Mormon Polygamy

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Polygamy in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (FLDS) allegedly began in 1831 (Bennion 2011:23?). Mormon fundamentalists subscribe to the line of Mormon theology which was founded by Joseph Smith (Bennion 2011:23). It includes traditional gender role beliefs, religious communalism, and polygamy. However, many “mainstream Mormons” aspire to distance themselves from polygamy. In North America alone, polygamy is practiced by between 38,000 and 60,00 persons, despite its illegality in all 50 states and the District of Columbia (Bennion 2011:23). Functionalists—who define religion such that it is a set of symbols which conjure pervasive, stringent, and lingering moods and motivations because they are able to create …show more content…
This may have to do with the belief that a man must have plural wives if he is to acquire the highest form of salvation—typically, the minimum number of wives is three. The average number of wives for each FLDS man is 3.5, and an average of eight children per wife, in which case their marriage quota is considered successful. Fundamentalists think of polygamy (also known as “the Principle,” Or Celestial Marriage) as an answer to the evils within modern society, such as rising rates of single motherhood and divorce, among other things (Bennion 2011:63). As a result, plural marriages are viewed as a matter of faith and principle—instead of law—that is ordained by God for the salvation of humans (Bennion 2011:64). Whatever suffering or inconveniences women face as a result of polygamous communities or relationships is necessary to acquire the eternal reward: ”a kingdom of her own where she reigns as queen” (Bennion 2011:64). These beliefs help to reinforce social unity and stability, such that it further validates plural marriages and adds a motivation for people to work hard to reach salvation. Additionally, it adds an element of social control—if a woman were to deny becoming a sister-wife, she would also be denying herself this eternal

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