I'm suspicious. There is an HBO Drama entitled "Big Love" and now a reality show on TLC entitled "Sister Wives." Why all this interest in polygamy?
Frankly, I don't think it is benign. Ever since the whole same-sex marriage movement got started I realized that the arguments used to advance it could also be used to advance polygamy as well.
I wondered if the ACLU had thought of this also. It obviously has because I found an article back in 1998 where it declared itself in support polygamy.
But, I didn't think there would be a slippery slope where polygamy could ride in on the same-sex marriage movement. There simply wasn't broad support for polygamy when it was evident that broad support for same-sex marriage was building. Now, I'm not too sure.
So, why all this entertainment fare? I think there are ulterior motives to all this. I do not think it is happening by chance or without intent.
People ask me if the Church would practice polygamy again if it were legal. The answer is no. Currently, the Church is in countries where polygamy is legal. Church members are not allowed to practice it. No formal ecclesiastical authority currently exists to sanction polygamous unions in the Church.
In an effort to keep things from getting convoluted again, I'm printing my original piece on "Big Love" in this blog:
My View on HBO's Series "Big Love"
With additional thoughts and information on polygamy and Mormons (L.D.S.)
It is clear from reliable news sources that HBO will present an episode of Big Love where a temple ceremony is portrayed.
HBO Series Inaccurate and Misleading
Since faithful Mormons promise not to disclose details about the temple ceremonies, HBO's presentation could only be based on information from those who have broken this promise. By definition, these sources are undoubtedly untrustworthy and unethical. This alone should make them suspect.
Those of us who are temple going Mormons will neither supply, nor correct, the information HBO presents. HBO MUST rely on ex-Mormons, apostates and the disgruntled for its information -- these are not reliable information sources in my opinion.
There is no way anyone who practices polygamy would be temple worthy or even allowed to retain membership in the L.D.S. (Mormon) Church.
The “authority” to marry a man to one wife is not the same as the “authority” to marry a man to more than one wife. No Mormon since the 1890 change has had the authority to marry any man to more than one woman. So, in the Mormon view, none of these so-called polygamist marriages are valid, religiously or legally. None of these “polygamists” are Mormons.
Membership in the L.D.S. Church is not a vague identification or feeling of alliance; it is an actual membership record. You either have a membership record or you do not. You either are a Mormon or you are not. There is no gray area. If you try to practice polygamy your membership is canceled and you are kicked out of the Church (excommunicated).
Polygamists are not Mormons period. Since their marriages are neither valid nor legal, real Mormons consider the polygamist lifestyle not only illegal but immoral as well. No one doing something illegal and immoral would be allowed inside a temple or allowed to retain Mormon membership.
The whole "Big Love" story line is completely implausible.
Polygamy in the Early L.D.S. (Mormon) Church
In the very early days of the Church, polygamy was not something you chose to practice. You had to be allowed to practice it and the marriage had to be done by proper Church authority. There was only a small contingent of top level Mormons that were allowed, of which my ancestor, Thomas Bullock, was one. He had three wives. I descend from his first wife. My sister had a roommate in college who descended from his second wife.
Why any surprise? With multiple wives and children you have to assume that modern posterity is running around somewhere. I am it!
Polygamy was, and is, repugnant to most Americans. In truth, Mormons were not wild about it either. Most considered it a "test" of their faith and many strongly resisted the principle, before finally embracing it. It is not any easier for their modern counterparts to accept the existence of this early, but abandoned, practice.
In trying to gauge how prevalent polygamy was in the early days of my Church, you have to know whether the participants were allowed to practice polygamy, whether the marriage actually took place and if the person performing the marriage actually had the "authority" to perform a polygamist marriage.
Only the Church would have this information. For these reasons, the Church is the only entity that has reliable information on this issue. You have to go with their numbers. Outside estimates are not possible.
It is nearly impossible to determine if the marriages even existed, let alone how they functioned on a day-to-day basis. There is almost no historical information and what we have is often completely contradictory.
No "Authority" Exists to Conduct "Polygamous" Marriages
From what I can determine, most of the current polygamist groups in existence today claim that the "authority" to conduct polygamist marriages was secretly given to an early leader and this "authority" has been passed down to a current generation of polygamists.
Any "authority" to do anything in the L.D.S. (Mormon) Church is NEVER given secretly. It is ALWAYS issued through open public channels or it is not valid. So, if these polygamists' so-called "authority" to conduct polygamist marriages was given to them secretly, it is not valid because it must be conveyed through open and proper channels.
Authority is either properly conveyed or it is not valid. So, polygamists’ claim to "authority" cannot possibly be valid. Once again, Mormons can only conclude that these polygamists are engaged in immoral behavior.
Polygamist Groups Are Small and Obscure
I was born, raised and educated in Utah and I am a 7th generation Utah Mormon. Do you want to know how many polygamists I have personally known in my lifetime? (drum roll) ONE! I am only certain because a mother revealed that her daughter was a polygamist. I have to rely on the news media for any other exposure. They shine a magnifying glass on a handful of isolated, obscure polygamist groups and give the illusion that it is common.
The news media inaccurately calls these polygamists Mormons or fundamentalist Mormons or something similar. “The Associated Press Stylebook states, “The term Mormon is not properly applied to the other Latter Day Saints churches that resulted from the split after [Joseph] Smith’s death.” This is a rule the news media has adopted for itself. When current news operations claim these polygamists are Mormons, then they are not following their own rules. This is very sloppy journalism.
True Mormons do not call polygamists "Mormons." To the best of my knowledge, the polygamists do not refer to themselves as Mormons. The news media is the actual origin of this inaccurate labeling.
Temple Ceremonies are "Sacred" not "Secret"
Robert Kirby, a Mormon humorist who writes for the Salt Lake Tribune, recently pointed out something in his column. He said that the news media keeps harping on the ridiculous notion that our temple activities are "secret" and/or "secretive."
Well, given the sheer volume of information on temples and temple ceremonies freely available from official sources -- especially the Church's official web site http://www.lds.org -- as well as the astonishing numbers (hundreds of thousands to literally millions) of Non-Mormons who tour temples before they are closed and dedicated for use, HOW ON EARTH CAN THE NEWS MEDIA CONTINUE TO USE THE WORD "SECRET" or any of its possible derivations like "SECRETIVE"? This is nonsense.
With the numbers of Mormons themselves that attend the temples how could much of anything secret take place in temples at all? I have read all sorts of bizarre accounts of temple activities that claim that all sorts of disgusting, sexually explicit, revolting practices occur inside the temples. I know these accounts are false because I attend temples and know what goes on there.
Furthermore, very few of the temples even require appointments if any at all. Small temples have, or do, because they need to be sure they have enough staff on hand to conduct the ceremonies. This is not a concern in larger temples. So, Mormons just drop in on the temples whenever they happen to be open. How could these sordid accounts of temple activities tack place in this sort of environment unbeknownst to most Mormons or regular people? Logical, reasonable people would conclude that they cannot.
Do you need more proof? Position yourself to view the entrance/exits of any temple anywhere in the world. Take note of the abnormally high concentration of elderly people entering and exiting the temple. Do you really think that is what all those old people are doing? I think not.