Tuesday, July 28, 2015

5 Questions

5 questions regarding the claims that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy with over 30 wives:

(Important note:  I define polygamy as marriage to multiple women with whom the man has sexual relations.  This is very different than having someone sealed to you in the eternities to create links in a family of God - which is what I believe Joseph was actually doing.)

1.  How does a man in the prime of life have 9 children with his wife Emma and yet no children with any of the 30 wives (13 of which claimed 40-50 years later during the times the government was going after the LDS church for polygamy that they had sexual relations with him)? (Brigham Young had 56 children - none born until after Joseph's death)

(See chart below for results of DNA tests.)

2.  Why did Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith teach against the practice of polygamy right up to their deaths and Emma Smith and Joseph's son Joseph III say that Joseph never practiced polygamy?

One month and one day before Joseph's death, he said the following:

“What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one.” – Joseph Smith (LDS History of the Church, 6:410–411)

(See other quotes from Joseph below)

Do we really believe that the man chosen to restore the gospel and that was one of the dispensation heads was a liar and a deceiver in regards to polygamy?

3.  Why did Joseph Smith sue Chancee L. Higbee on May 24, 1842 under oath in the State of Illinois for slander regarding claims that Joseph was a polygamist?  Chancee was a lawyer.  Would it make any sense to sue an attorney in the state of Illinois regarding polygamy (which was illegal) for slander where truth is the ultimate defense to the charge of slander?  Would Joseph really risk going to jail in order to successfully pretend he wasn't a polygamist?

4.  Why were 380 men sent out from Nauvoo in September of 1842 throughout the United States with certificates and affidavits signed by many of Nauvoo's most prominent men and women denying polygamy in order to counteract damage done by Dr. John C. Bennett?  Was Dr. Bennett the one lying about polygamy or the prominent men and women who signed the affidavits against what they claimed were false accusations?

5.  Modified documents:  Why were journals altered to change what Joseph taught against polygamy to make it appear that Joseph was in favor of polygamy?  Why was section 101 of the D&C which stated that marriage was only to be between one man and one woman removed when section 132 was added in 1852 - eight years after Joseph Smith's death?  Why did Emma say she never saw section 132 even though William Clayton claims she not only saw it but threw it in the fire?  How is it that a copy just happened to exist (other than the one supposedly thrown in the fire by Emma) and ended up in Brigham Young's desk drawer many years later?  How is it that the altered parts of the journal entry from William Clayton contain some of the exact same words that appear in Section 132?  (See modified journal entry here)

1835 D&C 101:4
"Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again."

Before the modification the entry read:

Evening at home and walked up and down the street with my scribe. gave inst[r]uction to try those who were preaching teaching or practicing the doctrin of plurality of wives. on this Law. Joseph forbids it. and the practice ther[e]of— No man shall have but one wife.

After the modification it read:

Evening at home and walked up and down the street with my scribe. gave inst[r]uction to try those who were preaching teaching or practicing the doctrin of plurality of wives. on this law 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 the keys are conferred - and I have continually said Joseph forbids it. and the practice ther[e]of  No man shall have but one wife at a time unless the Lord directs otherwise.

DNA Testing Results:

Quotes Against Polygamy:

“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. (Richard Van Wagoner, Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait of Religious Excess, p. 292)

"Was it for committing adultery?  We are aware that false and slanderous reports have gone abroad, which have reached our ears, respecting this thing, which have been started by renegades, and spread by the dissenters, who are extremely active in spreading foul and libelous reports concerning us; thinking thereby to gain the fellowship of the world . . . . Some have reported that we not only dedicated our property, but likewise our families to the Lord, and Satan taking advantage of this has transfigured it into lasciviousness, a community of wives [polygamy], which things are an abomination in the sight of God." (Teaching of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 126)

Journal entry regarding the campaign of elders sent out to undo damage done by Bennet due to false accusations of polygamy:

"One year since, I visited a settlement of Norwegians, in La Salle county, Illinois.... I returned to Nauvoo, where I found the whole country deluged with falsehood, from the pen of J. C. Bennet, and I immediately returned to La Salle, but the people there, looked upon him [Bennett] as a wicked designing man; his lies continued but a short time, when eternal disgrace fell upon his own head. I soon returned to Nauvoo, and in a few days was appointed by the special [church] conference, in August [1842], to travel through Illinois, to correct the misstatements of Bennet, in which journey I travelled through eighteen different counties. I was generally successful in convincing the people that Bennet maliciously slandered the innocent. (Times and Seasons 4 [May 15, 1843]: 195)

Links for further information and research:


  1. Why would Joe have the wife of an Apostle sealed to him? Orson Hyde was on a mission to dedicate Palestine for the return of the Jews - while Joseph had Orsons wife sealed to him - to Joseph.
    Why steal here from Orson like this?
    Also, have you read the Essay about Polygamy on the website? It is quite different from what you are saying.

    1. I think it was for the same reason that Joseph sealed men to himself. I think it has to do with being linked to the Fathers via Joseph. More info on this is contained in Denver Snuffer's third lecture on Covenants and in his plural marriage talk at the end. (

      I am familiar with the essay. I agree, it is different.

  2. Not to mention Joseph's union with Fanny Alger quite likely took place before Joseph received the sealing power....

  3. This podcast answers some of these questions and the overall question of whether JS practiced polygamy or not-

  4. I went ahead and listened to this podcast. From it, I saw 12 points that were made by the guest and host on the show:

    1. Joseph said one thing in public, did something different in private
    2. All of the different splinter groups and even the antis were saying the same thing, since they have different motives that shows that what they said is credible
    3. Arguments that the wives in Utah would have perjured themselves due to pressure from husbands or being true to the church is sexist
    4. Just because the Cochranites who practiced spiritual wifery were converts and many of the early leaders were involved with them doesn't prove that was the origin of polygamy in the church
    5. Just because John C. Bennett was against the church, doesn't mean you can dismiss his arguments because they correlate with many other sources later in history.
    6. Historians can't just dismiss arguments because of a group or person may be amicable or may be unfriendly towards another group or based on the idea of Satan vs. God in terms of motives.
    7. Contemporary journal entries of William Clayton shows that polygamy happened.
    8. The Book of Mormon says God can raise seed to himself like in D&C 132
    9. Their were rumors about Joseph Smith being interested in women when he was younger.
    10. Joseph didn't record things in his private journals because he would have gotten in trouble and mobs would have come after him.
    11. The RLDS / Church of Christ has come know it is true due to academic historians.
    12. LDS historians have also accepted the actual academic histories.

    So my original 5 were

    1. Joseph Smith had no children from the alleged polygamous wives
    2. Joseph and Hyrum taught against it to their deaths
    3. Joseph brought a law suit against Chauncy Higbee
    4. 380 elders campaign against allegations by Bennett
    5. Modified documents / revelations in the D&C

    Matching this up, the closest answers would be as follows:

    Question 2 is possibly answered by point 1 - the idea of secret vs public teaching
    Question 4 is possible answered by point 5 - why Bennett can be considered reliable

    Regarding public teaching vs private teaching, I think this is related to the difference between the sealings which were going on in private and the teaching against polygamy in public. They are two different things. To treat them as the same thing and decide that means that Joseph was having relations with them secretly I think is a mistake and isn't supported by any contemporary evidence.

    Regarding the idea that Bennett is reliable because what he said matches up with what other sources said later in history; to me this is a weak argument. People wanting to justify the practice of polygamy and/or wanting to show that what they did originated with Joseph would naturally use Bennett as their source. That doesn't automatically make him credible - just convenient for fulfilling their motives for preserving polygamy in their context.