In Revelation, Resistance, and Mormon Polygamy, historian Merina Smith explores the introduction of polygamy in Nauvoo, a development that unfolded amid scandal and resistance. Smith considers the ideological, historical, and even psychological elements of the process and captures the emotional and cultural detail of this exciting and volatile period in Mormon history. She illuminates the mystery of early adherents' acceptance of such a radical form of marriage in light of their dedication to the accepted monogamous marriage patterns of their day.
When Joseph Smith began to reveal and teach the doctrine of plural marriage in 1841, even stalwart members like Brigham Young were shocked and confused. In this thoughtful study, Smith argues that the secret introduction of plural marriage among the leadership coincided with an evolving public theology that provided a contextualizing religious narrative that persuaded believers to accept the principle.
This fresh interpretation draws on diaries, letters, newspapers, and other primary sources and is especially effective in its use of family narratives. It will be of great interest not only to scholars and the general public interested in Mormon history but in American history, religion, gender and sexuality, and the history of marriage and families.
“Others, including myself, have never adequately explained the emergence of polygamy ideologically. Smith does so brilliantly, meticulously tracing the factors that overcame resistance to the doctrine among the LDS faithful. She made it possible for me to understand my own ancestors' rationale in adopting a way of life that so offended their Victorian sensibilities.” (Janet Bennion, author of Polygamy in Primetime)
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