Brigham Young and Mary Magdalene
“Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, were his plural wives, and Mary Magdalene was another.”
(Brigham Young’s 19th wife, on Young’s belief that Jesus was married)
There is quite a tradition within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day saints that not only was Jesus married, but he was married to multiple wives. When I think about this, it brings to mind the scenes from The Last Temptation of Christ, in which Jesus walks to town with his wives, Mary and Martha of Bethany, with whom he has a small brood of children after the death of his first wife, Mary Magdalene. It’s not really a new idea if the Mormon church has been nurturing such ideas since the 19th century at least.
Today the subject of polygamy within the Mormon church is controversial, to say the least. While it’s clearly part of the church’s past, it seems that the church as an organization wants to move past that legacy. There are some within the faith, however, who recognize the practice as part of their spiritual heritage, and they continue to practice plural marriage (in this world, not the next) to this day.
I came across a blog post about this the other day. In a Mormon Coffee post called “Sister Wives,” blogger Sharon Lindbloom discusses an upcoming TLC reality show about a modern Mormon family with one husband, four wives, and thirteen children. Lindbloom points toward some fascinating passages from a book called Jesus Was Married, by Anne Wilde (and her husband), including this one which quotes Orson Pratt, an early leader of the church:
“One thing is certain, that there were several holy women that greatly loved Jesus — such as Mary, and Martha her sister, and Mary Magdalene; and Jesus greatly loved them, and associated with them much; and when He arose from the dead, instead of showing Himself to His chosen witnesses, the Apostles, He appeared first to these women, or at least to one of them — namely, Mary Magdalene. Now it would be natural for a husband in the resurrection to appear first to his own dear wives, and afterwards show himself to his other friends. If all the acts of Jesus were written, we no doubt should learn that these beloved women were His wives.” (Orson Pratt, The Seer, p. 159)
It looks like the book may be hard to find, but it seems like an interesting read. Maybe a trip to the university library is in order. In the meantime, I wanted to point out another interesting book about Mormonism, Jesus, marriage, and Mary Magdalene: Dynasty of the Holy Grail: Mormanism’s Sacred Bloodline, by Vern G. Swanson. I’m still reading through it, but it doesn’t appear nearly as sensational as the title. It contains some fantastic resources on the subject.
If any readers happen to see an episode of Sister Wives, I would love to hear whether Mary Magdalene’s name is dropped anywhere!