In this essay I talk about the persistence of polygamy (plural marriage) in the faith of my childhood and the tradition of my choice: Mormonism.
Polygamy reigned on both sides of my family during the 19th Century when founding prophet Joseph Smith Jr. instigated the practice in the Mississippi River town of Nauvoo, Illinois. Despite multiple efforts to divorce itself from the practice, the LDS Church is still haunted by the hold of polygamy which continues among those in the Mormon movement.
So does “lying for the Lord,” the imperative that my ancestors were given to hide this peculiar practice of “spiritual wifery” from the law of the land. My argument in this essay is that this kind of mendacity continues in the current LDS population which regularly protects the institutional church above all else–even (and especially) if they have to lie to themselves.
“IN 1988, I wasn’t sure I liked having a
wife, and I hardly wanted another one.
So I don’t think it was because I lusted
after more conjugal living that, during a
stand-off that year between law-enforcement officials and Utah polygamists, I found myself quietly rooting for the guy with more than one wife.”