Polygamous Women Don’t Get Jealous

When ever I hear a woman in a polygamous marriage speak, they always talk about jealousy. And it always leaves me feeling like they don’t understand what jealousy is at all. Polygamous women always say that we are all selfish and jealous people. Living polygamously helps them reform their character because it puts their own jealousy right in their face. I think they fail to see that some jealousy is good. They ignore all of the scripture in which God himself declares that he is a “jealous God”. You absolutely should be jealous if some one takes something that is only supposed to belong to you. Wives should feel justified jealousy if another woman is sleeping with their husbands. That is a right and appropriate feeling.

It’s akin to saying “God is really showing me what an angry person I am. Every time I see my husband beat my kids I get so angry. God obviously put me in this situation so that I would learn not to be angry.” Wrong lesson!

In looking at the events of Emma Smith’s life after the death of Joseph, it seems obvious that she was never going to have anything to do with polygamy again. I think she learned what righteous jealousy was all about. I feel bad that she had to learn it in such a difficult way.

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29 thoughts on “Polygamous Women Don’t Get Jealous

  1. This is an interesting post. Though Mormons have renounced polygamy, that only applies here on earth, in mortality. Mormons marry for “time and all eternity” in the temple, and widowers who marry again (in the temple) do it for time and all eternity again. There will also be marriages made in heaven.

    Back when I was a Mormon (married in the temple) my wife had a real and abiding problem with that doctrine. Even though it was in the future and beyond this earth, she had no problem telling me that she wasn’t going to agree to share me with any other women.

    I find it difficult, no impossible, to believe that most Mormon wives don’t feel the same way–whatever they may say for public consumption.

  2. I’ll relay a funny conversation that I had with my wife. Tuesday night after we had watched the PBS documentary as we were going to bed, my wife said “Tonight I’m going to dream that you have married additional wives, so you better wake up prepared to apologize.”

    I said “I should apologize that I haven’t already married them?”

    She thought it was funny that I twisted her words, but in no uncertain terms she has made it clear that I belong to her and her alone.

  3. Yeah, katyjane made that pretty clear to me as well. Doctrine and Covenants notwithstanding, I was not to be sealed to anyone else after her death.

    My brother, on the other hand, married a girl from China (a historically polygamous culture) who always said that if polygamy came back or something, she was okay with it, but subsequent wives had better know good and well that she was First Wife. Of course, they’ve also left the Church now, so I don’t think it’s gonna be an issue.

  4. Gene’s comment is correct about Mormons belief of polygamy in heaven. I’ve even heard that the principle could come back! And with the loosening of the sodomy laws and increasing push to change the definition of marriage, I don’t doubt it. Its practice was never denounced as sinful by the LDS Church (when it is church sanctioned). So even though we pronounce that we don’t live it anymore, we have never said it was wrong in the first place.

    Oddly enough my wife is ok with polygamy (in the next life). Suprizingly she told me that in the here after she will be perfected (according to Mormon theology) and will be able to live polygamy. I was somewhat stunned by this admission. As a teenager I thought polygamy would be great! But as a Dad and husband that has a hard time keeping up with everyone I think the idea stinks! I can only handle so much.

  5. hahaha I used to joke with Kullervo’s brother that if we had to go back to practicing polygamy, and I wasn’t okay with it, and his wife was, he could just marry all of the wives that Kullervo should have gotten, and we’d all be happy. He used to wink wink and talk about how it would be great! hahaha

    I’ve been watching the tv show Big Love, which has shown me more about how a polygamous family can work, and possibly how it should work. I think it’s a different mindset. Mind you–I wouldn’t want to make it work, nor to have to, but at least I can understand it a little better.

  6. I don’t even know if this is the appropriate place to post this, but here goes.
    I worked in an Islamic Embassy for five years, and I’ve studied the Quran, so I have learned a little bit about the Islamic view of polygamy. Most all the Islamic scholars I have studied write that polygamy is sanctioned as a compassionate solution to the problem of surplus women in a community–women who otherwise would have to endure lives of celibacy and childlessness. My feeling is, that if more Islamic imams were aware of the specifics of Mormon polygamy, they would disapprove of it. The Quran and the Prophet Mohammed forbid any man from having more than four wives. (In contrast to some of the early Mormans who had something like 20?) The Quran also is very adamant in saying that a man MUST provide equally for all of his wives. If he buys one wife a fur coat, he must buy them ALL fur coats. (The Arabs I worked for were very rich.) There is no going on welfare and collecting money illegally from the state, in Islam a man MUST provide for all his wives, or he may marry only one. My Cultural Attache had two wives. His first wife was his age. He married her because he was expected to. Then, when he was an established diplomat here in the US, he met a single Arab woman who was a schoolteacher in the Islamic academy. I think it was love at first sight for him, or so the story around the Embassy went, and he knew she was the love of his life. He asked her to marry him. She went home and prayed about it, and said yes. His first wife remains his first wife to this day. She has a mansion in their home country, and he visits her during the year. His second wife lives with him where ever he is posted. Instead of divorcing and leaving women and children destitute or at extreme economic disadvantage, traditional Islam, through polygamy, can provide a cushion for women who in Western culture would find themselves abandoned or divorced. Getting back to my first point, surplus of women–there were and are situations where there are just not enough men to go around for every woman to have her own husband. The Western answer to this is: well, the single women just have to stuff it! So what, you have to be celibate and childless for all your life, it’s just God’s will!!! The Islamic scholars I studied said this attitude was ridiculous, heartless, and highly unrealistic. The end result of a society that believed in monogamy only would be prostitution, men having many mistresses, and rampant fornication.
    Do women who practice polygamy feel jealousy, pain? No doubt. What about Western women whose husbands divorce them? I’ll bet they do as well. What about married women whose husbands cheat on them? Do single women who can’t find husbands feel pain? You bet they do! I’ll admit that most of you are going to think that my opinion is wrong. Maybe I am, but I will tell you one thing: There are no easy answers. And I think the Muslims make some good points.

  7. My feeling is, that if more Islamic imams were aware of the specifics of Mormon polygamy, they would disapprove of it.

    I’m sure Mormon polygamists (19th century and today) would disapprove of the Islamic practice of polygamy. They each have their own “rules”, so what does it matter if they disapprove of each other?

    The pragmatic practice of polygamy you describe does sound much better though.

    There is no going on welfare and collecting money illegally from the state

    I’m not sure it is illegal for polygamous wives to get welfare. They are by our laws single parents and qualify for aid. However, even if they were married I doubt many men could support that many wives and children without help. Call it a loop hole.

    The end result of a society that believed in monogamy only would be prostitution, men having many mistresses, and rampant fornication.

    Interesting, this is the same argument Parley P. Pratt and other Mormons of the 1800’s made, that polygamy would end prostitution and fornication. Somehow I’m just not convienced of that.

  8. Getting back to my first point, surplus of women–there were and are situations where there are just not enough men to go around for every woman to have her own husband. The Western answer to this is: well, the single women just have to stuff it! So what, you have to be celibate and childless for all your life, it’s just God’s will!

    Um, this is kind of weak.

    Increased travel, communication, health care, and lifespan means that at least in the developed world, this is simply not a problem. Ever. For men or for women.

    Maybe a person won’t be able to find a spouse because they are unattractive or not a nice person, or has commitment issues, or even has just plain bad luck with the people they date, but polygamy wouldn’t help that.

    Or maybe a person chooses to limit their set of potential spouses to such a small category that it becomes a problem (like if I go to a college with a 10:1 gender ratio and refuse to date or court outside the student body), but that’s the person’s own fault. Nobody is limited by geography anymore–you can travel easily, and there is always the internet. So unless you live in a compound somewhere where the ratio is artificially maintained, there’s never going to be a man-shortage or a woman-shortage.

    And I don’t really think the Western world’s answer has anything at all to do with “God’s will” anymore. The Evangelical Presbyterian Church is only 70,000 people. Anglo-America and Europe put together have probably a billion. The EPC isn’t even a hundredth of a percent of “the Western world.” Just because one retarded denomination says something stupid doesn’t mean it generalizes to an entire civilization. Or set of civilizations.

    You and your Muslim friend are basically knocking down a straw man.

  9. Getting back to my first point, surplus of women–there were and are situations where there are just not enough men to go around for every woman to have her own husband. The Western answer to this is: well, the single women just have to stuff it! So what, you have to be celibate and childless for all your life, it’s just God’s will!

    Um, this is kind of weak.

    Increased travel, communication, health care, and lifespan means that at least in the developed world, this is simply not a problem. Ever. For men or for women.

    Maybe a person won’t be able to find a spouse because they are unattractive or not a nice person, or has commitment issues, or even has just plain bad luck with the people they date, but polygamy wouldn’t help that.

    Or maybe a person chooses to limit their set of potential spouses to such a small category that it becomes a problem (like if I go to a college with a 10:1 gender ratio and refuse to date or court outside the student body), but that’s the person’s own fault. Nobody is limited by geography anymore–you can travel easily, and there is always the internet. So unless you live in a compound somewhere where the ratio is artificially maintained, there’s never going to be a man-shortage or a woman-shortage.

    And I don’t really think the Western world’s answer has anything at all to do with “God’s will” anymore. The Evangelical Presbyterian Church is only 70,000 people. Anglo-America and Europe put together have probably a billion. The EPC isn’t even a hundredth of a percent of “the Western world.” Just because one retarded denomination says something stupid doesn’t mean it generalizes to an entire civilization. Or set of civilizations.

    You and your Muslim friend are basically knocking down a straw man.

  10. Kullervo,

    You try filing bankruptcies for about a dozen single mothers and get back to me on what a bop-o job our society does of caring for its women.

    OK?

  11. Whoa there Seth, you’re putting major words in my mouth. I said absolutely nothing about how society cares for women.

    I’m not against polygamy in theory, with the usual caveats for situations of coercion and abuse, and provided the opportunity is available to both genders (which Constitutionally–at least in the US–it would have to be). I just disagree with the specific rationales that Lisa articulated.

  12. “Increased travel, communication, health care, and lifespan means that at least in the developed world, this is simply not a problem. Ever. For men or for women.”

    Those would be your words.

  13. Kullervo,
    Look at my post. The Southern Baptist Convention also pushes the “Gift of Singleness” SBC is 16.3 million members in 44,000 congregations (according to Wikipedia) There are other extremist denominations pushing it as well. Maybe instead of saying “Western” I should have said, “those cultures and societies that demonize and criminalize polygamy.” No, polygamy is not the answer for every single woman out there, but it would help. I agree wholeheartedly with what you said about some people limiting their search for a spouse to such a small group of people that it becomes a problem. You say it is their fault, and technically you are right, but I’ve spent so much time on the web trying to console single Evangelical women who attend these churches and believe this doctrine, some of them are in their 30’s and 40’s and will never marry, because they refuse to look outside their denomination BECAUSE of what the Gift of Singleness says! And there is nothing I can say to them, they won’t believe me because of their indoctrination. Maybe you think they deserve it, but I feel compassion for them, because I almost ended up like that.

  14. “Increased travel, communication, health care, and lifespan means that at least in the developed world, this is simply not a problem. Ever. For men or for women.”

    Those would be your words.

    Seriously, Seth, calm down. I’m not sure what’s got a bee in your bonnet. Look at the whole post. Look at what I’m quoting and responding to. All I am saying is that that in the 21st-century industrialized world, “not enough men for the women to marry” is not a problem. Ever. It simply is not the issue.

  15. Lisa, I’m not really saying they deserve it. That’s a bit rough. I am saying that the problem of not being able to find a husband is one of their own creation.

    And would polygamy really help them? Is the problem really that there are just like ten women in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church to every one man? It is really a problem of gender ratio? You’ve said yourself that the problem is the”Gift of Singleness” doctrine. Would allowing polygamy let all these sad single women (and men?) find husbands (or wives)? It seems like if the Gift of Singleness doctrine would be just as big of an obstacle even if ploygamy was allowed.

  16. I do remember reading about the “harem system” in Morocco once. Apparently they sometimes worked as almost a sort of women’s shelter. If a woman was being mistreated by her husband, she could go and join the harem of a wealthy relation and have a bunch of legal protections and degree of social acceptability – not to mention, a support group of other women who could help with her children, etc.

    I think there are several marital arrangements that could actually work very well indeed if done right. Abuse and coercion is, of course unacceptable. But I see no practical reason why monogamy is the only acceptable way to handle relations between men and women. At the very least I don’t believe there is any Biblical foundation for strict monogamy.

    As for legal objections to polygamy – I think the Supreme Court decision striking polygamy down was a rather poor piece of legal reasoning that did nothing more than parrot the prevailing societal prejudices of the day. It’s very telling that anti-bigamy and anti-polygamy laws are almost never enforced today for the simple reason that they are well nigh unenforceable.

    The legal basis for opposing polygamy is non-existent, and the moral basis for opposition is currently hiding behind a smoke screen of caricatures, scare tactics, and FLDS red herrings. If the US were forced to confront the bare issue of polygamy – divested of its sensationalized baggage, it would be a hard task to oppose it.

  17. The only legal/public policy problem i can think of is this: if polygamy was allowed in the US, it would have to be available to both genders. And there would be no way to restrict polygamous family units to one of one gender and one+ of the other without implicating the same right to marry that vindicated polygamy in the first place.

    In other words, I could marry two women. One of those two men could marry three additional husbands (after me). Suppose those three men wanted to each have two, one, and five more wives, respectively. And suppose a wife from husband one and from husband two both married yet another guy, who also wanted to marry my second wife? And then I could marry yet another woman who already has three husbands of her own, each with further wives.

    It could get pretty complicated, pretty quickly. It might not in practice, but it could in theory. Imagine how trusts and estates bar exam questions would look then!

    The marital partnership could cease to be the default building block of the family unit. Ultimately, I think the result could be the gradual erosion of marriage as a meaningful institution. As it is, its uniqueness and exclusiveness (even if the exclusiveness is only on one side of the equation) are what make it socially significant.

  18. By the way Kullervo, explanation accepted.

    I am a bit fired-up this week.

    No problem. It’s not like it would have been the first time I had ever said anything mean-spirited.

  19. Kullervo,
    According to Barna Research, there are 13 million more single Evangelical women in the Evangelical Church than single Evangelical men. So, yes, there is a man shortage. BUT, you are absolutely right, it could be solved without polygamy IF single Evangelical women from these denominations were willing to widen their pool of potential husbands. For example, if an EPC woman was willing to accept a husband who was from one of the more liberal Presbyterian denominations. They won’t do this, because the Gift of Singleness says unless someone is a “born again” Christian, and they believe the Bible is infallible and inerrant, etc, etc, etc, they are not believers, and if the women/men do disobey God in this area and get married to an “unbeliever”, they will lead miserable lives because they didn’t follow “God’s Best.” It is indeed a sad, sad, situation, and I agree that if polygamy was legalized, it wouldn’t help believers in the GoS, because they abhor the idea of it anyway. I am still against the idea of criminalizing polygamy though, because I believe it can be a solution for some people in certain circumstances.

  20. How many Evangelicals are we talking about, though? In total? Because you’re confusing Evangelicals at large and members of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, which are two way different things.

  21. The 13 million shortage figure refers to all Evangelicals. So, the 16.3 million Southern Baptists and the 70,000? or so EP’s are included in this group. I have no way of knowing how many Evangelicals in the entire country stress the GoS, but the Southern Baptists do, and they are one of the largest denominations in the country. I believe Barna’s definition of who is an Evangelical includes those who hold such beliefs such as salvation by grace through faith, in Jesus Christ alone, as well as the infallibility and inerrancy of scripture. Infallibility and inerrancy of scripture is a BIG deal to Evangelicals, at least it is to every single one I’ve ever talked to.

  22. With populations in the high millions, it doesn’t make any sense anymore to talk about gender shortages. Especially when we’re not talking about a particular community. “Evangelical” is loosely defined. It’s not like they all go to one church, or live ion a compound.

  23. Hello everyone,
    There is a link I’m providing for those of you who are interested about the “man shortage” in Christianity. It is http://www.churchformen.com. When you get there, there are a series of links on the left hand side. “Where are the men?” is a good one to read, as well as “For women” and “For men.” I’m just providing this as information to support my statements that I’ve made previously. David Murrow is an Evangelical author who has written a book, “Why Men hate going to Church.” Christianity Today magazine has also published on the gender imbalance in Christianity. It is important when we are discussing GoS, because part of the GoS says that if a man does not attend church regularly, he is not a true Christian and is INELIGIBLE to be considered as husband material for an Evangelical Christian woman.
    Kullervo, this is not attempt to continue our discussion. I’ve already ceded you your point, even if polygamy were legalized, it wouldn’t help the Evangelicals one bit. You are correct, this gender imbalance isn’t stopping anyone from finding a husband or wife! But in combination with the GoS, it’s toxic, because GoS says basically you can’t consider anyone for your husband/wife who isn’t in church with you on Sunday, and/or doesn’t meet the standards of an Evangelical believer.

  24. I think Paul is the one who first taught that. That’s a tough thing to pin solely on modern Evangelicals.

    I know several women who are single and looking. But they refuse to compromise by marrying someone who doesn’t hold their values. I respect them for it. A key to a strong marriage is shared values, if you enter into a relationship with different ideas on the core questions of life, you can expect problems. Research strongly shows it’s better to be single than married to the wrong person (whether you’re an Evangelical or not).

  25. Hi Tim,

    I don’t want to argue with you, because I’m in a really good mood now when it comes to Evangelicals. I guess my short answer would be, I don’t agree with the way the Evangelicals interpret the Bible, and I don’t agree with the way the Evangelicals interpret Paul. I guess, through all my waiting and searching, I found out that, while I do consider myself a Christian, I am not an Evangelical, and that trying to be one, trying to shove myself into that mold, was just destroying me. That statement about how it’s better to be single than to be married to the wrong person, Debbie Maken deals with that in her book. It is basically spiritual blackmail to try and scare single Evangelical women into submission, to accept their fate. When your single friends hit 45 and 50, get back to me and let me know how they feel about the choice they’ve made to be single and childless. I didn’t marry until 37. It’s one thing to be a single in your twenties, it’s a totally different thing to be single into your thirties, forties, and past menopause. And it’s funny, it’s always the people who are married and have families who are telling single women they should just “Be content.” I did much thinking about it, and part of the reason I decided the way I decided was because I believed that I, as a single Evangelical woman, was being made to “take the fall” for the mistakes of everyone in the Church, including my own. That website I referenced says that 90% of the young men who are raised in the church leave it forever by the age of 20! I just received a letter a few days ago from the Christian school which is affiliated with my old Evangelical church (which I am a donor to) This letter said that a survey indicated that 7 out of 10 Protestants (mainline and Evangelical) ages 18-30 who attend church in High school stop attending church by the age of 23! This is one huge reason for the man shortage. Why isn’t anybody doing anything? Everytime a Pastor looks the other way when two of his congregants are committing fornication–that is contributing to a decline in morale among single women who want to stay chaste and wait for the right person. It is also sending a message to single Christian men that premarital sex is ok, why get married? This contributes to the problem also. How come I’m the only one who has to follow the Bible to the letter???!!! The Fifth generation RLDS inside of me just stood up one day and said, “NO!!!!” And I have no regrets about it. (By the way, in case you’re wondering why I still donate to a Presbyterian school after all I’ve been through, there was one church I attended during those years that had a really Godly pastor. He never tormented me, or made me feel like an idolator because I wanted to be married. I love his church, and will support them, no matter what my feelings are in other areas.)

  26. Everytime a Pastor looks the other way when two of his congregants are committing fornication–that is contributing to a decline in morale among single women who want to stay chaste and wait for the right person. It is also sending a message to single Christian men that premarital sex is ok, why get married? This contributes to the problem also.

    I couldn’t agree with you more. That outrage you felt was righteous.

  27. It is also sending a message to single Christian men that premarital sex is ok, why get married?

    I really don’t think that the chance to have non-sinful sex is the only reason people marry. People who don’t think premarital sex is wrong get married all the time.

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