned in Verse 7 of Section 132. He said, “Because we are the only people on earth living all of God’s laws. So we must have them.” James D. Harmston, leader of the TLC, has said exactly the same thing.
The power in all the organized groups is vested in the power of the prophet and priesthood to seal plural marriages and offer the temple rituals which are also essential for exaltation. However, prior to 1978, when the LDS Church gave the African American the priesthood it was thought plural marriage was all that was necessary to be exalted. But since AUB decided they had all the keys they instituted the endowment making it also essential. It is interesting how flexible the fundamentalist can be, and why not – if you’re God’s chosen whatever you decide is okay. For example, the FLDS was once adamant that plural marriage was sufficient until Warren Jeffs decided they needed a Temple.
AUB is easy to infiltrate and is popular among male converts because it provides a pool of available women for plural wives. The potential for plural wives is enough for some men to go along with AUB’s priesthood claims. Fundamentalists are “righteous people” who believe they are living higher laws. There must be authority. Mormon fundamentalism is nothing without authority, even among the independents, otherwise they would be committing adultery. And as pious Mormons, they are opposed to adultery.
Mormon fundamentalism teaches that God only considers marriages that are sealed by proper priesthood authority as valid. All other marriages are null and void. That is why it is no sin to pursue another man’s wife which often happens. When there are no available women within the fundamentalist community, desperate men usually look inside the LDS Church. Single moms who have had a bad monogamous marriage are the most vulnerable. So too are women caught in an unhappy monogamous marriage. And as strange as it may seem, women in AUB convert more women for their husbands, than the husbands do, which goes to show the power of Section 132.
Because AUB is more liberal, more open and members are more prone to think for themselves, the turnover in membership is huge compared to the turnover in the FLDS. Over half of the children born and raised in the group apostatize. Men and women come and go like a revolving door.
There is a pecking order in all the groups – meaning there are the elite or dominate families, and the secondary families with secondary children. It is the AUB secondary children that are most apt to leave. When an adult or teenager chooses to leave AUB they are not subject to the same pressures and coercion as in the FLDS.
The adult AUB men who defect are usually those who for some reason have lost favor with the priesthood. Some cannot tolerate the hypocrisy and elitism. Others have been victims of priesthood scams. Still others can see no future in AUB and try their hand in other smaller groups like the TLC which is a group that will accept almost anyone with a dollar or daughter. Family elitism is the most prominent in the Kingston Group where the Kingston boys seem to have first pick of the young women coming of marital age. But what all the groups have in common is that the rich and powerful, just like in ancient days, have the most wives.
A few paragraphs ago I pointed out that the Torah established rules to live by on earth, making life more tolerable, peaceful and meaningful as opposed to the rules designed to qualify one for a life after death. To use Will Durant’s analogy, the Torah concentrates on “social instincts” where as Mormon fundamentalism focuses on the “individual instincts,” exemplified by Meme 132 which imposes few rules. The most pervasive and conditional rule found in Meme 132 is that plural marriage must be lived. This rule was religiously enforced in the early days of the Church and among contemporary fundamentalists. As previously mentioned, Meme 132 offers no alternatives. However, in exercising its corporate prerogatives, as mentioned before, the LDS Church has come up with an alternative. Celestial marriage has been redefined as a “temple marriage sealed by proper priesthood authority.” “Celestial marriage” redefined has become a new competing meme that has proved to be more fecund and reproductive than Meme 132 even though it does not seem to have been officially canonized – that is, made clear in the Doctrine & Covenants.
But Meme 132 is making a comeback using every conceivable avenue politics will allow.
On October 25, 2006 The Salt Lake Tribune ran the byline: “Polygamy: Newsletter a guide for voters.” The first line read, “Polygamists may not be able to hold public office in Utah, but they plan to have a say about who does.”
The ladies of Principle Voices, which includes the authors of the pro-polygamy book, Voices In Harmony, have been working hard to unite all the polygamists groups in a common cause. It now seems they have been successful in organizing a committee of sorts that calls itself “Communities in Harmony.” Their objective is obviously to use political clout to obtain community respect and tolerance for their lifestyle with the hope it will lead to decriminalization.
They allege 30,000 polygamists in Utah, suggesting they are ready to cast their vote. As a result they have canvassed all the important political candidates and rated them as to “openmindness” to the practice of polygamy.
The Tribune quotes two ladies, one a member of the Kingston Klan and the other, a co-organizer of Principle Voices. This tells me Communities in Harmony is primarily a Kingston-Principle Voices effort. The committee name implies a united front. However, although the various groups would probably go along with the ruse, because of the issue of who has the authority, the various groups are no more united than the various Islamic sects. The leader of each of these groups is not about to give up his power and wealth by abdicating his feigned authority to another.
Back to the subject of rules, or the lack of rules: The ideal way to obtain a plural wife is to marry someone within a group that is amenable to plural marriage. But the problem is, there is usually not enough women eighteen or older to go around. The elite takes first choice leaving the less influential men with those women that do not interest the elite, implying they are defective. The unmarried men must therefore go without, unless they can go outside the community in search for wives. Some troll other groups hoping to entice a single young woman their way. Others attend the “singles activities” in the LDS Church. The single’s dances are the most popular places for polygamist men to troll for plural wives. The women are often rebounding from an unhappy monogamous marriage and are looking for a righteous man. Unfortunately a few of these women are vulnerable when approached by a good looking, silver tongued man pretending to be the ideal Mormon.
Rodney Stark, author of The Rise of Christianity, provides startling insight into the first 300 years of Christianity, while comparing it with paganism:
He tells us that in Athens, due to female infanticide, women were in “short supply.” Their status was very low. “Girls received little or no education” and “married at puberty” and sometimes before reaching puberty. Women were classified as children regardless of age. They were considered legal property of men. She “could own property, but control of the property was always vested in the male to whom she belonged.” [This is very much like Mormon fundamentalism.]
In contrast to Athenian women, Stark states that Spartan women enjoyed status and power equal to men, something unheard of in that part of the world. They owned property and controlled the property of their male relative while they were away at war. Spartan women were educated, “seldom married before age twenty, “went where they pleased,” and “dressed as they liked,” where as the Athenian women wore “heaven concealing gowns.”
We learn from Stark that women near and around the Mediterranean were treated differently, the difference being cultural rather than religious. Now let’s see what Stark has to say about Roman women and Christian women – keeping in mind that Stark is concerned with male behavior towards women during the first five centuries after Christ. Even in Christianity, attitudes towards women changed in time, depending upon who represented authority. However, our concern now is how women were treated in the early stages of Christianity.
According to Stark, “Christians did not condone female infanticide. … the more favorable Christian view of women is also demonstrated in their condemnation of divorce, incest, marital infidelity, and polygamy.” (Bold print is mine.)
The early Christians established the morality that all believers of Christ now embrace, which includes orthodox Mormonism. They urged women “to remain virgins until marriage, and extramarital sex was condemned as adultery.” If a person married twice he was prohibited from holding a church office. In contrast to the pagans a Christian widow was under no pressure to remarry. Widowhood was greatly respected by the Christians and if she was poor, she was taken care of.
For the most part Christian girls had a choice of who they married, “Roman girls married young, very often before puberty. Octavia and Agrippina married at 11 and 12, Quintilian’s wife bore him a son when she was 13, Tacitus wed a girl of 13, and so on.”
Plutarch reported that Romans “gave their girls in marriage when they were twelve years old, or even younger” “Girls are considered … to have reached marriageable age on completion of their twelfth year” …
Roman law set 12 as the minimum age at which girls could marry.
“Roman girls married before the onset of puberty to a man far older than themselves, and these marriages typically were consummated at once.” Does this sound familiar? It sounds like a story that could have come out of the FLDS.
Plutarch regarded it as a cruel custom and reported “the hatred and fear of girls forced contrary to nature.
Stark states that there” has been far too much reliance on 1 Cor. 14:34-36, where Paul appears to prohibit women even from speaking in church.” In the following pages he makes it clear that women held the office of Deacon and other positions of honor, authority and responsibility in the early Christian church. The oppression came much later. In any event, Roman women enjoyed more freedom than other women in Asia Minor but Christian women, as already documented, were much better off, which Stark states helps explain conversion and the rise of Christianity.
It seems the more we delve into early Christianity the more Mormon plural marriage resembles paganism rather than Christianity. Joseph Smith claimed that Mormonism was the “restored gospel,” a metaphor that the LDS Church has turned into a popular sound bite. However, search as we might, there is no evidence in the Bible, archeology or Will Durant’s epic, eleven volume Story of Civilization that plural marriage was ever a religious tenet.
Daniel Dennett’s definition and meaning of religion is probably the most readily accepted. You may recall that he said religion was a “social system whose participants avow belief in a supernatural agent or agents whose approval is to be sought.” Dennett quoted Sloan Wilson’s hypothesis that, “religion is a social phenomenon designed (by evolution) to improve cooperation within (not among) human groups.” But Dennett’s astute observation that “comfort, explanation and cooperation” are what make Christianity the most meaningful, is the most generally accepted objectives of a religion.
Dennett’s definition is supported by Will Durant who said:
There is no significant example in history, before our time, of a society maintaining moral life without the aid of religion.
Durant said that when social instincts faltered – which includes the laws of the land – religion would come to the rescue. In other words, it should be the role of religion to establish a social conduct that benefits all, a set of morals that subdues the “individual instincts.” Where the individual is concerned, a religious doctrine should be designed to make life more tolerable and meaningful. In that regard we forgive religion for its myths if it helps make people better. But something is wrong if we tolerate a myth that tends to make people wicked and irresponsible.
Durant explored the issues of good, bad and God. He said history does not support a belief in God – at least a God as hoped by the Christians, a benevolent, supreme being who watches over mankind. In so many words, Durant says history is a story about natural selection, the survival of individuals and groups where “goodness receives no favors, [and] misfortunes abound.”
He says according to history, good and bad are irrelevant terms. Good is what survives, bad “goes under and that the universe is no respecter of persons, be it Jesus Christ or Genghis Khan. (Lessons of History, page 51)
The above helps explain why God doesn’t visibly or audibly intervene in the conflicts of men, or when men use God to destroy or take advantage of others. A Mormon fundamentalist may claim that Section 132 must be true or God would come down and raise hell, which makes as much sense as Tertullians’ statement that something “must be believed because it is absurd.” If we compare Section 132 with the original designs of Christianity and common sense there is no congruency. Monogamy is a Christian custom. Polygamy is a pagan and barbarous custom. Polygamy appeals to the Y-chromosome, but what about the X-chromosome? Why do women support Meme 132? Let’s discuss that next.