Polygamy has raised questions for many modern Latter-day Saints. Let’s Talk about Polygamy, written by historian Brittany Chapman Nash, offers a candid and engaging history of polygamy in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through the voices of those who practiced it. Nash helps readers understand not only the facts and chronological story of polygamy but also the how and why. Why did Latter-day Saints embrace polygamy? How did it work? And what does the history of polygamy mean for Church members today?
While outlining the known history of polygamy among the Saints, Nash explores sensitive issues, such as how and why Joseph Smith introduced the practice, his wife Emma Hale Smith’s response to it, and the origins of the plural marriage revelation (today known as Doctrine and Covenants 132). The book also examines how polygamy evolved and affected the Saints in Utah and in the wake of anti-polygamy legislation. The Saints had varying experiences with polygamy—some positive, others not—and through the use of original sources, Nash allows the participants themselves to give voice to the breadth of the Saints’ thoughts and feelings. Though some aspects of the practice of polygamy may never be fully understood, the examples of sacrifice, conviction, and commitment to the gospel from the Saints who practiced it may help readers find understanding and reconciliation and ultimately strengthen their own faith.
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