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Joseph Smith's Plural Marriages


Nighthawke

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In another thread, now closed (here's hoping I don't get into trouble with the mods), All-Seeing Eye posted:

Look, I know that married men and women usually engage in this kind of behavior. It's nothing to be ashamed of.

No, I don't know what Joseph Smith did or didn't do with his wives. But they were his wives, and, well, see above. I never claimed to know. I do have the benefit of common sense, though, to formulate my personal belief as to what was likely the case.

I don't think that Todd Compton's research proved that Joseph Smith didn't have intimate relationships with the two wives that you mention. That is just speculation on his part.

I'm abolutely, positively baffled as to your accusation that I'm trying to put Joseph Smith in a bad light. It doesn't put him in a bad light! Why would you suggest that it does?

Who's ashamed? Of course whether or not Joseph Smith consummated his marriages is nothing to be ashamed of! I don't even know why you're including that in your remarks, no one else has.

It is a matter of record that not all polygamous marriages were consummated and that includes Joseph Smith's plural marriages. Are you aware that not all of Joseph Smith's plural wives provided affidavits even though affidavits were being gathered while they were still living? For example, there is no affidavit for Helen Mar Whitney even though she was a staunch defender of plural marriage and she admitted that she was a plural wife of Joseph Smith, signing her name Helen Mar Smith Whitney on occasion, did not provide an affidavit. Why not? I believe it was because her marriage was not consummated.

Affidavits were being collected to prove to the RLDS Saints, including Joseph Smith III, that Joseph Smith's plural marriages were not spiritual sealings only.

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Joseph Smith 3rd had talked to a friend whose mother was reputed to have been one of these wives. He asked him why Joseph smith had no verifiable children via plural wives. The guy said he asked his mother, and was told Joseph Smith respected women. That he did not want them having children without the benifit of a legally recognized mother and father. I never could learn the name of the wife, but she had no shame about her connection with Joseph Smith. She had no shame about it whether it was a platonic sealing, or a bonified there, and now relationship.

I think the issue of marriage verses sealing is important, and should continue as long as the discussion is kept away from what closed the other post.

Joseph Smith 3rd met Melissa Lott Willis, and thought she had lied about a mortal relationship with his father. I heard he met Lucy Walker, but cannot confirm it as my source was R.C. Evans a dissafected member of the Community of Christ/RLDS. He expressed his belief that some of these women could have been sealed to Joseph Smith, but doubted these were there & now marriages. He also believed D.&C. 132 had been altered in publication to implicate his father in more than platonic sealings as had been alleged by James Whitehead in the Temple Lot case.

So many views on these affidavits it's hard to get anyone to agree.

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In another thread, now closed (here's hoping I don't get into trouble with the mods), All-Seeing Eye posted:

Who's ashamed? Of course whether or not Joseph Smith consummated his marriages is nothing to be ashamed of! I don't even know why you're including that in your remarks, no one else has.

It is a matter of record that not all polygamous marriages were consummated and that includes Joseph Smith's plural marriages. Are you aware that not all of Joseph Smith's plural wives provided affidavits even though affidavits were being gathered while they were still living? For example, there is no affidavit for Helen Mar Whitney even though she was a staunch defender of plural marriage and she admitted that she was a plural wife of Joseph Smith, signing her name Helen Mar Smith Whitney on occasion, did not provide an affidavit. Why not? I believe it was because her marriage was not consummated.

Affidavits were being collected to prove to the RLDS Saints, including Joseph Smith III, that Joseph Smith's plural marriages were not spiritual sealings only.

Well, the way that some members seem to go out of their way to try to prove or suggest that Joseph Smith didn't have intimate relationships with his plural wives makes me wonder why those members would do such things. It would appear that this effort to show that Joseph didn't have that kind of relationship with his wives springs from some kind of belief that there was something wrong with him having done so (which, as I've already stated, I don't believe). That's why I say, Joseph Smith's intimate relationships with his wives, if he had any (and I believe, though I cannot prove, that these relationships existed), are nothing for him or anyone else to be ashamed of.

There's no reason to try to prove that Joseph Smith's relationships with any of his wives were platonic. Even if all of his relationships with his wives were of a physically intimate nature, that's OK, because they were his wives! Why is anyone making an issue of this? Why go to the effort to show that one or more of those relationships was only platonic?!

As I've said before, it is highly probable that plenty of saints (including early prophets and apostles) had physically intimate relationships with their plural wives. I don't see people laboring to prove that those relationships weren't intimate. Why is Joseph Smith a special case? It's OK for Brigham, and it's OK for Joseph too.

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Some statements are on record affirming a mortal relationship with Joseph Smith. Melissa Lott Willis & Lucy Walker were two of them I can think of. I am Community of Christ/RLDS.

Todd Comptom In In Sacred Lonliness did present the best evidences for personal relationships between Joseph & his wives that he could.

The 11 women on the polyandry list continued living with the mortal husbands. No evidence two men were living as man and wife with the same woman. Todd Comptom's one claim of Joseph's child via a plyandrous wife has not been substantiated. If I recall right 100,000 dollars on DNA studies has been spent trying to confirm, or deny eight rumored children of Joseph Smith.

I do make an issue of slandering a wife, and Joseph smith with having a mortal relationship that never happened while in the flesh. Patty Session was an older woman, and Todd Comptom thought a relationship was unlikely. Helen Mar Kimball said something like the step she took was for eternity alone.

I look at the claim's, and if I see no basis exists for that mortal relationship interpretation I say so. With specific claim's of a relationship that are clearly on record I take that more seriously. Some of the women did claim a mortal relationship with Joseph Smith.

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I do make an issue of slandering a wife, and Joseph smith with having a mortal relationship that never happened while in the flesh.

I just don't think that it's slander to say that a woman has "known" her husband, even if she never did. I mean, even if it were false, I don't see how such a statement could be "malicious" or harmful to her reputation, since there's nothing disreputable about such behavior.

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Well, the way that some members seem to go out of their way to try to prove or suggest that Joseph Smith didn't have intimate relationships with his plural wives makes me wonder why those members would do such things. It would appear that this effort to show that Joseph didn't have that kind of relationship with his wives springs from some kind of belief that there was something wrong with him having done so (which, as I've already stated, I don't believe). That's why I say, Joseph Smith's intimate relationships with his wives, if he had any (and I believe, though I cannot prove, that these relationships existed), are nothing for him or anyone else to be ashamed of.

There's no reason to try to prove that Joseph Smith's relationships with any of his wives were platonic. Even if all of his relationships with his wives were of a physically intimate nature, that's OK, because they were his wives! Why is anyone making an issue of this? Why go to the effort to show that one or more of those relationships was only platonic?!

As I've said before, it is highly probable that plenty of saints (including early prophets and apostles) had physically intimate relationships with their plural wives. I don't see people laboring to prove that those relationships weren't intimate. Why is Joseph Smith a special case? It's OK for Brigham, and it's OK for Joseph too.

First of all, contrary to what some apologists believe, many members do not even know that Joseph Smith had plural wives and would be (and are) shocked when they discover that married women were part of this group of women as well.

Some inside the church and many outside of the church find polygamy not only bizarre but aberrant behavior. It is believed by many that the sole reason that JS started polygamy was to satisfy his own sexual desires. Many members innately feel that this view of polygamy is common outside of Mormonism. If it can be shown that Joseph Smith's marriages were not consumated, this helps to temper the belief of the sexual origin. In addition, if indeed JS consumated his marriages to women who were already married, his character further comes into question. Obviously, if it can be shown that JS primary purpose was sexual, it speaks to his character and raises questions about his many prophetic claims.

Most members have no problem with the idea that BY practiced polygamy. That is a concept which was taught to members early on and was even a trademark and an interesting if not peculiar facet of BY's persona. It certainly may have been problematic, however, had BY been married to already married women, which as I understand was not the case. BY's character, though important, is much less important as it relates to making judgements about LDS truth claims which lie with JS.

IMO, polygamy is a very difficult doctrine/practice/concept to defend. The sexual connotation associated with polygamy IMO ultimately defines how the church ends up justifying the practice. Altruistic purposes are often given as the reason, for example, the need to support widows and women who could not find mates because of the lack of suitable men. If it can be established that the reasons were altruistic, sex become a non-issue. As I understand it, many of the altruistic reasons become highly suspect. I think the best answer and it appears to be the answer that is currently given is that it was commanded of God and JS had no choice in the matter. Not a very satisfying answer to me, but the best answer nonetheless.

IMO, in the end, if it can be established that JS intentions were purely noble, it lends credence to his other claims.

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I think anyone who is interested in this subject should read Rough Stone Rolling. While not as highly focused as Compton's work, it does present a better, imo, overall context of polygamy and how it fit in for Joseph as well as the community.

springs from some kind of belief that there was something wrong with him having done so
I think it's more likely to spring from a perceived need to reconcile certain comments and actions of JS with each other. Without a good overall knowledge of the era, JS's actions and statements can appear contradictory--another good reason for reading RSR btw.
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Brigham Young took Zina Huntington Jacobs Smith to be his wife. Joseph had taken her as his wife even though she was already married to Henry Jacobs. When Joseph died, Brigham Young thought it would be a good idea if he stepped in as Joseph's proxy, and married her too. And then he told Henry to buzz off, despite that fact that he had already had a couple of kids with Zina.

So yeah, Brigham Young practiced polyandry too. And a pernicious form of it too, IMHO, basically hijacking Henry Jacobs's wife. Of course, Joseph Smith had already hijacked her, and Brigham Young was just playing "me too". The bottom line though was that Henry Jacobs' eclesiastical leader took his wife from him and told him to take a hike, and he missed her deeply for the rest of his life.

What an absolute crock.

And I have to say, Bushman's claim that Joseph didn't lust after women as much as he lusted after kin, is really hilarious. There have been many charismatic leaders of new religious movements who gathered in a lot of women into their harems, and Joseph wasn't that last one. I don't think Joseph's practice of it was any different than, say, David Koresh's, and I don't buy that "lusted after kin" thing for one moment. When William Law said that Joseph told him one day how he'd enjoyed a particular wife of his more than he'd enjoyed any of the others, that right there tells me the "lusted after kin" thing is a joke. And yes, I do believe William Law in this matter; it was his abhorrence of Joseph Smith's practice of what Law regarded as adultery that so strongly motivated him and got him excommunicated. I admire Law for this; when other Joseph Smith groupies bought into the lie, Law wasn't buying it, and acted as his conscience dictated in calling out Joseph for his behavior.

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So yeah, Brigham Young practiced polyandry too. And a pernicious form of it too, IMHO, basically hijacking Henry Jacobs's wife. Of course, Joseph Smith had already hijacked her, and Brigham Young was just playing "me too". The bottom line though was that Henry Jacobs' eclesiastical leader took his wife from him and told him to take a hike, and he missed her deeply for the rest of his life.

What an absolute crock.

And I have to say, Bushman's claim that Joseph didn't lust after women as much as he lusted after kin, is really hilarious.

I am glad that you are having a good laugh. Your use of words leaves much to be desired. It seems Seth that you are rather bitter and this bitterness is clouding your mind and wording. It would serve you better if you would use different words. You would enhance discussion by doing so and not inhibit it.

However, enjoy your laugh.

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I don't think Joseph's practice of it was any different than, say, David Koresh's, and I don't buy that "lusted after kin" thing for one moment.

And it is here that your mind has become bankrupt. Sad, Seth that you will be responsible for closing down this thread with such a comparison. :P

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When William Law said that Joseph told him one day how he'd enjoyed a particular wife of his more than he'd enjoyed any of the others, that right there tells me the "lusted after kin" thing is a joke. And yes, I do believe William Law in this matter; it was his abhorrence of Joseph Smith's practice of what Law regarded as adultery that so strongly motivated him and got him excommunicated. I admire Law for this; when other Joseph Smith groupies bought into the lie, Law wasn't buying it, and acted as his conscience dictated in calling out Joseph for his behavior.

We are free to believe who we want to believe. If believing Law helps you in your testimony, then fine, so be it. We all need to garner support wherever we can find it. Glad you are no longer a groupie Seth. However, I do believe that you are now consorting with different groupies. There is no escaping a group, is there? :P

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William Law has groupies?

[deleted paragraphs - see note below]

There's one in Sweden called the New Covenant Church of God whose leaders are also into polygamy. Here's a quote about that group.

Polygamy

The core members of NCCG actively practice polygamy, with one man having multiple wives. Information about this polygamy practice is kept secret during initial recruitment efforts if the recruit is not from a culture that accepts polygamy as the norm.

One of Christopher Warren's focuses within NCCG has been demonstrated to be the gathering wives to himself. In Spring 2006, he represents himself to deeply-involved NCCG members as having 2 wives, and plans to marry additional wives to himself as time progresses. He indicates that he expected to have 7 women living with him in a polygamist family relationship by the end of 2006. It seems unlikely based on the recent historical trends that Warren will legally (within the Swedish legal system) marry any of the women.

Warren teaches that for the time being, only a few men are "called" to actually live the polygamic lifestyle (himself being one of them).

High-ranking NCCG members have been seen to encourage male internet-involved members to advise their wives that they have the right to take extra wives, even if they are not exercising that right. In general, they do not aggressively encourage monogamic male members to actually take extra wives. This sentiment has also been seen in Warren's writings

He teaches that at some point in the future, polygamy will be typical. Each man will have a number of wives due to an overabundance of women.

Oh, ROFL, I have, since pasting in that quote, learned that the leader of the NCCG was in fact a former member of the RLDS church. Apparently he was never "Utah" LDS, but RLDS/CoC, which is all the more ironic as he seems to have jumped into polygamy with both feet. Oh well, maybe the NCCG isn't as good of an example of the phenomenon as I thought it would be, since they obviously were influenced by Joseph Smith in one way or another, so would represent a descendent group of a kind, rather than a parallel group.

Anyhow, my point is that it has not been uncommon in history for charismatic leaders of new religious movements to claim dispensation from God to practice polygamy, and have done so. I will try to find some more examples of this in groups unrelated to Joseph Smith in any way. It's hard though, because when you try to Google "polygamy" with respect to religion it seems most of what you get back can be tied to Joseph Smith in one way or another.

I do realize that none of this matters to TBMs. There is a difference between the cases of Joseph Smith and every other polygamous NRM-leader in history, and that difference is that all the other NRM leaders only claimed that God had given them permission to practice polygamy, but in Joseph Smith's case, God really did. At least, that's the belief.

[paragraph deleted]

The main difference is that the LDS church, through BY leading many of the Saints out west to relative isolation for multiple decades, survived and has since grown, and had 160+ years to develop a full doctrinal explanation and justification for all of this, and to establish a positively-slanted version of history. Today most people in Illinois and Missouri are at most as indifferent to the LDS church as they are to any other church, yet the LDS church has a cadre of historians and scholars and others dedicated to refining and expanding the vision of the early LDS history and presenting it all in a positive light. It's no wonder people like me grew up believing Joseph Smith truly was one of the best and honorable men who ever lived. That view has taken a hundred-plus years and the untold countless hours of history-writing and doctrinal development, and passing down from generation to generation, to develop.

[Moderator Note: Sethbag, do not compare Joseph Smith to David Koresh. This is an extension of how we apply Godwin's Law here. You will be suspended if you do it again. Stick to the facts, not your opinions about comparisons. ~mod]

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There is a logical fallacy where one takes the best of ones group and compares it to the worst of the other group and says "See, the other group is terrible."

Then there is the Godwin's Law where one takes a group where everybody agrees is an evil group and then compares it to the group that he opposes and says "See, this group is terrible."

Way to go Setbag, you have successfully accomplished the second.

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Brigham Young took Zina Huntington Jacobs Smith to be his wife. Joseph had taken her as his wife even though she was already married to Henry Jacobs. When Joseph died, Brigham Young thought it would be a good idea if he stepped in as Joseph's proxy, and married her too. And then he told Henry to buzz off, despite that fact that he had already had a couple of kids with Zina.

So yeah, Brigham Young practiced polyandry too. And a pernicious form of it too, IMHO, basically hijacking Henry Jacobs's wife. Of course, Joseph Smith had already hijacked her, and Brigham Young was just playing "me too". The bottom line though was that Henry Jacobs' eclesiastical leader took his wife from him and told him to take a hike, and he missed her deeply for the rest of his life.

What an absolute crock.

And I have to say, Bushman's claim that Joseph didn't lust after women as much as he lusted after kin, is really hilarious.

I guess you would know more than a man who dedicated his entire life to studying Joseph Smith and is considered to know more about Joseph Smith than anyone on the planet. After all, you do have access to dishonest anti-Mormon litany, which makes your understanding unique and insightful. Perhaps you'd like to cite some of your sources for this information, or does real truth transcend the need to provide evidence?

Maybe you should look for the truth instead of wasting your time stroking your own hateful ego and making yourself look like an ignoramus.

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I will try to find some more examples of this in groups unrelated to Joseph Smith in any way. It's hard though, because when you try to Google "polygamy" with respect to religion it seems most of what you get back can be tied to Joseph Smith in one way or another.

Maybe if your research branched out beyond Google and Wikipedia you'd actually be able to find and share something important.

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So here's an interesting question: If Joseph Smith married the wives of other men, and if he had intimate relationships with those wives, was he wrong for doing so? God makes the rules, right? So if God command Joseph Smith to do that, then it wasn't wrong. Am I right?

Is it possible that we mortals have a limited and confused understanding of what "marriage" really means?

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Before his death Joseph Smith admitted in a sermon to an revelation where a man might have seven wives. That to me is an admission that sealing involved atleast sealings to multiple women for the eternity. Though sealings in that sense were symbolic rather than real there & now marriages. He did deny seven there and now earthly wives though.

With William Law I am convinced he lied about the content of the revelation he saw. He said it had to do with earthly polygamy. Jame's Whithead said one of Joseph Smith's secretary's said he had been ordered to go up to Winter Quarters to deliver some of Joseph Smith's papers. While there he stayed over night with Bishop Whitney. Bishop Whitney showed him the copy that became D.&C. 132. He said under oath in the Temple Lot case that the one in the LDS D.&C. had been tampered with to sanction mortal polygamy in the there and now.

The alleged seven wives Joseph Smith is accused of are no more impressive than Eliza R. Snow. At http://www.restorationbookstore.org in the JSFP section numerous problems with her story have been demonstrated. Another one I think of is Almira Johnson. The date she married Joseph Smith according to Todd Comptom was supposedly April 2-22 1843. That's problematic as Hyrum Smith was supposedly in support of the sealing to Joseph, but I found out that he was still fighting against sealing in late May as he had not accepted it yet. In Sacred Lonliness pg. 6, MOrmon Enigma pg. 141.) This is the kind of documentation that passes in my estimation very loosely for the 333 so-called welll documented cases of Joseph Smith and plural marriage.

The one tough document that I run into is William Clayton's reputed Nauvoo Journal. If authentic it does back up some of the perjurious statements RLDS have long demonstrated. Of course some of the perjured statements could be from bad memory. But I am in the minority of persons who think he edited his journal to leave for the benifit of later LDS historians. I just find some of the content a little suspicious to have been produced in Nauvoo.

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So here's an interesting question: If Joseph Smith married the wives of other men, and if he had intimate relationships with those wives, was he wrong for doing so? God makes the rules, right? So if God command Joseph Smith to do that, then it wasn't wrong. Am I right?

If God exists, and God really did command Joseph Smith to do it, then it's all on God, and if he's the decider of right vs. wrong, then you've got your answer. Your faithfull LDS answers "yes" to both questions, and so figures that however we now fail to understand this well, hey, God commanded it, so it must have been right. I understand this. But it was Joseph Smith himself who told everyone that he had permission from God. Just like other NRM-leaders have told their followers that they too had permission from God. And their believers believed it too. I think there is value in stepping back and looking at the bigger picture, and seeing that Joseph Smith's practice actually fits into a larger picture of the religious landscape, in the section called "NRM leaders who practiced polygamy with the women of their flock, justifying it by saying they had permission from God".

Is it possible that we mortals have a limited and confused understanding of what "marriage" really means?

I doubt it. We invented it, so it can mean whatever we want it to mean.

I will refrain from posting anymore on this subject, at least until it crops up again in another month or two. I realize I'm pissing off a lot of TBMs here, and it's not like they're going to be convinced on the basis of anything I say about it. In the interest of comity, I'll let it rest for a while. If anyone comments further in this or any other related thread, and their comments are directed at me, I will be happy to respond by private PM only, otherwise, whoever wants to can have the last word.

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I'm not aware of anyone getting angry. Several of us do like to see people account for their assertions, though. You've made a lot of statements that seem to fly in the face of what scholarship is able to conclude, and those kinds of statements, when not accompanied by verification, are treated accordingly.

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I will refrain from posting anymore on this subject, at least until it crops up again in another month or two. I realize I'm pissing off a lot of TBMs here, and it's not like they're going to be convinced on the basis of anything I say about it. In the interest of comity, I'll let it rest for a while. If anyone comments further in this or any other related thread, and their comments are directed at me, I will be happy to respond by private PM only, otherwise, whoever wants to can have the last word.

You're probaboy not piussing off a lot of TBMers around here. Most of us are probably rolling our eyes and realizing that you are probably just trying out all the anti-Mormon tactics that are described in the Anti-Mormon Field Manual.

BTW, there is a new AMFM coming out early next year. Wouldn't want you to be using old tactics.

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I'm not aware of anyone getting angry. Several of us do like to see people account for their assertions, though. You've made a lot of statements that seem to fly in the face of what scholarship is able to conclude, and those kinds of statements, when not accompanied by verification, are treated accordingly.

Let him bail, Makelelan. It makes him feel better to believe we are all angry at him.

I've read all the pro and con on Joseph's polygamy and have yet to be shocked, disconcerted, or indignant. Nor have I desired to call him a "fallen prophet". This topic rather bores me actually.

-SlackTime

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I'm not aware of anyone getting angry. Several of us do like to see people account for their assertions, though. You've made a lot of statements that seem to fly in the face of what scholarship is able to conclude, and those kinds of statements, when not accompanied by verification, are treated accordingly.

How do you account for the assertion that God told Joseph Smith to institute polygamy? How are you going to document that? What kind of scholarship is able to verify it?

The only "proof" that exists is the word of Mormonisms' charismatic leader, Joseph Smith. To most people, given the sexual element relating to polygamy, JS's claim is just ridiculous.

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How do you account for the assertion that God told Joseph Smith to institute polygamy? How are you going to document that? What kind of scholarship is able to verify it?

The only "proof" that exists is the word of Mormonisms' charismatic leader, Joseph Smith. To most people, given the sexual element relating to polygamy, JS's claim is just ridiculous.

And the only "proof" we have of the resurrection of Christ are some of his disciples. Their claim that a man rose from the dead and is a god is just ridiculous.

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How do you account for the assertion that God told Joseph Smith to institute polygamy? How are you going to document that? What kind of scholarship is able to verify it?

The only "proof" that exists is the word of Mormonisms' charismatic leader, Joseph Smith. To most people, given the sexual element relating to polygamy, JS's claim is just ridiculous.

You refuse to evaluate Joseph Smith on his terms. You demand I evaluate Joseph Smith on your terms.

Your assertion about "proof" is wrong on two counts. First, it's evidence, not proof. Second, the "proof" is the Book of Mormon. If it is true then everything is true. If it is false then it is all a huge lie. You are completely and totally wrong when you say his word is the only evidence. You believe it's false and I believe it's true. I'm not trying to convince you that anything is true (in this thread) I am merely requesting that the standards of scholarship be upheld. That you fly off the handle with this completely irrelevent post shows how little your concern is for the truth, and how great it is for perpetuating your opinion about the validity of our convictions. Why don't you stick to the topic, unless you are unable to add anything of value, of course.

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