Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Religion of a Different Color - Interview

I just finished listening to a two part interview (#22 & #23 of the Maxwell Institute podcasts) with Paul Reeve and Ardis Parshall about Reeve's book, Religion of a Different Color. This was absolutely fascinating!  Namely,

1. The author shares a primary source Mormon view of WHY some considered polygamy to be good, in that because men had greater sex drives, it allowed them to stay faithful to their wife(s) during times when it was not considered proper to have intercourse (nursing, menstruation) because they had other acceptable outlets.

2. People tried to define Mormons as a race so they could discriminate against them like they did with other races. The US was meant for white people, so white people who practiced polygamy (Mormons) didn't fit the paradigm, and they needed a way to marginalize Mormons.

3. Reeve and Parshall could not find evidence that the ban on the priesthood for blacks came from God, yet He allowed it to happen (and allows us all to reap the consequences), just like He allowed Joseph to lose the 116 pages, etc.

I loved Reeve's and Parshall's testimonies at the end. Parshall basically said there is still safety in following the prophets as they are at the helm, even if they may sometimes make mistakes.


swedemom said...

I don't know if the first point you make is uniquely Mormon. The Muslims use that line of reasoning to justify polygamy.

I find polygamy deeply disturbing on just about every level. However, I do appreciate the Muslim restrictions and rules about polygamy which make a lot of sense.

1) Muslim men (at least in Saudi Arabia) aren't allowed to take more than 4 wives-which to me means that a man can have a better shot at being a good husband and father. I just don't know how the men in early church history managed to be husbands and fathers when there were more than 4 wives and gobs of children. . .

2) Muslim men must treat all of their wives and children equally. In other words, if one wife has her own home, they all are supposed to have their own homes. Likewise, the children are to be equally educated. I think this rule provides some protection for women so they can be assured to have the same level of support.

Emily said...

Your first sentence - I had no idea! And I forgot that they practice it over there, too.

swedemom said...

I think basically men's "greater sexual drive" is a bad justification for polygamy. We all have desires that have to be tempered and that is part of being mortal and proving ourselves. Millions of men-past and present have managed to remain faithful to their wives during times of abstinence without the (ahem) "benefit" of polygamy.

I think a much, much better justification for polygamy is following a commandment of the Lord.

My own personal opinion is that it was a trial/sacrifice used to have all the Saints--especially the women totally 100% committed to the gospel and to the church. It's awfully hard to practice something so difficult if you aren't totally convinced you are doing the right thing. And it is a lot easier to teach your children to be totally committed to the gospel if you have sacrificed so much--on such a personal level.

I also think it explains how men and women who have linear spouses (not parallel) can still be sealed and bound eternally to each other.

swedemom said...

I found the passage about polygamy on my tract on Islam, provided by friends in Saudi Arabia.

The justifications and provisions for polygamy are as follows:

1) If a man is a believer, abstaining can cause him to commit adultery. It is better to have more than wife than to commit adultery.

2) The majority of those who condemn polygamy are sinful adulters who commit fornication and indecency shamelessly with unlimited number of women.

3) Monogamy deprives a great number of women the legitimate right of marriage and children. "Those who oppose polygamy are the real enemies of women, virture, and prophets of Allah."

4) Women have the right to stipulate the option of divorce in her marriage contract if her husband takes a second wife.

5) Divorce is permitted within Islam so that couples can get out of a bad or unhappy marriage. (Incidentally, a man can obtain such a divorce much easier. He only needs to say I divorce you three times and the divorce is legal. A woman has to undergo a much more complicated and difficult process to initiate and receive a divorce.)

6) A man cannot have more than four wives at one time. He must treat all wives in the material manner equally--providing homes, food, material goods, etc. He is not obliged to treat his wives on the same footing in emotional matters.

Emily said...

#1 - I'd heard this as a reason for polygamy, but never heard a historic primary Mormon source, which I thought was so interesting. It's hard to find anything about sex from those days.

#2 - Very interesting that they'd lump everyone together as sinners who condemn it. Also interesting that we sure see a lot of unlimited fornication these days - among married or not.

#3 - Interesting that it's assumed the women want (or rather, it's a right) marriage and children. I mean, I do think most women want those things at some point, but I think many women are happy doing lots of other things, too. It's not necessarily the primary goal.

#4 - Just like BY's day!

#5 - While in NY we went to a class on this about Egypt. Really sad.

#6 - Interesting that materially it's the same but not emotionally. I think the emotional part would be the hardest thing with polygamy.

And, I think you're right that it would have to come from God. That's the only thing that would get me to do it. I also agree that men should be able to abstain when necessary. I don't see why their lives have to be ruled by sex.

swedemom said...

I forgot to mention that while I lived in Saudi Arabia, I heard stories about western women who had married Saudi men, not having any expectation that their spouses could end up taking other wives. One story the wives found out because the kids were all enrolled at the same school. (same treatment. . . ) Many adult children in polygamous families were actually unhappy with the practice of polygamy because they felt they never got enough time with their fathers and the situation created a lot of unhappiness.

I just read a fictional novel about a western woman married to a Saudi man for many, many years. At one point he takes another wife, but the first wife doesn't learn of it until she goes to a jeweler to buy a present for her daughter and the jeweler inadvertently spills the beans. The novel explores how this creates tension, unhappiness, and even tragedy, especially with the kids involved.

I think the book was called, "The Ruins of Us".