Saturday, June 26, 2010

Why I'm Abandoning Polygamy

Like all good Latter-day Saints of my generation, I’ve always been a committed polygamist.

To be clear, I’ve never been a practicing polygamist. You could say I’m a polygamist in the same sense that I’m a nutritionist.   I know nutrition is out there, I’m told it’s good for me, and I always figured that one day I would probably get around to practicing  good nutrition.

That’s kind of how I’ve thought about polygamy most of my life.  It was out there in the future somewhere, but not necessarily all that relevant to me at the moment.
Those of you new to the church in the last couple of decades may be surprised to learn that when we old timers were growing up, we were taught that “someday they’ll bring back polygamy” and at that day the faithful among us would finally jump back into the pool.  Plural marriage is, after all, an eternal principle, the suspension of which, we were frequently told, was only temporary.   

When I was a young single man, my attitude toward polygamy was somewhat ambivalent.  What did I care whether I ended up with one wife or seventy, just as long as I got to do it with somebody.  Just gimme that first wedding night and we can discuss numbers later.

So while growing up, whenever someone spoke up in Sunday School or Seminary with the reminder that someday we would all be required to practice “The Principle,” I was okay with it. Sure. Fine. Whatever.   

Then one day I met my soul mate.

Sorry Girls, He's Married
Few men actually have the good fortune to meet and marry their actual soul mate the first time out.  Some guys find her eventually, but it often takes a second marriage, or a third.  Most never do.  I hit pay dirt the first time out.  I knew Connie was The One the moment I saw her; I recognized her from my dreams.  I've known from the beginning that after finding her there was no possibility of my ever wanting to take on any additional wives.  Just not gonna happen.  Ever.  Connie is my one and only, my kindred spirit. We're one couple, indivisible.

And we ain’t sharin’ our bed with nobody else.

Luckily for us, we’ll never have to, because I’m happy to announce that while I’m firmly devoted to most of the tenets of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,  I no longer believe in the doctrine of plural marriage.

I'll bet you don’t really believe in it either; not enough to start living it right now if you were told to.  As for me, I’ve had a real paradigm shift in my thinking, and it came to me after reading a book by Richard and Pamela Price entitled Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy: How Men Nearest the Prophet Attached Polygamy to His Name in Order to Justify Their Own Polygamous Crimes.

Yeah, I know.  Stay with me here.

The first time I was made aware of this book, I did what every good Mormon boy would do. I ignored it.  After all, everyone knows that the doctrine of plural marriage came to us through Joseph Smith, right? (Spoiler alert: No it didn’t.)

I own Todd Compton’s book, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith, wherein he traces the lives of the estimated 33 women who are believed to have been secretly married to Joseph Smith at Nauvoo.  There may have been some disagreement among scholars about the exact number of wives the Prophet had, but surely no one doubts the basic story.  We all know Joseph kept the practice secret so as not to give his enemies cause and to mollify his jealous first wife, Emma.

But to suggest that Joseph Smith may have actually fought against the doctrine of plural marriage was, to me, an absurd supposition.  It was not even worth thinking about.

But I had an experience a couple of years ago that convinced me to take a second look at this hypothesis.  I was reading Richard Van Wagoner’s biography of Sidney Rigdon, and something on page 292 jumped out at me.  The Author was discussing how often and adamantly the Prophet Joseph Smith attacked polygamy and those who promoted it:
“The Prophet warned against ‘iniquitous characters [who] say they have authority from Joseph or the First Presidency’ and advising them not to ‘believe anything as coming from us, contrary to the established morals & virtues & scriptural laws...’ The sisters were urged to denounce any man who made polygamous proposals and to ‘shun them as the flying fiery serpent, whether they are Prophets, Seers, or Revelators; Patriarchs, Twelve Apostles, Elders, Priests, Majors, Generals, City Councilors, Aldermen, Marshals, Police, Lord mayors or the Devil, [they] are alike culpable & shall be damned for such evil practices.” (Page 292)
Those are some pretty strong words coming from a guy who is supposedly getting a little on the side.  They leave no room for equivocation.  Joseph Smith was unmistakably condemning to hell any man who advocated polygamy, even if that man was the prophet himself.

Who's Putting Words In Joseph Smith's Mouth?
The author of Sidney Rigdon’s biography is also the author of Mormon Polygamy: A History, which was the first major overview of the practice, and he knows the subject well.  Van Wagoner does not question the widely held belief that Joseph Smith practiced plural marriage, but like many who write about him, he finds Joseph’s apparent schizophrenia baffling.  Further down on the page we read this:
“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.’”
What really popped out at me was Van Wagoner’s footnote to the above quote, on page 303
“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 so that it now reads:
"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."   (Emphasis mine)

It is not commonly known that the seven volume History of the Church, which purports to have been written by Joseph Smith himself, was substantially  added to and edited after the Prophet’s death.  After all, Joseph Smith did leave great gaps in the narrative, and if his history was to be complete, the account required additional input from subsequent church historians.  Editions of the massive work were still being tweaked by B.H. Roberts as late as 1912.

Still, it struck me that the passage above had been substantially doctored so as to completely change its meaning.  It put words into the Prophet’s mouth that he simply had not spoken, words that in fact contradicted what he had said. The added words I’ve highlighted in bold italics above could incline the reader to conclude that Joseph equivocated on the subject, but it’s clear from his original words that he did not.  Missing entirely from Joseph's statement in the official history is the primary imperative, “Joseph forbids it and the practice thereof.”

This is not editing for clarification.  This is prevarication, a lie; a calculated attempt to change church history.

I felt it was high time I found out for myself what Joseph Smith had actually said about plural marriage in his own words, so I ordered a copy of Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy from and read it through.  I admit to approaching the book with skepticism.  I consider myself pretty well read in the history of the Missouri-Nauvoo period, so I figured I’d spot the flaws in this thesis right off the bat.

But the startling conclusion I came to is that most historians, both Mormon and non-Mormon, who have taught that Joseph Smith was a secret polygamist, were proceeding from a false assumption.  Several false assumptions, actually; not the least of which was that the many women who claimed to have been Joseph Smith’s plural wives had no reason to lie.  The truth is the precise opposite.  They had some very good reasons to lie.

The True Origins of Mormon Polygamy
You have probably never heard of the Cochranites, because this odd religious community simply vanished from history sometime in the late 1830's.  While they were on the scene, though, they stirred up quite a fuss and enjoyed no small amount of notoriety.  Richard and Pamela Price, the husband and wife authors of Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy reproduce several articles from books and newspapers of the era that tell of the charismatic leader Jacob Cochran, who convinced some two thousand supporters that what he called “the Patriarchal Order” -that is, polygamy- as practiced by Father Abraham, was the proper mode of marriage, and that this “spiritual wifery” was ordained of God.  By the time of Jacob Cochrane’s death in 1829, there were still upwards of a thousand dedicated polygamists in the movement he founded, and they settled themselves up and down the borders of Maine and Massachusetts, with the main body in Saco, Maine.

When the first Mormon missionaries arrived in the area in 1832, they found the Cochranites to be extremely receptive to the message of the Restoration. Accustomed as they already were to following in the traditions of the ancient patriarchs, it was not difficult for them to accept the message that the ancient church of Christ had been restored with all its gifts.  The missionaries tarried among the Cochranites for several months and won many converts.  No doubt during their prolonged interaction with each other, the Cochranites shared their philosophy of plural marriage with the Mormon Elders.

The Cochranite stronghold was such a fruitful place for converts that the young Church of Christ held a conference in Saco in 1834.  Nine of the twelve apostles were in attendance.

Although the Cochranites vanished from the history books by the end of the decade, they hadn’t really disappeared.  They had simply been folded into Mormonism, selling their farms and shops and moving to Kirtland and eventually Nauvoo, bringing their polygamous families and teachings with them.

A Cancer Is Detected
Some of these converts to the church continued to practice their polygamous lifestyle discreetly, while others openly sought to recruit other Mormons to “the patriarchal order”.  Before long church leadership took notice, and denounced the practice in short order.   The 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants included this article on marriage in section 101:
“Inasmuch as this church 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.”
If you turn to section 101 in your D&C today, you won’t find that passage.  It was removed when the Doctrine and Covenants was reprinted in 1876.

The Quorums of the Seventy at Kirtland also made it known that polygamists would not be tolerated within that body when they adopted a resolution which stated that they would have no fellowship with any Elder "who is guilty of polygamy."

The practice of polygamy was becoming an open secret among some of the Saints in Nauvoo, and Joseph was continually being asked by non-members if Mormons believed in having more wives than one.  He published his official response to this question in The Elders' Journal: “No, not at the same time.  But they believe that if their companion dies, they have a right to marry again.”   

While imprisoned in Liberty Jail, Joseph denounced polygamy in all its manifestations in a letter he wrote to the Saints in Caldwell County, ending with the warning that “if any person has represented any thing otherwise than what we now write they have willfully misrepresented us.”
Joseph Smith’s denunciations of polygamy were frequent and fervent.  He considered the practice a plague that must be stamped out or it would eventually lead the church to the very brink of destruction.  But even he was not prepared to learn that some of his best friends were seducing women by claiming the authority to do so came from him.

With Friends Like These...       
It’s not unusual for many of us today to assume that when the church was young, Joseph Smith knew everyone in town and everyone knew him.  But this wasn’t true.  Some members lived their entire lives without having personally met the Prophet.  Thus it was with a young lady by the name of Sarah Miller who was a member of the choir during one of Brother Joseph’s sermons condemning polygamy.

Sarah became immediately alarmed at what she heard, and quickly confessed to church authorities that she had been engaging in illicit sexual activities under the belief that Joseph Smith himself had authorized it.  The gullible girl told a tale of having been seduced by Chauncey Higbee, a prominent Nauvoo attorney, who told her, she said, that “it was no harm to have sexual intercourse with women if they would keep it to themselves, and continually urged me to yield to his desires, and urged me vehemently, and said he and Joseph were good friends, and he [Joseph] teaches me this doctrine, and allows me such privileges, and there is no harm in it and Joseph Smith says so.”

Higbee duped the innocent girl into believing that she was Higbee's “spiritual wife,” and that in time they would be married.  Several other women soon came forward telling similar tales.  It turned out that Chauncey Higbee, his brother Francis, and several others were having their way with many women using the line that Joseph Smith sanctioned such seductions.

As these women came forth to the Nauvoo High Council with their affidavits, a common thread emerged that astonished even the Prophet himself.  It seems that if any of these men encountered resistance to the claim that Joseph Smith approved of their actions, they merely took the young lady to see the second most prominent citizen in Nauvoo, and he would assure them that yes, it was alright, Joseph Smith says so.  This unethical cad was seducing many women himself by telling them that Joseph Smith had received a revelation which allowed men to have plural wives.

A Scoundrel In The City Of The Saints
I’ve long felt that if ever there was a Mormon whose life story would make a fascinating movie, John C. Bennett was that guy.  But the movie would have a very, very bad ending.
It’s very likely that Nauvoo never would have become the impressive city it was had it not been for the able assistance of Dr. Bennett. 

Bennett arrived among the Saints precisely when he was needed most, just after the Saints had been expelled from Missouri and were now gathering weak, sick, and destitute on the Illinois side of the river.  He appeared like a knight on a white horse, and Joseph Smith was grateful and relieved to be offered assistance from such a capable personage as the well appointed Dr. Bennett.

A one-time colleague of Sidney Rigdon’s, Bennett joined the church at Nauvoo and immediately took charge of things, supervising the draining of the swamps and the mapping out of city plots.  “Joseph welcomed the assistance of Dr. Bennett, who came prescribing a miracle medicine, quinine, for the malaria which was killing the Saints; and also bringing great visions and expertise in city planning, schools, a university, commerce, a militia, a Masonic Lodge, and political stability.” (Pg 70)

The grateful citizens of the city he built elected John C. Bennett their first mayor of Nauvoo.   

Bennett’s credentials were impressive.  In addition to being a medical doctor, Bennett had also been a brigadier general, a quartermaster general, the dean of one university and the president of another, a horticulturalist, a postmaster general, a preacher, and an attorney.  And now he was the mayor of the fastest growing city on the Mississippi.

If anyone had shown up on the scene today with a resume like that, he would instantly be pegged as a fraud and an impostor, which, it turned out, Bennett was.  But Bennett was brilliant and capable, and he actually knew his stuff, so no one in Nauvoo thought to question the handsome savior who had appeared in their hour of need.  Nauvoo grew prosperous and impressive under Bennett’s rule.  He became easily the most prominent citizen of the city next to the prophet Joseph Smith himself.   Bennett lodged with the Smiths and became fast friends with the prophet, and when Sidney Rigdon took ill, Joseph even made Bennett First Counselor in the First Presidency of the church.

When it was revealed that Bennett had been using Joseph's good name in order that he and his friends could bed unsuspecting Mormon women,  Joseph quietly conducted an investigation.  He sent Bishop George Miller to Ohio to look into the good doctor’s background.  Miller reported that Bennett had lived in twenty towns in as many years, that he “has the vanity to believe he is the smartest man in the nation; and if he cannot at once be placed at the head of the heap, he soon seeks a situation...always push[ing] himself into places and situations entirely beyond his abilities...and the next thing his friends hear of him he is off in another direction.”  Joseph Smith was coming to the realization that his “friend” had cleverly maneuvered himself into positions of importance at Nauvoo for one purpose: he was building himself a personal empire.               

Bishop Miller reported one more thing.  John C. Bennett, the most popular and eligible bachelor in Nauvoo, had a wife and children whom he had abandoned back in Ohio. 

When Joseph confronted Bennett with the evidence of his crimes, Bennett wept and blubbered and promised to repent, begging the council not to make his sins public, for fear of how such news would affect his poor mother.  But it wasn’t his mother that Bennett was concerned about, it was the damage that exposure would mean for his broader political ambitions.

Mercy may have ultimately been Joseph Smith’s undoing, for he agreed that as long as Bennett was sincerely repentant, he would not make public his sins.  Joseph made similar agreements with the Higbee brothers when they wept and blubbered and begged.       

So without fanfare or publicity, The High Council of the church quietly withdrew the hand of fellowship from John C. Bennett.  He resigned as mayor of Nauvoo, and Joseph Smith took his place. Bennett made an official statement before the City Council in which he stated that Joseph Smith was “strictly virtuous,"  and he also provided Joseph with a lengthy affidavit swearing that at no time did Joseph Smith suggest or give him authority to hold illicit intercourse with women.  Bennett further stated in the affidavit that he hoped “the time may come when I may be restored to full confidence, and fellowship, and my former standing in the church.”

But poor Doctor Bennett just couldn’t keep his breeches buttoned.  When it was discovered weeks later that Bennett was continuing his illicit activities, Joseph Smith preached a public sermon against Bennett and his false teachings.  That was the end of it for John Cook Bennett.  He was finished, and so, he knew, was any chance to be elected to the Illionois state legislature, a position he desired very much, and for which he had no hope of attaining without the support of the Mormons.

General Bennett was cashiered out of the Nauvoo Legion and expelled from the Masonic Lodge he himself had founded. He was also expelled from the church. He left town in disgrace, but he vowed that neither Joseph Smith nor the citizens of  Nauoo had heard the last of him.  He would get his revenge against them all.

Bennett ended up in Carthage where he began to write a series of letters that were printed in newspapers far and wide “exposing” Joseph Smith as a polygamist and charging him with seduction, murder, treason, and other crimes.  A few months later Bennett published a book entitled The History of the Saints; or, an Expose of Joe Smith and Mormonism.  It was largely the inflammatory charges contained in those letters and that book that got the non-Mormon populace so riled up against Joseph Smith that in the end some were even willing to murder him.

As Doctor Robert D. Foster said of Bennett, “He tried to father all his own iniquity upon Joseph Smith.” Ironically, many of the things faithful Mormons today believe about Joseph Smith concerning polygamy can be traced to the ugly lies originally promoted by the vindictive Dr. Bennett. 
A Testimony Against The dissenters
Although John Bennett gave Joseph Smith no end of grief, he was by no means the only person close to the Prophet discovered to be practicing plural marriage.  Joseph continued in his resolve to stamp out the spreading plague.

The group that included Bennett and the Higbees and their “spiritual wives” proved to be only part of the problem.  The philosophy of the patriarchal order introduced to the church through the Cochranites proved very appealing to many of the Saints, with the result that even some within the Quorum of the Twelve had come to believe in it and were secretly taking additional wives.   Joseph told William Marks that he intended to expose and root out this disease from even his closest associates.  But the Prophet never accomplished the task, because three weeks later he was dead.

It is a common belief within the church that Joseph Smith died defending his testimony of the Book of Mormon.  While that impressive work was clearly the crowning achievement of his short life, he left no recorded evidence that the Book of Mormon was foremost on his mind either on the eve of his death or in the weeks leading up to it.  If you’re looking for a truly fiery testimony from Joseph Smith just prior to his martyrdom, you’ll find it in his vigorous defense of his singular marriage to Emma and his castigation of those advocating polygamous unions, as well as his vehement denunciation of those accusing him of impropriety.   

Less than a month before Joseph’s martyrdom, thousands of Saints gathered to hear him denounce for the umpteenth time the evil doctrine and those who would accuse him of promulgating it.  You can find that address in The History of the Church under the title “Address of the Prophet-His Testimony Against the Dissenters at Nauvoo.”   
“I am innocent of all these charges,” he declared, “and you can bear witness of my innocence, for you know me yourselves.”
“What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one.”
It was Joseph Smith at his fiery best.  You can read excerpts from that sermon here.  As Richard and Pamela Price state in their book, Joseph “wanted to get the whole matter out in the open and to put a stop to the polygamous activities which some of the apostles and their friends were practicing at the time.”

The book is filled with examples of Joseph Smith decrying the practice in his many sermons, as well as numerous newspaper articles and affidavits by those close to the Prophet disproving the charges against him.  You can read the entire book online here, as well as the yet unpublished volume two.  I highly recommend, however, that you buy yourself a hard copy of the book, because it contains sketches, photos, and copies of documents vital to a full appreciation for the thirty years of research the Prices' put into this effort.

 In the last three years of his life Joseph took the precaution of having scribes and male companions with him at all times recording his actions and whereabouts in order to make it impossible for his enemies to continue to contrive illicit affairs where none existed.   There are absolutely no contemporary records of any woman being married to Joseph Smith except one: Emma Hale Smith.  Virtually no one came forward during Joseph Smith’s lifetime claiming to be married to him.  As Joseph said in mocking reference to these phantom wives, “I wish the grand jury would tell me who they are.”   

How We Got From From There To Here                                        
So what about Section 132?  Isn’t that a revelation in Joseph Smith’s own hand calling for the institution of plural marriage?

Well, no it isn’t.  That is, the revelation does clearly call for plural marriage, but it isn’t in Joseph Smith’s hand.  And no one had ever heard of it during Joseph Smith’s lifetime.  It showed up as if by magic eight years after his death.

After the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum, the Nauvoo Temple was eventually finished, and some were soon putting it to use performing secret ceremonies wherein men were being sealed to multiple wives.  This was a purpose for which the first and only other Mormon temple, the one at Kirtland, had never been used.

In the original 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, the church had issued strict rules under which all marriages were to be performed, rules which are consistently violated by faithful members of the Lord’s church even today:
“All marriages in this church of Christ of Latter Day Saints,” the declaration stated, “should be solemnized in a public meeting, or feast, prepared for this purpose..."
“...The persons to be married,” are to be “ standing together, the man on the right, and the woman on the left...” (Emphasis added)

You can read the entire rule here in the church newspaper, the Times and Seasons  where you’ll see that “the above rule is the only one practiced in this church,” and that the words of the ceremony leave no room to suppose that it was ever intended that another spouse join the marriage at any future time.

The Mysterious D&C 132
Once the Saints were safely ensconced in Utah, plural marriage gradually became an open secret.  Still, before making it official, church leadership needed to present it with a stamp of authority to assure the Saints that the practice was legitimate.  That mark of legitimacy would have to come from Joseph Smith, as Brigham Young did not claim the gift of revelation. “I don't profess to be such a Prophet as were Joseph Smith and Daniel,” he admitted, “but I am a Yankee guesser.”

So eight years after Joseph’s death, at a special conference called for the purpose, President Brigham Young (a polygamist) asked Apostle Orson Pratt (now also a polygamist) to read aloud a document purporting to be a revelation from the Lord to Joseph Smith, later to be incorporated into the Doctrine and Covenants as section 132.  The document revealed that plural marriage was not merely approved by the Lord, but now actually required for any good Latter-day Saint man or woman not wishing to be damned.

Brigham explained that this revelation of Joseph's, which Brigham called “the New and Everlasting Covenant” had been kept locked in a drawer in his desk all this time, but he didn’t explain why it hadn’t been released sooner.  Joseph Smith had been publicly declaiming against the very things contained within it for a year after it was reported to have been received.  Why would any prophet withhold a revelation that came directly from God?  Surely any information the Lord sees fit to reveal to His people would be intended for immediate dissemination.

More curious yet, this revelation is purported to have been given in July of 1843, just three months before Joseph, as both Prophet and Mayor, angrily took to the streets of Nauvoo and threatened to prosecute any who were “preaching, teaching, or practicing the doctrine of plurality of wives” and further warning all citizens that they are forbidden from engaging in it. In order to accept that Joseph Smith would engage in an impromptu tirade like this after having received such a revelation, you would have to believe that he was not just an outrageous, overwrought liar; you’d have to believe he was completely insane.

Nor does the excuse hold that Joseph had to be careful because of his many enemies.  His enemies already believed he was practicing polygamy.  This would not be news to them.  Joseph Smith was not the type of man to limp around a controversy, especially if delivered from God.  On the question of whether, supposing  he had believed in plural marriage, would he have shied away from declaring it, he stated,  “I have taught all the strong doctrines publicly, and always taught stronger doctrines in public than in private.”

Brigham’s later explanation for why the revelation was not in Joseph Smith’s handwriting was that this one was actually a copy of the original revelation, as “Sister Emma burnt the original.”

When Emma Smith, back in Nauvoo heard this claim, she replied that she had “never saw such a revelation until it was published by Pratt in The Seer.”

This “copy” of a very lengthy revelation was in the handwriting of William Clayton, formerly a scribe of Joseph Smith.  He was also now a polygamist.

What I wonder about is this: was it the practice of Joseph Smith to have his scribes immediately create a second copy of all of his revelations, or did Brigham Young simply ask Clayton to “recreate” this one from memory?

Here Come The Brides
So how is it that today we know the names of at least thirty-three of Joseph Smith’s alleged wives, when during his lifetime no one seemed to be able to suggest more than a couple of possible ones?

After Joseph Smith’s sons were grown, the three of them made the long journey to Utah to challenge the polygamous system and attempt to restore their father’s good name. They met a wall of resistance. Out of nowhere appeared a number of women declaring that they had all been plural wives of Joseph Smith while at Nauvoo.  Most prominent of these women was Eliza R. Snow, a well-known woman of letters and now a plural wife of Brigham Young. 

Eliza claimed to have been married to Joseph on June 29th, 1842, but this would mean she was married to him three months before she had led a thousand women in promoting a petition stating that Joseph Smith was not guilty of polygamy as Dr. Bennett had charged.  So was she lying then or was she lying now?

Eliza was sitting pretty as the wife of the prominent Governor of the Territory.  Certainly she had much to lose if polygamy was exposed as a fraud and Brigham’s empire crumbled.  Besides, it’s very likely that most Mormons by then firmly believed in the principle whether it could be proven to have originated with Joseph Smith or not.  The Saints felt constantly under attack from the gentiles for their peculiar ways, and didn’t Brigham constantly preach that “lying for the Lord” was not a sin, but the duty of every faithful Latter-day Saint?

Curiously, Eliza Snow held the honored seat, at home and in public, at the right hand of Brigham Young.  This position of honor was ordinarily reserved only for a man's first wife.  How was Eliza Snow able to shunt wife number one out of the way and take her place?  What did she know?  Or what could she threaten to tell?

Nearly all of the other women who claimed to have been married to Joseph Smith at one time were also in polygamous marriages to prominent church leaders.  It certainly wouldn’t have taken much to persuade these women to make a public statement in order to protect the society they had struggled so hard to attain.  When you examine the statements of  these women, you find some of their claims to be a real stretch.

To their credit, some of these women went out of their way in their declarations to maintain that their marriage to Joseph had been for eternal purposes only, and that they had never been physically intimate with the Prophet.  So I give these ladies props for at least having the decency not to thoroughly besmirch a dead man’s memory.

Also, most of these women neglected to sign their names to their declarations, a clever way of protecting themselves from being called up on charges of perjury if the statements were to be challenged in a federal court.  As legal affidavits, these documents are worthless.

Besides, these women were soon marched through the temple to be sealed to Joseph Smith a second time, in order that their marriages would now be on record.  So they weren’t really lying.  In their minds they now truly were sealed to the prophet Joseph Smith for time and all eternity. 

Why Not Simply Admit It Was All A Big Mistake And Move On?
Personally, I don’t mind polygamists.  In fact, I like all the ones I've met.  Over the years I’ve been privileged to have several friends who chose to live that lifestyle, and I say more power to them.  The women in these relationships tell me they are happy not only to have the responsibility lifted of being the sole entertainment for their husband, but they enjoy the company of other women in the house with them.  I wouldn’t for a moment tell them I disapprove or try to intervene.  Why should I?  To each his own.  Live and let live.  Besides, I don’t belong to their church.

But I find it curious that the church I do belong to has expressed an unusual disdain for those who practice the religion my religion used to practice.

I was intrigued by the reactions of many of my fellow Mormons a while back toward the FLDS polygamists in Texas.  Members and leaders alike scrambled to distance the church from what they considered "those wacky fundamentalists."  “Those aren’t real Mormons,” I’d often hear people say.

Of course, those people say the same about us.

I've long wondered why, since Joseph Smith prophesied that the gospel of this church was destined to "fill the whole earth", that we would adopt a practice so repugnant to the earth's other inhabitants that it virtually guaranteed we would never gain any more converts.  It seemed to me that if Satan himself ever wanted to bring the momentum of the restoration to a screeching halt, he couldn't have devised a more effective scheme than declaring plural marriage a mandatory program.  Growth from outside the church was stagnant for almost a hundred years, from the 1850's to the 1950's, only beginning to pick up steam when David O. Mckay took determined steps to shake off our unsavory reputation.

Still, the prospect of the future return of "the principle" still hung in the air like the sword of Damocles.

Then one happy day during an interview with Larry King, I saw Gordon B. Hinckley make it clear that we won't be dusting off that doctrine for another go 'round.  “As far as we're concerned,” Hinckley said, “it's behind us, a long ways...I condemn it as a practice because I think it's not doctrinal."

Well, that’s a relief, and something our womenfolk especially can all be grateful for.  Most of us wouldn't wish to be forced to live under that system even if we did still believe in it.

Which brings up a question: If the church today rejects polygamy, and since the evidence is undeniable it wasn't actually sanctioned by our founder, why can’t we simply declare it was all just a big, silly mistake, a diversion from the true path that our misguided ancestors trod in error, but that now we’re solidly back on track?

I’ll tell you why.  It's been said that Mormonism is a religion constantly running from its own history. If we let Joseph Smith off the hook by copping to this blunder, we'll just open a whole 'nother can of worms to contend with.

For we would then have to address the matter of a certain missionary of the church in 1834, one of our early apostles, who insisted he was exempt from the scriptural admonishment that missionaries are to travel two by two. Instead he traveled alone, and after the first missionaries had left Maine, he tarried for months on his own as a guest among the Cochranites; lodging in their homes night after night, taking his meals with them, chatting with them by the fire, gradually assimilating the strange religion of his hosts while sharing the message of the Restoration with them.  And when he left, he took with him a woman from that community who abandoned her own husband and children to return home with him and become his second plural wife.

When John C. Bennett was to be tried before the Nauvoo High Council for spiritual wifery, Bennett  asked that this particular apostle accompany him to the hearing and intercede on his behalf.   
And at the time of Joseph Smith’s death, this apostle was already secretly married to four women living in Nauvoo.
Of course, you’ve already guessed the identity of this guy.  His name was Brigham Young.

Update: For a further exploration of why the testimonies of the women who claimed to be Joseph Smith's plural wives cannot be trusted, see the follow-up piece here.



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Anonymous said...

Amen! Polygamy is from sick men and women to excuse their whoredoms. I am LDS and did not join a polygamy anything. Poor Joseph. Satan uses 132 to stir away the hearts of good men and to stir the evil hearts of men to do evils disguise as true.

Anonymous said...

If Brigham Young was a scoundrel, the heir of J.C. Bennett and part of a cabal that originated polygamy against Joseph's wishes, then where does that leave Young's eventual heir, Thomas Monson, and where does that leave the authority claims of the LDS Church?

Anonymous said...

With respect, I continue to believe that the doctrine of plural marriage is a doctrinal one and both supported by and lived by Joseph. I think there is overwhelming evidence to support this. There is no question in the mind of any thinking man that today's LDS church is out of order, on this and a number of other points.

Anonymous said...

Joseph was the LDS kingpin when it came to doctrine being publicly or privately accepted in the church. He is responsible for the apples in the barrel. Many of his former wives testified to their marriages and relations with the latter-day prophet.

You hate polygamy Alan, well so do I. I think of the lives destroyed and damaged by its insidious introduction into the LDS church. I point my finger at the person who pushed it, Joseph Smith Junior (1805-1844).

Dave P. said...

I'd been waiting to read this one since you mentioned wanting to write an essay on it sometime last year and I simply have to say it was well worth the wait.

One thing that immediately hit me while reading this is that Section 132 also contains the verse where, supposedly, the Lord seals upon Joseph Smith his exaltation (verse 49). Some time ago someone referred a passage in the Journal of Discourses- can't remember exactly where but it may be in Volume 3- wherein Brigham Young had talked about Mormonism as something akin to pulling the wool over the eyes of people.

It's also quite ironic that Brigham Young was the one who said that he was afraid the church membership would take what the leaders had to say at face value rather than pray for confirmation over the truth of their words. Of course let us not forget that this was also the man who preached that Adam is God.

I'm beginning to wonder if my greatx5 grandfather, George Darling Watt (first man baptized in England) was ex-communicated over "just" a salary negotiation working as Brigham Young's secretary (I'm descended from his fourth wife, by the way).

While talking to my mother earlier I summed up Moroni's warning in Mormon 8 as, "Don't forsake principles of the gospel to try and look better in the eyes of the world," so when I die I want to talk to some of the early saints and, in the words of Ricky Ricard, tell them, "You've got some 'splainin to do." Particularly in these areas:

* Did Joseph Smith have an affair with Eliza R. Snow when she was living with the Smith family?
* Was Parley P. Pratt really commanded to give his wife to Joseph? (Even though the account reads that Parley was rewarded for his faith in being willing to do so by being sealed to said wife for time and eternity before the ordinance had been revealed.)
* How many "revelations" that institute church policy have the same questionable origins as Section 132?
* On another note, why are there Sections in the D&C that aren't even considered as revelations?
* Was Wilford Woodruff, the one who made the statement of, "The prophet will never lead the church astray," also a polygamist?

Answering some questions often only leads to more questions being asked.

To both Anonymouses under johnamer: Where is this "overwhelming" evidence to contradict the position that Rock spent THE ENTIRE ESSAY presenting?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Anonymous, I don't understand how you can insist that a person who spent his entire life vigorously opposing a practice can be held responsible for it simply because he was fighting a losing battle. The Practice exploded after Joseph was gone; how can a dead man be held responsible for the crimes the living commit in his name?

The testimony of those claiming to have been his wives is highly suspect. If there is evidence that their testimony is fraudulent, doesn't that warrant a new trial? Why accept on its face the testimony of witnesses who had ulterior motives while refusing to consider the words of the defendant?

I say, take a look at the book and examine the evidence. Anyone coming to a conclusion based on my flimsy and inadequate review here is doing himself a disservice. The same goes for blind acceptance of the conventional wisdom.

Anonymous said...

"It seemed to me that if Satan himself ever wanted to bring the momentum of the restoration to a screeching halt, he couldn't have devised a more effective scheme than declaring plural marriage a mandatory program."

A fair point, but then one could as well argue that the circumstances surrounding the bringing forth of the BoM itself and Joseph's various misadventures in New York, Ohio and Missouri were themselves hardly helpful to the cause of the restoration.

Steve Barnes said...

Rock this is Steve Barnes I read your article! I've read many books. I question your testimony of the restored church... The restoration has occurred! The Book of Mormon is the sacred record! The saints will not fall away! Don't take this personally but your under covenant to uphold and respect your covenants and not belittle the Church in any way. As a holder of the divine priesthood never question the Savior of why he restored polygamy, doctrine., etc. He is in charge! I've seen miracles in my lifetime of people who were converts embrace the restored gospel. I've read your previous articles. I don't want to offend you but you got to stand up for the truth and quit analyzing.

Roberta Barnes said...

Ok, I am back! He feels very worried about you apostatizing! I don't think that way! I don't think that this author is one that is recognized however by any Church Author or Leader! Steve says this guy has also written other books about similar topics also not recognized by the Authorities of the Church!

I do know that Joseph Smith has many wives sealed to him according to the genealogy that I have! I also know that he did fight polygamy for about 3 years until he was told that if he didn't implement it that he would be taken away from the earth and he would no longer be the Prophet! I also know that Emma his wife left the Church! She was not a proponent of polygamy either! I would appreciate anything you have on what the General Authorities have to say about this subject! I am going to see if I can find any articles on this subject!

My husband does have some great insight but he doesn't like to have people talk about the leadership without their own words in front of him from an authority who signs their own names to it! Steve is the High Priest Leader and Teacher! He has taught the Gospel Doctrine in Sunday School and has on good authority what is said!

He has family that are all from St. George and very strong both given in Polygamy and have given their lives to see the Church go forward! The Bryners were first to Settle in St. George and they were called upon by Brigham Young to go there and take a second family (wife) from Harmony! He was a (blind) man and a convert who also brought with him his entire family from Switzerland to follow the Handcart Companies and he walked with his family! He has a wonderful book about all the experiences of that family! He is the first to be buried in the old St. George Cem. next to the temple!

Polygamy was necessary when it was still on the Earth and now it isn't! That is what we have to believe and I see more than anyone that it was important in order to build the Church posterity and have the Saints cared for by each other!

I still love you Bro! I know you love Connie! I believe you will not be asked to be a polygamist in this life or maybe the next if you choose not too! Do you think that we only have one Mother in Heaven to take care of the many worlds without number? Not if there isn't polygamy! What about your Dad, was he sealed to more wives than your Mother or just for time?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Dave, Always great to have you weigh in here. And a pretty impressive genealogy you have there. First English convert. And then the poor guy gets ex'd. I wonder if he was also the first English convert to lose his membership. First one in the water, first one out the door.

I'm discovering like you that some excommunications in this church were vindictive in nature and would probably not have taken place if the Lord himself were in the room.

I think the Brigham Young "quote" you're looking for is this one:

"We shall pull the wool over the eyes of the American people and make them swallow Mormonism, polygamy and all."

It smells like a fabrication, and it is, because it has never been found in any speech or publication of the church. It's not in the Journal of Discourses, though it does keep surfacing in anti-Mormon publications, most recently Richard Abanes' well known "One Nation Under Gods."

Here it shows up in an old letter to the editor of the New York Times in an argument for why the author thinks Utah should be kept out of the union:

This is one of those statements that just sounds like what the enemies of the church THOUGHT Brigham Young was capable of saying. Everybody quoted it back in the day, but it's believed to have originated with some Baptist preacher with a grudge against the Mormons. (Was there ever a Baptist preacher who DIDN'T have a grudge against the Mormons?)

Alan Rock Waterman said...

For Dave, (Continued):

I can answer a couple of your questions off the top of my head.

"Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy" deals quite a bit with Eliza R. Snow and the myth that she carried Joseph Smith's child. I recommend everyone go to that site and start reading. It's fascinating. I hope no one decides that my review here is at all comprehensive because it barely touches the subject.

Also you can pretty much dismiss the rumor that Emma pushed Eliza down the stairs in a jealous fit. The Prices show how that couldn't have occurred. (They conclude that the child was most likely John C. Bennett's, by the way, but Eliza miscarried so there are no descendants.)

Our church as well as others independently have made a concerted effort through DNA analysis and following anecdotal clues searching for a descendant of Joseph through any of those women and has come up empty. If the purpose of plural marriage was "to raise up a righteous seed", something went wrong somewhere. Or, more likely, there simply were no such marriages.

You're right, Wilford Woodruff did practice polygamy and his quote is a direct result of having to back down from it. He had spent his presidency assuring the Saints that polygamy would never cease, but he was forced to blink when the federal government seized Temple Square and all the church's assets.

When he announced the Manifesto, the congregation was naturally curious as to how he could give in when he had just recently declared that the Church would never surrender the principle. He assuaged the membership by telling them, in essence, don't worry about it, the Lord will never let the prophet lead the church astray. Go back to sleep. We've got this one covered. Everything's under control.

Of course, there's no place in scripture or revelation where the Lord has said any such thing, and this odd tradition of Vatic infallibility in the prophet is something the church always rejected until Woodruff. It has since been one of the false beliefs that has done much harm to the church and brought comfort to our enemies. There's no truth to it whatsoever, but it seems to comfort those within the church who want someone else to reassure them that they don't have to be involved, that someone else is taking care of everything.

God has always taken the opposite position and warned us not to trust in the arm of flesh. (For those lacking the ability to translate, that means don't take the word of any human being, especially when it contradicts scripture as this one does.)

Love hearing from you, Dave!

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Steve and Roberta,

My the two of you have made so many points (and so emphatically!!) that I don't think I'll be able to respond to all of them. Perhaps some of the other readers here would be interested in weighing in.

First, Steve, thanks for writing. I wonder why you question my testimony of the restored church? This blog is ABOUT the restored church. (I refer you to the "About Me" column in the upper right column.)

You state "The restoration has occurred! The Book of Mormon is the sacred record! The saints will not fall away!"

If you'll allow me to answer your points succinctly: 1. agree. 2. agree. 3. disagree.

If you believe as I do in the sacred record, you have to believe that the saints will fall away, for that record testifies of it. Check out 3 Nephi 16 and Moroni Chapters 7-9 for starters.

It is up to individual members to be "Watchmen on the wall". Are you doing your part to keep the institutional church from falling out of line, or are you assuming that responsibility is being handled for you by those "in authority"? The head of this Church expects his the membership (His body)to stay on top of things here.

You seem to be accusing me of belittling the church. I'm not sure what that means exactly, but I would welcome examples so that I can make the necessary corrections. I don't want to be seen as someone who makes fun of other members of the Body of Christ. I have not been shy about pointing out how we all have a tendency to stray off track now and then, but that doesn't strike me as belittlement. Personally I'm appreciative when someone assists me in getting back on track, so I welcome your constructive criticism. I just need you to be more specific.

Alan Rock Waterman said...


Well, you and your husband can breathe easier, because I assure you that I have not apostatized from the gospel of Jesus Christ! You can rest assured that I have never turned my back on the Lord, but continue to put my faith in Him and Him only. I also affirm that the scriptures of the restoration testify of Christ and I try to follow them.

Now, to quote a section from your letter:

"I do know that Joseph Smith has many wives sealed to him according to the genealogy that I have!"

"I also know that he did fight polygamy for about 3 years until he was told that if he didn't implement it that he would be taken away from the earth and he would no longer be the Prophet!"

"I also know that Emma his wife left the Church!"

I appreciate your testimony, but these are all things that I DON'T know. That's why I've spent some time trying to get some information on them. Do you mean that you actually KNOW these things first hand, or that you have heard or read about them somewhere?

For example, the only records that exist that show sealings of women to Joseph Smith involve sealings that took place after his death, so he was not present at those sealings.

I don't doubt the existence of those records, I merely point out that they don't mean the same thing that they would if they showed that Joseph Smith had been present at each of his "marriages" so that somebody could have witnessed him saying "I do."

As for your question about my Dad, I think he was sealed to Joyce as well as my mother, of course, but such an act does not prove that plural marriage exists beyond the grave, it only demonstrates that he hopes or assumes that it will. Personally, I like to think that it does, because Mom and Joyce were friends when they were both on the earth together. As for Darla, I believe she was already sealed to her first husband, so she would join him when she dies.

Given the historical circumstances, and the evidence that Joseph himself tried to stamp out the plague of polygamy in his lifetime, it's an open question as to whether such an arrangement is possible in the next life. Just because Joseph opposed a man having more than one wife at a time on earth doesn't necessarily mean that a man who was married to two women at different times cannot meet them in the next life and keep them simultaneously. So, it's a good question. But it is a separate question from whether polygamy was instituted here on earth through Joseph Smith.

Nevertheless, I would like to think that a polygamous or polyandrous "family" that may exist in this life would be permitted to continue their lifestyle in the next, but I have no way of knowing if that's possible. Plenty of people right here and right now who are not associated with Mormonism live in arrangements that suit them, and it would be okay with me if they could live the way they want in the next life, too. Not my business, though.

I hadn't heard that Emma Smith left the church.

In D&C 10:67, the Lord defines his church as whosoever repenteth and cometh unto Him. My recollection is that Emma remained a faithful member of the Body of Christ to the end of her life, but I could be misinformed.

I do recall that she decided not to join the group that accompanied Brigham Young to Utah, but so did thousands of other Latter-day Saints. I wouldn't blame those who didn't feel they were up to the trek to remain behind, particularly a tired widow concerned about the desecration of her husband's body.

Anyway, those who stayed still had the Book of Mormon and the other scriptures of the Restoration, so they weren't without the fullness of the gospel.

I suppose it would have been nice if they still had a prophet who claimed revelation, but as Brigham denied having such gifts, the Saints who moved to Utah lacked that advantage also.

Jean-Luc Sansfaute said...

I loved your analysis. In the end you seem to believe that Brigham Young was an impostor though. So how do you reconcile your belief in belonging to the one true church if you don't believe that the mantle of prophetic leadership was not passed on successfully?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Jean-Luc, thanks for your questions. I have not yet formed concrete opinions about Brigham Young, as I'm motivated more by a search for truth in all things rather than any fixed belief system.

Certainly he has taught many things of value which I adhere to. I've seen many of my fixed beliefs crumble in the face of new evidence,though, so I'm in a phase now of remaining open minded and allowing myself to examine all the evidence.

This review of "Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy" is not a statement of my belief, but rather an attempt to share information that I have come across that I think may be of value to other seekers. As for your question regarding the one true church, I maintain that it is the gospel of Christ that is true, and not necessarily the institutional church, which is subject to changes in policy and direction. (I offer a fuller explanation of this at the link below.)

When we let go of the iron rod in order to focus our allegiance on earthly institutions, we put ourselves in danger of wandering onto paths that the Lord has cautioned us to avoid (1 Nephi 8:30). You can see where this kind of thinking leads with Steve's statement above advising me to "quit analyzing," as if the Lord prefers we ignore His counsel in scriptures such as D&C 9:8 and countless others. Joseph Smith was fond of quoting the admonition of Paul that the Latter-day Saints were to "prove [analyze] all things and hold fast to that which is good." That's what I'm attempting to do here at Pure Mormonism.

Dave P. said...

Steve Barnes,

The restored gospel is indeed here on the earth, but belonging to the church does not mean we surrender our agency and our pursuit of the truth. The simple fact of the matter is that people do not like being lied to and there are several examples in church history that have been conveniently altered, covered up, or "forgotten" about.

What part of the baptismal covenant says not to belittle the church in any way? What part says that we must blindly follow anyone who is in a "leadership" position over us, even when their views and policies contradict the gospel? Why is it many of those same leaders are the ones who say such things in order to polish the image of the church in the eyes of the world but also present such an attitude of absolute blind obedience that leads people to believe the Mormons are a fanatic cult?

I've walked out of plenty of Sunday School and Sacrament Meetings over the presentation of false doctrines, including the following:
* George W. Bush is a modern-day Captain Moroni.
* We should never disagree with the president of the church.
* The president of the church is the head of the church.
* We should listen to the bretheren because they're "entitled" to receive revelation/inspiration that we "regular" members cannot.
* The church has a perfectly clean history.
* Anything and everything said in General Conference is automatically considered scripture.
* And so on.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Dang, Dave, I wish I went to your ward. If anyone had said any of those heretical things in my presence I wouldn't have walked out.

I would have stood up dramatically and shouted, "SILENCE! Ye fiends of the eternal pit! I rebuke you, and command you to be still; I will not live another minute and hear such language. Cease such talk, or you or I die THIS INSTANT!”

(That's a quote from Joseph Smith rebuking the guards at Richmond jail, for those of you who might not get it.)

Anonymous said...

While I normally don't comment, I think I should. I understand a mainstream church member feeling a need to somehow get rid of polygamy. Attacking Section 132 as being a fairy tale made up by Brigham Young is certainly a good way, I suppose.
As a fundamentalist, I fully recognize that Joseph Smith taught many things to the "world" and even to the church body in order to protect the saints. Higher laws were, and still are, taught and practiced by the priesthood however.

I also (and this is where we would part in understanding) fully recognize the difference in the Church and the Priesthood. They are not, and have never been, the same thing.

While I enjoyed your attempt to discredit the New and Everlasting Covenant, I can't agree that it holds water.

I will agree, however, that mainstream members need something like this to help them reconcile.

Alan Rock Waterman said...


First: Please, comment more often.

Secondly, I guess I should have mentioned somewhere that the authors of the book are not mainstream LDS, so they aren't motivated on that account to get rid of polygamy. That branch of the Restoraton has always denied it, I'm sure you know; I don't remember what they call themselves, but they used to be Reorganized and can't use that name now because Church of Christ won't let them due to some copyright dispute.

You write "I also (and this is where we would part in understanding) fully recognize the difference in the Church and the Priesthood. They are not, and have never been, the same thing."

Ah, but you and I don't part company on that at all. I'm a big fan of the writings and research of Ogden Kraut, who has clarified issues such as this. One of my pet projects, as you would know from your reading here, is in pointing out the differences between the church, the gospel, and the priesthood, which too many members conflate in their minds into one entity these days.

It was not my intention to discredit the New and Everlasting Covenant, or to step on anyone's toes. I did put the phrase in quotation marks, but that was not to ridicule it, merely to label it as what the practice of plural marriage was from that point known as.

I honor and respect fundamentalists as my brothers and sisters in the faith, and I do not criticize your beliefs because some of them differ from my own. Rather, I simply was announcing that I no longer believed in the principle and gave the reasons why I had come to that conclusion. Those who prefer to continue in the principle, I say more power to you.

Also, I hasten to assure you that my reference to "those wacky fundamentalists" was what I was hearing from others. Those were not my words and that is not how I refer to those of you living our religion in the way you see fit.

Happy to hear from you. Please comment again.

Anonymous said...

Remember the restoration of the Priesthood (the power of God) came BEFORE the restoration of the Church. If one had the choice of having either the Priesthood (the power of God) without an organized church, or an organized church without the power of the Priesthood, one would be foolish not to choose the former. Of the latter, we have many examples in the world today from which to choose.

Also consider 4 Nephi where it speaks of the church waxing prosperous and arrogant and growing large in numbers and then falling away, in about 200 years after its founding. Sound familiar? "And this church did multiply exceedingly because of iniquity" -- notice how this verse directly ties the growth of a church with its iniquity (= lack of priesthood power) in a cause-effect relationship. Brigham and other prophets spoke frequently about how easy it would be to make Mormonism popular and acceptable by simply abandoning its principles.

Plural marriage is not the only controversial issue that has caused contention and persecution. The Saints experienced persecution, remember, BEFORE this practice even became publicly known. Consecration (United Order) for example was another controversial principle, also abandoned.

We could also discuss John Taylor's 1886 revelation at the Woolley home in Centerville, but that might be going too far afield for this thread. (Though the spiritual manifestations surrounding that revelation might be disputed, the handwritten text itself has been authenticated.)

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more. John Taylor did have a vision and recorded it. There's more evidence for Brother Taylor's vision and the events surrounding it, in fact, then there is for Joseph Smith's 1st vision. The church, for some reason, won't even let us read his diary...although it is reportedly in the 1st presidency's vault.
While I agree with Alan's observation that Brigham Young was uneasy about claiming to receive revelation, John Taylor certainly was not. The church must try to ignore it however....just imagine the consequences if they didn't.

Bruce in Montana

John Hamer said...

Rock is correct that Emma did not leave the church. After 1844, she didn't affiliate with any of the Latter Day Saint groups until April 6, 1860, when she affiliated with the RLDS Church (now known as the Community of Christ). (This didn't involve re-baptism because the RLDS Church argued at the time that it was the sole true continuation of the original pre-1844 church.) Emma continued her work for the Restoration, preparing her third hymnal (which the RLDS Church published in 1861). She also had preserved the JST manuscripts which entrusted to an RLDS publications committee which published them for the first time in 1867. Emma remained a faithful member of the church until her death in 1879.

Dave P. said...

Bruce in Montana,

Your post helped me remember one of the questions I wanted to list last night but couldn't quite remember:

Where is the Book of Joseph (of Egypt)? There are claims that it was translated along with the Book of Abraham.

Anonymous said...

Well, that's getting way off thread but personally I don't think the Book of Joseph were ever translated and probably ended up in the fire that burned the majority of the papyri.
Of course, opinions vary.

I really enjoy your blog Alan. It's refreshing to see members recognize that things are somewhat out-of-order and express their concerns.

On that note I would say that if we keep the gospel of Jesus Christ at the forefront of our concerns, this other stuff will someday be "small potatoes" IMHO. (...but it's still fun to ponder :) )

Bruce in Montana

Dustin Wills said...

Excellent post! I've avoided talking about this subject due to the controversy that follows... I've been of the opinion for a very long time now that Joseph Smith was NOT a polygamist. I never felt comfortable talking about this with members or non-members because of all that it implies. If it is true that Joseph was not a polygamist, then consecutive generations of the main body of the church have been getting false information. Both Member and Non-members believe he was a polygamist.
DNA tests have been done on a number of Joseph's alleged wives' descendants and found that each of those tested had no genetic link to Joseph Smith. A few of these tests are still in the works...
Emma and her sons had always maintained that Joseph was monogamous.
Upon studying the topic of marriage and polygamy in the Book of Mormon, I found only scripture against the practice, and none for it.
Using Book of Mormon evidence alone, I've always been doubtful of Joseph Smith and polygamy.
Thanks, for this post.

Anthony E. Larson said...

Good on you, Rock. Make 'em think! In my opinion, if we aren't a little uncomfortable with one aspect or another of the doctrine/policy, we aren't making any progress. That is to say, progression requires at least a small degree of instability or questioning. Otherwise no questions are asked, no new ideas are considered and the "line upon line, precept upon precept" notion fails. So, keep up the good work, Rock. I'm wit' cha.

Isaac said...

Steve Barnes, Please tell us how one can "stand up for the truth and quit analyzing," both at the same time. Isn't some type of analysis required in order to find truth in the first place? The main purpose of this life is to use our agency, not surrender it to the hive mind.

So how do all of you believers reconcile your steadfast faith in polygamy with President Hinckley's statement to Larry King?

Urban Koda said...

My mind is officially blown right now... I'm still a little skeptical, but with some of the other stuff Brigham Young was involved with, this does actually seem like a plausible theory. I still wonder about the burning of the Nauvoo Expositor, young Miss Kimball's diary or the Fanny Alger affair, but perhaps the book will give more insight into those questions.

Guess I'll be adding another book to my library shortly. Thanks!

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Koda, yes, Volume II has at least a couple of chapters on William Law and the Expositor affair. I haven't read that volume yet because I've been kind of waiting for the hardbound version. I don't cotton to reading entire books online.

I probably won't wait, though, because volume I has hints of what is to come with Law, and my inquiring mind wants to know. For one thing, John Bennett asked Law to plead on his behalf. There are hints that Law wanted to depose Joseph and become head of the church himself. (For a man known to be a human oracle, Joseph was not a very good judge of character. You've got Bennett, Law, Brigham, and Rigdon, all in posistions of the highest authority, and all wanting to be Honcho Nnumero Uno.)

In light of what I now know, I've revised my thinking as to what motivated Joseph Smith to go postal on the Nauvoo Expositor. In the past I assumed it was because Joseph didn't want his illicit actions revealed publicly; now I think he was just so fed up with the constant barrage of lies that he lost control of his temper and just said "enough!"

I assume the Prices also comment somewhere on the Fanny Elger incident. In my own attempts to get to the bottom (get it? get it?!) of Fanny, I come up more confused than anything else. Everyone who speaks of it seems to have gotten the story years later from somebody else. There is no first hand account.

If I recall correctly, Richard Bushman in Rough Stone Rolling traces the story to the wife of Brigham who left to write and lectured back east about her scandalous life as one of Brigham's harem. I forget her name. (I could go get the book and look it up, but that would require walking across the room, and I lack the ambition.)

As she tells it, she heard the story from another wife of Brigham. This woman told a lot of falsehoods about the Mormons, so the best source we have about Fanny Alger appears to be an unreliable gossip.

Dave P. said...

Actually if you read in "The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith" he relates numerous dreams he has where he's with his guardian angel and how several of those people who plotted his destruction either couldn't get along well enough with each other to do anything, their attempts would fail/backfire completely, or they would end up in a position where he couldn't help them after figuratively throwing him in a pit despite his wanting to.

I'd say Brother Joseph (and yes he wanted to be called that, not "President Smith" or anything like it) was just doing the best he could to love others as the Savior would, even if they ended up stabbing him in the back- but then the sin would be on their heads and not his. Of course he wasn't perfect and the Lord reminded him of that numerous times. I am curious about his actions regarding the Nauvoo Expositor as well, not to mention I'd love to ask him more about his presidential platform (given that, despite his claim to be the greatest friend of the Constitution, he did have some unconstitutional ideas in there).

Fred said...

Excellent post. I'd love to leave some poignant thoughs, but so many have already been posted that I doubt I could offer much. What I like most about the article and many of the comments here are a challnge to carefully and prayerfully study this issue and rely solely on our Father in Heaven for a confirmation of the truth and not the arm of flesh. If we blindly follow men, we will likely be deceived. That is why Moroni tells us to ponder and pray so that we may know the truth. Hel. 6:38 states that the majority of the righteous were seduced into believing in the works of the secret combination. To sum it up, search, ponder and pray and never rely on the arm of flesh. Thanks Rock, excellent post.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I have to agree with you Dave. If Joseph had an achille's heel, it was that he loved too much. But then, I don't consider that a weakness. I'd rather love and trust than go around being distrustful and cynical. In the end, love won the day for Joseph Smith.

I also much prefer the custom back then of calling the prophet Brother Joseph. Some time ago I decided to see if I couldn't get us back to those days, so I took to calling people in the ward Brother [First Name] instead of the way we do it now, which is Brother or Sister [Last Name].

So far, my effort hasn't hasn't caught on and taken off as a trend, but I'm one man making a difference in one ward...

Happily Married Like You! said...


I have enjoyed many of your posts and generally feel that you are a deep thinker who does your homework.

I have particularly enjoyed your recent post on war.

I LOVE the final conclusion that you have arrived at about polygamy and I agree with you, after studying it for many years myself, that section 132 is a false revelation containing false doctrines.

I also LOVE how you are challenging your audience to come out of their comfort zone and to address an incredibly doctrinally and historically sensitive issue. One that will no doubt play an important role in the upcoming tests that the church will be going through.

I respect the gumption it took for you to publicly admit that you are rejecting a well established doctrine of the church and a revelation that has been in the D&C for many, many decades.

To the extent that your post encourages your audience to learn to think for themselves and to question human priesthood authority and to rely on the written word of God under the context of taking the Holy Spirit as their guide, I think this post is a good one.

Beyond that, I find your book report and the reasoning behind your borrowed historical and doctrinal conclusions pretty weak from both a doctrinal and historical point of view.

After reading the post I was left with the feeling that you first made up your mind about polygamy based on the fact that you are madly in love with your wife, you desire to be loyal to her, you don't feel a need for additional wives and you have no desire to complicate your life by acquiring additional wives. ( Don’t get me wrong, I find it admirable that you love your wife and feel that she meets your needs, I just not sure that is how you determine false doctrine. Sometimes the gospel requires us to do things we don't want to)

After arriving at that conclusion for emotional reasons, it appears you finally found a book that justifies the belief you want to have.

I don’t mean to sound so harsh, but IMHO, you didn’t really address any of the really difficult issues and your logic (and the logic in the book you are reporting on ) in this particular post seems lacking to me.

Here are a few problems I see in your supposition-

1-You failed to address the fact that numerous biblical prophets and patriarchs practiced polygamy hence your problem is not just with BY but with many of Gods servants in the OT.

2-You failed to address the fact that Joseph Smith received a well documented revelation in 1831 that introduced the principal of biblical polygamy.

3-You failed to distinguish between biblical polygamy and the doctrine that requires being sealed to multiple wives in order to reach the celestial kingdom. Until that differentiation is made everyone is confusing the two.

4-You would have us believe that 33 women were all pressured by Brigham Young into lying about their experiences with JS pertaining to being sealed to, and in most cases having sex with Joseph Smith… never mind that many of these women left the church and despised Brigham Young, yet they held true to their testimonies about the experiences they had with Joseph Smith!

5-You conveniently neglect to explain why three women who previously had good standing in the church, including SR’s daughter, rejected Josephs advances and testified that he tried to induce them into the practice. What motivation did they have for doing so? They each paid a huge price for bringing their experiences to light and yet they held to their stories.

Someone who is watching said...

part two-

6-You failed to explain why so many men in high places also testified that Joseph secretly taught and practiced polygamy and the celestial sealing of multiple wives. One of the most highly thought of people in all of the history of the church was William Marks, a man of incredible integrity who had been serving as the stake president in Nauvoo. And had previously served as the stake president before that. He not only testified that Joseph practiced it, he also testified that Joseph repented of it. What was his motivation to lie about it?

7-You conveniently provide a quote by William law stating that Joseph had not practiced it, but you failed to point out that once he found out the truth, he became so angry and distraught that he led the group who attempted to publically expose the secret works of darkness with the printing press. Why would people like William Marks, William Law, Sidney Rigdon and a younger and older brother of Joseph Smith’s all acknowledge that Joseph lived it if they knew he did not? Are all of these church leaders along with 33 women that participated and 3 women that refused to practice it all lying about it? Why? This is not to mention all of the other personal friends of JS like Benjamin F Johnson and countless others that also testified that JS was secretly teaching and practicing polygamy.

8-You failed to acknowledge that it is a well documented fact that Hyrum presented the doctrine before the high council to get it voted on.

9-You failed to debunk the Book of Mormon teaching that God does require polygamy under certain circumstances

10-You implied that two separate people with completely different agendas and very little affinity for each other were the real originators of the practice… on the one hand you paint John c Bennett as the sinister person behind the curtain that led the church astray in his high and respected church and political positions by duping women into the act by telling them that JS was endorsing the spiritual wife doctrine and yet you also imply that Brigham Young was the person lurking behind the scenes promoting the doctrine because he had learned it from the Cochronites.

Who is the real culprit that did such an incredible job of uniting such a large and diverse array of people into a secret combination to lie about JS?

This has to be the mother of all conspiracy theories!

I would suggest that anyone who reads ALL of “in Sacred Loneliness”, and “Mormon Hierarchy”, and “Portrait of Religious Excess” and the “Autobiography of William Law” will find that the amount of credible historical research contained in those books supporting the supposition that JS practiced polygamy is OVERWHELMING and shows the bias and inadequacy of the RLDS position on this topic.

Again, I agree with you that section 132 is very problematic and inconsistent with the fulness of the gospel as contained in the four standard works but your reasoning in arriving at your conclusion is very disconcerting to me.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Well, Happily Married, I don't put myself out as an expert on the subject of plural marriage in the church. All I'm doing here is sharing my discovery of a book that calls into question many of my previously held beliefs on the subject.

To respond to your many points regarding questions that I failed to address, well, my answer is: How the hell should I know?

My review of "Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy" is merely a feeble attempt at an introduction to the topic introduced by the authors. My efforts here only scratch the surface, and are weak and inadequate compared to the book itself. My presentation doesn't come close to the efforts of the authors, who spent thirty years attempting to get to the bottom of the controversy. My opinion is that they did a bang-up job.

Many of the concerns you put forth are addressed by the authors in their book, and I believe the rest have been covered in volume II, which I have not yet read and I remind you that I did not write, so you're asking the wrong guy here.

The authors continue to add more information online as they uncover it, so I would refer all questions to those who have spent their lives involved in the topic rather than a dilettante like me. Most of what I know about polygamy I gleaned, like you, from the books you refer to above, and I am prepared to admit that the efforts of Richard and Pamela Price have introduced an element of doubt into what were once my strongly held beliefs.

I don't know that Brigham Young gathered all 33 alleged wives together and told them what to say. What does seem apparent is that by the late 1870's the Mormons were under attack for the practice not only by the gentiles back east, but also by Emma Smith's denials circulated in the eastern papers. the government had sent an Army against them over it, for crying out loud. The Utah Mormons were thrown into a flurry of panicked defense.

The doctrine had evolved into the foremost tenet of the church, which had to be defended at all costs. Fred Collier's book "Unpublished Revelations of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" had me convinced that plural marriage was the overriding end-all and be-all, more important than any other Christian virtue. There was nothing more important to the early Utah Saints than living "the Principle". It had to be defended at all costs.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

To "Happily Married" (continued):

I have no problem believing that those women would say anything to protect their lifestyle, violently under attack as it was, for by then they firmly believed in it, and considered it a badge of honor to be sealed to the Prophet. After all, they WERE sealed to him by this time; he just wasn't present to participate.

It's clear from simply reading the information the Prices provide on Eliza R. Snow that she lied somewhere, for she both testified that Joseph Smith was not a polygamist, and then later testified that he was. She also did nothing to dispel rumors of her being pushed down the stairs by jealous Emma, although the Prices debunk that rumor through forensic examination of the staircase, along with excerpts from Eliza's Journal at the time.

History is the science of discovering what happened. Can we ever know for certain what actually happened in any historical inquiry? Probably not. But when viable evidence is introduced which calls into question what we previously understood to have taken place, the responsible thing to do is to revise our thinking to accept the possibility until further information comes to light which requires us to revise them yet again. I'm very much interested in seeing anything that debunks the research put forth in the book under review.

It is certainly true, as you say, that the conclusions arrived at by the Prices are more comfortable to me than those I previously held. I like to think of myself as a dispassionate observer of history, because that is the only clear way to ascertain the truth about anything. But in this instance, ya got me. I don't want to believe in polygamy as a divine commandment, so I do incline toward evidence that suggests it was all a bunch of hooey. However, I'm open to further light and knowledge.
I'll never close my mind to further inquiry.

We may never know all the facts here, but a good place to start would be to examine the evidence provided in "Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy", Volumes I and II. If you're serious about finding answers to your questions, look there. Don't look at me.

Mark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

One thing is for sure, whether Plural Marriage is a true principle or not, True Love for your spouse is the requirement to be worthy of living it, in this life or the next. Any righteous man or woman would have True Love & thus would rather die than live it in this life. They would be repulsed at the thought of it, especially the men. That's how you can tell a righteous man.

If righteous men were ever asked to live it they would only do so & endure it because they were forced to by their wife & God.

So when you describe how you feel about your wife & how you have no desire for anyone else, you show you possess the Spirit more then most all men.

For it is & always has been, the carnal & devilish desire of most all men to want, hope for or look forward to having more than one woman or wife. Righteous men do not have such desires, hopes or thoughts to live such a thing.

So, I commend you for your love & faithfulness for your wife, that is so very rare today. May your love always be so.

Mark said...

don't know why Joseph would fight polygamy.
What about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? Were they all wicked because they practiced plural marriage?

This scripture in Alma seems to indicate the practice of plural marraige in Nephite society (note Amulek saying the Lord hath blessed "my women"):

Alma 10: 11 For behold, he hath blessed mine house, he hath blessed me, and my women, and my children, and my father and my kinsfolk; yea, even all my kindred hath he blessed, and the blessing of the Lord hath rested upon us according to the words which he spake.

Happily Married Like You! said...

Thank you for your responses Rock.

I appreciate your honesty.

I have visited the restoration bookstore and read "Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy" many times over the years as I have worked my way through the polygamy maze.

I am glad you have pointed out that they have added some additional articles.

I am always interested to hear what someone has to say in defense of their beliefs, however, their flavor of apologetic journalism doesn't ring true to me in light of the wealth of other historical documentation that has come forth over the years, nevertheless, if it works for you... that is great.

For me the answers are found in many of the OT prophecies that actually foretold the spiritual wife controversy.

If there is anyone visiting this blog who has come to the conclusion that JS DID in fact teach and practice the spiritual wife doctrine and yet you still get nauseated every time you read section 132 and you feel it is not congruent with the doctrines taught in the Bible, Book of Mormon and unaltered sections of the D&C, I can assure you there is another scenario to be found.

Keep searching.

TruthSeeker said...

I have so much to say on this subject, but for now I will keep it brief.

The writer above said "9-You failed to debunk the Book of Mormon teaching that God does require polygamy under certain circumstances."

Well, that just isn't true, and I have talked to other members of the church during my life and none of us ever felt that it really said that. It felt like a rationalization or a cheat. I took Rock's advice and checked out the book online. Chapter 18 deals with this myth. It is clear that the Mormons created their own permission by twisting one tiny phrase to justify their evil practice.

All the rest of Jacob's lecture is a hard sermon against it, and then he opens a loophole? Give me a break.

I have always had doubts about Polygamy. Either "The Dark One" took this church off it's course through polygamy or it came from God. I have always put my faith in the Book of Mormon concerning this. God says no.

Now Either Jacob 2- COMPLETELY puts this to rest, and the men of the Restoration went against "the sobbings of the hearts of the women and little ones of this church." Because trust me, they did.

I have read too many stories of the loneliness and hardships these women suffered. I come from a SAD Polygamist history myself-(Learned about MUCH later in my life.) I hate what this church did to those women. Brigham Young sent them off to the four corners of the territory to scrape out a living for the rest of their lives so that he could lay claim to the borders of his Deseret kingdom.

I have been taught that the grand prize I get at the end of my life is the opportunity to share my husband with a lot of other women? Well, you can give my prize to somebody else.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Happily Married,

I appreciate hearing from you that you have read the book. If it doesn't ring true for you, I respect you for that. At least you've done the honest research. I've heard from some on another forum who are unwilling to examine any evidence that would challenge their fixed beliefs.

So because of your willingness to hear all sides of the issue, I'm putting you on my list of people I like.

By the way, your mention of an 1831 pro-polygamy revelation doesn't ring a bell with me. Can you elaborate?

Happily Married Like You! said...


I am simply taking the Book of Mormon at face value;

27 Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none;
28 For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts.
29 Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes.
30 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."

That seems to be saying that God may at his discretion command people in certain circumstances to have people raise up seed by taking more that one wife.

Your disagreement is not with me, it is with God.


The revelation I was speaking about is found on page 195 of "The Mormon Experience". It is also found in Vol One of Unpublished Revelations.

Here is an excerpt-

‘For it is my will, that in time, ye should take unto you wives of the Lamanites and Nephites that their posterity may become white, delightsome and just, for even now their females are more virtuous than the gentiles.’

As I recall, WW Phelps and six others claimed to be present when Joseph uttered the prophecy in 1831 and they asked him how it would be possible for them to obey that commandment since they were married men....

I am not saying whether it was a true revelation or not, however, it appears that there is evidence that JS was at least addressing the issue as early as 1831, although the revelation does not mention the practice as being a requirement for a higher glory but rather for the purpose of raising up seed.


Thank you for putting me on the list

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Hey, Jeff:


Spektator said...

If blogs are meant to push people to rethink their personal dogma, you score a 10 in my book.

Here is were my feeble brain has an issue with the commentary. We have two premises that are the basis for my dissonance. We are told that the church would 'fill the earth.' We are also told that (at the time of BY) all must practice plural marriage to be placed in the highest level of the celestial kingdom.

Nature is not on our side. Statistics show that in any large group, the ratio of males to females is close to 50/50. In Nauvoo, during the early 1840s and in Utah in the 1850-60s, this same ratio is found. If those men engaging in plural marriage only took two wives, that would mean that one half of the males could not participate. More wives would mean an even greater proportion of the males would be left out of the 'practice.'

It is for this very reason that a society practicing plural marriage must do two things; either 'recruit' many more women, or exile sufficient males to allow those that remain to have access to an appropriate number of females. Since those practicing plural marriage today have not been able to attract more females, we find ourselves with the 'lost boys;' exiles from the community.

I do not believe this is what God's plan requires. It is for this reason that I believe plural marriage is only viable in certain conditions (example, war causes a change in the ratio of men to women). My research found that the ratio in Nauvoo in the early 1840's and in Utah during the 1850-1880's was again close to 50/50. So I would suggest that these conditions did not represent the exceptional conditions where plural marriage is condoned by the Lord. After all, isn't He the one who decides that birth ratio?

I see this as a no-win situation for the corporate church. Either the practice of plural marriage is required as found in Section 132 and the church abandoned the practice resulting in apostasy; or the practice was not condoned by the Lord and Brigham Young led the church astray and put the church in apostasy. Take your pick.

Anonymous said...

I question where the idea that "those practicing plural marriage today have not been able to attract more females" come from.
The AUB and the independent fundamentalists that I associate with don't seem to have any problem at all. In fact, the opposite is true. Eligible families are many times overwhelmed with ladies wishing to join their families. With respect, Spektater, you may be using the FLDS as a model for all fundamentalists...this would be a mistake. The vast majority of fundamentalist mormons are NOT FLDS.
I think that when we were told that this gospel will fill the earth, the "mother" Church and the "father" priesthood were united. When they are united again, I'm sure that will be the case.
As an ex-mainstreamer, I totally understand the frustration at having to throw JS, BY, and JT's teachings under the bus. That's really chopping away at the roots IMHO. And to use an old fundamentalist cliche....A stream is always purest at it's source.

Bruce in Montana

Spektator said...

So, Bruce... What is the population of the AUB and other independent fundamentalists? How many men 'leave' and how many women are recruited?

I would also be interested in how you managed to put plural marriage into the fulness of the gospel. I don't want to sound hostile but I have been down that route. According to Joseph Smith - History 1:34, the fulness of the gospel is found in the words of Christ during his visit to the Nephites. I can't find any mention of the practice.

Anonymous said...

No hostility taken Spektator. We're all on different rungs and can never learn and grow if we close our minds. :)
As far as populations, the AUB is estimated at 6-9K and independents are estimated at around 15K....depends on who you ask.
The AUB, unlike the FLDS and others, revere the Church more than many Church members. They see it as a devine, if temporarily wayward, institution that is doing a wonderful job of spreading the BoM around the world. In fact, when one is baptised, they are confirmed as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints...the records are preserved until the day that "the temple doors will be opened to all rightous saints".
I've never seen anyone "recruited". Their view is that those seeking higher truths will find it. It seems to be working out pretty well.

Re: the fullnes of the gospel being found in the words of Christ during his visit to the Nephites....please see 3 Nephi 26..verses 6-9 or so. It doesn't seem that we are privy to the higher teachings that were taught (see verse 8)..... not yet, anyway.

Have a great weekend folks.

Bruce in Montana

Spektator said...

Regarding the fulness of the gospel, Moroni said this to Joseph:

"He also said that the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants;"

I take your response to mean that only 1% of the fulness of the gospel is contained in the Book of Mormon. I don't think that was the intent of this scripture. is a reference for what I would define as the gospel which I believe is clearly defined in the Book of Mormon.

As far as the Book of Mormon is concerned, I would expect that you are included in the context of the 'gentiles' as are the rest of the Mormon movement. So the prophecies would equally apply to you. Rock brought up 3 Nephi 16 as an example.

I would be interested in continuing a discussion offline if you are game,

Insana D said...

Tiger Woods vehemently opposes infidelity!! McDonald's vehemently opposes fat and sugar injected into it's food like products!! George Duhbya Bush vehemently opposes stupidity!! Rush Limbaugh vehemently opposes bloated gas bags from Hell!!

Sorry Rock, all the explanations and justifications can't bring your theory back to center because Joseph Smith was a full out liar in almost every single matter and nothing he ever said, did, or stood for has any bearing in truth. The BOM is so full of holes and made up crap that to affiliate TRUTH and Joseph Smith in the same breath sort of takes away your own credibility.

There's just too much evidence that he was a philandering crooked horn dog, hell bent on banging anything he could get his hands on. Those silly men who think they're following some righteous plan by a loving God to use up and marginalize women for time and all eternity as "jewels in their crown" surely cannot claim to love their own wife or daughters. How could any man watch a woman be so humiliated, so sorely used, so demeaned and then say he loves her?

Had I been Emma Joseph Smith would have lived out his sorry days as a mute Eunich. She would have done the world a huge favor.

Steve said...


Given your conclusion, how do you view the various presidents and apostles and members who swore that Joseph introduced them to plural marriage and that it was a commandment from heaven?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Well, Steve, it looks like somebody's been telling fibs.

If you're asking me to figure out who was telling the gosh honest truth and who was not; well, I'm still in the process of learning.

Nor have I really concluded anything; I'm simply sharing information which was new to me and which I find fascinating. All I can conclude from that information is that not everything I previously believed happened, happened necessarily the way I believe it happened.

It seems to depend upon how one interprets the available evidence whether Joseph Smith was lying to cover up his evil deeds, as my friend Insana D above asserts; or whether one believes as the Prices do that Smith's successors insidiously "attached his name to their crimes" to give their practice legitimacy.

The religion founded by Joseph Smith was, by and large, libertarian in its outlook. Under Brigham Young, the church took on a decidedly authoritarian tone. That authoritarian rule affected how the society perceived its own recent past.

In my next blog entry, I think I'll address this question of how we can determine whether certain beliefs are historically correct. Or whether that's even possible in many cases.

As to how I personally feel about polygamy: It's one thing for any society to consider plural marriage permissible for those wishing to practice it; it's quite another to insist that it is a mandatory commandment of God. I can tolerate the former but I reject the latter.

Anonymous said...

Rock stated:
"It seems to depend upon how one interprets the available evidence whether Joseph Smith was lying to cover up his evil deeds, as my friend Insana D above asserts; or whether one believes as the Prices do that Smith's successors insidiously "attached his name to their crimes" to give their practice legitimacy."

Or a third option...Joseph offered the public and the mainstream church what they could handle and certain members of the priesthood the higher laws.

Starting on page 255 in TPJS, there is an interesting piece called "Happiness the Design of Existence". It's actually from a letter to Nancy Rigdon. He speaks of God giving Solomon "every desire of his heart". And what was Solomon's desire? Multiple wives and concubines.

Just an observance and worth reading with an open mind IMHO.

Bruce in Montana

Anonymous said...


It seems odd that you would pick an obscure statement from a letter during a very dark time in LDS church history to suggest Solomon as our great prototype since he is perhaps one of the greatest examples of someone that went from being very wise and righteous to being very carnal and fallen.

Why would Enoch or Elijah or Melchizedek or Peter or James or John or some other righteous monogamist High Priest that stayed true to God not be a better prototype than someone who apostatized?

1 Kings 11:1-3 reports,
But King Solomon loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharaoh: women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites; from the nations of whom the LORD had said to the children of Israel,

“You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.”

Solomon clung to these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart.

First Kings 11:1-3 indicates that King Solomon had 700 hundred wives and 300 hundred concubines, many from lands of which God had previously instructed the Israelites to avoid intermarrying.

God knew that such intermarrying would lead to the worship of false gods.

Why, then, did Solomon do this?

Is it possible that Solomon’s heart was not right with God regarding many of the desires he had?

Bruce the polygamist, you have provided absolutely nothing of any credible scripural substance to suggest that multiple wives is a requirement of the fulness of the Gospel or that it is a requirement for the highest salvation in all of your subtle comments…

and now you are suggesting that an obscure statement from Joseph Smith implies that Solomon is our righteous prototype!

What is it about section 42, the law of Zion and the commandment for a man to only have one wife that so completely transcends your intellectual, doctrinal and spiritual radar?

Solomon was ultimately and utterly disobedient to the Lord.

He was apparently so obsessed with power and wealth that it overshadowed his spiritual life and he ended up falling into apostasy.

He worshipped some of the false gods of the women who became married to him.

Moreover, in marrying more than one woman, Solomon was going against God’s revealed will regarding monogamy.

From the very beginning God created one woman for one man (see Genesis 1:27; 2:21-25).

Deuteronomy 17:17 explicitly instructed the king not to “multiply wives.”

Moses’ law said, the king “shall not multiply horses to himself… Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold” (Deuteronomy 17:16-17).

So Solomon sinned in various ways—(1) he engaged in polygamy, (2) he violated God’s commandment against marrying pagans, which ultimately led to his own apostasy, (3) he collected huge numbers of horses (a large chariot army), and (4) he gathered vast amounts of gold and silver.

Yes happiness is the design of existence.

And yes God often gives people the desires of their hearts... regardless of whether those desires are righteous or wicked.

The desires of carnal men become their downfall.

God often gives us enough rope to hang ourselves.

One of the desires of Solomon’s heart was to have lots of wives.

We must remember however that ancient scripture warns us that when idolaters approach the Lord, he often answers them according to the desires of their hearts.

Anon. 700

Anonymous said...

Thanks 700,
Maybe I wasn't clear (nothing new for me)
What I should have emphasised from Brother Joseph's statements is that God many times requires things from us that in other instances would be abominations.
Please read his statements and see if you agree.
I'm not a practicing polygamist but I have many friends that are, as well as many friends/family members in the mainstream church. I certainly support the principle and believe there are some who are to be practicing it until things are set back in order.
I guess I really brought that up as an example of how deeply I believe JS advocated plural marriage for some. As you know, it's a proposal letter of sorts trying to convince Sister Rigdon to be one of his spiritual wives.

Bruce in Montana

Anonymous said...


I also have several friends that are polygamists.

Nothing I say is meant in a personal way towards any of them. I am simply stating my beliefs pertaining to doctrine.

I am aware of a fringe fundamentalist group that is located in Montana, hence I guess I assumed you were part of that group.

Nevertheless, it appears you are a polygamist in your heart. (as a man thinketh... etc.)

I do agree with you and the inference in the letter that sometimes God requires things that in other instances would be abominations, HOWEVER when it comes to eternal ordinances and eternal laws, Joseph Smith taught that God will never give a new true revelation that contradicts another previous true revelation.

That is one way we can tell if a doctrine or revelation is false.

That is just one of many, many reasons why I find section 132 (in context of section 42 and other scriptures) to be problematic.

Yes I am aware of the proposal letter to Nancy Rigdon... and her reply to Joseph.

She is one of three women I am aware of who had the moxie to tell Joseph to go to hell when he made advances.

I am so proud of her! What a great woman disciple of Christ was at a very early age. She was taught well by Sidney.

She listened to the gospel message instead of worshiping the messenger.

How many of us are confident enough in our own understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ and our own relationship with God that we could avoid the temptation and social pressure of blindly following someone because of their priesthood position and popularity?

How many of us would allow our reputation to be tarnished for the truth as she and a few other women apparently did?

Thanks for your response.

I understand where you are coming from, I just don't agree with you.

You need to do better than a vague ref to additional information coming forth in the future made in 3rd Nephi, King Solomon and a letter to Nancy Rigdon to justify the spiritual wife doctrine.

Anon 700

Charly said...

I see polygamy as something fairly uncomplicated, simply an attempt by a religious/societal organization to control, regulate, and differentiate bodies & sexuality. Wooh, shocking. I find the Fourth Lateran Council's 1215 banning of clandestine marriages more interesting to ponder, for instance.

non american said...

What Rock has written here is very interesting and I am going to order that book today.

My question is, where does that leave the Church today? If Brigham Young was lying, does that mean the Presidential authority did not cleanly pass from Joseph Smith to Brigham Young to our present Prophet?

This is where my dilemma lies. I've always had a problem with Brother Brigham but then I've thought to myself "but if Brigham wasn't called of God, does that mean our present Prophet isn't called of God?" and I don't know if I'm ready for the answer to that if the answer is indeed NO.

JSDefender said...

I enjoyed your post. You did an excellent job of summarizing the book and its position about Joseph. I strongly encourage you to read Volume II online before it comes out in print. The additional evidence of Joseph's fight against polygamy is amazing. Some of the issues raised in the comments to your blog are covered there. New chapters are posted to the site about every three months and I understand that the entire work, when completed, will be from four to five volumes long.

I have a blog, "In Defense of Joseph," at which you may find interesting.

Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

I loved this post. As I have studied polygamy, I feel that the answer is close to this. I think that Joseph Smith may have been involved in a few sealings of himself to other women as a test, but I don't believe he ever slept with another woman besides Emma. I think that it got out of control after that, and that Brigham Young was the main culprit. Knowing about the Cochranites makes a lot of sense. I look forward to reading the book.

Neal P said...

Rock, are you open to the possibility that JS spoke openly against polygamy, but in private promulgated polygamy in the inner circle?

Is it possible that the Lord directed him in that, that it was for a few at first, before it went public?

Anonymous said...

And Rock,
Along with what Neal said, are you open to the possibility that the saints couldn't live up to the higher laws so the Lord simply put them back in the hands of a few who would/could?
This IS the last dispensation, so the law will never be taken from the Earth again.
It's an interesting concept but admitting it leads to all kinds of problems for a mainstream member. The biggest problem would be, of course, that the higher priesthood and the body of the Church are out-of-order (as E.T. Benson said) and that Brother Monson does not have all the keys. That's a heck of a pill to swallow and it took me most of my adult life to get it down.

Bruce in Montana

non american said...

You may be interested in a discussion going on at about the book. I posted a link to your page there. It's under the Black & White thread.

Jeff Spector said...

Interesting. the Prices gave me that book years ago when I visited their bookstore and bought a bunch of stuff. they also sent me things for which I paid them afterwards for it. Try to get Deseret Book to do that!

Anyway, I read through the book and thought it was a bunch of hooey, but now you've convinced me to re-read it. I've come a long way in my thinking about Church History, so it is worth another read. right after the MacKay book!

jmb275 said...

HOLY CRAP BATMAN! I'm having cog dis all over again! Oh how I wish we could get the story of Mormonism right.

I'm going to have to get this book and read it. The implications for such a revision as this are HUGE!

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Bruce and Neal,

Yes, I'm open to any possibilities, and previously believed the propositions you both put forth. They don't seem tenable to me right now given the further research I've done.

What I would like to see now is a refutation of the things the Prices have presented. I would like to see the dialogue continue back and forth until the truth finally shakes out.

Meanwhile, my mind is still open.

Alan Rock Waterman said...


I hear ya, brother.

I don't think we'll ever stop having cognitive dissonance as long as we continue studying the history of this church. Talk about "being tossed to and fro". Every time I turn around I'm learning something that contradicts what I thought I knew before.

If the leaders of the church hadn't painted itself into a corner so many times in the past with so many absolutes, we might have had something resembling a unified theory of our religion by now.

jmb275 said...

"If the leaders of the church hadn't painted itself into a corner so many times in the past with so many absolutes, we might have had something resembling a unified theory of our religion by now."

Amen to that!

Newly Housewife said...

The one thing I have a slight problem with this article (besides the fact that its on the internet and thus open to debate)--is when you speak of Joseph Smith wanting to get rid of all the members that practice polygamy.

With that in mind, if Joseph Smith had his way Brigham Young never would have held office. Likewise neither would any of the other polygamist leaders.

But I do have to ask how is the Priesthood separate from the Church, and likewise the gospel is separate as well? Are you mainly speaking of those that abuse the Priesthood and claim what is said through the men that hold it is automatically scripture/gospel that should be followed in the church? Or are you talking about another thing, in which case I'd love it for someone to explain.

I also apologize if my questions have already been addressed by someone else. This post has gotten to be quite long with all the comments, and I can't find myself the time to look through them all to find the answers.

Alan Rock Waterman said...


Some of my readers such as Dave P. have a better grasp on the topic of why the priesthood is independent of the church, so if you'll keep an eye on this column, you'll probably see them respond in the next day or two.

As I see it, the priesthood existed before the church, and the church is merely a vehicle for getting the priesthood and its ordinances "out there", just as it is a mode for promulgating the gospel. Remember, the LDS church is merely a delivery system. It is not the Holy of Holy Grand Poobah final destination for all truth. (For the difference between the Church and the Gospel, see my piece entitled "The Best Conference Talk You Never Read" from this past February.

There is already some discussion about your priesthood question in the comments section in the next post over. You can do a search by clicking Edit>Find. Another way is to use the search box at the top of my blog, but that may give you too many results, maybe not. Or just scroll the comment section on "Why Mormon History Is Not What They Say" until you see the name Dave P, then follow that discussion.

You state that if the Prices' thesis is correct, then "if Joseph Smith had his way Brigham Young never would have held office."

No, I don't think that is the conclusion I would come to. Joseph ordained Brigham to office prior to learning about his polygamous activity. In fact, Brigham wasn't converted to plural marriage until after he was a missionary for the church and was exposed to it in Maine and in England.

What Joseph would have done was remove Brigham from office, as he indicated to Nauvoo Stake President William Marks he was about to do just before he died.

I'm mostly intrigued by your indication that one of the problems you have with my article is that "it's on the internet and thus open to debate". You may have noticed that Mormonism is already all over the internet and open to debate. So what's wrong with that? Truth does not demand secrecy.

Newly Housewife said...

Its not so much that it's discussing the faith, its that I've had one too many teachers dismantle my essays because I've used sources from the internet.

I believe their words were "Any idiot can create a website", my theory was "No idiot could have an incorrect website that could be supported by more than one group of people, AND be acclaimed by more than one news outlet."

Alan Rock Waterman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alan Rock Waterman said...

Well, I'm Exhibit A that any idiot can create a website. Tell your friends.

But I'm skeptical of your teachers if they dismiss your essays simply because you cite sources on the web.

Of course, any idiot can have an opinion, but I try to link to primary sources such as the church newspapers The Times and Seasons and The Millenial Star when citing the actual words of the Prophet and others back in the day. There is much on the internet that should be further checked for accuracy, but there is much more that the internet makes much easier.

For example, I would hate to have to wade through all 26 volumes of the Journal of Discourses to find something I remembered reading once like I used to. Now I can just word search it.

Tell your teachers that any idiot can find fault with the internet.

Loren said...

Hi Alan,

Brilliant post. I can't say that I agree 100% but it's definitely food for thought. Going marginally off topic for a moment, you said in one of the comments: "God has always taken the ... position and warned us not to trust in the arm of flesh. (For those lacking the ability to translate, that means don't take the word of any human being, especially when it contradicts scripture as this one does.)"

It becomes difficult to discern who we should believe when it's a prophet that is contradicting scripture, I know their infallibility is a myth, but the scriptures are written by prophets also (in most cases). It's a bit of a conundrum, when does the word of the prophet transition to cannon thus becoming bedrock scripture that we can rely on. Is it the spirit that makes the final call, only following the standard works or something else? (Full disclosure: I'm an ex/post/anti Mormon, I'm not trying to set you up or anything. You seem like an interesting guy, I'd be interested to know your answer.)

Alan Rock Waterman said...


Since our only claim to being different from other faiths is that we claim a living prophet on the earth, we ought not to make decisive moves in any direction absent a clear and written revelation from God through that prophet. Too often our modern prophets and apostles are merely spouting their opinions mingled with scripture, and that sort of reliance on their "inspiration" rather than on a solid revelation is what gets us into trouble.

That's why in March I lamented that we don't receive counsel in general conference any more meaningful than what we hear from any secular preacher.

J.J. Dewey wrote what I feel is a valuable illustration of how we claim to have revelation all around us, but when we try to come up with even one example, we can't find any. I reprinted it here:

TRUTH said...

What amazes me the most is that you chose to believe, or rather changed your belief, in something based on historical evidence gathered by imperfect peoples, and then recompiled and vetted by imperfect peoples.

I understand how compelling the evidence can be, how everything can seem so rational and logical, so conclusive. How it all just fits together.

What a time we live in... What happened to a time when men conversed with God and Angels? When men sought the mysteries of Godliness through the divine investitures of the Holy Priesthood? What happened to dreams and visions? What happened to receiving and becoming an oracle - a holy space which receives light and perfections?

It is interesting to me that many people are so interested in the period of the restoration of the church, as if by the modern church merely following to the T the same policy or procedures as in Joseph Smiths time that would change our personal lives. The fact is that it would all be the same. If we aren't experiencing the manifestations, gifts, communications, from the Spirit of God, and Communing with Him now, it wouldn't have happened then, even if you did know Joseph Smith or Peter or Paul or anybody else, etc.

We have the same opportunity as any people in any dispensation if not more to commune with the Hosts of Heaven.

If you truly want to know if polygamy is true and why it is not only the Eternal Structure of Families but also the purpose it serves in Eternity pay the price and come unto to God to know. Then you can know for yourself.

I can tell you this... the principle will be brought back in a year... but not among the gentiles... that time has passed, but among the lamanites. In a little over 2 years the world which you know will be changed forever. I tell you in earnest.

My brother don't live by the light of others. Don't live by the methodologies or techniques or strategies of others. Go to the source. It is your privilege as a Son of God.

Ether 4
6 For the Lord said unto me: They shall not go forth unto the Gentiles until the day that they shall repent of their iniquity, and become clean before the Lord.
7 And in that day that they shall exercise faith in me, saith the Lord, even as the brother of Jared did, that they may become sanctified in me, then will I manifest unto them the things which the brother of Jared saw, even to the unfolding unto them all my revelations, saith Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of the heavens and of the earth, and all things that in them are.

13 Come unto me, O ye Gentiles, and I will show unto you the greater things, the knowledge which is hid up because of unbelief.

15 Behold, when ye shall rend that veil of unbelief which doth cause you to remain in your awful state of wickedness, and hardness of heart, and blindness of mind, then shall the great and marvelous things which have been ahid up from the foundation of the world from you—yea, when ye shall call upon the Father in my name, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, then shall ye know that the Father hath remembered the covenant which he made unto your fathers, O house of Israel.

Dyc 45
56 And at that day, when I shall come in my glory, shall the parable be fulfilled which I spake concerning the ten virgins.
57 For they that are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived—verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day.

Alma 5
46 Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.

Clint said...

Wow, this theory is interesting indeed, I`ll have to read that book. By the way, have you ever read a book titled "In sacred loneliness" by Todd Compton? I`m in the middle of this one and what an eye opener! It seems to be extremely well researched and has tons of journal entries of J.S. plural wives as well as letters by Joseph himself. Not to combat what you are saying, I find it all so damn fascinating!! Keep up the interesting thought!

Anonymous said...

Those most opposed to something are most often those secretly involved in it.

The LDS Church in the US continued practicing Polygamy after the Supreme Court Ruling. I have been waiting for some small fundamentalist group to produce a letter from the Church telling them to continue the practice of Polygamy.

Today the Church denies the earthly practice, but there are cases where polygamists in foreign countries have been granted membership. I saw it as late as 13 years ago when I lived in the Middle East.

Just like Hinckley gave convenient answers to Larry King, the Church has a convenient brand to maintain even when it is contrary to the actual actions of the Church.

Anonymous said...

TRUTH: I am interested to know how you know the principle of polygamy will be brought back in a year and what will happen in a little over two years? Sincerely interested.

Neal Rappleye said...

Interesting, to say the least.

I did not read all the previous comments, but I did notice in one of them that you said:

"What I would like to see now is a refutation of the things the Prices have presented. I would like to see the dialogue continue back and forth until the truth finally shakes out.Meanwhile, my mind is still open. "

The information posted here is very intriguing,and I too would like to see some refutation and dialogue. I am just wondering, do you know if anyone who has the necessary information and resources(i.e. has thoroughly studied out the polygamy issue themselves)has had this book brought to their attention? And if so, would you know how any of them has responded? If this has not been brought to their attention, then perhaps someone should bring it up, so the dialogue could begin.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I haven't really seen much to speak of, Neal. JSDefender has a blog here:

He discusses the issue in several posts, and he also tells me that the Prices have enough research for two and a half more books. Richard has suffered a stroke, though, and they've gotten along in years, so I think they'll be handing their notes off to someone else. JS Defender, I hope.

I would like to see Todd Compton or George Smith take a second look at the evidence, but they may be too invested in their existing books to want to do an about face.
I don't know if you've read my follow-up piece, "Why Mormon History Is Not What They Say", but you'll note that I mention that many ex-Mormons in particular don't see to want their negative opinion of Joseph messed with, and a good many believing members just don't care to get into it.

There are, of course a great many people who are intrigued with the whole thing as I am, but like I say, I haven't heard of anyone taking up the ball and either validating or refuting the Price's work.

Frankly, I think their documentation is so strong, it's almost irrefutable that Joseph Smith did fight polygamy. At the very least I might now concede that he MAY have practiced it and then repented, but you'd have to show me a pretty good case to get me to buy that at this stage.

Anyway, read the follow-up piece, because there's more reasons to doubt the testimonies of the so-called wives.

Neal Rappleye said...

I just sent a link to both this blog and the book to Brian C. Hales, the webmaster of and author of "Joseph Smith's Polygamy: History and Theology" (set to come out next year). I do not know that I'll ever get a response though.

He, like Compton and Smith, may already be too invested in the reality of JS's polygamy to change his position, but I would hope that those who continue to insist that he did practice it would at read this and give their reasons for rejecting it. That way, the rest of us who are not expert's on the topic could weigh and compare the arguments form each side.

Barb said...

I love your blog and the ideas you present. Yes, the history gets very convoluted with all the different testimonies. My personal hunch is that Joseph Smith was ambivalent about polygamy, but I also believe that John Taylor and other church insiders made plans to continue polygamy on the down-low, and that Taylor really did have some sort of spiritual experience due to his strong belief in the [then] Mormon way of life and the climate of opposition they faced.

Joe said...

Having read extensively of Joseph Smith, I was long bothered by the contradictions between Joseph Smith's public life and his alleged private life. (I should note that events preceding any polygamous allegations led me to believe that Joseph Smith was not a prophet of God; the polygamous allegations were, however, difficult to reconcile in any event.)

I was skeptical of the Price's claims, especially because I'm wary of any historian so blatant in their goals (which is a big problem with Bushman's, though in much easier refutable ways.) Still I gave their online version of the book a selective read and found many of their arguments convincing (though the Eliza Snow thing was debunked long ago.)

A few things are clear from this and previous reading I've done:

1) Polygamy was never publicly preached by Joseph Smith. This is a common problem that is glossed over. At best Joseph Smith confided his revelations to a select group of members. I think here the Prices are properly skeptical when contemporary comments are unavailable.

2) There are contemporary accounts of Joseph Smith being sealed to multiple wives. This doesn't mean he consummated those marriages, however

3) There is a record of Joseph Smith being a womanizer. Many of the early court cases were paternity cases which used his treasure hunting as a negative character reference. Given many contemporary accounts of Joseph Smith's charisma, I find these early accusations reasonably credible--note, however, that none of these had to do with polygamy.

4) I am very persuaded by the Price's argument that Brigham Young was an adulterer and imported his version of polygamy from England. Brigham Young had some really nutty and very documented doctrines. And a very big ego.

5) I find Joseph Smith's disinterest in the Book of Mormon by the late 1830s interesting. He rarely preached from it or talked about it. More importantly, while he did introduce the temple ceremony (clearly taken from masonry) I'm not convinced it was that close to what became the Mormon temple ceremony and whether he really intended it to be a temple ceremony at all (see next point for more clarity.)

6) My own reading of Joseph Smith is that at the end of his life, his view of religion was heavily evolving to the point where what he wasn't going to go forward with what we think of modern Mormonism. I even quipped once to a friend that if this were true, it could mean that his martyrdom was a setup; a coup d'état. Oddly enough, the Prices have lent credibility to my black humor.

6a) I should point out that much of modern Mormonism doesn't come from Joseph Smith at all! Many "core" doctrines didn't show up until the 1870s! and were largely consolidated by Orson Pratt and Orson Hyde. (The nature of the Godhead being one of the most astonishing examples. See Michael Quinn's writings for insights on this.)

7) If Joseph Smith did fight polygamy, that would make the modern Mormon church an even more bogus institution that I already believed. It would mean that the restored church died with Joseph Smith.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I did not know of Brian Hale's forthcoming book. I would very much like to see him, Compton, or George Smith do a detailed analysis of the Prices' book. Absent any further discussion, I still find the Price's information more convincing.

I believe Taylor and others were very sincere and totally believed the revelations they received. I just think at this stage they must have been deceived. Polygamy was so completely accepted as a true doctrine that it was impossible to consider it was not.

Someone asked me about Todd Compton. I own his book but loaned it to someone in a previous ward. I don't think I'll see that one again. Have to buy another some day.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

All of your points are excellent and well taken.

I've never understood why Joseph never taught from the Book of Mormon.

Spencer Ellsworth said...

This is really interesting stuff, Alan, and credible--but I just can't accept that it was all back-filled. There are too many accounts and too many testimonies that Joseph taught plural marriage. There are indications in the Book of Mormon in Jacob--"If I will raise up seed unto me, I shall command it."

The simplest explanation is still the best one in this case. I will check the book out, though...

It wouldn't matter one way or another to me if Joseph or Brigham screwed up in practicing polygamy; they both made some huge mistakes but the Lord's work has gone on nonetheless. However, I also drink coffee and marched against Proposition 8, so I might not be the model member...

Spencer Ellsworth said...

Joe, there are some accounts of early endowment ceremonies you can find floating around the Internet, from early exmos, going all the way back to Nauvoo. They're not all that different, although Satan used to actively heckle the audience!

During BY's time the Adam-God theory was taught as the culmination of the endowment, but that seems to have vanished as BY and JT went out. Otherwise, they describe pretty much the pre-1990 ritual.

Anonymous said...

Really well written I'm agnostic and i still understood this article.

Tim Gilson said...

I too have read both "Sacred Loneliness" and "Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy." Both are convincing in my opinion; however, I do find it interesting that most accounts of Joseph Smith's involvement in polygamy come from second or third hand accounts. And as you mentioned, you can't really take Bennett's word. He was expelled from the Masonic Lodge and Masonic Temple, and later he was expelled from Strang's church. He does not have a good record of being a trustworthy person.

Anonymous said...

Great job Rock. I too enjoy study of the polygamy issue as well as books/pamphlets on the differences between the RLDS & LDS churches as published by both churches. The most important thing to remember is original source documents/materials. There is so much misinformation & material that clutters the research. It seems too many LDS & RLDS historians are busy reading/quoting eachother's stuff & there appears to be a group mindset of what is 'reality'. Some fault Prices lack of credentials in being able to write on history & that they don't present their work for peer-review among historians. For what? the group mindset can substantially change the work to their liking?

I agree with 'JSFP', the Prices & think it's wonderful the little known evidences they have been presenting that supports Joseph's innocence. These things seem to get ignored by 'historians'. I wish they could have presented things in a better 'tone'...if that makes sense. Since 'JSFP' has been written as a series in 'Vision' magazine over the years, there is a tendency for repetition of some arguments/material calling the reader back to previous chapters.

I don't have the time/energy to respond to some of the questions raised by pro-polygamy/Joseph's guilt supporters. Suffice it to say that there is more out there on those issues & it's not as clear-cut/dry as they may believe. I can only say to them (as I do for myself): Keep studying...Read the footnoted materials for yourself...Read the notes in the back...Don't settle for quotes without considering dates/motives/original source documents.

In a court of law, a person is innocent until proven guilty. The presentation of evidence & testimony have certain rules that must be followed to be considered. One could say that Joseph Smith, Jr. has already been on trial over the polygamy issue & found innocent in the 'Temple Lot Case'. Read it.

Best Wishes,

Bradley E. Barnhart

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Six months after writing this post, I still haven't seen any first-hand evidence that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy.

Like you, I find that everything we "know" about the subject is based on second and third hand accounts flimsy hearsay presented years after his death. As far as peer review of the Price's work goes, their book has been out there for years now and I've seen no attempts by other the "experts" to refute any of it. Recently on the Mormon Apologetics Board Dan Peterson did question whether Emma had pushed Eliza Snow down the stairs, but no one touched the hot burner. I saw one reference to JSFP, but the author simply dismissed it with the typical "of course everyone knows Joseph Smith was a polygamist."

I'd welcome ANY attempt at refuting the Price's research, but I don't see any forthcoming. Like you said, the Temple Lot Case has already proven there is no evidence to "convict" Joseph.

Only mainstream Mormons who are conditioned to believe "it's all true" and ex-Mormons who are willing to accept the worst about the prophet seem to be the only ones who would accept such unsupported accusations on their face.

Anonymous said...

Rock, I'm NauvooSaint on the Mormon Apologetics Board. Who are you?


Alan Rock Waterman said...

I usually go by my own name, Rock Waterman, on any boards. I've read the Mormon Apologetics Board many times, but I don't think I've left any comments there yet. I'm a longtime fan of Dan Peterson, though.

andrew said...

i think what makes more sense, to me, is that joseph smith was trying weed out unrighteous (hello...young taking a woman away from her current husband and children?!), secret marriages and deception of women. would the lord care either way if a couple decides to enter into a polygamous marriage, without deceit and entirely based on love? after all, he did say that to 'forbideth to marry is not ordained of god.' and i am not limiting this to husbands; wives may take multiple husbands, and becoming a tribe unified in purpose and under god. guess what other blog i read...?

Dave P. said...

Actually the Lord makes it quite clear in several places that a marriage is to be one man and one wife, PERIOD. Jacob 2:30 is not an exception. Of course because we have our agency people will still practice plural marriage.

Anonymous said...

Very Interesting article. I have a fascination with polygamy. If the information is correct and Joseph is really free from the crime, then what does that say about the LDS faith today? Did God say, "Okay, Brigham Young was a dip, but he could lead, so I'll put the pieces back together for the next prophet?" Or do you think God said, "I restored many lost truths, but some how the water got muddied so I'll try again in another 2,000 years." I'm just wondering where this puts the church in your mind?

Dave P. said...

The answer is simple, Heather: God gave plenty of warnings to the members of the church about His commandments and way of doing things, but because of our free agency, He allowed these things to happen and has given the church ample time to repent of those "follies and abominations" (of which polygamy is only one, see Section 124). Now that the church has run out of time to repent, the Lord has started to take action and is in the process of cleansing the church to basically start over from scratch.

Anonymous said...

IF BY revised or Ordered documents revised/edited/created to create a False image-impression,(and it's been mostly hidden since then)THAT pretty well DESTROYS LDS CREDIBILITY, doesn't it?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I would have to conclude that the importance of the Brethren tracing their line of authority back to Joseph Smith precludes recognizing that Brigham Young seems to have broken that line.

Anonymous said...

The LDS Church is true because it has the Book of Mormon & God's true Priesthood keys, whether BY & others were righteous or not.

For unrighteous men can pass on Priesthood keys & authority to other men & it's still valid, for the sake of the innocent person, though the unworthy Priesthood holder condemns himself in using the Priesthood unworthily.

And if any Prophet or person was righteous after BY, then they could also bring truth & correct revelations to the Church.

Thus it is our vital responsibility to have the Holy Spirit as our guide to be able to discern truth from error & right from wrong from everything that has ever been written by Prophets, & we must be able to tell 'devils from saints' & 'true Prophets from false Prophets', or we will surely be deceived.

We know that we can tell true Prophets & disciples of Christ from false ones, by their Christ-like 'pure love', especially for their wife.

The truth & Priesthood is all here, we just have to be able to see it & be worthy of it.

This also means that if BY was not right in living polygamy & bringing part of the Church out west, then there were many Priesthood holders that stayed behind in Nauvoo, who could have & probably did, pass on the true Priesthood to other men through the years.

Thus, that would mean men, & maybe Church's, outside the LDS Church have the true Priesthood keys. They also have the right, as any one on earth can, to revelation if the are worthy.

You don't have to have the Priesthood or even be a member of the LDS Church to receive revelations from God.

For we know that anyone can be a Prophet or Prophetesses.

Dave P. said...

"We know that we can tell true Prophets & disciples of Christ from false ones, by their Christ-like 'pure love', especially for their wife."

I'm afraid that's not the measuring device that the Savior gave. He tells us in both the NT and BoM that we would know them by their fruits.

Also, one of the keys that Joseph Smith gave us to recognize new revelation as true revelation is that it would never contradict a previous revelation. Rock has already shown us evidence of things removed by BY because what he taught contradicted those scriptures. I've also mentioned in other threads how Section 132 contradicts the Fifth Lecture on Faith; something that the church had accepted as canonized scripture but Heber J. Grant lied and said hadn't been, so he had the Lectures removed without a vote from the church.

Anonymous said...

Love is the greatest of all 'fruits".

It is the true & only way to know the righteous from the wicked. But 1st we must possess this love to be able to judge by it.

Anonymous said...

Whether Joseph ever lived or condoned polygamy or is really beside the point.

We are all responsible to receive personal confirmation & knowledge from the 'Holy Spirit' about whether polygamy was a true principle or not.

Though it helps to know & read Joseph's 1st hand published accounts & warnings against polygamy, all the research in the world into all other iffy historical accounts will never get us the whole truth these 170 years later.

We must reason this out by the Spirit & what we already know to be true.

We must 1st possess & understand the 'Pure & True Everlasting Love of Christ' to be able to discern truth from error.

If we possess this true love, we will also possess the Holy Spirit, which is also just love.

Only by 'love' we can understand & judge if polygamy is a true principle or not.

True love means we put another's welfare above our own. We do unto others as we would have them do to us. This is the basis of all the laws & the Prophets.

Polygamy does not pass the test of True Love or the 'Do unto others' test.

Spouses are commanded to have true love for their spouse & put their needs, wishes & feelings & welfare before their own.

Men know that most wives would not like to sit or sleep home alone while he is out running after & living with other women & she has to take care of all the home & children alone & hardly ever see him. That is reality. No man would want to be in the woman's shoes.

The fact that there are many women who have such low self-respect & low self-worth that they would go along with polygamy & even say they like it, does not mean it's a true principle.

The world has always been filled with weak women willing to go along with men's abuses & even say they like it that way.

But women with high self respect & self-worth are repulsed at the thought of their husband being with another woman, as would a righteous man be if his wife was with another man.

It must be understood, that whether polygamy is or ever has been authorized or commanded by God, it does not change the fact that it is one of the most vile of all abuses to women that ever was.

The question is then, did God ever command husbands to abuse their wives & children by polygamy?

Anonymous said...


The Bible has no evidence that God ever commanded polygamy, in fact it shows it most probably was because of weak women & men who decided to live it themselves, much to their unhappiness & the unhappiness of their posterity.

Abraham was so against polygamy that he lived to almost 100 years old without having any children before he went ahead with his wife's insistence that he take Hagar to wife so she could have a child by her. Sarah seemed to lose faith & patience in God's promise to her that should would have her own child. She took matters into her own hands which she later regretted & it seems she & Abraham both repented of it. Had polygamy was rampant in those days & if it had been a commandment from God or even something ok to live, Abraham would have done it, but he didn't until forced by Sarah to make her happy, despite his questioning that it was even ok.

A righteous man would possess true love for his wife & thus, would rather die than hurt her in any way, especially not by running after other women & collecting them so that he must neglect & abuse his 1st wife.

If a righteous man was ever commanded to live polygamy he would leave it all up to his wife, to choose who the other wife would be & how it would be handled, so his wife's pain would be lessened as much as possible.

But this was not the way BY seemed to preach polygamy, he did not seem to have this true love for his wife or care about her/their feelings. In fact he threatened his wives that if they did not stop complaining & crying about the pain of having to live polygamy, he would throw them out along with their children & he would replace them.

What woman would want to marry a man who would say such things to her? Today the Prophets of the Church teach that such threats from a man or husband would be considered horrific abuse & he could lose his membership over it.

Isn't a Prophets suppose to be the example of Christ like True Love, especially for his wife & aren't we supposed to judge whether a Prophet is true by such love?

A righteous man who loved his wife would have such compassion on his wife for having to endure the abusiveness of polygamy (assuming he was forced to live it himself)& what she was going through & the pain & unfairness of it all, that 'he' would complain to God & cry more tears about it all every night, then she ever would. He would hate being with other women, he would not collect women, let alone far more than he could ever possibly take care of, emotionally or physically & he would definately not brag about & flaunt his conquests.

Anonymous said...

Continued -

Lets reason this out & liken this to ourselves, especially women, as we are told to do with all history & scriptures.

It is said that polygamy is the test of Exaltation. But I do not believe that. I know that 'True Love' is the test of Exaltation. True Love & faithfulness for a spouse, no matter what they are like.

It is no test, especially for most men, to take on more than one wife & be eternally free to court & collect women. Polygamy actually feeds & gives into men's most common carnal desire, lots of women.

Polygamy is no test, it is what most wicked men have desired & allowed themselves the prideful privilege to have for 6000 years, while being utterly past feeling to the enormous suffering & abuse & injustice it causes to women & children.

Whereas, a righteous man has no such desire or inclination, he wants just the one wife he loves. He only has eyes & desires for her alone. Even if his wife was wicked & adulterous he would continue to love her & stay faithful to her & wait for her to repent someday. He would be repulsed at the thought of being with any other woman. He would rather die than bring her any pain or abuse her in any way.

A righteous man knows that God has commanded him to give to his wife 1st, anything he may receive himself.

That holds true for polygamy, God would give women multiple spouses long before men, because of woman's greater righteousness, IF polygamy really is a blessing from God. For 'righteousness' is the 1st prerequisite to be worthy to live such a law. And only True Love can make a man righteous & worthy.

Anonymous said...


Also, we know that women are completely equal with men in marriage & society. God is no respecter of persons. Wives have equal power, authority, position & privileges in marriage as husbands do. There is gift, blessing, right or privilege that God allows men to have or do that women cannot also have or do.

Thus God & righteous men would always offer their wives multiple husbands way before they would ever take another wife themselves. God is the great protector of women, & he would never command men to abuse women & do something unfair to them, it goes completely against his laws, which he must live by also, or he would cease to be God.

We also know that no woman is obligated to love, serve, listen to, submit to or even stay with a husband who does not 1st love, serve, listen to & submit to her 1st & do his best to fulfill her every desire, wish & need, as he promised over the altar he would, to get her to trust & marry him in the 1st place.

In fact God does not obligate any woman to listen to any man on earth, be they a husband, bishop, Stake Pres. or Prophet, unless they 1st do their duty to protect her from all abuse & harm & fulfill her every need & wish & respect her equal rights & privileges & power in all things.

Monogamy & True Love & faithfulness for 1 wife is the grand test for Exaltation. Where ever is there or where has there been a man who can pass this test, except Christ? But this test is so hard for most men that even the Apostles told Christ that if True Love for a wife is the requirement, then it might be better to never marry.

One of weak men's greatest fear is being ruled by women. Yet righteous men will have it no other way, for they live to make their wife happy & submit to & fulfill her every wish.

But wicked men have suppressed woman's equal position & power in marriage & society for 6000 years. They have used, abused & controlled women & allowed themselves abusive privileges, like polygamy, property control, & divorce.

Thus, men have created an earth & preached a heaven (with polygamy) that is like a hell to women, because to wicked men an earth or heaven where men submit to women's wishes seems like hell to them.

This world & life is all backwards. It's like the Romans said, "If we let women be our equals, they will soon be our rulers."

That is only true if women & men are righteous & a righteous man would have it no other way.

But righteous women do not desire to rule & lead alone, they also desire to submit to their husband as he as to them & fulfill all his wishes & needs & desires also. When both do this, that is true heaven.

Polygamy is a clear & stark evidence of men's desire to abuse & control & collect women that they would never want done to themselves & thus utterly fails God's tests of righteousness.

Dave P. said...

Excellent points. I'd also like to add one more. While I'm not saying that you implied that they aren't, it is possible for women to be just as evil and controlling as men. I have relatives who gave up pretty much everything to meet the demands of their wife, but it just wasn't enough for her and she left him anyway. Three counts of this so far in my extended family.

The ultimate partnership in a marriage is between a man and wife who love/support/nourish each other to their utmost ability of their own free will and agency. Any spouse who tries to control the other or deny one their agency, then the marriage is unequally yoked.

Anonymous said...

Dave P.,

I totally agree with you. I also know many women who have left good men who loved them, but it seems women are falling like flies these days.

I leaned so heavily towards male abuse because of the points I was trying to make regarding polygamy & the fact that it is men who have taken control over society, money, property & the family for 6000 & haven't been willing to share power & position with women, until now.

But women need to forgive men their abuses through the ages & learn as a couple how to lead together in love, unity & equality.

I actually believe that these days men are becoming softer & more teachable & righteous & willing to learn to do marriage a better way then their fathers, if women would only kindly & lovingly show them how & what they need them to do. (And then show gratitude when men do love & serve them.)

But I see so many women who are becoming more hardened, angry & independent, not wanting to trust & or need a man or live their divine roles as wife & mother.

Or on the other hand many women have such low self-worth that they are becoming so desperate to have a man they will accept almost any man who shows interest, & not ask hardly any questions into his past (previous marriages) or what his character is like.

I see silly women lining up to date men who abandon their wives or have caused their wife to run from him, & they just believe whatever story he tells them without checking into it all & getting both sides to the story.

It is becoming hard for men to find a good, strong & wise woman today who wants to just love & serve him & have children above anything else.

whitehusky said...

You are correct that polygamy is not the rule. Adam and Eve are the example the Lord put forth for mankind to follow: one man and one woman. It is completely incorrect to think that the Lord wants men to take on more than one wife. He does not. He has in special circumstances allowed it if the man (like Abraham) was faithful in all things. But the Lord prefers one man to cleave to one wife and vice versa.

I think the very idea of polygamy being preferred is abhorrent. One time I got a very strange vibe from a married Mormon couple (I'm single). I could tell that they had discussed whether he could take me as another wife — not here, of course, but in heaven. I was extremely disgusted. I will marry no one who has ever had any kind of conjugal relationship with someone else, either within or without the bonds of matrimony.

At any rate, the very idea of polygamy being widely practiced in heaven is WRONG. As my dad says, these men who think they're going to have all kinds of extra wives in heaven are going to be shocked to find out they're not even worthy to keep the one they think they've got.

Dave P. said...


Actually, if Abraham had been faithful in all things, then he wouldn't have taken Hagar as a second wife. He showed that he feared man more than God by telling Pharaoh that Sarah was his sister instead of his wife, and I believe that Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham because she did not have the faith to realize that she would give birth to Isaac. The Lord allowed the polygamy to happen because of free agency, but He also had to test Abraham's repentance by commanding him to sacrifice Isaac.

whitehusky said...

I'm mad about the whole Hagar thing, but Abraham sits at the right hand of God, so I don't think we can afford to make comments about his lacking in faithfulness.

"Abraham received all things, whatsoever he received, by revelation and commandment, by my word, saith the Lord, and hath entered into his exaltation and sitteth upon his throne." (D&C 132:29)

Dave P. said...

Which is the beautiful thing about repentance, of course.

Dave P. said...

Though on the same note be wary about posting quotes from Section 132. Its authenticity is questionable at best.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Just what I was going to say. It would take an awful lot of convincing to get me to believe section 132 came either from voice of Joseph Smith or of the Lord.

That having been said, I believe Abraham was well received in heaven. As I've said before, I don't begrudge polygamy when entered into willingly by both parties. I just don't buy it as a requirement for exaltation.

whitehusky said...

Polygamy a requirement for exaltation? Now that's a laugh! What are we, Muslims, that we should believe men get 72 virgins in heaven?

The best marriage is between one man and one woman. Otherwise, Adam would have had more than one wife.

I'm with Nephi's brother Jacob (and the Lord) on this one:

"But the word of God burdens me because of your grosser crimes. For behold, thus saith the Lord: 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." (Jacob 2:23-24)

By the way, I'm more mad about Abraham and Keturah (not to mention the concubines) than I am about Hagar. At least Hagar was Sarah's idea, not Abraham's.

Anonymous said...


Abraham married Keturah 'after' Sarah died. Remarriage after the death of a spouse is not polygamy.

And your father was very correct on his feelings about men who believe they are going to have more than one wife in heaven.

If Heavenly Father were ever to allow something like polygamy he would give women multiple husbands in this life or the next, far sooner & far more than he would ever allow men multiple wives.

But in the 1800's & even for most of the world's history, men preached & assumed that men had authority over women & were to rule over them & that women were to submit to & listen to men but men did not have to submit to or listen to women. But that is the Adversary's devilish doctrine that most everyone has fallen for. And nothing could be farther from the truth.

Men must actually prove their righteousness, trustworthiness & submission to women before God ever allows them an equal status as women in the home, church, marriage, family or world. Women already earned their high status, calling & power in the pre-existence, men must earn it here.

There is no calling on earth higher than being a wife & mother, because of the sacrifice it requires. Only women were given the highest of all callings, even higher than being a Prophet.

The ideal is that if men will submit to women 1st, then women can feel safe enough to submit to men. Then both would seek to fulfill the wishes of the other, before their own needs & desires.

But most men will not earn equality with women, so they just forcibly assume authority over women so they don't have to be subject to women or if worthy, lead equally along with women.

Unfortunately most women do not realize who they are & their divine superior power, position & privileges God would wish them to realize, honor & claim.

whitehusky said...

//Abraham married Keturah 'after' Sarah died. Remarriage after the death of a spouse is not polygamy.//

Of course. And he did it without Sarah's permission. That's why it irritates me. I just want to point out here that marriage is eternal. So marrying more than one spouse is plural marriage.

I heartily agree with the rest of your comments.

LetUsReason said...

The facts stated about Joseph Smith NOT practicing polygamy are true. I gathered hundreds of pages of documentation and documentation of documentation for years.

I wanted to write a dissertation on the subject, but there are SO many other issues : constitution, preparedness, etc..., but if a true seeker of truth would like to hear more, there are some basic means to determine from pure logic, reason, and of course the Spirit, whether something is jaded, stretched, false speaking, flat out lie, or generally, (even absolutely true).

I am putting together somewhat of a more concise overview of what I found, some sources, of which are the same sources of anti-mormon lit. just to give an equal balance of "evidence" if one decides to go strictly on the degree of evidence per both sides.

It is fascinating to see,why and how it was covered up, and the sincere belief of those in control had and their justification to put in D&C 132. I know what Nephi meant when he said he knew that the things were true that we are about to read, because he wrote them with his own hand.

The hundreds of pages were copied, written, collected, connected, gathered, and put in a form by my own hand through years of study and a genuine love of absolute truth.

It is why I am a student of real scholars of truth, Hugh Nibley, C.S. Lewis, Socrates, Plato, understand the wisdom of Solomon, versus his natural man and integration of the idols, and the worship of very real beings that eventually led to the establishment of very well known secret societies etc.

One MUST understand both sides, truly,,, deeply, and from all angles, including the promised infiltration, or desire for infiltration into destroying the church, as was the plan on destroying Adam and Eve. One must be able to honestly say he/she can read and recognize truth versus error, not just right or wrong; and recognize that the Lord will NEVER teach something so wrong, that we know inside by our own conscience is wrong, such as polygamy, or polyandry as has been quoted by so many in regards to Joseph Smith. You must recognize and see like Solomon did when he used pure wisdom, and understanding of human nature,
how to determine truth in an instant: namely by one's character and integrity, and INTENT or lack thereof.

There are many subjects linking to polygamy that when one sorts it out, just a little, it all makes sense how it was integrated in, why the Lord allowed so much suffering, why Joseph said it would be ALMOST the destruction of the church, just like he said about the constitution.

A man, (or woman) must be able to defend and speak for themselves, one of the foremostGod given rights. Most coming from the outside, accusing, or stating, or writing about a person should be equally and correctly analyzed and allotted equal and fair time to another's version to determine, as SOlomon did, who's baby was it.

Christ said "By their fruits ye shall know them" Not one DNA sample has come forth to show any other children by any one other than Emma. This is just a side note, cute example of the fruit statement, as a person's fruit is their progeny also.

THANK you for starting to see what will eventually be shown to be the case, as will many other things, (signs, tokens, secret combinations, etc...) By the way this is from someone who is very active in the "church" believing in the true restoration and keys that like with Abraham will remain within, and the Book of Mormon being spread through the world, just like Abraham's seed (which half remember came from Ishmael and will again return to the Lord, after much strife on both sides).

Also, God DID NOT command Abraham to have another wife, and he suffered because of the lack of faith, just like we do so often, so did his wife, who lamented her decision instead of waiting for the Lord.

A friend and advocate of the truth

Anonymous said...


Thanks for responding to my comment. I agree that Sarah didn't have a say & thus I guess it's true it was a form of polygamy. Very few men choose to have real 'true love' for their wife, especially after she dies.

Though remarriage after the death of a spouse is not a sin, neither is it 'true love' for the 1st spouse, which we are commanded to have.

I don't believe anyone with true love for their spouse who dies would ever date or remarry someone else, (for you are right, they are still married forever). If the spouse in heaven can faithfully wait, so can the spouse on earth.

I do not believe that remarriages are valid past this life, (because they only happen because the person did not have true love for their 1st spouse) thus I do not believe there will be any polygamy in heaven.

Anonymous said...


I appreciated your comments & would like to hear more of what you have found in relation to Joseph. Do you have a website or someplace you discuss your findings?

There are many huge red flags about polygamy & it's true that logic & reason along with the Spirit can help one clearly & easily see the truth about it.

For one, God's #1 goal is to protect women from any & all abuse & unfairness & he commands men & leaders to do the same. Though rarely admitted by men, polygamy is one of the most vile of all abuses towards women, thus it's impossible for God to ever command or allow men to treat women that way.

Also, God gives women complete & equal, if not supreme, power, privileges & position as men in society, church & marriage & heaven. Thus, one can clearly see how polygamy is just men's carnal desire to demean, disrespect & destroy women's true position & power & privileges, so men can do as they please without interference.

Also, men are never to rule over women, in the sense that most people think. Men are on earth to 'protect & provide' for women & their needs & desires, not 'decide' for them or rule over them in any way. Husbands & wives are equal 'presiders & heads' of the home. Even 'Co-Presidents', as Elder Perry said in Gen. Conf. in Apr. 2004 (audio portion). The husband has no authority or say over the wife. Both have equal voice & veto power in any & all decisions.

For until women are completely respected, protected & provided for, they cannot fulfill their highest role of 'Motherhood' as they were destined to.

Contrary to popular opinion, God actually requires men to totally & completely give themselves to their wife in marriage (thus he is not free to give himself to anyone else) & submit to her 100%, & prove he will serve her every wish & happiness, before God ever asks the wife to do the same & submit to her husband.

It only takes an ounce of self-respect for a woman to see through polygamy & not allow herself to be treated that way.

Any man with a spark of 'honor & decency' in him would be filled with righteous indignation over men trying to take advantage of women by an abomination like polygamy.

But surprisingly, such 'common sense' seems to be a rare commodity on this earth.

Like men expect & insist it from women, every woman also has the divine desire deep down in her soul for 'true love & complete faithfulness' from her man, but most give up hope for it, believing it not to be possible, on earth or in heaven. So most women settle for abuse rather then expect true love from men.

Men have always followed women's lead in this world & thus most men will always use & abuse women as long as women line up for it & allow it & don't teach or expect them to have true love for her.

Dave P. said...

I'm not married but I can definitely attest to the notion that it's entirely possible for the wife to be the abusive one in a relationship. I have several cousins whose wives left them despite doing all they could to keep the wife happy and I was going down the same road until I broke up with my ex. In the end I was able to learn this lesson: Do not surrender your agency to anyone, not even the wife.

Anonymous said...

Dave P.,

I totally agree that many woman are abusive & especially these days, many women leave good men who love them. Women are falling like flies & seem to maybe be getting more hard hearted than men.

But the greatest precept that Christ taught was to love & serve our enemy, even if & especially if that is our spouse. Loving those who use & abuse us is the fastest way to grow spiritually & reach perfection. But sometimes we must love & serve a spouse from a safe distance or separation, if they are dangerously abusive.

But 'true love' is the only way to save a marriage, even if the other spouse leaves & divorces you, you can still save the marriage eternally. For the abusive or abandoning spouse must someday return & repent, everybody must, either in this life or the next & pay for their sins & then IF the righteous spouse has waited faithfully with true love they will have the power to bring that now repentant spouse into the Cel. Kingdom with them to live forever together as an eternal family. The abusive spouse will be so loving & grateful & desire to make it all up to their spouse for eternity for the pain & suffering they caused them.

True love is the greatest power there is. It is a saving power, to save our spouse & children if they need it, from eternal loneliness & pain in a lower kindgom.

But true love is very rare, most people do not want to believe in, let alone have, true love anymore, the kind that never ends, or gives up, no matter what the other spouse does.

whitehusky said...

//I don't believe anyone with true love for their spouse who dies would ever date or remarry someone else, (for you are right, they are still married forever). If the spouse in heaven can faithfully wait, so can the spouse on earth.//

Anonymous, I've rarely heard anyone say anything that sensible. Why ruin a perfectly good marriage by marrying someone else? I can tell you, it's not good for true love to bring multiple spouses into the picture.

Anonymous said...


Not only is it 'not good' to bring multiple spouses into the picture, it's 'not even possible'.

There is no polygamy in heaven. Exaltation is earned by having complete faithfulness & 'true love' for 'one' spouse. And few there be that can do that.

Thanks for your comments!

Dave P. said...

I had a doozy of a conversation with some co-workers yesterday when talking about how Jacob in the Book of Mormon literally lays down the line and says polygamy is an abomination before god, PERIOD, and that the supposed story of Joseph Smith being commanded to practice it (used by many as justification) was him being deceived. One co-worker's argument was to ask if God was incapable of commanding one thing to one people and commanding something different to another. Good job, man, you just effectively DENIED THE NATURE OF THE UNENDING, UNCHANGING GOD WHO IS THE SAME YESTERDAY, TODAY, AND FOREVER!

Isn't it amusing how people are more willing to alter the identity and nature of God to try and justify false doctrines and practices taught by men rather than accept the fact that we as the church membership have not done a good job on calling out the leaders for teaching us and very-much enforcing those false doctrines and practices? One essay I read recently made a very correct statement in that the membership is just as guilty as worshiping the position of supposed authority as they are in worshiping the one who currently holds it.

Anonymous said...


Interesting conversation you had. I agree with you, God gives us all the very same revelation (if we are intune) & no one is told anything different than anyone else. No one is the exception to the rule.

But I don't believe Joseph Smith was ever deceived to fall for polygamy. That story of an angel with a sword is only heresay. It is against God's laws to threaten & force anyone to do something, right or wrong. Agency is the most protected gift God has given us.

Lynn said...

Oh my goodness! This clinches it for me! I never did believe Joseph practiced polygamy. The DNA testing proved that he never fathered children from the "alleged" wives he had. Judging by things I have read, he loved Emma to his dying day, as did she love him to her dying day. You could tell that from their correspondence when he was in Liberty Jail.

It just looks to me like the Restoration was hi-jacked by Sidney Rigdon, Brigham Young, and other fame, power, and glory seekers. This article does make me wonder if there was a conspiracy in the upper echelons of the Church, to get rid of Joseph on trumped up charges, which eventually led to his martyrdom.

I wonder if this will shut up the anti-Mormons who so often slander him as a womanizing, philandering, pedophile, etc. It's time he was vindicated.

As for me, this is just another stepping stone on my way out of the Church. I've been inactive since July, and the more I read and study, the more I feel like I can't go back. There have been too many coverups, too many changes, and a lack of candor. For a church that claims to be the ONLY True Church on the planet, with a living prophet and apostles, there are too many man-made teachings, and there is too much corruption. And, as pointed out in the blog post on Metaphysics, the teachings are too dumbed down. I just don't feel that it is the ONLY place to find Truth anymore.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

There are those who believe there certainly was a power play involved after Joseph's death, and some believe Brigham Young sent word ahead to prevent Samuel Smith's succession. Samuel was assumed by many of the Saints to be the natural successor to Joseph and Hyrum, and there is little doubt that if he had remained alive, there there would have been no succession "crisis" as Samuel would have automatically assumed leadership with little or no dissent.

I have no opinion on the following, so you can take it for what it's worth.

From Saints Without Halos:

"In a letter to the New York Tribune in 1857, William amplifies on his allegation:

'I have good reason for believing that my brother Samuel H. Smith, died of poison at Nauvoo, administered by order of Brigham Young and Willard Richards, only a few weeks subsequent to the unlawful murder of my other brothers, Joseph and Hiram Smith, while incarcerated in Carthage jail. Several other persons who were presumed to stand between Brigham Young and the accomplishment of his ambitions and wicked designs, mysteriously disappeared from Nauvoo about the same time, and have never been heard from since.'"

"In 1892 William Smith charges that Willard Richards asked Hosea Stout, who was caring for Samuel, to murder him to prevent him from taking office before the Twelve could assemble." -William to "Bro. [..] Kelley, June 1, 1892, cited in Origins, 153.

"Samuel's daughter Mary writes in 1908 that her father and Arthur Milliken were poisoned at the same time and the same doctors were treating both. Arthur discontinued taking the medicine but Samuel continued to the last dose, which 'he spit out and said he was poisoned. But it was too late—he died.'"

Dave P. said...

I'm having a hard time working this, but hopefully my point still comes through: The church is never going to freely admit that it screwed up big time by allowing Brigham Young to usurp the authority. The members will remain in denial because "the Lord's true church will never fall away." This is a case of them refusing to accept the truth that's staring them down because having to face it will mean having to realize/admit a few profound things:

* The "line of succession" for the "prophet" is phony.
* The "prophet" can (and very likely will) lead the people astray.
* Numerous church programs and policies are uninspired and were not received by revelation. Not only that, their unauthorized status makes them essentially null and void.
* And many more that Rock's already covered.

They will continue to remain in their comfort zone of denial and to deride those who would try to even point out the fact that the church has been on the wrong path for nearly 170 years. However, just like in Nephi's vision of the great and spacious building, the traditions and false teachings found in the church today (especially of "follow the prophet") that have no foundation will fall, and "great will be the fall thereof."

The church has failed to repent of the follies and abominations that the Lord warns of in Section 124, so He's simply going to do what He did in the past: Clean it all out and start over.

Anonymous said...

I agree Dave, a huge cleansing is at our doors.

There seems to be very few in the Church who would recognize & accept the true Gospel of Jesus Christ if taught to them, which doesn't include using, abusing & demeaning women by things like polygamy or men ruling over women in any way.

Heavenly Father considers women completely 'equal' to men in everything, home, church & society, & often even 'superior', because of their usually greater sacrifice & love.

There is no blessing, gift, privilege, power or position that men are given that is not also given to women.

But as 2 Nephi 28 foretold would happen, almost everyone in the Church today, except a rare few, seems to be corrupted & deceived to support & do evil & they don't even know it.

It's difficult to find even 1 member out of a 1000 today, who is truly righteous & believes in the true Gospel of Jesus Christ & is awake to things as they really are & can see how awful our situation is & how close the complete cleansing is & that it's actually already started.

Anonymous said...


Thanks so much for posting those quotes about Joseph & his brothers deaths.

Jim said...

Just found this series of posts; a reference is made to the notes/references contained in the Price book, but they don't seem to be in the online version. Do I have to purchase the book in order to get the references?

doyle_megan said...

I'd say that polygamy came about by man's rebellion against God. God set forth the plan, which is one man cleaving to one woman. Greedy people decided that wasn't enough. It reminds me of Esau, who was such a trial to his parents. He already had two wives of his own choosing, then he went out and got another hoping she would please his parents so he could score points over Jacob. Do we want to be Esaus? I mean, he's not a good example to follow.

Dave P. said...

Great point. I also realized that the first person to practice polygamy in recorded scripture is Cain's descendant Lamech who also embraced Cain's secret combinations and assumed Cain's "new name" (sound familiar?) of Mahan.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Oh, good points, both of you. Information that I did not realize.

Dave P. said...

I also did a quick search out of curiosity and found out that Mahan means "The Great One" in both Indian and Sanskrit.

Anonymous said...

Aww its so cute that u said Connie was your "only one"

whitehusky said...

There's no question that one man is to cleave to one woman. It's spelled out specifically in the scriptures. [Matt. 19:5]

AV said...

You are right whitehusky.

The LDS Church teaches that 'true revelation, even from Prophets, will always be harmonious with each other'.

Yet with polygamy, Section 101 from 1835-1876 & Section 132 are not harmonious but opposite, as are all the other inspired teachings of Joseph Smith when he taught that polygamy was an abomination.

Also, one of Joseph's last warnings to the Saints was that if anyone should preach anything different than what is in the Bible, Book of Mormon, or D&C (at that time, 1844) then they should consider that person an imposter.

Yet, that is just what Brigham Young did by preaching polygamy, for that was opposite what was in the D&C & Book of Mormon.

So not only did D&C 132 go against the scriptures, but with everything Joseph said about polygamy & it is even contrary from our Prophet's teachings today, who still say that all true revelation will be harmonious with itself.

The Church removed section 101 in 1876 because the contradiction was being pointed out so much.

So one of those revelations must be wrong, for they are not harmonious. Anyone can see that.

"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."
D&C 101

~Clint~ said...

AV: I think you are spot on in your analysis, although I think that when "The LDS Church teaches that 'true revelation, even from Prophets, will always be harmonious with each other." it is inferred that revelations do not contradict each other.

Clearly, this is not the case, but there is no effort on a corporate or correlated level, to seek to correct or understand these contradictions (one of which you cited in your comment above).

I am still trying to figure out how the concept of eternal-marriage holds up, if D&C 132 is not a true revelation (and to me the evidence indicates it is not).

I see a lot of people who are perfectly happy to dismiss polygamy while praising the concept of celestial marriage, but to me, both of these concepts are derived from D&C 132 and it seems if polygamy fails, so does the principle of celestial marriage.

On that note, if anyone has any references to revelations or scripture related to what we currently perceive as celestial marriage, that are not intertwined with D&C 132, I would be very interested to know their source, as this is a matter I am quite curious about, but so far have not been able to find anything on.

AV, do you know a reference in relation to your comment:

“Also, one of Joseph's last warnings to the Saints was that if anyone should preach anything different than what is in the Bible, Book of Mormon, or D&C (at that time, 1844) then they should consider that person an imposter.”

I am curious to look more at that comment. Thanks

AV said...


Thanks for your response. Here is the reference for that quote.

Times and Seasons 5, April 1, 1844, 490-491.

And here is the entire quote:


"We very frequently receive letters from elders and individuals abroad, inquiring of us whether certain statements that they hear, and have written to them, are true; some pertaining to John C. Bennet's spiritual wife system; others in regard to immoral conduct, practiced by individuals, and sanctioned by the church; and as it is impossible for us to answer all of them, we take this opportunity of answering them all, once for all.

In the first place, we cannot but express our surprise that any elder or priest who has been in Nauvoo, and has had an opportunity of hearing the principles of truth advanced, should for one moment give credence to the idea that any thing like iniquity is practiced, much less taught or sanctioned, by the authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

We are the more surprised, since every species of iniquity is spoken against, and exposed publicly at the stand, and every means made use of that possibly can be, to suppress vice, both religious and civil; not only so, but every species of iniquity has frequently been exposed in the Times and Seasons, and it's practisers and advocates held up to the world as corrupt men that ought to be avoided.

We are however living in the "last days," a time when the scriptures say "men shall wax worse, and worse; deceiving, and being deceived:" in a time when it is declared, "if it is possible the very elect should be deceived." We have in our midst corrupt men, (and let no man be astonished at this for "the net shall gather in of every kind, good and bad;") these corrupt men circulate corrupt principles, for a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit; these spread their pernicious influence abroad, "they hatch cockatrices eggs, and weave the spider's web; he that eateth of their eggs dieth, and that which is crushed breaketh out into a viper," their words eat as doth a canker; "the poison of asps is under their tongue, and the way of peace they have not known."

AV said...

Quote Cont.

Such men not unfrequently go abroad and prey upon the creduly of the people, probably have clandestinely obtained an ordination, and go forth as elders, the more effectually to impose upon the public. Some have got horses, and others money, under specious pretences, from the unwary and unsuspecting, among the newly formed branches who have not had the sagacity to detect them.

There are other men who are corrupt and sensual, and who teach corrupt principles for the sake of gratifying their sensual appetites, at the expense and ruin of virtue and innocence. Such men ought to be avoided as pests to society, and be frowned down upon with contempt by every virtuous man and woman.

All of the above, of whatever name or nature, are "reprobate concerning the faith;" if they write, they write corruptly; if they speak, they speak corruptly. They are such as the apostle speaks of, they speak "great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration." They are high and lifted up, and would trample upon the humble, and the meek, and the unassuming, and are not afraid to teach for the commandment of God, their own corrupt, and devilish doctrines and principles; let no man therefore, be deceived by them, let no man harbor them, nor bid them God speed; don't be partakers of their evil deeds.

If any man writes to you, or preaches to you, contrary to the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or the book of Doctrine and Covenants, set him down as an imposter. You need not write to us to know what you are to do with such men; you have the authority with you. Try them by the principles contained in the acknowledged word of God; if they preach, or teach, or practice contrary to that, disfellowship them; cut them off from among you as useless and dangerous branches, and if they are belonging to any of the quorums in the Church, report them to the president of the quorum to which they belong, and if you cannot find that out, if they are members of an official standing, belonging to Nauvoo, report them to us.

Follow after purity, virtue, holiness, integrity, godliness, and every thing that has a tendency to exalt and ennoble the human mind; and shun every man who teaches any other principles."

Joseph Smith, Times and Seasons 5, April 1, 1844, 490-491.

Now, how anyone could think that Joseph believes in Polygamy after that stinging lecture, that he put out to the world just a few months before his death, is beyond me.

Or that anyone could believe that this letter was a lie & he expected the people to accept polygamy later after he was so severe in his words against any form of it, & not just in this letter but all others where he taught against polygamy.

AV said...


Here is another letter from Joseph Smith, written while he was imprisoned in a prison dungeon in Liberty, Missouri, on December 16, 1839. Written because reports were circulated by his enemies that he and others imprisoned Church leaders were polygamists.

"Know assuredly Dear brethren, that it is for the testimony of Jesus, that we are in bonds and in prison...

Was it for committing adultery? We are aware that false and slanderous reports have gone abroad, which have reached our ears, respecting this thing, which have been started by renagadoes, and spread by the dissenters, who are extremely active in spreading foul and libilous reports concerning us; thinking thereby to gain the fellowship of the world... Some have reported that we not only dedicated our property, but likewise our families to the Lord, and Satan taking advantage of this has transfigured it into lasciviousness, a community of wives [polygamy], which things are an abomination in the sight of God.

When we consecrate our property to the Lord, it is to administer to the wants of the poor and needy according to the laws of God, and when a man consecrates or dedecates his wife and children to the Lord, he does not give them to his brother or to his neighbor, which is contrary to the law of God, which says, "Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not covet they neighbors wife." "He that looketh upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery already in his heart." Now for a man to consecrate his property, his wife and children to the Lord is nothing more nor less than to feed the hungry, cloth the naked, visit the widows and fatherless, the sick and afflicted; and do all he can to administer to their relief in their afflictions, and for himself and his house to serve the Lord. In order to do this he and all his house must be virtuous and shun every appearance of evil. Now if any person, has represented any thing otherwise than what we now write they have willfully misrepresented us."
Joseph Smith, Times and Seasons 1, April 1840, 82-85.

AV said...

And another:

".....We raise our voices and hands against John C. Bennett's spiritual wife system," as a scheme of profligates to seduce women; and they that harp upon it, wish to make it popular for the convenience of their own cupidity; wherefore, while the marriage bed, undefiled is honorable, let polygamy, bigamy, fornication, adultery and prostitution, be frowned out of the hearts of honest men to drop in the gulf of fallen nature, "where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched!" and let all the saints say, Amen."

"The Voice of Innocence" published in The Nauvoo Neighbor, March 20, 1844.
Signed by Emma Smith, President of the Relief Society. Also approved & signed by Joseph Smith, as well as over 1000 saints of Nauvoo.

AV said...


Here are some references from Joseph Smith about marriage & the Celestial Kingdom & sealings, etc.

I think when you put it all together we can understand that Joseph clearly believed that marriage would endure beyond this life, IF the couple was righteous & sealed, if they had the chance to be. And that men & women would go on to receive their Exaltation & become Gods. And it is said, he even understood that valiant parents could save & have all their children with them in the Celestial Kingdom.

I know the Spirit can & will also bear witness of 'Eternal Marriage' to us & answer any questions we may have about it, if we just study about it, ponder it all & pray about it.
I have learned more about eternal marriage from the Spirit than anywhere else.

"Marriage is an institution of heaven, instituted in the garden of Eden."
Joseph Smith, HC 2:320. From a Joseph Smith journal entry, Nov. 24, 1835, Kirtland, Ohio.

"Except a man and his wife enter into an everlasting covenant and be married for eternity, while in this probation, by the power and authority of the Holy Priesthood, they will cease to increase when they die; that is, they will not have any children after the resurrection. But those who are married by the power and authority of the Priesthood in this life, and continue without committing the sin against the Holy Ghost, will continue to increase and have children in the celestial glory."
Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 5:391, Instruction given to a few saints at the home of Benjamin G. Johnson, Ramus, Illinois, 16 May 1843.

"I.... slightly touched upon the subject of the everlasting covenant, showing that a man and his wife must enter into that covenant in the world, or he will have no claim on her in the next world."
Joseph Smith, HC 5:510, Sabbath address, Nauoo 16 July 1843.

"Those who obtain glorious resurrection from the dead, are exalted far above principalities, powers, thrones, dominions and angels, and are expressly declared to be heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ, all having eternal power."
Joseph Smith, HC 6:477,478. Sabbath address, Nauvoo, 16 June 1844.

See D&C 76. Joseph's vision of the 3 kingdoms in the next life.

"How many will be able to abide a Celestial Law and go through and receive their exaltation, I am unable to say, as many are called, but few are chosen."
Teachings of Joseph Smith, p. 331.

"When a seal is put upon the father and mother, it secures their posterity so that they cannot be lost, but will be saved by virtue of the covenant of their father and mother."
Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 5:530

"....The Prophet Joseph Smith declared - and he never taught a more comforting docrtine - that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the cause of truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity..."
Joseph Smith, as quoted by Orson R. Whitney, CR Apr. 1929, 110. (Not sure if there is actual documented proof of Joseph saying this)

whitehusky said...

I'd like to address the idea that Mormons seem to have that the righteousness of one spouse can heft the other spouse into the celestial kingdom, or the faithfulness of the parents can (by the sealing power) cause the unfaithful child to come up to a higher kingdom.

Without repentance, no one is going to a higher kingdom. I don't care whom you know. I don't care whom you're sealed to. If you don't obey the Lord yourself, you can just forget about the celestial kingdom. Don't expect to go to heaven on the merits of people you know or are related to.

The real covenant we make is between us and the Lord. And we covenant to obey him. Unless someone is willing to do the same (obey the Lord in all things), he's fat out of luck.

It's the Lord's way or the highway.

AV said...


The thing is that 'everyone' (except the few SOP's) will eventually 'repent' & become clean & pure & learn the error of their ways, if even in Spirit Prison where they must pay for their sins themself, a much harder route than repenting here on earth.

After everyone is cleansed & released from Spirit Prison is when a valiant spouse or parent can by right have the power to bring them into the Celestial Kingdom, though they wouldn't have deserved it otherwise, but it is allowed as a reward for the valiant person, & has nothing to do with the repentant spouse or child.

It's like the Prodical Son story, because of the father's love & forgiveness he was able to allow the wicked but now repentant son to live with him forever, despite the fact that he had lost or wasted his 'inheritance'.

If we couldn't save our wicked spouse or children to the Celestial Kingdom no matter what, then there would be little sense to stay with them or keep our covenants to them, (for most all never repent in this life) & everyone would just divorce & seek to remarry if they would have to anyway eventually find someone new anyway.

But fortunately true love conquers all & has the power to save souls, if we dare to have it.

Steve said...

AV: Do you have any scriptural backing for "true love conquers all"?


whitehusky said...

I'd just like to say here that now is the time to repent. People do not get to repent on the other side of the veil.

Those who do not have a knowledge of the gospel who are allowed to accept it, but this is a completely different thing from being as wicked as you want and then going through a post-deathbed repentance. Deathbed repentance doesn't count for much, and as for repenting after death, good luck on that one. You have to repent now.

AV said...

Good question Steve. I will work on finding some scriptures for you.

Benjamin McLean said...

I'm RLDS. The Prices have on occasion done some things that go against good journalistic ethics in some other areas but their research in "Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy" is pretty solid. It's basically the same thing the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has been saying since it was organized in 1860.

Unknown said...

Remember that in the parable of the prodigal son the son repented and returned to his father in all humility before he was dead. You cannot by any means extrapolate this parable to what happens beyond the veil. It is about this time, the time of our testing here on earth, and whether we will be faithful and inherit all that the Lord our God has (as the faithful son did) or at least repent and return to him (as the prodigal did).

It has nothing to do with fictional repentance that supposedly takes place after death.

Unknown said...

On the topic of Joseph Smith's opposition to polygamy, I'm sure he fought against abuses. But I do not think you can draw from that a supposition that he was against polygamy altogether.

Anonymous said...

I discovered your blog a while back as I started to delve into some of the sources of the cognitive dissonance that is hurting my head. I find your musings well written and enlightening, and have much enjoyed and learned from them.

Forgive me in ressurecting a thread from the past .I have read this post a couple of times (and I am now reading the book you reference) and it leads me to two conclusions:

Either Joseph never practiced polygamy, and Brigham Young essentially hijacked the church and took it into the wilderness (both figuratively and literally). Meaning, the Brigham Young branch of the church is apostate as it goes 180 degrees contrary to what Joseph taught. This line of thought then casts the Fanny Alger incident in very poor light, and leaves us as members (of the Utah branch) in a tenuous at best situation in regards to claiming the truth.

Or, Joseph taught one thing publicly and taught and practiced the contrary privately. To which he lied, broke the laws of the land, and presented false testimony.

Neither chains of thought leave the church in a very tenable position in regards to the character of the founders.

If there is another reasonable conclusion to be made I would love to hear it.

Anon E Mouse ;)

Rock Waterman said...


You say "...But I do not think you can draw from that a supposition that he was against polygamy altogether."

I do not draw my suppositions from that. I draw my suppositions from the available historical facts.

I have referenced a book that demolishes ALL of the claims traditionally offered up that Joseph was a secret practitioner. Unless someone can offer me SOMETHING not based on hearsay that appeared years after his death, or can explain why Brigham felt it necessary to doctor a dead man's journals in order to make the history comply with the new direction he was taking the Church, I will continue to believe the words of Joseph Smith over those who used his name to corrupt the religion he founded.

Rock Waterman said...

Anon E. Mouse,

The leaders of the Church today are indeed in an untenable position. Since they trace their authority through Brigham Young, they dare not admit that he may have usurped Joseph's authority and introduced a corrupted form of Mormonism. That's why Young invoked the name of Joseph over every odd new doctrine. With thousands of those who knew Joseph objecting to the heresies, Brigham could only get away with it by claiming "Brother Joseph taught this to me."

For the current Church to have an unbroken "line of authority", leaders today must tacitly support the completely unverified Fanny Alger myth along with every other rumor that Brigham and his ilk promoted in order to give credence to their own perverted version of the "gospel."

Think of it: the entire religion Joseph Smith founded was quickly overshadowed by Brigham's ridiculous teaching that promoted multiple wives as the key to eternal salvation! We only buy into this because we have been taught that since the founding doctrines are true, everything that follows must be true also.

Is it not crystal clear from Joseph's own mouth that not everything Joseph Smith's successors promulgated was in line with Joseph's beliefs? In his own lifetime he was repeatedly sounding the alarm that even those closest to him were promoting the practice behind his back. He spent his last weeks testifying against those who would later lovingly recall his support for polygamy.

For the Church today to acknowledge the truth would call into question the line of authority, and protecting the modern power structure is more important than the truth. If you were a member of the twelve, would you want to be the one to bring the house of cards crashing down? No, better to let things be. It might hurt someone's testimony to learn Brigham Young was a usurper and a fraud -even though he himself admitted that he was not a prophet like Joseph Smith. We are told he was, so that's all that matters.

Dave P. said...

Isn't it just simply amazing the things we learn by actually seeking for ourselves rather than contented to be spoon fed and told that all is well in Zion?

LJn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Toni said:
Rock, since you have researched this so much, would try to satisfy my curiosity? I have heard, more than once, that Joseph was threatened by an angel that if he didn't practice polygamy, he would be killed - yet I have never seen any record stating such a thing. Does it even exist? Where did this story come from?

Other thoughts:

Caiaphas and the other priests had authority. Jesus even told the people to respect their authority. Matt 23:1-3. I'm sure there are other men with priestly authority who were not righteous (like Eli and his sons), but these scribes and pharisees killed their God. If these men had authority, then is it a far stretch to believe BY had authority, even if you believe some of the tales I've read in this thread?

Do you not remember that the Lord said this church is under condemnation? Do you not recall that the Lord said in D&C 112?

Behold, vengeance cometh speedily upon the inhabitants of the earth, a day of wrath, a day of burning, a day of desolation, of weeping, of mourning, and of lamentation; and as a whirlwind it shall come upon all the face of the earth, saith the Lord.
25 And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord;
26 First among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house, saith the Lord.
27 Therefore, see to it that ye trouble not yourselves concerning the affairs of my church in this place, saith the Lord.

This church is His house. This church will be cleansed by Him when He sees that the time is right. If we grumble and complain about His timing, or that He isn't doing it right, which side of the fence do we place ourselves on?

Those who see the defects, those who know that the history isn't "lily white" are also being tested. Will those people submit to God's timing or, in a rush of prideful superiority and judgmental anger, will they leave the church in a huff, pretending that they know better than God how to run his church? Will they forget that the greatest commandment is love, and that they are not exceptions to this? Just wondering.

Dave P. said...


Of course I can't speak for Rock but I can give you my take on what I've learned in recent months:

The story of the angel supposedly threatening Joseph Smith is one of three things: a fabrication, an embellishment, or an outright lie. But, no matter what, it did not come from God as the very notion behind the story is a violation of Joseph's free agency, which God does not do.

D&C 112 is in the process of being fulfilled. The whirlwind spoken of in verse 24 was literally fulfilled when a tornado hit downtown Salt Lake City in July 1999 and damaged both the Visitors Center (the windows next to the Cristus statue were broken) and damage was done to the then-under construction "great and spacious" conference center. Have you also noticed that stake centers and other church buildings have been heavily damaged/destroyed during recent natural disasters? The Provo Tabernacle is the best of the most recent examples.

The church has been cursed for 4 generations for its follies and abominations as mentioned in D&C 124. Some of these include:
* Altering the Book of Mormon. More than 3,000 changes were made to the 2nd edition, including removing a prophesy that plain and precious truths would be taken from both the Bible and BoM, and altering passages to change the identity of God.
* Desecrating the temple ordinances. The only one accepted by the Lord is the one in Kirtland.
* The church's practice of polygamy. The Lord will allow people to practice it because of free agency but, according to Jacob, it is, always has been, and always will be an abomination unto God. Since God is unchanging and "what he says unto one he says unto all," He was not just speaking to the descendants of Lehi, he was speaking to all of us who've read the Book of Mormon (because that's what it was written for).
* Joseph Smith's mockery of the Atonement by believing he could be delivered up as a sacrificial lamb to the slaughter at Carthage. He had been commanded to flee to the Rockies and finish his repentance, but he feared man more than God and turned back after being called a coward. John Taylor was wrong: Joseph and Hyrum didn't die to seal their testimony with their blood, they died because they lost the protection of the Lord and secret combinations that had infiltrated the church put out a hit on the two brothers.

The pure gospel of Jesus Christ is simple: Repent, be baptized, and be pure in heart/like a little child/teachable. This requires us to cast off the traditions that we've been taught in exchange for unadulterated truth.

This is where your last paragraph comes in. According to Nephi's vision of the tree of life as recorded in the original Book of Mormon, the current LDS corporation is the most great and abominable church (out of three that he spoke of) and today's members are the group seeking the great and spacious building. Those who turn away from that can either reject the modern church but hold true to the gospel and thus cling to the iron rod, or they can throw the baby out with the bathwater, reject the restored gospel and Book of Mormon, and end up falling into the muddy waters.

The best resources you can have right now are the original Book of Mormon, the original Book of Commandments, a copy of the Lectures on Faith, and a pure/teachable heart. Also, when you read the Book of Mormon and recognize just how much it was written for our day, namely the conditions outlined in 2 Nephi 26-28 and Mormon 8 applying to LDS Inc., the messages therein take on a whole new meaning.

Anonymous said...

This is Toni again.

Thanks for your amazing answer, Dave.

I thought it was a bit harsh (angel, drawn sword), but when I first heard it, I was still believing the church was perfect.

I remember reading about that whirlwind when it happened. I didn't make the connection to that scripture, though. Thanks for pointing it out to me. This is interesting. I will have to take notice the next time I hear of something, to see if there is a pattern here.

What? Wait. A prophesy that the BoM would be altered? When was that taken out? And, how would I get a bona fide copy of an original book so I could see it for myself?

It seems to me that it would be impossible to know for sure exactly how the temple ordinances should be because, as far as I know, Joseph Smith never had them written down. According to Denver Snuffer, there is enough power in them to bring us to Christ. (Which brings up the question, "How altered do things have to be before God refuses to honor them?")

I don't really have a comment about polygamy. If God commanded it, I would do it, but I would have to KNOW it came from God and that I was not being deceived. Rock's reasons for not believing Joseph Smith participated in it make sense to me. David and Solomon having so many wives is a bit disgusting. Once a man has ten or twenty or a hundred wives, women cease being human beings imho.

I got the impression that Joseph gave in because he figured, "If you don't care, why should I?" I have begun to think the "sealing his testimony with his blood," was an excuse to ease the consciences of those left behind. They were, in my opinion, just as guilty as the mob because they pressured him to return, when he knew he would die if he did. "You will not surely die." Sound familiar? I believe Judas did not think Jesus would die when he sold him for silver. When the reality hit him, he couldn't bear it. Personally, I see little difference between him and those who pleaded with Joseph to return, and who called him a coward.

I already asked where I could get an original Book of Mormon. Now, I'm asking where I can get an original Book of Commandments. Do you know where I could get one? I already have a copy of the Lectures on Faith.

The only human I feel I can trust right now is Denver Snuffer - and that's because the Spirit told me he was truly sent by Jesus to warn us of destruction if we didn't repent. And DS tells us to not even trust him (DS), and pushes us to Jesus. In other words, I am learning that if I want to know all truth, I go to the Source. I trust no one, unless the Spirit tells me they are teaching the truth. That's a long way from where I was five or ten years ago. Actually, reading Zomarah, this blog, and LDS Anarchy have helped me learn. I got quite an education on church finances in one of my first comments, from another commenter (I believe it was on Zomarah's site).

Again many thanks for your enlightening reply.

Dave P. said...


Here's the prophesy as it reads in page 32 of the original BoM,

"And the angel spake unto me, saying: These last records which thou hast seen among the Gentiles [Book of Mormon], shall establish the truth of the first, which is of the twelve apostles of the Lamb [Bible], and shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them;" (Comments, Emphasis added). The rest of the paragraph goes on to mention that the truths removed are that Jesus Christ is the Eternal Father and only through Him can we be saved.

You can buy copies of the reprinted 1830 Book of Mormon and 1833 Book of Commandments here:

I bought my copies from there and have become friends with the people who run the site.

I also only recently found Denver Snuffer's blog and haven't read any of his books, so I can't say I have a well-informed opinion of what he has to say yet.

Good luck in your continued search for the truth. He that seeketh shall find is a true statement.

Anonymous said...

Toni again.

I found that scripture - 1 Nephi 13:40. The only difference I see is that it says, "which are of", instead of "which is of" - but I never thought of interpreting that scripture that way. Interesting.

Thanks for the link.

I bought 5 of Denver Snuffer's books several months ago and fried my brain reading them all. Then, I went back to The Second Comforter and Come, Let Us Adore Him. I've been studying those two for a few months, now. There's an awful lot of meat in them.

Thanks. One of my desires is to know everything I can that's true. I've found that some falsehoods masquerade as truth, and some truth masquerades as common, hidden, or some other thing that is often overlooked even though it is in plain sight.

Dave P. said...

That's the powerful thing about the original Book of Mormon. The narrative format that reads like a novel flows much better than the current chapter/verse format, and ideas are organized in a much better fashion.

I can honestly say I gained more insights and inspiration from one reading of the original edition than all readings of later editions combined.

~Clint~ said...

Recently I read "An Address to All Believers in Christ" by David Whitmer (particularly CH 4) and it enforced some ideas I had already had, as well as planting a few new ones. I used to think that the only thing in the D&C that contradicted the BofM was polygamy, but upon reading , I realized there is a lot more. My past view of thinking was that the D&C trumped the BofM because it was newer, I now feel this mentality was mistake, and I have also begun to think about Joseph Smith a lot differently.

I do find it interesting that the re-organized church didn't always take the stance that Joseph Smith never preached polygamy. On this topic Whitmer says:

I quote from Volume 1, Number 1, of The True Latter Day Saints Herald, page 24, from an article written by Isaac Sheen, who was a leader in establishing the Reorganization. "The Salt Lake apostles also excuse themselves by saying that Joseph Smith taught the spiritual wife doctrine, but this excuse is as weak as their excuse concerning the ancient kings and patriachs. Joseph Smith repented of his connection with this doctrine, and said that it was of the devil. He caused the revelation on that subject to be burned, and when he voluntarily came to Nauvoo and resigned himself into the arms of his enemies he said that he was going to Carthage to die. At that time he also said that, if it had not been for that accursed spiritual wife doctrine, he would not have come to that. By his conduct at that time he proved the sincerity of his repentance, and of his profession as a prophet. If Abraham and Jacob by repentance can obtain salvation and exaltation, so can Joseph Smith."

Don't get me wrong, I don't think that is proof positive, but at the same time it is far removed from the idea I have been getting here that the LDS church said Joseph did preach it, and the RLDS church said he didn't.

~Clint~ said...

Continued ...

William Marks also seems to be a problem in this area. People can say the Brigham Young and others practicing polygamy had motivation to lie about Joseph Smith and Polygamy, but why would William Marks say Joseph was associated with it. Although looking back I now realize this point was thoroughly covered by "Someone who is watching" on July 28th.

One other thing that isn't necessarily directly linked to polygamy, but which I think has a stronger case than it was given credit for is the Joseph Smith / Fanny Alger affair. I don't think it is fair to say: "the best source we have about Fanny Alger appears to be an unreliable gossip." Oliver Cowdery was so convicted that this affair had taken place that his not relenting on this point was much of the reason for his ex-communication. I don't think Oliver Cowdery is unreliable gossip.

To me a lot of what it comes down to is that, whether Joseph Smith did, or did not practice polygamy, it is clear that he is responsible for the whole system and mentality of ridiculous bureaucratic offices like "Prophet, Seer, and Revelator". That such a title and office in the Church could escape the pages of the BofM and Bible, seems problematic. So often I myself have laid blame at the current leadership of the Church for this mentality, but in the beginning the prominence of office and title began with Joseph. If these offices were not supposed to exist in the Church of Christ then it is a problem that he created them.

If anyone is interested in the book mentioned above it can be found here:

Dave P. said...

You bring up a great point, Clint.

Joseph was only called to be an apostle. There was never supposed to be an office of the First Presidency. The decision in establishing that is what allowed Brigham Young to usurp the authority and become "king" over the church, beginning the fulfillment of Daniel's prophecy of ten kings, with 3 more becoming subjected to a 14th. Well, guess who basically ran the church while Spencer W. Kimball, Ezra Taft Benson, and Howard W. Hunter were incapacitated at various times? One Gordon B. Hinckley.

(The explanation as to why Joseph Smith himself wasn't the first king without a kingdom is because he still held the keys of the restoration, even after his death. Thus, Tommy Monson today has no legitimate claim either.)

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I don't know if Oliver Cowdery's words in this regard hold any weight, Clint. He wasn't present during the time Joseph was allegedly caught with Fanny. Only Joseph, Fanny, and Emma were said to have been there, and Emma scoffingly denied any such incident ever happened. Emma is supposed to be the one who flew off the handle about it, yet she says it's all made up. So why bring Oliver Cowdery into it, aside for his name recognition?

Cowdery can only be reacting to gossip he heard, and since I have never seen anything but a snippet of the letter to his brother we are told he mentioned it in, I can't even tell what he was talking about. When he refers to "that nasty business", he could be referring to the gossip itself, rather than the affair. Or, if he believed what he was reading in the papers, he was commenting on that. But he had no more first-hand knowledge about it than any other town gossip.

No one has yet shown me anything other than a sentence fragment as "proof" that Cowdery had anything substantial to add; I'd love to see the entire letter so I can at least read that fragment in context.

Nevertheless, Oliver Cowdery can testify to certain events regarding the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and Aaronic priesthood, but he's as ignorant as anyone else as far as the Fanny Alger story goes. My understanding is that he was nowhere near Nauvoo in those days.

The same is true of David Whitmer. He is only repeating what he had heard about Joseph burning the revelation; he was not around to witness it.

If we're looking for facts in evidence, we have to be wary of those pulling out a big name as proof of something, just as much as we should be wary of the statements of those women who claimed, years after the fact, to have once been married to Joseph Smith. It would have been helpful if some of them had mentioned their marriage in their diaries.

We have, for instance, a day by day diary of Eliza Snow, who somehow fails to mention the time a Jealous Emma threw her down the stairs because she was supposedly carrying Joseph's child. Funny that incident isn't in there. Seems to me that would have been the most memorable point of her day.

Joseph Smith's vigorous denunciations of the practice are, to me, more reliable statements than the musings of people who didn't even claim to have been present at the events they speak about.

~Clint~ said...

"So why bring Oliver Cowdery into it, aside for his name recognition?"

Well for one, he got excommunicated over this issue.

Admittedly, I cannot find the whole letter as you mentioned (like you, I very much wish that I could), and I cannot find the minutes to Oliver Cowdry's excommunication that Bushman additionally references in Rough Stone Rolling pages 323 to 325, but from everything I am seeing, it looks like Oliver Cowdry claimed confirmation of the relationship from Joseph himself, which may make him a liar, but it doesn't make him a gossip.

Bushman also states that Joseph Smith never denied the relations with Fanny Alger, he just said it wasn't adultery.

If I am mis-representing these facts I do apologize, I certainly do not claim to be an expert in this area, admittedly I am strongly referencing Bushman.

As for the David Whitmer comment, you are correct, it was not a direct quote from him, he was just quoting an article published by the RLDS church who initially took the stance that Joseph Smith had practiced polygamy and repented of it, but later changed to saying that Joseph never practiced polygamy at all - a stance which the RLDS church has maintained since and the Price's obviously strongly advocate.

Finally, I agree that there is evidence that many of the claims made about Joseph Smith's polygamy were falsified, but I don't think that excludes the possibility that no negative claims about him could be true.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I've just carefully re-read the pages you cite from Bushman's book, and I don't arrive at the same conclusions you do.

To say that Cowdery was excommunicated "over this issue" implies that he was exposing truth and had to be silenced. In truth, as Bushman states, Cowdery was the only one at the time who believed the Alger rumor, and he was on trial for false accusations, specifically that he had been "seeking to destroy the character of President Joseph Smith jr by falsely insinuating that he was guilty of adultery etc."

(Many, many others were being held to answer for similar stories, such as that the prophet has secretly okayed the practice of "spiritual wifery." and was involved in it. These people were being brought before the Nauvoo High Council for discipline.

Unfortunately, in relating the Cowdery episode, Bushman says, "Joseph did not deny his relationship with Alger, but contended that he had not confessed to adultery" as Cowdery had implied.

This is an odd way of putting it. Joseph gets Cowdery to admit that Joseph had not told him he (Joseph) had been committing adultery, and we are still left to assume, "Yes, but technically Joseph might have only been saying that what he's doing isn't adultery."

This doesn't comport with the many denunciations Smith made of the practice of spiritual wifery, which he equated with adultery and vigorously denounced as such.

Here's the thing to consider. Joseph Smith embarked on a dedicated crusade to prosecute and try the memberships of those spreading these vile stories about him. He even filed suit for defamation against Chauncy Higbee at Carthage. If Joseph Smith really had received the revelation we know as section 132 and yet vigorously pursued action against anyone claiming he believed in and practiced plural marriage, what would that have done to him a year or two later when he would have to displayl the revelation?

Having left a trail of lawsuits and Church courts against some of the biggest names in the Church, how was he going to later step up and admit it's a real doctrine? He would have had NO credibility as a prophet when he finally did reveal it publicly. He would have been through.

Bushman admits to being as confused about the Alger case as anyone, admitting it's all hearsay, and that few people gave it any credence until years after Joseph's death, after the rumors had time to percolate.

My reading of Bushman regarding the Alger affair shows Bushman very skeptical of the claims. Again, what credibility does Cowdery have other than having implied that he believed the rumors were true? How does simply believing what you've heard make you a valid witness?

I'm still looking for the smoking gun so I can put this issue to rest, but the Fanny Alger episode has too many problems to take at its face.

~Clint~ said...

Rock said: "To say that Cowdery was excommunicated 'over this issue' implies that he was exposing truth and had to be silenced."

I wasn’t trying to imply that, just that Cowdery was convicted enough on this issue to be ex-communicated rather than relent on his accusation.

Rock said: “My reading of Bushman regarding the Alger affair shows Bushman very skeptical of the claims.”

Maybe I need to read more on that, but the statement "Joseph did not deny his relationship with Alger, but contended that he had not confessed to adultery" ... doesn’t sound skeptical to me?

Rock said: "Again, what credibility does Cowdery have other than having implied that he believed the rumors were true? ”

If this is the case it does substantially weaken the argument, when I made the initial statements regarding this, they were based on the belief that Oliver's claimed knowledge of this was from the source (Joseph) himself. I do see that there is some ambiguity on whether this is certainly the case. It is still how I interpret what I have read, but I admit there is room for other interpretations.

I don’t know, maybe I am just playing Devils advocate here, because I certainly won’t claim I am sure about this. I just though the initial statement that this was based on idle gossip was not totally correct.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

"Joseph did not deny his relationship with Alger, but contended that he had not confessed to adultery".

Remember, Joseph was not being questioned as to whether he had confessed to adultery. He would have had no reason "not to deny" a relationship that he was not accused by the court of having. Cowdery was there because it was HE who was accused of lying. He was being questioned as to whether Joseph had ever had the conversation Cowdery that Cowdery claimed had taken place.

Unfortunately, Bushman's choice of words makes it appear as if Joseph was on the stand and said something like, "Admit that I never actually used the word 'adultery'".

The way it's put certainly does sound like weasel words, but that's the problem. It gives the impression that Cowdery had spread rumors of Smith's adultery because in a previous conversation Smith had admitted to Oliver that he had committed adultery with Alger. Joseph was trying to get Cowdery to admit he had said no such thing.

The way Bushman frames his conclusion, it appears that Joseph is just trying to get an admission from Cowdery that he hadn't used the term "adultery" and once Cowdery admitted that yes, Joseph did not exactly say it was adultery, we are led to believe Joseph was satisfied with that answer.

It leaves open to interpretation that Joseph was stipulating to an affair, as long as it was clear Joseph did not consider the affair to have been adulterous.

I believe Joseph was extracting an admission that no such conversation had taken place. Or if a conversation had taken place between them, there had been no mention of a relationship with Fanny Alger that could have been construed as inappropriate.

That's the problem with not having the actual transcript of the questioning. It gives the impression Joseph was weaseling out. I think Joseph was trying to get Cowdery to admit they had had no such conversation, and once Cowdery admitted, well no, he didn't really tell me he had been committing adultery, Joseph was satisfied and that was the end of it.

Unfortunately, Bushman's wording leaves room for the reader to go "Hmm, he didn't exactly say it wasn't something else."

Alan Rock Waterman said...


Suppose I had gone around telling people that you had cheated on your wife, and the reason you know is because you insist I told you I had. Now you have me on the stand, and you're questioning me about that conversation. "Are you saying that I told you I had committed adultery?"

And I say, "well, you didn't exactly say that."

"Then you admit I did not tell you I had been committing adultery?"

"No, you didn't."

"Thank you. That is all."

Now, one way of reading that is that you are satisfied I had just admitted not having such a conversation. But another way of reading it is that I admitted I was seeing another woman, but I had not used the word adultery to describe it. Why does Bushman lead the reader with such ambiguity? From what little we have of the actual record, there is no reason for him to do so.

The only reason I can see is that among historians there is such a deep-seated presumption that Joseph did practice polygamy, that Bushman was looking for a way to show it without Joseph directly admitting to it.

Because of the mountain of hearsay dumped on Joseph decades after his death, it has become a "given" that Joseph secretly practiced it. Historians have struggled ever since in trying to explain why he appeared to denounce it so vigorously since so many of his "friends" later declared he was a practitioner. In the end, they conclude someone was lying and it must have been Joseph because he's outnumbered by all the other "testimony."

I wish we had a transcript of the actual questions and answers in the Cowdery hearing rather than just Bushman's interpretation. In Bushman's favor, he is as thorough as he can be in the description of the hearing; he just makes an open-ended conclusion that doesn't help give a clear picture.

If we had at least one or two instances where we could see evidence of Joseph's duplicity without historians "helping" us along with their presumptive interpretations, we might have some evidence. But taken individually, all these "proofs" trotted out seem fail spectacularly, and the only thing going for them is the sheer number of them.

Give me just one "wife" who mentioned her marriage to Joseph Smith in her diary at the time it happened. They all kept diaries. Surely something as momentous as a celestial sealing to the prophet would warrant a mention.

Toni said...

Read Damon Smith's dissertation. He points out the thought processes of the Mormons at the time of Wilford Woodruff. WW never said God told them to actually stop living plural marriage. He showed WW what the gov't would do if he {WW} didn't write the manifesto, and he told WW what to write, so WW wrote a manifesto for the gov't.

"As McConkie renders Woodruff's speech (with my emendation noted with brackets).

"'He [the Lord] told me [Woodruff] exactly what to do....I saw exactly what would come to pass if there was not something done.[...] I should have gone to prison myself and let every other man go there, had not the Lord commanded me to do what I did do; and when the hour came that I was commanded to do that, it was all clear to me. I went before the Lord, and I wrote what the Lord told me to write' (quoted in McConkie 1966:466)'

"Woodruff drew a fine distinction between the act of speaking and the content, and taught that both were done at the command of the Lord. He never, however, said that he and the Lord believed what is said to be true, that it made an an accurate statement of the world, of Woodruff's "intention" or required discontinuation of plural marriages. When the Manifesto and Brigham Young's teachings, however, were reported as matters of thought, there could be no negotiation within the text, for concepts brook no further investigation like words might."
Page 305 of the dissertation.

Reading that dissertation and seeing all the fear the people were living in reminds me of the present FLDS mindset (even before Warren Jeffs) of fear and mistrust, and makes me think that God may not have commanded plural marriage to begin with, because there was fear and mistrust of nearly everyone (even LDS people) instead of faith and peace.

The fruits of o eying God's commandments should be peace - and God is supposed to help a faithful people win, over their enemies.

I'm beginning to think that if Joseph Smith Jr WAS commanded to live plural marriage, it was simply an "Abrahamic test" for him and, perhaps, a few select others. When they showed their willingness, God said, "You've proven yourselves. You don't have to do this now." But others, perhaps BY etc., misunderstood what it was all about and decided that God had commanded plural marriage for a man to get into heaven.

If journals were added to, why couldn't D&C 132 have been slightly altered? The New and Everlasting covenant that MUST be obeyed, according to D&C is (obviously to me) the law of sealing for eternity. Plural marriage is called "the law of the priesthood" in that section. Also, Denver Snuffer's idea that 132 may be 4 or 5 separate revelations makes sense.

I don't know, but seeing the fruits of plural marriages shows me that no blessings, no protection from God attended it. Instead, there was fear, mistrust, confusion, tearing apart of families, hungry children, and emotionally wounded wives (the latter three came from husbands constantly on the run.

Perhaps, the rush job to hurry and finish the Nauvoo temple was a big mistake. Perhaps, the people should have built it when God commanded it, instead of building homes and stores and such. When God told JS to flee to the west, perhaps the people should have believed he was a prophet and knew what he was talking about when he said God had warned him. If those two things had happened, I wonder if plural marriage would have ever been practiced. I wonder what type of society the LDS would have had in the west.

I'm not condemning the pioneers. I have screwed up, big time, in my life in some areas, but I still wonder what things would have been like had they built the temple immediately and if Joseph Smith had not gone back to his death.

Toni said...

Sorry, pages 304-305. Interesting comment just above the quote I put here, about God and lying (pages 303 and 304). And not "o eying" but "obeying".

Rock Waterman said...

Toni, I think that is very astute to recognize that the fruits of polygamy have consistently been counter to a peaceful Zion-like existence.

It seems clear to me that the Nauvoo temple was used in a completely different way than Kirtland seems to have been. I wonder: Was there secrecy in the Kirtland temple? Signs, tokens, and penalties? Dave P. and Zamorah would be able to better answer that.

Dave P. said...

From what I've been reading in D. Michael Quinn's books, the signs, tokens and penalties did not begin with the Kirtland temple, but rather with the creation of the secret Danite societies in Missouri and Nauvoo. These were then moved in to be part of the temple ceremony at the Nauvoo temple by Brigham Young.

I've said many times before that Joseph Smith failed to complete his repentance before he died, and whether or not polygamy was part of what he needed to repent of almost seems irrelevant considering the man formed his own secret combination and declared himself King of Israel with ambitions of basically usurping the authority of the government.

So, because Joseph failed to complete his repentance and delivered himself up as a sacrificial lamb to the slaughter (which is a mockery of the Atonement, as Christ was the only necessary sacrificial lamb), the church has been cursed for the past four generations. And, as we know, things only got worse once Brigham Young usurped the leadership position.

Rock Waterman said...

Thanks for that comment,Dave.

It is sometimes said of me that I am a blind follower of Joseph Smith. Of course I'm not. I'm fully aware of Joseph's flaws. My primary claim is that, since he is the founder of the church, it is his words we should seek over those of his successors/usurpers.

It is my opinion that, since the church he founded was an organization that was largely libertarian,those who came after him and converted the church to an authoritarian institution to which we owe obedience are working contrary to the founder's purpose.

One thing I admire about Joseph Smith is his penchant for publicizing his shortcomings. He published revelations in which God sternly takes him to task and constantly is calling him to repentance. We sure don't see anything resembling such a dressing down of the modern prophets. When was the last time you heard Thomas Monson declare that the Lord was unhappy with him? No, Monson is content to allow his underlings to counsel us about how impossible it would be for Monson to err.

It's true that Joseph Smith said he was going like a lamb to the slaughter, but I'm inclined to think he was only using that as a figure of speech. I don't think he felt he was any kind of sacrificial lamb. I think he was saying, "I'm acting like a stupid sheep for walking right into this trap, but I'll do it rather than be called a coward."

I think it's true that the myth of Joseph as Martyr was built up and encouraged by his friends, many of them the same ones who inferred cowardice if he didn't return. But I don't think it was his intention to die at that time. He didn't see himself as a martyr.

I agree with what you've said previously about Joseph ignoring God's instructions to head for the Rockies. God didn't require he sacrifice his life. He lost it because he harkened to men rather than follow the counsel of God, who told him to leave. He was no more a coward for leaving for the Rockies than Joseph and Mary were for fleeing to Egypt with the Christ child. It was the prudent and proper thing to do.

Toni said...

Thanks for the compliment, Rock.
When I visited the Kirtland and the Nauvoo temples, they were very, very different from each other. The Kirtland temple was like a meeting house. I liked the little doors at the ends of the aisles. Looked like the perfect way to keep little children corralled. I hope that we will one day have our questions answered.

I was reading Wheat and Tares about polygamy; got tired of the comments damning Joseph Smith. (I do not believe he was evil, fallen, nor a hypocrite.) Some of them even seemed to be comparing him to Warren Jeffs, so I posted a link to this thread. People really need to hear the other side of the story.

Why would JS keep insisting he didn't have more than one wife practically up to the day he died? He talked freely about the other stuff (God once being a human being like us, for example.) I read a book that talked about JS's wives. It had a list of the marriages and said several were done by proxy. I wondered which partner was absent and, if it was Joseph, did he even know he was being married to this married woman, or that woman, etc.?

Anonymous said...

Alan, I appreciate & agree with your thoughts on Joseph being counseled by the Lord to leave like Joseph & Mary were, etc. He was not a coward. But leaving may have preserved his life.

I believe this all boils down to the fact that we must go back to the words of Joseph Smith & judge everything from the scriptures he brought forth (1844 versions) & from the revelations & teachings he made public, for this is what he counseled us to do. He said that if anyone teaches anything contrary to these things (monogamy etc.)then we can be sure they are imposters & we should cast them out from among us.

Joseph also said that he would be able to tell a 'bad' angel from a 'good' one because a bad angel would preach 'contrary doctrine' to what has already been received. (Like the angel with the sword would have been seen as a bad angel for it preached different than monogamy). Also see Galatians 1:8.

It is interesting that many say that a Prophet cannot lead the people astray. For either Joseph did by preaching 'against' polygamy so strongly, insomuch that when it was later preached by BY many would not believe or follow him, for they were lead to believe differently by JS.

Or Brigham Young lead the people astray by preaching & practicing polygamy.

But clearly one did lead many people astray.

I believe that only when we sincerely take our questions to Heavenly Father will he unravel all these mysteries to us & show us what is right & how to interpret correctly all we read so we too aren't deceived by the many falsehoods surrounding this issue.

But as Christ said, it is only by 'love' can we discern & determine, past or present, who are truly the Lord's true disciples & prophets.

We are told to beware of false prophets, yesterday & today, & judge prophets by their fruits (the result of their preaching & practice).

I see only chaos, abuse & suffering with polygamy, even if the people involved say they liked it. History shows that most men & especially women, usually do like abuse, for they go into denial about it. Go figure.

Self respect seems to be a rare commodity in any age. I do not believe self-respecting women would allow men to abuse them by polygamy, then or now or ever.

We must possess 'pure love', especially for our spouse, to ever be able to discern true prophets & the truths they preach.

Only if & when we possess 'pure love'ourselves, can we determine if Prophets possess it also, which they must if they are a true Prophet.

I believe Joseph Smith had this pure love for Emma & would not have treated her the way most say he did (collecting wives behind her back or at all).

But I do not detect 'pure love' in BY, who seemed to have little patience with his wive's pain & suffering from polygamy, insomuch that it seems he threatened them with divorce if they didn't stop complaining about something he probably would have never been willing to endure himself, if the tables had been turned.

Which they would have if polygamy had been a true doctrine. For God gives every power, privilege & blessing to his daughters, even 1st & foremost before his sons, that is available to his sons.

Rock Waterman said...

And to that I say "Amen."

Ms. Mintane said...

I found this article very interesting and want to look further into the subject.
However, in the end of the article, you say that Brigham Young got his "second wife" (which is incorrect, as his first plural wife was actually his third wife since his first wife, Miriam Angeline Works, passed away and he later married Mary Ann Angell) from another community and she left her husband and children for him. His first plural wife, Lucy Ann Decker Seely Young, is one of my ancestors and she and her husband, William Seely, lived in Nauvoo. During that time, he left her and their three children, Isaac, Harriet and William Seely, and she married Brigham Young. She did not come from another strange community where Young was a missionary, she and her relatives where part of the Church since Kirtland, and even if it was true that she had left her husband rather than he leaving her, she certainly didn't leave her children as all three of them were raised by Lucy and Brigham Young.
Maybe he had some other plural wife who was a Cochranite. But she certainly was not his first plural wife.
As far as the rest of the essay, I won't comment because I don't have an educated opinion on the matter.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Thanks for pointing that out, Ms. Mintaine. I meant that sentence to read "second plural wife." Your ancestor Lucy, was, of course, his first plural wife.

Augusta Cobb was the woman he brought home from among the Cochranites. She abandoned her husband and all but the two youngest of her seven children to marry Brigham Young in 1843, becoming his third living wife. Since Lucy's husband was still living, she and Brigham were living in polyandry-the having of two husbands.

I wonder what it was about Brigham Young that motivated some women to not only marry him, but to abandon their husbands and often their children as well to be with him. None of this would comport well with the LDS Proclamation On The Family.

Dave P. said...

Here's what I've learned:

Parley P. Pratt's 2nd son, Moroni Pratt was the firstborn son from his second wife (after the first one died bearing his first son), Mary Ann Frost Pratt. However, Parley was not the father; Joseph Smith was. Mary Ann Frost Pratt really didn't like her husband at all and divorced him 2 years before his murder.

I'm digging for verification on if this is true or not.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

That would be something, alright. But it would have to be based on DNA evidence, and not just hearsay.

Keep us posted, Dave.

Anonymous said...

From what I have read, Parley's son Moroni was his 4th child by Mary Ann Frost Pratt. They had been married for years by the time Moroni was born.

If Moroni was Joseph's child, then Joseph & Parley would have been sharing a wife at the same time.

I do not believe Moroni was Joseph's child.

But it does seem that Mary Ann probably became disenchanted with Parley when he started marrying many wives in succession soon after Joseph died.

Anonymous said...


Have you ever heard of the old book "Joseph Smith, Who Was He? Did He Teach or Practice Polygamy?"
By Willard J. Smith. published in 1899 & 1904.

It is written by a man who was born in 1858. He compiled much of Joseph's same teachings against polygamy. I think it is very well written. This author wanted to show the same conclusions that the Prices have with their book.

You probably have heard about it, but I just wanted to make sure you were aware of it. This book can be hard to find for it's over 100 years old, but Amazon usually has a copy of two to buy.

It has recently been reprinted in a newer version, but it's cool to have the 100 year old book & testimony of someone who lived back in those days & even knew many of those people he talked about.

Anonymous said...

Also, about that book "Joseph Smith, Who Was He", you can read it online at

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I had not heard of that book; thanks for the info.

Adam said...

I am a 19 year old member of the LDS (Utah-Based) church. I am still contemplating going on a mission and i have been really getting into the RLDS perspective of Joseph Smith. I am almost purely convinced that Brigham Young was a complete imposter to the church and that the LDS church went through its own apostasy while he was the President. It would be such a relief to me to know that Joseph Smith's name is cleared on the subject of polygamy (seeing that this is one of the main reasons people discount him of being a "prophet"). What intrigues me, is that he had no documented children with any of these so called "wives". Perhaps Brigham Young did not preach freely about his newfound habit of polygamy in Joseph's lifetime because he feared being disciplined by Joseph himself (who might i note, adamantly spoke out against the practice in his sermons) The doctrine of polygamy was made very public after the Utah saints had established their communities in the 1850's; After the remnants of Joseph's church were almost extinct. Furthermore, can we speculate that BY wanted to establish his own Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints?
P.S Brigham Young was the person in the church who took away the priesthood from blacks after a bad experience with one, not Joseph Smith (Look up Elijah Abel). This is further evidence that he intended to change the church to fit his own agenda.

Adam said...

I am a 19 year old member of the LDS (Utah-Based) church. I am still contemplating going on a mission and i have been really getting into the RLDS perspective of Joseph Smith. I am almost purely convinced that Brigham Young was a complete imposter to the church and that the LDS church went through its own apostasy while he was the President. It would be such a relief to me to know that Joseph Smith's name is cleared on the subject of polygamy (seeing that this is one of the main reasons people discount him of being a "prophet"). What intrigues me, is that he had no documented children with any of these so called "wives". Perhaps Brigham Young did not preach freely about his newfound habit of polygamy in Joseph's lifetime because he feared being disciplined by Joseph himself (who might i note, adamantly spoke out against the practice in his sermons) The doctrine of polygamy was made very public after the Utah saints had established their communities in the 1850's; After the remnants of Joseph's church were almost extinct. Furthermore, can we speculate that BY wanted to establish his own Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints?
P.S Brigham Young was the person in the church who took away the priesthood from blacks, not Joseph Smith (Look up Elijah Abel). This is further evidence that he intended to change the church to his own agenda.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I'm convinced that Joseph knew of Brigham's sins, because he announced that spiritual wifery had become so rampant in Nauvoo that even some of those closest to him had been ensnared in the practice. Joseph vowed to root them out, but three weeks after making that vow, he was dead, as was his brother Hyrum who surely would have carried out the purge in Joseph's absence.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy swimming at the community pool, but every time they evacuate the pool for a turd alert it grosses me out. Polygamy has been a turd in my water of faith for years.
Thank you pointing me in a direction where my faith is becoming turd free.

God bless you,
Jonathan Horton

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Happy to be of service, Jonathan. I'm just now getting around to reading volume II of Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy, and it's breaking down the major myths one by one. I only hope the Prices live long enough to finish their work.

Anonymous said...

'Polygamy' wasn't the only thing that Joseph & Brigham had different beliefs about.

Not only did Joseph believe that 'Blacks should hold the Priesthood', which Brigham Young put a stop to, but Joseph also came to see how wrong 'slavery' was, but Brigham wanted it legalized in Utah & thought it was ok.

And Brigham came up with other false doctrines such as the 'Adam God theory' & 'blood atonement'.

Brigham also taught & enforced that women were below men & must submit to & obey men in the home, church, but that men did not have to submit to or obey women, which we know is completely false. Men & women are completely equal, neither above the other, both equally submitting to & obeying each other. Both with equal say & veto power.

I'm sure Joseph didn't believe those falsehoods either.

How many false doctrines does it take to make a false prophet?

JanieB said...

Very interesting post! There is a lot to think about here and you have provided some excellent sources.

While I consider myself a devout Mormon, believing in the basic principles of the Gospel, I have never believed in polygamy (I grew up in the church, am in my 30's), and it has taken me many years to form my thoughts and words to explain why I do not believe in it. It started with my gut reaction as a teenager. No matter how I looked at it, I could not see how polygamy could honor or be uplifting for women. It seemed the very opposite of what I was learning in the Young Women program about divine nature and individual worth. There are many people my age who still believe that polygamy will return and if I ever do get into a discussion about it, they tell me that I must not believe in the scripture. I have always said that if it were to return, then I would walk right out the door and happily take my place in a "lower kingdom."

Thank you for providing this discussion and a lot for me to read and consider!!

Crystal said...

"Do you think that we only have one Mother in Heaven to take care of the many worlds without number? Not if there isn't polygamy!" Dear Sister Barnes, dear sweet Sister, have we no need for a Father? Or are we to think one Father is enough for people as numerous as the sands on the earth? I felt sick reading your sentiment. People need a father's attention and love just as much as mothers. Scientifically, it's actually a big deal (see John Gottman's researh for instance)! And I'm a mother!

bugerblogger said...

Polygamy is not terrorism but both have run in my family. I'd say if you don't like these two modern day real practices then tough. Some things just don't change.

Anonymous said...

Actually everything changes eventually, accept 'the pure love of Christ', it's the only thing that lasts.

I believe that soon Christ will return to this earth & teach this kind of love once again & put an end to all polygamy.

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