While updating an article from 2012 on Smith’s polyandrous marriages, we came across even more info that needed to be included – not a surprise I’m sure!
During our seemingly endless research one message kept presenting itself. The Church’s writings condemned polyandry. You can read sermons given by Brigham Young, Orson Pratt, George Albert Smith, and Joseph F. Smith who denounced and condemned the practice.1
Ironically, even Smith himself denounced this evil in a First Presidency Message published in the November 1842 Millennial Starwhich was written and signed by Joe’s brother, Hyrum. [spelling as in original]
“…and greater is the danger for the woman that leaves her husband, and there are several instances where women have left their husbands, and [pg. 2] come to this place, & in a few weeks, or months, they have found themselves new husbands, and they are living in adultery; and we are obliged to cut them off from the church. There are men also that are quilty of the same crime, as we are credibly informed. …And we also forbid that a woman leave her husband because he is an unbeliever. We also forbid that a man shall leave his wife because she is an unbeliever. If he be a bad man (i. e. the unbeliever) there is a law to remedy that evil. And if she be a bad woman, there is law to remedy that evil. And if the law divorce them, then they are at liberty; otherwise they are bound as long as they two shall live, and it is not our prerogative to go beyond this; if we do it, it will be at the expense of our reputation.”
Two years later Smith gave a sermon filled with a cryptic message they must be crafty in their dealings with the marriages, and presenting it to God when they get to heaven. This of course, reveals how Smith was marrying any woman that walked, even after his public denouncement of such things. Originally, his sermon was published in the History of the Church, but has since been edited out completely. Today you can read it in Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 2, 1841–1845, p.226, March 10, 1844 (spelling as in original) –
“Again the doctrin or sealing power of Elijah is as follows: If you have power to seal on earth & in heaven then we should be crafty. The first thing you do go & seal on earth your sons & daughters unto yourself & yourself unto your fathers in eternal glory & go ahead and not go back but use a little Craftiness & seal all you can & when you get to heaven tell your father that what you seal on earth should be sealed in heaven. I will walk through the gate of heaven and Claim what I seal & those that follow me & my Council.”
In the end, the evidence speaks for itself.
Included in Smith’s 50+ marriages, are 15 polyandrous marriages. You can read about those in the original article we mentioned earlier, and we’ll be updating the article on Joe Smith’s marriages as well. Be sure to check it out when we’re done!
In closing, we can’t help but think of the disaster this man’s life caused for so many. His unfortunate choices left an indelible legacy still felt today.
With Love in Christ;
1. Journal of Discourses 1:361 “What do you think of a woman having more husbands than one? This is not known to the law, yet it is done in the night, and considered by the majority of mankind to be all right. There are certain governments in the world, that give women license to open their doors and windows to carry on this abominable practice, under the cover of night.” — Brigham Young, Great Salt Lake City, August 1, 1852 [emp. mine]
Journal of Discourses 18:55–56 “God has strictly forbidden, in this Bible, plurality of husbands, and proclaimed against it in his law.” — Orson Pratt, Salt Lake City, July 11, 1875 [emp. mine]
Journal of Discourses 13:41 “The opposers of Celestial Marriage sometimes quote a passage in the seventh chapter of Romans, second and third verses, to show that a plurality of wives is wrong; but when we come to read the passage it shows that a plurality of husbands is wrong. You can read that passage for yourselves.” — George Albert Smith, Salt Lake City, October 8, 1869 [emp. mine]
Selected Collections from the Archives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Provo, Utah: BYU Press, 2002), 1: DVD 29 “Polyandry is wrong, physiologically, morally, and from a scriptural point of order. It is nowhere sanctioned in the Bible, nor by the law of God or nature and has not affinity with ‘Mormon’ plural marriage.” — Joseph F. Smith to Zenos H. Gurley, June 19, 1889, CHL. Richard E. Turley, Jr. [emp. mine]
2. We want to thank MormoniteMusings.com for their diligent research, and great references.