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 denouned 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...

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.

Anonymous said...


I'm not sure I understand what you are saying or who Sister Barnes is.

But I agree that children need a father as much as a mother.

And that 'one' mother is enough for 'worlds without end', just as 'one' father is.

Anonymous said...

to anonymous on Oct 1st - my husband and I have talked quite a lot about what Joseph thought of Slavery and Blacks holding the priesthood. can you point out a source for some of Josephs view verses Brighams views? or even just one of the two. Or if anyone else has suggestions of where to find info on that- I would be grateful. I am new to this blog, I'm not an avid blog follower, but this post was interesting to me. Polygamy has been one of those topics I've tried to ignore because its surrounded by SO many questions for me.

Joseph K. Packer said...

I beg to differ, There is overwhelming evidence that Joseph Smithmarried more than 24 women, at least one who was 14 years of age and many of them (11) were married to other men. After many years of criticism the church could not continue covering the evidence and they had to post these facts in the family search website.

Anonymous said...

I believe that marriage should be sacred and an open marriage should never be the way for any marriage. In Big Love the show talks about polygamy which just means that the guy is marrying more than 1 wife which is wrong but its better than having a open marriage.

Anonymous said...


I believe there is overwhelming proven & published evidence by Joseph himself during his lifetime that he never practiced or preached polygamy.

Also, anyone who understands the level of pure love for a wife, that it takes to be a righteous Prophet & a true disciple of Jesus Christ, would know that it would be absolutely impossible for Joseph to have ever lived polygamy & treated Emma which such disrespect & abuse as so many said he did.

He left his proven testimony & warnings about the evils of polygamy for all future ages & people, to judge between his own words vs. the hearsay of others who say opposite to what we know he publically testified his whole life.

We would all rather our own words be believed & trusted rather than others believe hearsay about us, especially when it is opposite to what we ourselves have declared.

Those who accuse Joseph of doing what he himself called 'vile & evil', will have to one day stand accountable before God for such disrespect & evil speaking of a true Prophet of God.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I concur with the words of Anonymous above.

Joseph Packer's response is, unfortunately, typical of the arguments I receive whenever I find myself in a discussion on this topic.

"There is overwhelming evidence" that Joseph Smith married numerous women, I'm told, but no one ever cares to show me any of that overwhelming evidence.

Is there evidence of numerous sealings of women to Joseph Smith? Indeed there is. The records are in the Church archives. But these sealings were performed decades after the poor man was in his grave; he was not present at any of these many weddings. Some other man stood in for him as proxy.

The fact that several women "married" Joseph Smith sometime late in middle age is not the same as a claim that "Joseph Smith married" them himself. For Joseph Smith to have married anybody, he would have had to have been present, and for those phantom weddings we have no evidence.

I'm still looking for this proof I keep hearing about that Joseph Smith married a 14 year old. What was her name? What believing Latter day Saint woman of any age would enter into such a secret union with the prophet after he publicly denounced such affairs as vile and evil?

I have come to the conclusion that those who continue to cling to the myth that Joseph Smith married numerous wives in secret in spite of all his denunciations to the contrary, does so for either one of two reasons:

Either they are already convinced that Joseph Smith was an irredeemable cad and this belief reinforces that position, or they simply cannot face the possibility that Brigham Young usurped the religion, because that would call into question the line of authority leading down to our present corporate leadership.

Heather S said...

Alan, I just finished reading your post and all the comments. I consider myself a faithful member of the LDS church but I have never been able to accept the church's teachings about polygamy or blacks and the priesthood. I believe without a doubt that the Book of Mormon is scripture from God and that Joseph Smith translated it as he said he did. This is the first I've ever heard of Joseph Smith not being a polygamist and I have to say, it seems like a huge relief to me. Especially if it's true that he also didn't say blacks couldn't have the priesthood.

It appears to me that you consider yourself a faithful member of the LDS church as well but that you believe BY to be a false prophet. Where does that leave us today if our current prophet has followed a line of authority traced back directly to BY? You have said it leaves the church leadership in an untenable position. But how does this apply directly to you? Do you go to church, partake of the sacrament, attend the temple, fulfill a calling, etc? If you do, do you do so knowing that not everything taught at church is true but some of it is and that's why you go? As relieved as I am to know that Joseph Smith wasn't a polygamist, I feel confused as to what this means for my participation in the church as it is today... I'd like to know more about your thoughts on this matter.

Heather S said...

Alan, I just finished reading your post and all the comments. I consider myself a faithful member of the LDS church but I have never been able to accept the church's teachings about polygamy or blacks and the priesthood. I believe without a doubt that the Book of Mormon is scripture from God and that Joseph Smith translated it as he said he did. This is the first I've ever heard of Joseph Smith not being a polygamist and I have to say, it seems like a huge relief to me. Especially if it's true that he also didn't say blacks couldn't have the priesthood.

It appears to me that you consider yourself a faithful member of the LDS church as well but that you believe BY to be a false prophet. Where does that leave us today if our current prophet has followed a line of authority traced back directly to BY? You have said it leaves the church leadership in an untenable position. But how does this apply directly to you? Do you go to church, partake of the sacrament, attend the temple, fulfill a calling, etc? If you do, do you do so knowing that not everything taught at church is true but some of it is and that's why you go? As relieved as I am to know that Joseph Smith wasn't a polygamist, I feel confused as to what this means for my participation in the church as it is today... I'd like to know more about your thoughts on this matter.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Yes Heather, I do consider myself a faithful member of the church, though there are those who question my devotion because I don't defer to men simply because they have attained high station, titles, or position.

I am a devout believer in the Restoration, and as such I require any doctrine that is promulgated to the church to come through revelation from God. The priesthood ban you mention is a good example of a doctrine that was long accepted just because it was long accepted, not because it was true. David O. Mckay commissioned research to find the source of that teaching, and learned that it came from Brigham Young not through revelation, but as a result of Brigham's own opinions. Joseph Smith had accepted free black men to be as equal as free white men, and had ordained them to the priesthood.

You ask if I consider Brigham Young to have been a false prophet. No I do not, because I do not consider Brigham Young to have been a a prophet at all. In holding that view, I am in the company of most of the early Utah Saints who, whenever referencing "the prophet" were almost invariably referring to the late Joseph Smith, and not to Brigham Young or his successors. They considered Brigham Young the president of the quorum of the twelve, and later the president of the Church, but never during his lifetime was he considered the Prophet, Seer and Revelator of the Church.

Indeed, as Brigham himself admitted, "I don't profess to be such a Prophet as were Joseph Smith and Daniel, but I am a Yankee guesser." That is, he felt he had the common sense to figure things out on his own.

As far as modern prophets go, I'm still waiting for any of them to provide us with a revelation that we can then take before the Lord for a witness of the Holy Ghost. Until then, I make a distinction between the church of Jesus Christ as defined by the Lord in D&C 10:67 and the earthly corporation headquartered in Salt Lake City. I am a member of the former, but I don't take a lot of stock in the affairs of the latter.

Anonymous said...

Alan thank you for an article such as this. I have never been able to wrap my head or heart around this idea of "mandatory polygamy." It has been a huge source of conflict for me and I have almost left the church from it on several occassions. The idea of either a woman or a man being damned because they were unwilling to bring another person into their marriage just flat out goes against the dictates of my conscience. I could understand that polygamy for certain purposes could be allowed and that would be between the husband, wife, and God. (We all know this is the sacred order of marriage and Priesthood authorities have a responsibility and steward to officiate the ceremony but not arrange the marriage). Under certain and certainly vary rare circumstances God may allow the practice. However, I have never been able to accept the idea that it was to "raise seed to the Lord" either. In the beginning Adam and Eve were instructed to multiply and replenish the Earth. If there were any time to bring seed to the Lord quickly I would suggest and empty Earth would be that time. Yet, God made Adam and Eves lives very long instead of creating Adam, Eve, and a hypothetical Sarah. Again, thank you Alan I found some peace in your perspective. For all the comments above, there is nothing wrong with thinking for yourself. There is also nothing wrong with following uncontested. There is room for both sheepdogs and sheep in the Good Shepard's flock

Anonymous said...

For many informed Latter-Day-Saints the greater challenge has been to accept that Joseph Smith Jr was a polygamist. In this information age all things false and true will be spoken of and eventually exposed. Now it seems that the greater challenge may be to understand Brigham Young and some of his associates. I personally have discovered that those most against the Brigham/Cochranite connection are those who believe in the doctrine of their own pedigree; meaning they admit they are directly descended from Brigham Young and his associates. Is it possible that the LDS faith may have been misguided on certain key points following the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith? What things have been done in his name? Whatever the answer is it doesn't negate the amazing history of the Restoration(LDS Faith).

The more I learn about Brigham Young the more questions/concerns I have. The more I learn the about Joseph Smith Jr. the more my admiration of him grows.

Anonymous said...

We will be held accountable for the things we believe or say about Joseph Smith, especially if we are deceived by slanderous & vile hearsay & thus accuse a Prophet of God of committing the very whoredoms that he constantly testified & warned so strongly against.

DeeLyn said...


Anonymous said...

No matter 'who' or 'how many' say otherwise about Joseph and polygamy, God expects us to go by what Joseph himself publicly said and published while he was alive. Thus we can be sure that Joseph believed that polygamy was a vile evil and abomination.

God would never expect or ask us to base our testimonies on hearsay that contradicts the scriptures that Joseph brought forth.

Anonymous said...

So Happily Married, If you are still around, I'm very anxious to know what your other scenario is.

Hi Moderator, since the above was posted two years ago and HM is will probably never see this reply, can you email me to let me know if there is a way to get in touch with Happily Married. I would really like to know what HM means by "another scenario".

Alan Rock Waterman said...


I have no way of knowing how to track "Happily Married," but since his original post above was split into two parts and the second part he posted as "One Who Watches," it may have been authored by someone who has become an online friend of mine, who maintains the blog on the Three Watches, here:

Anonymous said...

After reading all the comments here (and I mean ALL of them), I am very much in agreement with the prevailing views associated with this column. What I wish is that we could have a workshop or get together of presentations somewhere in the USA to present to each other the evidences and conclusions we've found and through the community review process start to refine them and let them coalesce. For instance, I've made a verse by verse analysis of Sec. 132 which completely debunks it from a doctrinal standpoint in my opinion but I'd like others input to make sure that I'm not completely off the wall on some things. Here's a sample of it for your reading pleasure:

1 Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you my servant Joseph, that inasmuch as you have inquired of my hand to know and understand wherein I, the Lord, justified my servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as also Moses, David and Solomon, my servants, as touching the principle and doctrine of their having many wives and concubines—

First off, this verse states that the Lord justified his servants in having not just wives but concubines as well. The place of concubines is not even supported by the explanation given in the rest of Sec. 132. Only sealed wives are permitted. Secondly, this section makes a fairly bold claim when it says that the above mentioned men were all even involved in the "having of many wives and concubines." Let's look at them one by one. Abraham was almost a lifelong monogamist. The scriptures surrounding his intercourse with Hagar make it clear that it was in response to his wife Sarah's request and that it took place in response to both of them having doubt in the Lord and His promise to raise up seed for them in their old age. This instance has specifically been disapproved of in Scriptures from the Old and New Testament (see Galatians 4). Then after Sarah dies, Abraham marries Keturah. No problem with polygamy there. Next is Isaac. There is absolutely no evidence that Isaac ever had more than one wife or any concubines. The bringing together of Isaac and Rebekah is actually the only love story in Genesis besides Adam and Eve that the Lord specifically designed and approved of. Read again the story in Genesis 24. God was the author of Isaac and Rebekah's marriage. And it remained monogamous for their entire lives. Next is Jacob. Jacob actually planned to be monogamous but ended up because of customs of the land not being able to free himself from a marriage that he had been tricked into. His polygamous situation is the first one that lasts long enough for the Scriptures to deal with it in depth and it is a story of anger, jealousy, spite, hardship, and loneliness that reminds one of many of the stories of polygamous families in late 1800's Utah and "fundamentalist" groups today. Jacob also confused the relationship by having concubines.

Anonymous said...

Continued from above-
Next on our list in Moses. Several verses in Exodus 4 and 18 explicitly state that Moses had one wife, Zipporah, and children from her. The only other reference to Moses' marital status is in Numbers 12:1 where it says that Miriam and Aaron were upset because Moses had married an "Ethiopian woman". The reference to Ethiopia here is a transliteration from a Greek translation of the Hebrew word kushit, which is the feminine form of the word kushi, which in turn means a descendent of Cush the son of Ham or an inhabitant of the land of Cushan. This land included the land of Midian in Arabia ( and the woman spoken of may very well be the same Zipporah who was then living with them in the wilderness. That one's still a bit up in the air with me as to information vs. interpretation. The next to fellows in the list however are not. The last two men mentioned in Section 132:1 as being justified by God in their polygamy and concubinage are David and Solomon. No one need look further than Jacob's sermon on polygamy in the Book of Mormon to see that God not only did not justify them in these things but specifically despised them and gave specific reasons, not the least of which were the "broken hearts of [their] tender wives". (Jacob 2:35 LDS) It is a ridiculous notion to think that the Lord justified them in this.

To recap, we now have 2 (David and Solomon) of the Justified Six that were in complete transgression in their polygamy, 1 who entered because of doubting the Lord (Abraham), 1 who entered because of the law of the land (Jacob) and suffered his whole life for it, 1 (Moses) who cannot be proved to every have been a polygamist, and finally 1 (Isaac) the only one of the six whose marriage was planned by God and who enjoyed that partnership for the rest of his life and he... was a monogamist. Sec 132:1 is a lie.

-Jonah Bates from Independence, Missouri (Zion!) RLDS

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Very astute and informative analysis, Jonah. I wouldn't mind seeing your entire essay.

Toni said...

Jonah, do you have that on a pdf file that can be downloaded or emailed? (Or Microsoft Word)

I am very much wanting to read the whole thing.

I, also, wondered how David and Solomon being justified in 132 could be reconciled with the censure in Jacob.

I think section 132 could have been a true revelation that was tweaked to justify plural marriage. Only the person who wrote it for Joseph was alive when it was made public. Who knows what it originally said.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I'm still hoping Jonah will respond and tell us where we can find the rest of that essay.

Toni, For some time I have been of the opinion that the entire section 132 was fabricated by Brigham and William Clayton (the copy of the "revelation" Brigham claimed to have been keeping locked in his desk all this time was in the handwriting of Clayton, who had been one of Joseph's scribes and was now a polygamist). But after reading Denver Snuffer's analysis I am now, like you, inclined to the view that the first part may have been dictated by Joseph Smith, with the stuff about plural marriage tacked on later by Clayton (under Brigham's supervision, no doubt).

Toni said...

Yes, especially in light of the fact that it was never brought to light until after Joseph's death and the man who wrote it was still alive and could change/add to it without the handwriting having changed. In fact, he could have rewritten the whole thing and burned the original and no one would have been the wiser.

Fusion said...

Anonymous @ 4:04pm

Your last 2 lines about Brigham and Joseph make a nice couplet with a ton of truth therein. I said a very similar thing recently on another post on this website, but the way you put it is beautiful. I am beginning to feel convinced that Brigham corrupted the Lord's Church. Whether incidentally or innocently since he wasn't a prophet as he emphatically stated himself, or whether he did it defiantly, hidden away in the Rockies, remains to be seen.

Anonymous said...

LDSDPer here, over one year later and finally reading this discussion completely--

Does anyone else believe that the keys were with the 'quorum', in spite of Brigham Young and that he was still used by the Lord to lead the 'saints' to the west (a move I have always questioned, but the church did survive by doing that)?

And that John Taylor was true?

I have no doubt that BY did some lousy things; maybe Joseph did, too--

but it does seem like a set-up--

and fwiw, Rock, I had heard that about Samuel Smith being poisoned--though who knows what is or is not true?

My ancestors had terrible experiences both in the midwest and in the west, and all of them left Utah for places that seemed safer; none were involved in BY's colonization efforts or were only vaguely involved, though they all stayed in the church--

few practiced polygamy; I'm not from the 'leading' families, but I have ancestral journals, and some of them had strong feelings against polygamy but remained in the church--

all very interesting--

it will be good to know the truth, I guess--

I do believe personally that the keys were with the quorum and BY was a test both to himself and the 'saints'--

but maybe that is as convenient as wanting not to believe polygamy. I, too, am happily married to a man who doesn't want more wives, and I believe him on that--

but isn't desire the prerequisite for blessings. If we apply Alma's test about the seed to this (as a stretch) . . . if we desire monogamy, why wouldn't Father grant it to us? In abundance--

with the testimony that accompanies it--

Anonymous said...

D&C 19:17--"But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I:"

Why would they suffer? Because they must pay the price for their sins--

It's a circuitous way around the issue--


Anonymous said...

I'm not speaking for Rock but for someone who believes that, even if he sinned and led the church into apostasy, BY must have done a few things right and was allowed to hold the keys, so they could be passed on--
Alma baptized in the waters of Mormon, even though he had been a wicked priest of King Noah, so he had the priesthood authority (even if Aaronic); did he receive it from Abinadi after he repented? There's no evidence that Alma and Abinadi met at that time--
In other words, even though Alma sinned, when he repented he had the priesthood, so his sinning didn't mean he lost the priesthood--
I use that reasoning (and I admit it may be poor) to think of BY as a merely one who passed the keys along and maybe did a few good things--maybe.

I am just now reading the discussion on this--I commented after reading Rock's essay 6 months ago but hadn't read the discussion--
The people at the time of Jesus' birth were very apostate, but they still had some priesthood authority--or John the Baptist would not have been able to baptize; there are those who say he got it in the wilderness, but I believe the Aaronic priesthood existed at that time; perhaps he got it from his father who was righteous, but the temple was 'open' and functioning, in spite of the wicked leaders--
it's the same sort of thing; enough authority was there for John the Baptist--

Anonymous said...


LDSDPer here--

I especially appreciate #4; Joseph Smith was certainly not perfect; even though I was fed the seminary 'pap' for church history I remember that he was supposed to go west and stayed; I am not sure I will be as hard on him as others, because I think he may have been tired and ready to die (and his brother)--
I also think that it's easy for men to 'reverence' their friends when they die--it happens all the time now--
but I am beginning to believe more and more that it was a conspiracy, and the Lord might have protected them if Joseph and Hyrum had been obedient, but we may not know the complete truth of that--
there are times when righteous men die, even if they make terrible mistakes--because it's time--
and let the consequences follow (sorry about the pun from the hymns)--

the consequences in this case were the desolation for over a hundred years in "Utah"--a place for which I have no fondness, and I'm still an active member of the church--
this to Dave P.

I know this is an old blog, but I'm just now seeing the discussions--

Anonymous said...

I like your third long paragraph from the last--

this is LDSDPer--

I don't trust anyone, but I had been thinking the same things Rock was talking about for a long time, and then I got on his blog and thought, "ah, maybe I'm not totally crazy!"--

curious, too, about the original books--I do love the Book of Mormon; I'm either crazy or deceived or converted--


this to 'Toni'--

Anonymous said...

appreciate your quote by McConkie about Woodruff--

I have struggled with McConkie, though I have also read some things from him that I have believed to be true--

but this helps me to confirm what I have felt by the Spirit about the Manifesto--

that it was the revocation of a practice, not a Godly command--

LDSDPer here--

to "Toni"--

(responding a year later)

Anonymous said...

to "Toni"--

I am probably saying too much, but this has been pent up inside me for decades--

I had two ancestors who died violently because of polygamy: one who was trying to flee it; another who was trying to get a second wife--

one healthy infant died as a result of the first death; children were left orphaned as a result of the second; another marriage was destroyed because of polygamy--
another family was left in poverty (children of second wife) because of polygamy--

that's four families (separate families all on different lines)--

and then there was the ancestress who stood up to polygamy and said, "no"--

and had the happiest family of any of my ancestors--

I find it very hard to believe it when people say they are happily polygamous--

I can't find one example among my ancestors who lived it, though most didn't live it--

Anonymous said...

I'm not Rock, and I respect his opinions. My husband and I are heavily involved in temple work for his ancestors (he's a convert); we've been doing it for over 30 years--

It has been a struggle in the past for me to reconcile my feelings about the spiritual experiences both of us have had as we've done this work for our ancestors (especially sealings, but even other work)--

because I have struggled with the temple ceremony--

I like what Snuffer has to say about it; BY finished the ceremony but did it imperfectly, and so it's the best we have but not perfect--

because I know that the work we've done has been accepted by ancestors and is appreciated--

hence, we have to have temple recommends--

I can answer the questions honestly, because I believe that, even though he was a rascal (a kind word) BY was the head of the quorum of the 12 and therefore passed the keys on--

I do still believe the church is in a state of high apostasy--

(don't get me started on the universities named after the rascal)--

but the keys are there--

it is a muddle and often appears confused to the logical mind, but I've worked it out in my own, because, while I can't accept so much of what BY did . . . I know that the temple work, imperfect as the ceremon(ies) are . . .--

is pleasing to God--

He lets people make mistakes--

I just can't imagine BY sitting with Jesus, though; I am glad I don't have to judge--

very glad--


and, yes, I believe my husband has the priesthood; I've had some powerful experiences with that--

so . . . somehow the keys were passed on--

God is good. What mercy!

Anonymous said...

and I struggle with Thomas S. Monson--

I just leave him alone--

I remember that I had a hard time with his talks when he was made an apostle in the 60s--


What can I say?

But I still do temple work--

I think he has the keys, but I don't believe anything more than that--

Unknown said...

I apologize for posting something after a year of comment inactivity, but I want to thank you for this wonderful post (as well as your follow-up post about Mormon history).

I am RLDS (though no longer connected with the current "Community of Christ"). I had been reading how the CoC was admitting that JS probably was involved in polygamy, but later repented. I had been raised to believe that JS never had anything to do with polygamy, but had begun to wonder if maybe the CoC knew something I didn't. I was telling myself, "Well, if he did get involved, it was WRONG and HE was WRONG!" It made me very sad to think of it, though.

Your well-written post laid it all out for me and explains so much. I now understand why the belief that JS was a polygamist ("OBVIOUSLY!") is sort of like a big boulder rolling down a hill, each time collecting more and more momentum until it's almost overwhelming. When so many people keep insisting it's true, keep insisting that the proof is irrefutable, then that's contagious! Sooner or later everyone just accepts it as fact without even investigating. Thank you so much for investigating and being such an amazing (and funny!) writer that you make everything so clear and understandable.

I feel ashamed that, as an RLDS member, I haven't yet read the Richard and Pamela Price book. I've heard of it but never delved into it. I will pick up a copy right away!

Another thought: There are comments about the unedited or "original" BoM. The common belief among RLDS "restorationists" is that the 1908 version of the BoM (RLDS edition) is the best version, because it's not edited or messed up, as allegedly more recent versions are. Here's a Kindle link to the 1908 version: I've already downloaded a free copy of the LDS 1830 BoM, which is free here! (I need to read the many comments left on this book by Amazon reviewers--should be interesting!) Do you think that these two versions of the BoM are more or less similar (just with different chapter structures?). It seems like both LDS and RLDS have the same concerns about incorrect editing of more recent editions of the BoM.

Now I'm off to read your food storage blogs, which are an interest of many RLDS members. Thank you so much for all you've contributed. I'll be following your blog from now on.

Unknown said...

*blush* Oh, I see that there have been more recent comments that blogger left out! Now I see them! LOL.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post, but the book is full of fallacious assumptions no honest historian would stand behind.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Please do enlighten us about these fallacious assumptions you have discovered.

I have yet to see any historian examine, much less refute, the evidence and conclusions presented in the Price's book. I would like to see Richard Bushman or Michael Quinn make an honest examination of the accepted wisdom. Starting with this book would be the natural course.

Gary Hunt said...

Anonymous December 10, 2012:

I have read the book by the Price's and disagree with conclusion you draw. In my opinion the Prices have presented a lot of valid information which conflicts with the pro-polygamy position. I have also read many of the arguments from the pro-polygamy/ anti-Price position. What I have concluded (temporarily until more information is available) is that the Prices make a good argument for their position.

The weakness in what they present, is that they draw some of their conclusions, from the data they present, which are not totally provable. It doesn't prove them right or wrong. Some of their conclusions are valid. The pro-polygamy arguments have the same problems with the information they present. Most of the information they use is based upon "he said - she said" information, which in itself is fallacious.

Where you say that... "no honest historian would stand behind". This in an of itself is a logical fallacy, which is called the "appeal to authority".

I come from the position of being a descendant of polygamy. When I first read Rock's article, it was a big shock. I had to re-evaluate what I had been taught all my life. Do I know if Joseph Smith practiced polygamy or not? No. To me the information is not conclusive either way. I want to believe he did not, but I cannot rule out the possibility that he. Until more information is available, I think we cannot be 100% sure.

Anonymous said...

This article about plural marriage is very well written. I read this book some years ago and have a copy on my shelf to this day.
For many years now, I have held the view that Joseph was not a polygamist. Those who claimed to have been sealed to him were, perhaps, just that. Today we think of sealing and marriage as being the same thing, but they are not. After my families conversion to the gospel I accompanied my parents to the temple to be sealed to them. I was 15. I have never heard this sealing referred to as a marriage because it wasn't. I didn't marry my parents. It was a sealing plain and simple.
So perhaps some women folk were sealed to Joseph (and maybe Emma too) but it was only after the fact, decades later, that the terms "sealing" and "marriage" had become so interchangeable, and plural marriage so well known, that from that viewpoint Joseph's sealings appeared to be marriages.

AV said...

Anon 5:41,

I don't believe there is any truth to 'sealings'. I believe it was all made up by BY. I haven't ever heard of any proof that Joseph ever talked about 'sealings' or anything to do with the temple endowments & ordinances. It appears he meant for the temple to be used more like a Chapel today is used, not for secret ceremonies, but for public meetings, Sunday services & for men, women & children & non-members too. Much like the Kirtland Temple is today.

It appears to be BY who finished the temple in Nauvoo and started using it for secret ordinances & ceremonies, etc.

I believe that parents & children will be together forever just because they were righteous, and all made it to the Celestial Kingdom, not because of any 'sealing'.

In fact, we may still be connected to our parents & children even if they go to a lower kingdom then us, or visa versa, and family members in a higher kingdom can visit lower relatives. All families of the earth will probably be eternal, just not all together in the same kingdom, unless they all made it to the Celestial Kingdom.

Dorothy said...

I love that you are one soul making a difference in one ward! I needed that very much, thank you. In my frustration with many of the same things you have mentioned in various posts, I am often counseled by others to just get 'out'. I don't want to be 'out' of the church. I love my Savior, revel in His restored gospel and truly enjoy my covenants. It is just all of the weird discrepancies and the disparity between what we profess to believe and how/what we actually practice/live that it so tiring.

Thank you again for your example & courage. I shall continue to soldier on :)

In His Care,

Anonymous said...

Some thing to think about, what ever is Gods will is mine also. I can take plural marriage our leave it.

There is a prophecy called 'The white Horse Prophecy", it is not recognized by the church as genuine, as time goes by, more and more it is coming into it's own. It states among other things that Joseph told the saints in attendance that they would go to the Rocky Mountains and become a great and mighty people. He said the government would pass laws against them and they were to continually petition the government to return their rights.

After Joseph had been murdered his mantle fell upon Brigham Young, this was taken as a sign for the saints to follow Brigham Young rather than Sidney Rigdon and his supporters. Brigham Young and his suppoters were polygamous while the former were adamatly against it. Brigham and the saints became a great and mighty people, while Sidney and his bunch are hardly a foot note in history in comparison.

The government indeed passed laws against the saints, there were three of them and they were all against plural marriage! The rights that Joseph was referring to were obviously plural marriage rights.

In summary, the mantle of Joseph fell on a polygamist by the name of Brigham Young, the majority of the saints followed Brigham Young and were far more blessed and far more influential in missionary work and spreading the fulness of the gospel.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:39,

I don't understand why you would think that Joseph even heard of, let alone wrote "The White Horse Prophecy', let alone believe he thought it was wrong for the government to pass laws against plural marriage.

For Joseph agreed with the government, he totally agreed & constantly preached that plural marriage was a horrific abomination and totally against the law & God's laws & that anyone, including prophets who preached or practiced it would be damned.

Thus it is absolutely ridiculous to think Joseph would have ever believed in such a prophecy, IF you understand what Joseph taught and said his whole life, unless you believe prophets of God can be abusive liars their whole life. I don't know any righteous person who would believe that or believe in such a man. For according to Christ, Prophets or anyone have to 'prove' to us they are filled with Christlike love & total respect for women, before we should even stop to listen to them.

I believe Joseph was such a man, because he stood & spoke up about evils like polygamy, and didn't fall for them, despite what all the story books say. Remember, the victors get to write the history.

It appears you have fallen for the easy line that Church has taught all these years, and not studied Joseph's & Christ's teachings for yourself. I would encourage you to do so.

God's will is hopefully my own too, but 1st we are commanded to 'question & prove all things & persons' & determine which teachings are really from God and which are from false prophets. Are you familiar with how Joseph Smith said to determine that? (By comparing what anyone says or teaches, including prophets, to what the scriptures say.) If it's contrary to Christ's teachings or the scriptures, like polygamy clearly is, then Joseph said that is proof it's wrong and 'not' God's will.

bjalder26 said...

So after I read this article (by happenstance), I did a little digging, and I can't find anything that convinces me that Joseph Smith Jr. practiced polygamy. Joseph denied it, his wife Emma denied it, and their children had no knowledge of it. Also none of Joesph Smith's supposed polygamous children have been proven by DNA evidence to be related to him, and there appear (tell me if I'm wrong) to be no sealing records that prove these sealing happened while Smith was alive. Then when it became politically expedient a "lost" revelation appeared from Joseph Smith that Emma supposedly knew about but denied.

Clearly someone is not telling the full truth, and both sides had something to gain by saying what they did, so I have to look at the solid evidence. So far (and I would have no problem being proved wrong - in fact I'm purposefully inviting it), no DNA evidence supports the polygamy claims. Also, as far as I can find, no journal entries that were written at that time support the claims (some which were written after the fact do, but that means nothing to me except that they put the stories they were telling down on paper). Also some of the stories, and supposed children of Joseph Smith have been proven false. So it's clear there are people lying among those who made claims that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy. The only question is how much of it is lies.

After half a lifetime of just accepting this as a fact, now I think either Joseph Smith never practiced polygamy and was against it, or he only believed in having multiple "Celestial wives", and didn't have sexual relations with them (children would be the definitive proof).

Anyway if anyone has any evidence that goes against what I've found so far please let me know. I don't really even care about polygamy either way, but I find it interesting that something I've accepted as fact wasn't nearly as clear as I thought it was.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

This is my position precisely, Bjalder26. I have been accused by some of being motivated by a desire to rehabilitate the reputation of Joseph Smith. While that may have been (rightly) the reasons his sons gave for coming to Utah to try and set the record straight, I'm interested only in historical accuracy. Like you, I await CONTEMPORARY evidence that Joseph Smith practiced the principal. I am not convinced when decades after his death the wives of the prominent leaders suddenly came forward for the first time to claim marriages. Surely, with all the journal records these women left us, there should be a tiny mention of the momentous occasion of being wedded to the Prophet! But there is nothing but silence.

I am frequently offered evidence that polygamy was being practiced in Nauvoo. Well, no duh. That's why Joseph Smith was fired up about it and vowing to stamp it out.

Anonymous said...

Yes, doesn't Joseph Smith deserve the same Constitutional right we all want, to be considered 'innocent' until proven guilty?

Apparently LDS Prophets and members don't believe in the Constitution, at least not for Joseph.

I have never seen proof that Joseph preached or practiced polygamy, just a bunch of hearsay and unproven claims by men and women who had every reason to lie about it.

Yet people and prophets who call themselves 'righteous' automatically believe Joseph was 'guilty' of polygamy without any proof. Amazing. Apparently they all 'want' to believe he was guilty, probably to give themselves a pass.

Even a court of law (the temple lot case) couldn't find Joseph guilty of polygamy. And it is said the Church used it's best evidence but still couldn't prove Joseph lived polygamy to the court.

Ben said...


Have your views on Joseph's polygamy changed at all since you posted last? Brian Hales has published a pretty extensive volume set on Joseph's practice and teaching of polygamy. How do you reconcile your views all these reports? I want to believe your theory, but when I see smoke I can't help believe that there's fire.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Ben, I wish I could afford to buy Hale's books, and if I felt they contained any information that would address and refute the findings of the Prices, I certainly would. Every review I have read about his books leads me to believe it differs little from the assumptions many LDS hold about Joseph Smith's involvement. That is, "evidence" for his participation is gleaned from later accounts, which are themselves only hearsay, rumor, and "testimonies" of those who had motives and said nothing about it until the Hierarchy was threatened circa 1878.

I hope some day Hales or Quinn or Bushman or Compton will directly address the findings presented in "Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy" and either refute or confirm them, since no one I have seen has addressed those precise issues nor followed after every clue with the dogged persistence of those authors.

I could be wrong, but my impression from reading is that Hales has presented some very comprehensive histories of the practice of polygamy as practiced in the church, and for that reason the books would be of value to those looking for all the information in three comprehensive volumes. But did he uncover anything new? If Hales has addressed the findings the Prices lay out, then I will move heaven and earth to obtain his books. But I'm reluctant to spend money on books that trod the same old ground, however comprehensive they may be. Again, I am speaking from a position of ignorance; I simply don't know what damning evidence, if any, Hales presents.

Maybe you have found something in his books and can enlighten me. But please take note I have resolved not to debate this issue with those who have not read the Prices two volumes, because without that as a starting point, the discussion just becomes a he said/she said. I'm looking for an intelligent and factual response to the findings the Prices present in their books, nothing more.

chrishendrix said...

would be interested if you have read Brian Hales new three volume series, Joseph Smith's Polygamy and your thoughts?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Chris, see my reply to Ben above.

Skyler J. Collins said...

Neal, did you ever get a response on this?

Unknown said...

No doubt plural marriage was not implemented into the church as revelation from God, but still it begs to be asked, why not? Abraham after all did have multiple wives. Does the origins of polygamy in Mormonism really allow it to be condemned by those of the church? If in olden times, why not today? And also, if the church, the restored gospel of God as revealed through Joseph Smith, was so soon allowed to go astray, what distinguishes it from any other religious school? Without the priesthood and church authority, what is the church?

Anon 23 said...

Christ and Joseph Smith taught that polygamy in all cases, even Abraham's case it adultery. Abraham weakened and fell for the whoredom of polygamy just like most men. Even prophets and men who were once 'highly favored of God' have fallen throughout history.

I agree, the LDS Church is no different and has no more authority today or in Brigham's day, then any other church on the earth.

To consider the LDS Church still the Lord's church is just like thinking the Catholic Church is still the Lord's church because it claims it is and had the most people later join it after the original true church died.

The LDS Church is must a man's or group of men (BY & others) false creation. It is not the Lord's church and never was.

The Lord's Church was on the earth for only a few short years in Joseph's day, long enough to establish the true Gospel and additional scripture, and then it ended with Joseph's death because the people would not accept and live the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

But righteous men and women, then and now, can still keep the Kingdom of God going on their own, with no church at all.

Most people go to church it seems, for social support anyway, and to look good, and not to really learn 'truth from error' or care about standing for right or to make sure the widows and the fatherless are being taken care of. For all around them they see that the fatherless are not being provided for, not even by the church, and yet most people do nothing about it, but they still go to church to feel righteous.

Courtney said...

I am new to your stie but really enjoyed this post. The book sounds fascinating and I’m hoping to obtain a copy and explore the issue further. I have long struggled with the issue of polygamy and remember being really disheartened and disturbed after reading Bushman’s account. It’s never really made sense to me how Joseph and Emma could have maintained such a loving and harmonious relationship as expressed in letters and accounts until the end with him practicing polygamy; and if she really had pushed Eliza and caused a miscarriage, it seems like there would have been much more tension between Joseph and Emma and that it wouldn’t have gone without any kind of repercussion for Emma. Also, it doesn’t sit well with me to think that Joseph was being so duplicitous as to deny polygamy so vehemently in public, yet practice it in secret. And since the only real convincing reason for polygamy that I have been presented with is to raise up a righteous seed, I agree with you that the fact that Joseph seems to have had no children from any of these unions is suspicious. I would be sad to find out that Eliza and others who I respect (including my husband’s polygamous ancestors) had been deceitful, but am open to learning more about this thesis. The thing that I think is hard to figure out is how Joseph would have been unaware of Brigham and others practicing polygamy for so long? Were they telling the families and women who they married that they had to hide it from the prophet, as that wouldn’t seem to make sense?
Like others, I wonder what the implications are regarding the current endowment and temple rituals? I have been struggling with the gendered aspects of the endowment and wondered how our current manifestation compares with the original instituted by Joseph? Do they discuss this at all in the book or can you (or anyone else) recommend readings that deal with the history of the LDS temple practices? Thanks for all your hard work.

SPH said...

Who delivers themselves to death like a lamb—except a lamb? No one would ever give themselves over to die just to mock or to make themselves great. What a stupid thing to say, and an even stupider thing to do. People only go willingly to their deaths if they firmly believe in the cause they espouse.

Joseph and Hyrum were two great witnesses— testators — that had to die. It's part of the prophecies that precede the Second Coming.

SPH said...

What about Joseph F. And D&C 138?

LDSDPer said...

if anyone looks on here at all, again--

I was troubled to read (from a review on 'rational faith') about the new book that apparently claims to verify that there has been genetic testing to show that Joseph did have children with other women than Emma?

Wonder where the documentation is for it. Still in denial; still don't believe in polygamy and don't want to accept that Joseph practiced it (as in fathering children with anyone but Emma)--

it's all so fuzzy; there is so much argument; anyone else tired of the fuzziness?

I am putting this on here, because I don't want to bring it up on other blog essays--

Anon 23 said...

I doesn't seem likely that Joseph would have fallen for polygamy, given the fact that he understood how wrong and evil it was.

But prophets have fallen from grace many times before by polygamy throughout history and so it is possible Joseph fell too.

And if he did weaken and fall for polygamy it doesn't mean polygamy was right or that the present LDS Church is true, for Christ and the ancient prophets of the Book of Mormon were clear on how evil polygamy always is. The Holy Spirit can teach us how vile, adulterous and abusive polygamy is.

I hope Joseph didn't fall for it, but faithful lifelong true love (mentally, emotionally and physically) for one's wife does seem very rare among men and even prophets unfortunately.

But I'm still giving Joseph the benefit of a doubt, innocent until proven guilty. I haven't seen any proof yet that he fell for whoredoms.

Anonymous said...

What's interesting is that most people seem to not realize that Emma was actually the one who wasn't faithful to her marriage vows to Joseph, not the other way around.

For Emma married a divorced man after Joseph died, and Christ taught that marrying a divorced person is adultery, for the divorced man was really still married to his 1st wife (in God's eyes) and thus couldn't really marry Emma.

Plus, he was unfaithful to Emma during their marriage and had a child with another woman, who Emma knew well and supposedly told her husband to marry this other woman after she died.

I don't understand why Emma would marry a divorced man, had she never read the New Testament or Book of Mormon? Let alone why she stayed with him through his adultery.

So of the 2, Emma appeared to live something closer to polygamy than Joseph ever did.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

This is the first I've heard, so I can't comment. What form does this "proof" consist of?

Emma was entirely in her rights to remarry, at least according to her first husband, who published, as a part of his "Rules For Marriage" that either party is at liberty to remarry if one spouse dies.

Personally, I'm not keen on her choice of Major Bidamon, but then often in those days a widow with no one to take care of her was not in a position to be choosy.

Anonymous said...


From what I have read Emma did not have to marry for financial reasons, she appeared to be just fine without additional support from a man.

But whether that was the case or not, she went against Christ's teachings and the Book of Mormon to marry a divorced man. Christ taught that she committed adultery. Even widows can be choosy enough to at least not marry a divorced man and commit adultery. Emma, of all women, should have understood this.

You may not believe remarriage is adultery, but Christ said it as plain as day and not only many Christian Churches also agree it's adultery, but also many LDS Prophets have said it's adultery and that we better read Christ's words, even if most Church leaders don't follow it.

Also, Christ's apostles said it is best to not remarry after your spouse dies. I believe that is because we profess true love forever at the altar and if a spouse can wait it out alone in heaven then a spouse can wait it out alone on earth and keep their vows to have true love for their spouse their whole life, not just until they die.

For there is no polygamy in heaven, so a person can't be with a 2nd spouse in eternity anyway. So remarriage just eventually leads to heartbreak and remorse for the 2nd couple, not to mention remorse for not being worthy of an eternal marriage with the 1st spouse either, since they didn't maintain true love and promises of faithfulness to them their whole life.

I believe that those with true Christlike love and charity for their spouse, would never date or remarry after their spouse dies, or even if their spouse divorces or abandons them, for it's just a matter of time until they can be reunited with that spouse again in eternity.

Even the Princess Bride movie got it right, "Death can't stop true love, all it can do it delay it for a while."

I believe that Christ taught and showed us that to gain Exaltation and the Celestial Kingdom we must have eternal true love and faithfulness for our spouse and not date or remarry after death or divorce.

Just because Joseph said we could remarry doesn't mean it's the best thing or that he was even right (for he was wrong and still learning on alot of things), for then he would be going against what Christ's apostles said.

I believe Joseph was stating the 'Terrestrial level law' that remarriage after the death of a spouse is not considered adultery, but neither is it true love (the Celestial level) and if one remarries I believe they lose the Spirit and their Celestial marriage and promises and will thus only merit the Terrestrial Kingdom at best.

But their righteous spouse in heaven may eventually save them anyway, for righteous spouses can save unrighteous spouses who don't keep their vows, for they will eventually repent in Spirit Prison for remarrying or any other sin. But maybe their deceased spouse won't be good enough to save them, then their original marriage won't be eternal, for neither kept their eternal vows.

Anonymous said...

Rock, Continued-

I believe God intends on us keeping our vows to love each other 'forever' when we marry, not just til one dies. I believe that when a spouse on earth dates or remarries it is hurtful and sad for the spouse in heaven and they wish their spouse wouldn't have done it, for then they prove they didn't have true love.

We must understand what 'true love' is and what it looks like, it's very rare, to realize that one who possesses it would never date or remarry after the death or divorce of their spouse, for then they don't have real true love.

We can only have true love for one person in all eternity, and if we don't have it for a 1st spouse then we can't have it for any other spouse. For if we had true love for a 1st spouse then we wouldn't 'be' with a 2nd spouse.

Also, one of the greatest blessings of true love and that high a level of righteousness, is that we can be worthy of frequent visits and companionship with our deceased spouse, 'IF' we haven't broken our vow by dating or remarrying someone else. I have known of many who have had this blessing and they didn't remarry, but stayed faithful to the end to their spouse.

Did you know your deceased resurrected spouse can eat with you, talk with you, help you in ways no mortal can, touch you, hug and love you? When we don't stay faithful to our 1st spouse, and we date or remarry after our spouse dies we deny ourselves some of the greatest blessings with our true spouse.

True love is something we hardly ever see today, most people don't even believe in it anymore, for it requires such a high level of righteousness and sacrifice that few are willing to do it. But those who possess it gain the greatest blessings, even Exalation and an eternal marriage in the Celestial Kingdom.

I think we just so rarely see true love in action that we think remarriage after a death or divorce must be our only choice, when it's not. There are far greater temporal and eternal blessings for not choosing to date or remarry.

doorsxp said...

You might be interested to know that the Church has recently revised their chapter headings for the new 2013 edition of the Book of Mormon and other scriptures. In particular, they have changed the heading for Jacob Chapter 2:

Heading from prior edition: "...Jacob condemns the unauthorized practice of plural marriage..."

Heading from current 2013 edition: "...The Lord commands that no man among the Nephites may have more than one wife..." (the statement above from the prior edition has been completely replaced by this new statement)

The tone and meaning has shifted considerably in the direction of the true content of the Chapter. For example, in the old heading, it is "Jacob", not the Lord, who condemns plural marriage. So, the condemnation alluded to by the heading may appear to potentially carry less weight. Moreover, the old heading asserts that Jacob is condemning "unauthorized" practices of plural marriage. Of course, this allusion to a caveat is made front-and-center in the old heading.

In the new heading, now it is the Lord doing the commanding. This puts the verses into the appropriate context as direct commandments from God (relayed of course by his Prophet Jacob). However, the caveat allusion is once again present, although much more subtlely present in the qualifier "among the Nephites". The implication here is that somehow the commandment could be limited in scope and could be interpreted as only applying to the Nephites and even possibly as being new to them.

This change is consistent with the Church further distancing itself from its polygamy roots. However, unfortunately, it's still weakly hanging on somewhat here to a caveat.

Anonymous said...

What do you make of the Church's appeal to 2 Samuel 12:7-8,11 as scriptural support for the plural marriage principle in D&C 132?

For reference, here is 2 Samuel 12:7-8,11, with emphasis added to relevant parts:

"7 And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul;

8 And I GAVE THEE thy master’s house, and THY MASTER'S WIVES into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things.

11 Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I WILL TAKE THY WIVES BEFORE THINE EYES, AND GIVE THEM UNTO THY NEIGHBOUR, AND HE SHALL LIE WITH THY WIVES in the sight of this sun."

Anon 23 said...

I believe that the Bible has so many errors and false additions from so many translations by almost surely unrighteous men with agendas and different beliefs, that you can hardly take it seriously or ever think any story or scripture is correct and really what was said or done.

You have to take it all with a huge grain of salt, and if something doesn't sound right, like the scripture about David above, then it probably isn't really what God said but just a man's opinion or agenda.

The most we can do with the Bible is just ponder & pray about the 'concepts' it teaches to see if there is any truth in what they are saying, especially in the Old Test. but even in the New Test., but not take it literally.

Like for instance, we know that God must follow eternal law just like us and that truth never changes(Adam had to follow the same laws & commandment we do) and that the Golden Rule is supreme law, thus it's impossible for God to have tempted anyone (like Abraham w/ Issac) to do wrong, or to tell the women of Moses' day that women must marry their rapist or their deceased husband's brother (for God lets women choose their husbands and he doesn't even 'want' them remarrying), or that men rule over women (like w/ Adam & Eve), or that men could live polygamy (like with David in the example above) or that God allows men to destroy a city and retain the virgins for the men to have as desired. These things could never really be from God, so we know they were just either changed in translation to seem that way, or people & prophets only 'said' God authorized or said things but it was really the wrong Spirit saying it.

Plus, when you compare the Joseph Smith translation of the Bible to the original verses, you can see how far apart the meaning often is from the original text and how words were added or deleted, in just the few scriptures that Joseph corrected.

We have to judge everything the Bible says by the principles Christ taught and/or by the Book of Mormon, to know if what it's saying is right or not. And when you do, it appears that very few stories or verses are really exactly true, or as they really happened.

I don't even go by anything in the Bible I only go by the concepts Christ taught that I believe are true. Even much of what Christ's Apostles in his day preached is not in harmony with his Gospel and I believe is in error.

We must have enough knowledge of right & wrong (by study and by experience) and have the Holy Spirit as our guide to be able to determine truth from error in the Bible or anywhere.

doorsxp said...

I believe we have the partial fulfillment of the prophesies in D&C 50:1-16, in particular see verses 3-4,15-16. Read those verses and keep in mind the following:

Brigham Young First Vision Regarding Polygamy: "While we were in England, (in 1839 and 40), I think the Lord manifested to me by vision and his Spirit things [concerning polygamy] that I did not then understand... The revelation [Section 132 in the Utah Doctrine and Covenants] was given in 1843, but the doctrine was revealed before this. (Deseret News, July 1, 1874)"

Wilford Woodruff Regarding the Manifesto: "...the question is, whether it should be stopped in this manner, or in the way the Lord has manifested to us...This is the question I lay before the Latter-day Saints. You have to judge for yourselves. I want you to answer it for yourselves. (Cache Stake Conference, Logan, Utah, Sunday, November 1, 1891. Reported in Deseret Weekly, November 14, 1891.)"

1.) Note that Brigham Young received spirits he "did not understand" and received it to be of God.

2.) The question of whether continuing the practice was justified was posed to the Saints by Wilford Woodruff and he told them to "answer this question themselves".

D&C 50:3-4,15-16:
"3 And also Satan hath sought to deceive you, that he might overthrow you.
4 Behold, I, the Lord, have looked upon you, and have seen abominations in the church that profess my name.
15 And then received ye spirits which ye could not understand, and received them to be of God; and in this are ye justified?
16 Behold ye shall answer this question yourselves; nevertheless, I will be merciful unto you; he that is weak among you hereafter shall be made strong."

Dale B. said...

Rock thanks for pointing me to the John Dehlin interview of John Hamer. It's simply amazing all the history that I thought I knew but really didn't. Following the videos, John Hamer responded to a question about your premise that the Prices narrative is correct with the following:

"The Prices are wrong about Joseph and polygamy. They are in the “Josephite” (RLDS) tradition, but they are not in Community of Christ. They are independent “Restorationists” (meaning conservatives who separated from the RLDS Church). I’m familiar with their arguments; I’ve read their book. Their book is entirely uninformed of the evidence; it’s not actual scholarship; it’s simply a repeat of old pre-scholarly RLDS polemics that have been discredited. I have not personally met them or conversed with them on the topic, although I have been to their book store in Independence."

Personally I like your narrative, as it's compelling and allows me to continue to hold Joseph in high regard, but it appears that it may be largely wishful thinking.

It increasingly seems that we must be required to create our own personal theology rather than being able to lean on the ideas of others. It is going to be a long, slow process of discovery.

Anon 23 said...

Dale, (Part 1)

From what I have studied, the John Hamer's of the world & the scholars, with all their criticisms against people like the Prices, haven't given any proof of their own to show that Joseph really lived or believed in polygamy.

In fact, what they say and all their evidence, makes absolutely no sense when you understand how smart and good Joseph, ancient prophets and Christ was/were. Such men show they don't understand what truly righteous men & prophets are like. One must be 'really' righteous with pure love to understand why Joseph didn't live or believe in polygamy, otherwise the unrighteous will just judge & view Joseph and all the hearsay through their own base lenses, desires and viewpoints, and of course believe he was guilty of polygamy.

Very few men are righteous enough to understand Joseph's true behavior and see him correctly, most easily fall for all the hearsay. Only the Holy Spirit can tell one the truth about Joseph & polygamy, and very few really have the Holy Spirit, though most think they do, for it takes such a high & rare level of love & righteousness to possess the Spirit of God and see all things correctly.

Joseph always taught that unless we have 'perfect love' we will fall and be deceived. He must have understood what he was talking about. Where I have never heard those who accuse Joseph of polygamy to ever understand or talk about perfect love, let alone possess it so they aren't deceived.

Though it's not impossible that Joseph could have fallen and secretly lived polygamy, which would mean the Church has an even worse foundation then if he was innocent, but when you read the feelings and writings of Joseph in 'other' areas of his life, he shows such a great wisdom and love that would not be congruent with him weakening & falling for such a thing as polygamy. He appeared to stay strong & true to the end.

And it's impossible for God to make polygamy ok in certain circumstances. Most men have a hard time understanding how abusive polygamy is for women & children. And abuse & disrespect of women can never be a good thing, even if God commanded it & thus ceased to be God. But God never condones the abuse and degrading of women. And I believe self-respecting righteous women (& men) know that polygamy is always abusive in every case, to women & children, even if the woman says she likes it.

For sadly, most women in the world have gone along with and often even 'liked' men's abuse & control throughout history, that is nothing new. Just look at most religions, let alone governments, and how men take the lead & women allow it. Most all the women I know, no matter how active in religion, have low-self worth and low self-respect, despite all they do for their families. I just don't understand why but that's what I see around me and throughout history. Most women seem to easily go along with, and often like, the control, abuse and disrespect of men, not standing up for better treatment or equal respect & privilege.

Anon 23 said...

Dale, (Part 2)

The idea that women don't or can't hold the Priesthood or equality with men in all Church leadership, in any religion, is just one great example of such men's controlling mentality, and the fact that most women don't care to hold it only shows how women so easily go along with such abuse, seeing nothing wrong with it, just believing men that it's God's will, without finding out on her own if that's true or not.

God will not force power, position or responsibility or equality on a woman who doesn't want it, anymore then he will force anyone to accept something good, and sadly most women still don't seem to want true equality with men in home & church settings, though they are finally asking for it in general society.

What's interesting is that men probably wouldn't put up with half the things women do if the tables were turned, why do women have such low expectations for themselves? Would men keep going to a church ruled by women? Would men go along with polygamy the other way around, (and stay faithful) when he hardly ever sees his 1 wife cause she is usually living with her other husbands she may even love better? Would men allow women to rule society and have little say politically or in the home for 6000 years?

It's funny that Brigham Young said he would hate to be 'dictated to' by a woman, but seemed to think him doing it to them is different.

From what I have seen, God gives women such things as Priesthood, power, position & privilege, in the home, church & society, way before he intends such things to be given to men, (for men only prove worthy of such things if they 1st honor & give such to women), for women usually make greater sacrifices, like giving birth and becoming so vulnerable in marriage to a man or for women even being 'willing' to come to an earth where men are bigger, stronger and often not respectful of her equality or faithful to her.

Thus, God in fact expects men to totally respect, serve and love women 'before & above' themselves or men fail to meet his standards & approval.

Polygamy is always selfish and serves the man's needs, desires & pride while neglecting the woman's needs, wishes & self-respect. Usually pro-polygamists tell women they are bad if they don't like/want to share their husbands, yet the men aren't willing, asked or want to share their wife.

The Golden Rule reigns supreme and always shows the lie.

And Joseph was all about the 'Golden Rule', so how could anyone say he believed in polygamy.

Anonymous said...

Your problem is that Leverate Marriage thing that God commanded every single Israelite to honor for more than two, thousand years.

And that problem that many well known prophets were polygamous.

And that problem that the thing Nephi saw was a world full of harlots. What establishment has always bred harlots and has given bloom to the biggest party of whoredom imagineable? M.o.n.o.g.a.m.y.

"Oh yes but what it's done for women!" Yeah like one in two of them being raped or molested by the time she dies, one in two on hard pharmaceuticals, one in two husbands admitting adultery, that kind of "what it's done for women?"

All monogamy is, is selfishness that turns every 'extra' woman into 'the OTHER' woman. More women born initially, more men killed in war, more men killed in industry, means a lot of women aren't gonna be allowed to even breed even if they're angels. If they don't look a certain way then forget em.

That's not a hypothetical. That's the way you people are NOW. It's revolting and it's got a name: Monogamy.

We know Jesus Christ helped establish the Israelite nation and it's laws and He established a polygamous nation for himself to be born into.

That's not a coincidence,
and it's also not a coincidence that the numbers from modern monogamists AND for previous ones look like they arose in an alley in Bangkok.

Anonymous said...

Just because men refuse to be righteous & faithful to their 1 wife doesn't mean that 'Monogamy' is wrong.

As Joseph Smith taught, Monogamy is God's only form of Marriage. It can be a perfect institution, if men and women would be righteous and have true love for each other, but that is rare, just because righteous people are rare not because monogamy is wrong.

Where as polygamy is 'always' adulterous, abusive, prideful, selfish and creates harlots out of the wives.

Just because a 'prophet' lived polygamy doesn't mean it was right, he either was a false prophet or he fell for immorality by falling for polygamy, as so many prophets and great men have throughout history who were once highly favored of God.

Polygamy is what is 'selfish and abusive', men thinking they can rule over and collect wives instead of having Christlike true love for and true respect & equality with 1 wife.

Even if a woman had to live single her whole life that is far better than living polygamy and being constantly abused by an unfaithful man and committing adultery with him and losing the Spirit and her exaltation.

Even if a woman might say she likes polygamy doesn't make it right, for many women throughout history have been ok with their husbands adultery and control.

Righteous self-respecting women with high self worth don't believe in or put up with things like polygamy, they expect true exclusive love and respect and equality from a man.

Christ taught repeatedly that polygamy is adultery, along with divorce & remarriage. No one can trump Christ, and all who say different are just false prophets and false teachers.

God would/could never command polygamy or he would cease to be God. God didn't make up 'monogamy', he only taught it to his children, for it has always been the only righteous from of marriage throughout eternity. God himself must obey the eternal law that says polygamy is an eternal whoredom.

Many false or fallen prophets have just claimed that God commanded it, but any righteous person with the Spirit knows that's impossible.

There will be the exact amount of men as women in the Celestial Kingdom, all exalted women will have their own husband to theirself. It's the easiest thing in the world for God to know how many men he must create who will make it all the way to Exaltation, for he knows the beginning from the end and if his spirit children will make it back to him or not.

God and the prophet Jacob taught in the Book of Mormon that one of the reasons Lehi & his family were brought to the new land was because the Jews were so wicked, living polygamy and divorcing & remarrying wives, etc., which God did not want Lehi and his posterity to do, he wanted to finally have a righteous branch. Christ was born into a very wicked society.

Anonymous said...

I have to point out here that the quest for TRUTH is the very reason we have the restoration. If JS had never questioned the beliefs around him would he have ever felt the need to request direction from God??? I'm sure he probably got alot more then he bargained for and maybe compared to his experiences our own search for truth may seem less grand but I can not believe that God would want us to be his Dumb sheep. His sheep yes, but not his Dumb sheep. Christ often says come unto me. Know ME. Learn to recognize me.... ya know? Anyways, interesting stuff. I'm glad I fond your site. I can see by the comments that not everyone appreciates your take on this but for me, for the fist time, I feel a seance of peace about the topic of polygamy that I never felt before. It has always been a thorn in my testimony. Communication wasn't the best back then and in all the chaos after JS death I can see how something like this would be implemented. B.Y. May have taken these men at their word...

Bart Burk said...

I would like to believe what you are saying here. Unfortunately, the Nauvoo Expositor seems to discredit it. On page 2 of the Expositor there are affidavits from people who heard D&C 132 read to them in a meeting. They describe the contents so well that it becomes impossible to believe this document was simply an invention of Brigham Young after the fact.

Here's the link:

It is hard to ignore the Expositor' witness of the polygamy revelation and Price doesn't seem to want to touch it either.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Bart, you err in your assertion that the Prices "don't seem to want to touch" the Nauvoo Expositor controversy. They address the controversy and William Law in volume II of their book.

I mentioned in my response above to Bradley that I seek examples where the findings and conclusions addressed in "Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy" have been refuted. Naturally any refutations of that work would presuppose the person refuting the work would have first read it.

Anonymous said...

Whoa! That is eerie.

Anonymous said...

How much of church doctrine is bogus Brighamite stuff? How does one extract the true stuff out from the garbage? It would seem that virtually all temple stuff is wholly corrupted as well.

Anonymous said...

I have a hard time understanding how these limited evidences (many of which are simply Joseph's public denials of polygamy that are not at all evidences he wasn't practicing it) either explain or, more difficult still, contradict the many independent sources documenting Joseph's practice of polygamy from very early on. Perhaps most tellingly is the Revelation, itself.

In D&C 132 (the Church's own preamble of which declares Joseph's having had "principles" of this revelation revealed to him by God as early as 1831), Verse 52 demanding that Emma "...receive all those (wives) that have been given to my servant, Joseph, and who are virtuous and pure before me."

Thus, by this revelation's own words... Joseph was already practicing polygamy PRIOR to this revelation having been given and was demanding that Emma accept ALL THOSE already married to Joseph. So... who's lying here, 'cuz someone is. Either Joseph lied in claiming he had only one wife, or Brigham Young lied in deliberately having the revelation re-written after Joseph's death (though the revelation was known to Hyrum Smith prior to Joseph's death as he records in his own journal how he tried without success to talk Emma into accepting polygamy BECAUSE of the revelation... and who died with Joseph), or are you implying God lied by falsely having Joseph write a revelation that was patently untrue in referring to "...all those who have been given..." (past tense) to Joseph.

Then there is Oliver Cowdery's own statement that he had left the Church because of Joseph's "dirty, nasty, filth affair" with teenaged (16 year-old) Fanny Alger in 1833 that caused him to leave the Church (and then be excommunicated, of course, as a clean-up measure thereafter).

Then there is the known and witnessed plural marriage of Joseph to then 14-year-old Helen Mar Kimball, daughter of Apostle Heber C. Kimball in 1843 (same year the polygamy revelation was acknowledged publicly by the Church).

Thus, again... someone is lying here: either Joseph in denying so publicly his polygamy, or a cabal of conspiracy by Brigham Young and the highest levels of leadership in the Church at the time in falsely claiming he did practice polygamy to justify their own sinful practice of it ... or God, Himself for having stated in Section 132 that it was to be practiced and that by 1843, Joseph already had several wives and Emma was to "receive" them all.

So ... which is it? And how does either of these three scenarios exonerate the Church from such base and foundational lies and still leave the Church able to truthfully declare itself Christ's Church led by actual prophets and apostles who will not lead the Church astray?

Anonymous said...

And to claim that people thought they were practicing polygamy with Joseph's permission and "blessing" when, in fact, Joseph had given no such instruction or permission... makes about as much sense as the IRS suddenly acting completely on its own against Conservative businesses during the Obama presidency while both they and the Obama Administration deny having received any authorization from Obama to do so.

In Nauvoo especially, Joseph was... as he had himself literally coronated... the King, the sole ruling monarch both secular and spiritual over the entire city. To imagine that men would deliberately convince women to enter into polygamy contrary to Joseph's teachings and then-Section 101 prohibiting such... and do so by convincing these women Joseph was FOR polygamy (?!) strains credibility far past the breaking point.

Pray tell... how would such a stratagem have worked?

"Well, you see Sister 'Susie,' despite Joseph's own monogamous marriage, his teachings and preachings against polygamy and even his own revelation from God, Himself, declaring men are to have but one wife... yet he secretly told ME that it's okay!"

Is that how it worked?

I'm sorry... but denying Joseph was a polygamist... as well as a polyandrist (married to women with currently living husbands, which is also acknowledged by the Church and absolutely violates D&C 132's specific definition of what form of polygamy is God-sanctioned)... is to deny D&C 132 that declares Joseph exactly this as factual, together with the many independent historical evidences and written accounts by faithful members and even apostles who lived then. And to do that is to deliberately attempt to rewrite history to falsely paint Joseph and the Church in a more favorable light. It's about as disingenuous as those who have tried to deny the atrocities the Mormons suffered in Missouri and Illinois prior to their mass exodus to Utah.

Anonymous said...

Did you even read the post? D&C 132 was not written by Joseph Smith, and was not given by God. It was added many years AFTER Joseph was killed by Brigham Young, who falsely claimed Joseph wrote it, and who doctored church records and coordinated false stories to back it up when the practice was under attack in Utah by the federal government. There is proof that Brigham Utah group doctored historical records in his possession including Joseph's journals to say complete opposite of what he actually said. Emma Smith never heard of D&C 132 until it was published by Brigham and Emma always denied Joseph did polygamy until her dying day.

The Utah church has inherited the cover-up "cabal of conspiracy by Brigham Young" and perpetuates it today. They have been trying for years to slowly shake off the influences of these corrupt leaders without ever actually clearing the record. Partly, they do not know the full extent of Brigham's deception because he ruined and manufactured so much evidence.

The point is that the Church is not exonerated, but Joseph Smith should be. Don't believe the nonsense about prophets and apostles that cannot lead the church astray. That is bogus. If the original Christ's church of 33 AD can go into apostasy, so can Joseph Smith's. Don't believe the lies about Joseph Smith. He was innocent of these charges, and Utah LDS have not come clean. They must be pressured to do so.

Anonymous said...

You obvisously did not read the post or the Prices' work. All of these issues have been addressed. Joseph did not teach or practice polygamy. The practice was brought into the LDS by coverted Cochranites who had practiced it under that religion. Brigham and other of the early apostles were personally entangled with the Cochranite converts, and ended up becoming sympathetic to the practice and then secretly doing it themselves. This is all documented carefully by the Prices. Try reading it sometime.

Joseph found out about many of these secret actions and then excommunicated such members time and again for it. He publicly denounced it over and over again, creating many enemies. His enemies wanted to take him down anyway they could because of the way Joseph had publicly shamed them. Brigham and the other apostles knew Joseph would not allow them to continue doing polygamy and they had been telling others that Joseph was responsible for it. Joseph was about to expose them and kick them out too, but did not get the chance before some of his enemies got an opportunity to kill him.

These are the facts. The Utah LDS have covered-up the truth for hundreds of years, starting with king Brigham, and continuing to this day, many times with most LDS unaware. The truth is slowly coming out.

Joseph Smith may have done a lot of bad things, but polygamy was not one of them. You are another Brigham dupe for believing those retarded stories about the many wives of Joseph. Every one of those claims is equally credible: pure bogus.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Dale B.,
I greatly admire John Hamer; I consider him a friend. He and I have had quite a bit of back and forth on this topic, but neither has been able to convince the other. All I can suggest to anyone is that they read both volumes of the Price's research and decide for themselves whether the question is settled.

LDS Anarchist said...

By Common Consent has an interesting ongoing series on D&C 132. Here are the first five parts of it, so far:

Sunday Evenings with the Doctrine and Covenants. Section 132. Part 1: Introduction.

Sunday Evenings with the Doctrine and Covenants. Section 132. Part 2: Manuscripts.

Sunday Evenings with the Doctrine and Covenants. Section 132. Part 3: The Public Revelation.

Sunday Evenings with the Doctrine and Covenants. Section 132. Part 4: Setting the Textual Stage

Sunday Evenings with the Doctrine and Covenants. Section 132. Part 5: Ancient Roots and a Death Penalty?

Jeremy Hunt said...

Interesting stuff. I know the thread has gone cold. I wonder though about the diaries of William Clayton. He was one of was Joseph's clerks in the [I suppose you would say alleged] polygamy period of Nauvoo. In fact the very same one you mentioned as having acted as scribe for the July 12 1843 revelation. He has many, many entries in his daily diary that detail Joseph teaching plural marriage to other folks in Nauvoo. He also tells of his own act of marrying Lucy Walker in polygamous union to Joseph. He also details the marital grief polygamy caused Joseph and Emma in intimate detail. Did he just go back and fabricate all that to leave a polygamous paper trail for future generations? The problem if he did is that a lot of Joseph's doctrinal teachings from Nauvoo are recorded in the same journal. Some of the doctrines I consider most sublime. Some of them the very words used as sections of the Doctrine & Covenants. Should we doubt all of those entries as well? I would be curious to know your thoughts. Clayton's diaries were published by Signature Books in, An Intimate Chronicle: the Journals of William Clayton, George D. Smith, ed.

Anonymous said...

One thesis about polygamy that has not yet been mentioned in this thread is the sacred bloodline idea outlined by Vern Swanson: (Dynasty of the Holy Grail: Mormonism’s Sacred Bloodline;

It goes essentially as follows: the reason that the church is true and “living” (D&C 1:30) is because blood descendents of Christ (Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, and others) were necessary in order to restore the priesthood and establish a critical mass of Christ’s literal children.

By birthright, such descendants apparently have a “first” right/responsibility to hold offices in the priesthood (roughly similar to the Aaronic birthright outlined in D&C 68) and the duty to plant an ensign to which all other tribes may gather.

Ephraim joined with Judah/Benjamin literally, in the blood sense, to create leadership legitimacy and satisfy the original order and covenant relationships of the 12 Tribes. Several of the early leaders of the Church are on record making provocative statements along these lines, the blood of Christ being hidden among the Saints, etc., (read Swanson’s research).

Within this context, the reason for polygamy at the inception of Restoration was not because there was a shortage of male members or an excess of female members; it was because there was a scarcity of blood descendants of Jesus Christ.

Apparently the reason for the extreme secrecy and public lying is somewhat related to why Abraham initially lied to the Egyptians about Sara: exposure would lead to kidnapping, death, etc:

“Would to God, brethren, I could tell you who I am! Would to God I could tell you what I know! But you would call it blasphemy and want to take my life!” (attributed to Joseph Smith by Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Kimball Family, 1888] 332–3.)

I am not sold 100 percent on the bloodline thesis, but it does seem to provide a satisfactory explanation about the extreme secrecy and lying.

If Joseph Smith and other early leaders were descendents of Christ, and if they had a charter to repopulate the sacred bloodline, then polygamy and even polyandry are not radical, improper, or uninspired measures, they are simple imperatives that accord with Jacob’s statement that God will raise up a seed unto himself at certain times by means of non-traditional marriage format.

In the end, what is it about the literal blood of Christ (i.e., his DNA) that is so important? I don’t really understand why bloodlines are so important, but the OT and even the NT make a big deal about bloodlines, and so does the POGP, and to some extent, the D&C.

Early leaders made statements that indicated that Christ had multiple wives and many children (who were apparently hidden away in Britain by Joseph of Arimathia after the crucifixion).

The way that Jesus interacted with Martha and Mary (domestic bickering when Martha complained to Jesus about Mary, etc) might be an indication that they were his wives. There was of course no need for polygamy at that time due to dearth of population.

Rather, the issue once again was that Christ had DNA from God the Father, and there was an imperative to establish that genetic material on earth and create a sacred bloodline (Knights Templar, Long Haired Kings, Woman Hiding/Asleep in the Wilderness for 2000 Years, hunted by the Dragon (Revelation of John), awaiting the birthright Prince (Joseph Smith) to come and wake her up, etc).

In the D&C, Jesus at various times addresses Joseph Smith as “my son”. Is Christ being literal in the blood sense? Swanson suggest that he is.

Even if the thesis is true, it doesn’t make much sense to me why, if Joseph did marry a lot of women, and for the purpose of procreation, why didn’t those women have children?

On the other hand, Brigham Young certainly accomplished the procreation aspect of it, as did a lot of the other early leaders, many of whom, if I understand correctly, were related by blood in a relatively close sense.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Good questions, and ones I have been seeking answers to myself. Unfortunately, it appears nearly impossible to see the original diaries. A researcher by the name of Robert Fields has been trying to get a look at them. Are they in the Church archives? I don't know.

What we do know, however is there apparently were three journals, so among the questions to be asked is precisely where are those description? In the back of one or two as afterthoughts. We think of journals and diaries as daily records, but the reality is many of the Saints wrote their recollections years later.

As Daymon Smith writes in "A Cultural History of the Book of Mormon," Parley P. Pratt's autobiography was written by him over time, with many parts added years later, and his son writing a lot of it after Parley's death. The parts the son wrote are intended to LOOK as though written in the words of Parley himself, so it's almost impossible to tell who wrote what.

Here's the problem regarding Clayton's diaries. Brigham Young had Joseph Smith's words altered in may places in the DHC. Willard Richards went along with Brigham's instructions, but another editor refused to play that game, and quit.

After David Smith and Joseph Smith III came to Utah as adults to redeem their father's name, Damage control had to be created and the spin machine went into full alert. All sorts of phony stories began to circulate about Joseph's involvement in Nauvoo polygamy, and wives of the apostles suddenly came out with "diaries" describing their sealings to Joseph Smith in Nauvoo. It wouldn't surprise me to learn Clayton's diaries and the Nauvooo minutes were doctored. It would be helpful to see the originals, and have experts test the ink and paper.

I don't see any reason to question whether Clayton himself wrote the diaries. The question is WHEN did he write those entries?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

That is indeed an interesting thesis, and not one I have heard of before.

My immediate reaction is skepticism as to its importance in the grand scheme. I might be persuaded to embrace the theory had Joseph smith taught bloodlines as being important, but as it is all we have are those who came after him trying to make something of it to help justify plural marriage. the big gap in the theory is this: if continuing the bloodline of Christ was so important, why did Joseph Smith not produce any children through those alleged wives?

It is a personal belief of mine that Joseph Smith is descended from Jesus, though I don't base that belief on anything tangible. I also believe Jesus' children did end up on the British Isles. That's a tradition that goes way back to ancient England and Scotland.

What made the big reveal at the of the DaVinci Code so silly was the big surprise that the French girl was the living descendant of Jesus. Why just that one person? Jesus would have had numerous progeny by now, and I don't think it's a stretch to assume quite a few Americans have the literal blood of Christ in their DNA. Could be millions, and I have always presumed they were from Ephraim.

You want to know who really obsesses about bloodlines? That would be the dark brotherhood. Fritz Springmeyer wrote a well documented book showing how important the "pure" bloodline is to the Illuminati. The families of the Secret Combinations were so obsessed with keeping their bloodlines pure that their countless intermarriages resulted in some of their children being imbeciles early in the 20th century. They discovered they had to be smarter about it, and got into founding the science of Eugenics.

All that inbreeding might account for the number of psychopaths produced by those families.

These people were behind the genetics research carried out by Hitler's scientists, and are heavily invested in Eugenics still today, though they have been successful in distancing themselves from their earlier "successes." It is nearly completely forgotten that Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, had a dream of killing off the African races through abortion and other means.

The name of Fritz' book is "Bloodlines of the Illuminati." Fritz was in prison for some 17 years on some BS charge, and the book was very difficult to find for awhile. I think I had to pay 50 bucks for my copy. But it's back in print. Probably can be found on Amazon. I consider myself a long-time student of Parapolitic and an deep history, but this book was full of surprises. Quite an eye-opener that's for sure.

Again, I don't think Jesus is overly exercised about his bloodline; I think after 2000 years, it's not that unusual if we were to find his descendants everywhere. Fun to speculate about, of course. But it's the bad guys who really obsess over bloodlines.

I'll tell you who IS obsessed with

Anonymous said...

An interesting tie-in: an article was published yesterday that seems to cast some doubt on our past understanding of DNA.

"DNA Double Take"

Key excerpt:

"Scientists are discovering that — to a surprising degree — we contain genetic multitudes. Not long ago, researchers had thought it was rare for the cells in a single healthy person to differ genetically in a significant way. But scientists are finding that it’s quite common for an individual to have multiple genomes. Some people, for example, have groups of cells with mutations that are not found in the rest of the body. Some have genomes that came from other people."

This might be one reason why it would be difficult for the present methods to determine if Joseph had children from women other then Emma?

Might also be a reason why the current research methods seem to have ruled out Hebrew blood from the main groups of American Indians?

Another highlight from the article:

"Science’s changing view is also raising questions about how forensic scientists should use DNA evidence to identify people..."

"...[DNA testing] indicated that she was not the mother of two of her three biological children. It turned out that she had originated from two genomes. One genome gave rise to her blood and some of her eggs; other eggs carried a separate genome....

czimm said...

Rock, I'm new here but I like you more and more by the minute.

czimm said...

Sounds like we're in need of one buried copper kettle. Maybe Joseph made plans to speak for himself when the time was right. ;)

Brian Hales said...

Recently I was asked to respond to a Saturday June 26, 2010 blog post the entitled: “Why I'm Abandoning Polygamy” by Alan Rock Waterman. Having been inundated with anti-Mormon, anti-polygamy, anti-Joseph Smith emails, messages, and blog posts since the publication of my 3 volume JOSEPH SMITH’S POLYGAMY: HISTORY AND THEOLOGY in February of this year (2013 - Greg Kofford Books), I figured it would be another “Joseph was a womanizer” report.

To my surprise, I find that Mr. Waterman composed a witty and entertaining piece that was an enjoyable read. Since it was written long before my books were published and since we both agree that Joseph Smith was not what antagonists like Fawn Brodie have portrayed him to be (a libido driven libertine), I will simply offer some evidences that counters what our aged friends, Richard and Pamela Price, have been promoting for decades. Hopefully, the scholar in Mr. Waterman will permit him to see that the RLDS Fundamentalist position is problematic and is contradicted by literally hundreds of manuscript evidences.

First, let me say that the Prices are very good investigators. They have produced some of the best research available anywhere on a few polygamy-related topics. The unfortunate problem is how they interpret the documents and how readily they dismiss and ignore other equally valid manuscripts that contradict their conclusions. Mr. Waterman initially seems to have embraced their view. My 3 volumes profess to contain “every known document dealing with Joseph Smith’s polygamy,” either transcribed or referenced. Hence, the position of Richard and Pamela Price is countered by a plethora of documentation and it’s all there in my volumes.

Brian Hales said...

The Prices affirm that plural marriage came from the Cochranites in 1835. Orson Hyde encountered them on October 11, 1832:

“Went down to Gunkits about 3 miles and again preached to a congregation of Cochranites who gave liberty; told them again to repent and go up to Zion, and we lifted our cry in the Spirit, and I hope some of them will go; but they had a wonderful lustful spirit, because they believe in a "Plurality of wives" which they call spiritual wives, knowing them not after the flesh but after the spirit, but by the appearance they know one another after the flesh.

Jacob Cochran, the group’s founder was prosecuted in 1819 for adultery. The National Intelligencer reported on November 19th: "Jacob Cochrane, the notorious preacher and leader of a new party of religious zealots in this country, has been sentenced by the Supreme Court now sitting at Alfred, to 13 day solitary imprisonment, and four years hard labor in the state's prison, for the crime of adultery… On the other three indictments, for lewdness, fornication, and adultery, he has not yet been tried.” This view is problematic because there is no contemporary evidence or even late recollections to support it. It appears that if polygamy was mentioned in Kirtland meetings, Church members undoubtedly would have condemned the practice. The idea that “They [the Cochranites] had simply been folded into Mormonish, selling their farms and shops and moving to Kirtland and eventually Nauvoo, bringing their polygamous families and teachings with them” is a great storyline without a single bit of supportive evidence, contemporaneous or late.

The real problem with any assertion that polygamy began in Kirtland (beyond one plural marriage between Joseph Smith and Fanny Alger) is the fact that no contemporaneous account mentions. Writers often point to the denials of polygamy in this period as evidence, but at that time, the Church was denying a lot of allegations. Oliver Cowdery wrote in the Messenger and Advocate in 1836: “It would be a Herculean task to point out the innumerable falsehoods and misrepresentations, sent out detrimental to this society. The tales of those days in which Witches were burnt, and the ridiculous inconsistencies of those who directed the building of the funeral pyre, could be no more absurd than the every-day tales, relative to the conduct and professions of the ‘Mormons.’” Proponents of Kirtland polygamy never quote the rumormongers, only the denials which they have distilled from longer lists of things Church leaders then denied. Polygamy in Kirtland would have been an explosive idea that the press and membership would not have ignored.

It is true that Joseph Smith denied “polygamy” and also “spiritual wifery” in Nauvoo because these were very different from “celestial marriage” in Joseph Smith’s teachings. It was a play on words - verbal gymnastics - and not very impressive. People today are quick to condemn Joseph for the denials and we can’t blame them, but if we put ourselves in Joseph’s shoes, it is easy to see how he chose words that weren’t blatant lying, but were still deceiving.

Brian Hales said...

The problem documenting Joseph Smith’s plural marriages stems from the fact that there are only two known contemporaneous documents dealing with the subject, the Revelation on Celestial and Plural Marriage (now LDS D&C 132) and a few entries in the journal of William Clayton. Joseph dictated two other documents in conjunction with the expansion of polygamy, but neither actually mentions plural marriage. The first is a letter from Joseph to Nancy Rigdon written in the spring of 1842 and first published by John C. Bennett on August 19, 1842, and the second is a letter Joseph Smith received on behalf of Newel K. Whitney on July 27, 1842, which contradicts Waterman’s statement that “no one had ever heard of it during Joseph Smith’s lifetime.” It is true that beyond these documents, no firsthand accounts from Joseph Smith are available.

The unfortunate reality is that every researcher must rely on late recollections if they seek to document the existence of Nauvoo polygamy. Authors who declare such sources to be unreliable, can then spin their story any direction they want, because they are freed from the constraints of the historical evidences.

When consulting the historical record, there are literally hundreds of late reminiscences recalling Joseph’s teachings and their own involvement. They tell a very similar story. I have accumulated numerous evidences to corroborate each of his 35 plural wives. See

Dozens of testimonials were collected by Apostle Joseph F. Smith in 1869-1870 with additional affirmations accumulated by independent historian Andrew Jenson in 1887. In 1892, the RLDS Church sued the Church of Christ Temple Lot (Hedrikites) and dozens of witnesses were called, many of which testified of Nauvoo polygamy including three of Joseph Smith’s own wives who acknowledged sexual relations with him as his plural wives. These are all discussed and categorized in JOSEPH SMITH’S POLYGAMY volume 2, appendix C (pp. 343-68).

Other affidavits have been found, for example, the revelation was read to the Nauvoo High Council on August 12, 1843, according to six of the men who were present that day - James Allred, David Fullmer, Thomas Grover, Aaron Johnson , Leonard Soby, and Austin Cowles. The last two apostatized over the issue but still left a record saying the revelation was read by Hyrum to them on that date. Lots of other accounts from men and women who saw and read the revelation are available. See volume 2 chapter 28.

Brian Hales said...

Most authors who discuss Joseph Smith’s plural marriages ignore his teachings on the subject, suspecting that the real reason was LIBIDO so there is no reason to worry about his marriage theology. The problem with that approach is that it treats the Nauvoo polygamists and other Church members as gullible dupes. They weren’t. They were just as skeptical as you and me and they entered plural marriages because they believed the Prophet’s teachings concerning it.

Joseph Smith gave three reasons for plural marriage. The first was the need to restore Old Testament polygamy as a part of the "restitution of all things" prophesied in Acts 3:21. The necessity to restore this ancient marital order was apparently the only justification given in Kirtland, Ohio, in the mid-1830s, when Joseph married Fanny Alger. Benjamin F. Johnson recalled in 1903: "In 1835 at Kirtland I learned from my Sisters Husband, Lyman R. Shirman, who was close to the Prophet, and Received it from him. That the ancient order of plural marriage was again to be practiced by the Church." A few years later in 1841, Joseph Smith even attempted to broach the topic publicly. Helen Mar Kimball remembered: “He [Joseph] astonished his hearers by preaching on the restoration of all things, and said that as it was anciently with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, so it would be again, etc." This need for a restoration is mentioned in section 132: “I am the Lord thy God. . . . I have conferred upon you the keys and power of the priesthood, wherein I restore all things” (v. 40; see also 45).

It might be argued that this was the only reason Joseph Smith ever needed to give. He simply had to say, “Old Testament patriarchs practiced polygamy and I’m restoring it.” There was no need for a complicated and detailed theology of celestial and eternal marriage. Authors like Fawn Brodie who affirm that such was needed to assuage Joseph’s conscience simply do not understand the evidences.
The second reason given by Joseph Smith was that through plural marriage additional devout families would be created to receive noble pre-mortal spirits who would be born into them. Nauvoo Latter-day Saint Charles Lambert quoted the Prophet discussing "thousands of spirits that have been waiting to come forth in this day and generation. Their proper channel is through the priesthood, a way has to be provided.” Helen Mar Kimball agreed that Joseph taught of "thousands of spirits, yet unborn, who were anxiously waiting for the privilege of coming down to take tabernacles of flesh.” These recollections from the 1880s could have been influenced by later teachings. However, this rationale is also explicated in the revelation on celestial marriage: “they [plural wives] are given unto him [their husband] to multiply and replenish the earth” (D&C 132:63).

Brian Hales said...

Joseph Smith described the third reason in the July 12, 1843 revelation on eternal and plural marriage (now D&C 132):

Therefore, if a man marry him a wife in the world, and he marry her not by me nor by my word, and he covenant with her so long as he is in the world and she with him, their covenant and marriage are not of force when they are dead, and when they are out of the world; therefore, they are not bound by any law when they are out of the world.
Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory.
For these angels did not abide my law; therefore, they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever. (D&C 132:15-17.)

Verses 61-63 also specify that a plurality of husbands is adultery and a plurality of wives is acceptable and occurs “for their [the plural wives] exaltation in the eternal worlds.” The Prophet also explained: “Those who keep no eternal Law in this life or make no eternal contract are single & alone in the eternal world” (see also D&C 131:1-4).

While the first two reasons, the need for a “restitution of all things” and “to multiply and replenish the earth,” are significant, the third reason is vastly more important because it deals with eternity. As described, worthy women without a sealed husband would live “separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity” (D&C 132:16), which is damnation in the context of D&C 132 (see vv. 4 and 6). The eternal significance of the principle of a plurality of wives is that all worthy women are able to be sealed to an eternal husband prior to the final judgment.

Mr. Waterman may wish to excuse this mountain of evidence as cover up or something similar, but for most observers, it is too much and too consistent dismiss. If he would like, I would give him a set of my volumes for him to peruse and perhaps we could afterwards discuss his thoughts and concerns. I believe when all of the evidence on plural marriage is made available, Joseph does just fine. The scary thing about Joseph Smith’s polygamy is not Joseph Smith, not his actions and teaching. It is polygamy because he lived it and established it among the Latter-day Saints.


Brian Hales

Anon 23 said...

I don't believe your findings are as convincing as you believe they are. Do you have proof that Joseph wrote D&C 132?

You also don't seem to realize how righteous men treat their wives and how they love them and would never do such things to them.

Also you seem to not realize that Joseph knew too much to fall for an 'angel with a sword' who tried to get him to go against Christ and the scriptures. Just another false story to try to justify whoredoms.

Also, you seem to not realize what type of man Brigham Young was, completely opposite from what is required to be a prophet of God.

The bottom line is that even if Joseph lived polygamy or 'celestial marriage', it only means me fell for whoredoms just like so many other prophets before him. For prophets aren't perfect and some do fall.

Christ trumps Joseph Smith, and Christ clearly taught in the New Test. and in the BoM that married men can't marry another wife or they commit adultery. Ancient prophets in the Book of Mormon back up Christ. Thus, if Joseph fell and lived polygamy and abused his wife Emma and other women, it only proves he too was a fallen prophet.

We must judge every teaching and practice by the words of Christ to discern if they are true or not.

Brian Hales said...

Hi Anon 23, You are certainly entitled to your opinion. I would encourage you to try to see Joseph Smith's polygamy through the eyes of those who practiced it in Nauvoo. Your comments suggest that Joseph promoted "whoredoms" and no one could figure it out at the time, but you are so discerning you can figure it out today. Brigham and John Taylor, Zina, and Eliza (for example) were skeptical people, just like you. Your reconstruction paints them as dupes and they weren't. It is incomplete. Plus, would you equally condemn Abraham, Moses, Jacob? Plural marriage is acceptable to God under certain circumstances. Your comments are based upon an minimal understanding of the evidences and/or misinformation. My books contain all the documents if you are interested. He was a true prophet. Thanks! Brian Hales

Anon 23 said...


It's just like we tell our teenagers, we've all been there and know how it is, times are not different today, boys & girls, men & women are the same today as yesterday.

So yes, I believe it is very easy to understand what happened back in Nauvoo. I know so many women today who are LDS who would go along with polygamy, then or now. And I know women who have self-respect and thus who would never go along with or believe in polygamy.

I have seen polygamy through the eyes of those who practiced it, most women hated it (as Brigham even admitted) and were very abused by it. There will always be those few women who are willing to go along with such treatment by men and even say they like it.

And I actually tell people the same thing, to put yourself in Joseph's or the Saints of Nauvoo's shoes, and think what you would have done if you had been there. I know I would have believed Joseph's constant testimony, teachings and scriptures 'against' polygamy as many Saints did. I probably would not have trusted Brigham like Emma didn't and I wouldn't have followed such a man, especially one who preached & practiced polygamy. Especially since I would have remembered that Joseph said I would be damned if I followed anyone, even a prophet, who came preaching or practicing polygamy or anything contrary to the scriptures and Christ.

If I had found or heard that Joseph was really going around town collecting wives I would have considered him a false or fallen prophet, just like I believe Brigham down to Monson are. I don't think it is hard to see at all, unless one likes and looks forward to the idea of polygamy.

Righteous men, men who have true love & respect for their wife, don't believe in or fall for or want to live polygamy.

I believe you know polygamy is contrary to the Gospel of Christ. It surely doesn't pass the Golden Rule test, which it would have to to be a true principle. Even Brigham admitted he would hate to be dictated to by a woman, yet he didn't see anything wrong with him dictating to them.

Men wouldn't want the same done to them as they do or did to women in polygamy. They just wouldn't go along with it if it was the other way around and faithfully sit home alone for 50 years with all the chores & kids, waiting for his 1 wife to 'maybe' visit him occasionally, in between all her other husbands she is out living with.

I don't understand how you can believe that true prophets can or would lie and deceive a whole church. Do you not realize that many Saints would not follow Brigham because of Joseph's words? Why would he purposefully turn the Saints totally against polygamy if he thought they would have to accept it one day? Who would trust or believe in a Prophet who lied and practiced opposite what he preached? I certainly wouldn't. I expect prophets to be near perfect, having perfect love, if they want me to listen to them or believe in them.

With prophets like the one's you describe and believe in, who needs false prophets.

Do you know how to tell the difference between a false prophet and a true one? Do you realize that we have tons of false prophets around us today? Even in the Church? Just like Christ and ancient Prophets warned we would. Can you identify them?

Anon 23 said...

Brian, Continured -

I do not suggest that Joseph promoted 'whoredoms', you are doing that by accusing Joseph of the very evils he gave his life fighting against. The Book of Mormon and Joseph himself & Christ are all very clear about how polygamy is a whoredom. You are accusing Joseph of vile evils with no proof, even discounting his own testimony and teachings. What will you say to Joseph when he asks you why you didn't believe him or ancient prophets, or especially Christ? And why you believed vile unproven hearsay instead? And he will ask you.

It is easy to see why there is so much hearsay and false claims against Joseph, saying he preached & practiced polygamy. The thing that is not easy to see is why so many fall for it all instead of believing Joseph's own words.

And 'polygamy' (adultery) by any other name is still 'polygamy' (adultery).

And yes, I don't believe Brigham or John Taylor or any of the other church leaders or Zina or Eliza was righteous or had the Spirit, for they easily fell for or desired evil. I don't believe any church leaders have been righteous since Brigham, even up to today. I believe the Church continues to promote the vilest of evils and adultery. That is because it's a false church, the true church ended with Joseph. The LDS Church is just the same as the FLDS or RLDS or Catholic Church, all professing to be the true continuation of the true Church, but none of them are.

I believe this is easy to see, for Christ said that we will know his 'true disciples' by their 'Christlike love'. And I do not believe that any man or woman with Christlike love would live or believe in polygamy.

The wicked Lamanites, despite their great sins, were preserved just because they kept their marriage vows and loved their wives and thus didn't live polygamy.

There were many many Saints and leaders in Nauvoo who didn't fall for polygamy and who could see how evil it was.

And yes, I believe that any ancient prophet or man in the scriptures that fell for polygamy was wrong too, for many prophets have eventually weakened and fallen. Abraham seemed to fall because he and Sarah lost faith in God's promises. After Abraham fell for polygamy it seems he just went downhill from there and never regained the Spirit or repented. Hopefully the Bible is wrong and he didn't do the things it says he did.

Where is your scripture that says polygamy is acceptable to God under certain circumstances? I find none, except Brigham's D&C 132 which I don't consider to be scripture, for it is completely contrary to former revelation, former scriptures and Christ's teachings, not to mention Joseph's.

Do you not realize that Joseph also said that we can tell falsehoods & imposters by if they go against the scriptures or Christ's teachings?

If you are referring to Jacob 2:30 as your basis for God's allowance of polygamy, then do you not realize that that verse can be interpreted 2 opposite ways? For or against polygamy. I believe it is saying that unless God commands his people to keep the commandments then they will always hearken unto whoredoms like polygamy. Do you not realize that most wicked societies throughout history have wanted to allow polygamy?

From all that I have read from Joseph I believe he too interpreted Jacob 2:30 as 'against' polygamy. From what I can tell it was polygamists in Utah that started twisting and using that verse to try to justify polygamy. When it doesn't even make sense to read it that way, for polygamy (abused mothers) is not a good or successful way to raise up a righteous seed. The fastest and surest way to raise up a righteous seed is by righteous monogamy.

Anon 23 said...

Brian, Continued -

It mattereth not to me if Joseph practiced polygamy or not, I personally believe he didn't and that he was a true prophet who acted like one. For he seemed to understand 'perfect love', which is something we need to have in order to not be deceived by false prophets and their falsehoods. He did not preach contrary to Christ. If he had then I wouldn't believe him to be a true prophet, just ilke I don't believe Brigham is or any church leaders since him, for they all preach and practice completely contrary to Christ, even today..

I understand polygamy very well, better than I wish I did. I also know what righteous men are like, and none of them would believe in polygamy, let alone live it. For they understand Christ's Gospel and how they must love & respect and remain totally faithful to their wife with true everlasting love.

I believe Joseph and Emma could see through Brigham in those last years. I believe Joseph was about to excommunicate Brigham and other apostles for polygamy, but he died before he could do it. It seems (and makes sense) that Joseph pitied anyone who followed Brigham Young if he ever got a hold of the Church.

I am sorry if you can't see the type of men Brigham and those other leaders who followed him were. They gave themselves away just by what they said over the pulpit, let alone by their continual evil actions.

Bottom line and Joseph Smith aside, why do you not believe in Christ and his teachings?

1 said...

Great blog Alan. I just ordered Joseph Smith fought Polygamy and look forward to reading it. I have always thought polygamy was a practice which didn't offer net benefits to its practitioners and I don't think it makes sense in the next life either. I think it is unfair to both parties because it destroys the bonds and intimacies that can only be had between a man and a woman committed only to each other.
I believe it results in an inferior relationship and can't see why either party would want it. Especially in the next life and especially if I was a woman. I don't believe in the next life women who attain Godhead will be physically giving birth to children. We have been told our bodies will be flesh and bone
WITHOUT blood. Birth would be impossible without blood. And what woman attaining the status of a god would agree to be pregnant millions(billions) of times. I find that idea ridiculous.
I don't know how our immortal spirits became spirit children of our Father and Mother in heaven but I am pretty sure there was no physical birth process involved. Probably more like an adoption of sorts.


Alan Rock Waterman said...

Since Brian posted these comments this morning, he and I have had several friendly conversations via private email. I consider brian a top-knotch scholar, and now the formost expert on the subject of the history and theology of plural marriage in the LDS church. We do, however, arrive at different conclusions, and read the evidence a bit differently. I have responded briefly to his piece at Rational Faiths blog, and after I have a chance to peruse his books I'll post my comments on a new post in a few months.

In the meantime, I remain convinced that his books are worth a look, as they do provide valuable insight into how polygamy was lived in the early church. My chief objection is that Joseph Smith was very clear in his denunciation of the practice, and I find no convincing evidence that he practiced it in secret. You may come to a different conclusion after reading Brother Hale's books. I recommend both his take, and a reading of "Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy", afterwhich the reader can come to his or her own conclusions on this very problematic topic.

BigFan said...

With 300+ comments here, I rather doubt you'll get to mine, but in case you goes...

I want to believe what you are saying to be the truth...I really do. It feels right, BUT...but if section 132 is false, I have a hard time throwing it all out. As far as I can tell, that is the only place where eternal marriage is taught in modern day scripture...which, as I understand it, is the whole reason the earth was created (to bind the human family).
If this is the only declaration for eternal marriage, we can't through the whole section out...that is problematic.
Your thoughts?

Anonymous said...

One more comment...while many people don't like 132 b/c it sounds sexist, I don't like it b/c it sounds like PM is a requirement for exaltation.
I also want to believe that polyamorous relationships can continue beyond the grave, so PM isn't a big deal to me.
It would be a big deal if it were limited to "men only" and "required"

Anyway, I didn't think that 132 made PM a requirement. Am I wrong?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

There's always the possibility that the first part of what we now know as section 132 was a revelation from God, and the rest is a fraud, but then we still have the problem regarding why a legitimate revelation was tucked away in a drawer and hidden from the people for so many years. It seems to me that anything actually revealed through Joseph Smith would have been published and presented by him to the people immediately, as with all other revelations.

It's also possible that temples are not necessary to bind couples together after the grave. It's not a teaching that was well known in Joseph Smith's day. The Kirtland Temple was certainly not used for that purpose.

Let's remember that Joseph Smith never taught that "Families are Forever." That was a marketing concept introduced in the 1970s to help missionaries get their foot in the door at a time when families were breaking up and facing all kinds of societal pressures. The public was not necessarily interested in learning "Which Church Is True?" anymore so much as they were interested in a way to keep their families from further disintegration.

Now that my own kids are grown, I realize families are not forever. Children move on and have families of their own independent of us. Certainly we congregate when we can, but we are no longer one cohesive unit.

I like to think Connie and I are forever, but I'm also inclined to think it's our choice to continue beyond this life. There are many good Saints who believe our temples are being misappropriated to that purpose, and that sealings in that regard are not really necessary or doctrinal. As for my feelings on that, I really don't know. But it's clear that Brigham Young put the temples to purposes that were far different from the one at Kirtland, which is the only model we have under Joseph Smith the prophet.

I agree with you that it's all quite problematic. But most problematic of all is the idea that polygamous unions could have ever been dictated by God. Finding any teaching coming from Joseph Smith other than vigorous denouncements of the practice is also a problem.

Bottom line: I don't know the answer to any of this, since the idea of eternal families are not found anywhere before the death of Joseph Smith, and cannot be found (at least by me) as a part of organic Mormon teachings. Anyone else have any thoughts?

1 said...

Nowhere in the Book of Mormon is polygamy condoned or accepted. In fact in three separate instances it is condemned and called an abomination. They are as follows: Jacob 2:24 Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.
25 Wherefore, thus saith the Lord, I have led this people forth out of
the land of Jerusalem, by the power of mine arm, that I might raise up
unto me a righteous branch(without polygamy) from the fruit of the loins of Joseph.
26 Wherefore, I the Lord God will not suffer that this people shall do
like unto them of old. (again won't allow polygamy)
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.
(polygamy is a whoredom)
29 Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of
Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes.(were latter day saints blessed for doing it?)
30 For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will
command my people; otherwise(in a different manner) they shall hearken
unto these things.
This is what the church uses as a weasel clause but this is what I think it means taken in context of this passage: {In order to raise up a righteous seed to me I will command my people, so in a different manner(Different than what? What manner is being discussed here? The abomination of David and Solomon in having many wives) they will hearken unto these things (Not do what David and Solomon did)}
1828 Websters Dictionary definition of otherwise, adv. In a different manner.
1812 Johnsons had same definition.

1 said...

Another proof polygamy is wrong is found in Mosiah 11:
2 For behold, he(Noah) did not keep the commandments of God, but he did walk after the desires of his own heart. And he had many wives and concubines. And he did cause his people to commit sin, and do that which was abominable in the sight of the Lord. Yea, and they did commit whoredoms and all manner of wickedness.
3 And he laid a tax of one fifth part of all they possessed, a fifth part of their gold and of their silver, and a fifth part of their ziff, and of their copper, and of their brass and their iron; and a fifth part of their fatlings; and also a fifth part of all their grain.
4 And all this did he take to support himself, and his wives and his concubines; and also his priests, and their wives and their concubines; thus he had changed the affairs of the kingdom.
And another in Ether 10:
5 And it came to pass that Riplakish did not do that which was right in the sight of the Lord, for he did have many wives and concubines, and did lay that upon men’s shoulders which was grievous to be borne; yea, he did tax them with heavy taxes; and with the taxes he did build many spacious buildings.
6 And he did erect him an exceedingly beautiful throne; and he did build many prisons, and whoso would not be subject unto taxes he did cast into prison; and whoso was not able to pay taxes he did cast into prison; and he did cause that they should labor continually for their support; and whoso refused to labor he did cause to be put to death.
7 Wherefore he did obtain all his fine work, yea, even his fine gold he did cause to be refined in prison; and all manner of fine workmanship he did cause to be wrought in prison. And it came to pass that he did afflict the people with his whoredoms and abominations.
So the BOM is clear that polygamy is a whoredom and an abomination and Joseph Smith NEVER openly or publicly advocated polygamy and in fact all his public addresses condemned the practice. If he did it in secret he was doing it in sin. Practices done in secret are almost always sin.
I have read the 'evidence' on both sides and I believe he didn't practice it and that BY was the main instigator of that abominable practice and false doctrine. But if JS did practice it then he did it it sin and it wasn't a revelation from God.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Rock, I appreciated and agree with your above words.

After being born & raised & faithful in the Church til recently when I have left it to follow Christ instead, (for one cannot follow Christ and the Church, they teach opposites), I have come to firmly believe that Brigham's temples were and are being used for an entirely different purpose than what I believe Joseph or the Lord intended temples to be used for.

Brigham appears to have turned the temple into a lot of false ordinances to keep his illegal whoredoms secret & make them appear vaild & right.

I don't believe in such things as sealings, endowments, garments, etc. Though baptism for the dead seems to be a necessary ordinance which was done in Joseph's day too. Joseph taught that God commanded marriages to be public, for all to celebrate in. It is the height of evil and against what Joseph taught, for the LDS Church to turn loving parents & family away from their children's & sibling's marriage ceremonies, just because they may be of another religion or of other beliefs. God would not do that to a mother & father who sacrificed so much to raise their children & then miss out on their most important day. Only prideful people & leaders would exclude loved ones from such.

I firmly believe all (1st) marriages (as Christ & Joseph taught) are eternal, Joseph did talk about couples honoring their vows for eternity when he set out the marriage vow in the D&C. The idea & concept is there.

And Christ taught that marriage was impossible to dissolve or end. That there is no such thing as divorce & remarriage, that remarriage is adultery because despite what civil laws may say or allow, the original couple is still really married and will be forever. Though unrighteous spouses will have to repent in the next life before they can reunite and enjoy eternity with their spouse, even if it's in a lower kingdom together and even if they may not have lived worthy of the power to be God's together, they still will love each other and be married forever.

The love which Christ had & taught is an eternal everlasting unending love, and he asked that couples have that for each other, thus, he meant they must love each other for eternity, for their love will never end.

Anonymous said...

Continued -

I believe the Gospel is just common sense. I believe it's common sense to realize that we didn't just stand around doing nothing for billions of years before we came to earth, we formed relationships and learned and had high hopes for the future. I believe we choose the people we cared most about in that realm to be around us in this world, those who could help us make it back or that we could help make it back, for that would have been our highest priority. I believe we choose our children, our parents, our friends, and most especially our spouse, to be with us in this journey through mortal life and on through eternity. God must have a way to bring the right people together, especially to unthinking unknowing, young people who marry before they have any clue what they are getting into or even how to choose a good mate.

For Christ to teach there is no divorce, no changing marriage partners, means God doesn't let us say we made a mistake, (as most would say, for most marriages deal with some form or abuse or adultery), thus he must have put us with the right person we chose in a time long forgotten. And he remembers how we felt about the person & will feel about them again someday, even if in this present life we can't even stand our choice and think it was all a huge mistake.

Thus, all 1st marriages and families are eternal, no matter what religion they are or none at all, or if they were good or bad, happy together or separated for most of this life. The unrighteous family members will repent and the marriage & family will go on through eternity, with love and care for one another. We will mingle & assemble with our extended family members there as we do here, even though we may not all live in the same kingdom or place. Though I believe couples will be together, for Christ's ancient apostles taught that righteous spouses can save their unrighteous spouse, to live with them in a higher sphere then they may have deserved, as a blessing & reward for the righteous spouse.

There is no such thing as sealings, endowments, garments, etc. Once you come to see Brigham for who he really was & all the evil he did, you see why and how he came up with those falsehoods in the temples, totally distorting the true use of temples for worship and gatherings for the whole community of all ages.

Yet everyone today in the Church thinks Brigham's endowments & sealings are so vital, while most LDS don't even believe in or have respect for Christ's true teachings about marriage, being unconditionally eternal, most LDS instead believe in the Adversary's teachings of divorce & remarriage which Brigham also incorporated into his false temples, to go along with his whoredom of polygamy.

Anonymous said...

Concerned Asks:

Any evidence that Brigham Young might have put out a contract on Joseph Smith,

or had knowledge of what was to come and let it happen?

1 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
1 said...

There are three clear condemnations of polygamy in the Book of Mormon. One in Jacob 2, one in Mosiah 11 and one in Ether 10. So by the mouth of three witnesses it stands condemned as false doctrine in the "most correct book on earth".
In Jacob 2 however there is a 'weasel clause' the church uses to justify polygamy by falsely interpreting it.
Verse 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.
Church leaders interpret this to mean when God wills he will command his people to practice polygamy.
If you look at the 1828 Websters Dictionary definition of the word 'otherwise' you get this: adv. in a different manner.
The 1812 Johnsons Dictionary had the same definition.
So look at the verse with that definition replacing the word 'otherwise':
30: For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; in a different manner they shall hearken unto these things.
And just what manner is being discussed in this passage? The abominable manner practiced by David and Solomon. The one about which in verse 32 the Lord says, "And I will not suffer, saith the Lord of Hosts, that the cries of the fair daughters of this people, which I have led out of the land of Jerusalem, shall come up unto me
against the men of my people, saith the Lord of Hosts."
So when God wants to raise up seed unto Him He will command His people to act in a DIFFERENT manner than did David and Solomon.
26 Wherefore, I the Lord God will not suffer that this people shall do like unto them of old. (again, won't allow them to practice polygamy)
29 Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments(hearken unto these things), saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes. (One can easily make the case early saints were cursed)

There is no such thing as a law of polygamy found in all the scriptures, except in the section 132 fraud which reads as if it was written by Satan, introducing all kinds of new words and new and false doctrine unsupported and in fact refuted by the other scriptures. It contains many logical errors and teaches falsely that Isaac and
Moses both had more than one wife. It treats women as property, seeks to take away their agency and threatens to destroy them multiple times if they don't comply with this abomination. And the men are under no similar condemnation yet in verse 32 above, we find the men were the ones doing evil.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

No clear evidence that I'm aware of. Samuel Smith, who would have been next in line for the Presidency after Hyrum, died a month after his brothers under suspicious circumstances. William Smith maintained that Brigham Young had sent word to Hosea Stout to keep Samuel out of the way until he (Brigham) could return to Nauvoo.

According to what I have heard, Stout kept the ill Samuel Smith in his quarters, not allowing anyone to see him while Stout was busy "nursing Smith back to health." Surprise! Samuel Smith died under the watchful care of Hosea Stout.

If stories about Hosea Stout are any indication, he was a pretty cold blooded character, known to do Brigham's bidding. He is rumored to have shot men in the back, and some believe Stout was the one who returned to Nauvoo and set fire to the temple under Brigham's orders. (Brigham Young had tried to sell the temple to the Catholic Church, but was stymied when the remaining LDS church at Nauvoo notified the Catholics that the temple was not his to sell.)

Hard to know if there is anything to these rumors. As for whether Brigham Young put out a contract on Joseph Smith, he certainly had the motive. Joseph Smith vowed three weeks before his death that he would rout out those closest to him who were promoting polygamy. Certainly others who had once been close to the prophet accelerated conditions that led to his murder.

Anonymous said...

Dear Alan,

Have you ever heard of the document - Oliver's Secret re: polygamy and Joseph Smith? It is a very interesting read ... but I do not have the background in the historical Nauvoo period ... but so much of it resonated with me.

Jared Livesey said...


Did you know about William Clayton's journal entry of 1843?

It says this:

[July 12, 1843] This A.M. I wrote a Revelation consisting of 10 pages on the order of the priesthood, showing the designs in Moses, Abraham, David and Solomon having many wives & concubines. After it was wrote Press. Joseph and Hyrum presented it and read it to E[mma]. who said she did not believe a word of it and appeared very rebellious. J[oseph]. told me to Deed all the unencumbered lots to E. & the children. He appears much troubled about E.

[July 13, 1843] This A.M. J. sent for me. & when I arrived he called me up into his private room with E. and there stated an agreement they had mutually entered into. they both stated their feelings on many subjects & wept considerable. O may the Lord soften her heart that she may be willing to keep and abide by his Holy Law.

The source is The Nauvoo Diaries of William Clayton, 1842-1846, Abridged. Salt Lake City: Privately Published, 2010, p. 22, as cited in PTHG, p. 156-7.

Anonymous said...


If you go read chapter #66 called "Hyrum Smith Fought Polygamy" in the chapters of the onlne book "Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy" at, it gives a very good review of that journal entry and why it is almost surely false.

Not to mention, why would we put any faith and trust in what William Clayton claimed? He believed in and lived polygamy and supported Brigham Young, and had every reason to lie or put false additions into Joseph journals after he died most surely at direction of Brigham Young. He could and I believe would have easily added those things later on to Joseph's journal to make it seem like 132 was from Joseph. For after Joseph died we know that Joseph's journals were tampered with. Which wouldn't be surprising for church leaders to do to cover their tracks and try to make their polygamy look justified and backed by Joseph.

And lets say for fun that Joseph really did receive that revelation on marriage. He, by his own teachings, would have branded it false because it was contrary to his previous revelations and scriptures that condemned polygamy. So Joseph would not have believed that revelation even if he received it himself, he would have considered it from the devil and completely in error. Joseph was smarter then William Clayton paints him.

Jared Livesey said...

That same argument would condemn Nephi for killing Laban, Abraham for sacrificing Isaac, and basically make hash out of the scriptures; it's false reasoning.

Your claim that "Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy" at, chapter 66, reviews the journal entries is false; it does not even mention them. I get rather put out when the internet lies to me about something so easily checked.

Jacob 2 is quite clear that monogamy is the norm, unless the Lord commands otherwise.

Clayton's journal entry is a contemporary record, and, on its own, seems credible on its face.

Anonymous said...

Joseph did not seem to believe that Jacob 2 ever allowed for polygamy. That was the polygamists in Utah who 1st started saying it said that. Jacob 2 was never considered to allow for polygamy ever, in Joseph's church, only later in Brigham's did they teach it that way.

Perhaps you didn't see the right chapter, for I just read it myself and the whole page is about that journal entry. Not sure how to help you find it. Sorry, but it's there.

And no, the argument would not condemn Nephi, for his revelation did not conflict with the laws of God.

And yes, Abraham's revelation to sacrifice Isaac was indeed wrong, and he shouldn't have followed it, for it was contrary to God's laws. Abraham should have known this, but he had already lost the Spirit because of his polygamy, and hadn't fully repented even if he sent Hagar away. For Abraham apparently later took more concubines. So Abraham did fall for false revelation from the Adversary, thinking and saying it was from God, as everyone does who isn't righteous. But God intervened and saved Issac for Issac's sake.

Jared Livesey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jared Livesey said...

Joseph can believe what he wants about Jacob 2. The text is crystal clear without needing to rely upon the arm of flesh to justify a contrary reading.

I read chapter 66, which nowhere references the text of the journal entries. Perhaps you don't know what I'm talking about, inexplicably ignorant since I quoted them verbatim in the post you "responded" to?

The link to your chapter 66 is right here:

The text of the journal entries is as follows (again):

[July 12, 1843] This A.M. I wrote a Revelation consisting of 10 pages on the order of the priesthood, showing the designs in Moses, Abraham, David and Solomon having many wives & concubines. After it was wrote Press. Joseph and Hyrum presented it and read it to E[mma]. who said she did not believe a word of it and appeared very rebellious. J[oseph]. told me to Deed all the unencumbered lots to E. & the children. He appears much troubled about E.

[July 13, 1843] This A.M. J. sent for me. & when I arrived he called me up into his private room with E. and there stated an agreement they had mutually entered into. they both stated their feelings on many subjects & wept considerable. O may the Lord soften her heart that she may be willing to keep and abide by his Holy Law.

The source is The Nauvoo Diaries of William Clayton, 1842-1846, Abridged. Salt Lake City: Privately Published, 2010, p. 22, as cited in PTHG, p. 156-7.

You will undoubtedly note, even if you choose to not acknowledge, that these journal entries are nowhere referred to in chapter 66, which is a glaring deficiency, since it undercuts the foundations of your argument against Joseph being a polygamist.

Your argument would condemn Nephi, because, forsooth, "thou shalt not kill" indeed is a law of God.

And your slur of Abraham does not accord with scripture.

Abraham 2
10 And I will bless them through thy name; for as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father;

11 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee (that is, in thy Priesthood) and in thy seed (that is, thy Priesthood), for I give unto thee a promise that this right shall continue in thee, and in thy seed after thee (that is to say, the literal seed, or the seed of the body) shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal.

And if I seem short-tempered, dealing with bluffers and liars tends to anger me.

I repeat: Clayton's July 12-13 1843 journal entries are contemporary records which establish D&C 132 as coming through Joseph.

You're entitled to your own opinions, but you are not entitled to your own facts.

Jared Livesey said...

And, in any event, I came here to find out if Rock wrote this article in ignorance of the journal entries.

Anonymous said...

This is a very old thread. forgive me if this has been answered earlier.....what about helen marr kimballs diary? the partridge sisters? The entries in JSs diary by the hand of william clayton recording all the marriages? are these all fabrications? please reply, thanks.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I touched on the Helen Mar Kimball diary in my follow-up piece, "Why Mormon History is Not What They Say." You'll find the link to that at the end of the current post.

It's not from the diary of a 14 year old girl, as we have been led to believe. As for your other concerns, they are covered in one or both volumes of "Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy." I hope you'll read it.

Available in hardcover, or free online at

Jared Livesey said...

But were you specifically aware of the Clayton journal entries for 12 and 13 July, 1843, when you wrote this article?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I have not seen that, but only read of the frustration of another researcher by the name of Robert Fields who wishes we could see the actual journals. He says according to the description, they don't match up in size and page numbers and such.

I agree with him. If the journals are in the Church archives, we should be allowed to see them and have them forensically tested.

Jared Livesey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

The things people will say in order to be a proper feminist are nothing short of amazing.

Anonymous said...

LoL that's hilarious

Anonymous said...

The fact that Abraham had multiple wives, that Jacob did, that Joseph did, that Saul did, that David did,

this all means nothing.

The fact that in Jewish law it is c.o.m.m.a.n.d.m.e.n.t. to marry a brother's wife if he dies - this means nothing.

God's prophets were confused.
God let their polygamous adultery go on via God's own commandment thousands upon thousands of years: it means nothing.

This is why
we take people away from home
and give them stuff to read and write with
and see if they try to change the pattern the Lord lays down.

It's really not funny at all. That before fifty years of your lives are over, you're given up on heterosexuality as obviously c.o.m.m.a.n.d.e.d. of God for thousand
upon thousand
of years.
Then there's the artifactual evidence in nature: polygamy is everywhere. It means nothing to them who decided Gods commands were pollution to their ears.

Then there's the artifactual evidence in humanity: Time did a study some years back that came up with something like 75% of all civilizations practicing polygamy.
It means nothing.

So to sum it up, that most people are polygamous - that means nothing. It's wicked.
And that God somehow winds up with prophet after prophet practicing it: It's wicked.
And that God commanded the Jews to polygamy thousands of years: It's wicked.
And that Joseph Smith or at very least the D&C mentions it as critical: It's wicked.

No it's not God
and those prophets
and those scriptures
who are wicked.

It's not Abraham and Moses and Jacob the founders of your faith, who are the perverts. Of that much you can rest well assured.

The fact some people were commanded to stop's irrelevant just like the commandment to stop loving money's irrelevant to the specific teaching that obedience brings abundance.

It really stuns the mind people can be given records testified by God to be approved of by God over, and over, and yet have people sit around talking among themselves on an internet which is an extension of the promise God would show forth great light,

about how God and Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Moses and every Jew who married his brothers' wife for two thousand years, and Brigham Young
are all perverts,

and how you've always seen the lack of good sense in living like He said to create your civilization.

If I didn't come to the planet and see people doing it myself with my own eyes, you couldn't ever explain to me what the creepies feel like when people openly discuss how they knew the God
who spammed them the internet they gainsay him on,
needs to have His concept of how He wants civilization run straightened up some.
Because He and Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Moses - they're all 'creepy' and "don't really understand what a woman wants."

He and they - know what a woman wants.
He and they - know what a man wants.

They just didn't ask you what you want, they told you what you had better see, when run right, runs best.

If not then maybe you're not the kind of people He - and they - are looking for.

Anonymous said...

When it's all over and done, if you ever got Baptized, you admitted you knew God was the author of the Bible and that God would notify you through His personally, hand picked witnesses, how to live.

How in the world a person could ever come to the conclusion monogamy lifts up women - simply, of itself - is a stunning testament to how little, people really know of the suffering of women, under monogamy.

We'll consider modern civilization to call itself monogamous. They're not but they claim they are, and when they formally charter their organizations, they don't allow, but one man and another man, or one man and a woman, or one woman and another woman, to form a legal charter called marriage.

Their social numbers look like everyone lives in an alley in Vietnam.

In her life almost one in two women will be molested or raped.
In his life almost one in three men will be molested or raped.
Somewhere between a third and two thirds of marriages dissolve because the people simply can't stand each other any more.
The work load to chase money burns people out as the women, the men: everyone is turned out to chase that mighty dollar that "buys all that freedom."

It does buy freedom of choice but not freedom FROM choice.

One of the fundamental tenets of the God of Abraham was some sort of willingness to lay down ones' own immediate glory to help build up a larger one. Polygamy allows women who aren't born very good looking to have partners. It allows women who are abused and can't take a full time relationship but need one, to grow, to have a husband who can be gone more when she can't handle being around a man and men in general doing the loud/big things men do.

The amount of sacrosanct posing that goes on, like somehow monogamy is even a decent arrangement for people in a civilization simply because it's not polygamy,
it's evidence of naivete, is what it is.

When your Heavenly Father tells you and everybody He ever spoke to that HIS hand picked friends are polygamists, if words worked on ya, that would be it.

Instead people come around claiming study, and the Holy Spirit revealed to them God and all His prophets who practiced and approved of polygamy are Satanic, misleading man kind for their own perverted lust.

LoL. Yeah. That's how that one's gonna shake out in the long haul. God's a perv, you know better, and you're gonna have to have him get rid of that polygamy if he wants you around.

I remind you all that God finding himself more advanced offered the opportunity for others to learn how He lives, and adjoin themselves to His family.
He obviously is accepting of heterosexual polygamists,
and He obviously is not accepting of pretty much anyone who'll even look twice like they think they might have a complaint.

Really though a fairly wide ranging discussion on polygamy but once you recognize God told you those prophets He sent are good to go to associate with Him

that's the end of any complaints you have, if you don't plan to be again, ejected from His presence to go learn a few lessons 'your' way. The 'not how He said' way.

That's part of your deal though: if you abandon the principles that He gave you
He's going to abandon you
and you'll be left to yourselves.

Indeed, the Mormons abandoned Him in that,
and now, they're unable to have, even the family unit God gave them, where a man would go off and work and a woman could exercise some authority over her brood.

That's gone. The Mormons abandoned Gods family organization
The world gave the Mormons one more to the Mormons' liking.

The ones the rest of the world lives by where chasing money by man and by woman is the only thing and everything is second to that thing.

It's a sad situation when people make bad choices and put themselves on money treadmills with a fifty percent tax,

but that's what happens to a nation of pleasure seekers who tell God, they know better.

Anonymous said...

Indeed having just said what I have, I remind you all, that it was the very thing - getting some money - was the very thing that stopped so many people from practicing polygamy in the first place.

Whoever wants, can say what they can, but the fact is, the Prophets and Apostles in the ending of the days of Mormon polygamy, were constantly saying, "people think if we get this way of living aside we'll get accepted into the nation and not be kept constantly broke, by their predations on us," - that's my paraphrase: and more often they simply said, "You people are too fixate on money and conveniences."

Another one brought up was how the women, were so determined they were going to be friends with the world, instead of having warfare between God's Kingdom and the rest, effectively of the world.

And what does the modern Mormon look and talk like?
Everybody here knows: I don't need to answer that for you.

The modern Mormon looks and talks like the modern monogamist.
In trying to shuck excessive family responsibilities,
they've all been strapped with an, effective, fifty percent tax rate and told the STATE
will raise their children.

Since they don't have any values the state respects.

Remember when those 400 kids were taken from the Polygamists in Texas? After all the cases were reviewed not one single child was NOT returned to their mother.

You're going to have to learn what it is to know more and not let it get ya down that everybody else on the planet wants your piece of the pie,
and that you're going to obey laws that help you keep your stuff,
and it's not the laws you want to obey,
and it's not the stuff you want to keep,
most of yas just don't want to wind up like those who don't benefit from understanding the immense importance of Abrahamic religion on civilizations worldwide today.

Anonymous said...

Last paragraph's a wreck because of me hurrying and isn't really worth trying to correct.

Anonymous said...

It is no surprise that most societies, most men, most women, and even most prophets eventually fall for some form of whoredoms. For God warned that few there be that find it. Righteous men have always been rare since the beginning of time, so of course polygamy has been very common, even among men who at one time were highly favored of God, but then weakened and fell.

I can see why many would put the Bible, with all it's translation errors and obvious falsehoods, above newer more correct scripture like the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith's teachings, because the more correct scripture condemns what the Bible seemed to allow.

Bottom line, Christ condemned polygamy and he trumps everyone.

Anonymous said...

Actually the bottom line is that the nation the Lord set up with His law declared all men of Israel to be on notice: if their brother died without children they were BY LAW REQUIRED to marry the man's wife and raise up children to that man's name and legacy.

Not tuesdays
or when the Prime Minister decided to nudge the Yen to get that nice property overlooking the harbor,

for more than
it was the COMMANDMENT.

It's the longest section of Jewish Law, it's called Levirate marriage.

BK said...

Those laws were ancient biblical laws of saying a man must marry his brother's widow were not of God, they were contrary to God's laws. God does not give opposite commandments to one group and different commandments to another. God's laws are always exactly the same from Adam to us.

God never commanded polygamy in the Old Testament times, it was men who made up those laws and 'said' they came from God. Christ taught the real truth and said that married men cannot marry another woman, period, or it's adultery, even if he divorced his 1st wife, for the divorce means nothing and he is still married to his 1st wife and can't marry anyone else.

Marriage is indissolvable and unbreakable, no matter what. All this divorce and remarriage is just legal adultery, which even most churches today, especially the LDS Church, is supporting such adultery, which is not surprising for it supported polygamy and many other evils also and has never repented from them, it still teaches polygamy in the next life and serial polygamy by divorce here. And it still upholds it's evil leaders who preached and practiced polygamy and all manner of evils that were contrary to the laws of God & Christ.

Much of the Old Testament seems to either be translated incorrectly or not the word of God, but the commandments of men. It is not surprising that even many ancient prophets fell from grace by polygamy for it is so appealing to most men, just look how many good men get allured and blinded by it today.

We must use the words of Christ to judge the correctness and righteousness of all men, prophets and laws.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I certainly agree with you, BK. It always surprises me when I see Latter-day Saints citing Old Testament law and customs as though those traditions came from God.

It's common to hear Baptists and others declare that every word of the bible is the word of God, but that's not what Mormonism teaches.

The Old Testament contains many vain traditions. Just because something is stated within those books does not mean God authored or approved it.

FireCloud said...

If Joseph Smith did not practice polygamy what are we to think of Mary E. Lightner's compelling testimony when she was 87 years old? What would be her motivation at that age?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I'm guessing you didn't read the follow-up piece. The reality is that years after the fact, faith promoting lies about Joseph Smith were the norm.

FireCloud said...

Thanks Rock. That is why I haven't been to church in 14 years. I don't know what to believe anymore about Joseph, the B of M, or the church.

How on earth are we to distinguish between what is made up and what is real? It's shear chaos. Certainly not a "house of order."

I don't trust organized religion, and like Joseph did early on I have chosen to remain "aloof from all these parties."

Now I console myself by reading the New Testament and books on near death experiences and "reincarnation."

Why anyone would turn to atheism is beyond me.

BK said...


That is what I have done also, I stand aloof from all churches, though I have far more respect for non-lds Christian churches now for most of them at least teach and live by Christ's New Testament teachings far more and better then the LDS Church does.

I think the LDS Church avoids teaching Christ's exact words for they would often show how off base the Church is, so they just quote each other (lds prophets) and their 'commandments of men' and avoid really talking about Christ much. It's incredible once you realize what chaos the LDS Church has become and how they keep so many people from seeing the truth, but then again, seeing the truth is a choice.

I believe that we most certainly can stay righteous and worthy of all God's blessings if we study and live Christ's teachings in the New Testament and follow our own personal revelation, while testing it against Christ's words to make sure we are hearing 'truth'.

I don't believe JS lived polygamy, but if I find out he did then it would just mean he was a false or fallen prophets like so many before and after him.

But JS did say that the Kingdom of God remains on earth just as long as one righteous person can receive personal revelation. So I believe there are many righteous people in the world who, while aloof from other churches, do remain a part of the Kingdom of God.

It will be wonderful when a true prophet really does arrive on the scene and to hear him preach the words of Christ, but I believe most LDS will reject him because he will teach so contrary to the LDS religion, which is so anti-Christ.

Anonymous said...

The problem with claiming you're above polygamy is Jesus Christ had himself born into a nation of polygamists He set up Himself, to prepare people for His coming.

When many of God's closest associates are polygamist, all argument is over: and many of God's closest associates are polygamist.

On the other hand you have monogamists who'll associate freely with priests who won't marry

but who won't hang out with a polygamist.

The Lord already did send prophets who are to be depended on.

They installed polygamy.

Your ancestors/predecessors and you

reject them.

BK said...


I disagree, Christ himself condemned polygamy in Matt. 19:9, teaching that married men can't marry another wife, even if they divorce the 1st one 1st, for the divorce is invalid and he is still married. So he taught that married men can't marry anyone else or it's adultery.

That many or most men in most societies throughout history have believed in, supported or lived polygamy does not make it right. The BoM teaches that the Jews were unrighteous, because they lived polygamy, among other things.

God's true prophets have always been against polygamy. It is fallen or false prophets who have installed, taught or supported it or fallen for it.

Mark said...

Is it more likely that one person was lying for a short time to protect his private indiscretions, or that dozens and even hundreds of people engaged in coordinated lying over decades to publicly perpetuate a social aberration?

1) If polygamy started with Brigham Young in 1834, how did that progress for 10 years right under Joseph's nose? There is no way such a secret could have been kept from Joseph for so long. Why didn't he excommunicate Brigham (as he was so wont to do with anyone who challenged his authority)? Why didn't Bennett and Higbee rat him out when they were discovered?

2) Why would essentially every member of the Twelve at the time testify that the doctrine was taught to them by Joseph? These were the men who had stood by Joseph through thick and thin, almost unto death. They were tremendously loyal to him and to the doctrine that he taught. So why, after he died, would they do a complete 180 on that doctrine and betray the memory and teachings of the man who they regarded as God's prophet and the restorer of His gospel? It makes no sense. Take, for example, John Taylor. Taylor was severely wounded at Carthage by Joseph's side, and wrote D&C 135 honoring and lauding Joseph with unparalleled admiration and hyperbole. Why would Taylor, who was one of polygamy's staunchest defenders, so quickly turn on his hero to embrace a doctrine if Joseph hadn't taught it, and in fact had decried it as sin? Likewise with the other apostles of the day?

3) The same question can be made of the women who swore to their marriages to Joseph. Virtually all of them were long-time disciples of Joseph's, deeply dedicated to him after sticking by his side through Kirtland, Missouri, the Liberty Jail, and Nauvoo. Their own journal accounts from those periods speak with glowing admiration and reverence for Joseph. Why would they turn so uniformly to besmirch his name with claims and a doctrine which, in any circumstance short of coming from his own lips, could serve to destroy his reputation and all that he worked for? What gain would these people, who had suffered so much in the belief that they were doing God's will, so quickly, uniformly, and convincingly betray their prophet for the whims of an authoritarian oaf like Brigham Young just so he could have extra wives? It is beyond credulity. You point out that, in your view, some of these women had something to gain or at least preserve by allegedly lying. However, you completely ignore that Joseph had A LOT to protect and gain from lying on his end - far more than any of these women individually or combined. He stood to lose a growing theocratic empire if polygamy was exposed. Yet you fail to even consider that interest, preferring to take his public statements as fact. Any experience with any political leader (and religious ones too) should reveal that you cannot always take their public statements as the truth of what they're really doing.

4) How could so many different witnesses consistently get their stories straight? No just the Twelve and the wives, but the witnesses to the ceremonies, and those who performed the ceremonies? This would be dozens, if not hundreds, of witnesses involved in a conspiracy that all consistently told corroborating stories. This is impossible.

What it boils down to is that you've simply picked the statements of one man as true, while disparaging the sworn testimony of a multitude of other people as damned lies. You provide no basis for this, other than it conveniently exonerates Joseph from his role in a very inconvenient history. This doesn't amount to evidence that he wasn't involved - least of all "undeniable" evidence as you claim. It's just poor reasoning and logical fallacy.

Who was lying? Joseph was lying.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Mark, you ask more questions than I have time to answer, so I'll say what I say to others. There are two very credible sources on both sides of this controversy, and I recommend anyone wishing a thorough investigation to read them both.

On the side you favor, "Joseph Smith's Polygamy" by Brian Hales. Three volumes.

For the skeptic's repudiation, see "Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy" referred to in the OP. Two volumes, with another to follow.

I recommend the honest seeker investigate both sides of the controversy and then come to an educated conclusion. Unless one is willing to investigate the question by going to the sources, I just don't have time to continue to answer the same questions over and over.

Some of your questions regarding how so many people can possibly fabricate a faith promoting story are answered in my followup to this piece, "Why Mormon History Is Not What They Say" which demonstrates how most of the church managed to testify to Brigham Young transmogrifying into the visage of Joseph Smith, when it's clear no such miracle ever took place.

BK said...


I believe that John Taylor may not have thought Carthage would end like it did. They had got out of spots like that before. And of course he would pretend to laud Joseph after he died, and to pretend to think highly of him, for he wanted people to think he supported Joseph and was just carrying on Joseph's work.

I don't think most of the 12 were really loyal or supportive of Joseph, especially not those who later supported polygamy. I think they faked it for a long time and were frustrated with Joseph and his refusal to support or allow polygamy.

Righteous men don't fall in a day for vile things like polygamy. It takes years to come to accept & fall for such whoredoms as that.

And women who were willing to go along with evil abusive men like Brigham Young would easily lie to cover their sins. No strong righteous woman would have ever fallen for Brigham or put up with polygamy. Look at Emma, she saw right through Brigham and that is why he hated her so.

So those women had every reason to lie, they supported the cause all those years from other reasons then real righteousness. Most women back then did not have strong self-respect and didn't care that men abused and controlled them, thus they were easily led astray. The same thing happens with most women in the Church still today. Most will lie and go along with abuse just to look good and be accepted and receive part of the perks.

But a few women were forced to go along with polygamy by threat and would have left Brigham's group if they could have.

It appears Joseph was about to excommunicate Brigham and others for polygamy, but died before he could do so. Joseph probably didn't do it sooner for he was in hiding or prison for most of those last few years.

Joseph did seem to have poor judgement of people's character, or too much patience for their wickedness. But that doesn't mean he was a false prophet.

Maybe Joseph fell for polygamy too, and then they all were wicked, for most or many true prophets seem to eventually fall from grace, usually by adultery, like in polygamy.

I give Joseph the benefit of a doubt still though, for I haven't seen any proof of his guilt in polygamy. Even if everyone in the world says or thinks he lived polygamy it doesn't mean he did. Most people easily fall for false hearsay & rumors about people.

Usually only a tiny minority of people really figure out the real truth.

And rumors spread like wildfire and thus if people believed the rumors and hearsay about Joseph & polygamy then they would all write about it in their journals, the same stories they heard. Also, Brigham made it his mission to make it look like Joseph preached & practiced polygamy secretly, so he would have done anything and went to great lengths for year & years to cover his tracks and make polygamy seem ok.

Mark said...


I have read a number of sources, including working my way through "Nauvoo Polygamy" right now. I've also read a good portion of "Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy," but find it so incredible because it seems quite obvious that the authors started from the conclusion they wanted, and have retconned the evidence to fit their pre-conceived hypothesis to the port of contortionism.

Another point that I forgot to include, and which should answer BK's post is this:

Suppose you're right and Joseph was the Lord's chosen prophet to restore the gospel and his church in the latter days, during which Joseph prophesies that "no unhallowed hand will stop the work..." Then, as Rock alleges, Satan comes along, deceives Brigham Young, and then pulls the strings to make Brigham succeed Joseph, with all of the other candidates eventually falling by the wayside (e.g. Strangites) or rejecting the Restoration (e.g. RLDS / Community of Christ). So the main body of the church is hopelessly in apostasy with Brigham, the chain of authority having been broken (because "amen to the priesthood of that man", so anyone who received the priesthood in the apostate church never received the authority at all [if you reject this hypothesis by claiming that the authority remained with those who had it, even though they were in apostasy, you must accept that all other Mormon offshoots also possess the same splintered authority]), and the others being led astray by other apostate ideas. So the church that was restored in these last days essentially died with Joseph. Leading to a massive failure of Joseph's own prophecies and the Lord's restoration of his church. Whence the "stone that is cut out of the mountain without hands"? Whence the priesthood authority that "shall never be taken again from the earth"? It would mean that God's "marvelous work and a wonder" only lasted 14 years. What a curious way to bring about a "restoration of all things," wouldn't you say?

BK said...


I'm sure Rock has a better answer then me, but my thoughts as these:

I believe your synopsis is pretty close to what probably happened. Except I don't think Joseph really said those statements, or if he did, I don't believe he mean't what you think he mean't.

I don't believe Joseph thought that the Church he started would never be taken from the earth. If he did then it was just another false thing he thought or said, like other false impressions and false revelations the received. For he was far from perfect.

Do you have proof Joseph really said those things or are they hearsay? Did he publish any of those statements while he was alive?

I believe Joseph could see for himself that the Saints of his day were going into apostasy. The Book of Mormon that he either wrote or translated also appears to predict a total apostasy of the "Holy Church of God".

And 'restoration of all things'? The only things Joseph may have restored is the Priesthood and maybe a structural 'Church' but even those things can be debated.

Do we have proof that the Priesthood was really restored? There seems to be alot of controversy on that. Do we really know if God really wanted Joseph to establish a Church?

Joseph did not restore the Gospel to the earth, that was never lost, it's all in the New Testament.

The Book of Mormon as wonderful as it is, and true or not, is just a supportive work to Christ's teachings, it isn't something that is vital to a true Church or anyone's salvation. So it didn't matter if that was restored or not. For I believe people can become perfected much faster by studying the New Testament then they can the Book of Mormon.

So I believe you need to investigate those ideas further, and make sure Joseph really said those things, and what exactly did he restore and was he correct in doing so if he did say or restore such things.

If Joseph was a true prophet, he would have known that it is pretty near impossible for even a true Church to last more than a few years before it becomes corrupt. Only the City of Enoch made it.

And it seems pretty hard for even true prophets to remain righteous, so I highly doubt a true prophet would declare that he or a Church or anyone else would never go astray.

For true prophets would understand more than anyone how 'easy and fast' Churches and people and even prophets fall.

BK said...


Or, as Rock pointed out in his podcast with John Dehlin, maybe the 'Church or marvelous work' Joseph was talking about was the 'spiritual Church of God' that all those who truly follow Christ are a part of and not a physical Church.

For it is said that Joseph taught (not sure if he really said it though) that the 'Kingdom of God will always remain on the earth as long as at least 1 righteous person can receive revelation from heaven.

And all righteous people gain Priesthood power directly from God. So it would be true that Priesthood power never left the earth, even if there is no true 'physical' Church or even true prophets anymore. (Though I believe there are true prophets somewhere on the earth and will show themselves soon)

That is alot more plausible and sounds more true and like something Joseph would say or think.

I'm sure there has been at least 1 righteous person on the earth since Joseph's day who is able to receive revelation & would thus be part of the "Kingdom of God or Church of God'.

So the 'Kingdom of God' remains, or the spiritual 'Church of God' remains and will never be lost, but it would include all righteous people around the globe in all religions who are true followers of Jesus Christ.

Mark said...


Thus, you have trivialized Joseph Smith entirely, making him into a visionary no more important than any other, who truly did not restore anything at all because no such restoration was needed. However, it does nothing to counteract the first point I began with. Which is more likely: one man lying to hide his indiscretions, or hundreds of people engaged in coordinated lying for decades? Apply Occam's Razor.

BK said...


Both scenarios happen constantly in life. At least Brigham was open about teaching people to lie. Joseph knew he couldn't lie and then retract it later or few would ever believe him again.

So I go with the 2nd scenario as more likely, that hundreds of people lied or believed and passed on lies, just as most LDS also do today about Joseph, though most have never even looked into his history, but just blindly believe whatever they are told about Joseph by their leaders. So of course the masses are easy to buy into falsehoods and write them in their journals and try to convince their friends such are true.

That's human nature, to not question rumors, but just believe and pass them on.

And if you disagree about the restoration, then what great thing in your view did Joseph restore that was lost, other then maybe the Priesthood or the Church?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I openly confess that I get tired very quickly of debating this issue, because invariably I find I'm bumping up against those who have their minds already made up and express no interest in investigating further.

The source you claim to rely upon, George Smith's "Nauvoo Polygamy" is disingenuous, because no sooner did I crack it open than I saw that one of the sources Smith relied upon, the letter to Sarah Whitney, was filled with ellipses which disguised the reality that the letter was written to Sarah's parents asking the family to come and visit him. The bowlderized version is presented as if it were a love letter to their daughter. You can make it appear anyone has written anything so long as you leave out entire chunks of words in the original. So right there in the bookstore I put the book down and decided it was unreliable.

But discussing the relative merits of that book is not the purpose of this reply. What motivated me to once more step into the fray was your brining up Occam's razor in this debate as though Occam's Razor actually aids your side of the argument. Occam's Razor works against your thesis.

Occam's Razor does not state that the most widely believed answer is probably correct, nor that the most widely rumored. Goebbel was the father of the Big Lie, which stated that if you repeat a lie often enough, the lie becomes the truth in the minds of the people.

Remember just a few short years ago how everyone was convinced the Duke Lacrosse team had raped a stripper at a party? Nancy Grace and EVERYONE else reported it as fact, despite the denials of the members of the team. Virtually the entire nation was convinced of their guilt. Why not? That was the simplest answer. They invited a stripper to a party, why wouldn't they gang rape her. Seemed cut and dried.

We learned AFTER A THOROUGH INVESTIGATION that the team was indeed innocent. In that case, after all the facts were on the table, the simplest explanation WAS correct. What was not correct was all the convoluted arguments and testimony of media personalities and others who had motive to lie.

Joseph Smith told the women of Nauvoo that if ANYONE, even a prophet of God, attempted to persuade them that spiritual wifery was a true doctrine, that they could know for a certainty that that man was a demon of the fiery pit.

That statement alone appears to me to be the simplest answer as to why Joseph's position in the matter should at least be considered. But he made dozens more denunciations, and he vowed to rout out those who were guilty of accusing him of such things and he did. He was unable to finish the job, because three weeks after making that threat, he was dead.

That is the simplest explanation. There is certainly nothing simple about rumors coming forth decades after Joseph's death that claimed an angel with a fiery sword had come and threatened to slay Joseph if Emma failed to cooperate and allow him extra wives. There's nothing simple about the wives of the current Church hierarchy suddenly coming forward decades later from out of the blue with announcements of their secret sealings at a time when the power and position of their current husbands was threatened with exposure by the arrival in Utah of Joseph Smith III and his brother David.


Alan Rock Waterman said...


Occam's Razor is a scientific principle to be applied only AFTER all facts are laid out. You can't cite Occam's Razor as proof that something happened in history simply because YOU find it the simplest explanation. First you have to gather ALL the evidence, weigh it, and THEN consider the simplest answer.

And even then, applying Occam's Razor doesn't prove the case. Occam's Razor merely requires that you at least CONSIDER the simplest answer.

But again, only after the question has been exhaustively examined.

I was like you. I accepted the conventional narrative as the simplest answer UNTIL I learned there was much more to learn. You have rejected the evidence presented in "Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy" without examination because you early on determined on your own that the hypothesis was flawed.

Well, why not finish examining the evidence presented and then point out the flaws? You don't reject the denials of the Duke University Lacrosse Team simply because you feel they "started from the conclusion they wanted." The conclusion they wanted was to get people to understand they were innocent.

Here's an excerpt from Occam's Razor Investigation Society:

"“Occam’s Razor” is a powerful idea, but it is easily abused, misinterpreted and misunderstood. So let’s take a moment to discuss what we mean by Occam’s Razor in the context of the Occam’s Razor Investigation Society.

Occam’s Razor is related to simplicity, but not simplicity for its own sake. As much as I enjoyed Kevin Cook knocking the wind out of the Nazi UFO Ring investigation, he went astray when he said Occam’s razor states that “the simplest answer is always the best.” Sometimes the simplest answer is flat out wrong.

"For example, say I wake up with chills, aches, fever and nausea. Which explanation is simpler: that the lady who gave me that dirty look at the bus stop last week is a witch and cursed me, or that tiny biological machines called viruses are hijacking the invisibly small cells that make up my body, and my symptoms are a side effect of that struggle?

"The witch thing sounds a lot simpler to me. And it would definitely have seemed simpler to someone six hundred years ago with no knowledge of molecular biology. But simple or not the witch explanation is wrong, and it was just as wrong in 1410 as it is today."

Forensic history, Mark, just as forensic science, requires investigation of all possible scenarios, THEN, and only then, do we look for the simplest explanation.

In the question of whether Joseph Smith practiced polygamy, after weighing all the evidence, I conclude that the SIMPLEST answer is that Joseph Smith did not. This is also the conclusion Judge Phillips came to at the conclusion of the Temple Lot Case, which examined all the evidence and testimony presented by the LDS Church in an attempt to prove polygamy originated with Joseph Smith. In the decision of the judge, Brigham Young emerges as "a bold and bald-faced liar."

That was the simplest answer, but it was not arrived at through a simple assumption. It followed a thorough investigation. Judge Phillips gave a reasoned argument for his conclusion.

Mark, I invite you to thoroughly examine all sides of the argument, then return here and offer a chapter by chapter refutation of the findings in the Prices' book, then I will happily consider your conclusions. Who knows? you might convince me.

But I'm not interested in discussing historical matters with those who begin with the conclusion that they're right and everyone else is wrong. That's not the scientific method.

Mark said...


Let me first deal with your condescending false assumptions. I've done the research. I've read the books. (You must have missed earlier where I said that I've read a large potion of "Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy," but do not find its leaps of logic and conflicts with other records to be reliable.) And I agree with the real scholars on the matter. I have no agenda other than I enjoy learning the truth about Mormon history. You, on the other hand, have a declared interest in exonerating and validating Joseph Smith as a prophet. You are free to do that, but don't come cloaked in the false purity of your methods or the pretended impartiality of your analysis.

Second, even under your overwrought claims to the prerequisites of Occam's Razor, it is appropriate here. The evidence on the question of whether Joseph instituted polygamy has been amassed time and time again.

And you think that Occam's Razor supports the conclusion of a massive, fifty-year conspiracy to destroy the reputation of Joseph Smith by the very church he founded, and the very people who suffered persecution at his side and pledged to follow him as their prophet until his death -- over the conclusion that Joseph lied because he didn't want to get caught breaking the law and banging other men's wives? So, an enormously complex conspiracy of lies, involving a host of consistent sworn testimony that could subject the witnesses to criminal prosecution, is the simpler explanation over just a single person lying for convenience? Really? Someone here clearly doesn't understand Occam's Razor. And it ain't me.

Every credible historical effort has reached the same conclusion - not merely through applying Occam's razor, but by confirming it through tireless research. This renders your Duke rape case analogy ineffective, because the thorough investigation HAS been done. Over and over again.

Price's theory - your theory - just doesn't hold up under any theory of common sense or reality. The only way it can be swallowed is if one has an interest in wanting to believe that Joseph didn't have a role in polygamy. But there is no way to explain the actions of so many of Joseph's faithful followers with any degree of plausibility or reasonableness if you accept your theory. None. These people were the core of Joseph's movement since at least Kirtland, the ones with Joseph from the beginning who stood by his side even when things were falling apart in Missouri. There is no explanation for what you claim. None at all.

Finally, Smith's book fully discloses the origin and recipients of the Sarah Whitney letter. Your admission that seeing ellipses alone led you to the conclusion that the entire rest of the work lacks scholarly value renders the rest of your points about gathering all of the conflicting evidence more than a little ironic and hypocritical. Besides, Smith is just the latest in a long line of reputable scholars - Mormon and Non - who have reached the same conclusion.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Mark, I did indeed see your statement that you had read a portion of the research on the skeptical side of the controversy, which is why I encouraged you to dig deeper. Volume I merely lays the groundwork for the further information that is revealed later, and you evidently didn't bother to even finish that volume. You'll forgive me for saying it, but that's not much of an investigation.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not insisting that you HAVE to do anything. You are entitled to hold whatever opinion you care to based on whatever information you have; I was just under the impression that you were interested in the reasons some of us hold differing opinions. I see I was out of line with that assumption.

On the other hand, if you have read at least that first volume, I would welcome your views as to the parts that you feel are incorrect within that volume so that I can better understand YOUR point of view. My understanding isn't helped merely by your assertion that "everybody knows" this or that to be a settled fact. Some of us are of the studied opionion that reasonable doubt exists.

I don't see how one can feel he has investigated a matter fully after only reading a portion of the book under discussion, but then I do accept that many people are more intuitive than me. Perhaps you have discovered something that I have overlooked.

If I understand your position correctly, you are saying that it is less likely that hundreds of people would be lying about a historical event, and more likely that only one person is lying. Having read a fair amount of history in my time, that is not a conclusion I would come to about many controversial events. On the other hand, I recognize that you do not see this topic as controversial, but as settled. That is, of course, your prerogative, and I don't see it as my place to try to get anyone to change their minds.

I will address a couple of points you brought up. Your assertion that those who went on to practice polygamy had remained true and loyal to the Prophet and at his side throughout his life demonstrates to me that your understanding of Church history differs somewhat from my own.

Nearly all the apostles who later went on to practice plural marriage had abandoned or betrayed Joseph Smith at one time. Of the Twelve who followed Brigham, Amasa Lyman, Lyman Wight, John Page, and William Smith were the holdouts. They considered Brigham and the others as charlatans and usurpers and refused to remain in the quorum. Of course, OUR histories state that these men left the church,implying that they abandoned their beliefs in the doctrines, when in reality they remained faithful to the religion all their lives. What they left was Brigham Young and his myrmidons. They continued to attend LDS church in their home branches in Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

John Whitehead, Joseph's personal secretary for the last three years of Joseph's life and the man who was closest to Joseph second only to Hyrum, is a name virtually unknown to those of us in the Brighamite wing precisely because he was disgusted with the direction taken by Brigham and his cronies and spoke out against their apostasy. So our side deleted him from our histories, although he was a key player in the Nauvoo period.

If you want to be of assistance to me in understanding your position, perhaps you can begin by showing me evidence that Brigham Young and Joseph Smith had been close friends.

That's certainly how Brigham tried to present himself to the people (most of them English immigrants who had never met the prophet themselves), but those closest to the prophet have testified in court that Brigham was anything but Joseph's BFF.


Alan Rock Waterman said...

Mark, (continued)

Occam's Razor indeed applies here because it is concerned with one thing: evidence. I can simply find no contemporary evidence that Joseph Smith secretly married other women. Rumor, gossip, and hearsay, yes. There's plenty of that, most of which surfaces decades after his death. While he was alive these accusations came from his enemies. After he died he was unable to refute the continuous stream, but the point to consider is that all of the actual evidence of the time virtually screams that he opposed the practice, publicly and frequently, denouncing those rumors and going after those who practiced it and routing them out.

Nearly all Joseph's time in the last weeks of his life was spent quashing rumors that he promoted plural marriage and secretly participated in it. The rules of evidence require that we at least consider that evidence, even if we decide to reject
it afterwards.

You'll have to forgive my impertinence, Mark, but before I accept something as having actually occurred a century and a half after
the participants have all died, I require at least something other than rumor and hearsay from people who had clear motive to embellish. We find reason not to question these people when they assert, years later, that they saw Brigham's voice and visage transformed (the purpose of which was to affirm Brigham's rightful place as leader), so why not question them when they come forth with wild tales of angels with flaming swords, or claims of women marrying him but, oddly, refraining from sex?

All the evidence points to Joseph denouncing the practice. And in my reasoning, evidence trumps hearsay.

At the very least, if we were to accept that Joseph had women sealed to him, their own admissions that they had not had physical relations with him, along with there being no issue from anyone but Emma, has led some to conclude that such "sealings" were no different than the ceremonies Brigham Young instituted when men were sealed to other men. This was done in order to form a link of
"adoption" back to Adam through Joseph.

If there were ceremonies that also adopted women to Joseph Smith, it could be argued that that was what it was all about, not "marriage" as Brigham later corrupted it when he and his cronies took on additional women as earthly wives and actually took them to their beds.

I MIGHT be persuaded to accept that these sealings had nothing to do with "marriages" as we think of them today, but I don't even find any evidence of that having taken place during Joseph's lifetime. But I'm willing to entertain the idea if someone can show me something to affirm it.


Alan Rock Waterman said...


Mark, you come off a bit hot around the collar about all this, which, although it is indeed a historical curiosity, I don't personally consider important enough to get worked up about. It's true that a growing number of latter-day Saints are beginning to question the conventional narrative as they learn there is an absence of evidence to convict Joseph, and perhaps that bothers you, though I don't know why.

Unless you or I are practicing polygamists, and feel the need to justify ourselves, I don't see how any of this should be of this much concern to either of us, do you? It baffles me that the mere idea that some would question the conventional narrative brings some people to the boiling point? Why? What have you got invested in any of this?

There are a lot of mysteries of history for which no conclusive answers are forthcoming, but most of us don't take it so hard when some people continue to seek answers to questions that others feel are already settled. I certainly don't have the same sense of certainty as you do on this question, but if you are positive things happened one way and there is no room for doubt, then good for you. That is your testimony, and I believe you if you tell me you know it to be true with every fiber of your being.

I am not going to try to change your mind. I only ask that you extend the same courtesy toward my opinions as I do toward yours.

I don't wish to abuse you of your views, Mark, but I hope you'll pardon me for not being persuaded to accept your position simply because the majority happens to believe as you do.

And you can do me the courtesy of not assuming I'm stupid just because I'm not yet satisfied the matter has been proven. I would at least appreciate seeing a chapter-by-chapter refutation of the discoveries uncovered by the skeptics. That would aid in my understanding where I am in error.

What I'm looking for is someone to take up the gauntlet and write a book repudiating the research of the Prices and others, and refuting those
findings point by point, and then I will finally be free of my misconceptions.

Since this is such a hot button issue with you, perhaps you are just the guy to write that book. I promise to buy the first copy.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

In reference to my recent interview with John Dehlin on Mormon Stories podcast, I'm beginning to suspect the reason some people have gotten hung up on this polygamy thing is that they threw up their hands after hearing what I had to say on that topic and decided there was no reason to listen to this idiot any further.

To those people, I would remind you that topic was a tiny part within a longer interview where many other topics were discussed. This is a two part interview. If you don't find my views on polygamy to your liking, keep listening. The podcast was not about polygamy. That was just an aside. We talk about other things you may find less polarizing.

Anonymous said...

I love that you are writing about this cogently and coherently.

There have been many times in my life I *believed* something to be true and then someone comes along and destroys that entire structure with well-argued discourse.

This was one of those things for me.

I agree that this is waaaaay too open-shut for most people and that the apparent truth is so horrifying that few people with connections to Mormonism can even bring their minds to consider it.

-Ryan O.

BK said...

Ryan O.,

I agree, the truth about the history of Mormonism is too horrifying for most members to hear or accept.

It seems most people like to believe that prophets like Joseph Smith, Brigham Young or even ancient prophets, can have such huge weaknesses and sins and still remain true prophets, it gives people an excuse to have their own such weaknesses and sins.

Most people seem to like the idea of prophets who live polygamy, abuse, control & rule over wives/women, withhold Priesthood, authority and equal position from women, allow racism, neglect the fatherless, live off the masses & the poor, allow divorce & remarriage, demand unquestioning obedience to their decrees & doctrines that are contrary to & trump the scriptures or even Christ, etc.

With such weak, adulterous & abusive prophets, it give people permission to do the same and not feel guilty, thus people love such prophets.

But, as the scriptures say, if a truly righteous and true prophet like Joseph Smith or even Christ came along and preached just the opposite (as they did when alive) then it seems almost all people would reject them and their teachings against all divorce & remarriage, polygamy, inequality of women, racism, paid ministry, and ignoring of poor.

Anonymous said...

Here is a discussion with Rock and other members of the nom forum....

Anonymous said...


What about the scripture in Jacob 2:30, where the Lord states that if he will raise up seed he will command the people (i.e. to have more than one wife) but otherwise they will "hearken unto these things" (have only one wife).

Also, in this chapter, the Lord condemns a man taking more than one wife and therefore shouldn't we believe it is wrong when people practice polygamy? I have family and friends who have sex outside of marriage and although I love and accept them, I view their acts as wrong.

Miguel A.

Anonymous said...

Hello, Unfortunately despicable people like this author exist in the world we live in today. Anyone that does half the research will find that Joseph Smith did in fact start Polygamy... I am not saying I agree with it, but let's start with the facts, and also that the fact is this blogger is RFLDS doesn't help his case in trying to denounce the LDS Church. Face it man, You are on the wrong side of the facts and history... I pray for your salvation, but lets be honest... You are a total worthless piece of crap that no one not even the Satan wants to be associated with. Nice try. Have fun in hell, or as we LDS people refer to outer darkness. Say hello to Adolf, Mao, and Saddam while you are there. You are a lying manipulative horrible person.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Whoa there, Pardner, calm down a bit. They'll never let you into the House of the Lord if you continue to hold that kind of ill will toward another member. I do hope you can manage to cool off before your next ward temple trip.

I enjoyed your comments, but I have to say it's news to me that I'm RFLDS. You'd think my parents might have let me in on that little detail before I put in my mission papers.

As it turns out, I HAVE done "half the research" into the question of whether Joseph Smith practiced polygamy, which is why I am inclined to conclude there is very little solid evidence to support that view. Perhaps after I've finished the other half of my research, I'll come to agree with your assessment. But it sounds like it'll take a bit of effort to become as certain of my facts as you are.

I agree with you that I am a worthless piece of crap. Can't really argue with you on that count.

Still, I wonder how you expect me to have fun in hell, or say hello to Adolf, Mao, and Saddam while I'm there if not even Satan will be associated with me.

I'll require further light and knowledge from you to help me figure out that one, so please, please, please come back and comment on here again.

Unknown said...

Hi, your articles are interesting, but I found it frustrating that you do not give more sources to back up your claims. For example you are quoting Gordon B. Hinckley saying about polygamy "it's behind us, a long ways...I condemn it as a practice because I think it's not doctrinal."
I followed your link and could not find the words "I condemn it as a practice because I think it's not doctrinal." worst he was actually talking about the blacks and the priesthood not about polygamy.
The official transcript of the interview is available here: and does not contain the quoted words. If you could get in touch with me or give the true source it would be much appreciated.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Thanks for catching that error. The link should have led to an interview Hinckley did with Larry King.

I'm in a rush right now to get out the door and can't grab that link right now, but you should be able to find it with a simple Youtube search. He said something very close to "It's behind us, I condemn it, I think it's not doctrinal"

I'll try to remember to fix that link when I get back.

Thanks for the catch! I depend on eagle eyed readers like you to alert me when I'm in error.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Clarence Snickers,

I see the problem. The transcript you're looking at (the one you link to in your comment) was a "Rush Transcript" and not in its final form. There is a disclaimer near the top cautioning that very thing.

Upon further investigation, I find that the link I provided was correct and the quotes were accurate. Here is where you'll find the words I cited, “it's behind us, a long ways...I condemn it as a practice because I think it's not doctrinal."

A Rush Transcript is something put out in a hurry as a temporary news release. It is not expected to be completely accurate. To confirm the transcript I provided, simply pull up one of the Youtube videos of that interview.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Hi Rock, even on the website that you provide:
I can't find the words "I condemn it, I think it's not doctrinal" I used the function Ctrl+F to search in the page, that's why I doubt the quotation, plus I've rewatched the interview on YouTube and couldn't find any reference to polygamy in it (maybe I did not find the right video?).

Moreover, the source you're supposedly quoting is a second hand source, that's why I prefer referring to the first hand source from CNN.

Anonymous said...

One this is for certain, D&C 132 does not contain the words of my savior. If written by Joseph, they are the words of an abusive husband that was not a least not when those words were recorded. If written by Brigham, or other deceivers, why should I believe that the current church has any authority? Whether Joseph practiced polygamy or not, the church was lead by polygamist prophets for 100 years...up until 1945.

BK said...

You're so right Dave84070.

Any man or prophet who preaches or practices or supports past or present polygamy is an abusive man/husband and or false prophet.

Christ condemned polygamy and all marriages after the 1st one, calling them all just adultery, whether by polygamy or divorce & remarriage, polyandry, etc.

No truly Christlike person would ever fall for or believe in someone like Brigham Young and all other LDS leaders, who all support adultery and the abuse of women by polygamy and divorce and remarriage.

Gary Hunt said...

Rock and Mr. Snickers:

Here's the Youtube link for the full interview.

The comments regarding polygamy starts about 11:15 into the video and ends at about 15:00. President Hinkley's quote starts about 14:39...

"I condemn it, yes, as a practice, because I think it is not doctrinal. It is not legal. And this church takes the position that we will abide by the law. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, magistrates in honoring, obeying and sustaining the law."

Dale B said...

While I was preparing my lesson on Ruth and Naomi yesterday I had an epiphany of sorts about polygamy.

I was trying to understand the doctrine that was behind the practice of marriage of a widow to the closest kin available. The practice, as I understand it, in the bible (old and new testaments) was that if a woman's husband died, and she was of marriageable age, that his family members should marry her and raise up seed to their kinsman. I couldn't quite get a handle on it and the (I believe) related practice of polygamy, but then it hit me;

The apparent doctrine that they were relying on was the commandment to multiply and replenish the Earth. These guys took that commandment pretty seriously. My theory is that they believed that a woman had a right to procreate, that it was a sin if a woman was not able to be with a man during the time that she was able to bear children.

If viewed from that perspective, polygamy is mostly about making sure that every woman has access to a husband, that every woman has the right to bear any children that God would give to her.

It is not about men collecting a harem or dominating women as it has come to be in modern times. I think that they saw women as sacred vessels with a special purpose that should not be wasted.

If viewed from that perspective, the issues around Ruth's predicament make sense. The culture of polygamy grew up around this idea of a sacred responsibility. Under such a system, it would make sense as long as it was the woman's choice. Really, it should have been the woman's choice as to which the man should have been obligated in most circumstances.

This means that all women, regardless of their looks, or financial means or other factors, should have the joy of bringing children into the world if the Lord granted them. They would have the right to demand marriage to a suitable husband. That the father of Rachel and Leah could see that Jacob should take his older daughter as well as the younger, prettier one and that it was for a righteous purpose.

Now, I'm no fan of polygamy, but at least the practice makes some sense if viewed in that light. I don't think that was how it was ever practiced or taught in modern times by the LDS or FLDS. In fact, they have distorted the practice and turned it upside down. I knew a girl who dated an FLDS boy in high school, who died while they were dating. The family came to her and tried to foist his younger brother on her as though it was the right thing to do, but it really appeared to be more of a scam to recruit a confused girl than anything else.

While most here decry polygamy as an abomination, we still have to deal with the fact that there are twelve tribes of Israel instead of two. Christ was born to the tribe of Judah (Leah's son) but we know that Joseph was also favored. When confronted with an aspect of the gospel that seems to contradict our ideas, we have to continue to work to find a way to reconcile them.

I do not believe that (as Brigham taught) that polygamy was necessary for salvation. I confess I do not understand Joseph's purported version of polygamy, so I'm happier with the idea that Brigham just made it all up, but that does not mean that there was not an underlying and true doctrine behind polygamy.

What to do with it? I don't know. I certainly don't think that polygamy is a requirement. But I can't afford to be offended by it either. Are there many women today who are not able to have all the children they could because they don't have the opportunity to be with a man? Perhaps some. Would we be better off as a society if we allowed those women to choose a husband?

BK said...

No, I don't believe we would be better off as a society or those women better off or their children, if we let women live polygamy in order to have children.

I believe it's best for a woman to not have children at all, unless she has a completely faithful husband who loves only her and 'none else', as the scripture says.

I don't know of any righteous self respecting woman, past or present (and I don't believe there are any) who would put up with polygamy at all, let alone just to have children, for raising children is hard enough with 2 parents who love each other and are completely faithful to each other, doing it alone or under the abuse of polygamy, would be far worse then never having children at all.

Jacob in the Book of Mormon was correct about how abusive all polygamy was to women and children even, (even the ancient polygamy lived in the Old Test.)

Why would we listen to anyone who taught contrary to Christ (who taught that all polygamy was adultery), even if it was Moses, Jacob, Joseph or Brigham, or anyone today? For all those men proved they did not have Charity or live according to Christ's teachings, so it's easy to see they were either false or fallen prophets, no matter what the Bible says, for it is all just fallible and/or unrighteous men's opinions and writings anyway. It's not like God wrote the Bible. It was all written by men who only 'said' God said or commanded such things, and we all know how reliable men are who claim to be speaking for God.

Except for Christ's quotes, the rest of the Bible and it's stories, teachings, doctrines and people, are so full of errors that it's probably unwise to even read it, for I believe it will lead us astray far more then it would do us any good, same with the Book of Mormon.

Christ's exact words are the only few scriptures we can test and rely on and live by. Even he said that if anyone, past or present, adds anything to his words then they 'cometh of evil', whether they are Moses, Jacob(OldT), Ruth, Naomi, Joseph, Brigham, or anyone today.

Just because God had to use wicked people to populate the earth and just because there ended up being 12 different tribes and that even his Son had to come through one of those lines, righteous or not, doesn't mean God wanted it that way or that it was good.

God gives people agency to test them and still manages to accomplish his plan no matter how things turn out or what people do.

We must use the Golden Rule to see the truth of all things. Polygamy never passes the Golden Rule test in any instance in history.

And while it's unfortunate that you aren't offended by polygamy, I believe all righteous men and women are, like God, Christ, Jacob (BOM), Emma, & both Marys (Christ's wife and his Mother), etc.

Dale B said...


I'm not sure that you can substantiate your belief that Christ condemned all polygamy, especially if you only use direct quotes of his in scripture. Christ condemned divorce, but even then he did not say that all who divorce are going to hell. He said that that was not the plan in the beginning, but that Moses allowed it because of the Children of Israel complaining.

It is pretty difficult to get around the facts of polygamy in the bible. If you assume, as apparently you do, that it was always and everywhere evil, then there are real problems with the narrative that Christ seemed perfectly approving of.

When Christ was on the Earth he didn't take on the tribes who were born to Jacob's 2nd, 3rd and 4th wives and condemn them as being illegitimate in any way. There are many stories in the bible which only make sense in a context of polygamy being a legitimate practice.

That polygamy has been and can be abused, I freely admit. But I think you're sticking your head in the sand if you refuse to admit that it was condoned in the past. If you feel so strongly about this practice that you would reject everything the Bible says that supports the practice, then that is your position and religion; but I'm not trying to dictate what God should believe to him, rather I'm just trying to understand what he believes and change myself to His model.

I don't put a huge emphasis on this doctrine. It's not particularly important to me. But that does not mean that I should close my eyes to the facts. That I should draw a line in the doctrinal sands and refuse to cross. Instead, I think the right approach is to try to understand the practice and see if it was doctrinally based, or simply the invention of man. I had generally assumed that it was mostly culturally based, but now I wonder whether there might have been more to it.

I'm not advocating that we start the practice up. Having lived in proximity to the So. Utah polygamist communities, I harbor no illusions as to the abuses that can result. But, at the same time, I recognize that that is not the experience of every polygamist family. I suspect there are homes living polygamy that are as happy and healthy as any monogamist home.

If there was a true principle involved in polygamy, I have no doubt that Satan has been successful in largely corrupting it, to the extent that it may hardly be recognized today, but I think there is too much evidence to the contrary to suggest that it was the invention of Satan and had no place with God.

When Christ was on the Earth he recognized the Old Testament as legitimate scripture. He often quoted those scriptures to his disciples, followers and attackers alike. I don't believe that every story in the book should belong to the canon, but I think one should be careful to exercise good judgement before condemning it wholesale. We are to live by Every word that comes of God. The trick is figuring out which is which.

Hypothetically, if you were to discover that Christ was actually a polygamist, would you reject everything else he had to say - or would you adjust your stance on polygamy? Polygamy is not the cornerstone of my religion, far from it; but I don't intend for it to become a stumblingblock either. Right now, we live in a time when there is no clear and definitive proof that polygamy has ever been authorized in our dispensation. For that we can be grateful. I just can't, in good conscience, extend that idea as a principle that applies to every dispensation.

Anonymous said...

Since this was written there was a meeting in Denmark where Elder Jensen and Richard Turley said that Joseph Smith was a polygamist and he practiced polyandry--is this a lie and Joseph was innocent as has been stated in the blog?
"Q: Is it true in general? Or is it not true at all?
RT: It’s true that Joseph Smith plural marriage in that he had wives who were not married to anybody else, it’s true that he practiced polyandry and he did have wives who were married to somebody else.
Q: 14 years old. 16 years old.
RT: He had a wife who was 14 years old, but remember, on the frontier in America, women married young, often as young as 12 years of age because the life span of people in those days wasn’t what it is today. On the frontier, not as much in the rest of America, but on the frontier, if you look at population studies, if you look at censuses of people across the American frontier at the time, they often married quite young . So marrying a 14 year old in those days was not the same — it was like marrying a 21 year old today.

Even the LDS church believes that Joseph did do these things. I love reading your blog Rock, but I am now confused?? Did Joseph do as the church says now or as those quoted here?
Thanks for all you do!

Unknown said...

David W. Patten was martyred; the Lord "took him"according to D&C 124: 19. He was ahead in seniority to Brigham Young in the Council of the Twelve and he would have become the president of the church and not Brigham Young at the death of Joseph Smith. So why "took" the lord him away if BY was a liar, which the Lord should have known certainly, knowing the end from the beginning?
Why would the lord have tolerated BY for 33 years if he was such a pirate?
I am not a fundamentalist, not a RLDS type and I am not an admirer of the person of BY and his methods, but I seriously wonder how you can take your religion serious (not to mention your church) while annihilating BY the way you do in this article?
By the way, if I read the reviews on of this book by the Price's: "How JS fought polygamy" not much is left of its reliability.

BK said...


Who says D&C 124:19 is correct? Who says 'the Lord' took David W. Patten away? Joseph could have easily been wrong like so many times before in his actions and scriptures.

And why would God remove Brigham Young just because he was a pirate? Most religious pirates are allowed to live and lead countless people astray in many different religions, including the LDS Church.

It's one of God's ways of testing people to see if they can tell true prophets from false ones.

And for one, I personally don't take the LDS religion seriously anymore or believe in it, it's even lower then most other major Christian religions in my book, for most of the others don't teach or allow so many whoredoms as the LDS do.

I believe Catholics and Baptists for 2 stand up for Christ's teachings far more then the LDS Church does.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

The general authorities today are faced with a dilemma. They would dearly love to sweep polygamy under the rug, because it is a stumbling block and a HUGE image problem.

But if they tell the truth and put all the blame for it on Brigham Young, what do you think happens to their claims of an unbroken line of authority going all the way back to Joseph Smith THROUGH Brigham Young?

They would have to admit that Brigham was a usurper. That would make them usurpers as well.

Besides, how much time do you think any of these men have spent investigating the origins of plural marriage? Most of them have no more knowledge of Joseph Smith's vigorous opposition to the practice than you or I. They were raised in the church and fed the same history of it as you and me.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I'll add my voice to the response given by BK. God didn't "allow" Brigham to run His church. Brigham did as he pleased. It's likely that God had already abandoned the institution already.

But God doesn't necessarily abandon individual believers. He allows us all our free agency. There were many, many Saints in Utah who didn't give a hang about Brigham Young, but went out west because remaining behind was more dangerous that following a tyrant into the Rockies.

Still, there were at least 10,000 latter day Saints remaining on the plains, merrily gathering in independent branches and paying no mind whatsoever to Brigham Young, or for that matter to Alpheus Cutler, James Strang, and others. They had the standard works, and worshipped God according to scripture. They needed no leaders.

Brigham Young did as Brigham Young pleased. You either followed him or you ignored him. I like to think I would have ignored him, but based on my many years as a blind follower, that might not have been the case with me.

BK said...


I like the points you made about the independent 10,000 or more who stayed and lived the Gospel on their own and also that many thought it was safer following a tyrant out west and then ignoring him, rather than staying behind.

But it is my belief that many, probably most of the men at the top do know all about the origins of polygamy, both Joseph and Brigham's versions. For they not only have some of the best church history scholars at their disposal, instructing them on any point if history, but it would be incredible to believe they are oblivious to the constant comments and questions via letters and leaders about the truth of polygamy and church history. They would have to intentionally close their ears and eyes to it all and maybe they do.

But I believe they all are just fine with the idea of polygamy, I for they uphold past leaders and the vile abusive things they did to women in polygamy. I believe most of the 12 not only look forward to polygamy in the next life, as some have said they believe they will live it, but they continue to promise polygamy to countless men in the church who are sealed to more than one wife.

Also, they encourage the idea of serial polygamy here and now, by allowing divorce and remarriage, as many times as a man may want to divorce and be sealed to yet another wife. I have a relative who was recently sealed to his 12th wife, having divorced the others.

I also believe they will bring back polygamy just as soon as it's legal nationally, which shouldn't be long, and as soon as most members seem like they will accept it, and from what I see, most members seem like they would be just fine with it, even welcome it, not only most men, but most single mothers that I know, who seem desperate and want to have a man support and love them, no matter how many wives he had or has.

Plus, I believe the leaders will bring back polygamy, to help with the financial burden all the single mothers are now on the church. They will probably excuse polygamy as some sort if charitable way to take care of the vast and growing numbers of single women & mothers in the church today, because divorce is so encouraged.

So, along with SSM, I believe they will soon have polygamy back in the church, for, judging by their actions not their words, I believe the 12 want to live polygamy too, as soon as the members will allow them to bring it back.

Mormon Heretic said...

With the new essay out today, are you still abandoning Polygamy Rock?


Alan Rock Waterman said...

That'l be the day, Heretic, when I allow the propaganda on to sway my testimony. Of course the official Church outlet has to affirm Joseph was involved. If they were to conclude Brigham instituted it, all their claims to authority going back to Joseph fly out the window.

Following the footnotes, notice it's the same tired "sources." Sure would be nice if, as the piece alleges, Joseph Smith told someone about that angel with the flaming sword. As it is, the first instances we have arrived years after the prophet's death, originating with Taylor, I believe. And once Taylor spit that one out, Kimball, Woodruff, and others suddenly remembered that story, too.

I going to have to see some instance where Joseph Smith taught it during his lifetime. Until then all we have to go on are his vigorous denials and denunciations of the vile practice.

Miss Quoted said...

This is the best article so far defending Joseph Smith's practice of polygamy. I would like to know why it varies so widely from the Church's "official" explanation. ( What are your resources? When it comes to understanding issues such as these, I have to honestly say, I don't know. Sorry, I'm not trying to argue, I just need evidence (from either side).

BK said...

The Church leaders must just laugh themselves silly all day with how gullible and ignorant the members are & how easily they accept these blatant & vile atrocities described in these essays, when every man (including the top leaders) knows he couldn't get away with doing such things to his own wife.

It is said that Hitler also thought it was so wonderful how his people were so ignorant and gullible.

But I have found that people will only believe and accept what they themselves would do, so apparently most members are just fine with such abusive and adulterous behavior by their prophets & that's the kind of God they want to believe in, for it just gives them a pass to be like that too & to bounce around from spouse to spouse in today's 'serial polygamy', which the church completely endorses & encourages and most people say their 'God' has confirmed to them it's ok.

They just never check to see 'which God that is' that is answering their prayers.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Miss Quoted,
My primary source was the book "Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy," linked to in the body of the article. Since that time, volume II has come available, dealing with more issues, such as the William Law conspiracy.

I would also recommend "Jospeh Smith's Polygamy" three volumes, to anyone wishing to examine this issue from all sides.

It's clear why the LDS Church doesn't deny Joseph's involbement. If they did it would be calling into question Brigham Young as a usurper rather than a prophet of God.

Mormon Heretic said...

Have you read Brian Hales books yet?

Unknown said...

I want to answer your response to my remark, that you posted on the 20th october ...God had already abandoned the institution..."
Do you think that the Lord would abandon His church just 20 years after He had his priesthood restored? It is not the Lord that left, but the people . Read Mosiah 27 vers 13 ..."This is my church and I will establish it, and nothing shall overthrow it, save it is the transgression of my people". The prophet Joseph Smith said a similar thing, to be found somewhere in the TPJS (unfortunately the index is very limited but I know it is in there ) that if the people should ever depart from the Lord, they must fall.
This is what the mormons should read, and not stupidly follow this infallability mantra.
Maybe the Lord did abandon the church as an institution, but not until after the 1978 manifesto, that I consider as the last straw.
Indeed they have departed from the Lord, by giving up the United Order, the literal gathering of Israel, in fact their whole social, political and economic order, to join hands with the world, and by ruling with manifesto's and saying these are revelations from the Lord. Of course this God is offended, but He has promised to send one mighty and strong to set in order the house of God (D&C 85 vers 7) and live to see that day.

1 said...

Polygamy is and always was a false doctrine. The Book of Mormon absolutely condemns it:

Trying to rewrite history won't change that fact.

Unknown said...

I found it; here it is:
President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel; said the Lord had declared by the Prophet, that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish church; that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls; applied it to the present state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall; that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves, envious towards the innocent, while they afflict the virtuous with their shafts of envy."
(TPJS p. 237-238.)

Stu said...

Hey Alan!

So I know this is four years later. Cards on the table: I often don't agree with your perspective or conclusions. But I wanted to say that I'm really impressed with your response to what I consider to be heavy-handed (judgmental has become a buzzword, so I'll stick with heavy-handed) criticisms and calls to repentance. It's very Pahoranish. I consider myself open-minded, and willing to tackle the tough questions of the church, because they don't threaten my testimony of the BoM or the Savior which are pretty self-contained. I'm grateful people like you are willing to openly discuss and question things that obviously bring some ire down from people who may feel a little insecure or uncomfortable with challenging ideas. It's validating for me. So thanks for what you do and your authenticity.


Alan Rock Waterman said...

Mormon Heretic,
I have not read Joseph Smith's Polygamy front to back yet; I've just dipped in here and there. Once I have finished those volumes, and the 2nd and third volume of Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy, I'll finally get around to addressing my views on this topic again.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

To answer your question above whether I believe the Lord abandoned his church 20 years after restoring the priesthood. I said he may have had abandoned the institution, by which I mean the organizational structure of a top-down hierarchy. I don't think that was ever his method.

I believe He is still with his "church" as defined by him in D&C 10:67.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Greg S.,
That is a very thorough and complete analysis of the false doctrine. I hope everyone reads that entry on your blog.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Thanks, Stu, for those kind words.

Mormon Heretic said...

I look forward to your review of Hales books. I started with volume 3 because (1) it was the shortest, and (2) Brian said it would actually be better to start with. I think Hales researches this better than the Prices.

Anonymous said...

Hi Rock, would you consider the Nauvoo Expositor contemporary evidence?

From it's pages:

In the latter part of the summer, 1843, the Patriarch, Hyrum Smith, did in the High Council, of which I was a member, introduce what he said was a revelation given through the Prophet; that the said Hyrum Smith did essay to read the said revelation in the said Council, that according to his reading there was contained the following doctrines; 1st, the sealing up of persons to eternal life, against all sins, save that of sheding innocent blood or of consenting thereto; 2nd, the doctrine of a plurality of wives, or marrying virgins; that "David and Solomon had many wives, yet in this they sinned not save in the matter of Uriah." This revelation with other evidence, that the aforesaid heresies were taught and practiced in the Church; determined me to leave the office of first counsellor to the president of the Church at Nauvoo, inasmuch as I dared not to teach or administer such laws. And further deponent saith not.

This seems to take a direct quote from 132 itself.

Thanks, SKB

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I'm thinking I'll revisit this topic of polygamy in light of the recent "admission" on in a future piece, maybe a month or two from now. I have not been persuaded in my conclusions, and I'll explain why then.

Meanwhile, in response to your question above, I'd refer you to the upcoming volume III of "Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy" in which you'll find evidence of ulterior motives in the accusers of Joseph Smith. (You can read all three volumes of books online now for free.)

There are two or three chapters on William Law et al and the Expositor controversy. You can find them by scrolling down this page beginning with Chapter 64:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Rock. I look forward to your future piece.

It just seems odd that if Sec 132 supposedly wasn't found until years after Joseph died, it was being quoted in the Expositor. Somebody seems to have had a copy of it then. Of course that doesn't prove authorship one way or another.

Again, thank you for your work.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Rock. I look forward to your future piece.

It just seems odd that if Sec 132 supposedly wasn't found until years after Joseph died, it was being quoted in the Expositor. Somebody seems to have had a copy of it then. Of course that doesn't prove authorship one way or another.

Again, thank you for your work.


Frederickson said...

It is ironic to me that the Church website recently posted an acknowledgement that Joseph Smith has as many as 35-40 wives. Unless they have some undisclosed evidence that this is factual, I don't see how they can state this as if the matter is settled.

I have reviewed over 40 books on plural marriage, from the fundamentalist, anti-Mormon, and current LDS perspectives. I also have read all of the writings you indicated Joseph Smith and Hyrum did not indulge in the practice. The recent writings of Brian Hales do not resolve anything, because he did not address in any coherent and direct way the primary documentary evidence referred to in your essay.

Clearly, unless some additional evidence is disclosed, one cannot say that the available evidence to most members of the Church is dispositive on this matter. Rather, concluding that JS and H practiced plural marriage involves heaping assumptions on top of assumptions. Such piles of conclusory arguments cannot substitute for valid inference. It would flunk a basic course in logic.

Anonymous said...

Way to Go Rock and Dave P.
God calls polygamy "an abomination" even when practiced by "men of OLD". This included Abraham, Israel, King David (who repented) and Solomon, etc. Only the wicked believe in this practice (and the stupid, gullible, or "whoremongers" who justify it due to their ignorance of the scriptures). God forewarned everyone about the evils of polygamy through his Prophet Jacob (Jacob 2:23-40 and Jacob 3). The Nephites were destroyed for practicing polygamy. The "whoremongers" as God calls them, justified polygamy based on their ignorance of these scriptures, which is a complete atrocity to all women and results in condemnation of all who practice it.
The part of Jacob that has been totally misconstrued and misinterpreted in order to justify polygamy counsels us to raise up your children (seed) in the knowledge of God.
Polygamy has never been of God just as CHRIST taught that marriage is to be between one man and one woman, and concubines there should be none!
Any teaching that contradicts Christ's teachings are NOT of God! It's that simple.
Brigham Young had Joseph, Hyrum and Samuel Smith murdered (research Samuel's death due to poison to ensure no Smith took over Brigham's King position). Willard Richards was a cousin to Brigham and became the church historian with LOTS of alterations and embellishments made to tarnish Joseph Smith's name, to justify polygamy, etc.
D&C 124 proclaims the condemnation of the church today for its "follies and ABOMINATIONS", for which it (and the members) have never repented.
Way to go Rock bringing for the TRUTH!
Joseph was warned by God for wanting to do "his own will and [had] carnal desires", which caused some grave follies in his life, but not with as many women as purported. And his grave errors occurred when he got drunk (yes, he did drink and smoked cigars, prior to the word of wisdom that was never meant to become a law, but only a counsel, due to Joseph's remorse and repentance (D. Michael Quinn, Origins 144-156)

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