Note: The following was originally printed in the January/February 2020 edition of Mormonism Researched. To request a free subscription, please visit here.
The topic of “eternal polygamy,” the doctrine stating that a faithful Latter-day male can be sealed to two or more faithful LDS women, came up in the October 2019 general conference. Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the First Presidency who is the first counselor to 17th President Russell M. Nelson, opened his Saturday morning talk by saying:
My dear brothers and sisters, a letter I received some time ago introduces the subject of my talk. The writer was contemplating a temple marriage to a man whose eternal companion had died. She would be a second wife. She asked this question: would she be able to have her own house in the next life, or would she have to live with her husband and his first wife? I just told her to trust the Lord.
Those who read Oaks’ comment only in print will miss the audience’s reaction. After Oaks asked, “Would she be able to have her own house in the next life?” audience laughter could be clearly heard. After he read the portion of the letter where the concerned woman said “or would she have to live with her husband and his first wife?” audience laughter could again be heard. When Oaks said, “I just told her to trust the Lord,” there was even more laughter.
His next statement also addressed what is a very real dilemma, though Oaks’ body language certainly didn’t treat this subject with the same gravity held by many LDS women. He went on to say:
I continue with an experience I heard from a valued associate, which I share with his permission. After the death of his beloved wife and the mother of his children, a father remarried. Some grown children strongly objected to the remarriage and sought the counsel of a close relative who was a respected Church leader. After hearing the reasons for their objections, which focused on conditions and relationships in the spirit world or in the kingdoms of glory that follow the Final Judgment, this leader said: “You are worried about the wrong things. You should be worried about whether you will get to those places. Concentrate on that. If you get there, all of it will be more wonderful than you can imagine.”
After Oaks read the line, “You should be worried about whether you will get to those places. Concentrate on that,” there was again, more laughter. Yet many LDS women do not see the same humor in this doctrine that Oaks apparently sees. Many female spouses have real anxiety believing that, should they die first, their temple-worthy husbands could very well be sealed for eternity to another woman (or even multiple women!), thus requiring them to share their husbands throughout eternity.
What Oaks said after citing his “valued associate” only added to this doctrinal difficulty. Oaks went on to say, “What a comforting teaching! Trust in the Lord!” To many women, this is not a comforting teaching. To merely blow off these very real concerns by saying “trust in the Lord” came across to me as callous.
After all, why should Oaks really care? He is one of those men who is sealed to two women, as is Nelson, the top leader of this church! They already have what they want, even though many female members fear getting what they don’t want.
To read more on the issue of polygamy, visit here.