There are 85 thoughts on “Joseph Smith: Monogamist or Polygamist?”.

  1. I am an active member of the church.

    I have been trying to research this topic on my own for many years.

    You lost all credibility when you cited John C. Bennet to back you up

    I also want to add that I believe it is completely plausible that a group of men would lie together to cover something up. Even prophets. Even apostles. Even a number of them. Because men are fallible. Even pioneer prophets and apostles. I also believe that these lies can be very convincing and that men can actually persuade themselves to believe the lies are true. Especially when it comes to sex.

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or a scholar to look at the Bible as an example of just how far men who are prophets can fall and become perverts. It’s part of the Bible story. Quite frequently in fact.

    Your approach to proving Joseph Smith’s polygamy is problematic. You cite known liars and child molesters to back your claim and then you try to prove how God and Joseph Smith used words to mislead and make “loopholes”. God is not the author of “loopholes” and my kids use “creative language” with me all the time—it’s called lying. I don’t think Joseph Smith was a liar. You seem to be okay with justifying him as a “white liar” who uses “creative language” in court.

    God is a God of truth. Not loopholes. A more true scenario would have been if Joseph had received a revelation saying that he (Joseph) and other prophets had made mistakes (In their beliefs that marriage is holy only between one man and one woman) and that God sanctions polygamy on a limited basis. That would have been fine and made sense. The idea that Joseph Smith would have stooped to creative language is not in keeping with his character. Or the character of God.

    God doesn’t say one thing to everyone and another to everyone else. When Christ came to fulfill the gospel He made it abundantly clear that He is no respecter of persons.

    I have had the experience of communicating with some apostate groups who have broken off from the main body of the church in modern times.

    What I find common in them is that they always believe they are super special and secretly chosen. I find these parallels in many of the records you use as corroboration—people who claim that they were “extra special” and “secretly chosen” to practice polygamy. It’s the same story. There is nothing new under the sun. It sounds eerily familiar to apostates today.

    And your records indicating the veracity of your claims often amount to “Cousin Bob and my Uncle Tim say it happened, and they knew Joseph Smith, so it must be true.”

    These people were assaulted, raped, some tortured, jailed, and then nearly starved to death across the plains and in SLC. I think many of them could have been mentally ill or suffered from these traumas in ways that would not make them as reliable without proper counseling.

    The amount of mental gymnastics used here is astounding. I still haven’t formed an opinion regarding this topic but I can tell you that your article has swayed me to believe that Joseph Smith more than likely didn’t practice polygamy.

  2. Hi Brandt, is this quote, especially the last sentence, from the late Keith Meservy of BYU in the January 1988 Ensign relevant to whether a Jacob 2:30 should be understood as a justification for polygamy?:
    “What, exactly, led to the fiery destruction of Jerusalem? Jeremiah tells us that its inhabitants had become so sensual and materialistic that they had lost all sense of divine values: “They are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.” (Jer. 4:22.)
    ““They be all adulterers,” Jeremiah said about the mores of that generation. (Jer. 9:2.) They “assembled themselves by troops in the harlots’ houses.” Like well-fed stallions, “every one neighed after his neighbour’s wife.” (Jer. 5:7–8.)
    “He who delights “in the chastity of women,” to whom whoredoms are an abomination (Jacob 2:28), saw how the wickedness of adulterous husbands caused anguish to wives whose love and trust had been shattered. He beheld “the sorrow, and heard the mourning of the daughters of [his] people in the land of Jerusalem.” (Jacob 2:31.) Consequently, the Lord led Lehi’s group “out of the land of Jerusalem … that [he] might raise up … a righteous branch from the fruit of the loins of Joseph.” (Jacob 2:25.) “

  3. I have read many of these 2nd hand stories. I don’t believe in them, they don’t carry the weight or testimony of 1st hand accounts by the Prophet Joseph Smith, Hyrum and Emma and other prophets of the Old and New Testaments and Book of Mormon. My testimony is grounded in the scriptures (D&C 42:22-26 and D&C 49:15-17 and Deuteronomy 17: 14-20)

    On May 26, 1844 Joseph Smith said, one month before he was murdered June 27, 1844: “What a thing for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one. I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago” (History of the Church Vol.6, p.408-412 Sunday, May 26, 1844).

    The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that if a person receives a message or revelation that contradicts a previous revelation you may know it is not of God but of Satan, who may appear as an angel of light to deceive. The following quote from the Prophet Joseph Smith shows that D&C 132 was in direct contradiction of the former D&C 101 of 1835 Doctrine and Covenants, not to mention D&C 42:22-26 and 49:15-17.
    The Prophet Joseph Smith wrote:

    “There have also- been ministering angels in the church which were of Satan appearing as an angel of light:— A sister in the State of New York had a vision who said it was told her that if she would go to a certain place in the woods an angel would appear to her,— she went at the appointed time and saw a glorious personage descending arrayed in white . . . he commenced and told her to fear God and said that her husband was called to do great things, but that he must not go more than one hundred miles from home or he would not return; whereas God had called him to go to the ends of the earth; and he has since been more than one thousand miles from home, and is yet alive. Many true things were spoken by this personage and many things that were false.—How it may be asked was this known to be a bad angel? . . . by his contradicting a former revelation.” Times and Seasons 3 [April 1, 1842]: 747 (emphasis added).

    • This is the last post I will approve on this topic at this time. The official church website, LDS.org, contains an essay discussing Joseph’s plural wives. Regardless of whether an individual chooses to believe it or not, the official Church position is made clear in that essay. It represents the best available historical research.

  4. Bob, I do not know if you read my Great-great-great uncle’s story but here is the story as uncle Benjamin recorded it.

    “All of this was preparatory to the Johnsons for the institution of plural marriage. On Apr 1, 1943 Joseph Smith and some of the brethren came to Ramus, and stayed with the Johnsons. The next morning, President Smith took Benjamin for a walk and explained the principle of plural marriage to him. Benjamin described this experience in these words:

    “‘To my great surprise, he commenced to open up to me the principle of plural or celestial marriage; but I was more astonished by his asking me for my sister Almera to be his wife. I sincerely believed him to be a Prophet of God, and I loved him as such and also for the many evidences of his kindness to me, yet such was the force of my education, and the scorn that I felt towards anything unvirtuous [sic], that under the first impulse of my feelings, I looked him calmly, but firmly in the face and told him that ‘I had always believed him to be a good man and wished to believe it still and would try to; and that I would take for him a message to my sister, and if the doctrine was true, all would be well, but if I should afterwards learn that it was offered to insult or prostitute my sister, I would take his life.’ With a smile he replied, ‘Benjamin, you will never see that day, but you shall live to know that it is true and rejoice in it.’47’

    “Joseph then asked Benjamin to talk to his sister about marriage. He replied that he didn’t know how to convince her, but Joseph prophesied, “When you open your mouth you shall be able to comprehend, and you shall not want for evidence nor words.”48 The Prophet also told him that he would preach a sermon that day, which only Benjamin would fully understand. The sermon was on the parable of the talents, found in the New Testament.”

    Now clearly Bob you have taken the position that polygamy was an innovation post-Joseph Smith, and my family history tells me the opposite, so I must firmly oppose anyone who lifts up his voice against the Lord’s anointed. There is an unbroken chain of authority from Joseph to our current prophet, President Nelson. Polygamy was part of the restoration and it came through Brother Joseph, and it ended with the manifesto. I do not understand it. There are things I will learn only when I no longer see as through a glass darkly. But I am fully loyal to the Church and the restoration. People reach out to steady the ark and they will not prosper.

    • Hi Lynn
      You are wrong when you assert that “clearly” I “have taken the position that polygamy was an innovation post-Joseph Smith”. My “position”, if that is the right term, is that there is nothing in the Book of Mormon that provides a basis for polygamy, that Jacob 2:30 plainly doesn’t. Even s132 does not call it in aid.
      Secondly, and this is really a preliminary view, until 1852 the Church leaders systematically mislead the membership about polygamy. Different reasons for that can be advanced. Whether the public untruths started before, or after, July 1844 (which may be the same as asking whether Joseph practised polygamy) is a matter about which I retain an open mind. Your quote of “Uncle Benjamin” suggests one answer.
      By the way, when (as in what date) did Uncle Benjamin record this account?

  5. However, Ken, I’m not sure I’m persuaded by your point about the correction of “fathers” to “father”. It may be that the procedure for the change could be improved (even now, the methodology of change to give priests the “sealing” power to baptise for the dead in the temple seems a little novel) but the substance of the change seems correct, for two reasons. First, the printers manuscript pretty clearly says “father”. And, secondly, Jacob 2:34 makes this same point (as Jacob 3:5): it says “these commandments were given to our father Lehi”. The very point about Lehi being commanded to avoid the abomination of polygamy is to disprove the invention that Jacob 2:30 speaks of a commandment of polygamy, when the commandment is to avoid the same. This didn’t just rest on an understanding of avoiding olden day whoredoms, but also on the modern revelation of Jacob’s father Lehi the presiding prophet and patriarch of the Nephite dispensation.

  6. I concur with you Bob… if I am understanding you correctly. “We are left with two options.” Everyone has born false witness except Joseph, Hyrum and Emma. There position on polygamy was what D&C 101 of 1835 Doctrine and Covenants, on Marriage was exactly as it stated:

    “Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again. It is not right to persuade a woman to be baptized contrary to the will of her husband, neither Is it lawful to influence her to leave her husband. All children are bound by law to obey their parents; and to influence them to embrace any religious faith, or be baptized, or leave their parents without their consent, is unlawful and unjust. We believe that all persons who exercise control over their fellow beings, and prevent them from embracing the truth, will have to answer for that sin” (D&C 101:4 / 1835 edition).

  7. There are many things about polygamy that are hard to understand. But to me two things are clear. First, the Book of Mormon denounces it as a whoredom and abomination, and attempts to use Jacob 2:30 out of context to say otherwise are misguided. Secondly, as the independent judge in the Temple Lot case found, all Joseph’s public statements about polygamy were against it; and the arguments by apologists who wrestle, twist and contort Joseph’s statements to avoid this fact are deeply unsatisfying and wholly unconvincing. And not just Joseph but the public statements of every faithful Church leader (ie all but Bennett, the Laws, and Anton Cowles) published, or physically recorded prior to the martyrdom are to the same effect. Of the statements from past Church leaders in favour of polygamy that are regularly trotted out, not a single one was published prior to July 1844, and, I think, none before 1852.
    So we are left with two options: everybody lied, or everybody but Joseph and Hyrum and Emma lied. How the first option is found edifying is beyond me. “And that which doth not edify is not of God and is darkness”.
    Joseph gave us a definition of intelligence being truth and light, and I believe he was, on any definition, brilliantly intelligent. Are we now to adopt a warped understanding of F Scott Fitzgerald’s definition: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function”?

  8. Look what the Lord said to the prophet Jacob in the Book of Mormon when some of the Nephites made the immoral mistake and fell into polygamy: Wake up modern Israel, the Book of Mormon was and is for us, as a warning!

    “Behold, the Lamanites your brethren, whom ye hate because of their filthiness and the cursing which hath come upon their skins, are more righteous than you; for they have not forgotten the commandment of the Lord, which was given unto our father (fathers) (from 1830 – 1920 Book of Mormon printings Jacob 3:5 says “fathers” and was changed to “father” in the 1981 printing)—that they should have save it were one wife, and concubines they should have none, and there should not be whoredoms committed among them. And now, this commandment they observe to keep; wherefore, because of this observance, in keeping this commandment, the Lord God will not destroy them, but will be merciful unto them; and one day they shall become a blessed people.”
    (Book of Mormon | Jacob3:5 – 6)

    Who had the “right” to change the word “fathers” to father, and to do it without the “common consent” of the church?

    “Fathers” is how it should read…because “the commandment” to have only “one wife” was a commandment going all the way back to all the “fathers” (Adam onward were to obey this commandment, no exceptions).

  9. Bob, I am unable to lay my hands on my copy of My Life’s Review by Benjamin F Johnson (books seem to come and go from my library), so here are links I could find:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_F._Johnson
    http://lds-studies.blogspot.com/2010/03/benjamin-f-johnson-brief-biography.html

    They both tell the same story.

    My own great-great grandfather’s journal is in a typescript form and wasn’t published like uncle Benjamin’s as far as I know. He found polygamy to be rather difficult and seems to have wished his life had been more simple, but he was obeying the counsel Joseph had given him in Nauvoo.

    I don’t like the way polygamy was handled, it seems sneaky in the Nauvoo period, and I consider it a completely unsustainable system, since slightly more boys than girls are born, but boys die at a slightly greater rate, indicating the only sustainable system is 1:1. Yet both Benjamin and Joel were polygamists, and they were associated with the church since 1830. They both had a stubborn streak and stood up to mobbers and apostates and they testified that they learned of polygamy from Brother Joseph himself when he approached them about marrying their sister Almera. So it is like Noah and the flood, which also makes no sense, but I do believe someday I will understand all of these strange things about the church. In the mean time, I will raise my defense of the faith and the saints at every opportunity. That includes polygamy which has a lot of meaning to my family.

    Your reply is very civil and I am chastised by it.

  10. Hi Lynn,
    My responses concern the contemporaneous documentation identified by Brian in the article, and the meaning of Jacob 2:30. I am unaware of the documents to which you refer and have not commented on them. I have not asserted inaccuracy in any journal records, let alone dishonesty. As for church history, I am trying to discover what it is. I agree with Brian’s repeated encouragement above to study the documents first, and I am one among many who have benefitted from his efforts to make them readily available.
    It would be a sad thing if a person were to build their testimony on a mistaken understanding and leave when the error is revealed, when the beautiful and soul-saving truth lay before them undiscovered. It is also sad when honest discussion turns to impugning motives.
    I went back to your earlier post. I would love for you to set out the dates and contents of the journal records. Oral histories may be true, but documents are more persuasive, a principle so important that it prompted the slaying of which you spoke (see 1 Ne 3:19-20). Without the document, a “nation [w]ould dwindle and perish in unbelief” (1 Ne 4:13).

  11. I commented on this before. My great-great-great uncle, Benjamin Johnson lived with the Prophet Joseph and my great-great grandfather, Joel was in the church since 1831. They both knew and documented that Joseph taught the law of polygamy and their sister was sealed to Joseph. That is fairly well known. Now Bob and Kenneth are teaching that those journal records are lies? What kind of special pleading is this? What are their motives for trying to undermine this part of church history? I am appalled.

  12. The LDS Church history quotes a statement which purports to be an exact entry from Joseph’s journal for October 5, 1843, to prove that Joseph had commanded that polygamy be practiced. The statement is monogamous in the original journal, but was changed by Mormon historians to have a polygamous meaning. Joseph’s October 5,1843, entry as it now appears incorrectly in the Mormon history is:

    “Gave instructions to try those persons who were preaching, teaching, or practicing the doctrine of plurality of wives; for, according to the law, I hold the keys of this power in the last days; for there is never but one on earth at a time on whom the power and its keys are conferred; and I have constantly said no man shall have but one wife at a time, unless the Lord directs otherwise.”(LDS History of the Church 6:46)

    Modern Mormon scholars, who have had access to records in the Mormon Church’s archives, have found that this statement has been changed. Originally it condemned polygamy. The original quotation is in “an untitled journal of 278 manuscript pages,” which is thought to be in the handwriting of Willard Richards, one of Joseph’s scribes. Richards made the following entry:

    “Walked up and down St[reet] with Scribe and gave instructions to try those who were preaching, teaching, or practicing the doctrine of plurality of wives on this Law. Joseph forbids it and the practice thereof. No man shall have but one wife.” [rest of page blank] {page 116} (Scott H. Faulring, ed., An American Prophet’s Record: The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith, 417)

    Richard S. Van Wagoner, author and historian, agreed that this is true, saying.

    The prophet’s most pointed denial of plural marriage occurred on 5 October 1843 in instructions pronounced publicly in the streets of Nauvoo. Willard Richards wrote in Smith’s diary that Joseph:

    “gave instructions to try those who were preaching, teaching, or practicing the doctrine of plurality of wives…. Joseph forbids it and the practice thereof. No man shall have but one wife.” (Van Wagoner, Sidney Rigdon, 292)

    Van Wagoner continued by explaining:

    When incorporating Smith’s journal into the History of the Church, church leaders, under Brigham Young’s direction, deleted ten key words from this significant passage and added forty-nine others. (ibid., 303, note 17)
    What a tremendous difference between the way Joseph gave this instruction against polygamy and the way the LDS polygamists published it in their doctored history! They changed the history as part of the conspiracy to legalize their own polygamous crimes by making the dead Prophet the author of it. The original version of the October 5 entry agreed with all of Joseph’s writings which were published during his lifetime—including those found in the Three Scriptures and his sermon of May 26, 1844, against the dissenters.

    Hyrum Smith, with Joseph’s approval, published a statement denying plural wives or polygamy, explaining all such teaching is false doctrine:

    “… some of your elders say, that a man having a certain priesthood, may have as many wives as he pleases, and that doctrine is taught here: I say unto you that that man teaches false doctrine, for there is no such doctrine taught here; neither is there any such thing practiced here.” (Times and Seasons, vol. 5, p. 474 [March, 1844].)

    • Hi Kenneth,

      I actually discuss the October 5th, 1843 journal entry in an article that came out today in the Journal of Mormon History. Here’s what I wrote:

      During the final nine months of his life, Joseph Smith uttered at least three statements that could be interpreted as denying polygamy. On October 5, 1843, his journal records: “walked up and down st. with scribe.—and gave inst[r]uction to try those who were preaching teaching or preaching the doctin of plurality of wives. On this Law. Joseph forbids it. And the practice ther[e]of—No man shall have but one wife”
      Based upon this entry, some readers might envision Joseph marching through the streets of Nauvoo proclaiming to all available listeners: “No man shall have but one wife.” Other observers may extract this sentence and assert that it summarizes all of Joseph Smith’s teachings regarding the possibility of plural marriage.

      A closer look at the surrounding circumstances shows that at that time, perhaps 65 Church members were practicing authorized polygamy. Having sanctioned each of their sealing ceremonies, Joseph knew of the identities of the participants. Dozens more were aware of his celestial marriage teachings, possibly hundreds. But in a city of 8,000–10,000, it would still have constituted a small minority.
      Joseph too supervised all who were “preaching” and “teaching” authorized plural marriage. Wilford Woodruff recalled that at that time: “There was no one teaching it only under his direction.”

      In light of these details, it does not appear that by October of 1843 Joseph Smith had lost control of the secret practice of celestial plural marriage. The number of participants was low and no record exists that those accepting the doctrine proceeded to freelance plural unions without authority. It seems a public rebuke of the clandestine pluralists or against the few men he had appointed to teach others would not have been necessary even if Joseph sought to curtail plural marriage. The limited knowledge of the sanctioned teachings and ceremonies supports that a broad declaration regarding them could have generated inquiries Joseph would have liked to avoid.

      Joseph Smith’s journal states that he “gave instruction to try those” teaching polygamy. An unanswerable question involves what court was the “try” the false teachers. Were they to be arraigned before the Nauvoo High Council who knew firsthand of the revelation written July 12, 1843, now section 132? Also, what “law” was referenced—Illinois statutes, Church standards, or the secret teachings of the new and everlasting covenant, which was also called a “law” (D&C 132:6, 19)?

      One interpretation is that Joseph was again reproving spiritual wifery and unauthorized polygamy. For such perpetrators, “No man shall have but one wife” was the unalterable expectation. The historical record shows that such behaviors existed among Church members like Hiram Brown (mentioned above). Their activities warranted a trial before the high council according to the standards found in Joseph’s revelations (D&C 42:75-80, 63:16).

      When Joseph’s journal entry was transcribed into the History of the Church, the words: “On this Law. Joseph forbids it. And the practice ther[e]of—No man shall have but one wife” were expanded to read: “for, according to the law, I hold the keys of this power in the last days; for there is never but one on earth at a time on whom the power and its keys are conferred; and I have constantly said no man shall have but one wife at a time, unless the Lord directs otherwise.”

      These changes, made by Church historians presumably under Brigham Young’s direction, deleted ten words and added forty-nine. The additional text included concepts described in section 132 (vv. 7, 10, 18), which Joseph dictated July 12, 1843. Joseph Smith’s October 5, 1843 journal entry will continue to spark controversy, but proper contextualization would likely be helpful to any interpretation.

      • When I joined the Church at BYU, I was convinced that Joseph practiced polygamy. After more neutrally looking at the facts, it appears much less certain. It was really interesting to see your website Brian, and to dig in a bit more, but unfortunately, it’s just made Joseph’s polygamy even less certain.

        If you look at your response to Kenneth, it seems almost apologetic in nature. And it takes the circular position that it couldn’t have been a denial since we already know Joseph was practicing polygamy. Are you not at all concerned by this journal entry? How certain are you, that the version of polygamy we have record of is related to something Joseph taught?

        In 1852, the same year as Section 132, didn’t Brigham Young start limiting the priesthood to African Americans, and teaching the Adam God doctrine? Do you also believe in these teachings as being 100% accurate?

        Your position lacks credibility due to your certainty. If you look at the facts neutrally, we have a number of issues:
        – DNA disproved presumed offspring, including offspring you previously thought were his.
        – Joseph’s wife an children denied there being plural wives
        – There was MASSIVE incentive for the witnesses of polygamy to lie (which seems to be repeatedly overlooked at every single turn).
        – Many of the witness statements can be patently proven false (such as pushing people down stairwells, being locked in a room for hours, etc.
        – Joseph himself denied polygamy, and his records were altered.
        – etc, etc. etc.

        I realize that there were a few records at the time that seemed to imply something was indeed going on, but again, it’s your level of certainty that makes it so easy to dismiss.

        I’m an active member. I love the Church. I love Joseph. I love the doctrine of eternal marriage. I don’t presume to have this in a neat and tidy box of explanation, but I also don’t think that is necessary. What I’m so curious about, while reading you site, is why do you seem to find it so necessary?

  13. Hi Bob,

    I’m quite sure you have overstated the situation, but I understand that today there are many who agree for different reasons. I’ve often said the easiest way to learn that Denver Snuffer is a false teacher is to compare his claims JS was not a polygamy with the historical record.

    Let’s briefly review some of the contemporaneous evidences. From believers were have William Clayton’s journal on July 12, 1843, that he “wrote a revelation” dictated by the Prophet “showing the designs in Moses, Abraham, David and Solomon having many wives and concubines &c.”

    Another important document is a revelation for Newell K. Whitney, dated July 27, 1842 proscribing the language used to seal Joseph to Sarah Ann Whitney. Maybe you are unfamiliar with it:

    “these are the words which you shall pronounce upon my se[r]vant Joseph [Smith] and your Daughter S. A. [Sarah Ann] Whitney. They shall take each other by the hand and you shall say:
    you both mutu[al]ly agree calling them by name to be each others companion so long as you both shall live presser[v]ing yourselv[es] for each other and from all others and also through [o]ut all eternity reserving only those rights which have been given to my servant Joseph [Smith] by revelation and commandment and by legal Authority in times passed [past].

    “If you both agree to covenant and do this, then I give you S. A. [Sarah Ann] Whitney my Daughter to Joseph Smith to be his wife to observe all the rights betwe[e]n you both that belong to that condition. I do it in my own name and in the name of my wife your mother and in the name of my Holy Progenitors by the right of birth which is of Priest Hood vested in me by revelation and commandment and promise of the living God obtained by the Holy Melchizedek Gethrow [Jethro] and other of the Holy Fathers commanding in the name of the Lord all those powers to concentrate in you and through to your po[s]terity for ever

    “All these things I do in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ that through this order he may be glorified [glorified] and [that] through the power of anointing Davied [David] may reign King over Iseral [Israel] which shall hereafter be revealed let immortality and eternal life henc[e]forth be sealed upon your heads forever and ever.”

    JS was sealed to Sarah Ann with a promise regarding “your po[s]terity for ever.” That’s polygamy with conjugation in a contemporaneous document.

    Of course there are anti-Mormons like Bennett and Law who also corroborated Joseph Smith’s personal involvement.

    When both sympathizers and antagonists agree with contemporaneous evidences, the case is greatly strengthened.

    There are many things I don’t know, but I’m still pretty familiar with over 3000 documents I’ve uploaded to MormonPolygamyDocuments.org showing JS introduced and practiced polygamy. You might want to take a look at them.

    Best,

    Brian

    PS the Whitney revelation can be found here: Original manuscript in CHL; quoted in Michael Marquardt, The Joseph Smith Revelations: Text and Commentary, Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1999, 315-16; see also Revelations in Addition to Those Found in the LDS Edition of the D&C on New Mormon Studies: A Comprehensive Resource Library. CD-ROM. Salt Lake City: Smith Research Associates, 1998.

      • Thanks Matt for identifying this. It is the point I asked Brian about in earlier comments below, and he was unable to verify the age of publication. It shows he was wise to not include this document in the discussion about “contemporary evidence”.
        In the result, the contemporary evidence lies in the 3 statements in the Expositor and the John C Bennett book (not the stuff on which the Church would like to rest its claims to authority) plus an ambiguous record in Clayton’s journal (which seems to have, in other places, later additions and retractions).
        It really comes back to how committed were the members later in the 19thC to defending the Church. Were they all prepared to “lie for the Lord” then, as, on the Church account, they did for the decade from 1842-1852? For what it is worth, the judge in the Temple Lot case didn’t think much of their testimony.

  14. Brant, I don’t think Jacob 2:30 is helpful. I know it is used (by Brian?) in the essays, but it was not referred to in s132, and God is not limited by the contents of Jacob 2:30 in commanding his children. It is not as if the verse says “For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people TO PRACTISE POLYGAMY; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.” To read the verse this way is to take it out of context, and to add words so as to change its evident meaning. The meaning Kenneth earlier attributed to the verse is the most persuasive and real; another alternative, perhaps related, is that “these things” is a reference to the cursings spoken of in verse 29.
    And of course, the reason posited for commanding polygamy, raising up seed, sits uncomfortably with the history that not a single polygamous seed of Joseph can be found.
    The reality is that all we have for contemporaneous documentation in favour of Joseph’s polygamy is the words of various persons who did not follow Brigham: the Laws, Marks, Bennett. We find reasons to reject their testimony when we get to the detail, but we seem to want to cling to them on this primary issue.
    My present thought is that, relying upon the evidence alone, the whole matter remains an open question. It’s all what we choose to believe. If Kenneth is right, it removes a lot of the evil spoken of about Joseph and his alleged deception. Many would think that is “edifying” cf D&C 50:23.

    • I would strongly disagree with your reading of Jacob. You might have that meaning if you read only the verse, but in the context surrounding it, the meaning is clear that the Lord can permit polygamy–although not typical. That is virtually a required Old Testament reading else we are suggesting that someone so important as Israel was in violation of a rather significant commandment.

      • I’m not just reading that verse, Brant, but the whole of chapter 2.
        When you read the whole context, it could be said you are reading verse 30 as ““For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people TO COMMIT WHOREDOMS AND ABOMINATIONS; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.” (see verses 23,24,28,31,33)
        Please understand that I am only commenting on Jacob 2:30. There may be support for polygamy in the scriptures, but not in Jacob chapter 2. The use of verse 30 to support polygamy is misconceived.

          • Hi Brant, can you tell me what other verse or verses in Jacob 2 indicate to you that “the meaning is clear that the Lord can permit polygamy–although not typical”? Maybe I am missing something, but I just can’t see it.

  15. Your argument “unless God authorizes it” does not hold up at all… if you stay in scriptural context and follow the scriptural patterns your conclusions won’t fall apart. All throughout history apostasy has occurred because someone gets the idea that “God authorized” it so it must be right. The Prophet Jeremiah warned about such things:
    Are “Prophets” ever just “men?” Yes, they can make mistakes and do. Can “prophets prophesy falsely?” Yes…

    “The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?”
    (Old Testament | Jeremiah 5:31)

    The only thing God authorizes is holiness, virtue and righteousness of character so that we can become like him.

    For a more understandable version of Jacob 2:29-30 and in keeping it in context of what the Lord has commanded from “before the world was made” (D&C 49: 15-17) on this matter of marriage, it would read like this for me:

    “Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, (which commandments? what he just talked about in the previous verses) saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes.
    For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will (always) command my people (in righteousness, in virtue, in holiness) otherwise (meaning, therefore or in other words) they shall hearken unto these things. (Book of Mormon | Jacob 2:29 – 30)
    (parenthesis added to make it clear, and understandable in context of what is being taught by the Prophet Jacob).

    • Certainly we differ on our opinion of what scripture means. Since we have the statement in Jacob that there are times when God would authorize polygamy, and we have examples in the Old Testament (such as Israel), then we have to allow that while polygamy isn’t the norm, it can be authorized.

      Your argument appears to be that Joseph wasn’t authorized. Since I believe he was a prophet, that underscores the way I take revelation that came from him. Since I believe the Book of Mormon came through divine means, that means I accept the Book of Mormon as well. Both of those sources tell me that according to scripture there is a place for polygamy in God’s view.

  16. If you just take scriptural evidence alone, about marriage (excluding D&C 132 / see footnote) the way God established the principle of marriage in the beginning, (Genesis 2: 24 / One man Adam to one wife Eve / the Godly pattern) to this present day. My common-sense kicks in and tells me polygamy is man’s excuse to get around the commandment to “not commit adultery” (Exodus 20: 14; Matthew 5: 27-28) those who fall into this sin say: “God commanded me,” which is breaking another commandment “thou shalt not bear false witness” (Exodus 20: 16).
    As scriptures attest, the very first-time polygamy comes up is with the seed of Cain who departed from the commandments of God and took on more that one wife. (Genesis 4: 16-24). Belligerently following their own carnal desires…this immorality spread throughout civilizations during Old Testament times to this present day. It has plagued every dispensation of time.
    Follow the pattern scripturally:
    1. The origin of polygamy: Seed of Cain (Old Testament | Genesis 4:16 – 24)
    2. Gods law for marriage: (Genesis 2: 24) One man Adam to one wife Eve.
    3. “Neither shall he (any man or King…this includes Abraham, Jacob, King Solomon and King David) multiply wives to himself, that his heart… turn…away…from the commandment…keep all the words of this law.”
    (Old Testament | Deuteronomy 17:14-20).
    4. “Noah’s family one wife. (Old Testament | Genesis 7:5 – 7). (Old Testament | Genesis 7:13).
    5. Lehi and his sons took only one wife to America (Book of Mormon | 1 Nephi 16:7 – 8)
    6. “Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord…Wherefore, this people (meaning us also) shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes…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;” (Book of Mormon | Jacob 2:24 – 29)
    7. Behold, the Lamanites your brethren, whom ye hate because of their filthiness and the cursing which hath come upon their skins, are more righteous than you; for they have not forgotten the commandment of the Lord, which was given unto our father—that they should have save it were one wife, and concubines they should have none, and there should not be whoredoms committed among them. And now, this commandment they observe to keep; wherefore, because of this observance, in keeping this commandment, the Lord God will not destroy them, but will be merciful unto them; and one day they shall become a blessed people. (Book of Mormon | Jacob 3:5 – 6)
    8. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, (New Testament | 1 Timothy 3:2)
    9. Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. (New Testament | 1 Timothy 3:12)
    10. If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. (New Testament | Titus 1:6)
    11. “for marriage is ordained of God unto man.
    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;
    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)
    12. “And again, I will give unto you a pattern in all things, (this includes marriage) that ye may not be deceived; for Satan is abroad in the land, and he goeth forth deceiving the nations.” (“nations,” meaning, people, individuals) (Parentheses added for clarity) (Doctrine and Covenants | Section52:14, given June 7, 1831)
    13. “All legal contracts of marriage made before a person is baptized into this church, should be held sacred and fulfilled. Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again.” (Doctrine and Covenants 1835 Section C1 (101:4)

    • In Jacob we find: “For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.”
      (Jacob 2:30) From a scriptural standpoint, then Ken is right that there are prohibitions against polygamy–unless God authorizes it. So all of these verses are correct, but irrelevant to the historical question of Joseph Smith’s polygamy.

  17. Isn’t it ironic that the only contemporaneous documentary evidence of Joseph Smith’s polygamy is in the Nauvoo Expositor. Had all copies been destroyed as intended we would be left without the Law’s affidavits. As to their reliability, they are regarded as apostate, and anyway, they can only verify the 1844 content of s132, they can’t actually tie that content to Joseph.
    The next best document is Marks in 1853, but he says Joseph said it was all a mistake, which is not what orthodoxy wants to rely upon.
    Then you are left with those who would “lie for the Lord”.
    I don’t think it is near so convincing as you make out Brian. The Temple Lot judge wasn’t persuaded, and he heard these testimonies (and cross-examination) in the flesh, a much more reliable guide than an untested long-after-the-event statement.
    I think God could command Joseph to be polygamous, but did he, or would he. Just like God could command him to be polyamorous, but you dismiss that because of an absence of evidence (which you remind us isn’t evidence of absence) cf Gen12:15. Some of us find it just as unbelievable, especially in the face of his denials, that Joseph would have been commanded to (and did) take extra wives, as to take other men’s wives (both of which you accept), as to be intimate with other men’s wives (which you find too hard for God to do).
    And please don’t assume that people who disagree with you just haven’t read enough. It’s not the primary documents that are the problem, it’s the different conclusions that can be drawn.

    • Hi Bob,

      I’m quite sure you have overstated the situation, but I understand that today there are many who agree for different reasons. I’ve often said the easiest way to learn that Denver Snuffer is a false teacher is to compare his claims JS was not a polygamy with the historical record.

      Let’s briefly review some of the contemporaneous evidences. From believers were have William Clayton’s journal on July 12, 1843, that he “wrote a revelation” dictated by the Prophet “showing the designs in Moses, Abraham, David and Solomon having many wives and concubines &c.”

      Another important document is a revelation for Newell K. Whitney, dated July 27, 1842 proscribing the language used to seal Joseph to Sarah Ann Whitney. Maybe you are unfamiliar with it:

      “these are the words which you shall pronounce upon my se[r]vant Joseph [Smith] and your Daughter S. A. [Sarah Ann] Whitney. They shall take each other by the hand and you shall say:
      you both mutu[al]ly agree calling them by name to be each others companion so long as you both shall live presser[v]ing yourselv[es] for each other and from all others and also through [o]ut all eternity reserving only those rights which have been given to my servant Joseph [Smith] by revelation and commandment and by legal Authority in times passed [past].

      “If you both agree to covenant and do this, then I give you S. A. [Sarah Ann] Whitney my Daughter to Joseph Smith to be his wife to observe all the rights betwe[e]n you both that belong to that condition. I do it in my own name and in the name of my wife your mother and in the name of my Holy Progenitors by the right of birth which is of Priest Hood vested in me by revelation and commandment and promise of the living God obtained by the Holy Melchizedek Gethrow [Jethro] and other of the Holy Fathers commanding in the name of the Lord all those powers to concentrate in you and through to your po[s]terity for ever

      “All these things I do in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ that through this order he may be glorified [glorified] and [that] through the power of anointing Davied [David] may reign King over Iseral [Israel] which shall hereafter be revealed let immortality and eternal life henc[e]forth be sealed upon your heads forever and ever.”

      JS was sealed to Sarah Ann with a promise regarding “your po[s]terity for ever.” That’s polygamy with conjugation in a contemporaneous document.

      Of course there are anti-Mormons like Bennett and Law who also corroborated Joseph Smith’s personal involvement.

      When both sympathizers and antagonists agree with contemporaneous evidences, the case is greatly strengthened.

      There are many things I don’t know, but I’m still pretty familiar with over 3000 documents I’ve uploaded to MormonPolygamyDocuments.org showing JS introduced and practiced polygamy.

      You might want to take a look at them. You may struggle to maintain the position JS wasn’t personally involved.

      Best,

      Brian

      PS the Newel Whitney doc can be found here: Original manuscript in CHL; quoted in Michael Marquardt, The Joseph Smith Revelations: Text and Commentary, Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1999, 315-16; see also Revelations in Addition to Those Found in the LDS Edition of the D&C on New Mormon Studies: A Comprehensive Resource Library. CD-ROM. Salt Lake City: Smith Research Associates, 1998.

      • Hi Brian, thanks for responding.
        Your article identified the contemporaneous evidence as “a private journal and declarations from former Latter-day Saints”, ie William Clayton’s journal (which does not take the matter very far) and the “anti-Mormon” evidence: Bennett and the three Expositor affidavits of the Laws and Austin Cowles. Based on your article, my opening statement about irony still seems correct.
        You have indicated that I should “learn that Denver Snuffer is a false teacher”, and that I “maintain the position that JS wasn’t personally involved in polygamy”. You are mistaken in your assumptions about my opinion. I have no real view on Denver Snuffer and no particular interest in learning whether or not he is a false teacher (I don’t live in Utah). My position is as stated in my comment “I don’t think it [particularly, the contemporaneous evidence] is near so convincing as you make out, Brian”. Perhaps “some ambiguity will always accompany our knowledge on this issue” (Essays – your words?), and I continue to have an open mind on the question of Joseph Smith’s polygamy.
        But back to your primary point. You now call in aid the “important document” containing the Whitney revelation. I assumed from your article that the documentary evidence of the revelation was not contemporaneous but was created from a later recollection. Can you assist me on that? I see you have referred me again to your footnote, but I think I am a long way from “CHL” (Church History Library?). Does the original manuscript identify the date it was created (and if so, what date), as distinct from the date of the revelation?

        • Hi Bob,

          I can’t remember if I personally saw it or if I just believed Mike Marquardt’s comments about it. As the JSP documents series continues I expect we’ll see it. The manuscript has a date on it according to Michael.

          Have you reviewed the other evidences like Andrew Jenson’s notes and publication besides the 1869 affidavits? How do you respond? Do you think it was a massive conspiracy?

          Here’s a link if you haven’t see these: https://archive.org/stream/AffidavitsOnCelestialMarriage/MS_3423_1-4#page/n1

          Best,

          Brian

  18. I have never brought this scripture into play before regarding the fact that “polygamy” has never been taught as a principle for marriage by the Lord (PERIOD).

    Here are the Lords words “from the beginning of creation God made them male and female…a man shall cleave to his wife…the twain shall be one…” and it has not changed from the beginning. Any changes that have taken place are mans attempt to wrest the scriptures and live a life contrary to godliness and holiness which Christ taught. This is my testimony of this truth with respect to polygamy and marriage in general.

    Ҧ And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him.
    3 And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you?
    4 And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away.
    5 And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.
    6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.
    7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;
    8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.
    9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”

    (New Testament | Mark 10:2 – 9)

    From the “beginning of the creation” a man was to have “one” wife and was to cleave to his wife and none else. And “they twain” shall be “one” flesh; therefore what “God hath joined together, let not man up asunder” or add other wives to his own damnation.

    During Joseph’s lifetime fallen man sought to destroy the Prophet and accused him of lying and living secretly polygamy… those are not the attributes of a true prophet. A true prophet would not lie, and he would “cleave to his wife and none else.” After his death (assassination and murder) others in the church came forward and lied about the Prophet Joseph having many wives secretly. This is all hearsay evidence. The Prophet Joseph Smith said this through the Lord in revelation February 9, 1831… before D&C 132 came into existance:

    “Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else.
    23 And he that looketh upon a woman to lust after her shall deny the faith, and shall not have the Spirit; and if he repents not he shall be cast out.
    24 Thou shalt not commit adultery;”

    (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 42:22 – 24)

    • Kenneth, this is a classic “no true scotsman” fallacy. Your argument is also cherry picking and private interpretation of scriptures. Shaky, shaky ground, build on a sandy foundation and you fall. PLUS: You never did show me the courtesy of answering my core argument about my own family. Ignoring powerful arguments isn’t a good way to discover the truth.

  19. One of the wonderful blessings of free agency is being able to choose what we believe. As we do, we also choose the consequences that come with that set of beliefs.

    People generally credit John Adams with the following: “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

    I don’t understand how people can mentally dismiss the historical evidences surrounding Joseph Smith’s introduction and practice of plural marriage. But if they choose to do so, I’ll respect their agency.

    My sadness is that they might influence others who don’t take the time to learn the historical facts surrounding the issue. Joseph taught: “Truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come” (D&C 93:24).

    The evidences showing Joseph introduced eternal AND plural marriage is strong enough to be declared truth. The alternate argument (continually popping up on the internet) instead posits a conspiracy of hundreds of people who sought to create a false history for reasons I can’t explain.

    For followers of Denver Snuffer, or others who disbelieve, the antidote is MORE KNOWLEDGE. Study the evidences without fear because the truth will set us free. Sure there are thousands of pages of material (see http://mormonpolygamydocuments.org/master-index/ ), but the effort will be worth it (rather than being deceived).

    • Hi, Brian. You have been tasked with quite the project and have spent a lot of time sharing your findings. Have you ever taken what you have found and asked God specific questions about them, like Joseph did? What would you say to someone who has spent a lot of time studying both sides of the coin and was told that Joseph and Emma were monogamists?

  20. Pingback: Joseph Smith Likely Had No Sexual Relations With His Plural ‘Wives’ | Conflict of Justice

  21. Hello Brian,

    If you understand the gospel correctly, you don’t condemn the person but the “sin.”

    No, I do not condemn the Prophet Joseph, Brigham or David or Solomon or any who involved themselves in polygamy or a lie or baring false witness of others…(Article of Faith 2). Since the Lord called having more that “one wife” an “abomination” (Jacob 2:24) and “whoredoms” (Jacob 3:5) that is good enough for me, past, present or future… perhaps this is a principle you don’t completely understand, for God teaches the same truth, the same morality, and the same virtue…yesterday, today, and forever.

    It is man who “wrests” (2 Peter 3: 16) the scriptures or twists the truth to satisfy his or her own unholy desires.

    I pray your path will bring you to the truth,

    Kenneth

  22. Greetings Brian,

    Brian, you said, “there is a principle here that needs to be understood” … are you listening to what your are saying? Lets bring out the “principle.”

    The truth is, everyone believes what they choose to believe. I totally agree with D&C 9… your research and my research both shows two individuals who have taken the “polygamy issue” and studied it out in their minds… and as the scripture says: “behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.

    (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 9:8)

    I can’t speak for you, but am I to assume you have done this and your answer from the Lord is that Joseph Smith both lived and taught the principle of polygamy?

    I have applied the same principles from D&C 9 and received a totally different, opposite answer.

    I have been and continue to receive after pursuing a similar path of research, study and prayer, that my bosom burned within me and I felt that it was right; that the Prophet Joseph Smith never lived or taught the principle of polygamy but fought it his whole life.

    Now I have not just stopped there with the Prophet Joseph Smith… I went further into the same path of study, research and prayer concerning the practice of polygamy, where it originally came from and those individuals in the Old Testament who got involved in the practice were not following “a command from the Lord to live it” but were following their own “fallen natures” in assuming it was the right thing to do. Some of them pulled away from the practice and never continued to add more wives (I am speaking of Abraham and Jacob).

    As far as, where the practice of polygamy came from, after much study and prayer again, it was shown to me that it originated from the seed of Cain (a family group and people) who forsook the original commandment from the Lord God to only have “one wife” and pursued their own “fallen natures” Old Testament | Genesis 4:16 – 24 … this would include all those people and nations who even to this day practice polygamy.

    Ancient Israel who were wanderers in the land after they left Egypt… some of them got caught up in the “fallen nature” of embracing the doctrine of polygamy… not by God’s command, but by their own “fallen natures.”

    As it was with Ancient Israel, so it was with modern Israel who followed Brigham Young out West (going “West” is symbolic of leaving the path the Lord originally set up and “falling away” from the truth). It was in the “East” (which is symbolic of following the Lord in righteousness) that the Book of Mormon came forth which clearly said: “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)

    And during this same period, the Prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation (March 1831) that from “before the world was created” the Lord God gave a law or commandment that man should have only “one wife.” “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; and that it might be filled with the measure of man, according to his creation before the world was made.

    (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 49:16 – 17)

    My point is that, my conclusion and the answer to my study and prayer, came from the “heavenly pattern” of “one wife” which the Lord God established “before the world was created;” (D&C 49) that His moral law for marriage was that a man should have only “one wife.” This is the Lord speaking these words, not Abraham, or any other prophet… That is “the principle that needs to be understood.”

    I pray your Christmas may be a “holy one.”

    • Hi Again,

      I’ve debated whether I should answer this but I’m troubled. You may not realize it but from my perspective, your assertions actually condemn Joseph Smith, his revelations, his teachings, and his practices in Nauvoo.

      You say you’ve studied and that’s great. Have you read the contemporaneous and late accounts from dozens of men and women who heard Joseph teach eternal marriage (and the plurality of wives) or had him authorize their plural sealings?

      If you have, then could I ask a question? Did inspiration tell you they were all lying or did inspiration tell you to ignore them or have your prayers told you something else? You don’t have to answer, but a huge obstacle to maintaining your viewpoint are the accounts from many of Joseph’s closest followers, 115 at his death, who are documented as participating in polygamous marriages with his authorization.

      I once tried to identify who first said “Fact are stubborn things.” I think it is generally attributed to John Adams, but I’m not convinced he was the first to say it. Regardless, I worry when burning bosoms trump well documented historical facts. I’m more bothered when the reconstructions portray Joseph negatively. Please be careful in advancing your views.

      Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year to you,

      Brian

  23. Kenneth, I am doubtful. My great-great grandfather Joel knew the prophet very well, and his brother Benjamin even more closely and was his secretary for a time. If any of this is as you suggest, they would have objected and spoken up, since Joel was known to be forthright and of the greatest probity. Ben was fearless.

    Their sister Almira married Joseph Smith. Are you saying my great-great-great uncle and my great great-great aunt and my great-great grandfather conspired together? If you believe that, you’d believe anything. In Missouri a mobber tried to kill Benjamin when he refused to denounce the church, his gun failed to discharge three times, he put a fresh load into the weapon and when he pulled the trigger the fourth time, the gun blew up and killed the mobber. Can you seriously think such a brave man would lie about polygamy, which neither he nor grandfather Joel wanted at all?

    I don’t see why anyone would object. If God tells Nephi to cut off Laban’s head, why can’t he tell Joseph that plurality of wives is part of the restoration? We don’t murder, but what if God tells us? Our limited notions of right and wrong are childish thinking compared to God’s.

    I said I was doubtful. Not true. No, I reject your premise and your evidence completely, and believe you are utterly wrong. Just my opinion, of course; you could be a wonderful person. I hope you are. It is not a sin to have the wrong opinion. I’ve had many in my long life.

    • Greetings Lynn,
      I appreciate your thoughts and a little history of your ancestors.
      Regardless of who we are or where we came from, we can agree that we all choose “Fathers Plan” in the pre-mortal existence. That means a lot to me and suggests that we were once valiant for Christ and what He stood for.

      The “test” is now here… are we going to be valiant and moral here. I can not answer for the Prophet Joseph Smith (but in my heart of hearts I believe he never introduced polygamy at all or lived it… he fought against it in my opinion). I can’t answer for Brigham Young or any who entered into the polygamy doctrine, they will have to answer to God as we all will for our behavior, our thinking, and our words and intent of heart.
      Regardless of where the Church may decide to go in the future, I have crated for myself a “foundation” of spiritual principles or attributes of godliness that I have covenanted to obey and immerse myself into, regardless what others my choose to do. I can tell you what that “foundation” is:
      1. Lectures on Faith
      2. Sermon on the Mount taught by Christ
      3. My moral foundation is “one man one wife” morality
      4. “Sanctify yourselves and be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.”
      5. D&C 121: 41-46

      These to me are my 5 points of fellowship with myself, God and my fellowman.

      God bless you in your journey,

      • Hi Kenneth,

        I’m happy to let you believe what you choose, but there is a principle here that needs to be understood and I wouldn’t want readers to be misled.

        Joseph Smith’s revelations teach that we should “study it out” (D&C 9:8) before we pray. “It” refers to information we seek to understand. Praying without study brings condemnation. The Lord was critical of Oliver because he “took no thought save it was to ask” God, rather than studying.

        Joseph also taught that we learn “by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118), not by faith alone.

        Why is this? Because “there are many spirits which are false spirits, which have gone forth in the earth, deceiving the world” (D&C 50:2). By studying to learn truth from the scriptures (John 5:39) and from the “best books,” (D&C 88:118), and then exercising faith through prayer, we can come to know the truth. Praying alone leaves us vulnerable to false spirits because of our disobedience.

        This applies to the issue of plural marriage. We should not be afraid of transparency. I mean, learning everything available in the historical record, especially when those records were made by believers in Christ and in Joseph Smith as His prophet.

        You may not realize it, but you are on one end of a polygamy spectrum. You allege Joseph didn’t practice polygamy and at the other end are Mormon fundamentalists who say he did and we are supposed to practice it today.

        In both cases, there is (in my view) a LACK of STUDY. Joseph Smith did introduce plural marriage as part of the new and everlasting covenant so to deny it is to deny his teachings.

        Joseph also taught that valid eternal marriages (monogamous or polygamous) cannot be freelanced. They are strictly controlled by a key holder who many fundamentalist ignore or embrace lines of authority that are indefensible once the claims are investigated.

        Prayerful study is needed in both cases; not just study; not just prayer.

        Happy Holidays.

        Brian Hales

  24. From the Book “Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy” Volume 1 Chapter 10:
    “Joseph forbids it [polygamy] and the practice thereof”

    The LDS Church history quotes a statement which purports to be an exact entry from Joseph’s journal for October 5, 1843, to prove that Joseph had commanded that polygamy be practiced. The statement is monogamous in the original journal, but was changed by Mormon historians to have a polygamous meaning.

    Joseph’s October 5,1843, entry as it now appears incorrectly in the Mormon history is:

    “Gave instructions to try those persons who were preaching, teaching, or practicing the doctrine of plurality of wives; for, according to the law, I hold the keys of this power in the last days; for there is never but one on earth at a time on whom the power and its keys are conferred; and I have constantly said no man shall have but one wife at a time, unless the Lord directs otherwise.”(LDS History of the Church 6:46)

    Modern Mormon scholars, who have had access to records in the Mormon Church’s archives, have found that this statement has been changed. Originally it condemned polygamy. The original quotation is in “an untitled journal of 278 manuscript pages,” which is thought to be in the handwriting of Willard Richards, one of Joseph’s scribes. Richards made the following entry:

    “Walked up and down St[reet] with Scribe and gave instructions to try those who were preaching, teaching, or practicing the doctrine of plurality of wives on this Law. Joseph forbids it and the practice thereof. No man shall have but one wife.” [rest of page blank] {page 116} (Scott H. Faulring, ed., An American Prophet’s Record: The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith, 417)

    Richard S. Van Wagoner, author and historian, agreed that this is true, saying,

    The prophet’s most pointed denial of plural marriage occurred on 5 October 1843 in instructions pronounced publicly in the streets of Nauvoo. Willard Richards wrote in Smith’s diary that Joseph “gave instructions to try those who were preaching, teaching, or practicing the doctrine of plurality of wives…. Joseph forbids it and the practice thereof. No man shall have but one wife.” (Van Wagoner, Sidney Rigdon, 292)

    Van Wagoner continued by explaining:

    When incorporating Smith’s journal into the History of the Church, church leaders, under Brigham Young’s direction, deleted ten key words from this significant passage and added forty-nine others. (ibid., 303, note 17)

    What a tremendous difference between the way Joseph gave this instruction against polygamy and the way the LDS polygamists published it in their doctored history! They changed the history as part of the conspiracy to legalize their own polygamous crimes by making the dead Prophet the author of it. The original version of the October 5 entry agreed with all of Joseph’s writings which were published during his lifetime—including those found in the Three Scriptures and his sermon of May 26, 1844, against the dissenters.

  25. One more bit of evidence, “first-hand evidence” that God never commanded polygamy.

    First, we must understand what is “secondhand evidence?” In a court of law, it is “hearsay.” This is a term used for evidence that a person has learned from another person and has not seen or heard themselves. It is “expert opinion.”

    On the other hand, what is “first hand evidence?” “Primary evidence, as distinguished from secondary; original, as distinguished from substitutionary; the best and highest evidence of which the nature of the case is susceptible. A written instrument is itself always regarded as the primary or best possible evidence of its existence and contents; a copy, or the recollection of a witness, would be secondary evidence.” (TheLaw.com Dictionary)

    I submit that D&C 132 is “secondhand evidence” because it was placed in the Doctrine and Covenants by Brigham Young 32 years after Joseph Smith was murdered in cold blood; it was only 8 years after Joseph Smith was killed that Brigham Young said he found a revelation from the Prophet Joseph Smith which is the now D&C 132 ).

    Eight years or 32 years later (It doesn’t really matter; the Prophet Joseph Smith was dead and he could not defend his reputation or his beliefs). So what did (Brigham Young) do? He removed Section 101 on “Marriage” from the Doctrine and Covenants, which said:

    “Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband,…”
    and replace it with D&C 132…He did this to justify his beliefs and actions in polygamy, he needed the name of the Prophet Joseph Smith attached to a “revelation” that would sanction polygamy, otherwise it would not have worked.

    It should be told here that the “first” mention of polygamy in the scriptures was lived by those who forsook Gods pattern and laws regarding the marriage principle of “one man, one wife;” and this action came from the seed of Cain, where men began to fall into this practice (Genesis 4:16 – 24). It has never been a “commandment of God,” for it does not follow the “pattern” God set up in the beginning, “before the world was created” (D&C 49: 15-17)…”polygamy” has always been born from the lusts of men.

    Find out for yourself, ask God… “if any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God…” I did, and this was my answer and I share it with you because it is my testimony of the truth…and you must find out for yourself if I speak the truth or a lie.

  26. Polygamy and the Mormon Church…was/is, it right or was/is, it wrong? If I have a spiritual question, or a temporal question, I can ask God myself… therefore I will come to know for myself and not of another, except God.
    If you want to know if the LDS Church is true, ask God. If you want to know if the Book of Mormon is true, ask God. If you want to know if polygamy was/is a moral principle, ask God. Well I have done that and will share my findings with you. My answer came after much pondering, prayer and study of the scriptures and this is where it brought me. I first wanted to establish the “true” nature of God’s moral character as best I can from reading the scriptures.
    1. God is a God of truth and does not lie, nor does he teach his people to lie or bear false witness of each other:

    “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.”
    (Old Testament | Deuteronomy 32:4)

    “Yea, Lord, I know that thou speakest the truth, for thou art a God of truth, and canst not lie.”
    (Book of Mormon | Ether 3:12)

    “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
    (Old Testament / Exodus 20).

    2. God is a God of virtue, a moral God, “one man, one wife” God’s pattern is the same yesterday, today and forever!

    “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” (this implies “one wife”)
    “thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife” (this implies “one wife.”)
    (Old Testament | Exodus 20)

    • Adam & Eve: Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: (singular) and they shall be one flesh.(Old Testament | Genesis 2:18 – 24)

    • Noah and his sons: 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) (notice the pattern, one man one wife)

    • Lehi and his sons: 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. (notice the pattern, one man one wife)
    And thus my father had fulfilled all the commandments of the Lord which had been given unto him. (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 (seed) from the fruit of the loins of Joseph.
    Wherefore, I the Lord God will not suffer that this people shall do like unto them of old.
    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;
    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)

    For a more understandable version of Jacob 2:29-30 and in keeping in the context and pattern of what the Lord has commanded from “before the world was made” on this matter of a moral, virtuous marriage, it would read like this, parentheses are mine and added for clarity:

    • Lehi and his sons continue: “Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes.
    For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will (always) command my people (in righteousness); otherwise (in other words or therefore) they shall hearken unto these things.” (Book of Mormon | Jacob 2:29 – 30)

    To continue further in context from the prophet Jacob, we read:

    • Lehi and his sons continue: “Behold, the Lamanites your brethren, whom ye hate because of their filthiness and the cursing which hath come upon their skins, are more righteous than you; for they have not forgotten the commandment of the Lord, which was given unto our father(s) (1830 Book of Mormon, pg. 128 “fathers” was changed to “father” in all subsequent BOM’s. This is important because “fathers” would go all the way back to Adam and Eve, the commandment of the Lord to have only one wife.)—that they should have save it were one wife, and concubines they should have none, and there should not be whoredoms committed among them. And now, this commandment they observe to keep; wherefore, because of this observance, in keeping this commandment, the Lord God will not destroy them, but will be merciful unto them; and one day they shall become a blessed people.” (Book of Mormon | Jacob3:5 – 6)

    • The Prophet Joseph Smith and the latter-day church:

    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)

    “Before the world was created” God said “he should have one wife.” This has been God’s pattern and moral law of virtue in marriage from Adam and Eve, “before the world was created” and on into infinity😊. God has never changed his moral laws of marriage and virtue. God is not a “changeable God” (Moroni 8:12). God does not lie. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

    “I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him, as well in times of old as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men. For he is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever; and the way is prepared for all men from the foundation of the world, if it so be that they repent and come unto him.”(Book of Mormon | 1 Nephi 10:17 – 18)

    So far, we have that God’s character is one that is virtuous and moral (meaning one man one wife), truthful, honest, does not lie or bear false witness of others. For an in-depth study of God’s character, attributes and perfections of God the Father and Christ, I would point the reader to pondering the 7 “Lectures on Faith,” which was called “The Doctrine Of The Church of the Latter Day Saints” for 86 years before it was pulled out of our scriptures. Today there is a brief comment of them in the “Explanatory Introduction” of any current Doctrine and Covenants.

    The Prophet Joseph Smith said: (first-hand account). “It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God, and to know that we may converse with Him as one man converses with another…” (The King Follet Sermon 1844). Once you have established a foundation of the truth for yourselves in the attributes and character of God…Joseph went on to say “if men do not comprehend the character of God they do not comprehend themselves.” (Words of Joseph Smith pg. 340).

    First-hand account. The Prophet Joseph Smith said:
    On May 26, 1844 Joseph Smith said, one month before he was murdered June 27, 1844: “What a thing for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one. I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago” (History of the Church Vol.6, p.408-412 Sunday, May 26, 1844).

    While the Prophet Joseph Smith was alive he had only one wife (Emma) and fought polygamy his whole life. He was true and faithful to Emma and his family. It wasn’t until after he was murdered that most of all the second-hand accusations came out to say otherwise. In a court of law “second-hand” evidence is “hearsay.” I am a member of the LDS Church and attend the temple often and I do not believe in the opinions the Church is claiming today about the Prophet Joseph having taught and lived polygamy…it is all “hearsay” evidence. What Brian Hales has documented is also “hearsay” evidence. Everything else that we have from Joseph himself testifies he opposed it and fought against it…hence he was murdered for the truth that God had established from “before the foundation of the world” (the one man, one wife principle)! In my book, in my heart of hearts, the Prophet Joseph Smith died a moral man of godliness, holding true to the “one man one wife principle:”

    We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.
    (Pearl of Great Price | Articles of Faith 1:13)

    So with regards to polygamy, What are we to believe?

    1. Did the doctrine of polygamy come from Joseph Smith?
    2. Did the doctrine polygamy come from God?
    3. Did Joseph Smith lie about his involvement?
    4. And probably The most important question is: Can a person make it to heaven (the Celestial Kingdom for Mormons) believing in a lie? Or telling lies? Or bearing false witness of others?
    The answer to all these questions for me is “NO.”
    Find out for yourself and ask God… I did!

    • Hi Kenneth,

      I readily acknowledge there can be a lot of emotion involved when discussing this topic. I appreciate that you have asked God and received your answer.

      The problem I sense deals with Joseph Smith’s teaching that we should “seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118, 109:7).

      From my perspective, we must also STUDY, besides praying to God for enlightenment. Having viewed hundreds of pieces of reliable historical evidences showing Joseph Smith introduced plural marriage and practiced polygamy, I’m confident that if you or others will study those evidences and then pray, you will come up with a different conclusion.

      Transparency in our “study” is important–that is we should not simply study the things we like and ignore things we don’t. The truth can account for all evidences.

      I worry sometimes about what I call “bread crumb” scholarship where writers (like the Prices) lead their audiences through one bread crumb evidence to the next, eventually guiding them to their conclusion. Readers are encouraged to not look to the right or left (to not investigate contradictory evidences), but to follow the line of bread crumbs.

      I don’t know if that applies here, but my simply admonition is to study everything from the participants before praying or while you are praying. From a prayerful and evidentiary standpoint, there is no denying Joseph Smith was a polygamist.

      God Bless,

      Brian

      • Brother Brian,

        I have studied this topic a great deal and read a lot of your writings. I have read a lot of Brigham Young’s words in the JD. I am well studied in the pros and cons of who introduced polygamy in the first place (in other words) I have been where you are, in your thinking and have made an about face. It came down to this: Do i trust in the arm of flesh or in the Lord. Which brings be back to prayer after much study.

        Who is the “authority” on this subject?

        I would remind you, including myself and anyone else who may think they have “done their homework” on this subject, really, just have excellent “opinions.”

        I would suggest “God” is the only one who “knows” the legitimacy of polygamy and its founder.

        As mortals, all we can really do is make an opinion on the subject. Your opinions are great second hand observations.

        I suggest some first hand observation, ask God in prayer. My suggestion to you is to “forget” all the rhetoric you have learned and look at the “pattern” of “one man one wife” God set up from before the world was created (D&C 49) and then follow the “pattern(s)” from Adam & Eve; when God (not man) started an new beginning for a group of people. Remember it was Adam & Eve (singular, one wife). It was Noah and his family (singular, one wife for each male). It was Lehi and his family (singular, one wife for each male); New Testament, look up “one wife” and you will find the moral principle of “one wife” again… this pattern suggest to me a constant morality of “one wife” God has commanded and taught for a reason! It is man who has corrupted the truth, not God.

  27. Wonderful review. It occurs to me that we may object to polygamy from empathy with women, who imagine themselves (or we imagine them) losing some percent of love from their husband. Such empathy is sensitive and sympathetic, but I think perhaps short sighted. There are some issues. As a practicing psychologist, I have been able to help some troubled marriages by shifting focus from “Am I loved?” to “Am I loving?” Being loved is great and also out of our control, but being a person who creates and projects love is critical. The commandment to love God implies that we are responsible not for whether we are loved but we are responsible to send love. Suppose my wife has little love for me (and rightfully so!) but I can maintain a high level of love for her. In that case, isn’t her lack of love for me (this is a thought experiment, not a real issue) a blessing in disguise? Wouldn’t I be a better person to focus on my responsibility to be loving?

    Another problem I could see with the after-life concerns which came up more your review of the Carol Lynn Pearson book is that time doesn’t exist in the celestial kingdom, being measured only on this earth. That means that since you cannot meaningfully divide infinity, you cannot suppose that the husband’s love can be divided. Infinity divided by two or by ten is still infinity. Are we irate that God loves all his children and not just us? Or do we rejoice in a God with infinite love (and infinite time to listen to each and every of our concerns)?

    Finally, it does occur to me that there is some ark-steadying going on. Those who cannot imagine Brother Joseph did practice polygamy or was wrong if he did, are implying that their judgment is superior to Joseph’s or even God’s. The oxen stumble and we put out our hand to steady the ark. This never ends well. II Samuel 6:6-7; I Chronicles 13:9-10.

  28. For me, one of the greatest lessons on polygamy was given to me by, of all things, a recent convert. She and I were discussing this issue once and she told me her thoughts: How on earth would I ever share my husband? Inconceivable, never ever!

    But then, she said, she thought of her best friend, another girl in the singles ward (This was in college). “What,” said she, “if my friend was qualified for the celestial kingdom in every way except that she never got married? The question I faced,” she continued, was “would I be so selfish as to keep my husband for me and thereby prevent her from being exalted? What would I do to help my friend make it to heaven and exaltation?”
    This was the question that changed her outlook on polygamy, and I think there is something very powerful in it. My personal feeling is that every woman who makes it to the celestial Kingdom will be required to be willing to share her husband. This does not mean that they will actually have to share, but they must be willing to. This kind of sacrifice and conquering of the petty, natural man is what qualifies us for the Celestial Kingdom.
    As for men, there are equivalent sacrifices required of us. Never forget that the Lord required Abraham to sacrifice Issac, the son of promise. Abraham was blessed that the Lord provided a sacrifice at the last moment…. but sometimes we must let the knife fall.

    What would we do to help our friend, our family, our loved ones receive exaltation? Would we invite them into our families? If we cannot sacrifice all for the sake of the Lord, then I think we will find that we do not qualify for all that the Father hath.

  29. With the amount of evidence presented in this article alone it would seem that any objective reader would come to the conclusion that the Prophet Joseph Smith practiced polygamy, that he taught others to enter into polygamy, and taught them that God insisted that he do so. So, either God wanted the Latter-day Saints to practice polygamy or Joseph Smith was deceived and/or a great deceiver.

    However, every president of the LDS Church practiced polygamy from Joseph Smith through Heber J Grant. If it was not the will of the Lord, why did He keep calling prophets of the Church who had practiced polygamy? Or were none of them really called by God to be His prophets? As there is very little controversy about the practice of polygamy in other religions and cultures around the world it appears that the real reason for the condemnation of LDS polygamy is to condemn the prophets who taught and practiced it.

    The young Joseph Smith Jr. made an extremely bold and presumptive statement when he reported that the angel told him on their first visit that, “[his] name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people.” That prophecy continues to be fulfilled.

  30. Thank you Brother Hales for your tireless efforts to bring understanding, context, and perspective to such a charged and challenging issue. At the risk of oversimplifying, to me in the end it becomes a matter of faith: was Joseph Smith God’s prophet or not? I may have concerns about how polygamy was preached and practiced, and questions regarding the same that are not as yet answered. But such questions do not negate the calling and ministry of Joseph and at least my feeling for the Prophet.

  31. The Book of Mormon unequivocally condemns the practice of polygamy. Here is a sampling. Jacob 1:15 says, “And now it came to pass that the people of Nephi, under the reign of the second king, began to grow hard in their hearts, and indulge themselves somewhat in wicked practices, such as like unto David of old desiring many wives and concubines, and also Solomon, his son.” Jacob 2:24 says, “David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.” Jacob 2:27 says, “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”. Jacob 3:5 says that the Lamanites “have not forgotten the commandment of the Lord, which was given unto our father—that they should have save it were one wife, and concubines they should have none”. Mosiah 11:2 says that King Noah “did not keep the commandments of God, but he did walk after the desires of his own heart. And he had many wives and concubines. And he did cause his people to commit sin, and do that which was abominable in the sight of the Lord. Yea, and they did commit whoredoms and all manner of wickedness.” Ether 10:5 says, “And it came to pass that Riplakish did not do that which was right in the sight of the Lord, for he did have many wives and concubines”.

    Never at any point does the Book of Mormon allow polygamy. Many people, including myself on multiple occasions, have been told that Jacob 2:30 is a loophole that allows polygamy under certain circumstances ordained by the Lord. This post is written to disabuse everyone of that notion. The following is what Jacob 2:30 actually says about polygamy when we disregard what we may want it to say about polygamy. We must allow the text and its entire context to inform us.

    Jacob 2:25 says, “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.” God uses the terms “branch”, “fruit”, and “loins”. These are genealogical and familial terms and we ought to anticipate the further use of such terms to describe the righteous branch the Lord wants to “raise up”. God is describing His goal: To raise up the people as a righteous branch of Joseph unto Himself. In other words, God is trying to raise up a righteous seed, even the family of God. This is one of the major themes of Jacob’s ministry, as evidenced by Jacob 5, Zenos’ allegory of the tame olive tree, which Jacob makes his own by declaring in Jacob 6:1 that it “must surely come to pass”. Jacob 5 is all about raising up the family of God through covenant Israel.

    Directly after discussing God’s hope for raising up His family, Jacob 2:26 says, “Wherefore, I the Lord God will not suffer that this people shall do like unto them of old.” God says that to become a righteous branch, the people have to cease doing what the people of old did (the polygamy referenced earlier in the chapter). Jacob 2:27 says, “For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none”. Here the Lord gives the commandment and it is very explicit and clear: A man should have a maximum of one wife. Jacob 2:29 says, “Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes.” The curses are described further in Jacob 2:33 and Jacob 3:3-4.

    Right after warning the people of potential curses, in Jacob 2:30 the Lord leaves the people no alternative to obedience if they want to be raised up as His family: “For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people”. Here the Lord restates the goal: To raise up the family of God, or the righteous seed He just talked about in verse 25. God tells the people that if they want to become His righteous seed or branch they absolutely need to listen to Him and obey the commandments He is telling them right now. God makes it very clear that the people need to obey all His commandments by saying “I will command my people”. Notice He does not say, “I will command my people to disregard previous commandments”. He is simply saying that any people who want to be His righteous seed need to listen to all the commandments of the Lord, without exception.

    The end of verse 30 says, “…otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.” If the people do not obey, God is warning them that they will naturally tend towards “these things”. But what are “these things”? If a verse uses the generic term, “things”, without explicitly defining what those things are, our duty is to examine the full context in order to properly identify those “things” so that we may avoid making unwarranted assumptions. Fortunately for us, “these things” are mentioned multiple times in the chapter. These are the things that have been written concerning polygamy, specifically in regards to David and Solomon. Jacob 2:23-24 says, “This people begin to wax in iniquity; they understand not the scriptures, for they seek to excuse themselves in committing whoredoms, because of the things which were written concerning David, and Solomon his son. Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.” Verse 34 says, “ye have done these things which ye ought not to have done.” So how do the people avoid doing those awful things that have been written about? God told the people that He has to command them if they want to be His seed (and thus avoid evil). Otherwise, if the people don’t listen to God’s commandments and rebel against Him, they will naturally apostatize and continue to make the same severe mistake of hearkening to the distorted interpretations of scriptures and records – those “things” that have caused so much wickedness and so much heartache among the Nephites.

    Notice that this “seed” spoken of in verse 30 is the same seed of Christ that Abinadi discusses in Mosiah 15:10-13: “And now I say unto you, who shall declare his generation? Behold, I say unto you, that when his soul has been made an offering for sin he shall see his seed. And now what say ye? And who shall be his seed? Behold I say unto you, that whosoever has heard the words of the prophets, yea, all the holy prophets who have prophesied concerning the coming of the Lord—I say unto you, that all those who have hearkened unto their words, and believed that the Lord would redeem his people, and have looked forward to that day for a remission of their sins, I say unto you, that these are his seed, or they are the heirs of the kingdom of God. For these are they whose sins he has borne; these are they for whom he has died, to redeem them from their transgressions. And now, are they not his seed? Yea, and are not the prophets, every one that has opened his mouth to prophesy, that has not fallen into transgression, I mean all the holy prophets ever since the world began? I say unto you that they are his seed” (see also Isaiah 53:10 and Mosiah 14:10).

    Going back to Jacob 2:30, notice that God says nothing about raising a large quantity of seed, which is what is unfairly inferred by the traditional reading of the verse. Besides, the notion that polygamy is required in order to produce a large population is is an unwarranted assumption. Additionally, the idea that polygamy is sometimes permitted by God in order for righteous people to have lots of offspring is inconsistent with the complete lack of confirmed children of Joseph Smith through alleged polygamous relationships.

    Keeping the Lord’s singular standard of sexual morality in mind, read Jacob 2:23-30 again: “…This people begin to wax in iniquity; they understand not the scriptures, for they seek to excuse themselves in committing whoredoms, because of the things which were written concerning David, and Solomon his son. Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, 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. Wherefore, I the Lord God will not suffer that this people shall do like unto them of old. 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; For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts. Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes. For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.” If I were to translate verse 30 into modern English, I might say, “If I, the Lord, am going to make you part of my family, my commandments must be obeyed. If my commandments are not obeyed, you will undoubtedly continue in the same pattern of wickedness of previous apostates.”

    Jacob preached against polygamy and had a difficult time doing so because the people warped the words of the scriptures and used them to justify their abominable acts. Many Mormons continue in that same wicked tradition by doing the exact same thing – warping the meaning of the scriptures to justify polygamy, even if the polygamy in question is not in the present, but in the past (and potentially the future). Knowing that the Nephites so easily succumbed to false interpretations of scriptures dealing with sexual sin, the importance of understanding this chapter correctly should become quite clear. Diligent prayer and study, independent of tradition, ought to be the tools we use to understand these things.

    Regardless of what people believe other books of scripture and historical accounts say about the appropriateness of polygamy, make no mistake that the Book of Mormon is decidedly anti-polygamy and makes no exceptions. Joseph Smith said, “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” Therefore, the teachings of the Book of Mormon ought to inform our beliefs a great deal.

    • Yes, the Book of Mormon speaks out against polygamy… for their people. I note you did not address anywhere the examples of Abraham, Issac, Jacob or Israel, David or Solomon. The Old Testament is also scripture. And I must have missed Jacob’s condemnation of the Patriarch’s practice of polygamy. Your attempt to reason away the “raise up seed I will command this people” language makes no sense in context.

      Further, if you are correct and the Book of Mormon was God’s final word on polygamy, then Joseph Smith must not be a prophet in your view. Was he a prophet when the Book of Mormon was translated? If so: when did he cease being the spokesman for God?

      As a note, the Book of Mormon implies that Amulek had more than one wife, and God indeed called him to be a mighty servant. Alma 10:11 (where Amulek refers to God blessing his children and “women” plural).

      The simple facts are that, like the full law of consecration, the law of gathering, and a few other doctrines: God implements them or not as He sees fit. Joseph and Brigham commanded all the Saints to gather together, because it was God’s will. Now that has been revoked and we gather in our own nations. The Word of Wisdom was optional at one point; now it no longer is. Certainly Jesus drank some wine, but we cannot. The Israelites could not eat pork or shellfish, restrictions we no longer need to abide. We do not live the full law of consecration and have all things in common; instead we live the law of tithing.

      Polygamy is yet another of these laws of God that are, in fact, tailored to the time and place and needs of His people. Most of the time, God outlaws it. Sometimes, He allows it. And occasionally, He commands it. That is His decision and His rules: who are we to judge the Lord? Even things we see as immoral now are sometimes commanded of the Lord, consider incest and Adam and Eve’s children: certainly marrying a sibling was allowed then, while a gross sin now.

      Polygamy is not evil when God Commands it.

      • This is obviously a very divisive issue. I understand that well-meaning people can disagree on this. So I feel no ill will towards you or your opinions. I think this discussion is important and I simply offer my understanding as an alternative with no expectation of anyone believing me or even being civil with me. But I hope for civility and I will offer it. I hope these comments clear up any way that you have misunderstood my position.

        Abraham and Jacob were the only patriarchs who had multiple wives (Isaac only had Rebecca), but you’ll notice that they were never commanded to take multiple wives. They did that all on their own. Personally, I think that was a mistake. And I have no problem with God saving and covenanting with people who made mistakes. I certainly hope He does, because I have made many mistakes in my life. And please note that I did mention the polygamist examples of David and Solomon as I quoted Jacob who thoroughly condemned their polygamy. My reasoning for the supposed “polygamy loophole” in Jacob 2:30 is definitely plausible (remember, the “seed unto [God]” is a reference to the “righteous branch” He hopes to raise up), but you are certainly not required to believe it.

        I don’t believe God ever commanded polygamy. The only place in “scripture” where God supposedly commanded it is in D&C 132. But I question how that document came into existence. Interestingly, Enid DeBarthe did a writing style analysis on D&C 132 and it didn’t match Joseph’s writings but instead it matched Brigham’s writings. You can find that analysis with a Google search. Feel free to do your own research on the origins of that document.

        As far as Joseph Smith and his status as a prophet is concerned, I don’t believe he ever had multiple wives, at least not plural wives that he had sex with. Again, you are certainly free to disagree with me and I have no problem with that. Joseph himself said that he wouldn’t believe his own history if he hadn’t lived it (thus, he never undertook to explain his entire history) so I certainly don’t blame anyone for not believing his own assertions that he did not have multiple wives.

        • So this is interesting. Jacob in the Book of Mormon condemns David and Solomon’s taking of “wives and concubines.” I do not think that anyone has ever suggested that concubines were ever allowed by God.

          I have an issue with you saying that Abraham and Jacob, or Israel, made a mistake and committed sin by taking multiple wives. Abraham was very close to God, obviously, and Jacob also had many visions and encounters with Deity. If polygamy was such a grave sin as you and others hold, do you not think that God may well have mentioned such a thing to Abraham and Israel? Abraham was willing to kill Issac on command of the Lord. Surely if the Lord was displeased with his taking Hagar and Keturah to wife; the Lord would have mentioned it. Of all men on this earth, Abraham would certainly be one to have changed his course.

          I further note that by rejecting section 132, you have also cast aside eternal marriage and eternal families. Plus, even if Brigham wrote section 132, is he not a prophet as well? If you reject Brigham; well, then what is left for today? Most of the early Presidents of the Church had multiple wives… how did they have the Priesthood and sealing powers if they were involved in something God didn’t approve of? Did God again just forget to tell them like Abraham? God certainly had no problems when it came time to end the practice and He told Wilford Woodruff… and please note that Woodruff dutifully followed the Lord and ended the practice.
          I think the whole “It was a mistake!” just doesn’t match the historical record; and to say it was a mistake calls into question all of LDS history and the LDS concept of God and His dealings with His Church. And that’s your prerogative, of course, but that doesn’t exactly lead to remaining a member of the Church, does it?

      • God can’t command anything contrary to Christ’s commandments and the Golden Rule. Truth and right never change. Adam had to obey the same commandments as those in Christ’s day and as we do today. Polygamy is contrary to the Golden Rule and Christ’s teachings. Just because someone claims something in the Bible doesn’t mean it’s true. It seems the God of the OT is not the same God of the NT.

        It seems that most of the so called prophets of the OT did not keep Christ’s commandments and thus according to Christ’s teachings were false or fallen prophets.

        • Hi Again,

          Perhaps to clarify, Joseph taught that polygamy was a commandment.

          It is not a law, a covenant, or an ordinance.

          God can command polygamy (as the angel did to Joseph Smith in 1834) and he can revoke the commandment (as occurred through Wilford Woodruff in 1890).

          D&C 56:4 explains this process: “Wherefore I, the Lord, command and revoke, as it seemeth me good; and all this to be answered upon the heads of the rebellious, saith the Lord.”

          The Saints in 1890 were willing to continue to sacrifice for plural marriage, but the rebellious leaders of the U.S. Government prompted the revocation.

          Best,

          Brian

    • Hi Dan,

      I appreciate these ideas, which I had to read a couple of times and forgive me if I don’t fully understand your argument.

      In Jacob 2:27 Jacob quotes the Lord: “For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none.” Then three verses later He says: “For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.”

      What is meant by “raise up seed”? In 1 Nephi 7:1 we read:

      “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” (emphasis added).

      Here monogamy is invoked to “raise up seed,” meaning to have children.

      Accordingly, I would reject any argument saying that Jacob 2:30 is not referring to the possibility of God commanding polygamy to enhance the birthrate in a population. And studies show that this indeed occurs. (Despite some critics who claim otherwise—they are in error.)

      On the other hand, I certainly agree that the Book of Mormon disallows polygamy and that any polygamists described therein were committing sin because at that time, it was not permitted.

      Thanks,

      Brian

      • Thanks for your opportunity for me to clarify my position. Forgive me if I am not very clear in what I wrote above. I’m glad we can discuss these things civilly.

        The seed that is to be raised up in Jacob 2:30 is the righteous branch that Jacob mentions earlier in the chapter. It is the seed of Christ that Abinadi mentions in Mosiah 15. It’s the natural fruit the Lord is trying to grow in the vineyard in Jacob 5. Jacob is telling the people that, if they want to be the righteous branch/seed of Christ/natural fruit, then it must be God that commands them, and not their false traditions or false leaders. They can’t let anyone or anything else but God command them if they want to be the Lord’s seed, raised up to be a righteous branch of Israel. The Lord warns them that if they don’t allow the Lord command them, they will end up hearkening unto “these things,” which, if you look at the context of everything in the chapter, “these things” are the abominations of old, namely polygamy.

        You brought up an important verse about Lehi’s family. They had to have wives to reproduce if they were indeed going to be a righteous branch of Israel (without children they would just a righteous stump). This concerns the promises given to Lehi and Nephi about their seed in the promised land (see 1 Nephi 4:14; 2 Nephi 3:5; 9:53; 10:1,18-19)

  32. Reading the above comments is puzzling to me. Why is there any controversy about plural marriage as practiced by Joseph? The person who seems to imply that Joseph just made up a doctrine not approved of by God: well, Abraham, Issac, and Jacob seem to imply otherwise. Especially since Jesus Himself located Abraham in heaven (the parable of the rich man). Also, didn’t the prophet Gad condemn David for taking Bathsheba… because she was already married, thereby implying that if she was single, it would have been a-ok?

    Given the Old Testament history, it should be no problem to recognize that polygamy was practiced in the early church, and that God ended it in the 1890-1910 time period. It’s a historical curiosity now, but without real meaning today.

    As I’ve remarked before, the real issue seems to be “How can one man have many women in heaven–that’s not fair!” But here’s the hard truth: we don’t know what being sealed really means. I am sealed to my wife as well as my children. What is the difference between those sealings? I am sealed to my great grandparents too, but what exactly is my relationship going to be with them?
    Jesus said that He wants us to become one, like He and the Father are one. Whatever that actually means, it involves a relationship far, far closer than my current marriage. And I’m supposed to have that kind of relationship with everyone in the celestial kingdom.
    Remember, we are all going to be about the same age/ in the same physical shape in heaven. What kind of society is that, when you don’t have “Old” or “young” people?

    The point is: any ideas we have about “fairness” or how we actually are going to interact with people in the celestial kingdom is unknowable. Assuming I make it there (a very tall assumption indeed), I’m going to be “one” with likely millions of women; all far closer than I currently am with my spouse. And also with millions of men, too. So what does that mean, and is that something to be concerned about? I don’t know, and probably no one on the earth today knows either.

    Thus, I think any concerns about plural marriage in the eternities is simply a wild goose chase: we simply don’t know what human society will be like in a civilization where we are all sealed to each other and all one. And one of the qualifications to get there is overcoming things like jealousy, bitterness, and envy.

  33. It is apparent from Joseph Smith’s writings and scriptures that he, like countless non LDS of his day, understood that all marriages and families are eternal, such was not a new or ‘Mormon’ idea. It seems Joseph would not have believed in the necessity of such things like ‘sealings’, temple work, or even being LDS to make marriages and families eternal.

    People in all ages have had the knowledge of eternal marriage and families for thousands of years, because of how thin the veil is and how common it is and has always been for deceased spouses, children, parents and other relatives to visit, comfort and teach their living spouses and family members about eternity and the eternal nature of their and every family.

    I personally have known many non-lds who have had these experiences and they understand their marriage and family is forever because of their spouse or other deceased relatives visiting them and teaching them so. Not to mention how near death experiences also teach the same things. Such visitations and near death experiences have been common since probably the days of Adam.

    Eternal marriage is not a new idea, just one that Mormonism played up or believed in more than most churches. But many if not most, non lds people have knowledge, beliefs and hopes that their marriage and family are eternal, even if their religion doesn’t promise it.

    I believe it is clear that the story about the angel with a sword was totally made up, for Joseph was far too wise to fall for an angel who would have come commanding polygamy, for Joseph clearly understood that polygamy was against the scriptures and Christ’s teachings, and that only false angels would preach or pressure things contrary to Christ. He warned about such angels and how to detect them. He would have told such angel ‘no’, had it really happened.

    One needs to understand Christ’s teachings to understand how much Joseph understood how wrong polygamy was and how much Christ preached against it also, just like Joseph did.

    It is possible that the natural man in Joseph eventually caused him to fall for polygamy, but he would have understood that he was doing wrong and thus was a fallen or false prophet. For he had a deep understanding of just how wrong polygamy always was.

    If Joseph believed in polygamy he would never have set up the Church and Saints to reject him if he ever in the future came preaching it or was found practicing it. He taught everyone that they would lose their salvation if they ever fell for anyone, even an angel or prophet (even if it was him) who came preaching or practicing polygamy. All his own scriptures completely condemned polygamy in every instance.

    You have to understand how wrong polygamy always is and how much Christ condemned it, before you can see how Joseph was very likely innocent of it.

    • Hi Lilli,

      I appreciate the comments and you are certainly entitled to your opinion. But since you have posted them here, I must respectfully disagree with many things you have written.

      The idea that a marriage might continue after death was not new to Joseph Smith. Beginning in 1741, inventor and scientist Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772) taught, “since from creation woman is for man and man for woman, thus the one is the other’s, and since this love is innate in both, it follows that there are marriages in heaven as well as on earth.”

      However, Swedenborg’s view of heavenly marital relations did not extend to procreation in the hereafter: “Marriages in the heavens differ from the marriages on earth in this, that marriages on earth, in addition to [their other uses], are for the procreation of offspring; but not in the heavens. In place of that procreation there is in the heavens a procreation of good and truth.”

      When Joseph Smith taught of spirit birth, he was teaching a very unique idea. Please see: http://josephsmithspolygamy.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Continuation-of-the-seeds-article.pdf

      You are certainly free to dismiss Joseph’s story of the angel with a sword, but I’ve compiled 22 accounts from nine men and women who personally knew Joseph, who left records of those teachings. Please see: http://mormonhistoricsites.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Encouraging-Joseph-Smith-to-Practice-Plural-Marriage-The-Accounts-of-the-Angel-with-a-Drawn-Sword.pdf

      You seem to reflect a very common idea that Joseph was a true prophet who later made a mistake with polygamy (and perhaps other things). This is a very common interpretation, sometimes embraced by active LDS. It doesn’t work for me because eternal marriage requires polygamy in some form unless there are exactly equal numbers of men and women at the final judgment (See D&C 132:16-17).

      We know nothing of eternal marriage so worrying about eternal plural marriage is a useless occupation. Fearing the unknown is darkness.

      May God bless you in your faith,

      Brian Hales

  34. I would not consider John Bennett or William Clayton ‘credible’ or ‘believable’ sources at all, just as I would not consider Brigham Young and others credible either.

  35. Brian,

    You’re doing a good work in proving that Joseph did in fact practice polygamy.

    Believing that he never did is dangerous. It is a false spirit that accompanies the monogamist-Joseph approach.

    However, it is also dangerous to the salvation of souls to believe that Joseph was RIGHT by living polygamy.

    I know how much you love Joseph; I love him too. But we have to separate our bias from what God has revealed.

    The Lord has given us adequate resources to know the full truth of these matters. Watcher has mentioned to you Sections 42, and 49, which clearly state the law of monogamy… (Not the law of fidelity, as you presupposed in your books.) Section 132 contradicts both 42 and 49, as well as the Book of Mormon and New Testament.

    Even Cowdery’s Section 101 should be considered the word of the Lord! Cowdery had the same calling as Paul! He wrote Section 20. He was a prophet. God in fact gave his stamp of approval on the 1835 D&C and said anything more or less than it “cometh of evil” via Section 124–

    I believe when Joseph returns to the earth he will be sorely disappointed to discover how many of the Saints believe he hadn’t fallen from his station. Only a tiny fraction of the Saints have come to understand this. His eyes were covered due to the iniquity of the people. This is why he stopped receiving revelation after Section 124 and immediately thereafter began marrying other women.

    Section 43 combined with Section 28 prove that Joseph would “stop abiding in the Lord”–

    Clearly by going against the Lord’s protocol and taking multiple wives this is to be considered not abiding in the Lord. What else could be more clear?!

    The good news is that Joseph will be redeemed and fulfill his role in establishing Zion. He was a true prophet, and God allowed/caused him to stumble at the law as part of the glorious plan for the immortality and eternal life of man.

    -G.azelem

    • Hi Gazelem,

      We have people tell us they love Joseph, but that he just got polygamy wrong. Carol Lynn Pearson has written a whole book reflecting this unfortunate idea.

      We can’t dismiss polygamy without dismissing JS’s zenith teaching—which was (in my view) eternal marriage. Plural marriage is a smaller component in the larger New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage—Celestial eternal marriage. But it is needed to make exaltation available to all worthy men and women (see D&C 132:16-17).

      JS nor other prophets ever explained why God commanded polygamy. But He was there providing spiritual witnesses and spiritual support to those required to live that difficult law.

      I respectfully, but strenuously, reject any notion that Joseph was a prophet who made a mistake introducing plural marriage. I’d never want to live it, but it is too closely tied to eternal marriage to possible believe it was wrongly introduced.

      Take Care,

      Brian Hales

      • Thanks for the response.

        What has you convinced that eternal marriage is a legitimate doctrine?

        Besides Section 132 we have absolutely nothing else to validate such a doctrine.

        If it were truly so important, why did God wait 10+ years to introduce it? Why did Joseph teach it in secret? Why, when about to publish the 1844 D&C, did he not include Section 132???

        All things in the church are to be done by common consent.

        Joseph Smith was not afraid to shock people. If the doctrine was of God he would not have lied about it. He knew what he was doing was wrong, and was clearly testing the Saints.

        Both sealings and the endowment are not scriptural in the slightest. If these things were truly of God, they would have come about in the protocol that the Lord had laid out.

        -G.azelem

        • Hi Gazelem,

          You pose interesting questions. You seem to be of the same mindset of William Law who sought in 1844 to return the Church to the Kirtland doctrines and those of the Book of Mormon.

          I am sorry but I don’t find your questions too compelling. Joseph was a prophet and you can say he was a fallen prophet (like William Law) but I respectfully disagree. I love his eternal marriage teachings and how they describe not only the hope of future exaltation, but also our premortal past (D&C 132:19-20).

          D&C 132 was approved by common consent in 1876 and included in the D&C that year.

          I could take time to defend sealings and the endowment, but lots of smarter people have shown that historically, there are vestiges in several places including liturgies of the Catholic Church.

          I actually kinda feel bad for anyone who is unable to accept these later teachings (King Follett?). To me, they are rich in the Spirit and constitute some of the “mysteries” that Joseph held the keys to receiving. (See D&C 28:7, 64:5.)

          Take Care,

          Brian

          • As a lifelong Mormon I have known for many years that Joseph practiced polygamy. It not a surprize to us Mormons that he did that which you seem to think we didn’t already know. We know Joseph is a prophet of God, but you did make me think about whether he had any children with his other wives which I would like know and will research. Still that would never take away from my conversion to the TRUE Church Of Jesus Christ OF Latter Day Saints!

  36. “Perhaps the most popular “denial” was uttered on May 26, 1844, when Joseph Smith declared: “What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one.”72 Since he had been sealed to over two dozen women for time and eternity by that time, this was a dodge that used creative language to avoid acknowledging a practice that he believed God approved but that many of his listeners might not.”

    Could you offer any further thoughts on what Joseph meant by “when I can only find one”? I can see how the statement Joseph made is not as direct as saying “I only have one wife”, but I’m not exactly sure how to explain what this statement was intended by Joseph to mean.

    • Good question.

      The verbiage: “What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one” is curious, especially if Joseph wanted to communicate the message: “I have only one wife.”

      If that was his message, then we wonder why didn’t he just say it that plainly.

      I believe he was saying that outwardly and legally, he only had one wife. We know that he never publicly acknowledged his plural wives. He never introduced them in a public setting as his wives. He did not commit bigamy either because none of the plural marriage ceremonies invoked legal authority.

      So as he was openly addressing the congregation that day, only one wife was legally recognized and only one wife had ever been publicly acknowledged. And that wife was Emma.

      Thanks,

      Brian

      • Thank you Brian. That does help me understand better.

        I appreciate the research and perspective you have brought to bear on this important topic.

        James

  37. D&C 132:7 says “I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred”

    Why do you think so many different men performed sealings for Joseph, when only Joseph had the power to perform sealings? Also, since this was all done in secret, why have so many people who knew where the bodies were buried? Why not just have Hyrum do all the sealings?

    • I’m not sure I understand the question, but through ordination, the keyholder can authorize other men to perform valid ordinances. The keyholder’s authorization is always require however.

      Brigham Young explained how a misunderstanding on this principle was a problem between Joseph and Hyrum:

      “Joseph said that the sealing power is always vested in one man, and that there never was, nor never would be but one man on the earth at a time to hold the –sealing power- keys of the sealing power in the church, that all sealings must be performed by the man holding the keys or by his dictation, and that man is the president of the church.”

      “Hyrum held the patriarchal office legitimately… Hyrum was counseller… but the sealing power was not in Hyrum, legitimately, neither did he act on the sealing principle only as he was dictated by Joseph in every case [sic] This was proven, for Hyrum did in one case [sic] undertake to seal without counsel, & Joseph told him if he did not stop it he would go to hell and all those he sealed with him.”

      Joseph delegated sealing authority to many men in Nauvoo, first was Joseph B. Noble. Brigham and Hyrum later sealed a number of eternal marriages, but always with Joseph’s permission.

      Thanks,

      Brian Hales

  38. A very well written and researched article supporting the contention that Joseph taught and practiced polygamy of some form.

    It seems like a discussion like this should point out what the Lord had said about monogamy and polygamy during the foundational years of the restoration to provide context. Is polygamy or monogamy the law of marriage with regard to the fulness of the gospel? Do those questions not provide much needed context in this discussion?

    One question is whether Joseph secretly practiced polygamy. A very important related question is, should he have been practicing polygamy if he was living the fulness of the Gospel?

    I think it is unfortunate that your apologetic writings repeatedly suggest intentionally ambiguous wording to question the section on marriage by Oliver Cowdery while conveniently failing to mention sections 42 and 49 which are “thus saith the Lord” revelations confirming monogamy as God’s law of marriage. Sections 42 and 49 don’t even merit a footnote in your paper.

    22 Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else. (Doctrine and Covenants 42:22)

    16 Wherefore, it is lawful that he should have one wife, and they twain shall be bone flesh, and all this that the cearth might answer the end of its creation; (Doctrine and Covenants 49:16)

    Why is it that the official “law of the church” in section 42 is unworthy of mention?

    Further, why would you not observe that those sections are consistent with the teachings in the New Testament and Book of Mormon (1 Timothy 3:2,12 Jacob 2:27)

    The doctrine of monogamy as portrayed in those revelations would substantiate the traditional interpretation of section 101 by Oliver, although I seem to recall that you also think the Lord was using “creative language” in section 42 as well .

    Why don’t you include those revelations in your remarks and provide full disclosure to your readers instead of trying to guide people into conclusions by omitting credible revelations that don’t support your theory.

    Also, you list two doctrinal reasons for living plural marriage as stated in section 132 while omitting a third doctrinal reason given in the letter to newel K whitney from Joseph Smith.

    As you are aware, the letter explains how Bishop Whitney was to perform the ceremony of giving his daughter to Joseph in a polygamous marriage for the implied purpose of establishing the Davidic dynasty.

    “All these things I do in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that through this order he may be glorified and [that] through the power of anointing David may reign King over Israel, which shall hereafter be revealed”

    • Hello Watcher,

      I appreciate the post. It is not my purpose to defend polygamy. I seek only to show historically that Joseph Smith introduced it and that when God allows or commands it, it is not a sinful practice.

      You seem to say that the scriptures you quoted demand monogamy. Let’s look at each one:

      “Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else” (D&C 42:22). Here we learn that a man should cleave ONLY to a wife and never cleave to a non-wife. The issue of monogamy is plainly discussed, but the language does not prevent polygamy.

      “Wherefore, it is lawful that he should have one wife, and they twain shall be bone flesh, and all this that the earth might answer the end of its creation” (D&C 49:16). If this were a declaration against polygamy, the language would have needed to be different: “Wherefore, it is lawful that he should have [ONLY] one wife.” This is similar to language in the 1835 D&C section CI.

      The New Testament verses (1 Tim. 3:2, 12 and Tit. 1:6) simply indicate that polygamy was probably not permitted at that time (just as it is not permitted today). Do we think these verses are backhanded criticisms of Abraham, Jacob and Moses? I don’t think so.

      Pretty much everyone realizes that following Jacob 2:27 is verse 30 with a loophole: “For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, RAISE UP SEED UNTO ME, I WILL COMMAND MY PEOPLE; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things” (emphasis added).

      I quote Sarah Ann Whitney’s entire ceremony in JSP 1:505.

      D&C 132:38-39 states plainly that King David of the Old Testament “hath fallen from his exaltation.” Joseph Smith taught: “Although David was a King he never did obtain the spirit & power of Elijah & the fulness of the Priesthood, & the priesthood that he received & the throne & kingdom of David is to be taken from him & given to another by the name of David in the last days, raised up out of his linage” (WJS 331). We must be talking about a future David.

      Ehat and Cook provide these references: “Concerning the David of the Last Days to rule in Jerusalem see 2 Samuel 7:8-29 (esp. v. 8-19); Ezekiel 34:23-25; 37:21-28; Zechariah 3; Isaiah 55:3-5; Jeremiah 30:4-9; Psalms 89:1-4; and D&C 113:5-6.”

      Thanks,

      Brian Hales

      • Thank you for a response Brian.

        If I understand you correctly, you do not think that any of the passages in the Doctrine and Covenants or related passages in the New Testament or Book of Mormon are declaring monogamy to be God’s law of marriage.

        You seem to think that they are only stating that one must cleave only to all of the wives that one is married to.

        I obviously disagree with your interpretation, however, assuming that your interpretation is correct, perhaps you can respond to the following statement found in the essays on the LDS website

        “Latter-day Saints believe that the marriage of one man and one woman is the Lord’s standing law of marriage. In biblical times, the Lord commanded some to practice plural marriage”

        Can you state whether you agree with the above declaration and if you do, what would be the scriptural precedence for it since you have discarded the scriptures previously addressed as being the precedence.

        • Hi Watcher,

          I am aware of the contents of the Gospel Topics essay on Plural Marriage. I actually help write the one on Nauvoo/Kirtland polygamy.

          Also, I totally agree with the statement: “Latter-day Saints believe that the marriage of one man and one woman is the Lord’s standing law of marriage.” We only have to look at the Book of Mormon or New Testament to see that is true.

          While I don’t defend polygamy, I do maintain that nowhere in the Bible or the other scriptures does God condemn polygamy as a practice. Polygamy critics bend-over-backwards to try to create the illusion that God has condemned plural marriage in some verse. I felt that is what you were trying to do and I simply demonstrated that the verses did not condemn plurality.

          God regulates plural marriage, sometimes commanding it, sometimes just permitting it, and most of the time not permitting it (like today). The regulation occurs through priesthood keys held by “one man (D&C 132:7, 18, 19). He asks plainly, “Will I receive at your hands that which I have not appointed?” (D&C 132:10).

          I’m very grateful plural marriage is not now commanded and I’m also glad we don’t have to offer up animal sacrifices like Abraham did (sounds kinda messy).

          Thanks,

          Brian

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