Coming Out to My Family (My Aunt)

Below I have a copy of the message I sent out to my extended family when we announced our plural marriage. One of the problems with people’s reactions (and this is a fairly neutral problem on the positive-negative spectrum of reactions) to discovering our family structure is a failure to recognize it at all.

There may certainly be different reasons for this response; for example, they simply may not know what to say (out of shock or ignorance). Charlotte’s brother was in this camp. When she told him that I had taken another wife, he did not know whether to say “congratulations” or to offer to help her escape her abusive situation. Finding himself in this position, he said the most beautiful and sensible thing possible. Paraphrasing, he said:

“You tell me how to feel about it. I will feel the same way you do.”

Another possibility is that they fail to acknowledge the change due to force of habit. I think this happened quite a bit. After all, Charlotte and I were married for 11 years before Melissa joined our family. That’s a while to get used to saying, “Joshua & Charlotte” whenever a friend or relative was referring to my family. While this may not be intentionally rude, it can certainly be unthinking.

A final possibility is that they fail to acknowledge the change because they outright reject it. They are disgusted, repulsed, or saddened by it.

I’m not sure which category (as far as reasons go) this falls into, but my aunt had this sort of failure to recognize reaction when I made the announcement to my family. Here is the email I sent (this is the message I mentioned in my earlier post):

Jun 27, 2016, at 8:58 PM,
Dear Family,

The time has come to make an announcement about my plural marriage.  Some of you already know about this, and to some of you this will be news.  Rather than making individual visits to everyone, I’ve decided this venue would be the easiest way to get the word out.  Please feel free to send this along to family members who are not on this list.

You’ve probably got questions, so I’ll try to briefly answer a few of the big ones.  Yes, I am still married to Charlotte.  Yes, our marriage is happy (please feel free to call her about it: 801-***-****).  Yes, our kids are doing great!  Yes, there have been many difficulties and adjustments that have been made (and continue to be made).  Yes, my siblings all know about it, and they have been great – you can ask them questions if you like (you will probably get different
answers from each of them, LOL).  We entered into plural marriage a little more than three years ago when I married Melissa (some of you have met her already – some have not).  Yes, I love her (and Charlotte and the kids do also).  Yes, we are aware that it is a felony (and we find ourselves in good company with others who have also suffered for the sake of their religion).  No, we have not joined another Church.  Yes, we are aware that the LDS Church frowns upon it (and they already know about it).  Can’t believe it?  I know, and I don’t blame you.  I wouldn’t believe it either, were I not in my own shoes.

Why am I making this announcement now and not earlier?  I can only answer that we were not ready earlier.  It has been a long process of adjustment for ourselves, and for those we have told earlier.  For those of you who found out the news from other’s lips, and not my own, I apologize.  I would have preferred the news to be spread by us, but that is extremely difficult to achieve in this world.  Please take no offense.  The delay has had much more to do with us than with you.

We love you all, and wish you all many blessings.


To which my aunt replied:

July 1, 2016, at 4:39 PM

Josh and Charlotte–we love you and miss seeing you! Come to family stuff, ok? 

To which I replied:

Jul 4, 2016 1:43:52 AM

We will. But it won’t just be Charlotte and me 🙂 That’s why I made the announcement, you see?


Overall things have gotten better with our friends and family, and this is true for several reasons. Some of them have come around once they saw that we are not crazy, cultish, abusive, or weirdos (altho we are certainly not mainstream, we can pass for “normal”, haha). Plus, they can see that we are stable and committed, and that “this” is not going away. Other situations have gotten better because of lack of association. Some unhealthy relationships have simply been withered or pruned away, and this is alright because they have been replaced by better associations.

If you ever find yourself in my relative’s position, my brother-in-law’s response was the best. Don’t be unthinking, but rather acknowledge the change, otherwise it can come across as rude. If you are disapproving, it is probably best to keep it to yourself – since it does not involve your life nor your decisions. However, if you are disapproving and cannot keep it to yourself, go ahead and express your disapproval – whatever form that may take (worry, warning, scorn, etc.) – it is your right to do so. Nevertheless, speak your piece, and then hold your peace. Say it once and then shut up about it and get over it – if you want to keep relationships that is.

Sampson slew a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of an ass (Judges 15:14-16), and everyday there are thousands of relationships destroyed with the same weapon…You don’t have to say everything that is on your mind.

The Marriage of God

Some months ago I had the opportunity to speak to a small audience. The subject I decided to speak on was the Marriage of Christ and the church, also called the Marriage of the Lamb. I posted the paper associated with my talk below. I hope you will enjoy it, and find it useful. In it I discuss this most important of all marriages from a scriptural perspective and the light that it throws on the atonement of Jesus Christ (or Yeshua Messiah).

I was participating in an online forum where various theories of the atonement were being discussed. The discussion was vigorous and interesting and was continuing much longer than typical discussion threads. I offered the following theory: that the Atonement is about restoring us to our marriage with God. Here is the summary (which I posted in the discussion thread):

We were married to God at Sinai. Then we played the harlot. He tried to convince us to return, but we didn’t. Eventually he divorced us. He still hoped we would come back, but we kept playing the harlot.

After this point, the Law, which he gave, forbade him from taking us back as his wife (see Deuteronomy 24:1-4). Ah, but the Law about marriage only applies to a wife while her husband is alive! Once her husband is dead, she is no longer an adulterer. And, what is more, if her husband comes back to life, then she is free to marry him again, and he is free to take her – he is a new man! (see Romans 7:1-3)

We are very impressed that he would do that to get us back.

So, we are still not married, but we are betrothed (engaged). We are waiting for the groom to come and take us as his wife – to consummate the covenant we have made. We want to know him and he wants to know us.

This idea was received eagerly. Many people had never heard about the Atonement in these terms (they were more familiar with the ideas of Penal Substitution, Ransom Theory, Christus Victor, etc.). Due to the response I received, I posted the same paper as below, which more fully explains this concept of the Atonement, and also why this explanation is relatively unknown (because it flies in the face of Replacement Theology). However, I was a little nervous since this paper takes the scriptural view of marriage, and this discussion group generally considers polygamy to be “the doctrine of devils”. If you are reading this blog you can probably see how these viewpoints will be at odds. However, this paper is not about polygamy per se, so I thought it wouldn’t generate too much controversy.

After a few people read the paper there were more questions generated, generally insightful. Among them was the following:

You touched on how the woman’s marital status is all that matters when determining adultery. Any insights into why that’s important?

I have written a blog post about this topic here, but thought carefully about my response. In the end, I opted to keep it in terms of God and his marriage practices. My response was:

After some thinking of how to answer your last question about adultery and the marital status of the woman, I will say that if the Lord is the husband (or the betrothed) of Israel, then it is adultery on our part to go whoring after other gods. However, it is not adultery on his part if he goes seeking after other nations. He has other sheep in other folds (John 10:16, 3 Nephi 15:11-24), and he is their God also.

It is of note that the heathen gods are limited to one land and one people (the Bible makes mention of this concept repeatedly), but not so with our God. He is the King of kings, Lord of lords, and the ruler of the whole world. Indeed, he has worlds without number (Moses 1:33).

There was no response, and this was the final comment on that thread.