Here's my conversation with a FAIR apologist on the subject from couple of years back... (I've removed all personal details such as addresses and greetings from the beginning and at the end of the letters.)
On 11/2/10 5:37 AM
The following comments were sent through the FAIR Website comment form by R.
I was reading through the article:
And I'd like to get an answer to the following question:
When and where was or has been defined in the mormon doctrine that a woman can
have multiple husbands?
Date: Tuesday, November 2, 2010, 3:36 PM
I am a FAIR volunteer. As such, I alone am responsible for my comments.
I presume your question arises from the fact that Zina was married already
when she was sealed to Joseph. In this case, or any other, there is no need
to suppose that there is a doctrine within the LDS Church for women being
sealed to multiple men in the eternities, and I am not aware of any such
teaching. I reconcile the actions of Joseph in the case of Zina to the
notion of a distinction between sealing and temporal marriage. A sealing is
for time and all eternity, whereas a temporal marriage is "until death do us
part". As such, it is fully conceivable that someone could be married to a
person for time (until death do us part) and yet another for "all eternity".
In an imperfect world of imperfect people, situations arise where
individuals are married in the temple (sealed) for time and all eternity,
and after the death of the husband, the wife again falls in love and is
married. In such situations, there is no attempt made to sort out and judge
which marriage (or if sealed, which sealing) would be efficacious in the
eternities. Rather, it is allowed that she can be sealed to both husbands,
with the thorny details of which marriage would remain being sorted out by
Him whose authority such sealings are enacted, namely Christ. As such, I
know of circumstances where, for purposes of our records, there are two
recorded sealings of a woman to two men without the first being annulled.
This need not suppose that there is a doctrine within the LDS Church that
such polyandrous unions will persist in eternity. The truth is, such issues
tread upon highly emotional subjects for family members, and I see it as
wisdom of our leaders to take a "sort it out later" approach.
I hope this is helpful to you.
Wed, 3 Nov 2010 01:43:50 -0700 (PDT)
Thank you for your prompt reply. However the your response didn't quite
address the particular issue that I had in mind. Reading the article carefully
it is very clear that Zina was married to Henry and Joseph prior to Joseph
death. Assuming that the marriage with Henry was for time and with Joseph
for eternity is not the issue I had in mind, although such would be somewhat
contradictory to the information also provided as the article mention Brigham
serving as proxy for Joseph in the sealing after his death. The issue behind my
question is that according to the article after the death of Joseph Zina became
married to Brigham for time. Please keep in mind that this all occured in Nauvoo.
Now the fact that the article states is that she departed from Nauvoo with Henry,
her first husband, as a married couple and hence leaving no room for doubt that
she would have ever divorced Henry, as it's hardly likely that a divorced couple
would be departing as a couple. Thus Zina has was very obviously married with
Henry and Brigham at the same time making it a polyandrous relationship, which
according to my understanding has never been allowed in the church.
Date: Wednesday, November 3, 2010, 2:11 PM
As I understand your issue, the question is regarding Zina being married for "time
only" to two men at the same time, correct?
That is an interesting question on which other FAIR volunteers may be able to
provide a helpful perspective, so I have copied our volunteer list.
To my understanding, a Levirate marriage where a brother takes the wife of a
deceased family member was for the purpose of raising posterity for the brother
and caring for his widow. Anciently, it was an obligatory practice
I know thatBrigham married several of Joseph's wives after Joseph was martyred
under this notion of Levirate marriage, but it is not a "doctrine" that is encouraged,
practiced, or otherwise taught in the Church today.
Please note that the "sealing" practice has evolved a bit over time. Brigham, for
example, was sealed to Joseph as his brother (presumably creating justification for the Levirate practice mentioned above). Such sealings are no longer performed, as
around the turn of the last century the practice of sealing individuals into family
units became restricted to sealing only husbands to wives and parents to children.
It is entirely possible that, prior to this refinement, Brigham felt obligated to take
Joseph's role in these marriages even though there was not a need to do so for
reasons of financial security or raising of posterity (I do not believe there is credible
evidence either Joseph or Brigham had marital relations with Zina).
Regardless, the problem of eternal versus temporal marriage remains the same.
In the case of Brigham, he was merely standing as proxy for Joseph in time.
Zina was sealed for eternity to Joseph. Her first husband to whom she was
married for time only would presumably not have claim on her for eternity any
more than Brigham. So, in an eternal sense, neither Brigham nor her first husband
were in any eternal sense her "husband".
It is interesting to me as I study Church history to observe how true the notion is
that God gives us line upon line, precept upon precept. I believe that many of the
messy issues that arise from the sealing powers and the restoration of ancient
practices, such as this one with Zina married to two men (polyandry) and Brigham
sealed to Joseph as his brother, are the result of these men being taught principles
they put into practice, and later prophets clarified the Lord's intent and so the
process was refined to the practices we recognize today. In other words, as our
understanding improved, our practices became refined so that such messy issues
do not arise so much any more. At any rate, I do not believe that there has existed
or now exists any doctrinal justification for women being married to more than one
man at a time other than that created by the separation between temporal
marriage and eternal sealings, and the notion of Levirate marriage. This, of course,
does not negate the practice allowed today for multiple posthumous marriages of a
woman to men so as to allow the issue to be resolved at the time of judgment
without hurting the sensitivities of descendants.
Other FAIR volunteers may be able to provide additional insights.
As always, while I speak only for myself, I hope that my comments are helpful.
On a personal note, I find such refinement of practice a powerful evidence for the
need for ongoing revelation and for the notion that our leaders are working out
their salvation just as I do - line upon line. Such quirks in Church history do not
bother me, as I see them as our leaders genuinely seeking to best live the
principles they receive. Rather than criticize them for what they may have got
wrong, I feel grateful for what they got right! As a convert, I was brought into the
Church largely on the unique teaching of the eternal nature of families. It is a sweet
and delicious teaching to me, and I see this issue with Zina as the initiation of a
concept that is central to the entire plan of salvation. While it is not without its
complications, I am confident that it will all be adequately sorted out in the end by
our Righteous Judge. For me, the restoration of sealing powers enables me to be
sealed to my wife and children for eternity and so I am very grateful that Heavenly
Father was patient with past leaders so as to enable us to enjoy this great
blessing for ourselves.
Best wishes in your studies!
Wednesday, November 3, 2010, 3:58 PM
You picked up my issue correctly.
I'm happy for you if you've found your peace of mind in mormonism. Unfortunately
the case is just the opposite for me. The more I study the church history and
doctrine the more I'm convinced that the church isn't true and the more it looks like
church related organizations are just trying to cover up the truth from the public.
Now your response mentioning levirate marriage practice between just messed
things up a bit more. I went back to the article too and it was also mentioned in it
and I just managed to skip it in the first pass. If Joseph was married to Zina only for
"eternity" and not for "time" then why Zina needed a levirate marriage
arrangement for "time" with Brigham? She was already married to Henry leading to
believe that she actually was married for "time" with Joseph too. And then
considering that Henry was sent to a mission when his second child was just barely
been born. What were the motives of God or church leadership for doing so? I find
this case most disturbing.
Mon, 8 Nov 2010 06:06:42 -0800 (PST)
Have you picked anything from the other volunteers? I haven't received any
feedback so far.
Monday, November 8, 2010, 3:22 PM
My apologies, as I have had email problems for the last several days and I fear my
request to others did not get received. I have resent as of this morning so
hopefully others will respond shortly.
I will give some of my own, additional thoughts later today.
For my own understanding, can you give me some background on yourself? It
would be good to know a bit more about you personally.
Sorry for the delay, and thank you for your patience.
Mon, 8 Nov 2010 11:02:21 -0800 (PST)
Sure I can open up some of my background. I was born into a mormon family in a
country where mormonism is tiny compared to other religions. This difference
between the surrounding culture and the one that I was brought up in caused a lot
of difficulties for me as a child. I was the no. 1 being picked at school etc. but I bore
my testimony bravely, after all it all came down to the prophecies and scriptures
telling me that is the fate of a believer. I probably would still be a true believing
mormon if there hadn't been a certain unfortunate accident that got me thinking
the problem of evil and why there is evil in the world. This happened when I was
about sixteen yrs. old. After giving it a throughout thought I came to conclusion
that God is not fair should such exists which heavily contradicts the teachings of the
church. Since then I've been studying quite extencively various religious movements
their view of God(s), how these movements come to the existence, but I didn't dare
to look too deeply into my own religion as it had such a megalomanic influence in
One of the decive turning points in my life was when I learned about documentary
hypothesis and how the Pentauch (the 5 books of Moses) was created. After that I
came across Zoroastrianism, the first book religion in the world, and how Judaism
inherited the dualism from it and it all became very clear how scripture and religions
are born. Now I view that Christianity is just a collection of tales combining old
Judaistic tradition with Egyptian Horus myth, Greek mythology and the teachings of
Pythagorean philosophy. Some of the acts of Apollonius of Tyana have are too
similar with the claimed deeds of Jesus Christ and since There're a lot more
historical evidence about Apollonius of Tyana there're actually very little basis to
believe that Jesus ever was an actual person. And then on top of all there's the Q-
source defining how early Cristianity is bearing quite much resemblance with such
modern day movements as the Branch Davidian that became to an end in Waco
After all this massive evidence started piling up against theistic religions it became
the turn to turn my attention toward how mormonism came to be as it claims to be
the restored church having the true gospel. Unfortunately my investigations don't
look good for mormonism. It is changing more and more to be just one more dot in
the same gray mass of religions without abilities to stand out from the crowd.
On the side of all these investigations I also studied a bit on the biology and
psychology of religions. The findings there reveal such hormones as dopamine and
endorphine that are behind the most of the feelings of religious experiences. These
hormones are fairly easy to stimulate and neuropsychology nowadays is quite
familiar with such cells as mirror neurons in human brains that enable persons to
simulate many different sensations by themselves wihtout external influence. Given
this backgroud I came to conclusion that all feelings involved in religious concept
couldn't be trusted at all hence rendering praying and religious rituals useless
means of acquiring knowledge from omnipotent beings.
So there you have it, my religious biograph in a nutshell. Plain and honest. I guess
it's needless to say that I'm quite heavily leaning towards atheism nowadays.
Monday, November 8, 2010, 7:38 PM
Thank you for sharing your background and thoughts. With your permission, I will
share it with our volunteers so they can also give you insights. Others are more
familiar than I am with the schools of thought you have mentioned, so I am sure
they can add perspectives that might prove helpful. Please let me know if this is
Mon, 8 Nov 2010 23:10:49 -0800 (PST)
I don't mind sharing my story myself if such is requested, but I trust you
understand also that this is my personal life and story, hence I would very much
appreciate if you kept it to yourself. Should someone else from FAIR send me an e-
mail asking me to disclose this information I'm happy to do so with them, but since I
have no idea where this information might end up I must decline your request at
Tuesday, November 9, 2010 9:19 PM
I fully understand your hesitation, and that is precisely why I asked permission
before sharing your message with others.
So that you know, all questions and responses sent to FAIR automatically are sent
to a group of volunteers who help provide answers to specific questions, such as
yours. Any of the volunteers may respond, and it is not uncommon for more than
one person to reply. When they do reply, the same list of volunteers are copied so
that they can add their personal perspective or insight.
While these communications are shared among our volunteers, they are not shared
outside of this specific list without first getting permission from the questioner (ie
you). In the past 12 years of doing this, we have never had an occasion where we
have made such a request (to my knowledge).
My request to share your information was for this closed and private group of
volunteers. We have found that when someone struggles with matters of faith,
what resonates well with one person may not ring true to another. As such, having
a variety of volunteers respond increases the chances that we will help you find a
good reason for the hope that is in you.
At any rate, I am aware of probably every anti-Mormon argument ever crafted.
None has had power to break my faith. I have had powerful spiritual witnesses that
transcend feelings or emotions. I have had experiences that leave zero doubt but
that God is not only real, but that he is involved in the affairs of men and responds
to our humble petitions. I have seen him make me more than I was despite my
weaknesses, and I believe he does the same with his very human prophets and
apostles and with us as His covenant people.
There is a book I would like to recommend to you called "Shaken Faith Syndrome"
by Michael Ash. It specifically addresses how you can maintain or re-establish the
faith you once had that is now shaken by information you have received. You can
buy it from the FAIR bookstore at http://www.fairlds.org. If you cannot afford it or
otherwise cannot obtain one, I would be happy to send you a copy.
If you do choose to let me share your background with our internal group of
volunteers, I can assure you they will keep your personal information confidential.
However, I am confident that one or more will have a perspective that can help
At any rate, please let me know if you would like me to send you a copy of the
book, as I would be happy to do so.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010, 8:55 AM
I understand your request, but I still like to keep my own story under my own
control as much as possible. I prefer sharing it myself rather than having someone
completely unknown someday come out of the blue with "issues" about my story
especially if they haven't discussed it with me personally. I also realise that the
story contains such elements that might create a strong emotional response in
someone with testimony as it has with some local mormons that I've shared it. So I
really don't wish the story to be shared openly in order to avoid people from
getting upset with a burden that is not theirs.
As I mentioned in my first response to you I'm truly happy for you that faith has
worked with you and it's not on my agenda to question it. I've been walking down
the path and come to know the pain it causes to lose one's faith. I do not wish the
same to anyone, so if you're happy with what you've got, stand firm with it, it's not
worth seeking alternative truths when you're content with your current one. The
emotional turmoil is just too much to bear if the change should come over you. Your
logic and reason will have to fight aginst your emotions and even if the logic would
win in the end that fight is long and your emotions might drive you to the verge of
self destruction and insanity before it will be over. I've experienced it over the past
21 years (yes I'm 37 yrs old) that I've been on my quest for truth about religions,
thus I am aware how strong the the emotional grip can be that the church has over
a true believer and that's the reason I dug quite deep into psychology and biology
of religion in the first place. As long as the effects of religion on the individual
remain positive, as it seems with you, people should be just happy and content
with what they've have.
As for the book you recommended I took the liberty of searching some information
Reading through the writers response to a review of the book I think I got a pretty
good idea what the book is about. The short quotes from the book itself in the
response, assuming that those quotes are of the highest quality the book has to
offer, didn't convince me. I got the feeling that it's just one more of the books that
aim to create "reasonable doubt" against dismissing the faith. Some quotations in
the response actually bring up the Mesoamerican cultures and draws some
parallels with them and the BoM based on weak sporadic examples completely
forgetting the fact that based on the archaeological evidences the cultures in
question bear only very little or no resemblance what so ever with the cultures in
the BoM. The author also falls in the pit of "Argumentum ad ignorantiam" with
notions where he suggest that while conclusive evidences have not been found yet
it doens't prove BoM inaccurate. Such argumentational errors are not giving
adequate reasons for academic people like me to be a believer. Hence I seriously
doubt the value the book could offer for me, but thank you for your effort in trying
to aid me.
For now I would be just content if I would receive an answer for the original
question regarding the polyanrous marriages in the early days of the church.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010 8:41 PM
I thought you might be interested. I presented the same question to the church via
the official Q&A form on the mormon.org website. The reply I received was fairly
limited and culminates in this sentence:
"As far as the church and polyandry is concerned, we are unsure why these practices were allowed or what truly happened in them."
In a sense honest to admit that it's not known, but alas yet another detail in the
church history left without a proper disclosure.
So no responses from FAIR since Nov 10 2010 on the subject...