Talk:Relief Society

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RS and plural marriage[edit]

The follow brief paragraph has been noted as needing citations since Nov. 2007. Although Emma Smith was noted for sharp sermons dealing with morality in the community, this info implies a significant relationship between the Relief Society and conflicts over plural marriage. I moved the paragraph here for comment and sourcing. WBardwin (talk) 05:08, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

Emma Smith often used the Relief Society as a pulpit to express her opposition to plural marriage. Beause of this, Joseph Smith suspended all meetings of the Relief Society.[citation needed] After the death of Smith in June 1844, Brigham Young took over leadership of the Latter Day Saints. Desiring to continue plural marriage, Young completely disbanded the Relief Society before leaving Nauvoo for Utah Territory.[citation needed]
I'm surprised this has gone unfixed after 7 years, since it's an important part of the story. Sometimes I see histories vaguely imply that the RS had to stop because of the martyrdom, or the Illinois Mormon War, or the pioneer migration, but it happened abruptly before all that. And its connection to polygamy is more interesting, fitting into the rising social tensions in Nauvoo at the time. Here are a few source quotes so we can get this fixed up and back into the article:
We might also want to check the standards: Mormon Enigma (1994) [1984] and Women of Covenant (1992). I don't have them available at the moment. ——Rich jj (talk) 21:51, 15 July 2015 (UTC)

My last two edits to this page have been reverted. I think more needs to be said about the relationship between polygamy and the early relief society especially considering the role that polygamy played in joseph smith's decision to suspend the meetings of the relief society and brigham young's decision to disband the organization. The current article does mention how Emma used her position as relief society president as a platform for advocating against polygamy. The missing part is the fact that multiple women in the leadership of the relief society were secretly married to joseph smith either at the time of the RS founding or shortly thereafter. User:jgstokes, I think you might have gone a little too far in claiming that there is no reliable proof of joseph's polygamous marriages at that date. The page List_of_Joseph_Smith's_wives has multiple reliable sources for the 1841 marriage to Lousia Beaman. The marriage with Eliza Snow is also very well attested. I also don't see what's wrong with the source that I included that was taken from the list of sources above provided by Rich jj in the comment above.

Can we reach some agreement on what information the article should contain? Dithridge (talk) 08:10, 10 January 2017 (UTC)

First, I just want to say that I'm happy. Jgstokes recommended taking the issue to the talk page and Dithridge took the effort to write it up and mentioned my name so I was notified automatically, and now here we are. Wikipedia can really work well sometimes. And I will try to approach this significant, sensitive issue constructively and with empathy.
I think Joseph Smith's own plural marriages are relevant because they reflect how RS was on a collision course. Emma's interests as president conflicted with what the prophet was doing in private. Some women publicly stood with Emma while she waged her morality campaign, while keeping their plural marriages secret.
The objections to this new content asked for reliable sources and to avoid conjecture. So I think we should focus on reliable sources that establish why JS plural marriages were relevant/significant in the story of the early RS.

Of the twenty women at the meeting, one was first wife to Joseph Smith, one gave him her daughter as a plural wife, two were offered the chance to become his wives but declined, and five more, thus invited, accepted. Most of these negotiations took place within weeks before or after the 17 March meeting. Besides those involved with Joseph Smith in plural marriage, three women of the group were married to other men who took plural wives." ... "The third season began auspiciously in the spring of 1844 with Emma Smith again taking the lead. Knowing the limits of space, she conducted the same meeting four times, at ten o’clock and one o’clock on March 9 and 16. There she delivered a double-talk indictment of plural marriage, a coded but unmistakable opposition to the practice which her husband was ever more widely promulgating. After those four sessions, as John Taylor later explained, "the meetings were discontinued" because "Emma Smith the Pres[ident] taught the sisters that the principle of plural marriage … was not of God."
Maureen Ursenbach Beecher (1992). "The 'Leading Sisters': A Female Hierarchy in Nineteenth-century Mormon Society". The New Mormon History: Revisionist Essays on the Mormon Past. Signature Books. p. 160. ISBN 156085-011-6. . Article was originally published in Journal of Mormon History 9 (1982): 25-39.

The Relief Society’s minutes hint at the complicated networks of loyalty that Emma’s friends and Joseph’s plural wives struggled to maintain during this time. Members were exhorted by both Joseph and their president, Emma, to obey the prophet. Between 24 March and 31 August 1842, Joseph and Emma made eight separate attempts to counter “scandalous” claims of sexual impropriety—including rumors of polygamy—leveled against Joseph Smith and others. Both also lectured members on the importance of refraining from gossip and speculation. ...
Soon after the society’s founding, it became a vehicle for Emma’s opposition to plurality. In fact, at each of the society’s March 1842 meetings, Emma began with a reading of W. W. Phelps’s text, “The Voice of Innocence,” an eloquent plea for the protection of “virtuous mothers, wives and daughters of Nauvoo” against “debauchees, vagabonds, and rakes.” Not at all subtle, she then called upon the women “to examin[e] the conduct of their leaders of this Society—that you may sit in judgment on their heads.”
Joseph also recognized the importance of these women and of correctly teaching them plural marriage. ...
Within a month after the society’s organization in March 1842, four of Joseph’s plural wives, including Zina and Presendia, had joined the group. During its first year, Joseph married at least fifteen more women, including ten from the society’s own ranks. Regardless of the good the group accomplished, the relationships between Emma and Joseph, between plural wives, and the complications of keeping the principle secret made it impossible to continue operating, and the society’s last meeting was held on 16 March 1844.
Martha Sonntag Bradley; Mary Brown Firmage Woodward (2000). "Chapter 5. An Ordered Life: Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs Smith Young in Nauvoo, 1839-46". Four Zinas: A Story of Mothers and Daughters on the Mormon Frontier. Signature Books. pp. 120–23. ISBN 1-56085-141-4. 

Perhaps we could add something like the following (in the bold): "Smith had often used the Relief Society as a pulpit to express her opposition to plural marriage. However, several among the membership were themselves secretly in plural marriages, including to Emma's own husband. These inner conflicts with church leadership led Joseph Smith to suspend Because of this, Joseph Smith suspended all meetings of the organization." What do you think? ——Rich jj (talk) 21:19, 10 January 2017 (UTC)

This is a step in the right direction, in my opinion. Note that Emma's counselor in the relief society let her daughter marry joseph. Also, Eliza Snow, who wrote the constitution that they took to Joseph Smith would soon marry Joseph. These are not just random members of the early RS but actual leaders. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Dithridge (talkcontribs) 22:35, 10 January 2017 (UTC)

I think I can agree with the turn this discussion has taken. I am in the unique position of being an active, believing member of the LDS Church who nonetheless has had to put aside what I believe to be truth in favor of that which can be reasonably verified by a proper reliable source. Truth is far different from verifiability. And as a Wikipedian, I have come to realize that there are two sides to every issue. That's why, while I might initially object to things that portray my faith, such as it is, in a negative light, I recognize the importance of telling all sides of an issue. My main objections to the addition of this material were not theologically driven, but rather were raised because I was not satisfied that the claims, such as they were, were suitable for inclusion as written. Now that the proposed content has been discussed in an effort to bring it into conformity with Wikipedia policy, I have no objections to the newly-proposed wording or sources. All I was aiming for was to attempt to establish by consensus something that, by all appearances, was being pushed as one person's perspective on the issue. That's why I have found the principle of consensus to be so helpful. And I always find it wiser to put massively proposed changes under proper scrutiny, discussion, and study before a decision is made by a majority opinion. With that in mind, given the discussion, anything I might have objected to in reverting the edit in question is completely resolved, in my view. Hope that helps explain my perspective better. --Jgstokes (talk) 07:03, 11 January 2017 (UTC)

Jgstokes, your perspective is quite valid and even greatly valuable to WP. Articles should pass the reasonable scrutiny of believers and unbelievers, liberals and conservatives, etc. Without diversity of input, articles might reflect only one point of view. I like that at WP we engage in debate together, not for the sake of debate, but to produce work that attempts to be honest and fair, for the benefit of the greater public. I am also an active, faithful LDS member who has found my own way to come to terms with unpleasant information related to my faith. Each person's faith is their own, so you and I might differ in some viewpoints, and my faith even differs from my younger self. And I agree with scrutiny and discussion of large changes, though this change was more large in controversy than in text. The challenge is to avoid endless debate and becoming embattled, and to give room for empathy. I'm happy with how we engaged each other.
Dithridge, I had also considered saying something about RS leadership, but was trying to be concise. But I agree it matters that the conflict touched Emma's inner circle of confidants. And I after my previous comment, I found a great Journal of Mormon History article from 2013 that added detail about these conflicts. I'm thinking about using this text: "Smith had often used the Relief Society as a pulpit to express her opposition to plural marriage. However, several of the society's members and leaders were themselves secretly in plural marriages, including to Smith's own husband, who himself counseled the society to be cautious about exposing immorality. These inner conflicts led Because of this, Joseph Smith to suspended all meetings of the organization." ——Rich jj (talk) 15:48, 11 January 2017 (UTC)

Thank you Jgstokes and Rich jj for this discussion Dithridge (talk) 01:24, 12 January 2017 (UTC)

Relief Society in the General Latter Day Saint Movement[edit]

Since the Relief Society started out in Nauvoo with Emma Smith and she ended up with the RLDS church, dose anyone know if any other sect in the Latter Day Saint movement have their own Relief Society the same as the LDS Church. If they do, I think it's worth mentioning them also.--- ARTEST4ECHO(Talk) 17:36, 20 April 2015 (UTC)

  • I know nothing about this, but I found L. Madelon Brunson wrote a 1981 thesis (OCLC 7893406) about the RLDS women's organization, and then had it published in 1985 (OCLC 10780464 ; ISBN 0830904018). I don't have access to these. ——Rich jj (talk) 22:03, 15 July 2015 (UTC)