Mormon Stories Podcast is excited to team up with Sunstone to present a recording of our live podcast on 1/25/18 with Carol Lynn Pearson where we discuss her book, The Ghost of Eternal Polygamy. Special thanks to the Salt Lake City Community of Christ for hosting such a wonderful evening and for the many listeners who came to enjoy the experience.

These episodes closely follow the abstract of the book:

“‘Polygamy?’ says the mainstream Mormon Church, “We gave that up long ago.” Not so, claims noted LDS poet and author Carol Lynn Pearson, who examines the issue as it has never been examined before. Any member of the LDS Church today who enters the practice of polygamy is immediately excommunicated. However, Pearson claims, polygamy itself has never been excommunicated, but has an honored and protected place at the table. It has only been postponed, a fact confirmed by thousands of “eternal sealings” giving a man an assurance that he will claim as wives in heaven the two, three, or even more women he has sequentially married during his lifetime. No such opportunity is available to women. Through her own personal stories, those of her ancestors, and the thousands of stories that came to her through an Internet survey, Pearson shows the power of the Ghost of Eternal Polygamy as it not only waits on the other side to greet the most righteous in heaven, but also haunts the living—hiding in the recesses of the Mormon psyche, inflicting profound pain and fear, assuring women that they are still objects, harming or destroying marriages, bringing chaos to family relationships, leading many to lose faith in the church and in God.”


Part 1: Carol Lynn discusses some of the historical instances of Mormon polygamy in her book

Part 2: Carol Lynn discusses the modern-day implications of Mormon polygamy


Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 1:

Part 2:


  1. Dwayne February 1, 2018 at 2:38 am - Reply

    Many of these programs remind me of today’s fathers. In today’s society, when a couple brings a child into the world, the father immediately knows that his chances of being a full-time parent with equal rights is around 50%. Among women with college degrees, 90% of all divorce filings are initiated by the wife. Nationally, the mother receives primary physical custody nearly 85% of the time. When it comes to equality, I’ve noticed that nearly everyone wants to say they support it but in actuality, very few demonstrate the qualities necessary to achieve it. If “I” can get the upper hand, it must be God’s will. Or, if not God’s will it still works out better for me.

    Does this really differ from the plight of women who suffer in the shadows of polygamy? What is the importance of virginity prior to marriage if one’s husband is subject to entering into numerous sexual relationships after promises and commitments have been made? The arguments in support of polygamy are zero with only the ghost of Joseph preventing change. Of all the emotions a person may endure, the stress of uncertainty must be considered amongst the most cruel. I don’t see a happy ending in mankind’s endless pursuit of utopia. Equality is a word; a grand idea who sits alone with no one truly willing to welcome it into their churches, homes, and lives.

  2. Robert Hodge February 1, 2018 at 5:57 am - Reply

    T he simple truth is that while the practice of polygamy has long been suspended within the largest Mormon denomination, it remains canonized in Section 132 of the Doctrine & Covenants. It is therefore an doctrine of the Mormon Church and is inexorably linked with the notion of eternal marriage. As such It can never be repudiated without calling into question the prophetic reliability of Joseph Smith. Like it or not, if you are a Mormon who upholds section 132, you are going to have to live with the history of harms that polygamy has wrought and with the continuing stigma associated with “the principle”.

    • beth February 1, 2018 at 2:03 pm - Reply

      I agree with your feelings and comment, its very true.

  3. square peg February 1, 2018 at 9:17 am - Reply

    I love, love, love this interview. One of my comments from her survey was included in her book! Thank you so very much for interviewing Carol Lyn! She is truly amazing!

  4. Linda Easthope February 1, 2018 at 2:13 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for this interview, and for this book. As I listened I felt wounds healing over that I was no longer aware even existed.

  5. Danielle Long February 1, 2018 at 3:11 pm - Reply

    Only Carol Lynn Pearson could say these things and make a difference. I’m so glad she spoke up and made the strongest of possible statements as her closing remarks. I never read her things way back in the 70’s because I was afraid she would soften what I had experienced as a pretty harsh religion. I didn’t want to be lulled by beautiful words. My decision to leave decades later proved that I could no long bear the weight of this religion, so demanding, and yet true in my eyes. In recent years I have begun to read a few of her poems and thoughts, and realize how much sweeter my walk with God could have been if I had listened to voices like hers. God bless you Carol Lynn.

    • Edy Meredith March 3, 2018 at 9:13 am - Reply

      The timeline for these new discoveries does not match the Book of Mormon timeline. Good try but no cigar (so to speak).

  6. Dwayne February 1, 2018 at 10:13 pm - Reply

    Here is a link to the previous posting so you don’t miss it. It shows awesome recreations of possible Lamanite and Nephite cities and fortresses.

    • Edy Meredith March 3, 2018 at 9:13 am - Reply

      Fantasy is always a good try when reality does not match with mental constructions.

  7. Luke February 1, 2018 at 11:46 pm - Reply

    Fearing polygamy more than death is one thing. Fearing death because of polygamy is a whole other level of anguish.

  8. Nancy February 2, 2018 at 3:52 pm - Reply

    I bet the practice would disappear overnight if they let women have multiple spouses.

    • Isaac Mathews February 6, 2018 at 11:30 pm - Reply

      Thank you Nancy. I love that! I wish every woman in the LDS Church would demand their right to have multiple husbands! Oh, that would be a beautiful way to rub Mormon men’s noses in the poop of all these Mormon messes (the gross doctrines born out of sexism, inequality, and lust)!

  9. Alex Lisi February 4, 2018 at 11:15 am - Reply

    As a 23 year old male with no sisters, the emotional impact of this doctrine has been not something I have regularly had to bear. This interview and particularly part 2 did just that and allowed me to empathize with these issues which effect and are recognized by so many women and which also effect but are not commonly acknowledged by many men. The LDS theology is centered on an atonement narrative that seeks to offer meaning through suffering by suggesting that taking on burdens willingly or otherwise can be used to lift up another. Thank you Ms. Pearson for offering males both young and old an opportunity to bear (even so slightly) the effects of this complex practice and to pursue a more informed and uplifting resultant faith.

  10. Frank February 4, 2018 at 11:20 am - Reply

    My wife told me that if she preceded me in death and that if married another women for eternity I would be a polygamous for less than a minute because she would repudiate our temple marriage in heaven even if it meant having to go to hell. She told me that I was forewarned and not to think she would think differently in the next life.

    She had a saying that she rarely used, “This is non-negotiable.”

  11. GBSmith February 4, 2018 at 10:01 pm - Reply

    Doing away with polygamy in all its forms isn’t going to solve the problems discussed in the interview. As long as people believe they’ve been “sealed”, all of the issues of “to whom” and “who gets the kids” and just what does an “eternal family” mean anyway remain unsolved. This is what happens when someone takes what they thought was a good idea and doesn’t think it through

    • Beth February 5, 2018 at 2:21 am - Reply

      I agree with the above.

  12. Emma February 5, 2018 at 4:02 pm - Reply

    I love Carolyn Pearson when I first read her poems s as a college student at BYU and 1968 I want to thank her for her Courage to speak out and admire her talent for doing so. She truly is like Joan of arc

    she’s very bold to stand up to the patriarchy in this church and speak the truth about polygamy
    Polygamy obviously devastated and disgusted her to motivate her she give the blessing in Nauvoo to end of polygamy— what do you think the leadership would’ve thought of her at that time

    It is cool that she likes to put on the boots of Joan of arc and try to walk in her footsteps as she has done —-and yet she doesn’t seem to realize that the church would never have allowed Joan to do what she did— and Joan gave her life

    I don’t believe the leaders will allow or respect anything Carolyn tries to do— because this church is based on the doctrine of polygamy and patriarchy

    By condemning polygamy she is taking a stand similar if not exactly like William law
    He also had the courage to stand up and speak about the evils of polygamy by writing it down and giving it to the members of the church just as she has.
    But he was in extreme danger for his life for doing so and in his Expositor newspaper which led to the death of Joseph Smith
    the church has always hated him and blamed him for the death of Joseph Smith
    And yet he only told the truth of polygamy and Joseph Smith‘s desires for power

    The difference between them is William recognized the evils of polygamy and concluded that the man Joseph Smith, was not a prophet of God after all

    Law was willing to speak the truth at the peril of his life

    Caroline feels she can continue attending the church as a normal member and has no fear of her life like he did, although it’s still took tremendous courage to speak out in this church Who really knows what kind of discipline she might receive

    it makes you question if she truly knows all the other lies and deceit and disturbing truths about Joseph Smith— what he did and said— which shows what a despicable character he was

    I just don’t understand when she truly knows the evils he committed in the name of polygamy if she doesn’t see him for what he is

    And to be terribly truthfully honest (Who dares ask) is she attending for the social interaction and support of the family and friends?? Forgive me but she has a financial investment with her many books. ‘what is keeping her from leaving the church when she knows such a man is the founder of it all’???

    • Edy Meredith March 3, 2018 at 9:18 am - Reply

      I agree with this comment. How can she still idolize Joseph Smith? His life story is one of aggressive power hunger and fleeing from the consequences of his actions as he fled from state to state to avoid prosecution. Perhaps it is a publicity strategy. If she left the mormon church she would no longer have the sympathy forum that she has now.

  13. Henry Lewis February 7, 2018 at 6:46 am - Reply

    To Carol, I love what you are saying about polygamy. Your book is a great step in the right direction, HOWEVER, why stop there? To throw out D&C 132 and the doctrine and teachings about polygamy, is to acknowledge that Joseph Smith was wrong about one thing BUT what about so many other doctrines in question? This kind of reasoning will lead to doubting ALL Mormon doctrines! .

    For example, What about God’s nature, and the nature of the “godhead”? Joseph Smith evolved on this too! Look at what used to be taught about God the Father “being a personage of spirit, glory and power: possessing all perfection and fullness: the Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, a personage of tabernacle, made, or fashioned Iike unto man, or being in the form and likeness of man, or, rather, man was formed after his likeness, and in his image; – he is also the express image and likeness of the personage of the Father…” Etc. as printed in the 1835 edition of the D&C, in the Lectures on Faith, which (unknown to most modern Mormons) was removed from the Doctrine and Covenants!
    Well, if Joseph Smith and Brigham Young and John Taylor and other “prophets, seers, and revelators” are wrong about this, what else? Seriously, this will be the beginning of the end of Mormonism. This is why the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles (aka “the Brethren”) will NEVER throw polygamy out. That would be t he beginning of the end of Mormonsim! Not good for their jobs. They would have to get new jobs! This threatens their jobs, status, and reputations!

    • Beth February 7, 2018 at 8:13 am - Reply

      I agree with you and l’d like to recommend anyone who will be willing to, to read grant palmer’s new latest book called; restoring christ, grant has now very sadly passed away but he is and was a wonderful man with a reputation of trust and honor, he was honest and reliable, sincere and he can answer so many questions and queries in his book.

  14. Kristyn February 11, 2018 at 4:56 pm - Reply

    Carolyn, you are my GODDESS HERO! I wish everyone would read your book so they will know the truth about polygamy. I will write more privately. LOVE AND HONOR ALWAYS,

  15. Bob D February 12, 2018 at 2:26 pm - Reply

    Too many people are in denial of what is true, clinging to their preferences. Too many others are self-anointed authorities. And others are biased researchers without openness nor the spirit of revelation.

    The good and bad about polygyny (the technical term, spelled correctly) gives its descendants unique genetics and backgrounds/personalities/worldviews. We wouldn’t have our current set of life experiences, etc. if it weren’t for polygyny. I wonder if Ms. Pearson’s grateful for them enough to admit it helped get us where we are today (pros & cons) or if she just assumes we’d all be better off if Eve, Emma, etc. had not partaken…

    • Edy Meredith March 3, 2018 at 9:23 am - Reply

      Polygyny or polygamy whatever. Many of us inherited genetic defects through polygamy DNA–including but not limited to bipolar in my family, heart defects and others. Check the diseases that exist in the small polygamous gene pool currently and in any group that includes close intermarrying of relatives. Polygyny/polygamy did not strengthen the family line either through DNA or through epigenetic material affected by the poverty and poor circumstances that existed in polygamous communities wherever the mormons practice their special revelation.

  16. Erin February 27, 2018 at 2:08 am - Reply

    The ghost of eternal polygamy has always affected me. I grew up in a mixed-faith household and was taught that because my dad didn’t believe that one day my mom could choose to be with a faithful man (or become an angel in heaven) thus destroying my family. This created a wedge between my relationship with my dad, because I thought he didn’t love us enough to want to be an eternal family and he should just get it together and go to church for our sakes.

    It also caused a great deal of worry for me after the birth of my oldest son. I went through a difficult pregnancy and labor. I was terrified by the idea of bearing the souls of men, because having one child was so emotionally and physically taxing that I decided that Mormon Heaven was its own special kind of hell. On top of being a mother to billions of spirit children, I would have to share my husband, who I adore and love with all my heart.

    Thank you! This podcast was so emotionally healing for me on so so so many levels (Although it has been 3 years since I decided I didn’t believe in Polygamy at all, I am still hurt by it).

  17. Kristen March 1, 2018 at 2:33 pm - Reply

    Thank you Carol Lynn for giving more members a voice than you can possibly realize A voice of healing! I am an active member of the LDS church. I love and cherish my husband and we are raising 5 beautiful children. We, as husband and wife, have discussed this topic of polygamy several times as it has been troubling to me over many years and he is very understanding. We watched your podcast together. Thankfully, my husband is naturally very interested in all things history and learned many years before me some disturbing facts in the arrangement of Joseph Smith’s secret plural marriages. We both recognize that several of these plural marriages and sexual relationships were very deceptive to Emma and caused her agony. So, I consider myself very blessed to be united with my husband in this issue because I know many LDS spouses can feel very threatened and even criticize their partner for feeling deeply troubled over polygamy. They can Regard their spouse’s feelings as a sign of unfaithfulness, pride, or rebellion. This is another way the history and practice of eternal polygamy in the LDS church is currently eroding families. As a young woman and even as an adult growing up in the LDS church, it is a fact that the notion is presented and believed that plural marriage is perhaps a “celestial law”…that maybe one day if I were to obtain entrance into the Celestial Kingdom (which is the goal, is it not?) that this practice might actually exist! This message is portrayed in our faith in various ways such as in our most sacred places of worship which are temples, our scriptures in section 132 of the D&C where Emma is threatened more than once that she will be destroyed by God if she doesn’t support polygamy, and the doctrine of eternal polygamy and current sealing practices as described in your podcast. Are we, as LDS men and women, to be “destroyed” as well if we don’t support polygamy as a Godly revelation and continued eternal practice in present day? It is a very REAL undercurrent of our LDS culture today that effects the psychosis of the members…perhaps without actually realizing it’s happening. This is disturbing on so many levels to say the least! I can relate to women that took the survey, and I appreciated you bringing to light the suffering of men alike. My concern is, shall the chain of phycological abuse caused by polygamy continue in my own children? I don’t want that! So now what? How confusing it feels to be part of a marvelous church, that truly has SO much good, but at the same time knowing that the leadership and membership as a whole in the church upholds the doctrine of polygamy as a revelation and commandment from God (as stated on Who knows…what if the leadership of the church privately recognizes the practice of plural marriage to have been human error on Joseph’s part and the church would benefit from revising this doctrine!? The damage it has created is substantial, but in renouncing polygamy as a godly revelation, they fear the entire authenticity of the church will then be in question, and that’s not a risk they are willing to take. Sadly, this is most likely the reality. So members either have to “shelve” the issue or try to navigate a way to be a “faithful member” virtually creating their own brand of Mormonism by sifting out what they can accept as revelation and what they cannot, or abandon the faith altogether. All options are difficult.

  18. Michael Surkan March 9, 2018 at 11:08 am - Reply

    The sad fact is that shorn of polygamy the LDS church really doesn’t have much to offer that you can’t get even better in other churches. The suggestion that the LDS church should reject antiquated theologies in the same way the Church of Christ has is an interesting case in point. The CoC has seen it’s membership fall with each and every liberalization step they took. Now, CoC’s membership is only a fraction of what it was just 30 years ago.

    Polygamy is really the ONLY unique thing that the LDS church has going for it. The church would have faded away long ago if not for polygamy and expunging it even now would be catastrophic to the future of the church membership numbers.

    Of course, this is NOT to say that polygamy is “good” for the members. Lynn Pearson is absolutely right that it causes untold pain and harm. Most LDS members would be better off leaving the church altogether than sticking with this. So in one sense abolishing polygamy in the LDS church would be healthy for the members but bad for membership.

  19. RM June 4, 2018 at 5:48 pm - Reply

    Others would be excommunicated (and have been) for having voiced much less than Carol Lynn Pearson – so glad she can get away with it! the Walnut Creek Ward in California is not like MANY wards which would almost burn her at the stake (pun intended).
    Keep up the good work CLP! I don’t see Section 132 being taken out of D&C in my lifetime, but hopefully for my grandchildren!

  20. Beyonce November 29, 2018 at 8:29 pm - Reply

    I believe all men are tested and that the main purpose of Joseph Smith and Brigham young was small but an IMPORTANT role to have what we have today.
    You think the prophets now days are perfect ? That they have not sinned? Even with all the knowledge and support we have to tempt us from doing the wrong things, they are still done. could Joseph have been a normal man with desires that weren’t in tune with the spirit? Could he have be confused ? Could his purpose only be limited to an extent to just bring back followers and the book or Mormon exclusively ? Before he may have got carried away with his spiritual life and facing real and higher temptations?
    Was Joseph described to be a man ? Or pure like the son of god? Joseph Smith was a man and had free agency. I ask myself why the lord why children are killed and why people are raped and why people bring grief upon eachother. It is not up to the lord to make your decisions, he can only guide you through the Holy Spirit, even then you still have the freedom to willingly disregard it due to how YOU personally feel and what you desire, whether good or bad.

  21. John March 1, 2019 at 10:10 pm - Reply

    I love Carol Lynn Pearson, but don’t understand why she belongs to the LDS Church. She really doesn’t believe Joseph Smith Jr. or Brigham Young were Prophets. Why does she stay in the church? I’ve left the church and no longer believe and don’t believe in any of or care about any more. I don’t understand why intellectual people stay!

  22. Larry Ballard April 5, 2020 at 7:04 pm - Reply

    The forthright conviction of this wonderful personality based on fantastic research backed by the purity of a caring heart are driven by a WILL to truth and true care that is more than commendable. Her manifesting the pragmatic reality of the immense suffering polygamy has caused and continues to perpetrate in this toxic world view that has engineered believing societies has filled my heart. Thank you Carol Lynn.

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