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Brigham Young was the most visible practitioner having been sealed to 55 women. Sanction of the practice was supposed to officially end with the Manifesto from Church president Wilford Woodruff. For this reason, the Lord revealed polygamy to Joseph Smith. The Church currently disavows any practice of polygamy; however, the eternal doctrine of plural marriage is still in place.
Beginning in the Church started releasing essays addressing seldom talked about issues in the church. Three of those essays concern polygamy:. MormonThink provides a link to each essay and a response to them. Throughout this time, the Church publicly lied that any devout leaders were involved in polygamy. Joseph eventually "married" at least 32 women in addition to Emma Smith, including 7 girls under the age of 18 the youngest being 14 and at least 11 women who were simultaneously married to other men.
If polygamy is still part of LDS doctrine, why does the Church insist that new converts in polygamous families in countries where it is legal split up their families before they can be baptized? For over years the Church did not explicitly teach its members the full truth about many aspects of polygamy.
In fact, it seems at times that they purposely obfuscated the truth. Here is an overview of the dearth of Church-produced literature about Joseph Smith and polygamy before the Church published their essays starting in This page was originally written before the Church released its three essays concerning polygamy.
Many of the topics on this page therefore are an attempt to point out information that was not available from Church-published information. After the release of the essays, some people blamed the members themselves for not knowing more about Joseph Smith's polygamy. MormonThink provides a response to that accusation. Because the Church now admits some of the things originally written on this page in their essays, some of the topics here are no longer as important as they were before, but we are keeping much of that information here anyhow.
For the latest from the Church and MormonThink's responses, see:. Although it's not mentioned in missionary discussions, most North American nonmembers are also aware of it since it's taught in American History classes throughout the USA. The reasons most commonly given by members even if not published in Church lesson manuals to justify polygamy are:. In , President Wilford Woodruff received a revelation that the leaders of the Church should cease teaching the practice of plural marriage so it would not be in violation of the laws of the land.
It was ended then and not practiced since. Ending polygamy also helped Utah become a state. Until recently, for some reason, perhaps half of the LDS membership believed that polygamy started with Brigham Young and not Joseph Smith. From anecdotal information, there is still a large number of members believing this. Some apologists say that the above points are not officially taught in Church through lesson manuals. They blame the members for believing this. However, these things have been taught in Church, whether officially or not.
The writers of this section heard all of the above in Gospel Doctrine and Sunday School classes since childhood. If you ask the average members, they may state many of the same things as what they believe, regardless of whether or not they are in current lesson manuals. These beliefs are not just relegated to teachings of naive Sunday School teachers decades ago. A regional "media expert" handed out a pamphlet that described ways to address a handful of sensitive topics.
It proposed that one reason for Polygamy was that the Church needed to increase it's membership rapidly as it's members were being persecuted. Clearly misinformation is still taught as truth and without clear, consistent correction from the highest leadership, members perpetuate it. This is an understandable consequence given the Church's reluctance to discuss unflattering issues like polygamy and denying blacks the priesthood in any sort of detail in Church lessons.
It is also disingenuous of apologists to act as if there's no reason for members to believe these things when they were clearly taught them in church. See MormonThink's response to those who believe it's the members' fault for not knowing more about Joseph Smith's polygamy. Polygamists in striped prison uniforms, including George Q.
These men were also known as "Prisoners of Conscience. Why were these people, including First Presidency counselor George Q. Cannon in prison for practicing polygamy? Because polygamy was illegal. Readings In Church History', Pages deal with polygamy. Why were these wanted posters made for the LDS leaders of the Church? Polygamy was always illegal whenever and wherever the Mormons practiced it. It was even illegal in Canada and Mexico as they only recognize marriages that are legal in the person's home country.
John Taylor, the third president of the church, claimed that he believed in keeping all the laws of the United States "except one"…the law in relation to polygamy. Most of Joseph Smith's polygamous marriages occurred in Illinois in the early s.
The Illinois Anti-bigamy Law, enacted February 12th, , clearly stated that polygamy was illegal. Bigamy consists in the having of two wives or two husbands at one and the same time, knowing that the former husband or wife is still alive.
If any person or persons within this State, being married, or who shall hereafter marry, do at any time marry any person or persons, the former husband or wife being alive, the person so offending shall, on conviction thereof, be punished by a fine, not exceeding one thousand dollars, and imprisoned in the penitentiary, not exceeding two years. It shall not be necessary to prove either of the said marriages by the register or certificate thereof, or other record evidence; but the same may be proved by such evidence as is admissible to prove a marriage in other cases, and when such second marriage shall have taken place without this state, cohabitation in this state after such second marriage shall be deemed the commission of the crime of bigamy, and the trial in such case may take place in the county where such cohabitation shall have occurred.
Revised Laws of Illinois , , pp. The entire following section is from Rethinking Mormonism. Marriage is a legal contract between one man and one woman. There has never been a law enacted to allow otherwise. All the married Mormons who immigrated to Utah in had been married under the civil laws of their respective states; each one of those states had laws against bigamy, thus making monogamy the "common law.
The very reason Brigham Young chose to move to Utah, rather than Oregon, California, or Texas, as others suggested, was because Utah was an uninhabited "no man's land".
However, the area was legally Mexican territory and polygamy was illegal in Mexico. In the United States, marriage is a legal contract regulated by the various states. When the Mormons went to Utah in , all married Mormons at that time had been married under laws of the states they had come from. To use an analogy, you get your drivers' license from your state, but it is recognized as being legal in all the states.
Marriage licenses are similar. Once in Utah, Young attempted to establish the "Territory of Deseret," and operate the area as a theocracy, under the "Law of the Lord," which included plural marriage and blood atonement. However, Congress rejected Young's attempt, and in , the area was officially established as Utah Territory, with territorial overseers appointed from Washington D. President Millard Fillmore appointed Young as governor. Thus, polygamy became specifically illegal under U.
The federal Morrill Act was not the first law which made bigamy illegal; it was merely the first law which specifically reinforced existing state anti-bigamy laws. It was enacted specifically to close the "loophole" that the Mormons mistakenly believed they were operating under.
Even after the passage of the Morrill Act, the Mormon Church continued to practice polygamy in violation of the law for another half-century, and repeatedly challenged those laws. So anyone who argues that "The Mormons stopped practicing polygamy when it was made illegal" is either misinformed or misrepresenting the truth. The final nail in the coffin which demonstrates polygamy's illegality was when Ann Eliza Webb filed for "divorce" from Brigham Young and sued him for alimony in Young successfully argued that their relationship was "an ecclesiastical affair, not a legal one," and the judge rightly ruled that since there was never any legal marriage, Webb could not file for divorce nor seek alimony.
Since Young himself admitted that his own "plural marriages" were not legal marriages, that means that no other Mormon "plural marriage" at any time was a legal marriage either. No legal marriage licenses were ever applied for nor granted, and every single child born of Mormon "plural marriages" was illegitimate - i. All of the federal laws enacted against Mormon polygamy from to merely served to force the Mormons to comply with existing common laws. But the fact that those additional laws were enacted does not mean that Mormon polygamous marriages were ever legal in the first place.
In , the United States Supreme Court upheld the conviction of a Mormon under the federal statute prohibiting bigamy against a challenge that, among other things, the statute infringed on the first amendment right to freedom of religion. In so doing, the Court noted that polygamy had "always been odious among the northern and western nations of Europe and, until the establishment of the Mormon Church, was almost exclusively a feature of the life of Asiatic and of African people.
The entire following section is from Salt Lake City Messenger 66 with minor edits. The Mormons did everything they could to escape the federal deputies. Kimball Young gives this information:. In addition to false names, disguises, and ruses, a whole system of information gathering, signaling, and spotting informers was developed. For example, the church authorities would pass the word down to the smaller communities of movements of federal deputies out of Salt Lake City in the direction of any particular town.
Wilford Woodruff, who became the 4th president of the church, had an armed guard to protect him. In a letter written in , Woodruff wrote:. By the church leaders were using bribery to prevent the government from arresting them. Under the dates of October 17 and 18, , Apostle Abraham H. Cannon recorded the following in his journal:. Uncle David [Cannon] came in about noon and told me that he had just had a conversation with Lindsey Sprague, a deputy marshal, who told him that there were papers out for my arrest, but it was not the intention to serve them until my family were located and where they could be captured.
Wilcken to investigate the matter for me and he learned that it was indeed a fact that a warrant was issued and in Doyle's hands for my arrest. I therefore kept in my room all the afternoon. Is…pent some time at my room until Bro. Wilcken came and informed me that he had bought Doyle off and had got his promise that I should not be molested, nor should any other person without sufficient notice being given for them to escape, and to get witnesses out of the way.
Wilcken the names of some 51 persons whose arrest he intended to try and effect on a trip he and another deputy intend to undertake today, through Utah and Emery counties.
A messenger was therefore despatched to give these people warning. Thus with a little money a channel of communication is kept open between the government offices and the suffering and persecuted Church members.
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Share to get access. Emma purposely lied to her children and told them that their father did not practice polygamy. She wanted to spare her children the pain of knowing the truth. No such thing as polygamy, or spiritual wifery, was taught, publicly or privately, before my husband's death, that I have now, or ever had any knowledge of…He had no other wife but me; nor did he to my knowledge ever have.
The same God that has thus far dictated me and directed me and strengthened me in this work, gave me this revelation and commandment on celestial and plural marriage, and the same God commanded me to obey it. He said to me that unless I accepted it, and introduced it, and practiced it, I, together with my people would be damned and cut off from this time henceforth. We have got to observe it.
It is an eternal principle and was given by way of commandment and not by way of instruction. Fanny Alger was a teen-aged servant in the Smith's home.
Joseph and Emma had "adopted" Fanny when she was about 16 years old She is believed to be either Joseph Smith's first polygamous "wife" or simply a sexual encounter. The Church's essay, "Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo," says it was a marriage, whereas Lawrence Foster said, "…contemporary evidence strongly suggests that Smith sustained sexual relations with Fanny Alger, it does not indicate that this was viewed either by Smith himself or by his associates at the time as a 'marriage.
Critics believe he had an affair with her, was found out, and then introduced the concept of plural marriage in order to justify and continue his affair with her and then other women.
Some historians record the date of the "marriage" as early as , while others believe it was , putting Fanny's age anywhere from Fanny departed the Smith home sometime in , the same year Oliver Cowdery was excommunicated for revealing Joseph Smith's "dirty, nasty, filthy affair of his and Fanny Alger's.
Warren Parrish, the secretary of Joseph for a period of time, told Benjamin Johnson that he and Oliver Cowdery knew the report of an affair between Joseph and the girl to be true, for they "were spied upon and found together. Regardless of whether Joseph Smith's relations with Fanny Alger was merely a sexual encounter or a "marriage," it was adulterous. However, Joseph could only be legally married to one person , and even if it is claimed that the "marriage" was a symbolic "celestial only" sealing, the sealing power was not restored until April , after Joseph's "marriage" to Fanny.
Whether Joseph's "marriage" to Fanny Alger occurred in or , it was illegal both under the laws of the land and under any theory of divine authority. Plural marriages are rooted in the notion of "sealing" for time and eternity. It is claimed that the "sealing power" was restored 3 April when Elijah appeared to Joseph and committed the sealing keys into his hands.
Until that time no one on earth had authority to "seal" Joseph and Fanny. As a result, his marriage to her was a nullity from the beginning both in time and eternity, and any sexual relationship he had with her was adulterous. Following his marriage to Louisa Beaman and before he married other single women, Joseph Smith was sealed to a number of women who were already married.
In other words, Joseph "married" or was "sealed" to women who were already legally wedded to other men at the time. Following is a list of Joseph's wives that we know of some researchers estimate that the number may have been higher.
Why it may have been that some men were willing to allow Joseph Smith to "marry" their wife is because they had the same attitude as Jedediah M. Grant, Second Counselor to Brigham Young. In this sermon, delivered 19 February , Grant said emphasis added:. When the family organization was revealed from heaven—the patriarchal order of God, and Joseph began, on the right and on the left, to add to his family, what a quaking there was in Israel.
Says one brother to another, "Joseph says all covenants are done away, and none are binding but the new covenants: And righteous men in every dispensation since the creation, if they had any keys, had the keys of the kingdom of God; and they extended over this wide world wherever God had a people and a government; and just as far as the Priesthood exercised its authority, just so far the rule of the Almighty reached.
If Joseph had a right to dictate me in relation to salvation, in relation to a hereafter, he had a right to dictate me in relation to all my earthly affairs, in relation to the treasures of the earth, and in relation to the earth itself. He had a right to dictate in relation to the cities of the earth, to the natives of the earth, and in relation to everything on land and on sea. That is what he had a right to do, if he had any right at all. If he did not have that right, he did not have the Priesthood of God, he did not have the endless Priesthood that emanates from an eternal being.
A Priesthood that is clipped, and lacks length, is not the Priesthood of God; if it lacks depth, it is not the Priesthood of God; for the Priesthood in ancient times extended over the wide world, and coped with the universe, and had a right to govern and control the inhabitants thereof, to regulate them, give them laws, and execute those laws.
That power looked like the Priesthood of God. This same Priesthood has been given to Joseph Smith, and has been handed down to his successors. I do not care how many devils rap, it is no trouble to me. I say, rap away, and give as many revelations as you please, whether you are good spirits or bad ones, it does not trouble my cranium.
Rap away, for I trust in the anchor of my soul that is sure and steadfast, in the Priesthood of God upon the earth. What would a man of God say, who felt aright, when Joseph asked him for his money? He would say, "Yes, and I wish I had more to help to build up the kingdom of God. He did not, but in that thing was the grand thread of the Priesthood developed. The grand object in view was to try the people of God, to see what was in them.
If such a man of God should come to me and say, "I want your gold and silver, or your wives," I should say, "Here they are, I wish I had more to give you, take all I have got. One such man who may have at one time thought like Grant was Henry Bailey Jacobs.
He was a faithful member of the Mormon Church and active in Nauvoo society. From Henry was constantly called on missions, serving eight of them during this period 4 Zinas: Signature Books, , p. Signature Books, , pp. A month later Zina there is no record that Henry was there returned to the temple for her second anointing and, while still married to Henry, she was sealed to Brigham Young for not just eternity, but also for time. Grandin Book Company, , p. Although quite ill, in mid Henry accepted the prophet's Brigham Young call and went to England as a missionary, leaving his legally married wife, Zina, and newborn child behind.
On Henry's way home from his mission, he received a letter from Zina saying she'd moved in with her husband Brigham. Later she bore a child with Brigham. Zina my mind never will change from Worlds without Ends, no never, the same affection is there and never can be moved I do not murmur nor complain of the handlings of God no verily, no but I feel alone and no one to speak to, to call my own. I feel like a lamb without a mother, I do not blame any person or persons, no--May the Lord our Father bless Brother Brigham and all purtains unto him forever.
Tell him for me I have no feelings against him nor never had, all is right according to the Law of the Celestial Kingdom of our god Joseph [Smith]. Such a story seems to disprove any claims that polyandrous marriages were simply an opportunity for salvation for women who needed it.
From all accounts, Henry was a faithful Mormon, worthy of serving many missions. Why wasn't Zina sealed to him in instead of Brigham Young? Whether Henry Jacob "consented" to Zina's sealings to other men or not,from reading his journals, he obviously didn't like the idea. Nothing supports that Henry was offered an easy yes or no choice that he could turn down without consequences.
Members then and now follow the leaders of the Church believing that those leaders speak for God. If Zina and Henry really believed Joseph and Brigham were prophets, they might follow whatever they were asked remember all the good men, including bishops and stake presidents, who killed men, women and children at the Mountains Meadow Massacre all because they thought this is what Brigham Young wanted?
At any rate, this is not something that any man should be asked to sacrifice. Although Henry eventually remarried three times, after Brigham Young told him that his wife and children belonged to Brigham and not to Henry, he continued to yearn for Zina and their children. There doesn't seem to be any logical or religious reason why Joseph and then Brigham would take Henry Jacob's wife, Zina and their children, from him. Would a just God direct Joseph and Brigham to treat this faithful man in such a manner?
Not all people thought Joseph's supposed priesthood authority allowed him to behave the way he did. Joseph not only paid his addresses to the young and unmarried women, but he sought 'spiritual alliance' with many married ladies… He taught them that all former marriages were null and void, and that they were at perfect liberty to make another choice of a husband.
The marriage covenants were not binding, because they were ratified only by Gentile laws…. One woman said to me not very long since, while giving me some of her experiences in polygamy: This woman, and others, whose experience has been very similar, are among the very best women in the church; they are as pure-minded and virtuous women as any in the world.
They were seduced under the guise of religion,…. Some of these women have since said they did not know who was the father of their children ; this is not to be wondered at, for after Joseph's declaration annulling all Gentile marriages, the greatest promiscuity was practiced ; and, indeed, all sense of morality seemed to have been lost by a portion at least of the church.
Polyandry also runs counter to the entire notion of eternal families. As we understand it, children are sealed to their father and the wife is sealed to the father, and in that means the entire family is sealed together.
If in these cases the women were sealed to Joseph, then who were the children sealed to? If they were sealed to the woman's first husband, then the woman would not be sealed to them. If they were sealed to Joseph, then the poor first husband would not only be deprived of his wife, but also of his children in the eternity.
So much for the plan of happiness. It appears that Joseph Smith literally stole other men's wives and their children, regardless of whether he had sex with them or not. What right did he have to do that? Was he simply taking advantage of his authority as prophet? The following is taken from Would you share your spouse with the Prophet? He had already sacrificed homes, possessions, friends, relatives, all worldly rewards, peace, and tranquility for the Restoration.
Nothing was left to place on the altar save his life, his children, and his wife. Joseph demanded for himself what to Heber was the unthinkable, his Vilate.
Totally crushed spiritually and emotionally, Heber touched neither food nor water for three days and three nights and continually sought confirmation and comfort from God.
The Prophet wept at this act of faith, devotion, and obedience. Joseph had never intended to take Vilate. It was all a test. Shortly afterward, the two men took some of Bennett's sewing to Sarah's house. During the visit, as Bennett describes it, Joseph said, "Sister Pratt, the Lord has given you to me as one of my spiritual wives.
I have the blessings of Jacob granted me, as God granted holy men of old, and as I have long looked upon you with favor, and an earnest desire of connubial bliss, I hope you will not repulse or deny me.
I have one good husband, and that is enough for me. Finally Sarah angrily told him on a subsequent visit, "Joseph, if you ever attempt any thing of the kind with me again, I will make a full disclosure to Mr. Pratt on his return home. Depend upon it, I will certainly do it. Will you promise me that you will not do it? Pratt" by Richard A. Van Wagoner, Dialogue , Vol. He further explained that Joseph came to the Law home in the middle of the night when William was absent and told Jane that "the Lord had commanded that he should take spiritual wives, to add to his glory.
She did so and further explained that Joseph had "asked her to give him half her love; she was at liberty to keep the other half for her husband" Jane refused the Prophet, and according to William Law's 20 January letter to the Salt Lake Tribune, Smith then considered the couple apostates. That Smith admired and lusted after many men's wives and daughters, is a fact, but they could not help that. They or most of them considered his admiration an insult, and treated him with scorn.
In return for this scorn, he generally managed to blacken their reputations--see the case of … Mrs. Pratt, a good, virtuous woman. Sarah later recalled that "Joseph Smith taught me the principle of marriage for eternity, and the doctrine of plural marriage. He said that in teaching this he realized that he jeopardized his life; but God had revealed it to him many years before as a privilege with blessings, now God had revealed it again and instructed him to teach with commandment, as the Church could travel [progress] no further without the introduction of this principle.
Sarah Kimball, like Sarah Pratt, was committed to her husband, and refused the Prophet's invitation, asking that he "teach it to someone else. On 19 May , at a Nauvoo City Council meeting, Smith jotted down and then "threw across the room" a revelation to Kimball which declared that "Hiram Kimball has been insinuating evil, and formulating evil opinions" against the Prophet, which if he does not desist from, he "shall be accursed.
She remained married to Adam Lightner throughout. She married Brigham on May 22 when she was 26 years old. It was repeated in the Nauvoo Temple on Jan 17,, Brigham She also recorded it herself. However Brigham asked Mary if she wanted to go West with his group and she said yes but he left her behind.
Prescendia Celestia, Joseph and Eliza. The following is from a love letter Joseph Smith wrote when he wanted to arrange a liaison with Newel K. Whitney's daughter Sarah Ann, whom Smith had secretly married without Emma's knowledge three weeks prior to this time. Very clearly the women involved must be virgins. Because the idea of the LDS Church's founding prophet, Joseph Smith, married other men's wives is hard enough for current members to imagine, having sexual relations with another man's wife is even more repugnant, often causing cognitive dissonance.
To try and rationalize Joseph's behavior they invent a narrative in which Joseph's "marriages" were simply platonic "sealings" and he was not committing adultery. For many years critics spent a lot of time and ink proving that Joseph Smith had sexual relations with other women besides Emma because the Church and its apologists either denied it or ignored it.
It is no longer necessary to provide all of that proof since the Church and its most prominent polygamy defenders now acknowledge such sexual relations. During the era in which plural marriage was practiced, Latter-day Saints distinguished between sealings for time and eternity and sealings for eternity only.
Sealings for time and eternity included commitments and relationships during this life, generally including the possibility of sexual relations. Eternity-only sealings indicated relationships in the next life alone.
Evidence indicates that Joseph Smith participated in both types of sealings. This quote is the closest the Church has come to saying that Joseph Smith had sexual relations with women other than Emma.
It is couched in language in such a way that attempts to soften the blow by using the words "eternity only," and "possibility. Regardless, it doesn't matter whether Joseph had one adulterous relationship or 33—adultery is adultery.
It appears that much of Hales' work was used in the creation of the Church's essay, "Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo. This link has more concerning the sexual relations Joseph had and we encourage you to read it. These quotes are the acknowledgment that Joseph Smith had sexual relations with at least one woman other than his one legally wedded wife, Emma Hale Smith, and therefore Joseph was indeed an adulterer.
This opens a new can or worms in which the attempt by the apologists have switched from determining whether or not Joseph had sexual relations to defining what adultery is and defining what a legal marriage is. This becomes an exhausting exercise.
The critic typically contends that a definition for adultery is pretty simple: It becomes convoluted because the apologist wants to reframe the debate by looking at a new interpretation for what constitutes adultery and how one interprets "marriage" and the marriage contract: This is an excellent topic to apply Occam's Razor to.
To convince someone that there are nuanced and different definitions for marriage and adultery, a lot of effort must be spent in weaving that tapestry, including denying or creatively interpreting Joseph's own writings and denials. This means that Joseph was involved in adulterous relationships because he was not legally married to any of the women, besides Emma, with whom he had sex.
Not only was Joseph guilty of adultery, but the women to whom he was "married" who were legally married to other men were also committing adultery:. According to Doctrine and Covenants , one of the purposes of polygamy was to produce children:. See the section above about what the Church's Book of Commandments had to say about polygamy and fornication. The essay tries to lessen the impact that Helen was so young by employing the interesting phrase, "several months before her 15th birthday.
There is little documentary evidence of the "marriage," but it is supported by Eliza R. Snow and Orson F. Whitney Helen Mar Kimball Whitney's son. As to her age, she was either 14 or Having one year-old to reconcile is hard, having a second one would increase the pressure to justify Joseph's behavior.
Hales continues with a tidbit that tries to lessen the impact:. If, as Utah evidence supports, conjugal relations were not included until plural wives were more mature, it is possible that the Prophet allowed the sealing, anticipating that when Nancy Maria was older, Emma would have become more accepting of full polygamy. Since there is no other evidence concerning Nancy's union, the rest of this section deals with Helen, who did leave plenty of evidence.
There seems to be four main areas of controversy or dispute among critics and apologists when it comes to Helen's "marriage" to Joseph Smith:. It is shocking to hear that Helen Mar Kimball was only 14 when Joseph "married" her because in our day we tend to think of it as too young. But was it "too young" in Helen's day?
The state of Illinois statute concerning this age says:. All male persons over the age of 17 years, and females over the age of 14 years, may contract and be joined in marriage: Provided, in all cases where either party is a minor, the consent of parents or guardians be first had, as is hereinafter required.
Revised Statutes of , sec. Gross, editor, The Statutes of Illinois: Gross, , p. Even though marriageable age with the consent of a parent was 14, such marriages were by no means common.
In the 's the singulate mean age at marriage for females was Two other tables that may be of interest: Although we flinch today, according to the laws of the time, Helen, legally , was not "too young" and Joseph was within his legal rights to marry Helen with her parents' consent at that age.
However , Joseph was not within his legal rights to marry anyone, no matter their age, because he was already legally married to Emma. This begs the question, Why marry Helen? There seems to be no logical reason for Joseph Smith to pursue relationships with any person besides his one legal wife, let alone girls as young as The "age of consent" means the age at which a person can legally consent to having sexual relations.
Historically, that age was quite low in the United States, typically years of age. In Illinois, even by , the age of consent was only 10 years old. By the 's nearly all of the states had moved the age up, to where most of them stand today, in the year-old range. The idea that Joseph Smith would have sex with a year-old shocks the reader: However, if Joseph Smith was legally married to Helen he was not , then even though we may shudder to think about it, it would have been legal for them to have sexual relations.
Just because something is legal , does it make it morally right? But since Joseph was not legally married to Helen, and since he was already legally married to one woman, and since he was in sexual relations with other women, one must wonder about the motives of that man. Why marry someone so young?
Why cheat her out of a normal youth and marriage? That being said, there is no direct evidence implicating Joseph Smith in having sexual relations with Helen Kimball. There are only circumstantial hints that maybe it happened.
Some of the more credible evidence include:. Two LDS scriptures, Jacob 2: If that wasn't Joseph's aim, why did he marry Helen? In May , Joseph "married" four teenage girls: Three of these "marriages" involved sexual relations:. Maria Lawrence - a year after Joseph "married" Maria, William Law, filed suit accusing Joseph of being "in an open state of adultery" with Maria Lawrence. The first indictment was dismissed, but William Law filed a second time.
The jurors in the second indictment found there was "good and sufficient evidence" that Joseph Smith. It was specifically because of the indictment brought against him that with a couple of days he gave his speech in which he claimed "I had not been married scarcely five minutes…before it was reported that I had seven wives.
I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago; and I can prove them all perjurers. Sarah Lawrence - In , Lucy Walker said: Wife of Joseph Smith, Jr. Neal, "Sword of Laban," no. Its wording is identical to the December 17, , Joseph F.
Smith, Affidavit, October 24, Since it is known that Joseph Smith had sexual relations with three of the four girls he "married" in May , what would preclude him from having sexual relations with the third, Helen?
I heard [Helen] say to her mother, I will never be sealed to my Father, meaning as a wife and I would never have been sealed married to Joseph, had I known it was any thing more than ceremony. I was young, and they deceived me, by saying the salvation of our whole family depended on it.
Whether "had I known it was any thing more than ceremony" means sexual relations or not is left to the reader. I remember how I felt, but which would be a difficult matter to describe-the various thoughts, fears and temptations that flashed through my mind when the principle was first introduced to me by my father [Heber C.
Kimball], who one morning in the summer of , without any preliminaries, asked me if I would believe him if he told me that it was right for married men to take other wives, can be better imagined than told.
But suffice it to say the first impulse was anger, for I thought he had only said it to test my virtue. My sensibilities were painfully touched.
I felt such a sense of personal injury and displeasure for to mention such a thing to me I thought altogether unworthy of my father, and as quick as he spoke, I replied to him, short and emphatically, "No, I wouldn't!
I thought of the love and tenderness that he felt for his only daughter, and I knew that he would not cast me off, and this was the only convincing proof That I had of its being right. This first interview had a similar effect to a sudden shock of a small earthquake.
When he found after the first outburst of displeasure for supposed injury and I received it meekly, he took the first opportunity to introduce Sarah Ann to me as Joseph's Wife. This astonished me beyond measure. Helen Mar Kimball Whitney, , Autobiography c. My father had but one Ewe Lamb, but willingly laid her upon the altar: None but God and his angels could see my mother's bleeding heart—when Joseph asked her if she was willing, she replied "If Helen is willing I have nothing more to say.
She had witnessed the sufferings of others, who were older and who better understood the step they were taking, and to see her child, who had yet seen her fifteenth summer, following the same thorny path, in her mind she saw the misery which was as sure to come as the sun was to rise and set; but it was hidden from me.
I did not try to conceal the fact of its having been a trial, but confessed that it had been one of the severest of my life; but that it had also proven one of the greatest of blessings.
I could truly say it had done the most towards making me a Saint and a free woman, in every sense of the word; and I knew many others who could say the same, and to whom it had proven one of the greatest boons—a "blessing in disguise.
Living in a climate of polygamy, it's easy to see that over time Helen would come to champion the cause and put away any concerns she may have had when she was first "married" to Joseph Smith. No one but Helen herself can say for sure if at the time she enjoyed being a polygamous wife of Joseph. Following are some accounts surrounding the event. Before Joseph and Heber discussed 14 year-old Helen as a potential bride, Joseph asked Heber to turn over his wife, Vilate, to be Joseph's wife.
During the summer of , shortly after Heber's return from England, he was introduced to the doctrine of plural marriage directly through a startling test-a sacrifice which shook his very being and challenged his faith to the ultimate.
Biography of Heber C. It is theorized by some that Joseph's "test" requesting Vilate as a wife was to prepare Heber for Joseph's later asking for Helen. The following is used to imply that Joseph marrying Helen was Heber's idea:. Who, though, decided that being "connected with the Prophet, Joseph" was something desirable, Heber or Joseph himself?
Even if Heber liked that idea and he's the one who asked Helen to marry Joseph, it does not mean that the genesis for the idea was Heber. Nor does the word "offered" mean that Heber came up with the original idea.
Helen's later reminiscence that "My father had but one Ewe Lamb, but willingly laid her upon the altar" may even hint at such a situation as Abraham's. She also said, "The Latter-day Saints would not enter into this holy order of matrimony unless they had received some stronger and more convincing proofs of its correctness than the testimony of a man, for in obeying this law it has cost them a sacrifice nearly equal to that of Abraham.
Helen said that it was Joseph himself who claimed that Heber was the one who "offered" Helen to him. But why should we take Joseph's word for it? He is known to have lied to others, including his wife, Emma, about many aspects of polygamy such as hiding the entire idea of polygamy from his wife, Emma, and the fact that he had already married other women without Emma knowing. Why not lie to another one of his wives if it served his purposes? See our section below about Joseph lying about polygamy.
Heber must have learned about polygamy from Joseph first before he taught the principle to Helen. As far as the time line goes, if Heber is the one who had the idea, within a 24 hour period he would have had teach Helen about it, show up unannounced and explain the proposition to Joseph, then have Joseph show up the following day at the Kimball's to convince Helen that if she followed this plan that her father concocted, her father's family would be blessed. Such a scenario on such short notice is unconvincing.
Joseph taught Heber about polygamy at some point before Heber mentioned it to Helen. It could very well be that Joseph at that time mentioned his desire to have Helen as his wife. It stands to reason that as prophet, Joseph chose who he would enter into a polygamous relationship. There are no other examples of a person approaching the prophet and instigating a polygamous relationship.
Finally, it was not unheard of for Joseph to have someone else to ask for, or convince, his intended bride on his behalf, such as in the case of Zina Diantha Huntington as revealed in an interview with her:. How, then, could you have been sealed to Joseph Smith without first having heard the doctrine of plural marriage? My brother Dimick told me what Joseph had told him.
I knew it was from the Lord, and I received it. Joseph did not come until afterward. You mean by that, then, that after your brother Dimick had returned to Joseph and given him the information that you had accepted such teaching, that Joseph then came to you, prior to having been sealed, and taught you the doctrine of plural marriage?
I told you that the Lord had revealed to Joseph Smith that he was to marry me. I received it from Joseph through my brother Dimick. John Wight, "Evidence from Zina D. There is no reason not to believe that it was Joseph's idea all along to marry Helen, yet there is no way of knowing for sure who is the instigator.
The most important aspect from the discussion above concerning whose idea it was to marry off Helen pinpoints what we believe is the most problematic issue regarding Helen's "marriage" to Joseph: I had not been married scarcely five minutes, and made one proclamation of the Gospel, before it was reported that I had seven wives.
I mean to live and proclaim the truth as long as I can. This new holy prophet [William Law] has gone to Carthage and swore that I had told him that I was guilty of adultery. Why, a man does not speak or wink, for fear of being accused of this…I wish the grand jury would tell me who they are—whether it will be a curse or blessing to me.
I am quite tired of the fools asking me…What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one. No, not at the same time. But they believe that if their companion dies, they have a right to marry again. But we do disapprove of the custom which has gained in the world, and has been practiced among us, to our great mortification, of marrying in five or six weeks, or even in two or three months after the death of their companion. We believe that due respect ought to be had, to the memory of the dead, and the feelings of both friends and children.
Also found in Elder's Journal , Vol 1, No. On Dec 16, Joseph Smith wrote a letter to the church from Liberty Jail which included the following:. Was it for committing adultery that we were assailed?
We are aware that that false slander has gone abroad, for it has been reiterated in our ears. These are falsehoods also. The world hates them, and we sometimes think that the devil ought to be ashamed of them. We have heard that it is reported by some, that some of us should have said, that we not only dedicated our property, but our families also to the Lord; and Satan, taking advantage of this, has perverted it into licentiousness, such as a community of wives, which is an abomination in the sight of God.
History of the Church Vol. As we have lately been credibly informed, that an Elder of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter day Saints, by the name of Hiram Brown, has been preaching Polygamy, and other false and corrupt doctrines, in the county of Lapeer, state of Michigan. This is to notify him and the Church in general, that he has been cut off from the church, for his iniquity; and he is further notified to appear at the Special Conference, on the 6th of April next, to make answer to these charges.
By the time Smith had dismissed Bennett in the summer of , Smith had taken the following "spiritual wives" for himself in Nauvoo:. That's twelve women documented as Joseph Smith's plural wives, during the period in which Smith placed responsibility for the entire polygamy practice on Bennett.
In a speech at the temple, on February 21, where many of his "plural wives" were in attendance , Smith had the audacity to state the following:. There is a great noise in the city…and many are saying there cannot be so much smoke without some fire. Well, be it so. If the stories about Joe Smith are true, then the stories of John C. Bennett are true about the ladies of Nauvoo; and he says that the Ladies' Relief Society are all organized of those who are to be the wives of Joseph Smith.
Ladies, you know whether this is true or not. History of the Church , Vol. Because his "plural wives" in the audience had been sworn to secrecy, Smith felt confident enough to stand before them and lie unabashedly.
Emily Dow Partridge, for instance, testified that she and her sister were married to Joseph without Emma's consent emphasis added:. We had been there about a year when the principle of plural marriage was made known to us, and I was married to Joseph Smith on the 4th of March , Elder Heber C. Kimball performing the ceremony. My sister Eliza was also married to Joseph a few days later. This was done without the knowledge of Emma Smith. Two months afterward she consented to give her husband two wives, providing he would give her the privilege of choosing them.
She accordingly chose my sister Eliza and myself, and to save family trouble Brother Joseph thought it best to have another ceremony performed. Accordingly on the 11th of May, , we were sealed to Joseph Smith a second time, in Emma's presence,… From that very hour, however, Emma was our bitter enemy. We remained in the family several months after this, but things went from bad to worse until we were obligated to leave the house and find another home. Historical Record , Vol.
Notice how Joseph sought to cover up the fact that he was already married to Eliza and Emily Partridge. The Mormon author John J. Brodie included a list of 48 women who may have been married to Joseph Smith. Ivins, who was considered to be "one of the great authorities on Mormon polygamy," said that the number of Joseph Smith's wives "can only be guessed at, but it might have gone as high as sixty or more. Moreover, a great many distinguished women in history, including several Catholic saints, were also sealed to Joseph Smith in Utah.
Widtsoe admitted that "Women no longer living, whether in Joseph's day or later, have also been sealed to the Prophet for eternity. Joseph went to great lengths to conceal his practice of plural marriage.
Michael Marquardt discovered that he even had a pretended marriage performed to cover up his own marriage to Sarah Ann Whitney. On July 27,, Joseph gave a revelation to Newel K. Whitney, that he was to seal his daughter, Sarah Ann, "to Joseph Smith, to be his wife. Kingsbury and Heber C. Kimball, Marquardt reveals how he uncovered the fact that Joseph Smith actually performed a "pretended" marriage ceremony between Sarah Ann Whitney and Joseph C.
Kingsbury so that his own relationship with her would not be noticed. Marquardt cited the following from "The History of Joseph C. Kingsbury," a document that is now in the Western Americana section of the University of Utah Library:.
According to the diary of Joseph's private secretary, William Clayton, Smith would even go so far as to initiate a fake excommunication from the Church to make it appear that he did not believe in polygamy:. J…began to tell me that E. William Clayton's Diary , Oct. Would God command Joseph to secretly take his wife's fellow presidency members in the Nauvoo Relief Society as well as many others as his own plural wives?
Could it be proper or Godly for Joseph to publicly deny such behaviors and privately practice them? Would a true prophet ever secretly take other men's wives because of his position, stating that he was either testing the faith of their husbands, or offering these women a greater chance for exaltation in the eternities because of his position of authority?
It is well documented that Joseph married several women before telling Emma. Would it be proper to keep such information from his own wife? Carmon Hardy, Solemn Covenant: The Mormon Polygamous Passage , p. In addition to the public denials of polygamy by Joseph Smith himself, many public denials were done by his close associates.
Joseph's Brother Hyrum had an article published in the Times and Seasons in March of italics in original:. 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.
And any man that is found teaching privately or publicly any such doctrine, is culpable, and will stand a chance to be brought before the High Council, and lose his license and membership also: Remember that Hyrum who had plural wives at the time of this article was the one who took the copy of the polygamy revelation to Emma Smith to try to convince her to accept the idea of polygamy.
So the Church's own current scriptures say that Joseph Smith was practicing polygamy before July 12, Note that even though Bennett had been out of the picture for more than a year, Smith was still publicly calling polygamy a "false and corrupt doctrine. Smith still denied all of it. Joseph successfully inculcated his brother Hyrum into the litany of lies. Note also the utter hypocrisy of Hyrum saying that men caught teaching polygamy were subject to lose their church membership.
Obviously, seeing as how Hyrum and Joseph both were polygamists, his prevarication convicts both of them. Pratt, in speaking of the means by which church leaders should sustain Smith, advised that "we must lie to protect brother Joseph, it is our duty to do so. Inasmuch as the public mind has been unjustly abused through the fallacy of Dr.
Bennett's letters, we make an extract on the subject of marriage, showing the rule of the church on this important matter. The extract is from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and is the only rule allowed by the church. 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.
According to the custom of all civilized nations, marriage is regulated by laws and ceremonies: Marriage should be celebrated with prayer and thanksgiving; and at the solemnization, the persons to be married, standing together, the man on the right, and the woman on the left, shall be addressed, by the person officiating, as he shall be directed by the holy Spirit; and if there be no legal objections, he shall say, calling each by their names: All legal contracts of marriage made before a person is baptized into this church, should be held sacred and fulfilled.
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 husbands, parents and masters who exercise control over their wives, children, and servants and prevent them from embracing the truth, will have to answer for that sin. We have given the above rule of marriage as the only one practiced in this church , to show that Dr. Bennett's "secret wife system" is a matter of his own manufacture; and further to disabuse the public ear, and shew that the said Bennett and his misanthropic friend Origen Bachelor, are perpetrating a foul and infamous slander upon an innocent people, and need but be known to be hated and despise.
In support of this position, we present the following certificates: We the undersigned members of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and residents of the city of Nauvoo, persons of families do hereby certify and declare that we know of no other rule or system of marriage than the one published from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants , and we give this certificate to show that Dr.
Bennett's "secret wife system" is a creature of his own make as we know of no such society in this place nor never did. We the undersigned members of the ladies' relief society, and married females do certify and declare that we know of no system of marriage being practiced in the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints save the one contained in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants , and we give this certificate to the public to show that J.
Bennett's "secret wife system" is a disclosure of his own make. Cleveland, Counsellor,; Eliza R. Snow, Secretary; Mary C. Marks; Rosannah Marks; Polly Z. Johnson; Angeline Robinson; Abigail Works. Times And Seasons , Saturday, October 1, , Newel even performed the ceremony. Snow signed the documents and she was married to Joseph Smith in June The next month, Joseph and Hyrum were murdered; but their deaths did not stop the lying about polygamy:.
Note that at the time, several dozen Mormon men were active polygamists, and the "revelation on celestial marriage" had still not been voted on, or accepted as official practiceso Mormon leaders continued their public lies about secret polygamy.
We are accused here of polygamy,… and actions the most indelicate, obscene, and disgusting, such that none but a corrupt and depraved heart could have contrived.
These things are too outrageous to admit of belief;… I shall content myself by reading our views of chastity and marriage, from a work published by us containing some of the articles of our Faith. By , Mormon leaders were sharing their lies about polygamy to an international audience. At the time he published his tract, wherein he quoted verbatim from the "Article on Marriage," Taylor had seven wives.
A few years later, a Mormon publication admitted that Joseph Smith sinned by taking his plural wives before his "revelation": To have done otherwise, would have been a great transgression. Of course, at that time, the documentation of the dates of Joseph's plural marriages was only known by a few top Mormons; it was not until LDS historian Andrew Jenson began delving into Church Archives in the 's that the names and dates began to be established.
Few Mormons realized the scope of Smith's polygamy, or that he took plural wives many years before his alleged "revelation. A man that violated this law in the Doctrine and Covenants, edition, until the acceptance of that revelation by the church, violated the law of the church if he practiced plural marriage. Yes sir, he would have been cut off from the church, I think I should have been if I had.
Before the giving of that revelation in if a man married more wives than one who were living at the same time, he would have been cut off from the church. It would have been adultery under the laws of the church and under the laws of the state, too. The evidence is over-whelming that Joseph and other church leaders lied about practicing polygamy. In the one instance where Smith hinted publicly of an approval of polygamy, it caused such an uproar among church members that he quickly issued a clarification stating that his remarks had referred to "former times," meaning Old Testament events.
Not surprisingly, publication of the Peace Maker created a brief furor in Nauvoo. For nearly six months, the Church had been recovering from the impact of the devastating John C. Bennett apostasy and his series of wild allegations about lurid polygamous debaucheries in the Church. Bennett's History of the Saints had come out in late September; yet only a month later—seemingly with the authorization of top Mormon leaders—an account defending polygamy was published.
A sometimes reliable contemporary source for Nauvoo gossip, Oliver Olney, expressed what must have been a common opinion when he said, "If the pamphlet was not written by the authorities of the Church, it by them was revised in Jacobs [sic] name.
He denied that he had seen it in advance or that he would have printed it had he known its contents. Significantly, however, Smith defended the author's right to publish such opinions. And more importantly, he did not make any criticisms of the extraordinary claims to authority made by the pamphlet—claims that in effect would have threatened to supercede his own leadership. In the tense political situation in Nauvoo following the Bennett fiasco, Joseph Smith had moved to centralize all power in his own hands.
As part of this effort, he had placed the Church press in control of a totally loyal subordinate, John Taylor. Taylor apparently had replaced Ebenezer Robinson in part because of Robinson's hostility to plural marriage. Probably, as John D. Lee later alleged, the pamphlet was put forward as a "feeler" to test Church opinion but was denied when public reaction proved too unfavorable.
There was a book printed at my office, a short time since, written by Udney H. Jacobs, on marriage, without my knowledge; and had I been apprised of it, I should not have printed it ; not that I am opposed to any man enjoying his privileges; but I do not wish to have my name associated with the authors, in such an unmeaning rigmarole of nonsence, folly, and trash. Times and Seasons 4: Nauvoo Neighbor , Vol.
The incident of which the church-owned "Nauvoo Neighbor" speaks, wherein Hyrum Smith presented the "revelation" to the Nauvoo High Council for its sustaining vote, occurred on August 12, That meeting resulted in several council members resigning in disgust.
Some of those dissidents were among those who published the "Nauvoo Expositor" in June , which exposed Smith's secret polygamy practice. Meaning, those men knew very well that Smith and other church leaders were secretly practicing polygamy, and that Hyrum Smith's response that the "revelation" referred to Old Testament times was a lie. MormonThink has a topic devoted to the LDS Church's historical lying, many of which concern polygamy: Lying for the Lord.
From the many statements above it's obvious that Joseph Smith, his brother Hyrum and several other church leaders, that knew about polygamy, lied about it.
Here are some additional related documentation that show that the LDS Church officially condemned the practice of polygamy during the very time Joseph practiced it. Several quotes are very similar or identical because they were repeated in subsequent years and in various church publications.
This is further evidence that the official condemnation of polygamy by the church wasn't just a rare 'error' but was in fact the official church policy at the time. Also note that many of the quotes are from the Times and Seasons which was a church-owned newspaper that Joseph Smith himself served as an editor. The clerk of every church should keep a record of all marriages solemnized in his branch. 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 the case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again.
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: 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.
That we will have no fellowship whatever with any Elder belonging to the quorums of the Seventies who is guilty of polygamy or any offense of the kind, and who does not in all things conform to the laws of the church contained in the Bible and in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife. He that looketh upon a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery already in his heart…..
It is evident that his character is that of an adulterer of the worst kind…. Some time ago it having been reported to me that some of the most aggravated cases of adultery had been committed upon some previously respectable females in our city….. More than twenty months ago Bennett went to a lady in the city and began to teach her that promiscuous intercourse between the sexes was lawful and no harm in it, and requested the privilege of gratifying his passions…..
Finding this argument ineffectual, he told her that men in higher standing in the church than himself not only sanctioned, but practiced the same deeds; and…said that I both taught and acted in the same manner, but [that I] publicly proclaimed against it in consequence of the prejudice of the people, and for fear of trouble in my own house.
By this means he accomplished his designs. The church afterwards publicly withdrew their fellowship from him [John C. Bennett], and his character was published in the 17th number of this paper; since that time he [John C.
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