Introducing the Mormon Renegade’s Wife

Hello, everyone. I am new at this so please bear with me. 

I would like to introduce myself a little for those of you that do not know me. My name is Amber Sanders. My husband, myself, and my sisterwife live in Utah. David and I have been married now for 27½ years. We have 6 children: 2 are married and have their own families, 2 young adult children live at home, and our 2 youngest just turned 17 years old. David was just sealed to Tonya, my sisterwife, in February. 

I was raised in the LDS Church, but was never very active. David was a convert to the LDS Church in June of 1995. We raised our kids in the Church but to this day none of them attend the LDS Church. This is mostly due to the way they were treated by the kids in our ward when they were young. But we did raise our kids to be their own thinkers and not to lean on others for opinions and such. So I am grateful that they are all on the paths that they want to be on for themselves. 

We have lived in many places including Idaho, Maryland, North Dakota, and now Utah. Our journey in Fundamentalism started about 13 or 14 years ago. We have been mostly independent until a couple years ago we joined The Branch.

I work full-time from home for an advocate company helping disabled people with their disability claims. In my spare time I like to make quilts and watch TV crime shows like NCIS, Criminal Minds, and FBI. I also like to spend as much time with my grandkids and kids as possible. Some of my favorite things besides my grandkids would be sitting on the beach and watching the waves and smelling the ocean air; being on a quiet mountainside enjoying the view and the sounds of nature; fall is my favorite season, and yes I do love pumpkins; snowmen (my kids say I have a slight obsession with these); butterflies; and sunflowers. 

My sisterwife Tonya just recently joined our family, and is having neck surgery so she does not work. She and I have been friends for several years. It has been a blessing having her as part of our family finally. And I will go more into this later on. 

My husband, David, is a land surveyor by day and by night most people would know him as the Mormon Renegade.  He has been a Surveyor for 25+ years now. He started his podcast around a year ago I guess, and it just keeps getting bigger all the time. He is working on some new stuff so if you follow him stay tuned for a new look coming soon. He talks about anything from religion, politics, to even one on weightlifting I believe. But mostly religious topics and secondly politics. 

I would like to talk about plural marriage in today’s society and a little on how we live it and our experience with it.

With my husband’s podcast we hear things from listeners and get questions such as:

  • How can you live this life?
  • How does your household work?
  • How do your wives deal with jealousy issues?
  • What are some benefits (outside of your religious beliefs) to living plural marriage?

I will answer a few of the more family-oriented questions and ones that can be a bit more personal.

To start out, I am not a huge scripture person: I am not one that can spout off a scripture or tell you who said a certain comment.  But I do know the things that are taught are the true gospel and I do have a strong testimony of Celestial or Plural Marriage.

David and I were in a plural marriage years ago for a few years that did not work out. We were not part of any group; we were independents at the time. I do not and will not talk about that relationship.  But that is when we were first introduced to the thought of plural marriage. 

Just a brief explanation on how it first came about. It was actually myself that had brought this up to David. I was reading Doctrine & Covenants 132 and then the Manifesto, and as I went over these I had a question for David. This ended up turning into David doing more of a deep dive into the Principle of plural marriage and more studying. We talked about it and prayed about it and both came to the conclusion that we were to be living plural marriage. Out of our control, that marriage did not last. 

For the next several years David and I talked to many different fundamentalists and groups, and in the meantime we continued attending the LDS Church. We always felt like something was missing within our family and with the gospel. 

After joining The Branch about a year and a half ago, the missing gospel piece has seemed to be filled. In October we were reunited with Tonya, whom we have known for around ten years.

When I first met Tonya several years ago, she and I connected in a very spiritual way. This is the best way I can describe it, but unfortunately the timing of things was not right. I knew back then that someday she would join my family. I didn’t know when or how but I knew someday she would. 

Over the years we have kept in touch. She would keep us updated on events in her life, or would just reach out to say thanks for being there when she needed a friend. She had let David know she went through the LDS temple not too long ago and again thanked us for all we had done and taught her about the gospel. 

Then she heard David’s podcast and she reached out in October to let him know she had heard it and really liked it and just wanted to catch up. Well, the rest is history: she is now part of our family and I couldn’t be happier.

Now, living plural marriage isn’t for everyone, and not all will be called to live it. But I know and have testimony that we have been called to live this principle.

For every family, how their family lives is all different. In some families, the wives will each have their own homes within the same areas, and in some, they will live in the same house. This all depends on the couples and also the resources they have.

For myself, I have always felt a strong sense of wanting my family to all be together under one roof. We are lucky enough to have a home at this time that accommodates that. We each have our own bedrooms and share the rest of the house.

I feel it is important to be able to be friends with your sisterwife. And I am again lucky to have that with Tonya. We were able to bond all those years ago and have been able to strengthen that bond over the last several months.

I feel it is important that we can learn from each other. Where Tonya has not been in a family situation like ours before, there are things that I have been able to teach her and work on together with her for our home. These moments are not only important teaching moments but precious moments to cherish.

People ask about jealousy issues.  This is a hard one because if you say there is never any jealousy you are not only lying to yourself but to your loved ones. But I will say that when you know that you are living in a plural marriage because you have been called to do so by God, the sting is less hurtful. I think one of the best things that has helped us thus far is to always let each other know how we are feeling. Or if we have an issue with something, to not hold it in and fester on it, but to talk to one another about it so the issue can be worked out. And most of the time it ends up being a simple fix or misunderstanding of some sort. So I would have to say just like that line of communication is important with your Heavenly Father, It is also important with your spouse and sisterwife.

What are some benefits (outside of your religious beliefs) to plural marriage? On this, I would have to say, the friendship that you build with your sisterwife is one of the biggest for me. Not all that live it are able to have this. I am so grateful that I have a strong friendship with my sisterwife.

Others are things like strengthening the family. I do believe that plural marriage should only be lived for religious beliefs. Anything outside of that is not of God and if it is not being lived for the correct purposes then it is not right.

The last question and the most important one: How can you live this lifestyle? I have touched on this some already. But to sum it up, we have been commanded to live in plural marriage. In Doctrine & Covenants 132 God gives us this commandment and explains the law to us. Although some people believe that we are no longer to live it, I stand to believe that we have a never-changing God. He will not command us one day to do one thing then turn around the next and tell us something different. He is a steady and never-changing Being. 

I bear testimony that if we follow these commandments and are called to live this law, that we can be happy in our choices and that we can all learn to love our sisterwives and each other. I bear testimony that I know the Law of Celestial Marriage is correct and I am glad I have the opportunity to live it.

Jason tells his story

I grew up in Los Angeles, California during the seventies and eighties. It was a wonderful time to be there. I could not have asked for a better childhood, even with the trials, struggles, triumphs, and successes. At 16 years of age, my father taught me about Isaiah 4:1. That was my first thought of plural marriage.

I served an LDS mission at age 19 in Cleveland, Ohio. I left the West for the first time in my life and went to the Midwest to teach about Jesus Christ and the restored Gospel.

My parents moved the family to Salt Lake County in Utah in the early nineties, and I left behind my first life, starting the second life. I was ready for a new adventure but missed the world I once knew. I was always excited for grass, dirt, trees, and nature. Utah provided that for me when we first moved.

I was ready to start a life and went to school and worked. By the age of twenty-one, I was dating a girl, ready to marry her. In 1993, we were married in the Jordan River LDS Temple for time and all eternity. I was excited for that part of my life. I knew there would be speed bumps and trials that I would face, but we would face them together and succeed.

(I will not go into the struggles that we faced; that is between her and I.)

In 2011, we were living in West Jordan, Utah and a woman called me. I was a deputy with the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office. She called me because of a law enforcement issue, which turned into a life changing incident the next day. After talking with my wife, we decided to offer her a place to stay while she went through her divorce and found safety. My wife and I both had known her for over a decade, and we felt strongly about providing for her, even for a brief time.

After a few months, I helped a friend move to Northwest Missouri. He had forty acres of land and offered to sell me ten acres for a small price. I thought it was an amazing deal and when I got home, I looked at the prices of land. Shortly after, we, as a family decided to go out to Missouri to look at land and see if we could make a purchase. Prices of homes were going up in Utah and we had lost two homes already due to the low income of law enforcement.

The first property we looked at, we bought. After a quick turnaround, we moved to Missouri and the woman living with us, Melanie, decided to move with us to Missouri. This was the end of my second life and the start of my third. Utah life taught me good things, but also showed me that I could not progress anymore if I stayed.

By this time, we were looking into plural marriage and what it entailed. My first wife was good with having Melanie live with us and do things with us, if there were no relations between her and I. Then the LDS Church came after us for living polygamy. We were questioned, to the point of harassment. We had to give up our temple recommends unless I made Melanie leave our home.

I chose Melanie over the LDS Church, my wife did not. She chose to stay with the church and its beliefs. We divorced in 2014 and I married Melanie. I desired to continue living plural marriage. Melanie was unsure as she was hurt by the previous relationship and saw the pains I went through.

In 2016, we met new friends, and one of them was Tracy, a single mother with older children. Tracy and Melanie became friends and Tracy was impressed by the way that I treated Melanie, especially while they watched Melanie’s pregnancy with our daughter. Soon Tracy decided to join our family after I talked to her about plural marriage. Tracy had concerns from previous relationships and issues from her personal life.

In 2020, I had been looking for a third wife, someone who I felt was missing in our home. I had a mental picture of her, but it was blurry in my mind. I was going through Facebook profiles, searching for someone, not knowing who she was. One day, I found a woman, whose last name was familiar, but she did not look familiar. I sent her a DM and she responded. After talking, I decided to get off Facebook permanently. I offered her to contact me via cell phone texting but thought it would not happen. When I received a message from Stephanie, I was elated and there started our relationship. Stephanie joined our family that year and moved from Utah to our farm in Missouri.

We have had tough times and many wonderful, exciting experiences. I am currently a deputy with the local sheriff’s office. I have been in law enforcement for 26 years: 15 years in Utah and 11 years in Missouri. In 2022, I was contacted by a Missouri Highway Patrol detective who said they were notified about an officer living bigamy. After interviewing Stephanie, then me, then Melanie, they took their information and wrote a report.

The Prosecutor decided that the charges did not apply, and nothing was filed through the courts. (I may speak more about this incident another time.)

I have found that the story I share is much like others who are trying to live plural marriage. There are trials, but that is the fire that bonds us together. If there are no trials, I dare say there is no bonding. We learn to live with others and their habits that are not familiar, or that bother us, or confuse us. We learn to be patient when others talk loudly, or quietly. We learn to eat differently, shop differently, and celebrate life differently.

I do not recommend living plural marriage to anyone unless they are willing and ready to go through the fire. It is hard to bond with someone and have them leave. It is hard to share intimate thoughts, feelings, and touches, only to have them turn negative when there is a split. I do not hate my ex-wife. I just wish we could get along, especially since a child is still involved. I cherish my emotionally tough experiences; I just wish it would be understood that I love despite the pains felt. Sometimes I must pay a price for what another man has done to my women. But I get to pay the price to heal, whereas that man is not able to see growth and progress. To see my women take such a new view on life, a freedom from sin and sorrow, brings me joy and happiness and makes it all worth it. I love each woman differently and I love them no less than the other.

God did not call me to live plural marriage, I was given a choice. I saw what I wanted and where I wanted to go. I saw that in order to get there, I would have to choose this path. So, I did.