Jump to content
Seriously No Politics ×

Joseph Smith Polygamy


Ron

Recommended Posts

I'd consider myself an average member.  I learned the most about polygamy on my mission while reading the D&C student manual while studying the D&C.  But I knew long before that, that Joseph and Brigham had been polygamists.

How many converts asked you about polygamy and what did you tell them?

If you served a foreign mission, did you find any members to be aware of this doctrine and practice of Joseph Smith?

Link to comment
When he pressed Zina about the date of her sealing to Joseph, he responded: "Then it is a fact . . . is it not, that you married Mr. Smith at the same time you were married to Mr. Jacobs?" Zina replied: "What right have you to ask such questions? I was sealed to Joseph for eternity." (The interview was published in The Saints' Herald 52 [11 January 1905]: 28-30.)

.....

Then there is those last lines I posted earlier:

Q. But you don't mean to say that Joseph Smith had that man's wife living with him as his wife?

A. No sir, I mean that she was sealed to him for eternity....

No, meaning he was not living with her (in this life) as a wife. Does it have to be spelled out any clearer? Bathsheba's understanding of "eternity" sealings prohibits by definition sexual intimacy.

Some further thoughts on JS and Zina Huntington Jacobs:

1. Whether she was sealed to JS for "time and eternity" or just "eternity" is ambiguous in my mind. In the quote you gave, she did indeed say "just enternity," but in other parts of the same interview she says "time and eternity." She seems confused herself on the matter.

2. According to Zina's biographers, Zina signed an affidavit (probably during the Temple Lot case) that she was JS's wife "in very deed," which her biographers interpret to mean that she consummated her marriage with JS. Martha Sonntag Bradley & Mary Brown Firmage Woodward (a descendant of Zina), Four Zinas: A Story of Mothers and Daughters on the Mormon Frontier (Signature Books, 2000, pages 115, 137).

3. I remember hearing about a DNA study to determine whether JS had any children with his plural wives, including Zina Huntington Jacobs. The results were supposed to be out about now, but I have not seen any published findings. I did read somewhere (Sunstone?) that the preliminary DNA evidence has shown that the second son of Zina and Henry Jacobs, which some suspected was fathered by JS, was indeed fathered by Henry Jacobs. I look forward to when the full report comes out. If anyone sees it online, please link it for us.

Link to comment
I'd consider myself an average member. I learned the most about polygamy on my mission while reading the D&C student manual while studying the D&C. But I knew long before that, that Joseph and Brigham had been polygamists.

My problems with polygamy in the early church are four fold:

1. It isn't that Joseph participated in polygamy that's the problem, at least for me it's not. The problem is that he participated in it, and then lied about it from the pulpit. To his own people. He told the Saints he only had one wife. He delibertately deceived his own people. Maybe deceiving his non-member neighbors who were trying to find anything that would hurt him or the church was okay, but to deceive his own people? To lie to his own counselors? To deceive his wife? Men of integrity don't do that. The whole thing calls Joseph's character into question. Maybe that's not a big deal to some people, but I think a man's character is a big deal.

2. My problem with Brigham isn't that he participated in polygamy. For me, it's Brigham's timing that I object to. He introduced it to the rank and file of the church only after they'd removed themselves from any outside support that would have been available. It's that he forced it onto an isolated people that would have found it incredibly difficult to remove themselves from a situation not of their own choosing, given the choice. Many of those Saints didn't sign on for polygamy, and from the journals I've read, they were dismayed and upset at the way it was sprung on them. Maybe they didn't deserve any better, but I know personally of several who wouldn't have made the journey, had they known their trek to Zion included the expectation that they'd live as plural wives and polygamous husbands.

3. My third objection is the expansion of the practice. Only a very few participated with Joseph. Had Brigham kept it to himself, reserved only for prophets, or at least opened it only to volunteers, I'd have few if any objections. But to require it of reluctant participants was unnecessary and caused much unneeded misery.

4. My last objection is the pressure that was applied. The spiritual blackmail was both pervasive and unnecessary, given the possibility of other interpretations of Sec 132, such as the one we currently use. The pressure the leaders applied on the people who didn't want to participate, especially women, required an exceptionally strong character/personality to resist. Reluctant men and women were exorted to conform publically and privately, with threats against their personal eternal salvation and the eternal salvations of their families.

Link to comment
How many converts asked you about polygamy and what did you tell them?

Off the top of my head, I don't recall any converts asking me about polygamy (although some investigators did). My response would depend on the question. So, for example, if they asked me why Joseph, Brigham, and others practiced polygamy I'd tell them it was a commandment from God. If they asked why it stopped I'd refer to OD 1.

If you served a foreign mission, did you find any members to be aware of this doctrine and practice of Joseph Smith?

I didn't serve a foreign mission. I served my mission in the southern states of the U.S. (specifically Alabama and Mississippi).

My spouse served in a Spanish speaking mission-he said NOBODY in his area was or could be aware that Joseph Smith was married to anybody except Emma because of what is taught in church materials.

Well, the Official Declaration 1 talks about plural marriage. And D&C 132 says that anyone to whom the law of eternal marriage is revealed must live the law (either in this life or the next). So, while the scriptures themselves do not list Joseph's wives, it isn't too hard to guess that the prophets and leaders of the Church (before the OD 1) had plural wives.

As has been stated, if anyone wanted to know whether Joseph Smith himself was a polygamist, there are easily accessible materials (especially now with the internet). And as I said, I learned the most about it reading the D&C student manual, etc... These things are not hidden from the members, if the members want to learn more about them. They just aren't discussed much in Church because, frankly, they aren't that important when compared with the principles of repentance, faith, etc... It shouldn't be surprising that the Church doesn't delve into polygamy in lesson manuals about our current doctrines and policies, when the OD 1 did away with polygamy in the Church.

Link to comment
OD1 might have "done away with polygamy in the Church," but it didn't do away with it as an implied, if not overtly pronounced, eternal principle.

Of course not! It never says it is meant to do that.
Therein, I believe, lies some of the confusion.
Of course! There will always be confusion on any in-depth topic. It becomes even more confusing if we talk about the second manifesto.

But it is malarky to suggest that it is somehow the Church's fault when people are confused. There is a limit to how well the Church can disseminate information.

Could they do better? Undoubtedly.

Do they try to do better? You better believe it.

What is the evidence they are trying to do better? The amount of money they spend on making lesson manuals free, the time put into making the manuals, etc...

Do they intentionally try to mislead people into thinking Joseph wasn't sealed to multiple people? I've never seen any evidence of this (from the general officers).

Link to comment
But it is malarky to suggest that it is somehow the Church's fault when people are confused. There is a limit to how well the Church can disseminate information.

Who suggested this?

ave maria:

The Church is responsible for people not reading their own Scriptures exactly how?

For both your benefits, I'll repost what I actually did say:

I don't recall how long you've been LDS, or how old you are, but certainly in my lifetime, it wasn't always taught that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy, at least not to the extent that is known or acknowledged today (that Brigham Young did was indeed taught in my youth, but the exact number of wives might have been downplayed). (emphasis mine)

With respect, sometimesaint, I'm not certain what the connection is between that and "people not reading their own Scriptures."

I certainly made no assertion regarding people reading scriptures or not, or the Church's responsibility therein.

Link to comment

Just as a point of interest, I'd note that the Wikipedia (online free encyclopedia) article for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints includes the following, under the subsection "Polygamy (discontinued)":

Polygamy (Discontinued)

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do not practice polygamy, and members found to be engaging in multiple marriage relationships are excommunicated. At one time in its history, the Church did endorse a form of polygamy called "plural marriage," but this is no longer the case. Brigham Young and other early members of the Church were married to more than one wife, until the commandment was officially withdrawn as stated in a declaration called "The Manifesto" given by President Wilford Woodruff in 1890 (see Official Declaration 1 (http://scriptures.lds.org/od/1)), which told Church members to obey the marriage laws of their land. After the Manifesto, Church members living in Mexico and Canada (in polygamist enclaves) continued the practice of plural marriage. The Church's position was reiterated and clarified in 1904 (commonly refered to as "The Second Manifesto"), with an additional request that no Church members enter into any form of plural marriage, regardless of their location, local customs, or legality. Converts from areas where polygamy is an accepted practice typically must end such relationships. Today, while plural marriage is not practiced, a widower qualified to enter the temple may receive permission to have his subsequent marriage(s) sealed if the woman has not been previously sealed to another man, allowing for the continuation of that relationship beyond death. A widow can be remarried in the temple, but can only be sealed to one husband. (emphasis mine)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_Jes...Discontinued.29

While we're going about trying to make certain that people have accurate information about the LDS Church and the discontinued practice of plural marriage, it might be more correct for them to include "Joseph Smith" along with "Brigham Young and other early members of the Church," as to some, the omission of Joseph Smith's name, and Brigham's mention, might erroneously imply that the practice began with Brigham Young--hence the confusion.

Perhaps one of the LDS members here would like to correct this with Wikipedia.

I went into the editing screen myself, and this is how it appeared (without any additions or corrections from me whatsoever):

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do not practice [[polygamy]], and members found to be engaging in multiple marriage relationships are [[excommunicated]]. At one time in its history, the Church did endorse a form of polygamy called "[[plural marriage]]," but this is no longer the case. [[Joseph Smith, Jr.|Joseph Smith]], [[brigham Young]] and other early members of the Church were married to more than one wife, until the commandment was officially withdrawn as stated in a declaration called "The Manifesto" given by President [[Wilford Woodruff]] in 1890 (see [http://scriptures.lds.org/od/1 Official Declaration 1]), which told Church members to obey the marriage laws of their land. After the Manifesto, Church members living in Mexico and Canada (in polygamist enclaves) continued the practice of plural marriage. The Church's position was reiterated and clarified in 1904 (commonly refered to as "The Second Manifesto"), with an additional request that no Church members enter into any form of plural marriage, regardless of their location, local customs, or legality. Converts from areas where polygamy is an accepted practice typically must end such relationships. Today, while plural marriage is not practiced, a widower qualified to enter the temple may receive permission to have his subsequent marriage(s) sealed if the woman has not been previously sealed to another man, allowing for the continuation of that relationship beyond death. A widow can be remarried in the temple, but can only be sealed to one husband.

Interesting that in the editing screen, the name Joseph Smith, Jr./Joseph Smith appears, but in the Wikipedia article itself, it doesn't.

I have no idea why that is.

ADDENDUM: Never mind. I've corrected it. I believe the difficulty was in having "Joseph Smith, Jr./Joseph Smith" together. I think the article only wanted one name or the other, in brackets.

Link to comment
Do they intentionally try to mislead people into thinking Joseph wasn't sealed to multiple people? I've never seen any evidence of this (from the general officers).

Pace:

This is purely my opinion, but I know of a very recent example of the Church's downplaying JS's involvement in polygamy. In this year's Gospel Doctrine class a 152-page booklet entitled "Our Heritage: A Brief History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" was handed out to the members. It was intended to accompany the members' study of the D&C and Church history, this year's topic in Gospel Doctrine class.

I reviewed the booklet to see what mention, if any, is made of polygamy. The booklet is organized in chronological order, so it should be easy to find by looking at the discussions of Kirtland and Nauvoo, right? Wrong. No mention of polygamy at all in those sections. It isn't until after the discussion of the 1880 Jubilee Conference that polygamy is first mentioned, within the context of federal prosecution of anti-polygamy laws in 1880's Utah. Here is the relevant text (note the very careful wording):

"While working on the translation of the Bible in the early 1830's, the Prophet Joseph Smith became troubled by the fact that Abraham, Jacob, David, and other Old Testament leaders had more than one wife. The Prophet prayed for understanding and learned that, at certain times, for specific purposes, following divinely given laws, plural marriage was approved and directed by God. Joseph Smith also learned that with divine approval, some Latter-day Saints would soon be chosen by priesthood authority to marry more than one wife. A number of Latter-day Saints practiced plural marriage in Nauvoo, but a public announcement of this doctrine and practice was not made until the August 1852 general conference in Salt Lake City. At that conference, Elder Orson Pratt, as directed by President Brigham Young, announced that the practice of a man having more than one wife was part of the Lord's restitution of all things." (Our Heritage page 97).

Now, all of this is technically correct, and anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of polygamy history will know that "some" and "a number" includes Joseph Smith himself. But notice how the text is inserted completely out of sequence with the rest of the chronological format of the booklet. Note also how the text is very careful not to state that JS himself practiced polygamy; and there certainly is no mention of the polyandry. This is an excellent (and current) example, imo, of how the Church does all it can to avoid, or at least downplay, JS's personal participation in early Church polygamy. This is the book handed out to all members of this year's Gospel Doctrine class, and JS's role in polygamy has been placed out of sequence and his personal participation utterly downplayed.

Link to comment

ave maria:

JS added to Scripture the Book of Momon, The Pearl of Great Price, the bulk of the Doctrine and Covenants. The Bible has polygamy in it. So do ALL the other Scriptures.

The Church from day ONE has constantly told its members. To study the Scriptures. To read and learn ALL that we can, "No man can be saved in ignorance.", "Study it out in your own mind."

We are commanded to meet with family and friends and discuss the Scriptures.

Individual daily Scripture study is encouraged. The church is only 12 million members, but we have Branches, Wards, Chapels and Church Bldgs that hold SS every Sunday. They cover the Scriptures in a four year cycle. We have colleges, and universities, high schools, Institutes of Religion around the world, Internet Sites.

There is F.A.R.M.S, Public Libraries, and Church owned and private bookstores.

With the possible exception of VERY new members. Anyone that does not know about JS and polygamy has no excuse.

Link to comment
ave maria:

JS added to Scripture the Book of Momon, The Pearl of Great Price, the bulk of the Doctrine and Covenants.

The Church from day ONE has constantly told its members. To study the Scriptures, learn ALL that we can, "No man can be saved in ignorance.", "Study it out in your own mind."

The church is only 12 million members, but we have Church Bldgs that hold SS every Sunday. They cover the Scriptures in a four year cycle; colleges, and universities, high schools, Institutes of Religion around the world, Internet Sites. There is F.A.R.M.S.

With the possible exception of VERY new members. Anyone that does not know about JS and polygamy has no excuse.

Again, I think that is uncharitable.

The question is not whether or not LDS members know about "Joseph Smith and polygamy," but have an accurate picture regarding the extent and nature of it.

Do you believe most members know, and have known for the past several decades, that Joseph Smith had perhaps 33 wives, that some of them were married to other men at the time, or that the youngest was 14 years old?

I'm doubtful.

It certainly isn't in scripture.

Link to comment
As Ave Maria is apparently determined to ignore my above question, I will summarize here and say she has failed in her effort to show from Church curriculum materials any intent by the Church to mislead people with regard to Joseph Smith and the practice of plural marriage.

Furthermore, she has undercut her own contention by quoting from two Church Educational System student manuals that are in wide use by college-age Latter-day Saints and others.

Actually, I was quite busy this afternoon and out of the house for much of it.

And through it all managed to post quite prolifically, as a search of your posts from yesterday will show. But thanks for finally getting back to me.

Let's try this one more time, for the record.

Here's what my actual statement (to you) was (on page one of this thread) regarding Joseph Smith, polygamy and the LDS Church:

I don't recall how long you've been LDS, or how old you are, but certainly in my lifetime, it wasn't always taught that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy, at least not to the extent that is known or acknowledged today (that Brigham Young did was indeed taught in my youth, but the exact number of wives might have been downplayed). (emphasis mine)

Now, here's your response to me (also on page one of this thread), in which you issued a challenge:

I've lived a good long time now, probably as long or longer than most people on this board, and have been steeped in Mormonism through the course of that time. I don't remember ever being led to believe other than that Joseph Smith obeyed the commandment pertaining to plural marriage as well as teaching it to others. 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. (emphasis mine)

Your reconstruction of our exchange is accurate and reflects my memory of it.

I then cited a number of references from official LDS Church Educational System (CES) student manuals.

More precisely, you then cited one reference from a single CES student manual and, after my subsequent post citing two others, indicated that you had intended to quote from those as well in a separate post, but your post had vanished in a computer glitch. Late in the day, you came back on with a cut-and-paste from the manuals I had already cited, plus Encylopedia of Mormonism (which, incidentally, is not part of the official curriculum of the Church. It was published by Macmillan, although it was prepared by Church members in consultation with the leaders of the Church).

I leave it to everyone else here to form their own opinion regarding whether or not those manuals constitute showing you anything "from the official curriculum materials of the Church either present. . .or past that would lead anyone intentionally to believe otherwise."

Anyone I assume to mean any one.

I put the citations out there in response to your challenge.

Link to comment
ave maria:

JS added to Scripture the Book of Momon, The Pearl of Great Price, the bulk of the Doctrine and Covenants.

The Church from day ONE has constantly told its members. To study the Scriptures, learn ALL that we can, "No man can be saved in ignorance.", "Study it out in your own mind."

The church is only 12 million members, but we have Church Bldgs that hold SS every Sunday. They cover the Scriptures in a four year cycle; colleges, and universities, high schools, Institutes of Religion around the world, Internet Sites. There is F.A.R.M.S.

With the possible exception of VERY new members. Anyone that does not know about JS and polygamy has no excuse.

Again, I think that is uncharitable.

The question is not whether or not LDS members know about "Joseph Smith and polygamy," but have an accurate picture regarding the extent and nature of it.

Do you believe most members know, and have known for the past several decades, that Joseph Smith had perhaps 33 wives, that some of them were married to other men at the time, or that the youngest was 14 years old?

I'm doubtful.

It certainly isn't in scripture.

Not everyone is interested in that much detail. Those who are can easily find it. It certainly isn't hidden by the Church.

Link to comment
I don't dispute that there are some who would make that claim. It seems to me, though, that point of this discussion is whether they can justifiably blame the Church for their being so ill-informed.

It might be the point of the discussion in your mind, Scott, and perhaps the minds of others, but I don't believe it's the point of this thread.

Ron's quandry is as follows:

The question that keeps nagging is if Joseph Smith didn't intend to have sexual relations (or thought it was wrong to do so) he would/should have made it clear to the parties involved (including parents and current husbands) that sex wasn't intended.

I would hope there would be a record somewhere of Joseph Smith letting someone know that the relationship wasn't intended to be sexual, to "avoid the appearance of evil".

Late in the day, you came back on with a cut-and-paste from the manuals I had already cited, plus Encylopedia of Mormonism (which, incidentally, is not part of the official curriculum of the Church. It was published by Macmillan, although it was prepared by Church members in consultation with the leaders of the Church).

I'm well familiar with the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, and well acquainted with more than one individual involved in the process of its creation.

Not everyone is interested in that much detail. Those who are can easily find it. It certainly isn't hidden by the Church.

Feel free to support that with evidence from official LDS sources, if you'd like. I think the difference in our perspectives has been well established.

Link to comment
Do you believe most members know, and have known for the past several decades, that Joseph Smith had perhaps 33 wives, that some of them were married to other men at the time, or that the youngest was 14 years old?

I'm doubtful.

It certainly isn't in scripture.

In your incessant repetition of this litany, are you careful to point out that the nature of Joseph's plural marriages is not well understood or documented, that at least some of them might have been eternal sealings only, not temporal, and that in the context of the times, it was not unusual for women to marry at a very young age?

Shall I now accuse you of hiding the truth, as you have done the Church?

Link to comment
I don't dispute that there are some who would make that claim. It seems to me, though, that point of this discussion is whether they can justifiably blame the Church for their being so ill-informed.

It might be the point of the discussion in your mind, Scott, and perhaps the minds of others, but I don't believe it's the point of this thread.

Ron's quandry is as follows:

The question that keeps nagging is if Joseph Smith didn't intend to have sexual relations (or thought it was wrong to do so) he would/should have made it clear to the parties involved (including parents and current husbands) that sex wasn't intended.

I would hope there would be a record somewhere of Joseph Smith letting someone know that the relationship wasn't intended to be sexual, to "avoid the appearance of evil".

I was referring to our (your and my) exchange. As you should know, one or more sub-topics can develop in the course of a thread.

Late in the day, you came back on with a cut-and-paste from the manuals I had already cited, plus Encylopedia of Mormonism (which, incidentally, is not part of the official curriculum of the Church. It was published by Macmillan, although it was prepared by Church members in consultation with the leaders of the Church).

I'm well familiar with the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, and well acquainted with more than one individual involved in the process of its creation.

Good for you. I only wanted to clarify this matter, as some might be confused by your having cited in the context of a discussion about "Church curriculum materials." But this is actually peripheral to our discussion.

Not everyone is interested in that much detail. Those who are can easily find it. It certainly isn't hidden by the Church.

Feel free to support that with evidence from official LDS sources, if you'd like. I think the difference in our perspectives has been well established.

Are you saying Latter-day Saints are only allowed to study "official LDS sources"?

Link to comment
Scott Lloyd:

I agree that it was excessive. But I did it to make a point. The point being the members, and future members need to take responsibility for their own education.

It is NOT the Church's fault if they don't know.

Pardon, sometimesaint, but I don't understand your post. I have not said (nor do I feel) that you have been excessive. In fact, I agree with what I've seen you posting here.

Please clarify.

Link to comment
The cover up is in the materials given to church members painting a false portrait of our prophet and even Brigham. Again, INSTRUCTION is given to leaders in high positions to go along with this portrait. Try and talk about any of these topics at church and see what happens. Attend Institute and bring up Joseph's wives. See how long they allow that topic to continue. The cover up began with the start of polygamy and it continues today when members are not taught this principle required for exaltation.

Are you abandoning the screenname "Lori", Opaline?

Link to comment

I have no doubt that church members have been kept in the dark about the extent of JS polygamy. Me, my wife, and my sister all life-long active members prescribing to all of the basic programs were all surprised. I think my sister still doesn't believe me and thinks it is Anti-mormon. I'm confident that it if the general membership was surveyed then the majority would be just like us.

The question as of whether it was intentional misleading or not is debatable but highly suspect.

In my opinion the church had a good motive for covering it up.

If the facts were presented in there entirety with no apologetic spin to the general membership it would be a huge shock to most.

Testimonies would be challenged. Many members would be angry and upset just like I am. Many members would begin questioning other aspects of church history and doctrine.

Even the most faithful members would deep down feel like they had been wrongfully deceived.

In my opinion, theres a chance that the whole thing would come crashing down...

Link to comment

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...