Coming Out to My Family (My Cousin)

Telling your LDS family and friends that you are a polygamist is a surprisingly difficult thing to do.  In general, I would say that the drama and push-back related to people outside our family has made more difficulties than any of the problems within our family.  I’m not saying our family is perfect, none is.  Nevertheless, this (more difficulty related to outside problems than inside) has been our experience.  I will also say, for the benefit of anyone else in our position:

You do not need to let outside problems become inside problems!

That is to say, you do not need to let problems external to your marriage(s) and family work themselves into problems internal to your marriage(s) and family. Just don’t let them in.  If you can stick together (cleave), and not let outside problems get in between you, your marriage will be strong enough to overcome anything that may come your way. Alas, this is sometimes easier said than done, and frail humans as we are, we sometimes like to shoot ourselves with bullets others give us.

All that being said, there has been a mixture of responses; including some positive, some neural, some negative, and some criminal. Here is one exchange that was somewhat mild. We met in person with many of our close family members, then I sent out an email to the larger extended family.  One of my cousins, Kelly, was serving on a mission for the LDS Church at the time (my email was forwarded to her by her sister) and this is her response to my announcement:

Subject: Hello Josh

To: **********

Date: Tuesday, July 5, 2016, 4:16 PM

Hello Josh

So I just read an email that Jamie sent me. I am not going to lie, I was disappointed when I read the email about how you now are in a plural marriage. I had no idea that this even happened. It was a very big shock. I just wanted to say that I don’t agree with it. The Church does not practice this, nor has any reason to practice this anymore. I also wanted to say that I still love you. I am grateful that you are my cousin and I will always love you.

Love Sister Kelly ********

Here is my response to her:

Hello Kelly,

The Church does not practice or preach A LOT of things anymore that it used to. That is what the Church is prophesied to do in the Book of Mormon – and so, everything is as it should be (isn’t God amazing?!). As far as not having any reason to practice it anymore, there are many leaders of the Church who have disagreed with you, and have taught that the practice would be restored to the church in the future. I am not claiming that the time has come for that, I only point out that your point of view is in disagreement with many leaders of the Church (which I think is great!).

In fact, I also have some points of view that are in disagreement with the leaders of the Church. You might be surprised to know that I believe it was a mistake that the Church ever practised plural marriage at all, LOL! Many, many, many sections of the D&C are addressed to the “church”, but Section 132 is not (it would take a long time to explain why, so I won’t take the time here).

Of course, I am already well aware that the Church no longer practices it. I am glad that you realize this as well. In a remarkable twist of roles, the Church has become the persecutor of those who keep this practice (it is amazing how quickly we forget history – and how quickly we become intolerant of others who do the same things we used to do, just a few generations ago). We (as a church) pleaded for tolerance in the late 1800s, but refuse to grant it now to others (Jesus gave parables about that sort of behavior – Matthew 18:21-35).

If you have read my email, you should know that I am also aware that the Church disapproves of the practice. Of course, our actions are not about pleasing the Church, but rather about pleasing God. I realize that you will not agree with that, and I respect your right to believe that pleasing the Church is identical to pleasing God.

I’m sorry you are disappointed, but I’m also not surprised. Fortunately, the decision had absolutely nothing to do with you, and should not affect your life in any tangible way.

Thanks for letting me know that you still love me. I still love you too.

Shalom,

Joshua

After some initial awkwardness when she returned home, my cousin and I (including all the rest of my family) are on good terms now.

Advice for a future/current second wife (from a first wife)

I was chatting with one of my readers who is being courted as a potential second wife. My conversation with her brought up some things I felt I needed to share. Consider it advice if you want to, but I have such a big beam in my own eye that I wouldn’t dare correct anyone. I’m just sharing some thoughts.

First off, I don’t see why it’s ever a good idea to criticize your (potential) husband’s current/first wife. She has made it just fine this far successfully without you, and she doesn’t need you to waltz in to her life and start telling her how she should and shouldn’t behave. The possibility of living plural marriage will bring plenty of things to her awareness that she needs to fix about herself without you pointing them out directly, trust me. If you do see something that you can’t bear to just leave alone, tell your (potential) husband and leave it to him to handle.

The above advice applies to first wives as well. Your (potential) sisterwife is an adult who has long ago moved out of her parents’ home and isn’t looking for another mother. Just focus on improving yourself and your own children. When things come up that need to be addressed, either trust your sisterwife to figure it out on her own or bring things up with your husband.

Come to think of it, this advice applies even more broadly than merely sisterwives.

Think about how difficult it is to change yourself. Consider how often you fail to follow your own sage advice.

If your experience is anything like mine, upon reflection, you’ll realize how overwhelmingly improbable it is that you will ever succeed in changing another person.