Husband and Wife Swapping = Order of Heaven? (D&C 132)

All credit to Runtu from FLAK goes for the inspiration behind this post. While I’ve read D&C 132 dozens and dozens of times in my life, I’ve never read it with the “eyes of my understanding” being opened, thank you Runtu.

Joseph and Brigham and the early prophets used to love to “prove…by the scriptures”. They’d prove eternal truths by the scriptures, a casual reading of the Lectures of Faith shows this in earnest as most of the the “doctrine” is taken directly from the scriptures (and Joseph’s interpretation of the same) and the Lectures all cite the scriptures as their indisputable ‘proofs’. Using D&C 132 I believe that we can prove that eternal wife and husband swapping is indeed the order of heaven (the Celestial order of marriage).


19 And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; and it shall be said unto them—Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths—then shall it be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, that he shall commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, and if ye abide in my covenant, and commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.

“The new and everlasting covenant” = eternal celestial marriage. Also pay special attention to the words “anointed” and “appointed”. ‘Anointed’ meaning as in being / becoming a King (Temple goers will recognize this). ‘Appointed’ meaning, that ‘this power’ has been given to Joseph Smith, the power to seal and bind on earth and in heaven (ie. the sealing power). We are also dealing with keys of the priesthood’ here, celestial marriage, in the new and everlasting covenant, occurs due to and through these ‘keys of the priesthood’.

26 Verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man marry a wife according to my word, and they are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, according to mine appointment, and he or she shall commit any sin or transgression of the new and everlasting covenant whatever, and all manner of blasphemies, and if they commit no murder wherein they shed innocent blood, yet they shall come forth in the first resurrection, and enter into their exaltation; but they shall be destroyed in the flesh, and shall be delivered unto the buffetings of Satan unto the day of redemption, saith the Lord God.

Again, look at the word “appointment,” this is an important word as it indicates that they have had this blessing of sealing given to them by one who is “anointed”.


28 I am the Lord thy God, and will give unto thee the law of my Holy Priesthood, as was ordained by me and my Father before the world was.

What he is about to give us in the verses that follow is “the law of His Holy Priesthood”. Also note that this is THE law of the Holy Priesthood, it is not a part of the law, it is THE law (to me, this can be read as ‘all encompassing’, as in the word “THE”, as in: The law on murder, The law on slavery. The law on polygamy, which is THE law of the Holy Priesthood).

What follows then is referred to as “the law of the Holy Priesthood”. “Priesthood” then becomes and is synonymous with polygamy (one man having more than one wife) and polyandry (one wife having more than one husband). The ‘freaky thing’ here of course being that the woman and men involved are both swapping each others Eternal, Celestial and Sealed spouses with one another…everyone becomes sealed to everyone! (Really, I ain’t making this up kids…read along and you shall see, remember we are “proving” this by the scriptures).

37 Abraham received concubines, and they bore him children; and it was accounted unto him for righteousness, because they were given unto him, and he abode in my law; as Isaac also and Jacob did none other things than that which they were commanded; and because they did none other things than that which they were commanded, they have entered into their exaltation [ie. they are “saved”], according to the promises, and sit upon thrones, and are not angels but are gods.

It’s the law of God, polygamy. God sanctions and commands it. We become gods and not angels by living this “THE law of the Holy Priesthood”. Concubinage is 100% ok with God and is indeed, by this verse, shown to be part of “the law of the Holy Priesthood” (the concubines were “given unto him, and he abode in my law”). So, if I were living polygamy today, I could get me a few concubines, lesser wives, used for sexual pleasure or bearing children, but I’d not have to provide for them in my will or with my $ to the same level as my ‘real wives’, and the God of Heaven is 100% ok with this for it is part of his Holy Priesthood (it’s there in D&C 132, I’m not making this up, it’s ‘proved’ by the scriptures).


40 I am the Lord thy God, and I gave unto thee, my servant Joseph, an appointment, and restore all things. Ask what ye will, and it shall be given unto you according to my word.

Remember that word kids, “appointment.” To me it reads and means “green light and authorization directly from God Himself” and it is obviously directly linked to the Celestial Sealing (celestial marriage) ceremony, for this is where it appears in the scriptures here. Earlier (above), anointed and appointed appear together in relation to the Keys of the Priesthood and we know that the “law of the Holy Priesthood” is indeed: polygamy (celestial marriage). So what is being restored? Polygamy is being restored (not clear about concubinage, but it COULD also have been restored as we’ve proven it’s part of THE Law of the Holy Priesthood). Something new is also being ‘added’, polyandry (a wife having more than one husband). The kicker here though is, she is a wife who is already Celestially Sealed to a man and she becomes Celestially Sealed to additional LIVING men and is green-lighted to sleep around with all of them! Really, read v. 41 below. Read it slow. Read it over and over and you will see I’m not making this up.

41 And as ye have asked concerning adultery, verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man receiveth a wife in the new and everlasting covenant, and if she be with another man, and I have not appointed unto her by the holy anointing, she hath committed adultery and shall be destroyed.

Alright. Take a deep breath. Breathe in, breathe out. Let’s re-examine this verse a bit more closely shall we? IF the woman is with another man, sexually (we are discussing “adultery” here kids), then she has committed adultery. Seems straightforward…except…whats that written there? — “and I have NOT appointed unto her by the holy anointing”.

So, if she has NOT had the holy anointing, THEN she has committed adultery. What is the “holy anointing”? It’s being sealed in the Temple, Celestial marriage. Therefore, if she HAS had the ‘holy anointing’ she would then NOT be committing adultery! Therefore, with the ‘holy anointing’ in place, she is free to sexually be with another man (that she is sealed to), but if the ‘holy anointing’ is NOT in place (she is NOT sealed to THEM, her multiple husbands), then (and only then) is she committing adultery.

At this time, Joseph was in a lot of trouble. He was sealed (holy anointing) to 10-11 wives who were already married to other men (some who were already ’sealed’ to those other men if I recall correctly). Some of these men he sent away on missions and married their wives when they were away (yes, a reasonable question would be why would God Himself, who led Joseph Smith by the spirit of revelation, need to send his apostles away on missions to allow Joseph to marry their already sealed wives if this was indeed ‘no sin’? and ’situation normal’?).

D&C 132, I believe, is written to justify Joseph Smith’s polygamy AND polyandry. His secret wives (already married to other men) had had the ‘holy anointing’ so they were not sinning and could feel good about things. Emma was commanded to suck it up and like polygamy or else she’d be “destroyed” (v. 54) and also that SHE would become a “transgressor” (v. 65) if she doesn’t like it and lump it. Apparently also any woman who refuses to cheerfully give her husband additional wives or concubines becomes a “transgressor” and the husband is free to take on additional females without the 1st wife’s permission.

When else has God been so forceful about keeping his commandments? Not even the greatest commandments (to love one another…a commandment even greater than that of ‘polygamy and or polyandry’) have angels showing up with swords drawn, threats of “destruction” and or threats of being labeled a ‘transgressor’ attached to them. Why then would God be so forceful in getting Joseph and others to obey?

There. We have now conclusively proven, by D&C 132 that the God of Heaven and Earth has a sacred order of marriage, Celestial Marriage, which will allow us all to become gods and goddesses. That order includes men sleeping with their multiple wives (polygamy) and also includes women sleeping with their multiple husbands (polyandry). The door is also wide open for concubinage to return too, for D&C 132 sanctions it!

This means of course that once in heaven, you can sleep around with anyone you wish (anyone that you’re sealed to…men with women, women with men, swapping and sharing alike)! It’s a heavenly orgy or sorts. It must be so, otherwise Joseph Smith never would have married those other mens’ wives and God Himself would not have given us the New and Everlasting Covenant of D&C 132 (“law of the Holy Priesthood” = “New and Everlasting Covenant” = “Celestial Marriage” = Polygamy = Polyandry = Everyone getting sealed to everyone and sexually sleeping around with each other). D&C 132 clearly authorizes women to sleep around with their multiple husbands to which they are sealed. Everyone can apparently get sealed to everyone, we’re to be one big happy sexual family. We have proven this by the scriptures, in exactly the same fashion as Joseph and the Apostles proved things in the Lectures of Faith. Perhaps though, one day D&C 132 will go the way of the Lectures of Faith?

If the LDS Church is indeed ‘true’ (in the correlated and traditional sense of that word), I myself wonder if it is indeed something that should be signed up for? For if the Church is true, then D&C 132 is true and celestial wife and husband swapping is the ‘true order of things’ (as well as concubinage). I suppose it would appeal to the swingers amongst us, however for my wife it has no appeal (insert look of red blooded male disappointment here). 🙂

Anyway, these are the conclusions I’ve drawn.
Perhaps I’m wrong.
Perhaps I’m right.
Perhaps it doesn’t matter and we can just ignore it and not worry about it.
Perhaps though, it does indeed matter.
I leave that to you.


Take care

My more colorful and slightly more detailed treatment of this issue can be found at:

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39 Responses

  1. Seth R. says:

    There’s a lot of liberal-minded Americans for whom this sort of stuff actually isn’t a downside you know…

    Of course, they aren’t the typical demographic the current LDS conventional wisdom has in mind for ideal converts, but just sayin…

  2. Seth R. says:

    OK, after a more serious read…

    ““Priesthood” then becomes and is synonymous with polygamy (one man having more than one wife) and polyandry (one wife having more than one husband).”

    I don’t believe you’ve really established this. Please elaborate.

    “So, if I were living polygamy today, I could get me a few concubines, lesser wives, used for sexual pleasure or bearing children, but I’d not have to provide for them in my will or with my $ to the same level as my ‘real wives’, and the God of Heaven is 100% ok with this for it is part of his Holy Priesthood (it’s there in D&C 132, I’m not making this up, it’s ‘proved’ by the scriptures).”

    This doesn’t follow. It said that Abraham did something that was OK with God. It doesn’t follow that it will be OK with God for YOU to do the same, or that polygamy would be the same for you.

    By the way, polyandry is one wife-multiple husbands; polygyny is one husband-multiple wives; polygamy is either one; polyamory is essentially “free love.” If we’re going to discuss this topic, you’ll have to get your terms straight.

    “not clear about concubinage, but it COULD also have been restored as we’ve proven it’s part of THE Law of the Holy Priesthood”

    Nice of you to make that allowance. However, call me dense, but how exactly have you “proven” concubines are part of the “law of the priesthood?”

    “D&C 132, I believe, is written to justify Joseph Smith’s polygamy AND polyandry. His secret wives (already married to other men) had had the ‘holy anointing’ so they were not sinning and could feel good about things.”

    Either that or it’s just making public something Joseph was commanded to do either. You’ll believe what you believe on this topic I imagine.

    “The door is also wide open for concubinage to return too, for D&C 132 sanctions it!”

    D&C sanctions Abraham and company. No one else.

  3. Seth R. says:

    Alright, sorry for the triple-post.

    For myself (and my wife) this stuff doesn’t really bother either of us. We’re not polygamist and neither do we support the earthly practice of it. If my daughter wanted to enter a polygamist marriage, I would oppose it. I oppose mortal polygamy on practical grounds. Human jealousy, possessiveness, and insecurity being what it is, I think that it’s rarely a good idea. Nor do I think I’d make a very good husband for multiple women. It’s a juggling act I don’t really feel equal to.

    Furthermore, the underground nature of modern polygamy invites all sorts of abusive behavior.

    For these reasons, I’m agin’ it.

    But neither me nor my wife is bothered in the slightest by the idea of “Celestial polygamy.” I think there is room in the human heart for more than one person.

    But I don’t think that polygamy is going to be mandatory really. Those that wish to enter into those bonds may do so as far as I’m concerned. Whatever George Q. Cannon may have said, I don’t think the D&C mandates Celestial polygamy. I think the Church’s modern interpretation of “Holy Order of Marriage” describing monogamy is also consistent with the scriptures.


    It’s always we Mormons who get accused of being prudish. In some ways, our religion is more open-minded than a lot of modern society.

  4. Before I read your post, I was ready to dispute what you had to say as taking the language of D&C 132 too far, but for the most part I agree. There is very little room for grammatical ambiguity in the critical verse. It says exactly what you think it says, though I might quibble with equating this with swapping spouses since D&C 132 is a formula for polyfidelity, not open marriages. Whether this was ever interpreted the way it reads is another question.

  5. aerin says:

    Seth – are you saying that JS wasn’t sanctioned by D&C 132 to take other wives? That only Abraham was?

    I’m confused – I’m descended from polygamous LDS ancestors – I’m sure they certainly thought that their polygamy was sanctioned (perhaps even commanded) by God/HF.

  6. Guy Noir Private Eye says:

    Isn’t / Wasn’t ‘this dispensation’ to be the ‘restoration of all things’ (wives, concubines, etc)?

    LDS black & whities are so Strident, so Emphatic that the scriptures ‘mean what they say’…
    what a laugh when the back down.
    LDS practice is ‘pay as you go’; things are made up to fit the circumstances, at the pleasure of leaders; rank-and-files Only legitimate concern is to follow.

  7. Seth R. says:

    Concubines aerin, not wives.

    And to be honest, I’m open to the idea that the D&C didn’t sanction what Joseph did. In fact, whole sections of the D&C are almost ruthlessly critical of Joseph, and openly so.

  8. Seth R ~

    You wrote, “For myself (and my wife) this stuff doesn’t really bother either of us. We’re not polygamist and neither do we support the earthly practice of it. If my daughter wanted to enter a polygamist marriage, I would oppose it. I oppose mortal polygamy on practical grounds.”

    I thought this stuff didn’t really bother me either, or concern me, until my own father married his second wife in the temple, and I realized for myself that I was the daughter of someone with two living/mortal celestial wives. *eyebrows raised*

    And knowing this is my father, mortal as he is, I can see no difference between mortal and celestial polygamy. Either way, it’s people who are human who leave this life with the personalities and knowledge they gained here, practicing polygamy in the next life. I can’t imagine those people suddenly undertake a radical personality change before starting that.

    So I guess you being OK with celestial polygamy but not mortal polygamy seems strange to me. I see no difference in the two at all.

  9. Hellmut says:

    I have to agree with Sister Mary Lisa on this question.

    The Grantite faction of Mormonism may not practice polygamy at the moment but the institution does shape the Mormon world view in ways that make a profound difference in the lives of our children.

    According to our religion, the essence of a woman is to become one wife among others. That message has far reaching consequences for the identity of boys and girls.

    We may not practice polygamy but we surely practice the belief into polygamy.

    I don’t want my daughter to think that way about herself. I don’t want my son to think about women in that way. Polygamy is an inherently unequal and domineering institution that hurts human beings and cripples families.

    It may not be good for the Church but, in my opinion, it would be good for the members if we parted with beliefs that are bound to infringe on our humanity.

  10. Seth R. says:

    Be clear here Hellmut. Are you talking about polygamy? Or polygyny?

    I see no inherent inequality in polygamy per se, but would see it in either exclusive polygyny or exclusive polyandry.


    I suppose I could probably get my head around the mortal practice as well. My objection is purely to how things stand in society at the present moment. As for the difference between Celestial and mortal… all I can say is that perspective changes people quite a bit.

  11. profxm says:

    I’ve basically always seen this section as saying this. So, this interpretation isn’t shocking or surprising to me. That said, I do think it is kind of interesting to think of how someone might “abuse” this:

    Let’s suppose you’re a temple sealer and have a group of like-minded individuals who are interested in swinging. With just a little bit of work you could set things up such that you could have completely moral swinging parties and could respond in a bishop’s interview with complete sincerity that you don’t feel at all guilty about it. After all, everyone involved is sealed together, and that is the requirement.

    I’ve also always thought that the stronger position for Mormonism is keeping polygamy, not getting rid of it; getting rid of it implies that it was wrong in the first place and was never actually god’s will.

    Of course, now that I’m out and cognitive dissonance is no longer an issue, I see the whole thing as a scam by Joe to cover his immoral behavior, and I agree with Hellmut et al. who see this as manipulative and degrading toward women.

  12. SETH R:
    Verse 28 is explicitly clear that he is about to give us THE law of the Holy Priesthood…He then proceeds to tell us what that law is: Celestial Marriage, including: polygamy, concubinage and polyandry (I do get these ‘poly’ words mixed up, sorry about that…but not the MEANING of the words). It took me a while to see this too, so I’d suggest you read, re-read, verse by verse, all of D&C 132 and all the while ask yourself “what is this saying”, verse by verse, and “what does this mean” and “if I was standing there living ‘this and this’, what would that look like”…as others have commented, it is crystal clear once you have ‘eyes to see’.

    Also, D&C 132 is THE Law of the Holy Priesthood, it is NOT simply ‘the law for Joseph Smith in certain circumstances’. It is for ALL Priesthood holders and was taken as such back in the day (70-ish years in duration too I might add).

    THE Law of the Holy Priesthood, according to D&C 132, is to enter into the works of Abraham to be “saved”. Those works were: polygamy and concubinage. Verse 41 also allows our Celestial Brides to take on additional Celestial Husbands. The scriptures are quite clear on these points.


    Fidelity is implied within D&C 132, I agree. The issue, to me, is what profxm suggests, “moral swinging parties” could absolutely be an allowable earthly reality based on D&C 132…and of course, this is THE Law of the Holy Priesthood, which is Eternal and Celestial. It is called Celestial Marriage for a reason.

    Now, what is the point of ‘fidelity’, if you can have sex with dozens of women you are sealed too, and ‘your women’ can have sex with the dozens of men they are sealed to. Or 1,000’s you or they are sealed to?

    My point is that in this ‘marriage system’, there does not appear to be any ‘commitment’ to each other, other than the commitment that everyone is allowed to sleep with everyone, so long as a ‘sealing’ has taken place. It appears, to me, and others, to be a system whereby Joseph could justify his polygamy and the polyandry he introduced (yes, at the point of a sword held by a ticked off angel…under death threats from the God of Love).

    Anyway, I appreciate the thoughts and discussion, from everyone. THANKS.

  13. Seth R. says:

    I always felt there was a certain admirable impulse at the heart of modern polyamorous relationships, however wrongheaded the applications might become in practice.

    For instance, the common male impulse to sleep with many women certainly comes from a baser animal urge to propagate. But I also think it gets mixed up with an actually admirable impulse for intimacy with other people.

    I think “swingers” also have a core impulse of sharing with others and desire for emotional connection with others that is also rather nice.


    Well… you fill in the blanks.

    I think Reformed’s question is at the heart of the problem though. What is fidelity, and why does it matter?

  14. chanson says:

    Re: What is fidelity, and why does it matter?

    Wow, I’m shocked (in an impressed kind of way) that you would ask this. (BTW, I’m glad you’re being a good sport as usual in our discussions… 😉 )

    For myself, I would say that it kind of depends on the temperament of the couple and what they want and expect from their relationship. For example, my husband and I are monogamous, but I don’t have a problem with other people choosing other arrangements for themselves.

  15. Guy Noir Private Eye says:

    Religious / LDS weirdness Department:

    STDs are God’s punishment for fooling around (Don’t you Know!) Married people who are ‘faithful’ to each other CAN’T / Won’t get STDs!!! (cough)
    (stated another perspective) god’s microbs know not to bother/infect married-faithful ppl.

  16. Seth R. says:

    I think that LDS marriage is, in a way, expected to shoot for the ideal of total harmony and unity of purpose between the spouses. It’s only partly about sex really. The idea is that you and your spouse achieve such a perfect oneness that you actually “indwell” within each other. Her thoughts are my thoughts and my thoughts are her thoughts. To an certain small extent, my wife and I already do this, and so do many other couples.

    This extends from the call in the book of Moses for us to enter into “Zion.” As the scripture terms it – the pure in heart, who were of one mind and one purpose. This Zion is expected to be duplicated at the marital level and spouses are called upon to strive toward this ideal.

    Perfect unity of love such that you almost inhabit each other’s brains. A fullness of experience in and through each other.

    Incidentally, this is the same sort of unity often posited to be shared among the Godhead. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit indwell within each other. They invite us also to “become one” even as they are.

    It is not hard to see that such extensions of self to others could be a desirable thing. It’s not just about sex. In fact, I don’t really buy that stuff about Celestial sex producing spirit children. But it is about the connections and how we are called to extend ourselves and reach out.

    Joseph himself kind of saw things this way. He wanted to bind the ENTIRE human family together in bonds of love and commitment. His stuff about Elijah “turning the hearts of the children to the fathers” and vis versa was all about that impulse. He also wanted people to be bound together in covenant relationships, including the marriage covenant. For him, it was a way of bringing the human family together and the temple lies at the center of this quest for connection – both with God and with our fellow spirit brothers and sisters. However much he botched the implementation, and however much you think he corrupted the whole thing, I think his initial impulses were quite admirable.

    Unfortunately, I think he made a hash of it and people suffered for it. Joseph was a dreamer and a visionary, but he wasn’t a very practical man – and it showed in his implementations. It fell to practical-minded Brigham Young to take the bold impulses of Joseph and hammer it into something that people could actually live with.

    Who knows what polygamy would look like today if it hadn’t been on the federal government’s hit-list? I am quite certain it would have evolved into something quite different than what it was in the year 1900. I think for purely practical and mortal reasons, polygamy is a difficult trick to pull off. But I think it’s core founding impulses are solid and I fully expect it to be a part of the order of Heaven.

  17. chanson says:

    Seth — That’s an interesting perspective. I think the common wisdom today is more that this type of psychological merging with one’s spouse is undesirable and that it’s better to make an effort to maintain separate interests, spheres, and identities. I don’t really have an opinion on it either way — I guess it depends on the couple and what they want. I do think it would be very difficult to acheive this level of oneness with someone if that person is simultaneously trying to merge with multiple spouses.

  18. Guy Noir Private Eye says:

    I think that the specter of polygamy appeals to the male ego. I have heard it said that JS displayed a high drive for extra-curricular relationships. I suspect this is somewhat common in high-performing males in our society…
    In ALL things, one cannot ‘prove’ the authenticity ‘truthfulness’ of an after-life or of religion; what we do see is the results/application, ‘on the ground’. On the whole, I doubt there’s much argument that Polygamy & polyandry & polygyny aren’t harmful to society.
    But: most of the peripheral arguments about the LDS topics are specious in the First Place… for Most, they detract from real religion, which is better said by the Dalai Lame than it was ever said by any LDS leader.
    “Compassion is the real essence of religion. ” and
    “Love and kindness are the very basis of society” ‘nuf said?

  19. wry.catcher says:

    I really have a strong negative reaction to the term “polyandry” when we’re talking about JS and mormon history. Yes, in the strictest sense there were women with more than one husband. But I can’t for the life of me pretend it was anything more than polygyny, with the incidental detail that some of the women involved already had a husband.

  20. Who knows what polygamy would look like today if it hadn’t been on the federal government’s hit-list?

    That ABC Primetime program on polygamy a while back seemed to show what the LDS church might look like if it reauthorized polygamy. After watching it I wrote:

    The subjects came across as normal religious folk (if LDS are considered normal 😉 ) with just a slight twist on the traditional American family. I imagine that this would be how the LDS church would look if they reclaimed polygamy, right down to the testimonies of polygamy in testimony meeting and the Young Men/Young Women looking forward fondly to the day when they could marry plurally.

  21. Seth R. says:

    Chanson, oddly enough, that’s the central problem of the trinity – how do you have separate beings and still maintain the sort of holy unity spoken of in the scriptures? It’s the Mormon theology that has attempted to bring individual identity back into the equation. Mainline Christianity seems to almost postulate a spiritual merger with the Borg collective in the afterlife (not an entirely fair description, but it is my reaction).

  22. Guy Noir Private Eye says:


    (“Dalai Lame”) that was a typo, NOT intended as sarcasm….
    Should read Dalai Lama

  23. Wry ~

    I agree with you. That’s exactly how I see it too.

  24. Seth ~

    I think you think that couples are like you describe only within the church. Not so.

    I’ve known many non-Mormon couples who find value in “being as one” like you describe. It’s not unique to Mormonism. It’s unique to couples who value that sort of thing.

  25. Seth R. says:

    Never said that Lisa. I said Mormon THEOLOGY reintroduces the concept that was a touch absent in mainline Christian theology. Never said that about Christian couples.

  26. Hellmut says:

    Seth, the purpose of Mormon polygyny was not to establish parity between men and women but to give church leaders such as Joseph Smith access to the wives of junior members and gentiles.

    If there were equality then Joseph Smith’s wives would have to be free to choose additional mates. D&C 132, however, expressly forbids this.

    If there were equality then other men should have access to Joseph Smith’s mates. D&C 132 expressly forbids reciprocity extending the church’s hierarchy into the domain of sex and intercourse.

    Rather than equality, D&C 132 is about sexual rewards for alpha males. It fulfills the prophesy of Samuel who warned the Israelites not to submit to any king except for God, for a king will disrespect husbands and fathers.

    Liberal democracy is about holding the powerful accountable. That includes sexual accountability, not necessarily in a monogamous puritan sense but leaders are no longer allowed to compel sex.

    When Smith asserted that sexual limitations no longer apply to himself, he must not have been aware that he was striking at the core of liberal democracy as the means of non-violent conflict resolution.

    When the powerful are not constrained to respect other people’s property, bodies and conscience then politics becomes violent. Such conditions undo the foundations of civilization and return us to the law of the jungle. Regicide becomes the only way to bring about a change of government.

    Joseph Smith did not know it but when he dictated D&C 132, he stepped on a path that would lead to his murder. Rather than learning the lessons of America’s founding fathers, his unchecked authority allowed him to bring out the worst in himself.

    That’s not only human nature but also self-destructive.

    To a lesser degree, the logic of unaccountable power drives the self-destructive management of the Grantite church where leaders’ control without accountability to the members is increasingly stressing the LDS Church at the seems.

  27. Hellmut says:

    Reformed Egyptian, thanks for sharing your thoughts about D&C 132. In my opinion, it is inaccurate to refer to the sexual morality of D&C 132 as wife swapping.

    Wife swapping implies an exchange. However, D&C 132 legitimizes taking without giving anything in return.

    The section allows Joseph Smith to intrude on the marriage of other men but forbids his wife to cavort with other men.

    D&C is not about exchange but about privilege.

  28. Seth R. says:

    Hellmut, I don’t think that was the argument Reformed was making. The original post seems to be making the argument that multiple spouses worked both ways.

    I consider Joseph’s primary motives behind these things to be ultimately speculative. The alpha male theory is just as unfounded as any other theory (except that it meets with the preconceptions of certain students of Joseph’s life).

  29. Hellmut says:

    I agree with you, Seth, that the exploration of motives is a tricky business. Fortunately, I can rely on the objective consequences of his actions to sustain my argument.

    The fact of the matter is that Joseph did behave in a way that turned out to be self-destructive.

    From Old Testament prophet Samuel to the founding fathers, Nobel Price winning political economists and primate anthropologists, we have established conclusively that violence becomes inevitable when power is unaccountable and when the mighty can legitimately threaten our lives, property and our families.

    Whatever Joseph Smith may or may not have believed, the fact of the matter is that he behaved like an alpha male chimpanzee and a foolish one at that. Whatever his conscious rationale may have been, in the end, Smith acted in a way that is much better explained by subconscious dynamics than by the will of God.

    Smith’s sex life reflects not only that of alpha male chimpanzees but that of almost every charismatic religious founder. Whenever a new charismatic religion emerges in America, the founders have sex with their followers. Like Joseph Smith, they all invoke the will of god.

    While Joseph Smith’s sex life was scandalous in terms of contemporary morality, it is typical for people like him, i.e. charismatic religious founders. Charismatic religious founders will invoke divine sanction to have sex with their followers.

    It seems to me that Ronan Head’s Jehovah’s Witness rule applies. If we would not condone behavior if it was a Jehovah’s Witness then we should not try to rationalize for Mormons.

    By the way, it’s not just sex. It’s also power. There is no more effective way to assert your spot on top of the pecking order than having sex with the wives and daughters of your supporters.

    That’s the problem with Bushman’s dynastic justification. I actually agree with him. Polygamy was about power but sex and power are not mutually exclusive. Sex, power, and property are essentially intertwined.

    Polygamy is as much about power as it is about sex but one does not exclude the other.

    Be that as it may, ultimately, such behavior is only sustainable if the alpha male is able to violently dominate his flock. In the process, a sexually imposing alpha male becomes less secure himself.

    As Joseph Smith was not sovereign, he did not have enough power to survive that dynamic. Had he taken the lessons of the founding fathers to heart and respected the rights of his followers rather than removing all constraints from himself then Joseph Smith would probably have lived a lot longer.

  30. Seth R. says:

    Joseph Smith was threatened on so many occasions that I have a hard time giving credence to the claim that polygamy was the main reason people wanted to kill him. People already wanted to kill him long before polygamy was even an issue.

  31. Hellmut says:

    Not true, Seth. The first time, his life was threatened for courting a minor even though Smith was already married to Emma Hale.

    I may be mistaken but I think that Todd Compton describes the episode.

    True, there were other incidents, most prominently the collapse of the Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking but the same logic about unlimited power applies.

    When you squander other people’s money because your ill conceived ideas are not subject to scrutiny then people will get angry with you, especially if you have circumvented state law in the process.

  32. Guy Noir Private Eye says:

    With Smith being (thought of as) visionary… why couldn’t / didn’t he see that his whole life & enterprise would end because of poly( )?
    I think it was a stroke of pure luck that BY was able to take over, get the members out to Ew-tah, in spite of the many failures of immigrant groups.
    Makes a terrific story, but it’s plainly
    Luck, pure luck.

  33. HELLMUT:
    Thank you for your deeper insight and meaning…I hadn’t thought deeply about the Alpha-male connection and I’ve not actually done any reading or research onto the sexual behavior of charismatic religious sect/cult leaders, but I intend to.

    I was under the impression that D&C 132:41 specifically gives women the ‘right’ to be with another man sexually, as in ANY man they are ‘sealed to’ (holy anointing).

    Are you suggesting this verse is 100% specific just to Joseph Smith’s wives and that it is not a green light for say, your wife and your male best friend to get sealed to each other, and for you to get sealed to your BF’s wife, allowing you two couples to have a swinging weekend?

    I can’t see in D&C 132 that it’s specific just for Joseph Smith…though I’m not doubting the external behavior of JS’s sexual behavior supports this thinking.

  34. Christy says:

    After reading this initial post, I did a careful reading of section 132 and it appears to me that if a husband and wife are sealed to each other and they permit each other to have sex with other people, then they are within the letter of the law. Verse 41 says that if a wife “be with another man”, and if God had not “appointed unto her by the holy anointing, she hath committed adultery.” It doesn’t state that she has to be appointed unto the OTHER man; she just needs to be “appointed . . . by the holy anointing” to SOMEONE. Verse 42 says the same thing. “If she be not in the new and everlasting covenant, and she be with another man, she has committed adultery.” It appears that as long as she’s in a sealed marriage, she’s permitted to have sex with others. But if her marriage is not sealed in the temple, and she has sex with another man, then she’s committed adultery.

    Verse 43 appears to give the same permissions to the husband. “And if her husband be with another woman, and he was under a vow, he hath broken his vow and hath committed adultery.” Consider the word “vow” here. What if he and his wife made no vow to each other to not have sex with others. What if the husband and wife agree to have sex with others, so they have no such vow in their marraige. Being with “another woman” isn’t enough for it to be adultary. He must also have been “under a vow”. If there’s no vow to his wife, then there is no adultery.

  35. Justin says:

    I know I’m coming into the conversation a bit late — but God ordains all marriages — including polygyny and polyandry.

    A multi-husband/multi-wife marriage system or “Husband and Wife Swapping”, as you call it, is the way God has designed natural human sexual desires — and it is consistent with revelation to Joseph Smith in D&C 132, as you have pointed out.

  36. Christy says:

    I decided to just put it all in a blog so that it’s all out there.

  37. Justin says:


    The only problem with your exchange system is the only difference between fornication [unlawful sexual relations] and marriage [lawful sexual relations] is the idea of a permanent union. God wants men and women to come together and have sex [become one flesh], and He wants them to remain together, continuing to have sex.

    The marriage covenant is a covenant or contract to remain together permanently, as husband and wife, either until death or throughout all eternity. It is the fleeting, temporary nature of fornication that makes it wrong.

    When two people come together and make love, the love demonstrated and generated is intended by God to continue on forever. It is supposed to remain. The marriage bonds keep people connected so that they continue to nurture and grow the love generated between them.

    To come together and make love and then leave [separate from one another] is the same as stop loving [stop becoming one]. God wants us to continue to manifest our love for one another, thru the marital covenants. In this way we learn to become like Him, all-loving and continually loving.

  38. Justin says:

    Oh yeah — I forgot to mention:

    I think most people would be much more open to the idea expressed above where they to realize that marriage without a marriage license is ordained of God — and that the state and the Church are not ordained of God insofar as they enforce monogamy [which forbids further marriages].

  39. Jorge Rodriguez says:

    I think who ever swap his wife is not into Gods believe marriage is a man and a woman , if you want to be come a swinger don’t get married .
    Joseph Smith was a criminal and a child rape ..
    I am not belong to any church just believe in the master of the universe .

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