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The Downfall of Civilization

In furtherance of my note about the irony of LDS church members seeking to restrict same-sex marriage, I offer some quotes about what early church leaders thought was the downfall of civilization:

This law of monogamy, or the monogamic system, laid the foundation for prostitution and the evils and diseases of the most revolting nature and character under which modern Christendom groans,…

It is a fact worthy of note that the shortest lived nations of which we have record have been monogamic. Rome … was a monogamic nation and the numerous evils attending that system early laid the foundation for that ruin which eventually overtook her.—Apostle George Q. Cannon, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 13, pp. 195, 202

Since the founding of the Roman empire monogamy has prevailed more extensively than in times previous to that. The founders of that ancient empire were robbers and women stealers, and made laws favoring monogamy in consequence of the scarcity of women among them, and hence this monogamic system which now prevails throughout Christendom, and which had been so fruitful a source of prostitution and whoredom throughout all the Christian monogamic cities of the Old and New World, until rottenness and decay are at the root of their institutions both national and religious.—Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 11, p. 128

… the one-wife system not only degenerates the human family, both physically and intellectually, but it is entirely incompatible with philosophical notions of immortality; it is a lure to temptation, and has always proved a curse to a people.—Prophet John Taylor, Millennial Star, Vol. 15, p. 227

We breathe the free air, we have the best looking men and handsomest women, and if they [non-Mormons] envy us our position, well they may, for they are a poor, narrow-minded, pinch-backed race of men, who chain themselves down to the law of monogamy, and live all their days under the dominion of one wife. They ought to be ashamed of such conduct, and the still fouler channel which flows from their practices; and it is not to be wondered at that they should envy those who so much better understand the social relations.—Apostle George A. Smith, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 3, page 291

I have noticed that a man who has but one wife, and is inclined to that doctrine, soon begins to wither and dry up, while a man who goes into plurality [of wives] looks fresh, young, and sprightly. Why is this? Because God loves that man, and because he honors his word. Some of you may not believe this, but I not only believe it but I also know it. For a man of God to be confined to one woman is small business. I do not know what we would do if we had only one wife apiece.—Apostle Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses Vol 5, page 22

Just ask yourselves, historians, when was monogamy introduced on to the face of the earth? When those buccaneers, who settled on the peninsula where Rome now stands, could not steal women enough to have two or three apiece, they passed a law that a man should have but one woman. And this started monogamy and the downfall of the plurality system. In the days of Jesus, Rome, having dominion over Jerusalem, they carried out the doctrine more or less. This was the rise, start and foundation of the doctrine of monogamy; and never till then was there a law passed, that we have any knowledge of, that a man should have but one wife.—Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses Vol. 12, page 262

Thus we see that according to the prophets and apostles of the church founded by Joseph Smith we should lobby for a constitutional amendment which mandates that all capable men take more than one wife. Our civilization is at stake.

(Thanks to Talking to God for the inspiration.)

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  1. Stephanie said,

    June 27, 2008 @ 3:36 pm

    Isn’t it nice that they have so much faith in the ability of men to control themselves?? It’s like the notion that a man could want only one woman is non-existent to them. Sick, sick, sick.

  2. Jonathan Blake said,

    June 27, 2008 @ 3:44 pm

    Well, being a typical man (I think), I believe that I can say marital fidelity for men isn’t so much a matter of not desiring other women but rather being able to ignore desires for other women. I think desiring other women is inevitable.

    However, I agree that it shows a rather dim view of men to believe that they can’t help themselves from indulging sexually and remain faithful to one woman. I think much of religious history can be explained as a fear of sexuality, both male and female. I’ve personally had no problem so far avoiding prostitutes or extramarital affairs even though I am monogamous.

  3. Jonathan Blake said,

    June 27, 2008 @ 3:44 pm

    Though there are probably some exceptions out there who truly never desire other women after their marriage vows (just to test my rule).

  4. Sue said,

    June 28, 2008 @ 12:44 am

    Oy. Those quotes make me want to slam my head into the wall. Repeatedly.

  5. Jonathan Blake said,

    June 28, 2008 @ 5:16 am

    Beyond the “I can’t believe they believed that!” factor, the quotes also illustrate how Mormonism was once much more comfortable with experimenting with non-traditional marital arrangements. Well, I guess they saw it as a return to an even more traditional form of marriage. I wonder what they would have thought of same-sex marriage. They obviously would have thought it a sin, but would they have followed the eleventh Article of Faith and allowed other people to follow their own conscience without governmental interference?

  6. Stephanie said,

    June 28, 2008 @ 9:54 am

    The same could be said for married women: desiring other men is inevitable. These statements are also disturbing because they completely ignore the existence of female desire.

  7. Jonathan Blake said,

    June 28, 2008 @ 10:00 am

    I hadn’t looked at these quotes from that angle, though I’m aware that polygynous wives’ needs can be terribly under-served. These quotes do seem to assume that women can take or leave sex while also assuming that men are deprived if they are confined to only one woman.

  8. Stephanie said,

    June 28, 2008 @ 6:36 pm

    I always thought that the only way polygamy, or I should say polygyny, would be close to fair would be if the “sister-wives” were able to have sexual relationships with each other. I wonder what old brother Brigham would have to say about that?

  9. Jonathan Blake said,

    June 28, 2008 @ 6:42 pm

    I agree. Being a plural wife could be a frustrating life, if my family history is to be believed. Why stop at sexual relationships between the sister-wives? Let’s lobby for full polyamory. ;)

  10. Stephanie said,

    June 28, 2008 @ 7:09 pm

    Well you might as well. If “people” are going to argue for abstinence outside of marriage based on the claim that sex is a sacred thing to be shared by two people, then polygamy certainly doesn’t make sense. In fact, it kind of ruins that whole argument.

  11. Rameumptom » Blog Archive » Polygamy, Monogamy, and Same-Sex Marriage said,

    July 8, 2008 @ 3:16 pm

    [...] the irony of LDS church members seeking to restrict same-sex marriage and followed it up with a collection of quotes from early church leaders outlining their view of monogamy. I figured I’d add my [...]

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