Joseph Smith and Polygamy

05 September

Joseph Smith and Polygamy

Rachel Ridgway Ivins Grant, mother of future LDS president Heber J. Grant, refused to even meet with Joseph Smith, saying that she would “sooner go to hell as a virtuous woman than to heaven as a whore.” – Nauvoo Polygamy Demographic Report, pg. 24, George A. Smith

In the eleventh year of Abraham’s journeying through Canaan, Ishmael became the firstborn son of Abraham; it was about 1910 BC.

As we all know from the account in Genesis, Abraham blew it.  He caved in after listening to a manmade theory (or in this case a woman-made theory), that having a sexual relation with a handmaid named Hagar is how God would preserve the bloodline of Abraham.

And just as we’re still paying the price for Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden, here we are 3,900 years later paying the price for Abraham’s mistake.

Some things never change and Joseph Smith is proof of that.  This time instead of living in tents and wandering the deserts of the Middle East, we come upon a man with little to no education who convinced a boatload of people God had told him to reject the Bible, along with all of Christianity.

Smith and friends had the Book of Mormon published in April of 1830.  What we find so interesting are the words couched in the pages from a prophet named Jacob condemning polygamy. The text is clear; God did not approve of David and Solomon’s behavior of taking multiple wives and concubines.

Not heeding the words of Jacob about two years into his new gig at the age of 28, Smith took his first plural wife. Sixteen year old Fanny Alger had fallen upon hard times and after being orphaned, the Smith family opened up their home to Miss Fanny offering her a home and employment.  As she began her new life of housekeeping and watching kids, the self proclaimed prophet of God introduced her to the principle of polygamy.

After not being able to hide her pregnancy any longer, Miss Alger moved out.  However, this wasn’t the last episode of multiple wives and secrets that Emma would have to endure with her prophet husband, Joseph Smith.

My research into all the wives of Joseph revealed some pretty interesting findings, but one theme kept running throughout.  Smith had a thing for not only sex, but young girls as well.  Of the 50+ females he did marry during his lifetime, at least seven girls were under the age of 18.

Another problem with his actions and words was the marital status of the women he married.  The text of D&C 132:61 says they must be virgins.  It doesn’t say you can go out and marry anybody you want and be justified.  No, the text clearly states if/when you marry and if they are virgins then you haven’t committed adultery.  Why was Smith marrying other men’s wives?  Notice the last sentence says she belongs to him (Smith) and no other.

And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood—if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else.

Were you aware there are reports that Smith told several people the teaching of multiple wives had been a mistake?  He said that he’d been deceived and this teaching was a curse to mankind that would prove to be their destruction. Why would he say this if it had been a commandment of God? (William Marks in a letter to Zion’s Harbinger and Beneemy’s Organ 1853.)

Over my years of experience in the ministry I’ve also noticed another trend.  The majority of Mormons are not aware of what led to Smith’s arrest and subsequent murder and not one Mormon I’ve spoken to condemns Smith’s actions.  They have no idea that Smith’s Second Counselor, William Law, confronted Smith about his immoral proposition to Jane Law, William’s wife.  After rejecting his offer of salvation for sex and a secret polyandrous marriage to Smith she told her husband.

Mr. Law confronted Smith on his actions and Smith’s reply was swift; excommunication.  William then filed a complaint asking in effect for another church trial in which the Church obliged.  He received the same answer as before, so William published the first and only edition of the Nauvoo Expositor telling the world what Joe was up to and that led to Smith’s arrest and death.

When comparing his behavior to that of Warren Jeffs there seems to be an ambivalent attitude towards polygamy, but not about Smith.  William Law experienced this firsthand.  Of the 1,000+ copies of the Nauvoo Expositor that went out amongst the Saints, the majority of people refused to believe the truth.

Polygamy isn’t something the majority of Mormons would embrace with open arms, unless of course you’re talking about it happening in heaven someday.  It reminds me of the typical answer I get from my mother and other Mormons who say “I’ll find out about that when I get there”.  My response to her answer is always the same.  Yes you most certainly will.

Sadly, most members of the Church put their heads in the sand to Smith’s behavioral problems and give him a free pass.  It made me wonder if this is how they treated their decision to accept Smith’s teachings on the Bible, God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, salvation, and everything else he taught on.

What is it about Joseph Smith that caution is thrown to the wind and whatever books he writes and reveals to the people is worth its weight in gold?  Would it, or could it have happened with anyone else at the helm making the same claims? Regardless, here we are with the residual fruits of Mormonism and the followers not being able to distinguish the truth from a lie.

Some of the women who were in polyandrous relationships with Smith didn’t know if their child was Smith’s or the husband she was married to at the time.  On one occurrence the husband stayed with her during her marriage to Smith and when they all headed west for Utah, Brigham Young told him to get lost because she now belonged to him.

I ask you, how is this godly or Christ-like behavior?  I’ve had discussions with many people over the years that try and tell me God didn’t specifically condemn polygamy.  I always reply the same: really?  Where does He condone it?  The Bible is very clear my friends!

If polygamy was so righteous, why did Smith condemn it and even deny the Saints were practicing it?  Do you condone your child’s behavior when he/she lies to you?  Don’t you expect more from a man of God who is leading the Church you belong to?

Leviticus 18:18; “Neither shalt thou take a wife to her sister, to vex her, to uncover her nakedness, beside the other in her life time.

Deuteronomy 17:17; “Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.

1 Timothy 3:2; “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach.

Question:  If Joseph Smith would lie about practicing polygamy, do you believe there’s a good chance he would lie about God as well?

What do you really know about his past?

Have you read the pro-Mormon resources available to you about the history of Joseph Smith and all his wives?

Here is a small example of the lies Smith told and then punishing members for calling him out on those lies.

The last reference (D&C 101) is especially noteworthy.  Notice how the ladies of the Relief Society outright lie about the practice of polygamy.

April 1830 –

Book of Mormon published.  Jacob 2:24, 27 clearly states that man shall only have one wife.

Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before meFor there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none.

February 9, 1831 –

D&C 42:22 given to Smith as a revelation from God; “Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else.

September 24, 1834 –

History of the Church 2:247-248; “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 We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside.

April 11, 1838 –

JS excommunicated Oliver Cowdery for accusing Smith of adultery w/ Fanny Alger – HC 3:16 – Wednesday, Farr West Council.

May 1837 –

Vol. 3, No. 8 Kirtland, Ohio, May, 1837. Messenger & Advocate, 3:511 (October 1836-Sept. 1837); “That we will have no fellowship whatever with any Elder belonging to the quorums of the Seventies who is guilty of polygamy

Monday, May 7, 1838 –

History of the Church 3:28; “– Seventh—”Do the Mormons believe in having more wives than one?” No, not at the same time.

August 1842 –

Millennial Star, Vol. 3, No. 4, pg. 73; “But, for the information of those who might be assailed by those foolish tales about two wives, we would say that no such principle ever existed among the Latter-Day Saints, and ever will.

September 1842 –

Times & Seasons 4:143, 909; “We are charged with advocating a plurality of wives, and common property. Now this is as false as the many other ridiculous charges which are brought against us.…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.

July 12, 1843 –

D&C 132:4, 6; “For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned…6 And as pertaining to the new and everlasting covenant, it was instituted for the fulness of my glory; and he that receiveth a fulness thereof must and shall abide the law, or he shall be damned, saith the Lord God.


Times & Seasons, vol. 5 (January 1844-January 1, 1845): pg. 423; “THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 1844. NOTICE. As we have lately been credibly informed, that an Elder of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter day Saints, by the name of Hiram Brown, has been preaching Polygamy, and other false and corrupt doctrines, in the county of Lapeer, state of Michigan. This is to notify him and the Church in general, that he has been cut off from the church, for his iniquity; and he is further notified to appear at the Special Conference, on the 6th of April next, to make answer to these charges. JOSEPH SMITH, HYRUM SMITH, Presidents of said Church.

Wednesday, February 21, 1844

TPJS, pg. 332; “I * * * spoke to the people, showing them that to get salvation we must not only do some things, but everything which God has commanded. Men may preach and practice everything except those things which God commands us to do, and will be damned at last. We may tithe mint and rue, and all manner of herbs, and still not obey the commandments of God. The object with me is to obey and teach others to obey God in just what He tells us to do. It mattereth not whether the principle is popular or unpopular, I will always maintain a true principle, even if I stand alone in it. (Feb. 21, 1844.)

The following is the text of the removed section of D&C 101 from 1835 to 1876:


According to the custom of all civilized nations, marriage is regulated by laws and ceremonies: therefore we believe, that all marriages in this church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, should be solemnized in a public meeting, or feast, prepared for that purpose: and that the solemnization should be performed by a presiding high priest, high priest, bishop, elder, or priest, not even prohibiting those persons who are desirous to get married, of being married by other authority.-We believe that it is not right to prohibit members of this church from marrying out of the church, if it be their determination so to do, but such persons will be considered weak in the faith of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Marriage should be celebrated with prayer and thanksgiving; and at the solemnization, the persons to be married, standing together, the man on the right, and the woman on the left, shall be addressed, by the person officiating, as he shall be directed by the holy Spirit; and if there be no legal objections, he shall say, calling each by their names: “You both mutually agree to be each other’s companion, husband and wife, observing the legal rights belonging to this condition; that is, keeping yourselves wholly for each other, and from all others, during your lives.” And when they have answered “Yes,” he shall pronounce them “husband and wife” in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by virtue of the laws of the country and authority vested in him: “may God add his blessings and keep you to fulfil [sic] your covenants from henceforth and forever. Amen.”

The clerk of every church should keep a record of all marriages, solemnized in his branch.


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. All children are bound by law to obey their parents; and to influence them to embrace any religious faith, or be baptized, or leave their parents without their consent, is unlawful and unjust. We believe that husbands, parents and masters who exercise control over their wives, children, and servants and prevent them from embracing the truth, will have to answer for that sin.

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 [sic] 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.


S. Bennett, N. K. Whitney,
George Miller, Albert Pettey,
Alpheus Cutler, Elias Higbee,
Reynolds Cahoon, John Taylor,
Wilson Law, E. Robinson,
W. Woodruff, Aaron Johnson.

We the undersigned members of the ladies’ relief society, and married females do certify and declare that we know of no system of marriage being practised [sic] in the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints save the one contained in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and we give this certificate to the public to show that J. C. Bennett’s “secret wife system” is a disclosure of his own make.

Emma Smith, President, Elizabeth Ann Whitney, Counsellor [sic],
Sarah M. Cleveland, Counsellor [sic],
Eliza R. Snow, Secretary,
Mary C. Miller, Catharine Pettey,
Lois Cutler, Sarah Higbee,
Thirza Cahoon, Phebe Woodruff
Ann Hunter, Leonora Taylor,
Jane Law, Sarah Hillman,
Sophia R. Marks, Rosannah Marks

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