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Joseph Smith Polygamy


Ron

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I must say I'm scratching my head as to why you would present a book's single chapter containing a cursory survey of Joseph's life as evidence the Church does not teach that he engaged in plural marriage when you knew about these contemporaneous texts that both contain information on that topic.

Scott--

Your challenge was simply as follows:

What's more I highly doubt you could show me anything from the official curriculum materials of the Church either present (they're virtually all availble on line at the Church's official Web site ) or past that would lead anyone intentionally to believe otherwise.

And the challenge still stands. I don't buy it that leaving out mention of polygamy in a single chapter of a broadly focused text amounts to an intentional effort to mislead people, especially when it can easily be shown that other texts, to which the same students are apt to be exposed, contain clear information about it.

Would you prefer to post that "clear information" before I do?

I have a relatively busy day ahead of me today, and it might be a while before I can get to it. Then we can all take a look to see whether or not it's clear or complete.

I've given the relevant page numbers. I'm confident I've made my point, and that a reasonable person who bothers to look up the information will see that.

And I have a busy day ahead of me as well.

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I've been struggling with this issue as well. The thing that bothers me is even if the marriages were non-sexual. Would the lord really take away someones mortal wife and give it to the prophet? What if GBH came to me and told me I've been told your wife has been given to me.

Also that many returned from a missions to find their wife or daughter was sealed to Joseph Smith. This seems common in many of the accounts I've read... (By the way www.wojs.org is really all I've read, I'm determined to do more research before I draw definite conclusions)

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A similar tactic was used in the Church Almanac -- in one section there are very brief bios of each of the past presidents of the Church -- JS's bio mentions his marriage to Emma, but no other marriages -- the bios for BY to Heber Grant (all polygamists) do not mention any marriages at all, not even the first ones -- but starting with George Albert Smith through GBH (all monogamists) the first wives (and second and third wives, if the prior ones had died) are named.  For me, the clear implication is to make out JS as a monogamist (or, like the BY manual, downplay his polygamy).  Another case of whitewashing Church history, imo.

What RHT neglects to mention here (and he and I have had exchanges about this before) is that the same almanac refers elsewhere, in the "Historical Chronology of the Church" to the practice of plural marriage by Church leaders.

He will try to tell you that such mentions are "buried," but the fact is they are in the same typeface and practically the same point size as the very abbreviated bios of which he makes mention.

Scott--

I should just note, parenthetically and anecdotally, that I took Doctrine and Covenants (both sections) while at BYU, and while the revelation was discussed in that context, specific plural marriages involving Joseph Smith were not.

Perhaps your experience, and perhaps the experience of many others, was different.

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What RHT neglects to mention here (and he and I have had exchanges about this before) is that the same almanac refers elsewhere, in the "Historical Chronology of the Church" to the practice of plural marriage by Church leaders.

He will try to tell you that such mentions are "buried," but the fact is they are in the same typeface and practically the same point size as the very abbreviated bios of which he makes mention.

Scott:

And as you well know, I was discussing a specific part of the Church Almanac that (imo) misleads the reader into thinking that JS was a monogamist (I was not arguing that the Church does not acknowledge that it once had polygamy as a doctrine and practice), much like the Priesthood/RS manual did with BY, and which the current Gospel Doctrine booklet Our Heritage dances around.

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And as you well know, I was discussing a specific part of the Church Almanac that (imo) misleads the reader into thinking that JS was a monogamist (I was not arguing that the Church does not acknowledge that it once had polygamy as a doctrine and practice), must like the Priesthood/RS manual did with BY, and which the current Gospel Doctrine booklet Our Heritage dances around.

So, should every sentance talking about Joseph Smith in any context be changed to read "Polygamous Church founder, Joseph Smith....." ?

Give me a break!

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And as you well know, I was discussing a specific part of the Church Almanac that (imo) misleads the reader into thinking that JS was a monogamist (I was not arguing that the Church does not acknowledge that it once had polygamy as a doctrine and practice), must like the Priesthood/RS manual did with BY, and which the current Gospel Doctrine booklet Our Heritage dances around.

So, should every sentance talking about Joseph Smith in any context be changed to read "Polygamous Church founder, Joseph Smith....." ?

Give me a break!

Is there a happy medium that would accurately reflect the truth of the situation without intentionally or unintentionally misleading?

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A similar tactic was used in the Church Almanac -- in one section there are very brief bios of each of the past presidents of the Church -- JS's bio mentions his marriage to Emma, but no other marriages -- the bios for BY to Heber Grant (all polygamists) do not mention any marriages at all, not even the first ones -- but starting with George Albert Smith through GBH (all monogamists) the first wives (and second and third wives, if the prior ones had died) are named.
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And as you well know, I was discussing a specific part of the Church Almanac that (imo) misleads the reader into thinking that JS was a monogamist (I was not arguing that the Church does not acknowledge that it once had polygamy as a doctrine and practice), must like the Priesthood/RS manual did with BY, and which the current Gospel Doctrine booklet Our Heritage dances around.

So, should every sentance talking about Joseph Smith in any context be changed to read "Polygamous Church founder, Joseph Smith....." ?

Give me a break!

Is there a happy medium that would accurately reflect the truth of the situation without intentionally or unintentionally misleading?

I think the current medium is happy enough.

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And as you well know, I was discussing a specific part of the Church Almanac that (imo) misleads the reader into thinking that JS was a monogamist (I was not arguing that the Church does not acknowledge that it once had polygamy as a doctrine and practice), must like the Priesthood/RS manual did with BY, and which the current Gospel Doctrine booklet Our Heritage dances around.

So, should every sentance talking about Joseph Smith in any context be changed to read "Polygamous Church founder, Joseph Smith....." ?

Give me a break!

Is there a happy medium that would accurately reflect the truth of the situation without intentionally or unintentionally misleading?

Why should any article not pertaining to polygamy have to expound upon it?

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2. Since the primary basis for polygamy seems to be for the Lord "to raise up a righteous seed," I think it's obvious that polygamy, in general, was to involve sexual relations. Sure, some older women were sealed to JS, and probably no sexual aspect existed, but I think it probably did with the younger ladies (as many of them have claimed). I think this probably also occurred with the polyandrous wives (even Helen Mar Kimball suggests there was something more than a mere sealing to JS; she relates in her journal how upset she was when she was expected to stop flirting with boys because she was now married to the Prophet -- btw, Helen was still several months from her 15th birthday when she married Joseph).

Can we please start posting documentation instead of just asserting this, that and the other thing or are questions of evidence just too bothersome for some here?

If there "was something more than a mere sealing" then why would Helen be "upset... when she was expected to stop flirting with boys"? If her sealing to Joseph Smith was sexual (ie. husband and wife including sexual intercourse) then why would Helen, now a married woman, even want to go out and "flirt" with the boys? Are newly married women in the habit of going out to dances all the while "flirting" with the boys? I suggest you continue your reading, that is if you have Helen's full accounts (she writes about this episode more than once). Do you even have Helen's writings?

Todd Compton writes,

My position, actually, is that there is no evidence, pro or con, for sexual relations. You cannot prove that there were sexual relations; you cannot prove that there were no sexual relations. Notice that I do not simply say "ambiguous"; I say "entirely ambiguous.

A careful reader, I believe, would have understood that this was the way I was leaning from the quotes above. First of all, while not removing the idea of sexual/spiritual attraction altogether, I assert that the Helen Mar marriage was primarily ("almost purely") dynastic, mostly motivated by the desire of Heber Kimball and Joseph Smith to link their families. This removes me from the Brodie sexualist camp.

Second, I provide evidence for the possibility that there were no sexual relations by drawing the parallels from Utah polygamy. See In Sacred Loneliness, p. 638, section "marrying underage women," which gathers three sources showing deferred sexual relations in the cases of underage women marrying older men.

So, if I was not hinting that there was a "sexual adjustment" after the Helen Mar / Joseph Smith marriage, what was I suggesting? My view, based on Helen's short 1881 reminiscence, is that she married Joseph thinking the marriage would be "for eternity alone," linking the houses of Heber and Joseph. In my reconstruction, she may have understood that she would be free to date in her peer group and marry someone else for time.

- see full article here: Helen Mar Kimball

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I've been struggling with this issue as well. The thing that bothers me is even if the marriages were non-sexual. Would the lord really take away someones mortal wife and give it to the prophet?

There may not have been any actual "taking away", at least not in every case.

It was common practice in early days to seal whole families to the church leaders.

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Why should any article not pertaining to polygamy have to expound upon it?

Should a chapter in a Church Educational System manual on Presidents of the Church, listing Emma Smith's marriage to Joseph Smith, also include the fact that he was married to other women?

Should the same manual, in a chapter on Brigham Young, in listing to marriages, add that he had others?

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I should just note, parenthetically and anecdotally, that I took Doctrine and Covenants (both sections) while at BYU, and while the revelation was discussed in that context, specific plural marriages involving Joseph Smith were not.

Did you ever avail yourself of the Library at Brigham Young University to look up the topic of plural marriage???

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I should just note, parenthetically and anecdotally, that I took Doctrine and Covenants (both sections) while at BYU, and while the revelation was discussed in that context, specific plural marriages involving Joseph Smith were not.

Did you ever avail yourself of the Library at Brigham Young University to look up the topic of plural marriage???

I spent so much time at the Harold B. Lee Library, they should name a wing after me.

I was not unfamiliar with the topic of plural marriage; did something I posted give you that impression?

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I should just note, parenthetically and anecdotally, that I took Doctrine and Covenants (both sections) while at BYU, and while the revelation was discussed in that context, specific plural marriages involving Joseph Smith were not.

Did you ever avail yourself of the Library at Brigham Young University to look up the topic of plural marriage???

I spent so much time at the Harold B. Lee Library, they should name a wing after me.

I was not unfamiliar with the topic of plural marriage; did something I posted give you that impression?

All I'm saying is that if someone wants to learn more about plural marriage the resources are there. The information is there for anyone to read. That's how Fawn Brodie, Danel Bachman, Todd Compton, Carmon B. Hardy, Kathryn Daynes, et cetera wrote their books--by looking things up. Danel Bachman wasn't even in Utah when he put his thesis together but did most of his research via interlibrary loans. I live up in Canada and have had no problems getting my hands on documents, publications and so forth.

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Should a chapter in a Church Educational System manual on Presidents of the Church, listing Emma Smith's marriage to Joseph Smith, also include the fact that he was married to other women?

I don't know about the CES manual, but I taught 12-13 year old Sunday school for several years and the manual we used, "Prophets of the Church" clearly states that Smith was sealed to other women.

We talked about it briefly in class.

C.I.

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I should just note, parenthetically and anecdotally, that I took Doctrine and Covenants (both sections) while at BYU, and while the revelation was discussed in that context, specific plural marriages involving Joseph Smith were not.

Did you ever avail yourself of the Library at Brigham Young University to look up the topic of plural marriage???

Oh, but you see, it is a proven scientific fact that intellectual curiosity does not awken until one -- how shall I put this? -- converts away from Mormonism. Or so I'm told.

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All I'm saying is that if someone wants to learn more about plural marriage the resources are there. The information is there for anyone to read. That's how Fawn Brodie, Danel Bachman, Todd Compton, Carmon B. Hardy, Kathryn Daynes, et cetera wrote their books--by looking things up. Danel Bachman wasn't even in Utah when he put his thesis together but did most of his research via interlibrary loans. I live up in Canada and have had no problems getting my hands on documents, publications and so forth.

Noting, of course, that many of those sources you cite did not even exist when I was growing up in the LDS Church, and are more recent.

I think the question here is whether or not the (LDS) Church itself is forthcoming and accurate in its depiction of Joseph Smith, or Brigham Young for that matter, with respect to the issue of plural marriages that they specifically might have contracted.

This is relevant to members, because a number of people leave the LDS Church every year because they believe certain aspects of church history or doctrine weren't fully disclosed. Ron's quandry is a case in point; he's struggling with certain things he's discovered, and trying to settle them in his own mind.

This is not new, and is a relevant problem that LDS Church leadership might at some time want to address.

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Should a chapter in a Church Educational System manual on Presidents of the Church, listing Emma Smith's marriage to Joseph Smith, also include the fact that he was married to other women?

I don't know about the CES manual, but I taught 12-13 year old Sunday school for several years and the manual we used, "Prophets of the Church" clearly states that Smith was sealed to other women.

We talked about it briefly in class.

C.I.

Did your young charges gasp and cry out in shock and horror?

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I should just note, parenthetically and anecdotally, that I took Doctrine and Covenants (both sections) while at BYU, and while the revelation was discussed in that context, specific plural marriages involving Joseph Smith were not.

Did you ever avail yourself of the Library at Brigham Young University to look up the topic of plural marriage???

Oh, but you see, it is a proven scientific fact that intellectual curiosity does not awken until one -- how shall I put this? -- converts away from Mormonism. Or so I'm told.

Scott--

If you knew me personally, you'd know both how funny, and ironic, that statement is.

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Nighthawke:

I have no idea whether there were sexual relations between Joseph and Helen, but it would not surprise me (given that other wives have said they had marital relations with him). I agree with Compton that Helen probably thought her sealing was something different than what it turned out to be (not just eternal for dynastic purposes, but for time as well). If this were the case (that JS intended she act like his wife in this life by not dancing and flirting with boys, etc.), then something more than a dynastic connection is suggested (they were married for over a year before his death). Given the facts that (i) the primary basis for polygamy was to "raise up a righteous seed", and (ii) many of JS's plural wives admitted having sex with him, I consider it highly likely he had similar relations with Helen. But that's just my opinion.

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All I'm saying is that if someone wants to learn more about plural marriage the resources are there. The information is there for anyone to read. That's how Fawn Brodie, Danel Bachman, Todd Compton, Carmon B. Hardy, Kathryn Daynes, et cetera wrote their books--by looking things up. Danel Bachman wasn't even in Utah when he put his thesis together but did most of his research via interlibrary loans. I live up in Canada and have had no problems getting my hands on documents, publications and so forth.

Noting, of course, that many of those sources you cite did not even exist when I was growing up in the LDS Church, and are more recent.

I think the question here is whether or not the (LDS) Church itself is forthcoming and accurate in its depiction of Joseph Smith, or Brigham Young for that matter, with respect to the issue of plural marriages that they specifically might have contracted.

As I said, I was generally aware of them growing up, and I encountered no obstacles to learning more.

I view myself as fairly typical among Church members.

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I should just note, parenthetically and anecdotally, that I took Doctrine and Covenants (both sections) while at BYU, and while the revelation was discussed in that context, specific plural marriages involving Joseph Smith were not.

Did you ever avail yourself of the Library at Brigham Young University to look up the topic of plural marriage???

Oh, but you see, it is a proven scientific fact that intellectual curiosity does not awken until one -- how shall I put this? -- converts away from Mormonism. Or so I'm told.

Scott--

If you knew me personally, you'd know both how funny, and ironic, that statement is.

I already thought the statement was dripping with irony. I could hardly get it out intelligibly with my tongue planted so firmly in my cheek.

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All I'm saying is that if someone wants to learn more about plural marriage the resources are there. The information is there for anyone to read. That's how Fawn Brodie, Danel Bachman, Todd Compton, Carmon B. Hardy, Kathryn Daynes, et cetera wrote their books--by looking things up. Danel Bachman wasn't even in Utah when he put his thesis together but did most of his research via interlibrary loans. I live up in Canada and have had no problems getting my hands on documents, publications and so forth.

Noting, of course, that many of those sources you cite did not even exist when I was growing up in the LDS Church, and are more recent.

Baloney! The Saints have been writing about and defending plural marriage since Nauvoo and those can be found on the library shelves. A couple of the books I mentioned were written in the 70s by BYU Press which means the researchers had ready access to the primary sources. When were you at BYU?

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Given the facts that (i) the primary basis for polygamy was to "raise up a righteous seed", and (ii) many of JS's plural wives admitted having sex with him, I consider it highly likely he had similar relations with Helen. But that's just my opinion.

Raising up righteous seed is a scriptural purpose and certainly one purpose -- perhaps the primary one -- for the command to be given in this dispensation. But may not necessarily be the primary purpose in every single one of Joseph's marriages. There could have been others, such as the establishment of familial lines in eternity.

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