Addressing Misunderstandings About Plural Marriage

For a myriad reasons this is a topic we have avoided covering and hoped to avoid covering for as long as possible. However, due to recent questions posted on this website, disputations on the associated forum, and a growing trend in the Church in general, we decided to address it now.

As the practice of Celestial Plural Marriage was discontinued by the common consent of the Church in 1890; I will not necessarily (as Joseph Fielding Smith said) “discuss its virtues nor answer arguments in opposition to that principle as a principle of our faith.” (source)  We will instead limit the discussion to the creeping ideas that:

  1. Brigham Young made up the revelation known as Doctrine and Covenants Section 132
  2. Celestial Plural Marriage was made up by the Prophet Joseph Smith to excuse his lustful activities including being sealed to women who were already married
  3. The Prophet Joseph Smith was influenced by Cochranite converts  to allow the practice of “spiritual wifery”

Cochranites

Some, using RLDS/Community of Christ sources, claim that missionaries visiting a sect called “Cochranites” was the origin of plural marriage in the Church. The fact is, the first time a missionary ever came across the Cochranites was Orson Hyde in October of 1832.  Unfortunately for the proponents of this theory, the first revelation on Celestial Plural Marriage was received by the Prophet in July of 1831, over a year before the saints had any contact with the Cochranites. This revelation is referred to by both apostate Ezra Booth, in 1831, as well as faithful member W. W. Phelps.

To believe this theory you would have to:

  • Dismiss the fact that there was no contact between the Church and the Cochranites when Joseph first started teaching this Gospel principle.
  • Believe that Joseph made up revelations to suit converts from whatever faith they came from – even though the majority of sects believed in the trinity, rejected any idea of marriage after death, and found the idea of man becoming God no less than blasphemous.
  • Follow the same line of logic in regards to the Temple, which critics claim are nothing more than the result of Joseph’s involvement in Freemasonry.

Brigham Young Made up D&C 132

This is the idea that Joseph Smith did nothing but condemn plural marriage throughout his life and that Brigham Young made up the revelation, since the Saints, supposedly, would never have accepted it if they knew that the “revelation” came from Brigham Young.

First: Joseph’s closest friends and associates recorded contemporary accounts of the Prophet teaching them the principle of Celestial Plural Marriage:

“This was the first time the Prophet Joseph talked with me on the subject of Plural Marriage.  He informed me that the doctrine and principle was right in the sight of our Heavenly Father, and that it was a doctrine which pertained to Celestial Order and Glory.” (William Clayton, The Journals of William Clayton, 1843, pg 557)

This was William’s personal journal.  He had no reason to make it up to make Joseph look bad (which he wouldn’t have done since they were the closest of friends), nor would it have been done just to make Brigham Young look good when he made the revelation public a decade or so later.

Additionally, Joseph Lee Robinson records in his personal journal another of Joseph Smiths revelations on Celestial Plural Marriage in the fall of 1841, and his subsequent acceptance of the Gospel principle because of what the Prophet personally taught him:

“Joseph, unless you go to and immediately teach that principle (namely polygamy or plural marriage) and put the same in practice, that he, Joseph, should be slain for thus saith the Lord, that the time has now come that I will raise up seed unto me as I spoke by my servant Jacob as is recorded in the Book of Mormon, therefore, I command my people.” (Revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith, Fall of 1841, recorded in Joseph Lee Robinson journal, 1811-1893, pg. 39)

None of the Apostles denied that the Prophet introduced the doctrine.

Additionally, John Taylor had three revelations from the Lord on the subject (one of which was published in foreign editions of the Doctrine and Covenants), and Wilford Woodruff had two revelations pertaining to Celestial Plural Marriage.  Were all of the Apostles liars, and did John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff claim false revelations?

If we are to accept the idea that plural marriage did not originate with the Prophet Joseph Smith, we would have to:

  • Accept that Church Presidents and other top leaders were in a decades long conspiracy to defame the Prophet Joseph – and were willing to go to prison, have others go to prison, and let the U.S. government confiscate Church property – in an effort to perpetuate said conspiracy.
  • Accept the idea that the Saints couldn’t accept continuing revelation through the Prophet, so Brigham had to lie and say it came from Joseph Smith instead of just saying the Lord revealed it to him.
  • Believe that Joseph’s closest associates would lie in their own personal journals
  • Take the word of the enemies of Joseph Smith over the words of those that Joseph said never betrayed him, such as Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball.
  • Believe John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff made up revelations from the Lord on the subject.

What about the times that Joseph denied the practice of plural marriage?  The claim is often made that “All of the writings of Joseph Smith (published during his lifetime) condemn polygamy, but after his death Brigham and the other polygamous apostles published polygamist documents which they ascribed to Joseph.” (“Joseph Smith Faught Polygamy”, chapter 4, Restoration Books) This quote from Joseph is representative of their point:

“What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one.”  (History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6:411)

Did Joseph teach one thing in public and another thing in private?  The Prophet said on one occasion, “I am bold to declare I have taught all the strong doctrines publically, and always teach stronger doctrines in public than in private.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg. 370).  It seems clear that from the Temple ordinances to Celestial Plural Marriage and the Quorum of the Annointed, that Joseph did teach stronger doctrines in private than he revealed to the masses.  Contrast the above statement with another one the Prophet made about not revealing all publically:

“The reason we do not have the secrets of the Lord revealed unto us, is because we do not keep them but reveal them; we do not keep our own secrets, but reveal our difficulties to the world, even to our enemies, then how would we keep the secrets of the Lord?  I can keep a secret till Doomsday.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, page 195

To keep a secret, especially one the Lord commanded, it will at times foster a need to speak with the intent to deceive.   As mentioned before, though, contemporary accounts from Josephs closest associates show he taught one thing to one group of people and another thing to another group of people. On one occasion, he told his close friend, William Clayton, “that it was her [Emma’s] advice that I should keep M [Clayton’s plural wife Margaret] at home and it was also his council. Says he just keep her at home and brook it and if they raise trouble about it and bring you before me I will give you an awful scourging & probably cut you off from the church and then I will baptise you & set you ahead as good as ever. (“An Intimate Chronicle, the Journals of William Clayton, page122, October 19, 1843) This clearly shows that, since it was against the law of the Church and the law of the land, the Prophet would have to take public action against William for breaking the law of the Church. However, it also shows that Joseph wasn’t against Plural Marriage, a law of the Priesthood,  in that Joseph would just take William right back in the Church, since Joseph was only going to take action if others gave him a hard time.

A prophet would never speak with an intent to deceive would he?

Prophets throughout time have given false impressions from time to time in an effort to protect those around them.  Abram (Abraham) mislead Pharaoh about Sarai, giving the impression that He and Sarai were not married, but brother and sister (Genesis 12:11–20), and Abraham was misleading again to the King of Gerar about his wife Sarai when he said to him, “She is my sister” (Genesis 20:2).

Were these sins of Joseph and Abram?  I will let the Lord be the judge of that one. However, if it was a sin, it did not stop Abram from being the Lords prophet, and it didn’t stop Joseph from being his prophet either.   It is clear that persecution from disaffected members was putting a lot of pressure on the Prophet to do whatever he could to protect the Saints from suffering any more at the hands of the mobs.

Joseph was sealed to married women

This assertion is true, but this practice is not necessarily wrong, in and of itself.   The Lord revealed in Doctrine and Covenants 132:7 that “All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power… are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead.”

The Lord states very clearly that anything that is not sealed by Him or His authority is nonbinding, and will absolutely not be recognized by Him. The sealings of the Prophet to “married” women were to women that were not sealed to anyone else, and therefore were effectively single in the eyes of the Lord.  Not only does sealing have to be performed by proper authority, but the Lord says that it has to be done by revelation to be valid as well. Speaking to the sisters of the Church, John Taylor explained that in the premortal life, “You chose a kindred spirit whom you loved in the spirit world… to be your… husband”. (“Gospel Kingdom, Selection from the writing and discourses of John Taylor” G. Homer Durham, 1943, pages 12-13)  Since the Lord knows whom we covenanted with to be their spouse, before we came to this mortal probation, what better person to receive revelation on the matter than His prophet, Joseph Smith?  It is recorded in several instances that Joseph said it was revealed to him directly from the Lord that the women he approached were to be his “Celestial” wives.

Our spouses are clearly not property, but an illustration given by Jedediah M. Grant on the subject reveals to us that everything in our life is the Lords to give or to take away as He pleases:

“When the family organization was revealed from heaven – the patriarchal order of God, and Joseph began, on the right and on the left, to add to his family, what a quaking there was in Israel.  Says one brother to another, ‘Joseph says all covenants are done away, and none are binding but the new covenants: now suppose Joseph should come and say he wanted your wife, what would you say to that?’ ‘I would tell him to go to hell.’  This was the spirit of many in the early days of this Church…  What would a man of God say, who felt aright, when Joseph asked him for his money?  He would say, ‘Yes, and I wish I had more to help to build up the kingdom of God.’  Or if he came and said, “I want your wife?’ “O yes,’ he would say, ‘here she is, there are plenty more.’…   If such a man of God should come to me and say, ‘I want your gold and silver, or your wives,’ I should say, ‘Here they are, I wish I had more to give you, take all I have got’” (Journal of Discourses 2:13-14)

Much like Abraham, who recognized that his own son was not actually his, but the Lords to demand the return of at His pleasure, Apostle Grant understood that no part of our life is exempt from that eternal principle.

Was this principle easy?  Was it popular?  Clearly it wasn’t, as some of the husbands of the women Joseph was sealed to were rumored to be part of the mob that martyred him.  We should ask ourselves, though, when was ease or popularity a sure sign of being right?

Admittedly, Joseph being sealed to already married women is an extremely tough aspect of his prophetic ministry, but in the end, we have to take it on faith that either he was doing the commands of the Lord or he was falling for the lusts of his heart.  The evidence alone is inconclusive.  In the end, which option you choose to believe will most likely be based on your own testimony/prejudice towards the Prophet.

 

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76 Responses to Addressing Misunderstandings About Plural Marriage

  1. James says:

    Well this is pretty tough for sure. On the point that Prophets will lie. Can we get a better example than Abram? By saying that his wife was his sister he was not actually lying. She was technically his spiritual sister. Leaving out the portion that she was also his wife was not technically lying. He simply left that out and allowed the egyptians to draw their own conclusions. The scripture does not show them probing it with him. They simply took her and left im alive under the assumption that there was nothing more to it. I will admit that this one is harder for me to swallow. I have worked it out in my mind already that the prophet will refu to volunteer certain information and allow us to draw our conclusions even when they are incorrect but not to lie.

    • James says:

      Well then that I can believe easier. I believe I have seen a hierarchy of laws where a higher law can trump a lower one. For example when Eve made a choice to follow the higher law of procreation over the lower law of not partaking of the forbidden fruit. If I lived in Nazi Germany during the Third Reich and was questioned if I knew of any Jew’s in hiding in my neighborhood I would not disclose that. I would do my best to simply tell truths that the listener was free to misinterpret or make assumptions about. but if it really came down to it I would also outright mislead them to protect the lives of my brothers and sisters over the law to not bear false witness. I think these occurrences are few and far between that many of us would be in such a situation.

    • G. Michael Craig says:

      It is an accepted point of law that a lie consists of two parts. First, the intentional misstatement of the facts. Second, an intent to defraud someone of something that is rightfully theirs. Abrams actions constitute the first part, but not the second. The Egyptians had no lawful right to Abram’s wife, therefore, he was at liberty to tell them whatever he wanted to about her, to protect both their lives. This is on a par with the advice of policemen and privacy experts to women seeking to avoid being found by an estranged boyfriend or husband who has sworn to kill them if he can find them. They advise such women to move to a far away neighborhood, use a fictitious name, a ghost address, and a false bio. They’re not lying, just misstating the facts.

    • G. Michael Craig says:

      Ezra, how can you know that none of his 33-60 other wives was present in the crowd when he said that?

    • Lin says:

      Unless I’m missing something, Sarah is Abraham’s half-sister:

      Gen 20:12 And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife.

      So…technically, he wasn’t lying. Misleading, in the context of what was happening, but not lying per se.

  2. James says:

    On Joseph being sealed to women that were married but not sealed to men in the mortal world! I do not really see a problem. I do find your argument here convincing especially since all those who have asserted that their children were joseph smiths were actually not his biologically. As far as I know all have been dna tested and found to not be his bio kids. This at least gives credence that this was not done for lustful purposes since none of his dna was found among any of the spiritual wives. But maybe someone can enlighten me on that. I would have a problem with him leaving dna traces among mortally maried women but much less so with plural wives that married him mortally and celestially.

    • James says:

      Ok but haven’t many of the stories considered most solid and possible been DNA tested. Wish I remembered where I found that. But like many members who come across this stuff I struggled for a while rummaging through many many sites and links trying to corroborate and make sense of what I found etc. But here is what I do know. When I read the scriptures, JS, BY and other prophets teach I feel the spirit strongly. Sometimes what they say rub’s up roughly against my preconceptions or my worldly wisdom. But everytime, EVERYTIME, that I get humble and pray with real intent and wait on the Lord he has helped me to understand. So while these types of things can seem hard to understand I have found that they usually illustrate why we must not cast our pearls before swine.

    • G. Michael Craig says:

      The lack of DNA matches does not in and of itself prove that Joseph was not engaging in sexual relations with his other wives, including those already married. Considering the fact that he was overseeing the buildup and organization of the Church, in two separate locations, operating a store, making frequent trips to Washington and elsewhere, eventually becoming mayor of Nauvoo and commander of the Nauvoo Legion, and all the while running from the law, hiding from militia’s, and doing what he could to keep 33+ wives happy, how likely is it that he would have had time enough with any one of them at the right moment in her cycle to produce a child? Besides, several of these wives, and/or their kin, stated that Joseph consummated the marriage in the usual way.

  3. James says:

    I actually have a larger issue with the refence to john taylor teaching that women chose their husbands in the premortal life. This idea of soul mates “as dipicted in saturdays warriors” has been repeatedly denounced by prophets multiple times giving satisfaction that in the mouth of two or three witnessses shall evey word be established. So anyway this idea has caused a lot of dissatisfaction in peoples marriages as it provides women with the idea that since their chon husband is so imperfect they can pine away for some fabled soul mate and not give their marriages everthing they have. It allows for a lot of blaming to occur against the husband rather than intrspection and analysis of the beam that is in their own eye. And vice-versa for husbands.

    • iamse7en says:

      You can conclude that prophets have different feelings and opinions, but it might be rash to outright say it’s a false doctrine. For example, there is good evidence that Joseph taught this principle: Mary Elizabeth Lightner (one of his wives) remembered Joseph saying to her that, “I was created for him before the foundation of the Earth was laid” (Mary Elizabeth Lightner, Summer 1905 letter to Emmeline Wells). On another occasion she recalled, “Joseph said I was his, before I came here and he said all the Devils in Hell should never get me from him” (Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, “Statement” signed February 8, 1902).

    • Laura Carroll says:

      On the other hand!
      My belief that my husband was the one I was to share the eternities with has carried me through nearly 35 years of a marriage that (though peaceful at the current time), was filled with the chaotic and painful effects of my husband’s Bipolar disorder (verbal abuse through refusal or inability to “screen” emotions, emotional strain caused by his refusal or lack of ability to shoulder responsibilities that come with adulthood and fatherhood, refusal or inability to direct his actions in age-appropriate ways).

      So, that belief can work both directions…it can help people realize that the person they married as a “soulmate” is imperfect, and can change for the better or for the worse.
      I could not have held on if I had believed otherwise…

      • Laura Carroll says:

        I believed that life was sort of a continuum, and that his struggles with life would be eventually repaired in the “eternities”. This still may be true, but in recent years, I have begun to question the repeated spiritual “confirmations” I received to stay in the marriage through some very horrific times.

        I struggle with a huge amount of resentment toward him and mourn for the “peaceful life we could have had” if only he had “straightened up”.

        I have deep inner anger for putting myself and my children in harm’s way. I do not feel “strengthened” by the ordeal, though I hope to work through that. I should be perturbed at God for allowing it…

        I’m glad my family of 5 children remained intact, though the effects were possibly more damaging than a divorce…

        • Laura Carroll says:

          sorry to unburden!
          I just wanted to show that the belief that you are marrying your “soul mate” can help you hang on through very difficult times.

          Not everyone uses that “doctrine” to justify dreaming of a “perfect someone” out there waiting for them…

  4. wini4truth says:

    I’m really glad you decided to address this topic, Ezra. While I admit that most of what is REALLY true is not in my grasp at this time, there are some things that I know without any doubt. These are doctrines and principles that speak to my very core. They make sense. They fall into line with the economy of the Gods in the eternal worlds and the Plan of Salvation. The scripture says, ” 26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26) So, if the Holy Ghost helps us “remember” that which we once knew but have forgotten, when we DO remember it, it is an “epiphany”!!! (Cont.)

    • wini4truth says:

      Think back to any revelation you have received about the gospel. It felt good. It made sense! There was peace and pure intelligence as the Holy Spirit brought that truth to your remembrance! Plural marriage is part and parcel of the economy of the gods and the Plan of Salvation. Nothing else makes sense.

      8 ¶ For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
      9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8–9) Cont…

      • wini4truth says:

        Perhaps some who refute and reject this doctrine are really admitting to an incapability of living a higher law which simply flies in the face of all the traditional religious beliefs and culture we’ve been raised with in the United States. The evidence proving this doctrine was revealed by God himself to the prophet Joseph Smith and is required to be lived if we would secure to ourselves an exaltation is too obvious. I think the Lord will be merciful to those who aren’t prepared. Nobody will be forced to live any of His laws. We will receive that which we are WILLING to receive. It’s all conditional on the exercise of our agency.

        • James says:

          Wini said “The evidence proving this doctrine was revealed by God himself to the prophet Joseph Smith and is required to be lived if we would secure to ourselves an exaltation is too obvious”

          You lost me here. I can accept that plural marriage is used by God and sanctioned when he authorizes it. But I can’t accept that is it required when the Church officially says that it is not. Now that may be a result of our wickedness or hardheartedness in the past that this principle is not available to us. But i don’t know anything saying that it is required to live plural marriage. Now we sound like were delving into the FDLS. We get line upon line and lose line upon line but we currently cannot take on this principle without being excommunicated so how is it required

          • wini4truth says:

            James, may I refer you to the Journal of Discourses, which was considered scripture in the early days of the church. It was openly taught and practiced by the apostles of that time. Numerous references can be found which indicate that those who reject the doctrine of Plurality of Wives will not be qualified to receive an exaltation. As for why the brethren today don’t teach it, you’ll have to ask them. Do some research, because there is plenty of information available. BYU has a copy on line that you can download or print. It’s about 10,000 pages long, 26 volumes. Good luck!

        • James says:

          Wini said, “Numerous references can be found which indicate that those who reject the doctrine of Plurality of Wives will not be qualified to receive an exaltation.”

          I accept the principle but I cannot take it upon myself without the Lord’s authorized servants sanctioning it. So is it not possible to accept the principle as perhaps Jacob did yet not be called to live it? I accept that God has a prophet yet I cannot take that title upon myself and attempt to speak for the church. God has not authorized it. I accept that many points of doctrine which God has not called me to perform or to participate in at this time. Does that preclude me from the Celestial? David recognized plural marriage yet took one unto himself “unauthorized” and lost his Celestial exaltation.

  5. wini4truth says:

    To get you started, find Journal of Discourses Vol. 20, pages 28-31 by Joseph F. Smith. He taught it plainly. Here are a few other references:

    We formerly taught to our people that polygamy or Celestial Marriage as commanded by God through Joseph Smith was right; that it was a necessity to man’s highest exaltation in the life to come.
    That doctrine was publicly promulgated by our president, the late Brigham Young, forty years ago, and was steadily taught and impressed upon the Latter-Day Saints up to September, 1890 (Reed Smoot Case, vol. 1, p.18).

    “The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 11, p.269).

  6. wini4truth says:

    I understand your concerns. The law is not required of us at this time. There have been times when the law was required, then times when the Lord revoked it due to the apostasy of His children and their inability to live it. It never has been and never will be revoked when the Lord’s covenant people are righteous and living the higher laws. They have the Lord’s promise of protection when they do this. The early saints were succombed to the pressures of the government and non-Mormons who threatened their safety and the withholding of statehood from them should they persist in living plural marriage.

  7. wini4truth says:

    I believe the time will come when it will be required again. Maybe not until the Lord is preparing His Zion community. Along with the law of plural marriage in a Zion community, is living the United Order. It would be impossible to live it at this time, inasmuch as Babylon has overtaken the Saints. I am not FLDS; however, it’s easy to see why they have established communities where they can live the laws the Lords requires of a covenant people. I personally don’t believe they have the authority to live it at this time, but the Lord will be their judge and my judge. I try to be willing in my heart to be obedient to those things we don’t currently have the opportunity to live, so that when the time comes, my heart will be ready.

  8. Thomas Smith says:

    Though I appreciate this article – the quote from Jedediah M. Grant just doesn’t sit right with me (just selecting part for brevity):

    Or if he came and said, “I want your wife?’ “O yes,’ he would say, ‘here she is, there are plenty more.’

    Comparing our wife to money?!? I understand that we should consider our role as husbands as a stewardship from HF. But, we are commanded love our wife with all our heart and to cleave unto her and none else. On the other hand, to love money is the root of all evil. To easily give up your wife because there are “other fish in the sea” just doesn’t seem right – especially in our age of disintegrating families and failing hearts. I don’t recommend using this logic in making any case for plural marriage.

    • Thomas Smith says:

      I thought the point of this quote to say that we should just as easily part with our wife as our money. What was your intent by including it in the article?

    • Laura Carroll says:

      from a woman’s perspective, this leaves us feeling a “bit” vulnerable–and makes many of us feel like “property” that can easily be replaced by another “fish”…

      What is unbelievable to me is that many of the men posting here seem to go along with it! You actually believe your wives can (potentially) be traded around according to the spiritual convictions of their husbands and his church leaders or friends…?

      Knowing this is how our priesthood view us, how can we ever trust it?

      I guess I never really understood what “patriarchy” meant…
      It sort of feels like being part of a herd that the farmer can divide up and switch around from bull to bull for breeding purposes like my grandfather did on his ranch..

      • Laura Carroll says:

        from the man’s perspective, what is “the something very precious to them”?

        • sean says:

          What about the women’s agency, the statement doesn’t even address it. Though I agree we must submit, this doctrine seems extreme….

      • Jeremy Parker says:

        I realize all this is much belated, but let’s keep in mind that we should not deify the prophets. We can and should revere them for their sacrifice and contribution to the work of the Lord, but let us not be forever chained by their foibles. Joseph also said “The Prophet Joseph Smith despised sham. Pretense to him was folly. Once he said, “I love that man better who swears a stream as long as my arm, yet deals justice to his neighbors and mercifully deals his substance to the poor, than the smooth-faced hypocrite. I do not want you to think that I’m very righteous, for I am not. There was one good man, and his name was Jesus” (Documentary History of the Church, 5:401).” They were wrong about this, that polygamy wouldn’t be taken and about blacks and the priesthood.

    • G. Michael Craig says:

      Maybe he wasn’t comparing wives to money, but it sure looks that way. There probably isn’t one person in 10,000 who wouldn’t strongly object to the idea that a man is at liberty to marry another man’s wife, regardless of whether he claims to be a prophet. The more I learn about this matter, the easier it is for me to understand why Joseph Smith and the Church in general had so many bitter enemies, and how a group of men could feel justified in killing Joseph. Prior to this, I believed, as we were taught, that Joseph was killed because he opposed slavery, and because every convert meant that much less money in the collection plates for the nearby protestant churches. I can clearly see now that I was wrong. This was a moral issue with the crowd, not a financial one.

      • Laura Carroll says:

        my interpretation of the reading i have done concurs with your opinion on this subject. i am unable to somehow convey this perspective to ANY of my LDS friends or family… i would just like a few of them to be able to have a GLIMPSE of understanding an ‘outside’ perspective–and how i feel about these events after my studies…instead of the same view i have heard over and over no matter how many different teachers cover the topics…

  9. Helena Atkins says:

    This month, The Lord told me through the Holy Ghost and was a very strong feeling in my heart that the LDS Christian Sect is a true religion of Jesus Christ. I cried and felt something in my heart I never experienced. I intentionally was Pondering Upon the Lord and received this message from the Lord to my heart and soul.

  10. Kath Fletcher says:

    Recent evidence came to light that in Haran at the time of Abraham, when women were married they were elevated to rank of “sister”, which was a privelege bestowed on them, because the women in other areas, and in other tribes etc., were esteemed not much higher than a beast than a man might buy or sell. So in fact Abraham was not lying. He was stating a fact which would save their lives. Later on he told Pharoah the truth.

  11. Laura Carroll says:

    I was actually starting to believe that I was an equal to the men in this church, that I hold the status of “Queen and Priestess” to my husband…

    How can this ennobling view of myself be compatible with what you describe?

    I am NOT trying to be rude or sarcastic.
    I am desperate to comprehend.

    • G. Michael Craig says:

      Laura, when Pres. Hinckley was being interviewed by Larry King, and asked about polygamy, Pres. Hinckley said “I condemn it, polygamy. IT’S NOT SCRIPTURAL”. So there!

      • Laura Carroll says:

        :-)

        • G. Michael Craig says:

          threats or purported revelation that the two of them were in love in the pre-mortal life and thus promised to each other. If cooperating with such absurdities is the yardstick for exaltation, we don’t measure up and never will. Like many others, I sometimes wish we could separate the Church from it’s roots. There is just entirely too much confusion generated by a comparison of earlier doctrine and practices to those of today. And this confusion never gets addressed or settled at GC or any other time, and is fertile ground for our enemies. This is most worrisome and disconcerting.

      • accountablemormon says:

        ah!

        I think the entire thing has been a gross misunderstanding. I think Joseph was merely trying to point out that it was a ‘principle’–not that an entire religious culture should be built up around it–
        Even section 132 can be read in a number of ways–
        So, thank you–

      • G. Michael Craig says:

        Pardon me, Pres. Hinckley actually said “It’s not doctrinal”, rather than “It’s not scriptural”, if that makes any difference, and it probably does inasmuch as D&C 132 is certainly scripture. He also said in that same interview that polygamy was started in the Church after the Saints moved out west. I have no way of knowing whether he was intentionally misleading Larry King and his audience(lying for the Lord as it is called) or just having a senior moment, but it is common knowledge that polygamy was being practiced in Nauvoo for example, many years before the Saints went west. But I will never be worthy of exaltation, worlds without end, if it means approving of prophets marrying other men’s wives in secret while the men are away. No way! I need clarification.

        • Kath Fletcher says:

          G Michael Craig, I am with you on that one, and I once remember a friend of mine saying to me (he is a well respected Stake President), as we discussed early Church history – he is well versed in the history – “Joseph did some really silly things”. He wouldn’t say what – but now I realise he may been alluding to marrying the wives of other men. We have been told that the Lord would never allow his Prophets to lead us astray – I leave that to you to ponder on !! I know this is the Lord’s Church and I know Joseph was a Prophet, but every instinct that is in me says you do not get sealed to another’s wife. I now wonder if that is why Peter Whitmer and the others fell away. Is that why they were disaffected with Joseph.

        • Jeremy Parker says:

          Nauvoo was the West at the time!

  12. accountablemormon says:

    Laura Carroll, I posted an alternative perspective, and I realize that it was very much too long–
    and it was removed.
    Something about it must have offended the moderator or blog owner–

    Maybe you need to talk to someone else about this; you aren’t alone in your deep concern about the legitimacy of plural marriage. Plural marriage doesn’t have to be accepted. It’s not an ‘either or’ situation. It’s not a ‘if Joseph Smith was a prophet, then plural marriage must be accepted’ dilemma.

    I do have a testimony of Joseph Smith’s prophetic calling, and I don’t have a testimony of plural marriage–or polygamy.

  13. Ricky says:

    It appears that there is a mixing up about the value of women and the value of an earthly marriage. The article and church doctrine are clear that any marriage outside of a temple sealing is of no validity after this life. Therefore, in cases of non-celestial marriages it is the marriage that is valueless and not the women. In which case it makes sense that the man and the women are both still available to be sealed. The value of an earthly marriage is finite while the value of both women and men are equally infinite.

    • G. Michael Craig says:

      Ricky, the Spirit tells me that your reasoning is just so much twisted, convoluted logic. If earthly marriages have no validity after this life, why do we labor all day and half the night in over a hundred temples to seal husbands to their wives who only had an earthly marriage? Why not seal the women to the general authorities? Why not seal the men to the women who never married? Why not have the person doing the sealing given the authority to seal people to whomever he felt inspired to? Why not just put everybody’s name in a hopper, mix them awhile, and then perform sealings according to the luck of the draw? We do none of those things. We seal HUSBANDS to their WIVES based upon EARTHLY marriages. This is obviously the Lord’s way of stating that love is eternal.

  14. accountablemormon says:

    I am a temple sealed (married to one man only and ever and he to one woman only and ever) returned missionary, married to a returned missionary–
    we do temple work regularly.
    I have experienced beautiful things while doing sealings for dead ancestors–
    Many of these people knew nothing about ‘the church’–and yet they want to be sealed.
    Perhaps it is more important to ask if we are worthy of our marriage covenants than to shed aspersion on those who have never experienced temple sealing in this life. There are many righteous people who are more ‘married’ than are LDS who have been sealed, multiple times–
    It was an original commandment of God and nothing to be taken lightly. I rejoice when any Godly person marries another Godly person and wants to do what is right-

  15. wini4truth says:

    To G. Michael Craig:

    Joseph Smith Jr. said: “I do not doubt, but those who have been forward in raising their voices against the South, will cry out against me as being uncharitable, unfeeling, unkind—wholly unacquainted with the gospel of Christ. It is my privilege then to name certain passages from the Bible, and examine the teachings of the ancients upon the matter as the fact is uncontrovertible, that the first mention we have of slavery is found in the holy bible, pronounced by a man who was perfect in his generation, and walked with God… (Cont.)

  16. wini4truth says:

    …And so far from that prediction being averse to the mind of God, it remains as a lasting monument of the decree of Jehovah, to the shame and confusion of all who have cried out against the South, in consequence of their holding the sons of Ham in servitude! ‘And he said cursed be Canaan: a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem: and Canaan shall be his servant. (cont.)

  17. wini4truth says:

    .—God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem: and Canaan shall be his servant.’ (Gen. 9:25–27.) Trace the history of the world from this notable event down to this day, and you will find the fulfillment of this singular prophecy.” (Apr. 1836, in Latter-day Saint’s Messenger and Advocate, vol. 2, no. 7, edited by Oliver Cowdery [Kirtland, Ohio: Published by F. G. Williams & Co., Apr. 1836], p. 290; paragraphing omitted.)

  18. accountablemormon says:

    I’m going to respond to wini4truth–

    about slavery and the descendants of Ham–
    The northern states in the mid 1800s were extremely hypocritcal about slavery. They benefited as much from the keeping of slaves in the south as the south did–
    So, in that sense, I can appreciate what Joseph Smith was saying for THAT time–
    I believe Joseph Smith may have been concerned about states’ rights and may have seen the injustice in the slave issue being used to force the north against the south. I think it is more than possible for a person to be against slavery (now and then) and see that how the matter was managed by the U.S. government in the 1860s was wrong–

  19. wini4truth says:

    To Accountablemormon: I wonder if you understood the above quote by JS. The reason he was FOR slavery is because he understood it to be the will of the Lord. That being said, he and Brigham Young decried inhumane treatment of slaves and taught that they should be treated with mutual respect and love, and not as property.

  20. wini4truth says:

    Let me clarify that there is a difference between slavery and servitude. Though the children of Canaan were to be in servitude to the “tents of Shem” (and the priesthood line), slavery is an abomination because nobody has a right to treat anyone as their “property”. To be a “servant” is honorable in the eyes of the Lord. Joseph was a servant to Potiphar and was honored.

    • accountablemormon says:

      well, then Americans and British and etc. didn’t understand the difference, obviously.

      I still can’t abide it; I still can’t accept that there is anything holy in one man serving another–because of his skin color–

      For what purpose?

      Each man/woman should do his/her own work. In the D&C the Lord tells us that the idler shall not eat the bread of the laborer–

      And who enforces this ideal situation where one man approaches another and says, “I will serve you”?

      It’s not eternally sustainable–

      I don’t know why it’s in the Bible, but I choose to believe there is a better way, and that better way is what I am living for–

  21. andrew says:

    Just think about some of the problems that could be eliminated if the church practiced plural marriage today! From what I understand there are a lot more active women in the church than there are men. If I understand correctly women outnumber men three to one. And from what I understand that number is only getting bigger. So that means that there are a lot of women who are not and will not be able to be sealed in the Temple to a husband. Now if we practiced plural marriage then that matter could easily be solved. These women who have done nothing wrong could be married to a loving husband and fulfill their roles as mothers. I believe that the moratorium on plural marriage has done much more harm than it ever has any good!

    • G. Michael Craig says:

      Andrew, I actually agree with you, but only as long as all the parties involved enter into the arrangement of their own free will and choosing. Sometimes I can’t help but wonder if polygamy is an eternal principle because, as I see it at least, women in general seem to be more emotional, more spiritual, and thus more capable of living according to eternal laws than most men I know, the majority of whom seem imprisoned by false pride, vanity, and an inflated ego. The main part of this subject that I have a problem with is Joseph Smith marrying currently married women, then swearing them to secrecy about it. That blows me away. And I have not yet been able to find an explanation of such bizarre conduct from an official LDS source. I sure wish I could.

    • K.C. says:

      My wife and I have discussed this on occasion and she actually finds some positive aspects to polygyny (though not polyandry). She feels quite heavily the burden of raising and caring for five children without any support system around her. She also feels horribly isolated from other adults since she is with young children all day long and longs for the companionship of other women. Plural marriage goes a long way toward ameliorating these issues, though it undoubtedly creates other potential problems (jealousy, favoritism, ostracism…).

      I personally don’t look forward to practicing this in the future, though I will do so if I am persuaded it is for the best. Caring for the emotional needs of more than one woman takes a much stronger man than me. :-)

    • Mr. Samuel Lamanite says:

      Here here! Have no fear, polygamy will be coming back, according to prophecy, after the failure of the government and the cleansing of the church.

  22. Richard says:

    Very interesting article by Quinn– and I learned a new word: “antinomianism”.

    The important 2BC Section 231 revelation also helps understand the matter.

  23. Michael W Tindall says:

    My office is in Gaithersburg, MD.For two days, men have legally married other men, woman have legally married other woman…in Maryland, in the US. There are several other states where this abomination is legal. I have real difficulty understanding that in the same country there was outrage and concern over a man being married to more than one woman simultaneously.

  24. Jeremy Parker says:

    To assert that what was said about polygamy then is our doctrine is just like saying that black members who hold the priesthood cannot be black since blacks will never hold the priesthood or that theirs is invalid because it was early “doctrine” too. I think polygamy as a practice was commanded for a purpose and a time and may have a place in eternity and may not. I suspect much of the doctrine built around it was built by imperfect men trying their best to defend a God who needs no defense. I have no doubt whatsoever that many will enter into a full exaltation without entering into polygamy. There is simply nothing that two can do better than one. Neither is the man without the woman or the woman without the man, It only takes one or God erred in organizing spirits.

  25. Andrew says:

    The best post I’ve seen supporting the proposition that JS did not practice polygamy is here: http://puremormonism.blogspot.com/2010/06/why-im-abandoning-polygamy.html

    If you’re interested in understanding the argument better, you should probably read that.

    The argument in this post contains a section that lists the things your believing if you believe JS did NOT practice polygamy. Good list. However, if you believe that JS did practice polygamy, then you’re agreeing with a different list. One item on that list is that he lied about it (the specific references are detailed in the above link), repeatedly.

    I don’t know. I’m learning and trying to understand this better. I’m NOT advocating one position over another. asd

    • James says:

      Pretty sure that blogger is an official apostate. But im open to being corrected on that.

      The best and most current reconcilation of polygamy that I have seen was recently posted by fair on you tube. It has the position that polygamy was instituted as an abrahamic test and is temporary. While i think think there will need to be some polygamy in the celestial kingdom this fair post makes a strong case that polygamy is the exception and not the rule.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXArstnv_Aw

      • Andrew says:

        James, engaging in ad homenim attacks just isn’t a productive discussion strategy. You should rethink it.

        He’s not BTW (http://puremormonism.blogspot.com/2012/06/who-you-callin-apostate.html)

        Is there something about his argument about which you disagree that you could explain that would help further the discussion? (let’s keep it about ideas please)

        • James G says:

          Not sure why the video link broke but here is a text version.

          http://squaretwo.org/Sq2ArticleCasslerPolygamy.html

          As far as the “puremormonism” guy not being an apostate goes I will have to differ. He prevalently professes a “steady the ark” and belittle the lord’s anointed routine in many of his posts. He’s even got a post up directly outright calling a prophet a liar with a graphic of his pants on fire….. :)

          I don’t need to be commanded in all things to tell that that guy is bad news regardless of how many times he professes to love the church. He has all the markers of a wolf in sheep’s clothing to me and I’m interested in being his dinner.

          These self proclaimed watchers on the tower are finding a whole new way to build a following on the bloggernacle.

  26. andrew says:

    thank you for putting this back up.

  27. Robin Hood says:

    Interesting, though thoroughly inaccurate article.
    The existence of some mythical plural marriage revelation in 1831 is pure back-written revisionist history and has no proof.
    Section 132 runs contrary to already revealed scripture and contradicts the BofM.
    Joseph Smith taught against polygamy and denied his connection to it.
    A little known wordprint analysis of Sec 132 demonstrates that Joseph is not it’s author and that it contains traits and styles typical of Brigham Young.
    The claim that Joseph was involved in plural marriage was tested in a court of law. The judge ruled that polygamy entered the church in some other way and dismissed tne witnesses (supposed wives of the prophet) as liars. And with good resason, they were.

    • Vash the Stampede says:

      Robin Hood: sources please. Particularly on your alleged “wordprint analysis” and the alleged court of law/judge ruling that women claiming to be Joseph’s wives were liars. Thanks,

  28. Robin Hood says:

    There isn’t enough space here to do this justice, but Joseph was not a liar.
    Those who believe the party line on this have to believe and declare that Joseph lied publicly and very deliberately.
    If they are prepared to accept this then my question is “what else did he lie about?” Can we trust him on the first vision, the gold plates, the priesthood etc?
    For me, the alarm bells started to ring when I realized that the church relies on the testimony of apostates and enemies of Joseph for it’s “contemporary” evidence of Joseph’s involvement. You know, upright characters like Bennett and the Higbee’s!

    Joseph was no polygamist.

  29. Robin Hood says:

    No it isn’t.
    Joseph was very clear when he said he had only one wife. Either he was telling the truth or he was lying.
    I believe he was being honest, you clearly believe the man who said he saw God, and angels, and translated the Book of Mormon, was a liar.

  30. Stacy Norton says:

    Avoidance and cowardice is the biggest problem in the church, as manifested at the very beginning of this article:

    “this is a topic we have avoided covering and hoped to avoid covering for as long as possible” SO YOU ADMIT TO AVOIDING A DOCTRINE OF THE RESTORATION? Despicable.

    Come on, it’s just not that scary or complicated of an issue. Brigham said it was necessary for exaltation, and the second manifesto was not inspired of God and is not printed anywhere (it was to please babylon and seat Reed Smoot in the U.S. senate). Members are deeply ignorant about plural marriage because of the disease of avoidance and cowardice. Elder Ballard said to stop avoiding the issue of polygamy.

    • Robin Hood says:

      Stacy,
      In my view the leadership knows, or strongly suspects, that Joseph wasn’t involved in polygamy. If this was to be admitted it would cause a major fracture in the church. Therefore the strategy is to not mention it and hope it will eventually go away. The same as the priesthood ban.
      I have studied tbis question for many years and for a long time I held to the party line that Joseph had many wives and D&C 132 was a genuine revelation. However, that position has become unsustainable as I have studied the facts rather than the perceptions.
      I am now totally convinced that Joseph was a monogamist and attempted to keep polygamy out of the church.
      He condemned it publicly and was not a liar. The truth will prevail eventually.

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