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Distinct polygamy concerns


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53 minutes ago, Obehave said:

I just thought of another concern for rongo to consider while talking about this issue with his Relief Society sisters in his ward. The spirit of contention could arise as it has here in this thread. We wouldn't want to see that happen.

And a deer in the headlights reaction. But maybe these women will be much further than I was in 2006 when I first learned about Joseph Smith's polygamy. In fact it was as if I was in a car accident where everything was in slow motion.

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On 7/7/2022 at 8:35 AM, teddyaware said:

The main problem that prevents Church members from coming to understand that plural marriage can be practiced in holiness is due to the fact that they are only able to view it from the vantage point of their own unconverted, carnal natures. They are unable to grasp that plural marriage can indeed be practiced in righteousness because they are only able to see it through the lens of their own carnal lusts and jealousies that act as blinders preventing them from comprehending the workings of the Spirit.

Taking additional wives and being quite happy with it seems very carnal to me.

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1 hour ago, YJacket said:

The simplest explaination is the best.  Jane and William Law wanted to be sealed together. Joseph Smith denied the sealing b/c he had reason or evidence to suspect WL was committing adultery.  There is record the WL confessed to this adultery; then later because he was spurned by JS, created a bunch of lies to get back at JS.

This is a typical pattern and makes the most human sense; in that when people are denied something that they feel they have a right to, they usually get very nasty, bitter and slanderous.

 

48 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

Tacenda, I think you should have quoted this from the link that I believe is dead on.

 

Quote

 

Accusations of adultery were Joseph and Hyrum’s convenient method of marring a persons character. There are many reports by women and men who were warned not to tell of polygamy or Joseph and Hyrum would mar their character.5 Quinn refused to alert the reader of this fact and stepped over it himself.

History reveals the truth – if Law was an adulterer he would have embraced polygamy to save face and justify its continuance like Joseph Smith did with Fanny Alger.6

 

Isn't this how polygamy started?  Wasn't Fanny Alger the first claimed case of polygamy?  The teenager that Emma caught Joseph Smith with in the barn?  When caught, Joseph Smith claimed that God commanded him to practice polygamy to excuse his adultery.

Honestly, when people start digging into the whole polygamy thing, it becomes more and more difficult to defend it and claim that it came from God IMO.  And if you do defend it, you also have to defend Joseph Smith lying about it in Nauvoo, claiming the rumors were not true.  Well if they were not true, then isn't Joseph Smith admitting to committing adultery?

I think you need to reconsider the "simplest explanation".

 

 

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20 minutes ago, california boy said:
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The simplest explaination is the best.  Jane and William Law wanted to be sealed together. Joseph Smith denied the sealing b/c he had reason or evidence to suspect WL was committing adultery.  There is record the WL confessed to this adultery; then later because he was spurned by JS, created a bunch of lies to get back at JS.

This is a typical pattern and makes the most human sense; in that when people are denied something that they feel they have a right to, they usually get very nasty, bitter and slanderous.

Quote

Tacenda, I think you should have quoted this from the link that I believe is dead on.

From that article: "Accusations of adultery were Joseph and Hyrum’s convenient method of marring a persons character."

That seems to be what you are doing.  Using "accusations of adultery" to "mar" the character of Joseph Smith.  Ironic, wot?

20 minutes ago, california boy said:
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Accusations of adultery were Joseph and Hyrum’s convenient method of marring a persons character. There are many reports by women and men who were warned not to tell of polygamy or Joseph and Hyrum would mar their character.5 Quinn refused to alert the reader of this fact and stepped over it himself.

History reveals the truth – if Law was an adulterer he would have embraced polygamy to save face and justify its continuance like Joseph Smith did with Fanny Alger.6

Unless, of course, polygamy was not being used as a pretext for adultery, or as an after-the-fact justification for it.

Unless the difference is that Joseph Smith and Fanny Alger viewed their relationship as a marriage.  From FAIR:

Quote

One of the wives about whom we know relatively little is Fanny Alger, Joseph's first plural wife, whom he came to know in early 1833 when she stayed at the Smith home as a house-assistant of sorts to Emma (such work was common for young women at the time). There are no first-hand accounts of their relationship (from Joseph or Fanny), nor are there second-hand accounts (from Emma or Fanny's family). All that we do have is third hand (and mostly hostile) accounts, most of them recorded many years after the events.

Unfortunately, this lack of reliable and extensive historical detail leaves much room for critics to claim that Joseph Smith had an affair with Fanny and then later invented plural marriage as way to justify his actions which, again, rests on dubious historical grounds. The problem is we don't know the details of the relationship or exactly of what it consisted, and so are left to assume that Joseph acted honorably (as believers) or dishonorably (as critics).

There is some historical evidence that Joseph Smith knew as early as 1831 that plural marriage would be restored, so it is perfectly legitimate to argue that Joseph's relationship with Fanny Alger was such a case. Mosiah Hancock (a Mormon) reported a wedding ceremony; and apostate Mormons Ann Eliza Webb Young and her father Chauncery both referred to Fanny's relationship as a "sealing." Ann Eliza also reported that Fanny's family was very proud of Fanny's relationship with Joseph, which makes little sense if it was simply a tawdry affair. Those closest to them saw the marriage as exactly that—a marriage.
...
 

Even hostile accounts of the relationship between Joseph and Fanny report a marriage or sealing

For example, Fanny's marriage was mentioned by Ann Eliza Webb Young, a later wife of Brigham Young's who divorced him, published an anti-Mormon book, and spent much of her time giving anti-Mormon, anti-polygamy lectures. Fanny stayed with Ann Eliza's family after leaving Joseph and Emma's house, and both Ann Eliza and her father Chauncey Webb [5] refer to Joseph's relationship to Fanny as a "sealing." [6] Eliza also noted that the Alger family "considered it the highest honor to have their daughter adopted into the prophet's family, and her mother has always claimed that she [Fanny] was sealed to Joseph at that time." [7] This would be a strange attitude to take if their relationship was a mere affair. And, the hostile Webbs had no reason to invent a "sealing" idea if they could have made Fanny into a mere case of adultery.

The difference between Law's behavior (adultery) and Joseph's (plural marriage) is . . . a marriage.

20 minutes ago, california boy said:

Isn't this how polygamy started?

No.

20 minutes ago, california boy said:

Wasn't Fanny Alger the first claimed case of polygamy?

Apparently.  And that differentiates the relationship from Law's adulterous behavior.

20 minutes ago, california boy said:

The teenager that Emma caught Joseph Smith with in the barn?  When caught, Joseph Smith claimed that God commanded him to practice polygamy to excuse his adultery.

From FAIR:

Quote

In 1872, William McLellin (then an apostate excommunicated nearly 34 years prior) wrote a letter to Emma and Joseph's son, Joseph Smith III:

Now Joseph I will relate to you some history, and refer you to your own dear Mother for the truth. You will probably remember that I visited your Mother and family in 1847, and held a lengthy conversation with her, retired in the Mansion House in Nauvoo. I did not ask her to tell, but I told her some stories I had heard. And she told me whether I was properly informed. Dr. F. G. Williams practiced with me in Clay Co. Mo. during the latter part of 1838. And he told me that at your birth your father committed an act with a Miss Hill [sic]—a hired girl. Emma saw him, and spoke to him. He desisted, but Mrs. Smith refused to be satisfied. He called in Dr. Williams, O. Cowdery, and S. Rigdon to reconcile Emma. But she told them just as the circumstances took place. He found he was caught. He confessed humbly, and begged forgiveness. Emma and all forgave him. She told me this story was true!! Again I told her I heard that one night she missed Joseph and Fanny Alger. She went to the barn and saw him and Fanny in the barn together alone. She looked through a crack and saw the transaction!!! She told me this story too was verily true. [8]

Some critics interpret "transaction" to mean intercourse in this case and that Emma caught Joseph in the very act. But McLellin reported on the event again three years afterwards in 1{8}75 to J. H. Beadle and makes it clear that he is talking about the wedding or sealing ceremony:

He [McLellin] was in the vicinity during all the Mormon troubles in Northern Missouri, and grieved heavily over the suffering of his former brethren. He also informed me of the spot where the first well authenticated case of polygamy took place in which Joseph Smith was “sealed” to the hired girl. The “sealing” took place in a barn on the hay mow, and was witnessed by Mrs. Smith through a crack in the door! The Doctor was so distressed about this case, (it created some scandal at the time among the Saints,) that long afterwards when he visited Mrs. Emma Smith at Nauvoo, he charged her as she hoped for salvation to tell him the truth about it. And she then and there declared on her honor that it was a fact—“saw it with her own eyes.” [9]

If you have historical/documentary sources supporting your characterizations ("The teenager that Emma caught Joseph Smith with in the barn" and "When caught, Joseph Smith claimed that God commanded him to practice polygamy to excuse his adultery"), I would like to review them.

20 minutes ago, california boy said:

Honestly,

Are you sure?

20 minutes ago, california boy said:

when people start digging into the whole polygamy thing,

They tend to view it in a way that confirms their preconceived notions and biases.

By way of example: Let's say that you come upon a written account from person (X) who claims to have been told, many decades ago, of a story that your grandfather (Y) had been caught by your grandmother (Z) in an adulterous tryst, and that Z was the one who told him that story.  X, Y and Z are now all dead.

Would you reflexively and automatically believe X?  Or would you balance the claim against your grandfather's character?  

Would you reflexively and automatically believe X?  Or would you perhaps reserve judgment based on the relied-upon statement being hearsay (in other words, X was not a percipient witness to the tryst), and also because the statement was many decades removed from the hearsay statement from Z?

And what if a later statement attributed to X substantially alters the story, such that it was no longer about Z catching Y in an adulterous tryst, but instead observing Z participate in a marriage ceremony?  Would this discrepancy give you any pause?  Or would you still proceed with rendering a guilty verdict on X?

Do you think your assessment of this issue would be affected by your pre-existing perspective on Y?  If you had hated Y's guts for years, for example, and then heard X's story about Y, might your pre-existing animus affect how you view the scant evidence?  Conversely, if you knew Y very well, and if you had read his journals and personal writings, and if you had previously concluded him to be, in the main, a very upright and virtuous man, might that affect your assessment of the evidence?

20 minutes ago, california boy said:

it becomes more and more difficult to defend it and claim that it came from God IMO.  

What you have said here comes nowhere close to "digging into the whole polygamy thing."

20 minutes ago, california boy said:

And if you do defend it, you also have to defend Joseph Smith lying about it in Nauvoo, claiming the rumors were not true.  

Not really.  I can both defend polygamy as a divinely-mandated principle (based on the Bible, D&C 132, Jacob 2, etc.) and also not "defend" falsehoods or equivocations told about it.  

See, e.g., this statement attributed to Brian Hales:

Quote

/u/ImTheMarmotKing asked:

Q1. Why did Joseph repeatedly lie about polygamy, claiming to have only 1 wife when we know now he had several? Doesn't that impugn the integrity of his calling and the doctrine?

Brian Hales answered:

Answer to Question 1 Please show me even one “lie” by Joseph regarding plural marriage. It is true that the Saints tried not to lie and employed creative language in attempts to not disclose plural marriage. Danel Bachman observed: ‘Most of these denials stressed semantical and theological technicalities. That is, the language of the defense was carefully chosen to disavow practices that did not accurately represent Church doctrines.” Todd Compton concurred: “Faced with the necessity of keeping polygamy secret, the Mormon authorities generally chose to disavow the practice, sometimes using language with coded double meanings.” Lawrence Foster wrote: “Smith himself most characteristically made indirect denials of polygamy in which he said simply that such statements were too ridiculous to be believed. But he always carefully refrained from saying that such statements weren’t true.” Fawn Brodie agreed: “The denials of polygamy uttered by the Mormon leaders between 1835 and 1852, when it was finally admitted, are a remarkable series of evasions and circumlocutions involving all sorts of verbal gymnastics.” The fact that they were trying to NOT lie is important. Critics sometimes portray Joseph as a prevaricator to conceal a clandestine immorality. But plural marriage was a religious practice and sexuality was included, but not common for Joseph. I have submitted a long article for publication in a peer review journal where I searched for every statement that could possibly be considered a denial. Three of the 22 statements (two from Hyrum Smith and one from Emma) are hard to explain. But I would argue that this criticism grossly overreaches and reflects little attempt to understand historically what early polygamists experienced.

I think Hales makes some fair points.  But I also think that critics have as well, particularly in terms of equivocations.  See, e.g., here and here.  And here:

Quote

I will be using definitions of the word "lie" and associated concepts as found in Merriam Webster, the Gospel Principles Manual and Wikipedia (see full definition analysis).

Gospel Principles: "Lying is intentionally deceiving others...There are many other forms of lying. When we speak untruths, we are guilty of lying. We can also intentionally deceive others by a gesture or a look, by silence, or by telling only part of the truth..."

Merriam Webster (2nd definition): lie (intransitive verb): "to create a false or misleading impression."

I can affirm polygamy as a point of doctrine (albeit very difficult for me to understand).  I can also affirm that Joseph Smith and others, if not strictly speaking "lie" about it, nevertheless were clearly evasive, equivocative, and so on.  

These are two separate points.  The verity of the former is not undone by the latter.

20 minutes ago, california boy said:

Well if they were not true, then isn't Joseph Smith admitting to committing adultery?

No.

20 minutes ago, california boy said:

I think you need to reconsider the "simplest explanation".

Lots of assessments about 19th-century polygamy ought to be "reconsidered."

Thanks,

-Smac

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3 hours ago, Teancum said:

Why doe faith have to be tested often in such brutal and cruel ways?  Maybe this is just what we tell ourselves to satisfy the cognitive dissonance such things cause.

Usually it does not.  Also I don’t see the issue at hand to be brutal and cruel.  If you do, that is your characterization of it which is fine. 

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3 hours ago, Teancum said:

But there is no evidence God ever did command it. Not in the Bible. Nor is there that God commanded it the way JS did it, as some new and everlasting covenant needed for the highest level of heaven.

I don’t agree.  Though I don’t believe polygamy was ever declared as required to the highest level.  Marriage is but not polygamy.

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15 hours ago, juliann said:

All the church needs to do is stop the speculation about polygamy in the afterlife, which they can easily do by making it public that they do seal women to two living husbands by special permission. This is where secrecy is hurting not only the church but women who think this is only for men.

How often does this happen?  It has been 14 year since I was a bishop but at least then a woman had to have a cancellation of a prior sealing to he sealed again.  Always.  Deceased women could be sealed to all husbands they had been a married to but that is it.  Of course living men just needed a sealing clearance to be sealed again.  So maybe things have changed since then.

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8 minutes ago, Teancum said:
Quote

All the church needs to do is stop the speculation about polygamy in the afterlife, which they can easily do by making it public that they do seal women to two living husbands by special permission. This is where secrecy is hurting not only the church but women who think this is only for men.

How often does this happen?  It has been 14 year since I was a bishop but at least then a woman had to have a cancellation of a prior sealing to he sealed again.  Always.  Deceased women could be sealed to all husbands they had been a married to but that is it.  Of course living men just needed a sealing clearance to be sealed again.  So maybe things have changed since then.

Section 38.4.1.2

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38.4.1.2

Sealing of Living Members after Divorce

Women. A living woman may be sealed to only one husband at a time. If she and a husband were sealed and later divorced, she must receive a cancellation of that sealing before being sealed to another man during her lifetime (see 38.4.1.4).

A living woman who is not currently married or sealed to another man may be sealed to a deceased husband from whom she was divorced in life. She must first receive signed consent from her former husband’s widow (if there is one).

See chapter 28 for information about performing ordinances for a deceased spouse.

Men. If a man and woman were sealed and later divorced, the man must receive a sealing clearance before being sealed to another woman (see 38.4.1.4). A sealing clearance is necessary even if (1) the previous sealing has been canceled or (2) the previous wife is deceased.

A sealing clearance is needed only if a man is divorced from the woman who was most recently sealed to him. For example, if a man received a sealing clearance to be sealed to a second wife after a divorce, and then his second wife dies, he would not need another sealing clearance to be sealed again.

A living man may be sealed to a deceased wife from whom he was divorced in life. He must first receive signed consent from his former wife’s widower (if there is one). He also must receive written consent from his current wife if he is married.

See chapter 28 for information about performing ordinances for a deceased spouse.

"A living woman may be sealed to only one husband at a time."  This seems incompatible with Juliann's claim that "they do seal women to two living husbands by special permission."

"If a man and woman were sealed and later divorced, the man must receive a sealing clearance before being sealed to another woman."

One sealing allowed at a time for women, multiple sealings allowed at a time for men (involving a sealing "clearance").

Section 38.4.1.4

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38.4.1.4

Applying for a Sealing Cancellation or a Sealing Clearance

See 38.4.1.2 for information about the sealing of living members after a divorce. See 38.4.1.3 for information about the sealing of living members after a spouse’s death.

Members of either gender may seek a sealing cancellation even if they are not preparing to be sealed to another spouse. A male Church member must receive a sealing clearance to be sealed to another woman after a divorce.

The process for seeking a sealing cancellation or sealing clearance is outlined below.

  1. The member speaks with his or her bishop about the request.

  2. The bishop ensures that:

    • The divorce is final.

    • The member is current in all legal requirements for child and spousal support related to the divorce.

  3. If the bishop recommends that the sealing cancellation or sealing clearance be granted, he:

    • Fills out an Application to the First Presidency for the member using Leader and Clerk Services (LCR). Leaders who do not have access to LCR instead use a physical copy of the Application to the First Presidency form. This form is available from the Confidential Records Office at Church headquarters.

    • Submits the application to the stake president.

  4. The stake president meets with the member. The stake president verifies that:

    • The divorce is final.

    • The member is current in all legal requirements for child and spousal support related to the divorce.

  5. If the stake president recommends that the sealing cancellation or sealing clearance be granted, he submits the application to Church headquarters using LCR or the form.

  6. If the request is approved, the First Presidency provides a letter stating that the sealing cancellation or sealing clearance has been granted.

  7. After receiving the letter, the member may schedule an appointment for a temple sealing. The member presents the letter at the temple.

See 38.4.1.9.

Again, note the reference to men obtaining a "sealing clearance."  

Section 38.4.1.3

Quote

38.4.1.3

Sealing of Living Members after a Spouse’s Death

Women. If a husband and wife have been sealed and the husband dies, the woman may not be sealed to another man unless she receives a cancellation of the first sealing (see 38.4.1.4).

A living woman who is not currently married or sealed to another man may be sealed to a deceased husband. If the marriage ended in divorce, see 38.4.1.2.

A living woman who is currently married may not be sealed to a deceased husband without First Presidency approval.

See chapter 28 for information about performing ordinances for a deceased spouse.

Men. If a husband and wife have been sealed and the wife dies, the man may be sealed to another woman if she is not already sealed to another man. In this circumstance, the man does not need a sealing clearance from the First Presidency unless he was divorced from his previous wife before she died (see 38.4.1.2).

A living man may be sealed to a deceased wife. If the marriage ended in divorce, see 38.4.1.2. Before being sealed to a deceased wife, a man must receive written consent from his current wife if he is married.

See chapter 28 for information about performing ordinances for a deceased spouse.

For women: "If a husband and wife have been sealed and the husband dies, the woman may not be sealed to another man unless she receives a cancellation of the first sealing."

For men: "If a husband and wife have been sealed and the wife dies, the man may be sealed to another woman if she is not already sealed to another man."

Thanks,

-Smac

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39 minutes ago, Teancum said:

How often does this happen?  It has been 14 year since I was a bishop but at least then a woman had to have a cancellation of a prior sealing to he sealed again.  Always.  Deceased women could be sealed to all husbands they had been a married to but that is it.  Of course living men just needed a sealing clearance to be sealed again.  So maybe things have changed since then.

del

Edited by MustardSeed
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4 hours ago, Obehave said:

All we can do is ask God if he said that. Until we know for ourselves we either take that person's word that God told him or her to do that or we choose to not believe that person 

Sometimes you do not need to ask.  There are things the come from some people that are so untrustworthy that more likely than not what they are telling you is wrong. 

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22 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Section 38.4.1.2

"A living woman may be sealed to only one husband at a time."  This seems incompatible with Juliann's claim that "they do seal women to two living husbands by special permission."

"If a man and woman were sealed and later divorced, the man must receive a sealing clearance before being sealed to another woman."

One sealing allowed at a time for women, multiple sealings allowed at a time for men (involving a sealing "clearance").

Section 38.4.1.4

Again, note the reference to men obtaining a "sealing clearance."  

Section 38.4.1.3

For women: "If a husband and wife have been sealed and the husband dies, the woman may not be sealed to another man unless she receives a cancellation of the first sealing."

For men: "If a husband and wife have been sealed and the wife dies, the man may be sealed to another woman if she is not already sealed to another man."

Thanks,

-Smac

THis does seem to dispute what Juliann said.

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26 minutes ago, Teancum said:

THis does seem to dispute what Juliann said.

That's what it still says, but I'm personally aware of three exceptions to this. It isn't advertised, bit there are at least a few exceptions granted by the FP.

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49 minutes ago, rongo said:

That's what it still says, but I'm personally aware of three exceptions to this. It isn't advertised, bit there are at least a few exceptions granted by the FP.

There were exceptions being made as long ago as three decades (personal knowledge while in a bishopric), but I have no idea how common they are. 

Edited by manol
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2 minutes ago, rongo said:
Quote

THis does seem to dispute what Juliann said.

That's what it still says, but I'm personally aware of three exceptions to this. It isn't advertised, bit there are at least a few exceptions granted by the FP.

Personally, I'm sort of surprised that the Lord has let us flounder about on these sorts of things.  If there is a material doctrinal/revelatory distinction to be maintained (wherein a man can be sealed to more than one woman at a time, but woman cannot be sealed to more than one man at a time), I would like to see that clarified.

Thanks,

-Smac

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53 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Section 38.4.1.2

"A living woman may be sealed to only one husband at a time."  This seems incompatible with Juliann's claim that "they do seal women to two living husbands by special permission."

"If a man and woman were sealed and later divorced, the man must receive a sealing clearance before being sealed to another woman."

One sealing allowed at a time for women, multiple sealings allowed at a time for men (involving a sealing "clearance").

Section 38.4.1.4

Again, note the reference to men obtaining a "sealing clearance."  

Section 38.4.1.3

For women: "If a husband and wife have been sealed and the husband dies, the woman may not be sealed to another man unless she receives a cancellation of the first sealing."

For men: "If a husband and wife have been sealed and the wife dies, the man may be sealed to another woman if she is not already sealed to another man."

Thanks,

-Smac

Juliann is speaking from personal knowledge.  Women are sometimes given permission from the FP to be sealed to more than one man.  Rongo confirmed this and IIRC he was personally involved in one when he was bishop.

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22 hours ago, smac97 said:

I provided a link.  And the text is searchable.

An "appeal to authority" posits that " because an authority thinks something, it must therefore be true."

I did not cite Hales and Bradley for the proposition that their assessment of the sword-and-angel story "must therefore be true."  For myself, I am not accustomed to speaking of "scholarship" as a monolithic thing (as in "modern scholarship is discarding...").  Such a pronouncement is per se facile as to most issues because, well, "modern scholarship" is all over the place.  But in terms of the sword-and-angel story, I cited Hales and Bradley - whom I think can be reasonably characterized as "scholars" in the context of LDS history, doctrine, etc. - in response to your unsubstantiated assertion that "modern scholarship is discarding these handed down after the fact stories {specifically including the sword-and-angel story}."

Meanwhile, I invite you to ponder the meaning of "appeal to authority" in the context of this statement: "About the sword and angel, modern scholarship is discarding these handed down after the fact stories (like the crickets and seagulls.)"  To me, that sounds quite a bit like "Because modern scholarship is 'discarding' the angel-and-sword story, we should, too."

Also, you said: "If I recall, it originated from one person."  Per Hales, there were 20 accounts from nine sources:

  1. Joseph Lee Robinson (journal entry in 1853, referencing statement by Joseph Smith in apparently 1841 or 1846)
  2. Lorenzo Snow (1869 affidavit from Joseph F. Smith (so hearsay within hearsay), 1892 testimony in "Temple Lot" case, 1896 statement (Heber J. Grant quoting Lorenzo Snow)
  3. Benjamin F. Johnson (1869 affidavit, 1896 writing, 1903 writing)
  4. Eliza R. Snow (remarks in 1880 RS meeting, 1884 biography quoting statement from Joseph to her brother (so possibly hearsay within hearsay), 1887 recollection)
  5. Orson Pratt (pre-1881 statement recorded in diary of Charles Lowell Walker)
  6. Zina Huntington (statements in 1881 and 1894)
  7. Helen Mar Kimball (1882 statement, 1884 statement)
  8. Erastus Snow (1883 statement recorded in diary of Charles Lowell Walker, 1883 statement during St. George stake conference)
  9. Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner (statements in 1902, 1904, 1905).

I have given consideration to the actual historical statements abou the angel-and-sword story (given your factually incorrect recollection that the story "originated from one person," it seems fair to surmise that you have not given much, if any, study and consideration to the actual statements).

I have not relied on some nebulous (and, so far, unsubstantiated) appeal to "modern scholarship" about the sword-and-angel story.  I don't think "modern scholarship" is competently situated to make informed pronouncements about matters so drenched in religious belief.  

I have given consideration not just to the statements, but to the circumstances under which they were made.  I have considered them as having weakened credibility, provenance and probative weight because they are all hearsay (some even hearsay within hearsay), and also because of the substantial intervals of time between the timeframe of when Joseph would have made these statements and when they were eventually written down.

However, I have also given some real thought and consideration to the character and reputation of some of the declarants.  For example, Lorenzo Snow seemed to be, overall, a fairly honorable man.  And one of his recollections about the angel-and-sword story was presented in a (presumably sworn) affidavit used in a legal proceeding, and another came from him actually testifying during a legal proceeding. 

Similarly, Benjamin F. Johnson also made a statement in a (presumably sworn) affidavit.

And then there is Eliza R. Snow, who repeatedly attributed the story to Joseph Smith, including during a Relief Society meeting, again in a published biography.

Helen Mar Kimball also twice put her recollection in published print.

Mary Lightner gave her recollection at least four times, one of which was in a public setting.

I have also given consideration to the apparent absence of any repudiation of this story by any of the declarants.  

To be sure, hearsay, particularly multiple hearsay, warrants caution and scrutiny.  But then, I also think that a person of Lorenzo Snow's character and integrity would not be likely to fabricate something so sacred, let alone fabricate it while testifying under oath in court.

Still plenty of room for further study and consideration, but I'm not sure it's worth the time.  Again, I'm just not that invested in this story.  It is a secondary and peripheral piece of evidence relative to the authenticity/divinity of D&C 132, Jacob 2, etc.

Had you bothered to review the Hales article at the link I provided, and/or my verbatim quote from that article, you would know that Hales quoted/summarized Bradley.

Thanks,

-Smac

I agree that there are some fairly credible testimonies.  

So, we are left with the predicament of having to consider several possibilities, including 1) that multiple credible people were confused with the same delusion or nearly identical false memory, or were straight up liars - including several of Joseph's wives.   We have been advised to study polygamy from the perspective of the women and listen to their stories - well, for several of them, this is their story. 

That is why I find the story so troubling.  If the accounts are false, then that leads me to question the integrity and credibility of several church leaders and historical women in the church.  If the accounts are true, on the other hand, then I have to decide if Joseph made it up and used the story to compel others to marry him, and to conveniently hide the shame and accountability of it all behind an angel with a sword - or decide if the account is true, which may be even more unsettling to me and would cause me to rethink the attributes and nature of God in ways that are uncomfortable to me. 

No matter how I assess the story, I am left feeling uncomfortable.  I can't find a way to interpret it in a positive light.  It unfortunately casts a dark shadow over an already uncomfortable and troubling part of our history.  

Edited by pogi
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1 hour ago, smac97 said:

From that article: "Accusations of adultery were Joseph and Hyrum’s convenient method of marring a persons character."

That seems to be what you are doing.  Using "accusations of adultery" to "mar" the character of Joseph Smith.  Ironic, wot?

Unless, of course, polygamy was not being used as a pretext for adultery, or as an after-the-fact justification for it.

Unless the difference is that Joseph Smith and Fanny Alger viewed their relationship as a marriage.  From FAIR:

The difference between Law's behavior (adultery) and Joseph's (plural marriage) is . . . a marriage.

No.

Apparently.  And that differentiates the relationship from Law's adulterous behavior.

From FAIR:

If you have historical/documentary sources supporting your characterizations ("The teenager that Emma caught Joseph Smith with in the barn" and "When caught, Joseph Smith claimed that God commanded him to practice polygamy to excuse his adultery"), I would like to review them.

Are you sure?

They tend to view it in a way that confirms their preconceived notions and biases.

By way of example: Let's say that you come upon a written account from person (X) who claims to have been told, many decades ago, of a story that your grandfather (Y) had been caught by your grandmother (Z) in an adulterous tryst, and that Z was the one who told him that story.  X, Y and Z are now all dead.

Would you reflexively and automatically believe X?  Or would you balance the claim against your grandfather's character?  

Would you reflexively and automatically believe X?  Or would you perhaps reserve judgment based on the relied-upon statement being hearsay (in other words, X was not a percipient witness to the tryst), and also because the statement was many decades removed from the hearsay statement from Z?

And what if a later statement attributed to X substantially alters the story, such that it was no longer about Z catching Y in an adulterous tryst, but instead observing Z participate in a marriage ceremony?  Would this discrepancy give you any pause?  Or would you still proceed with rendering a guilty verdict on X?

Do you think your assessment of this issue would be affected by your pre-existing perspective on Y?  If you had hated Y's guts for years, for example, and then heard X's story about Y, might your pre-existing animus affect how you view the scant evidence?  Conversely, if you knew Y very well, and if you had read his journals and personal writings, and if you had previously concluded him to be, in the main, a very upright and virtuous man, might that affect your assessment of the evidence?

What you have said here comes nowhere close to "digging into the whole polygamy thing."

Not really.  I can both defend polygamy as a divinely-mandated principle (based on the Bible, D&C 132, Jacob 2, etc.) and also not "defend" falsehoods or equivocations told about it.  

See, e.g., this statement attributed to Brian Hales:

I think Hales makes some fair points.  But I also think that critics have as well, particularly in terms of equivocations.  See, e.g., here and here.  And here:

I can affirm polygamy as a point of doctrine (albeit very difficult for me to understand).  I can also affirm that Joseph Smith and others, if not strictly speaking "lie" about it, nevertheless were clearly evasive, equivocative, and so on.  

These are two separate points.  The verity of the former is not undone by the latter.

No.

Lots of assessments about 19th-century polygamy ought to be "reconsidered."

Thanks,

-Smac

Here  is some information on Joseph Smiths relationships with teenager Fanny Alger.

Quote

 

Five documents indicate that Joseph Smith may have experienced conjugal relations with his first plural wife, Fanny Alger. The earliest is from Oliver Cowdery in a private letter written January 21, 1838:

I did not fail to affirm that what I had said was strictly true. A dirty, nasty, filthy scrape [“affair” overwritten] of his and Fanny Alger’s was talked over in which I strictly declared that I had never deviated from the truth on the matter. 1

The next reference is thirty-four years later from William McLellin:

[O]ne night she [Emma Smith] missed Joseph and Fanny Alger. She went to the barn and saw him and Fanny in the barn together alone. She looked through a crack and saw the transaction!! She told me this story too was verily true.2

McLellin reported on the event again three years afterward in 1875 to J. H. Beadle:

He [McLellin] was in the vicinity during all the Mormon troubles in Northern Missouri, and grieved heavily over the suffering of his former brethren. He also informed me of the spot where the first well authenticated case of polygamy took place in which Joseph Smith was “sealed” to the hired girl. The “sealing” took place in a barn on the hay mow, and was witnessed by Mrs. Smith through a crack in the door! The Doctor was so distressed about this case, (it created some scandal at the time among the Saints,) that long afterwards when he visited Mrs. Emma Smith at Nauvoo, he charged her as she hoped for salvation to tell him the truth about it. And she then and there declared on her honor that it was a fact—“saw it with her own eyes.”3

Ten years later, Wilhelm Wyl reportedly quoted Chancy Webb, who said:

Joseph’s dissolute life began already in the first times of the church, in Kirtland. He was sealed there secretly to Fanny Alger. Emma was furious, and drove the girl, who was unable to conceal the consequences of her celestial relation with the prophet, out of her house.4

The final document was written in 1903 by Benjamin F. Johnson:

“I was . . . told by Warren Parish That He himself & Oliver Cowdery did know that Joseph had Fanny Alger as a wife for They were Spied upon & found togather.5

For more details, see Brian C. Hales (with Don Bradley), Joseph Smith’s Polygamy: History and Theology, 3 vols., Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2013.

 

More.

William E. McLellin in a letter to Joseph Smith III wrote in1872, “Again I told her [Emma] I heard that one night she missed Joseph and Fanny Alger. She went to the barn and saw him and Fanny in the barn together alone. She looked through a crack and saw the transaction!! She told me this story too was verily true.”
“….She [Emma Smith] discovered that Joseph had been celesitalizing with this maiden, Fanny, who acknowledged the truth, but Joseph denied it in toto and stigmatized the statement of the girl as a base fabrication. Emma, of course, believed the girl, as she was very well aware that no confidence could be placed in her husband, and she became terrible worked up about it. She was like a mad woman, and acted so violently that Oliver Cowdery and some of the elders were called in to minister to her and ‘cast the devil out of sister Emma.”

 

More

 

Quote

 

Benjamin Johnson, a close friend of Joseph Smith, described Fanny as, “varry nice and comly, [to whom] everyone Seemed partial for the ameability of her character.”  She is generally considered the first plural wife of Joseph Smith.  Although undocumented, the marriage of Fanny and Joseph most likely took place in Kirtland, Ohio sometime in 1833. She would have been sixteen years old.  At the time, Fanny was living in the Smith home, perhaps helping Emma with house work and the children.  Ann Eliza Webb recalls, “Mrs. Smith had an adopted daughter, a very pretty, pleasing young girl, about seventeen years old.  She was extremely fond of her; no mother could be more devoted, and their affection for each other was a constant object of remark, so absorbing and genuine did it seem”.  

Joseph kept his marriage to Fanny out of the view of the public, and his wife Emma.  Chauncey Webb recounts Emma’s later discovery of the relationship:  “Emma was furious, and drove the girl, who was unable to conceal the consequences of her celestial relation with the prophet, out of her house”.  Ann Eliza again recalls:  “...it was felt that [Emma] certainly must have had some very good reason for her action. By degrees it became whispered about that Joseph’s love for his adopted daughter was by no means a paternal affection, and his wife, discovering the fact, at once took measures to place the girl beyond his reach...Since Emma refused decidedly to allow her to remain in her house...my mother offered to take her until she could be sent to her relatives...”

Book of Mormon witness, Oliver Cowdery, felt the relationship was something other than a marriage.  He referred to it as “A dirty, nasty, filthy affair...”  To calm rumors regarding Fanny’s relationship with Joseph, the church quickly adopted a “Chapter of Rules for Marriage among the Saints”, which declared,“Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with...polygamy; we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife...”  This “Article on Marriage” was canonized and published in the Doctrine & Covenants.  In 1852, the doctrine of polygamy was publicly announced, thus ending eighteen years of secret practice.  “The Article on Marriage” became obsolete and was later removed.

Part of the affidavit of John C. Bennett, who was told that God had revealed to Joseph Smith to practice polygamy.

Quote

 

“Well, but,” said he, “brother Joseph has had a revelation from God [not yet written down] that it is lawful and right for a man to have two wives; for as it was in the days of Abraham, so it shall be in these last days, and whoever is the first that is willing to take up the cross will receive the greatest blessings; and if you will accept of me, I will take you straight to the celestial kingdom; and if you will have me in this world, I will have you in that which is to come, and brother Joseph will marry us here to-day, and you can go home this evening, and your parents will not know any thing about it.”

“Sir,” said I, “I should not like to do any thing of the kind without the permission of my parents.” “Well, but,” said he, “you are of age, are you not?” “No, sir,” said I, “I shall not be until the 24th of May.” “Well,” said he, “that does not make any difference. You will be of age before they know, and you need not fear. If you will take my counsel, it will be well with you, for I know it to be right before God, and if there is any sin in it, I will answer for it. But brother Joseph wishes to have some talk with you on the subject—he will explain things—will you hear him?” “I do not mind,” said I. “Well, but I want you to say something,” said he. “I want time to think about it,” said I. “Well,” said he, “I will have a kiss, any how[”], and then rose, and said he would bring Joseph. He then unlocked the door, and took the key, and locked me up alone.

He was absent about ten minutes, and then returned with Joseph. “Well,” said Young, “sister Martha would be willing if she knew it was lawful and right before God.” “Well, Martha,” said Joseph, “it is lawful and right before God—I know it is. Look here, sis; don’t you believe in me?” I did not answer. “Well, Martha,” said Joseph, “just go ahead, and do as Brigham wants you to—he is the best man in the world, except me.” “O!” said Brigham, “then you are as good.” “Yes,” said Joseph. “Well,” said Young, “we believe Joseph to be a Prophet. I have known him near eight years, and always found him the same[”] “Yes,” said Joseph, “and I know that this is lawful and right before God, and if there is any sin in it, I will answer for it before God; and I have the keys of the kingdom, and whatever I bind on earth is bound in heaven, and whatever I loose on earth is loosed in heaven, and if you will accept of Brigham, you shall be blessed—God shall bless you, and my blessing shall rest upon you; and if you will be led by him, you will do well; for I know Brigham will take care of you, and if he don’t do his duty to you, come to me, and I will make him; and if you do not like it in a month or two, come to me, and I will make you free again; and if he turns you off, I will take you on.”

 

And the response from Church leaders

Quote

 

August 31, 1842, Affidavits against Bennett—RESPONSIBLE FOR

The below affidavits by Kimball and Young refer to Martha Brotherton’s affidavit, which is likely truthful, at least in its general outline. Martha’s affidavit primarily makes the claim that Joseph and Brigham attempted to persuade her that polygamy was approved of God and to become Brigham’s wife. Brigham swore to the below statement in August—two months prior he had taken Lucy Ann Decker for his first polygamous wife. Heber C. Kimball also took his first polygamous wife early in 1842. Joseph Smith instigated the effort to print and widely distrubte these affidavits.5 In 1870 Brigham had Martha Brotherton sealed to him by proxy. Joseph Smith had at least 13 wives by this time.

… Heber C. Kimball, who being duly sworn according to law, deposeth and saith that the affidavit of Miss Martha Brotherton, which has been published in sundry newspapers, is false and without foundation in truth, and further this deponant saith not.

… AFFIDAVIT OF BRIGHAM YOUNG … I do hereby testify that the affidavit of Miss Martha Brotherton that is going the rounds in the political and religious papers, is a base falsehood, with regard to any private intercourse or unlawful conduct or conversation with me. BRIGHAM YOUNG …

September 1, 1842, Times and Seasons—RESPONSIBLE FOR

Joseph Smith was editor of the Times and Seasons when this was published and had at least 13 wives by this time.

Inasmuch as the public mind has been unjustly abused through the fallacy of Dr. Bennett’s letters, we make an extract on the subject of marriage, showing the rule of the church on this important matter. The extract is from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and is the only rule allowed by the church.

“All legal contracts of marriage made before a person is baptized into this church, should be held sacred and fulfilled. Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again. It is not right to persuade a woman to be baptized contrary to the will of her husband neither is it lawful to influence her to leave her husband.”

“On Marriage” October 1, 1842, Times and Seasons—RESPONSIBLE FOR

Joseph Smith was editor of the Times and Seasons when this document was published. Two of the women who signed the document were Joseph’s plural wives (Sara M. Cleveland and Eliza R. Snow). Bishop Newel K. Whitney had performed a plural marriage of his daughter to Joseph the previous July. John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff had also likely been taught about polygamy by this time.6 Joseph Smith had at least 13 wives when this was published.

… 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…

We have given the above rule of marriage as the only one practiced in this church, to show that Dr. J. C. Bennett’s “secret wife system” is a matter of his own manufacture; and further to disabuse the public ear, and shew [show] that the said Bennett and his misanthropic friend Origen Bachelor, are perpetrating a foul and infamous slander upon an innocent people, and need but be known to be hated and despise. In support of this position, we present the following certificates:—

We the undersigned members of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and residents of the city of Nauvoo, persons of families do hereby certify and declare that we know of no other rule or system of marriage than the one published from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and we give this certificate to show that Dr. J. C. Bennett’s “secret wife system” is a creature of his own make as we know of no such society in this place nor never did.

[Signed by 12 men, including Newel K. Whitney, John Taylor, and Wilford Woodruff. Under an almost identical statement are the printed signatures of 18 women including Sara M. Cleveland and Eliza R. Snow]

October 5, 1843, Joseph’s Journal—OWN WORDS

Joseph Smith had at least 27 wives by this time.

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 doctrine of plurality of wives. on this Law. Joseph forbids it. and the practice ther[e]of— No man shall have but one wife.

February 1, 1844, Times and Seasons—OWN WORDS

Joseph Smith had at least 30 wives by this time. Hyrum Smith had 3 or 4 wives at this time. Brown _was_ later excommunicated for preaching polygamy.

…an Elder of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter-day Saints, by the name of Hiram Brown, has been preaching Polygamy…he has been cut off from the church, for his iniquity

[Signed by JOSEPH SMITH and HYRUM SMITH]

May 26, 1844, Testimony against Dissenters—OWN WORDS

Joseph Smith had at least 30 wives by this time.

 

… I had not been married scarcely five minutes, and made one proclamation of the Gospel, before it was reported that I had seven wives…

… and he [William Law] swears that I have committed adultery…

… A man asked me whether the commandment was given that a man may have seven wives; and now the new prophet has charged me with adultery. I never had any fuss with these men until that Female Relief Society brought out the paper against adulterers and adulteresses. …

… Wilson Law also swears that I told him I was guilty of adultery. Brother Jonathan Dunham can swear to the contrary. I have been chained. I have rattled chains before in a dungeon for the truth’s sake. I am innocent of all these charges, 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.

I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago; and I can prove them all perjurers.

 

Sounds like lying to me.

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14 minutes ago, juliann said:

Whatever. This is Rongo's thread asking about advice for teaching a RS class. Can you guys start your own JS is a LIAR!!!! thread?

Joseph Smith lying about polygamy is part of the story.  In some ways it is the most disturbing part and makes me question all of his claims that he was directed by God.  I think if Rongo is going to have an honest discussion with the RS, he should tell all of the critical parts of this story.   We have all set through way too many Church meetings where half truths and misleading information has been given. 

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41 minutes ago, pogi said:

I agree that there are some fairly credible testimonies.  

So, we are left with the predicament of having to consider several possibilities, including 1) that multiple credible people were confused with the same delusion or nearly identical false memory, or were straight up liars - including several of Joseph's wives.   We have been advised to study polygamy from the perspective of the women and listen to their stories - well, for several of them, this is their story. 

That is why I find the story so troubling.  If the story is false, then that leads me to question the integrity and credibility of several church leaders and historical women in the church.  If the story is true, on the other hand, then I have to decide if Joseph made it up and used the story to compel others to marry him, and to hide the shame and accountability of it all behind an angel with a sword - or decide if the account is true, which may be even more unsettling to me and would cause me to rethink the attributes and nature of God in ways that are uncomfortable to me. 

No matter how I assess the story, I am left feeling uncomfortable.  I can't find a way to interpret it in a positive light.  It unfortunately casts a dark shadow over an already uncomfortable and troubling part of our history.  

There are more possibilities. I think it is clear from the reactions of the women to the government threatening their religion is key. They immediately sprang into action and defended a practice many were miserable with. It was about a belief in their religion in an era where women were subjegated and expected to sacrifice. I have to remind myself that the Curse of Eve was still very much alive and they rationalized polygamy as a way to get out from under "your desire shall always be to your husband." It was all tied up in a belief in sealings and exaltation and no revelation is pure. Now that I think about it, I'm wondering how many of the visions were in Nauvoo vs in later decades because JS's polygamy was not BY's polygamy.

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32 minutes ago, bluebell said:

Juliann is speaking from personal knowledge.  Women are sometimes given permission from the FP to be sealed to more than one man.  Rongo confirmed this and IIRC he was personally involved in one when he was bishop.

I am not disputing her statement, or Rongo's.  It appears there are circumstances where exceptions to the Church's published policy are made.

I doubt the Brethren will want to do what Juliann is proposing, though ("making it public that they do seal women to two living husbands by special permission").  Publicly advertising what is likely a very limited set of circumstances for exceptions to the policy would be like decorating the exception with a giant, blinking, neon sign.

Contrary to Juliann's characterization, I don't think the Brethren are being "secretive" about this.  I think they are being wise and compassionate in A) clearly stating the policy (I am very glad that the Handbook is now open to the general public), and B) not publicly "advertising" the possibility of exceptions to it (as doing so would likely set up a lot of women for disappointment, anger, etc. if and when their request for an exception were not granted).

In a sense, this is a good problem to have, as it shows that the Latter-day Saints are taking the Restored Gospel, and their covenants, seriously enough to proceed on the assumption that sealing power is real and efficacious, such that we should be attuned to how it applies in our lives.

By that same reasoning, though, we should also be very circumspect in how we approach questions/concerns about this issue.  Kate Kelly was a pretty good example of how not to behave when asking the Brethren to consider issues that may be "policy" as much as, or more than, "doctrine."  Same goes for Sam Young.

Thanks,

-Smac

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6 minutes ago, california boy said:

Joseph Smith lying about polygamy is part of the story.  In some ways it is the most disturbing part and makes me question all of his claims that he was directed by God.  I think if Rongo is going to have an honest discussion with the RS, he should tell all of the critical parts of this story.   We have all set through way too many Church meetings where half truths and misleading information has been given. 

It's not part of a RS lesson.  You are off topic for this thread, start your own!  You are being rude. 

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