Responding to Michelle Stone’s Anti Plural Marriage Lectures on her “132 Problems” Lecture series on YouTube.
I listened to this 29-lecture series and was shocked to hear such a bold take against the teachings of the church, and will here point out some key concerns to beware of if you’re wondering about this series.
I know Michelle is a great person and I’ve enjoyed her homeschool advocacy lectures and she loves her family, but I feel she is off on this issue.
I will applaud Michelle in that we should never blindly obey. Some say if church leader tells you to walk off a cliff to do it and you’ll go to heaven, but Brigham says those who can’t think for themselves wouldn’t be able to handle being a God. So she gets this point right, but she takes it way to far in that she throws out much of what the church teaches, and discredits the names of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and many other “noble and great” leaders of the kingdom of God from the beginning.
Michelle advocates that D&C 132 on plural marriage as a higher law is not actually scripture or doctrine. She believes any plural marriage is evil and not of God.
It’s disturbing how these lectures rely on the Bible and don’t allow for modern revelation, which is what our church is all about. We know the Bible is corrupted and doesn’t have the fullness of the gospel. Please allow for Joseph to get revelation and information not contained in the bible. Joseph is the great dispensation head. He was prophecies of from the beginning of time to be a restorer of things which were lost. We have extensive evidence of Joseph being who started plural marriage in this dispensation.
It is claimed that Jacob 2 says those who use plural marriage in the US will be smitten, despite that same chapter saying it’s allowed at times.
She says plural marriage was Brigham not Joseph, but overwhelming evidence shows Joseph was who started this. The RLDS Church tried to say it wasn’t Joseph, but eventually had to give up on that narrative due to overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
She says Brigham was wrong in this but still a prophet, but if it is an evil comparable to adultery, which the same Book of Mormon says people would be thrust to hell for, why would God use a hell bound sinner to lead his holy church by revelation? Clearly God was ok with what they did. Prophets are God’s “noble and great ones” who he made his leaders, and time and again, they practice plural marriage.
As for concubines yes that seems bad, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it, and people could have opted for that role in pre-mortality, wanting to be near mighty ones to learn to emulate them. And the bible condemns masters who treat servants harshly. And yes the seed of Ishmael was covenant seed and blessed. And we don’t have the whole story about why people treated others the way they did, for example, apocrypha says Ishmael almost killed baby Isaac, and we don’t know how harshly Hagar may have been treating Abraham.
She equates Warren Jeffs polygamy with prophetic polygamy, when obviously Jeffs did a wicked version of polygamy. There are always bad guys to try and make Gods ways look bad, including Bible scribes who downplayed plural marriage when it didn’t fit their tradition.
Michelle doesn’t believe scriptures need to be literal.
She believes God never destroys, only creates, something obviously false as seen in all voles of scripture. He doesn’t delight in destroying, but destroy he will when he must. She isn’t the first to claim that God only blesses and never curses, an obviously unscriptural claim.
She doesn’t believe in the scriptural doctrine of patriarchal leadership, and sees temple changes along these lines as removals of wicked things rather than watering things down based on what people are able to hear, in accordance with the book of Alma.
She claims that the more wives and children someone has, the poorer outcomes will be. As a mother of 13, doesn’t she know this isn’t true? President Benson acknowledged that those with many siblings often grow up to be more sociable, more prone to sharing, and more well-rounded generally. It’s the kids of small families who struggle the most. Kids of large families often have the most educated hearts, and that’s what really matters. We also know many very learned people have come from large families.
She’s says “we don’t need to put Israel on a pedestal”. True, Israelites have sinned at times, but is this the spirit with which we treat our forefathers and the mighty prophets of old, those who have given so much to build God’s kingdom? She criticizes prophet after prophet. For example about David she says, “No politician or corporate leader has anything on David” a “dirty old man”. But David was authorized in most of his relations, he made a few mistakes, and repented as much as he could. I can think of plenty of modern characters who are involved in far deeper sexual sin than this.
She questions the Bible prophets’ stance against the magicians.
She criticizes the law of Moses for cleanliness standards about menstruation and so forth, comparing them to a cartoon about those who have a meltdown whenever they contact something unclean. Is this joviality how we treat the law of God recorded in the sacred word of God?
She claims that nowhere in the Bible does God allow polygamy, and then reads the account in the Bible where the prophet Nathan tells David that the Lord gave him many wives, then Michelle says we are interpreting that wrong. Time and again, evidences for plural marriage breing righteous are seen, and she comes up with ways to re-interpret these things to fit her narrative.
She appears to focus on leaders’ weaknesses and is quick to assume the worst of their motives. It’s an astonishing, blatant, and consistent theme in her lectures.
She has an interpretation of Lot’s wife as a heroin rather than a tragic example. This shows she is willing to twist scriptures to fit her feminist narrative.
She suggests the church will be cursed and destroyed for polygamy even though we have not practiced it for so long. She will not be satisfied until the church rebukes the entire system as inherently evil. If anything, we will be smitten for NOT practicing it.
She mocks Brigham for prophesying that the intelligent of the earth would see polygamy as good, claims that this didn’t happen, but doesn’t she know this could be a prophecy to be fulfilled in a yet future time? This is the attitude of mocking those who wait for Christ and say “see? He hasn’t come yet.” Why is she so quick to question prophecies given by the Lord’s anointed?
She claims the church suffered for doing wicked polygamy. Did Christ suffer because he was wicked? You can’t equate all suffering with wickedness.
She claims the church has prospered since they stopped polygamy. This is wrong on many levels. When you stop fighting the devil, he stops fighting you. Who has stronger faith, us or the early saints? “Saints” these days, you can’t even talk to them about religion for 5 minutes before they’re ready to turn tail and run.
Joseph and Brigham weren’t perfect. Neither were ancient prophets. But this doesn’t mean their practice of plural marriage was wrong. It also doesn’t mean that plural marriage was wrong, and they just continued in major sin and yet were accepted of God. The fact is that they were commanded to and did live plural marriage, even if imperfectly in some of their methods or comments. They remain mighty men of God who we look up to in their lives and teachings.
Yes plural marriage can be a hard pill to swallow, but sometimes Christian life is hard. As President Nelson would say, it is myopic to worry about life and death when we have the gospel and are working to share it. We should see life as a mission in the hands of God more than a time to make sure things are the way we want them.
Michelle’s lectures are very insistent that plural marriage is evil, and to the extent they practiced it so were the prophets, and so are the revelations which endorse it. I feel she is very out of line and is leading many astray by these teachings.
Michelle has asked me to note here that she believes those who practiced and believe in the doctrine of plural marriage were deceived by a wrong false tradition, but not necessarily evil. I will say it doesn’t always come off that way in her lectures, but here I say this for her sake. I don’t think the net outcome for either view is much different.
For additional study which specifically counter many of the claims she makes in her lectures:
Concubines and how they could be biblically justified: http://richardsonstudies.com/2022/08/25/the-historical-system-of-concubines-as-a-command-of-god-a-look-at-the-right-wrong-way/
David’s plural marriage: http://richardsonstudies.com/2022/08/25/davids-plural-marriage-comparing-jacob-2-and-dc-132/
Abraham’s plural marriage: http://richardsonstudies.com/2022/08/25/abrahams-plural-marriages-resolving-concerns/
Angel with drawn sword who commanded plural marriage: http://richardsonstudies.com/2022/08/25/the-angel-with-the-drawn-sword-legitimate-theologically-congruent/
2 thoughts on “Problems with Michelle Stone’s “132 Problems” Lecture Series Against Plural Marriage”
Good stuff here. It is very easy to condemn with broad strokes, but doing so only demonstrates that you do not understand the thing you are condemning. I am the fist to admit that the scriptures have many examples negative situations involving plural marriage, but how many positive examples do we have of monogamy? Eve tempts Adam to disobey, and they end up raising the worlds first murderer.
The scriptures don’t have hardly anything good to say about people, about husbands, about wives, nor about siblings. Siblings are always fighting and even murdering each other. It is wrong therefore to conclude that the scriptures teach that parents should only have one child (so as to avoid the scriptural precedence for rivalry and violence). Much more could be said, but you do a good job here of exposing the faulty thinking behind blanket condemnation.
Thank you and great points here Joshua. Just because something can go wrong doesn’t mean it should be banned.