Thursday, May 7, 2009

FLDS Beliefs 101 - Arranged Marriages

The “Law of the Placement” started to be introduced among the FLDS as early as the 1940’s. It was considered by the “priesthood council” (the leaders) as a way to control the number of wives men were taken. Leaders John Y. Barlow and Joseph Musser disagreed sharply on this subject and this was one of the main reasons why the Allred group (now in Bluffdale, UT) broke from the FLDS. In the 1950’s, this “Law of the Placement” started to be used, but choice was still frequently honored. Courting was often allowed prior to marriages. Girls who were “placed’ could decide not to marry the man designated with out fear of serious consequence.

In the coming years, FLDS prophets, Leroy Johnson, Rulon Jeffs, and Warren Jeffs further defined this practice, making it a core FLDS doctrine.

To have a proper marriage, one that will exists for eternity in heaven, a marriage must be assigned by the prophet. “You can only get married and be a priesthood family if he (the prophet) says whom you should marry. “(WSJ 10/31/1995). No dating, courting, or choosing your own spouse is allowed. “If a boy and girl agree to get married and just go do it, they can never be gods, because you must be married by revelation through the prophet.” (WSJ 11/1/95)

Contrary to factual history, Warren Jeffs has convinced the FLDS that assigned marriages by the prophet is the way it has always been done. “Priesthood marriage is always by revelation through the prophet. It has always been this way, and this is what you look forward to.” (WSJ 11/28/95)

Being in love at the time of marriage isn’t important. “In priesthood marriage, the Lord makes the love. In the world marriage, they date and try to figure out if they like each other, then decide if they'll get married. In priesthood marriage, the Lord appoints it and He makes the love. He puts in that husband and wife a love for each other, and it grows as they obey the prophet together.” (WSJ 11/28/95)

One of the protections of having the prophet arrange the marriage is that he will make sure no African American blood is introduced to the union. “That is why we marry only who the prophet says - because if you marry anybody out in the world, there's a chance they could have Negro blood in them.” This would have serious eternal consequence on the family. “If you young people were to marry a Negro, you could not be a priesthood person, even if you repented. You could not stay in this work.” (WSJ 11/9/1995)

To really make this system work, the FLDS needed to be convinced that if they didn’t accept arranged marriages, they would suffer serious eternal consequences.

What are the consequences of entering a marriage that isn’t arranged by the prophet? They won’t go the highest heaven (Celestial Kingdom), and eventually they will experience a second death – dissolution of their souls! “What is dissolution? It is the death of the spirit and the body together. Both of them die. They dissolve back into what they were before they were born as a spirit. That person will never be that person again." (WSJ 11/1/95)

Instilling fear is part of this practice:

  1. “We've told you what happens to the disobedient. They will never see Heavenly Father again.” (WSJ 11/8/1995)
  2. The only ones who will remain on this earth after the destructions are those who are like Heavenly Father, or in other words, they "Keep Sweet No Matter What". (WSJ 11/19/95) . If you are keeping sweet no matter what, you are a person ready to give up your own will and just obey the priesthood over you.

The most dangerous factor that attacks this arranged system is a natural event: boys and girls falling in love. To counter this, FLDS leaders teach over and over again that boys and girls must not socially interact or date. “You have to come to loyalty and the love of priesthood, to where you'd rather die - you boys, than ever touch a girl and you girls, you'd rather die than ever touch a boy or want to be touched, because once certain things are done, you cannot go to the celestial kingdom. You cannot go to the celestial kingdom if you get married wrong.” (WSJ 12/5/95)

Parents cannot object to a marriage specified by the prophet. If they do, they are being disobedient and risk losing their membership, home, and family. One member explained: “I never wanted to be married to my husband. My parents objected to the marriage but they never said a word about that until it was all over and it was safe to do so. They were afraid of what would happen if they did.”

The FLDS are taught strictly not to come to the prophet to request specific marriages. However, if a girl starts being attracted to a boy, it is common for the father to come to the prophet to ask him to marry off his daughter quickly so she can be married “the right way.” This can frequently result in underage marriages. On former member wrote: “I have seen and heard young girls get married, and come home crying to their mothers, and the mothers tell them that it is the Lord's will, and they must go back to the man who forced himself upon them. I SAW IT!!!! Don't you understand?!!! It broke my heart. That is one of the reasons I left.”

Conclusion: Arranged marriages by the prophet is a key FLDS doctrine. They loosely base it on Old Testament examples. This system allows the leaders to maintain control over the people, eliminate chaotic competition for wives, to ensure that wives are only assigned to men loyal to the prophet, and to allow older men to more easily obtain young wives.