40 thoughts on “Joseph Smith’s Monogamy

  1. Ben

    It’s really nice to see this article going around, though I do wish I knew who the author was just for my own curiosity.

    The reason I like this article is because it keeps to the point but is never dogmatic or pushy in its presentation. This is a careful study that I’d think would be useful for anybody to reconsider what has somehow become the official narrative to the world.

    Also, what really pulls it together is taking Denver Snuffer’s discussion which contained the key to understanding it all: “sealings” and “marriages” have been misappropriated to mean the same thing, but didn’t to Smith.

    Unfortunately, while I think this is an excellent set of arguments, I doubt many will ever benefit from it. For instance, I had already come to the same conclusion before reading this, and my family and friends (both LDS and ex-mormon) have been completely unwilling to give any credence to anything I’ve said concerning the subject. The brethren will never read this. The CES letter crowd will never consider anything except what their precious letter already says.

    God, I am surrounded by people who will not listen to anything that doesn’t come from the men they’ve put their faith in!

    I guess the only thing we can do is patiently present the evidence and try to persuade people to actually read this wonderful, concise article.

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  2. Roy Moore

    Thank you again, Brother AB, for passing on truth!

    Discernment of truth versus error is a deeply personal concept and requires constant repentance. Imperfect as I am, the Lord always helps me sort out truth. The article “Joseph Smith’s Monogamy” is filled with truth. If anyone ponders it sufficiently in a spirit of meekness, it will speak peace to the heart and bring reconciliation for this damnable concept (polygamy) that is falsely attributed to THE REAL PROPHETS, HYRUM SMITH and JOSEPH SMITH JR!!! God bless those good men who sealed their testimonies of truth with their lives.

    Satan surely hijacked the Restoration using the allurement of lust, power, and self-righteousness. The concept is just as effective now as it was then.

    Please thank the author for me and express that I stand with him, especially when he and you reveal your identities at the appropriate time.

    Roy Moore
    Monroe, Utah

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  3. Shai Hadassah

    This is a fantastically written paper. I’m saving it as part of my own going library of research. This clearly shined some light on some points here and there I was previously missing. The theories make perfect sense on both sides of the issue. I liked how the author put it out there as basically, “This is what it is. Here is the evidence and hey–it can be interpreted both ways, but if you examine it as if you were doing a legal case, here is how and why the results would be what they are. Come to your own conclusion.”

    I like how the author does not insult the intelligence of the reader. Fantastic read. The author did their homework. This is the kind of research I love to read through. I feel better about my own thoughts now on polygamy and where the origins of it came from.

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  4. James Lloyd

    It was a fantastic article in which I will definitely pass around. It is an amazement to me that people would rather believe that Joseph Smith lied publicly about polygamy and secretly practiced it than believe he was speaking the truth. The LDS church has recently thrown Joseph under the bus with the recent listing of all his “wives”. The altering of the history of the church by Brigham Young and others has been a travesty that harmed generations.

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  5. An Anonymous Elder's Quorum President in South Dakota

    This “research”, like Denver Snuffer’s essay, is really just a rehash of the same old RLDS arguments that have been around for almost 170 years.

    If you buy into these conclusions, you should really identify yourself as an “RLDS fundamentalist” like Richard and Pamela Price. If you’re interested in more fodder to reinforce the conclusions you’ve already reached about Joseph Smith’s (lack of) teaching and practicing polygamy, you’ll love their work – you’re welcome for the referral.

    Or, you could go a step further and become a Whitmerite – Google “David Whitmer’s address to all believers in Christ,” in which he denounces polygamy with the most forceful language, you’ll surely love it too.

    … unfortunately, not even the RLDS church still believes or promotes these ideas. There is not debate among objective scholars that Joseph preached and practiced polygamy (albeit very quietly, for obvious reasons).

    Essays like these provide a great emotional escape for people who can’t handle the doctrine of plural marriage, and who prefer to live in blissful ignorance of whether it’s a true law of God’s priesthood or not.

    The problem is, you can’t get around Abraham’s and Israel’s polygamy. These were the friends of God, who walked and talked with Him. The Fathers whom we aspire to become called their children, spiritually and literally. We want to sit down in heaven with them around the throne of God. These polygamists. It’s gotta be distasteful for someone so sure that such a practice is immoral, heathen, barbaric, and so FAR below Joseph Smith that it’s an insult to his name and memory to falsely attribute such a thing to him, to even consider for a moment that if they’re exalted they’ll share heaven with father Abraham and Israel.

    I’m not a practicing polygamist (that’d make it hard to stay LDS!) but if I can make it to the point in the future that I sit down at the same table with my polygamist fathers Abraham and Israel in the kingdom of God, I’ll be extremely humble and count myself very blessed to be worthy of their company.

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      1. Robert

        If polygamy is evil and vile and for grounds for Satan taking command of the hearts and minds of the early leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints why are we all trying to be part of a polygamous family (https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/gal/3.16?lang=eng#15 and https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/2-cor/11.22?lang=eng#21)?
        Why is a polygamous family the central theme in the city of God (https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/rev/21.12?lang=eng#12)?
        If polygamous men are a stench in the nostrils of God why do the faithful honor them greatly by saying that miracles come from the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob (https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/morm/9.11?lang=eng#10)?
        Why would God call an unrepentant polygamist His friend (https://www.lds.org/scriptures/ot/isa/41.8?lang=eng#7)?
        Why would God choose a polygamist to recuse Israel who had 70 sons and I’m sure many daughters (https://www.lds.org/scriptures/ot/judg/6.36?lang=eng#35 and https://www.lds.org/scriptures/ot/judg/8.30?lang=eng#29)?
        Why would God command a prophet to take two wives, one being a harlot (https://www.lds.org/scriptures/ot/hosea/1?lang=eng Hosea 1:1-3 and https://www.lds.org/scriptures/ot/hosea/3?lang=eng Hosea 3)?
        Why would Paul have to instruct Timothy to pick a bishop that had one wife, instead of saying pick a bishop that is married if polygamy was not practiced by the early saints (https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/1-tim/3.2?lang=eng#1)?
        Why is polygamy one of the events that will be a sign of the second coming of the Savior (https://www.lds.org/scriptures/ot/isa/4.1?lang=eng#primary)?
        Why would Christ give a parable where one man was carried to heaven or the bosom of Abraham, and the other man was carried to hell if Abraham was an unrepentant adulterer (https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/luke/16.22?lang=eng#21)?

        After reading all of these scriptures why would the Father and the Son condemn plural marriage? I am not a polygamist, but I do believe it is one reason the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is out of order.

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        1. JP

          Do not mistake “likening the scriptures” for taking them out of context.
          Do not mistake what God permits for what God promotes.
          Do not mistake sealing for marriage
          Do not mistake the family of heaven for the temporary ties of families here

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  6. Brent Crash Allen

    Yup. Everybody got pregnant every time they did it until the pill….

    Oh wait. That’s not true. The other piece of the puzzle is how hard have people searched for Joseph’s DNA legacy. Has there ever been a large scale testing and study?

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  7. Thomas

    Kinda strange though that Emma was pregnant when Joseph died don’t you think? How is it that Joseph married 40 women and could only get one of them pregnant and her 10 times? How is that that Fanny Aliger could have 8 children and none by Joseph? The story told by UT polygamists is that Emma was constantly complaining about being deprived of her martial bed, due to Joseph entertaining other wives. Yet none of these 40 women could conceive. What are the odds? He can get a woman pregnant that he isn’t sleeping with but cant get the ones he is sleeping with pregnant. Crazy if you believe that.

    My understanding is that all known candidates for JS progeny from plural wives have been dna tested. All negative.

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  8. Mike

    This is astonishing unless it is some kind of hoax and I am not getting it.I call BULLSHIT!

    We have the DC132 allowing it and describing it and it was given in defense of it.

    We have dozens of women admitting to being married to Joseph Smith with credible stories .

    We have overwhelming contemporary evidence of numerous others describing it that fills volumes.

    We have many original founders of the faith like Oliver Cowdery leaving the church over it. (If you reject his eye-witness account of the shenanigans in the barn with Fanny then how do you accept his witness of the Book of Mormon?)

    We have every church leader, hundreds of them, since it went public in 1852 either prescribing it or later admitting it happened. This includes all of the 20th century prophets and apostles.

    We have dozens of Joseph’s contemporaries claiming he taught them and authorized them to do it. Eliza R Snow alone should be sufficient witness to name one.She wrote songs and poems about it.

    We have thousands and perhaps tens of thousdands practicing it while contemporaries of Joseph presided over it, including about 2/3 of my ancestors in those generations, all looking to Joseph as the example of this practice.

    We as a people went to the wall during the 1880’s over this; willing to bankrupt the church, compromise missionary work for half a century, lose all our property and our rights as citizens to vote, go to prison and some even dying for it; while John Taylor who was so closely connected to Joseph to be nearly murdered with him, presided over us proclaiming “Destroy plural marriage and you destroy Mormonism.”

    Today we have one of the leading universities in the nation with many scholars (such as Bushman author of Rough Stone Rolling) writing about it as if it happened. Same story for previous generations, Leonard Arrington for example.

    We have across-the-board agreement that this is part of our history by virtually all the academic disciplines studying American History across the world.

    Our critics have had a field day with us over it. We make excuses and explanations of it but we never deny that it happened or claim Joseph didn’t do it..

    We have about 50,000 modern polygamist alive among us (the gookiest constantly in the news giving us a bad name) successfully recruiting from among our ranks simply by pointing out what Joseph Smith and the 19th century prophets taught and we never make the claim to them that Joseph didn’t preach it quietly and do it.

    If you want to stick your head in the sand this far and pretend Joseph’s polygamy didn’t happen, I question your reality testing. We need to have a discussion about what is accepted as evidence of historical events. I don’t think you need to be kicked out of the church for believing this.(apparently Snuffer’s leaders thought otherwise and I don’t agree with that decision) But you are not accepted as being credible and reasonable on this point in my company.

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  9. Mike

    I wish to tangle with some of the other commenters:

    1. Anon EQP in SD

    I agree with most of your ideas. But hold your horses on that Biblical polygamy. It ain’t as noble as you think. Mormons strain to make the case that the Bible finds polygamy acceptable. Most modern Christians don’t read it that way at all. Usually it is described as pretty nasty:

    Abraham is about the most respectable of the bunch. He lied to let pharaoh have his wife for a while (but maybe pharoah had ED).The Bible is clear; when Abraham took another wife, he was following his first wife Sarai (after pharoah had her) and not God. Gen 16:1-2. Then Abraham kicked the second wife out in the desert to die and the descendants of this dysfunctional plural marriage are still fighting in the middle east today. Abraham deceitfully bemoans not having a son before the miraculous birth of Isaac while his son Ishmael is alive and suffering in the desert.

    Lot and his drunken incest with both daughters is blamed by the Bible text on the daughters.Too drunk to recognize his daughter but not too drunk to get it up? Twice? Not likely. Maybe if the women kept the records we might have the truth about that. Gen 19:30-36.

    Jacob deceived his father and cheated his brother out of the birthright. He mixing up Leah with Rachel on Leah’s wedding night. How drunk was that? Was he that dumb? Or was he just grabbing some free a$$ and the old man made him take responsibility? Jacob also cheated the old man out of many sheep in one of the earliest recorded examples of selective breeding. Why would Rachel want a man like that? The children of Jacob/Israel were a fine bunch, they were.

    Reuben bedded his mother’s sister wife or his father’s wife. At least it wasn’t his own mother. Gen 35:22.He was prevented from murdering his younger brother.

    Judah sold his brother into slavery in Egypt and made his father think said son was dead (cruel), then later fornicated his daughter-in-law who was posing as a whore in order to force him to have her marry another brother when the first one died (Gen 38). Lovely. (So lovely it is often skipped in our lesson manuals).

    David and Solomon did not please God with their many marriages which led them into much wickedness and even the Book of Mormon is clear on this point. Jacob 2:24.

    Abominable, I think is how it is described. Pretty much how I see it.

    Gen 2:24. Marriage -one man and one woman. One flesh.

    Random passages in the Torah regulate plural marriage but do not clearly prescribe it. To me it reads, if you have to stoop to it then at least don’t …

    Levirate marriages are mandated in the Bible (Deut. 25:5-6) but nobody today believes that is appropriate. Why do we accept the tolerated but not mandated plural marriages?

    2. Thomas:

    There are other explanations that come to mind when considering why Emma got pregnant but none of the other 40 wives did. Maybe we don’t know when the other 40 did. It was a big secret, after all. We haven’t genetically tested any of Joseph’s truely unknown progeny. We haven’t tested me for instance. Joseph had a plural wife known only as Mrs G. I have an ancestor named Pricilla Gifford who had children in Nauvoo. Maybe she is the mysterious Mrs G. In the future when preventive genetic testing for proto-oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes becomes more widespread and extensive we might inadvertantly find the answers to these questions. (The Huntsman Cancer Center at the U of U is on the cutting edge of this research.)

    Or perhaps Joseph had syphilis, the expected consequence of having 40 partners before the development of effective antibiotics and it eventually caused infertility.That would explain no children with 40 wives and it would mean Emma was “swinging” at least for some of those later children. What often happens when a man cheats on their wife, the wife cheats back. Fanny might have been a bit too young to get pregnant easily and maybe she got lucky in that Joseph didn’t have syphilis yet.

    The other possibility is abortion. Not uncommon at that time. Can you imagine how angry or desperate a woman would have to be to abort one of the Prophet’s children? Was Emma the abortionist for the rest? A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets…

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    1. thomas

      Emma’s descendants have been DNA tested. They have the same genes. That is how it is known that Emma’s children were not fathered by another man.

      You bring up all kinds of possibilities about abortion and syphilis but it seems pretty unlikely. Maybe another possibility is that Joseph did not have any other wives than Emma. Seems like the simplest and most likely explanation.

      Joseph Smith spent a lot of time and effort fighting against polygamy. He sent 380 missionaries out with the specific task of spreading the word that Mormon’s did not believe in or practice polygamy. He gave them sworn statements to that effect signed by the leadership of the church and many prominent members, including many who later changed their story.

      JS was killed over this issue. He was basically killed for fighting against polygamy. He had many enemies, in Nauvoo. That is how he ended up in Carthage jail. A former member of the first presidency had him put there. Many people feigned friendship with him but turned against him. Some of the mob that killed him were in that category. How would Joseph been able to carry out this scheme with all the back stabbers surrounding him? With all these enemies, how come no one could come up with a name for a single plural wife for JS, while he was still alive and challenged anyone to do so in front of a crowd of thousands? Certainly, someone could have produced at least one name.

      Why could they come with all kinds of names for wives 30 years later when Brigham threatened apostates with death and carried out those threats as well. Do you think the women of those days were not going to give the testimony Brigham wanted ? Do you think they had the power to resist?

      Some families left in the middle of the night to escape Utah and Brigham sent search parties after them with orders to kill them. It was no longer Joseph’s church, it was Brigham’s

      Why did some of the pioneers, when crossing the plains turn back upon hearing that Brigham was practicing polygamy and blaming it on Joseph?

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      1. Mike

        Not all of Emma’s children were tested. Some of them died as children and I doubt they went and dug up those babies and that they were still intact this many decades later. So exactly which descendants have been tested? I concede this point in general but point outit is a possible explanation that needed to be put to rest.

        Abortion not likely in early 1800’s? Are you aware that it was such a big problem at the time that it resulted in the generation of the majority of the legistlation against it?

        And you think 40 sex partners and no antibiotics, that veneral diseases are unlikely? On which planet? Its not just syphilis, probably close to a dozen of them around. I picked syphilis because it was known at the time.

        I don’t buy your seat-of-the-pants guesses at likelihoods based more on decaders of Mormon indoctrination about what a glorious leader Joseph Smith was than any understanding of the health issues of that time.

        I see denying polygamy and fighting polygamy as distinct and what you describe is denying it in my mind. If Joesph Smith wanted to fight polygamy he needed to start with himself.Then not be bringing others into it.

        I don’t share your perspective on the murder of Joseph Smith. He was in a small amount of trouble for destroying a printing press that accused him of polygamy. He was in heaps of trouble for treason during the Missouri War. In short (and over simplified), several people were killed and much property was destroyed in the Missour War by both Mormons and MIssourians. When Joseph Smith could see that the Mormons would not win against cannon anad trained militias he surrendered. That was nice of him to save his people from the ravages of war.

        Usually when leaders in wars surrender they face a trial, punishment and execution in many cases. Joseph Smith did not, rather he then escaped and never faced a court room and was never acquitted. Most non-Mormons thought he should have been executed for fighting back in Missouri. Both governors of Missouri and Illinois wanted him arrested and brought to justice. Mormons say the courts were loaded against him and they might be right in that the evidence presented would have been against him.The Mormon version was not believable in those courts. You can’t have it both ways; if you can’t win in court, and you can’t win on the battle field, how can you expect to be tolerated in society? Not the first time a group of people have been exterminated.

        Finally, explain to me how throwing Brigham Young under the wagon in order to save Joseph Smith’s reputation does any good? Are you going over to the RLDS (CofC) and their view of Joseph Smith as fallen prophet and the allegorical Book of Mormon? If Brigham was a false prophet then the entire rest of the mountain Mormon experience is not much better because we have never disavowed him. We might agree that both Smith and Young made some outrageous comments and mistakes. But putting polygamy solely on Brigham Young does us no good unless you want to deify Joseph Smith as God or the reincarnated Holy Ghost like that whacky guy in Manti. (James Harmston? can’t remember for sure).We are stuck with Brigham as much as Joseph, you can’t get around it.

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  10. Justin

    I have to say I think this villianisation of the idea that Joseph Smith introduced and lived polygamy is actually an attack on the real Joseph Smith. So here is my defense of Joseph Smith. I believe that Joseph Smith was called and ordained of God to restore His church in the latter days. I also believe he was a polygamist but don’t fault him for it either way.

    There I said it. My testimony of the prophet isn’t contingent on how comfortable I am with the doctrines I believe he taught and revealed.
    So what about yours? My faith isn’t shattered if it turns out he wasn’t. Is yours if it turns out he was? Does it mean if Joseph Smith was a polygamist then he was a wretched and vile man? Some people sure seem to imply so…

    As for the evidence from the Price’s books and this article I think some clarification is in order.

    Under any functional definition of the word, polygamy is clearly different from free love, adultery, wife swapping, orgy, etc. The specifics, as taught and practiced by early Mormons where nearly the same as how the Israelites practiced polygamy minus the doctrine of eternity. The Price’s had a hard time not labeled anything sexually wrong or deviant as polygamy and lumping it all together in their moral indignity. For example, they argue that the Cochranites gave Brigham Young the idea. And yet if you read the descriptions of what the Chocranites did, it was functionally divorce and remarriage in practice, along with the sharing/trading of spouses with the leader. Neither of these are remotely similar to the polygamy the Israelites practiced or what Brigham Young said Joseph Smith had taught. So how can you argue this as it’s the origin? Just because you label them the same?

    This is important in considering what Joseph Smith was attacking and what he was fighting against. For example, John C. Bennet was *not* practicing polygamy either, he was seducing vulnerable young women for sexual gratification using Joseph’s authority. Just because the Price’s imply it was somehow the same thing as what Brigham later taught and practiced doesn’t make it the same. You wont find a single teaching from Brigham Young condoning what Bennet did. Perhaps though, like today, back then people had a hard time understanding the difference between a sacred eternal ordinance and order and Satan’s lust driven counterfeit. Should we call the united order communism as well? Perhaps Joseph Smith felt explaining the nuance of the critical differences would be lost upon or even misunderstood and abused by a membership unprepared for it, and so he just focused on fighting against perversions and abuses while keeping the whole truth of the matter private and in close company. I can’t prove what Joseph Smith was really thinking but neither can anyone else. It’s speculation anyway you look at it.

    Beyond the loose definitions, the Price’s work is also inconsistent and rife with logical fallacies. Quoting what someone says as authoritative on one page and then excusing and ignoring what they say on another because you don’t like it isn’t a good way to build a credible argument. The best example of this was quoting Brigham Young saying he had told Joseph Smith he had a vision preparing him for polygamy while on his mission in England. They claimed that Brigham was admitting to having come up with the idea of polygamy when that obviously isn’t what was being said at all. But even if it was, it wouldn’t prove it wasn’t taught and practiced by Joseph Smith anyways. Except the same sentence also has Brigham talking to Joseph about it, which they claim he was against and so would never have happened. So is Brigham Young’s quote credible or is it not? It seems the Price’s felt it was credible enough to suit their agenda, but the part that contradicted their view is completely ignored. They also quote anti-Mormon propagandists as historic authority when criticizing Brigham, but ignore everything the same person said about Joseph Smith. This shows that regardless of whether their argument was right or wrong, what they presented was a manipulated and biased picture.

    And finally, to address this contents of this article, just as monogamy isn’t an excuse to have sex with one person, polygamy isn’t an excuse to have sex with multiple people. Frankly, I think that some people who struggle with polygamy the most are struggling with the concept of sex in general and polygamy just amplifies it. Factor on the eternal nature of the sealing doctrine and authority taught by Joseph Smith, and now you absolutely can’t equate sex to marriage and thus with polygamy. I understand that there are no known polygamous descendants of Joseph Smith, but that doesn’t say anything as to whether or not he was sealed to those other women while he was alive or whether he taught Brigham Young and others and performed their polygamous sealings. Not finding something that would prove one side of an argument doesn’t prove the other. I personally think that considering the timing of these other marriages, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were never even intended for this life anyways since Joseph didn’t have much much longer to live and wasn’t going to be able to openly support and provide for them in the meantime either.

    That said, what I am not saying is that Brigham Young and his contemporaries were saints who never made mistakes and understood everything perfectly. As a matter of fact considering the succession problems and RLDS break off in general, I don’t find it surprising that some of the women who were sealed to Joseph Smith would stretch the truth to try and give more authority to what they experienced. Their testimony’s are clearly not credible, but again, that isn’t proof that they were wrong. Without any conclusive evidence either way all anyone can do is make a hopefully informed guess. Unless you’re contemplating your own command from a priesthood leader or God to live the principle of polygamy yourself it frankly shouldn’t matter. But I personally think the truth is in the fruits, and in my own family tree there are polygamists and I am not ashamed of them. It doesn’t matter to me whether the doctrine was true or false and whether it came from Joseph Smith or Brigham Young. They were honorable people who lived good lives of faith and conviction. They have no need for apologists to argue that they weren’t polygamists for me to respect and admire them, so why should Joseph?

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    1. Michael T.

      There is a serious problem when the sources aren’t consistent. You ultimately have to decide which statements you find “authoritative”. What I liked about this paper is it admits that, based on the evidence, you could come to either conclusion. Looking at both sides of this argument, I’d have to agree. It’s definitely murky, since it was a secret practice (whether or not Joseph was involved). My two big problems with this/the Prices/Snuffer:

      (1) No one has explained the “righteous” examples of polygamists (Abraham, Jacob, Moses). If it would have been a vile practice for Joseph Smith, then the righteousness of Abraham and others is called into question. There needs to be an explanation.

      (2) A lack of children does not mean a lack of polygamy or sexual relations. I’m sure Joseph Smith was smart enough to not get his supposed wives pregnant. Especially if he wanted to keep the whole thing secret.
      Jesus, people, It’s not that complicated! Here, I’ll spell it out for those of you keep using that argument. You pull out! Joseph Smith didn’t need to ejaculate in the women. Someone had to say it. You take precautions to prevent pregnancy. Lack of children is such a weak argument.

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      1. Justin

        I pretty much agree. Except that while the paper starts out saying there is evidence for both sides, settings itself up as objective, it then only ever presents evidence of one side except for straw man arguments. The feigned objectivity waxes obviously biased half way through. It’s not objective or honest to be repeating someone else’s obviously flawed arguments. The author is either so emotionally convinced that he can’t see the forest for the trees, or he is purposefully manipulating the argument and doesn’t care. For example , what is up with all the quotes of Joseph Smith attacking things that are not polygamy such as wife swapping and adultery? Whether Joseph Smith was an adulterer or not *isn’t* the debate unless you are implying polygamy is adultery. Can’t find enough specific teachings against polygamy to fill your paper with? Share something else and imply it’s the same thing the reader probably won’t notice. In which case, God help us. I’m afraid we are so stupid that words have no more meaning for us anymore and we might as well plug up our ears and pluck out our eyes because we will never be able to communicate with God or our fellow human beings ever again. This amounts to propaganda as much as the FLDS teachings, and those of the current church. But if man so desires to be deceived I suppose there is always someone willing to. I would however hope people will instead read all the sources journals in context for themselves and then come up with their own opinions.

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        1. Thomas

          Are you sure you read the article?

          Joseph Smith made many, many denials of polygamy right up until his death. He had all the church leaders sign sworn statements that the church didn’t teach or practice polygamy. He sent 380 missionaries out with the specific purpose of distributing those sworn statements to the world. That was their only task. To say the church nor it’s leaders believed in polygamy. The D&C had a scripture defining marriage to be between one man and one women and that plural marriage was not acceptable. What more do you need ?

          The article addressed all contemporary evidence against Joseph Smith and ignored the evidence that came from many years after his death. The author explained that he found that evidence to be unreliable because it came 30 years after Joseph’s death from people with an agenda and a record of falsifying records to suit their story.

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      2. Thomas

        Ya, actually not right my friend. Some semen is released during the act of intercourse before ejaculation. Although the chances are decreased, the strong possibility of pregnancy remains. Many pregnancies have resulted from this type of birth control. Wikipedia says the failure rate is 15-28 percent, per year for this method. Over seven years and 40 wives, that is still a lot of Children. It would also go against the testimony of women that claimed Joseph fathered children with them. Of course these women were proven liars by DNA testing but it doesn’t fit the story they were trying to present. You cant have it both ways. Either he was trying to get them pregnant or not.

        It really boils down to who lied? Why did he go to such great efforts to fight against polygamy? If God commanded it and it was righteous as you say in the cases above, why lie about it?

        If God has your back why would you worry about what other’s think? God offered to protect the saints and fight their battles. Why fear any man or government if God has your back? He said they would not be moved from their place, if they obeyed God. Obviously, it didn’t go down that way.

        The article did not say, it would be a vile practice for Joseph to practice polygamy.

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        1. Zed7

          I would agree with one of your points. Either Joseph Smith lied, or Brigham Young lied, or I suppose they both might not have told the truth, and the truth therefore would likely be lost forever. We can’t have it both ways. More likely, either the founder of the religion lied extensively, or Brigham Young and many of his followers did.

          The big questions are, why is it so unclear? Why all the lies? How can a man be considered a prophet, being cleansed every whit from his iniquity, and still be a liar? This works for BY or JS? Is it okay to lie extensively, and still be right with God?

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      3. brian

        Justin, wasn’t the purpose of polygamy to “raise up seed”? If so, then the lack of children would seem to be stronger than you suppose?

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    2. lizzievalentina

      Franky my aversion to polygamy is not exactly about sex. It’s about feeling like I’m property. Property among other property.

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    3. Charity

      I think that most people could care little what other consenting adults do with their romantic lives. What I think we may take issue with is the thought that God may want men to bind themselves to multiple women, but won’t let his fair daughters bind themselves with multiple men.

      If talking sex, these lucky ducks of men get quite a variety (though I’m pretty sure that pioneer sex wasn’t quite as “clean” as we have it…talking monthly baths here) of bodies to enjoy and explore. They get a variety of female praise and adoration. What man wouldn’t want his ego stroked by several women. And when I say ego, I do mean ego. 🙂
      As for the fair daughters of God…why can’t they also experience the richness of multiple sex partners? The variety, the difference in technique, feel, rhythm, etc. Why can’t they also have adoration heaped upon them? How many mothers would love to hear an encouraging word from time to time? Multiple husbands could fill that need for her quite well. She in turn would have an increased capacity to stroke each of their egos in kind.
      The inequality of how polygamy is set up makes our hearts hurt.

      And it really is al about sex for the men. Do any of us really think that men want to take on that many eomotional women? Ha. Not likely.

      And the possibility that God may want this as a requirement and that’s why JS lived it…well, that’s a hard pill to swallow.

      If JS lived it and taught it and it really is what God wants, then I want no part of it and I’m outta here.
      If he lived it and taught it but it was not want God wants, then he made a huge mistake and had fractured many hearts and lives because of it. If he was wrong he was not given the chance to fix it and so this huge thorn in our sides remain.
      Our hearts are on the line.
      Is this part of heaven or not?
      If we are to invest our whole selves into this gospel, we need to know what we are getting into. It’s called “investigating” for a reason.

      Reply
  11. ahuizotl

    The author does a great job addressing some of the more commonly used accusations against Joseph.

    However, he fails to address one of the biggest of them all… Oliver Cowdery.

    Oliver was very intimate with Joseph’s dealings in Kirtland and shared a sacred experience with him behind the veil in of the Kirtland Temple in 1836.

    Oliver was subsequently excommunicated for not retracting his words that Joseph had been involved in a “dirty, nasty, filthy affair of his and Fanny Alger’s.”

    It’s documented here.

    http://josephsmithpapers.org/paperSummary/journal-march-september-1838?p=16&highlight=nasty#!/paperSummary/journal-march-september-1838&p=16

    Reply
    1. Ben

      We know absolutely nothing about how Oliver claims to have known about an affair between Joseph and Fanny.

      Did Oliver just believe rumors he heard?

      Reply
      1. Ahuizotl

        Would someone who has seen angles, handled the Gold Plates as one of the 3 Witnesses, personally seen Christ, chose the 12 Apostles and having been referred to by the Lord as the 2nd Elder of the Church stake his membership in such a church on rumors?

        Reply
        1. Ben

          Of course he could believe rumors. Any human being can. Have you never been fooled by rumors? I know I have.

          Rather than speculating, if you’re positive Oliver knew from first-hand knowledge, please enlighten us all and prove it from the historical record.

          For instance, from the very record you cited, it looks more like Oliver had abandoned his calling at this point, and wasn’t very close to the church.

          Reply
  12. Ahuizotl

    Ben,

    You missed the point intirely.

    And to answer your question, it’s right there in the article I cited.

    Let me quote it for you:

    “At the trial, JS stated that as Cowdery “had been his bosom friend, therefore he intrusted him with many things”—apparently confirming the reality of a confidential relationship with Alger.”

    Either you didn’t read it or didnt comprehend it.

    You’ve been pretty zealous in your posting about this article. Good for you. Don’t let your desire for Joseph’s innocence when it comes to polygamy cloud your judgement.

    It’s a major flaw in the author’s arguments as well.

    Reply
  13. Pingback: Notable Emails #24 “I recently awoke or at least have begun to awaken. Since August I’m no longer blindly following the brethren and traditions of the church.” | Because I am Watching

  14. Meg Stout

    I have a commentary on the Joseph Smith Monogamy pdf over at Millennial Star. http://wp.me/p1LrEd-4Za

    For those who are interested, the Advanced Review Copy (ARC) of Reluctant Polygamist is available now for cost on Amazon.com. This was an early version. A DRMed pdf will also shortly be available for free via my Millennial Star announcement (free means you will have to use Javelin PDF reader to get past the DRM.) http://www.millennialstar.org/reluctant-polygamist-arc-release/

    For those who might read this but will fail to go to Millennial Star, JSM makes two bold leaps:

    1) Fails to understand that polygamy, spiritual wifery, and illicit intercourse in 1840s Nauvoo was synonymous with adultery and fornication. It is only years later that Brigham makes a tactical decision to embrace the term polygamy, since it is merely a technical term that describes marriages that aren’t strictly monogamous. Emma, as seen in her dying testimony, never did agree to demote the term polygamy from being synonymous with adultery/fornication. So even though James Whitehead (Joseph’s personal secretary, later RLDS) had told Emma’s sons that he had personally witnessed their father being sealed to women, with Emma laying the women’s hands in Joseph’s, by using a specific definition of polygamy, they were able to continue pretending that their father hadn’t covenanted with women other than Emma.

    2) Presumes that what Joseph wrote Oct 5 about no man having more than one wife is global guidance for all eternity (sorry, Abraham and Jacob, you don’t get to be linked to your children by plural wives in eternity). Study of the details of 1843 shows that this prohibition on plural marriage at that time was tactical, rather than eternal. October 1843 is shortly after Joseph sent Eliza R. Snow, the Partridge girls away and Flora Woodworth eliminated herself as a threat by marrying Carlos Gove, a move she later wished she hadn’t done (no offense to Carlos).But by 1844 Eliza R. Snow is invited to return to Nauvoo, with the danger no longer affected by whether or not she is present.

    Anyone who tells you the LDS Church may safely be ignored, disobeyed, or “corrected” is following in the dubious tradition of John Bennett, William Law, Austin Cowles, and Lorin Woolley.

    Reply
  15. Roy Moore

    Dear AB,

    Could you ask the author of Joseph Smith’s Monogamy to consider incorporating research on Josephine Rosetta Lyon, birthdate: January 8, 1844, birthplace: Nauvoo, IL, USA. Josephine is considered the most probable descendant of Joseph Smith, Jr. by plural marriage.

    Respectfully,

    Roy Moore
    Monroe, UT

    Reply
    1. Bishop Anon Post author

      Hello Roy! Sorry this took me a few days to get back. I was able to contact the author of Joseph Smith’s Monogamy and this is his response to your great question:

      As for Josephine, the evidence really isn’t that strong. The DNA tests from 120 descendants of Josephine don’t corroborate the claim that she is Joseph’s daughter. Actually, the only real evidence comes from Josephine herself. She claims that her mother, Sylvia, told Josephine that Joseph Smith was her father. Josephine was told this as Sylvia lay dying some forty years after the fact. There is evidence that Sylvia was sealed to Joseph. Assuming Josephine is accurately conveying whatever her dying mother told her, that begs the question: what did Josephine’s mother mean when she said Josephine was the daughter of Joseph? Did Sylvia mean she had sex with Joseph and through that Josephine was conceived? Or did Sylvia mean that she was sealed to Joseph and therefore Joseph had a claim on Josephine as his “daughter” in heaven?

      Sylvia was married to another man at the time she was sealed to Joseph. They continued to cohabit after the sealing to Joseph. Unless someone is going to argue that Sylvia and her real husband lived together as a celibate couple, we’d have to wonder how Sylvia would even know if Josephine was the biological daughter of Joseph or her husband. Regardless, the only evidence in this case is hearsay from a dying woman who used words that could have meant something entirely different than what we assume. For all we know, Sylvia was convinced that Josephine was an immaculate conception. I personally have a hard time taking this seriously without any DNA evidence to back it up.

      Reply
      1. Roy Moore

        Hi Biship Anon,
        The purpose of my inquiry is to close as many arguments as possible against Joseph Smith’s Monogamy. This response is most helpful and I hope might be incorporated into the document. I can’t thank you and the Author enough for this important research.

        Roy Moore
        Monroe, UT

        Reply
  16. ellee

    I know I’m posting really late on this thread but would like to share a couple of thoughts.

    1. If I were to believe that Joseph Smith participated in polygamy, I would have to believe that he was a liar. Maybe I’m naive, but I can’t see the Father and the Son appearing to someone, and continuing to favor him with marvelous revelations, who had the capacity to be such a liar.

    2. I have ancestors who married in the Nauvoo Temple. I have the forms that were sent to my mother years ago documenting this. While they appear to be old records, (although I believe they are copies from microfilm), the information is typed on printed forms, which indicates to me that they were recreated at some time after the Saints left Nauvoo. (I just looked it up and the typewriter was invented in 1867 or 1868.) I also don’t know if accurate records were kept and transported from Nauvoo to Salt Lake. I’ve been told that Eliza Snow took the Relief Society records but have never heard about the temple records. Nevertheless, at some point, after leaving Nauvoo, once the Church was using typewriters, the records were transcribed onto the printed forms, either from records that had been hand written and brought from Nauvoo or recreated from what people remembered or gave as their personal experience. Either way, this would have opened the door for false information about Joseph Smith and his marriages/sealings to be claimed and inserted into the Church records. This could have been done by anyone who wanted a record of his polygamy to be an official part of the Church records, a Church leader or even a typist.

    3. I am sensitive to the histories of women who say that had experiences with Joseph Smith in these matters and don’t have an answer, not even for myself, to explain their experiences without disrespecting those women. Hopefully someday. But regardless, for now, I just can’t believe that Joseph Smith was a liar.

    Reply
  17. Kenneth

    Marriage in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since its conception on April 6, 1830 was that a man should have only one wife.

    15 And again, verily I say unto you, that whoso forbiddeth to marry is not ordained of God, for marriage is ordained of God unto man.
    16 Wherefore, it is lawful that he should have one wife, and they twain shall be one flesh, and all this that the earth might answer the end of its creation;
    17 And that it might be filled with the measure of man, according to his creation before the world was made.
    (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 49:15 – 17) Revelation given March 1831

    Note that “before the world was made”this law of marriage was ordained and it stated that a man was to have only “one wife, and they twain shall be one flesh.” If that wasn’t enough clarity section 101 on “Marriage” was added to the Doctrine and Covenants in 1835 and accepted by competent assemblies or conferences of the Church as scripture!

    God’s pattern for marriage has always been the same: “one man, one wife”…

    The whole notion of a “plurality of wives” was never and has never been a commandment of God as stated in D&C 49: 16-17 from “before the world was made.” So where did the notion of having more than one wife come from? Answer: from the “carnal nature of man.” As far as the scriptures go the first mention of a “plurality of wives” came from the practice of a fallen people who had separated themselves from Gods true order and pattern for marriage. This people were descendants from the seed of Cain:

    16 ¶ And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.
    17 And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.
    18 And unto Enoch was born Irad: and Irad begat Mehujael: and Mehujael begat Methusael: and Methusael begat Lamech.
    19 ¶ And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.
    20 And Adah bare Jabal: he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle.
    21 And his brother’s name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.
    22 And Zillah, she also bare Tubal-cain, an instructer of every artificer in brass and iron: and the sister of Tubal-cainwasNaamah.
    23 And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt.
    24 If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.(Old Testament | Genesis 4:16 – 24)

    Witness # 1: God established his pattern of moral integrity with Adam and Eve:
    24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. (Old Testament | Genesis 2:18 – 24)

    Witness # 2: God established his pattern of moral integrity with Noah and his sons:
    And Noah did according unto all that the LORD commanded him.
    6 And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth.
    7 ¶ And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons’ wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood. (Old Testament | Genesis 7:5 – 7)

    In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark; (Old Testament | Genesis 7:13)

    Witness # 3: God establishedhis pattern of moral integrity with Lehi and his sons:
    1 AND now I would that ye might know, that after my father, Lehi, had made an end of prophesying concerning his seed, it came to pass that the Lord spake unto him again, saying that it was not meet for him, Lehi, that he should take his family into the wilderness alone; but that his sons should take daughters to wife, that they might raise up seed unto the Lord in the land of promise.(Book of Mormon | 1 Nephi 7:1)

    And it came to pass that I, Nephi, took one of the daughters of Ishmael to wife; and also, my brethren took of the daughters of Ishmael to wife; and also Zoram took the eldest daughter of Ishmael to wife.
    8 And thus my father had fulfilled all the commandments of the Lord which had been given unto him. And also, I, Nephi, had been blessed of the Lord exceedingly. (Book of Mormon | 1 Nephi 16:7 – 8)

    Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord. (Book of Mormon | Jacob 2:24)

    Wherefore, thus saith the Lord, I have led this people forth out of the land of Jerusalem, by the power of mine arm, that I might raise up unto me a righteous branch from the fruit of the loins of Joseph.
    26 Wherefore, I the Lord God will not suffer that this people shall do like unto them of old.
    27 Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none;
    28 For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts. (Book of Mormon | Jacob 2:25 – 28)

    Witness # 4: God established this same pattern of moral integrity with the Prophet Joseph Smith and the latter-day generation of which we are all apart:

    Revelation given March 1831:

    “for marriage is ordained of God unto man.
    16 Wherefore, it is lawful that he should have one wife, and they twain shall be one flesh, and all this that the earth might answer the end of its creation;
    17 And that it might be filled with the measure of man, according to his creation before the world was made.
    (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 49:15 – 17)

    My testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith is that he never departed from this truth, never lied, and never had but one wife, Emma! Everything said to the contrary to this was lies hatched to bring him down. Who is deceived? Me or those who fell into what the Lord called “whoredoms and abominations” as having more than one wife?

    Reply
  18. iterry54

    Kenneth – D&C 132 is about polygamy – go read it. Joseph was sealed to many more than one. I know the Church is distancing itself from polygamy now and are not being truthful about it. Abraham had multiple wives which was fine with the Lord. D&C 132:39 David’s wive(S) and concubines were given unto him of ME, by the hand of Nathan… and in none of these things DID HE SIN. Joseph did not sin for having more than one wife. Nether did my ancestors who had more than one wife. You’ve pulled a few scriptures out of context to show that polygamy was condemned. It was not condemned and both the ancient and modern prophet lived it.

    Reply
  19. Lilli

    Whether Joseph lived polygamy or not or whether he wrote D&C 132 or not is really quite irrelevant, if you believe in and follow Christ. For Christ trumps all and clearly condemned all polygamy over and over, past, present and future, in his various teachings on love, marriage and the Golden Rule. So there should be no question as to whether polygamy is ever right or wrong. Truth is eternal and Christ’s teachings apply to all, from Adam to us.

    Not only did Christ condemn polygamy but he also taught that any so called person or ‘prophet’, ancient or modern, who preached or practiced ‘contrary’ to his commandments, reveals himself to be one of the many false prophets that Christ warned us about and that they aren’t a true follower of him, no matter what they may claim.

    And the LDS Church proves to be false from the beginning whether or not Joseph lived polygamy, for it’s leaders have not followed and kept the commandments of Christ, which again, is how Christ said you easily tell true prophets from false ones.

    I believe Joseph was too smart to fall for polygamy (not that he couldn’t have weakened but I doubt he did because he clearly understood how evil polygamy was and how it was contrary to Christ. But if he did weaken and fall for whoredoms as is so common, even among those who claim to be prophets, surely knew that he couldn’t get away with it for long and still keep the Saint’s trust. For he had continually condemned all polygamy, past, present and future, and even taught the Saints that they will lose their salvation if they ever fell for polygamy or for anyone, even a prophet, even him, if he or they ever came preaching or practicing polygamy.

    So it’s impossible for the LDS Church to be true, not only because it has never followed Christ, but because if Joseph ‘didn’t’ live polygamy then BY and every leader since Joseph was a false prophet and believed in and preached and practiced falsehoods & whoredoms (for even today the Church still practices ‘serial polygamy, which is worse than regular polygamy).

    And if Joseph ‘did’ live polygamy then he lied not only to his wife and family but deceived everyone he knew and led the whole Church astray (for many if not most Saints refused to follow BY and left the Church because JS had warned them not to follow any polygamous prophet).

    But polygamy was only the tip of the iceberg, for JS did not keep Christ’s other commandments and thus proved to be a false or fallen prophet like so many before him in history.

    Reply
    1. iterry54

      Well Lilli, you obviously aren’t LDS and so you likely do not understand many things about the Church. Yes Joseph lived polygamy and no God did not condemn polygamy. You didn’t bother to mention any scripture condemning the practice. I guess I don’t understand then how Abraham, Jacob and David lived polygamy if it was so evil. You want to explain that one to me? I revere Joseph as a prophet of God. Not so today with the leaders of the Church – they are all in a state of apostasy, but Joseph was not an apostate and did what God commanded which was to live polygamy.

      Reply
      1. Chris

        Actually God did command against polygamy. Deuteronomy 17:17, “He shall not multiply wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away.” Both David and Solomon disobeyed and it caused problems. Abraham’s taking his handmaid as a wife caused problems. Never once did God command anyone to commit polygamy, only against.

        Reply

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