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Very Interesting! What I find most compelling, is the narrative generally given surrounding pologamy in the church seems to fall apart when stories like this are relayed…that it was a method to care for the single and widowed women of the church (I recognize that is only a single apologetic response commonly told by members such as I that don’t/didn’t know any better)
The question in my mind, and as I reflected on this episode, is why were the 12-13-14 year olds the ones being given and taken by the priesthood of the church? All while the older women felt compelled to give those same daughters as a possible means for their own care – ie able to live with the son-in-law.
Also, it is slightly bothersome that if I were to retell this story to a TBM, it would be summarily dismissed. Heaven forbid a story such as this is retold in SS or priesthood.
Anyway, look forward to learning more. Thanks
I’m glad that you found it interesting! What I have thought about recently regarding the age, is the fact that in frontier Utah, there is nothing more for you when you turn 12-14. You are just a mouth to feed.
So, you become a tool. Someone to have kids and take care of kids and the house. You aren’t marrying for love, you are marrying to fulfill a role.
I am trying to find more documentation on that and whether or not that was taught.
My grandma was 14 when she married by grandpa (24). This was in 1920. They had 11 kids. This was quite normal in Southern Italy at the time.
Data for Italy in the 1920’s was the median age was 27 for Men and 23 for Women. Italy even made it more expensive if you were single by having a Bachelor’s tax and the tax would double after they turned 30.
Even then, the age difference from 14 to 24 isn’t as shocking as 14 to 50.
When your Mom is only 3 years older than your Husband…
As the host of MHP has pointed out age 24 marrying a 14 year old in one country can be and is entirely different than a 60 year old marrying a 15 year old in another country. Our brains want so bad to defend our faith that we reach for any similarity we can find but critical thought imposes that we make space to be wrong as well and to hear others views. Can you even make a space that 24 and 14 in france is not 60 and 15 in America or 37 with your 15 year old foster daughter (Lucy Walker and Joseph Smith)?
The point is it was not considered abnormal for a young teenage girl to marry a grown man in southern Italy a hundred years ago.
Women can legally marry at 16 in some states. What’s the difference between her marrying a 26 year old man or 46 or 56 year old man, apart from the fact the older man is likely to be in a position to take better care of her.
Mormon Utah culture is so completely obsessed with age and stratifying and categorizing people into age groups. I rarely meet men 10-15 years older than their wives. In Europe and the UK you see that a lot more. Nobody cares.
a 50 year old and a 15 year old married would raise eyebrows in any modern society, 1830 American frontier included
But who decides how and where to draw the line? If we disregard religion, socially constructed morals etc, and let evolution and biology be our only guide, then a woman should be having sex as soon as she is biologically able to. That’s what happens in the rest of the animal kingdom.
Once you understand the hundreds of thousands of years of human history and what other lenses to see such through and also seeing that world progress is real and often the Church lags behind, but does eventually get there and lastly recognizing the ultimate authority is the godly within me then I make the best personal decision I can until new information shows up. I rarely take the Church’s view as correct simply because they say so… their track record on absolute truth when they declare absolutely is frankly extremely poor. I have a better track record than Mormonism on world issues so I trust myself more.
Unless I misunderstood the things I’ve read, polygamist wives were NOT taken care of–they were made to work and work HARD, some to the point of even death.
Brigham Young was notorious for that. I’ve read more than one account of this being the case.