“One’s a plenty, two’s a crowd,
Three on the sidewalk
Is not allowed.”
But have you noticed in “Big Love”
They may be doing it behind your back …
Or behind closed doors?
Step on a crack,
Then try to keep track!
I mentioned, in previous blogs, Ma raised me to believe I would go to hell if I didn’t live polygamy. Yet, she didn’t practice what she preached: She never lived Plural Marriage during her twenty-two years with Father.*
I resent the duplicity: She incessantly preached “The Principle,” maneuvering her children and others into polygamy as if she were a Priestess, the “BIG-love” example … an experienced authority on the subject of “BIGamy” — Though living that “Sacred Principle” was something she couldn’t do herself — At least not while she had her own man.*
Maybe she felt she could vindicate herself for not having lived polygyny – for not having let Daddy have other wives – by getting everybody else to share their husbands, instead; i.e., live “The Celestial Law of Marriage.”
How I remember her ranting on regularly about Plural Marriage, all the while I was growing up … talking on and on about how great “The principle of Celestial Marriage” was!
Then, she’d exuberantly go on about the dream she had wherein God showed her “How wonderful and glorious polygamy is when lived correctly.” (I believe she got off on the power of pushing “The Principle.”)
Pushing Plural Marriage as though she were the prime example of how to live it, is only one way she was dishonest with herself and others as she manipulated peoples’ lives and marriages.
She heartlessly directed others to live P.M., under dire threat of damnation if they did not — as if she, herself, were carrying out the 132nd sec. of The Doctrine and Covenants, Joseph Smith’s revelation to live plural marriage or be damned to hell in the hereafter!
(It didn’t matter that it would damn you to hell in this life if you entered into polygamy. Only the afterlife mattered! And Mormon fundamentalists were nothing if not living for the hereafter.)
Mother’s greatest downfall was not being honest with herself and others about who she was. She lived in a fantasy world, believing her own tales; e.g., that she was so perfect she had her “Calling and Election” made sure.
In other words, Mother was basically telling people she, herself, got to sidestep Joe Smith’s commandment to live polygamy or be damned!
Yeah, she was going to the highest degree of glory without having to live “The Law of Plural Marriage” — at least not when it really mattered; i.e., during her long marriage with Father, which ended only by his death at age seventy!!
Despite her “Missing in Action”/ MIA, she was putting many cult followers under her spell using scare tactics like threatening them with hell if they didn’t live bigamy!!
She used Joseph Smith’s and Brigham Young’s scary “revelations” to back her up. Since she was the sister of self-proclaimed Prophets, Joel and Ervil, naïve followers believed she, herself, was in direct contact with God!
But, again, she never could do what she told others to do: Share her husband with other women. She really needed Daddy’s favors all to herself. I understand. Who wouldn’t?
She was raised in a huge family where attention was scarce. Time, affection, and love from significant others even scarcer. So having Father’s love, admiration, and undivided attention was required by this rather insecure, immature woman.
It partially explains her not being able to share Daddy with a bunch of other women and their hordes of kids. I just wish she could have faced up to the veracity that she was not sharing Daddy with other wives. But Mumsy didn’t live in reality.
The high road would have been to accept herself as she was, warts, worms, and all. But there was power in Mum’s pretense of perfection … that she was the supreme example of how to live polygamy and Mormon fundamentalism … She who was “blessed above all others.”
Actually, it was a smoke-screen for who and what she really was. But it’s amazing how many people in the fundamentalist LeBaron cult fell for her soap bubbles, smoke signals … the whole ball of wax … as it rolled down the hill!
Living in a fantasy world was far more fun than living in the real world. Was living in a dream world how Mama survived Mormon fundamentalism?
*Note: Please keep in mind: Throughout my blogs and Memoirs, I am talking only about the years I knew Mother. Everybody changes as they age. I had no contact with her the last few years of her life before she became riddled with dementia, then died at ninety-two.
So I’ll cut her some slack and say that she must’ve been doing something right, or she wouldn’t have had so many people who loved her, looked up to her till the end, and still have fond memories of her.
*I know of at least six different times wherein Mother courted married men she was interested in.
One of those men was Rulon Jeffs, Warren Jeffs’ father — before she chose to marry Daddy, as his plural wife, instead … But she was a plural wife only six months before Daddy’s first wife left him due to his becoming a polygamist.
- (Continued Sept. 1, 2017, 2017: “My Memoir Backstory: My Mother, Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer — Part 19″)
*The following Brigham Young sermon is a perfect example of some of the stuff Mother preached in order to get people to live polygamy. And it’s a perfect example of where she got her Mormon fundamentalist doctrine and authority, too:
(Sermon by Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 4., pp. 55-57; also printed in Deseret News, Vol. 6, pp. 235-236):
“I wish my women, and brother Kimball’s and brother Grant’s to leave, and every woman in this Territory, or else say in their hearts that they will embrace the Gospel — the whole of it….say to your wives, ‘Take all that I have and be set at liberty; but if you stay with me you shall comply with the law of God, and that too without any murmuring and whining.
You must fulfill the law of God in every respect, and round up your shoulders to walk up to the mark without any grunting. Now recollect that two weeks from to morrow I am going to set you at liberty.
But the first wife will say, ‘It is hard, for I have lived with my husband twenty years, or thirty, and have raised a family of children for him, and it is a great trial to me for him to have more women;’ then I say it is time that you gave him up to other women who will bear children.
If * wife had borne me all the children that she ever would bare, the celestial law would teach me to take young women that would have children….
Sisters, I am not joking, I do not throw out my proposition to banter your feelings, to see whether you will leave your husbands, all or any of you. But I know that there is no cessation to the everlasting whining of many of the women in this territory; I am satisfied that this is the case.
And if the women will turn from the commandments of God and continue to despise the order of heaven, I will pray that the curse of the Almighty may be close to their heels and that it may be following them all the day long….
(Sermon by Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 4., pp. 55-57; also printed in Deseret News, Vol. 6, pp. 235-236)
Comments from Mormon Think: Obviously Brigham was motivated to give this speech because the women were not happy with polygamy.
From searching records and reading various published stories from faithful polygamous wives, we have found many women that were very upset practicing LDS polygamy and not one account of a truly happily married polygamous woman from the 1800s but obviously, there must be some.
A few quotes from polygamous wives:
“Here was my husband,” she said, “gray headed, taking to his bed young girls in mockery of marriage. Of course, there could be no joy for him in such an intercourse except the indulgence of his fanaticism and of something else, perhaps, which I hesitate to mention.”
-Sarah Pratt speaking of her husband, the apostle Orson Pratt who dated a 16-year-old girl (and then married her) when he was 57. (Van Wagoner 1986, pp. 92)
“God will be very cruel if he does not give us poor women adequate compensation for the trials we have endured in polygamy.”
–Mary Ann Angell Young, Brigham Young’s second wife
“I would never have been sealed to Joseph had I known it was anything more than ceremony. I was young, and they deceived me, by saying the salvation of our whole family depended on it.”
-Helen Mar Kimball, Mormon Polygamy: A History, p. 53
Check out Mormon Think for more sources on polygamy and other LDS history.