Criticism of Mormonism/Books/No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith/Index/Chapter 21

Response to claims made in "Chapter 21: If a Man Entice a Maid"


A work by author: Fawn Brodie
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Response to claim: 298 - The doctrine of polygamy was secretly taught but publicly denied

The author(s) of No Man Knows My History make(s) the following claim:

The doctrine of polygamy was secretly taught but publicly denied.

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

This is correct.

Question: Did Joseph Smith ever publicly attempt to teach the doctrine of plural marriage?

Joseph initiated the practice of polygamy and hid it from the general Church membership during his lifetime

It is true that Joseph did not always tell others about plural marriage. One critic of the Church claims, "Joseph Smith publicly lied about his practice of polygamy, and lied to his own wife (Emma) about the practice." [1]

Joseph made at least one attempt to teach the doctrine, but it was rejected

Joseph did, however, make an attempt to teach the doctrine to the Saints. When Joseph tried to teach the doctrine, it was rejected by many Saints, including Emma, his wife. Joseph then began to teach the doctrine privately to those who would obey. A contemporary journal describes the reaction to Joseph's attempt to teach this doctrine:

When the prophet “went to his dinner,” [Joseph Lee] Robinson wrote, “as it might be expected several of the first women of the church collected at the Prophet’s house with his wife [and] said thus to the prophet Joseph O mister Smith you have done it now it will never do it is all but Blassphemy you must take back what you have said to day is it is outrageous it would ruin us as a people.” So in the afternoon session Smith again took the stand, according to Robinson, and said “Brethren and Sisters I take back what we said this morning and leave it as though there had been nothing said.”[2]


Question: Why did Joseph keep the doctrine of plural marriage private?

The Saints would have suffered negative consequences

Keeping the doctrine private was also necessary because the enemies of the Church would have used it as another justification for their assault on the Saints. Orson Hyde looked back on the Nauvoo days and indicated what the consequences of disclosure would have been:

In olden times they might have passed through the same circumstances as some of the Latter-day Saints had to in Illinois. What would it have done for us, if they had known that many of us had more than one wife when we lived in Illinois? They would have broken us up, doubtless, worse than they did.[3]

It is thus important to realize that the public preaching of polygamy—or announcing it to the general Church membership, thereby informing the public by proxy—was simply not a feasible plan.


Question: Why did Joseph Smith say "I had not been married scarcely five minutes...before it was reported that I had seven wives"?

The Laws sought to have Joseph indicted for adultery and perjury

This statement refers to Joseph's well-known declaration on 26 May 1844 in his "Address of the Prophet—His Testimony Against the Dissenters at Nauvoo". Significantly, this address was given the day after the Laws sought to have Joseph indicted for adultery in the case of Maria Lawrence. (They also sought to indict him on a charge of perjury.)

Many have criticized or been concerned by the secrecy with which Joseph instituted plural marriage without appreciating the realities of the dangers involved. Illinois law only criminalized adultery or fornication if it was "open". Since Joseph was sealed to his plural wives for either eternity, or for time and eternity, he did not view these relationships as constituting adultery or fornication. Therefore, under Illinois law, as long as Joseph and his plural wives did not live in an "open," or "public," manner, they were not guilty of breaking any civil law then in force in Illinois. Furthermore, this reality explains some of Joseph's public denials, since he could be truthfully said to not be guilty of the charges leveled against him: he was not committing adultery or fornication.

Joseph was refuting the charge of adultery, not the fact that he had "seven wives"

History of The Church 6:410-411:

I had not been married scarcely five minutes, and made one proclamation of the Gospel, before it was reported that I had seven wives. I mean to live and proclaim the truth as long as I can.

This new holy prophet [William Law] has gone to Carthage and swore that I had told him that I was guilty of adultery. This spiritual wifeism! Why, a man dares not speak or wink, for fear of being accused of this.[4]....

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.

Dr. Goforth was invited into the Laws' clique, and Dr. Foster and the clique were dissatisfied with that document,[5] and they rush away and leave the Church, and conspire to take away my life; and because I will not countenance such wickedness,[6] they proclaim that I have been a true prophet, but that I am now a fallen prophet.

[Joseph H.] Jackson[7] has committed murder, robbery, and perjury; and I can prove it by half-a-dozen witnesses. Jackson got up and said—"By God, he is innocent," and now swears that I am guilty. He threatened my life.

There is another Law, not the prophet, who was cashiered for dishonesty and robbing the government. 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.

When I love the poor, I ask no favors of the rich. I can go to the cross—I can lay down my life; but don't forsake me. I want the friendship of my brethren.—Let us teach the things of Jesus Christ. Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a downfall.

Be meek and lowly, upright and pure; render good for evil. If you bring on yourselves your own destruction, I will complain. It is not right for a man to bare down his neck to the oppressor always. Be humble and patient in all circumstances of life; we shall then triumph more gloriously. 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. I labored with these apostates myself until I was out of all manner of patience; and then I sent my brother Hyrum, whom they virtually kicked out of doors.[8]

Note the rejection of the term "spiritual wifeism". Note that "spiritual wifeism" likely refers to John C. Bennett's pattern of seduction and sexual license, which the Saints were always at pains to deny.

Joseph was not merely bluffing, nor was he lying—he literally could prove that the Laws were perjuring themselves on this point

In light of the circumstances under which they were spoken, Joseph's words were carefully chosen. Joseph was not merely bluffing, nor was he lying—he literally could prove that the Laws were perjuring themselves on this point in the charges brought only the day before.

Bradshaw cites a portion of Joseph's above statement, and then concludes:

A review of Joseph's remarks in light of the circumstances under which they were spoken shows that Joseph's words were carefully chosen. In this speech, Joseph was specifically reacting to the indictments for perjury and adultery that were presented by the grand jury the day earlier. Thus, when Joseph affirmed during the same speech: "I am innocent of all these charges," he was in particular refuting a claim that he and Maria [Lawrence] had openly and notoriously cohabitated, thus committing the statutory offense of adultery. He was also refuting the perjury charge. While the overall tone of Joseph's remarks may seem misleading, it is understandable that Joseph would have taken pains to dodge the plural marriage issue. By keeping his plural marriages in Nauvoo secret, Joseph effectively kept them legal, at least under the Illinois adultery statute.[9]:413


Response to claim: 299 - Joseph is claimed to have published a pamphlet called "The Peace Maker" supporting plural marriage in 1842, but then later denounced it

The author(s) of No Man Knows My History make(s) the following claim:

Joseph is claimed to have published a pamphlet called "The Peace Maker" supporting plural marriage in 1842, but then later denounced it.

Author's sources: Udney Hay Jacob, "An Israelite, and a shepherd of Israel," An Extract from a Manuscript entitled The Peacemaker, or the Doctrines of the Millennium, being a treatise on religion and jurisprudence, or a new system of religion and politicks (Nauvoo, Illinois, 1842)

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

There isn't any evidence that Joseph was the author, and in fact there is more evidence that he wasn't.

Question: Did Joseph Smith write a pro-polygamy pamphlet called The Peace Maker in 1842?

There is little reason to think that Joseph Smith or the Church had anything to with the publication of The Peace Maker

Joseph Smith is claimed to have written a pro-polygamy pamphlet called "The Peace Maker" in 1842, despite the fact that he denied doing so. In a variant version, the pamphlet is claimed to have been published by Joseph (though written by another) as a "trial balloon" for polygamy, but Joseph denied any connection with it when reaction was negative.

Reference source

The Peace Maker's doctrines are different from Joseph's, its creation dates to at least 1840, its author had a poor opinion of the Mormons initially, and a private letter makes it clear that Jacobs and Joseph had had no contact or introduction even after its publication. A later letter to Brigham Young makes it clear that Jacob wrote the pamphlet on his own for a non-LDS audience, and once a member of the Church considered it something best left in the past. There is little reason to think that Joseph Smith or the Church had anything to with the publication of The Peace Maker.

Joseph denied having anything to do with the pamphlet in a statement published in the Times and Seasons in December 1842

NOTICE

There was a book printed at my office, a short time since, written by Udney H. Jacobs, on marriage, without my knowledge; and had I been apprised of it, I should not have printed it; not that I am opposed to any man enjoying his privileges; but I do not wish to have my name associated with the authors, in such an unmeaning rigmarole of nonsence [nonsense], folly, and trash. JOSEPH SMITH. [10]

The pamphlet also contained a number of ideas which Joseph certainly would not have sanctioned, including the claim that Udney was the prophet Elijah (2), the person spoken of in Isaiah 66:7-8 (25), and the prophet who would stop the mouth of kings (22). There is little that parallels Latter-day Saint ideas. [11]

Udney Jacob's view of the Mormons

Furthermore, Udney would write to the President of the United States on 19 March 1840,

I hold in my hands a manuscript, which if it was published seasonably, and sufficiently circulated, would I humbly conceive be the certain means of insuring your Election. Of this I have no doubt. I am thorily acquainted with the religious principals and minds, of every sect, and denomination of men in this land. And I now offer to place this almighty power for the time being at your disposal: merely, by a publication of the book alluded to.... I remember you in the Citty of Hudson when a Lawyer there. And I now reside in Hancock Co. Illinois, in the vicinity of the Mormons who have by their delegates visited you this winter past. These Mormons know but very little of me; but Sir, I know them—and I know them to be a deluded and dangerous set of fanatics, dangerous I say, as far as their influence goes. [Joseph] Smith has returned home [from Washington, D.C.], and I am informed is determined to throw his weight with all his deluded followers into the scale against you. They are at this time in the United States a large body rapidly increasing. J. Smith and Rigdon hold their [the Saints'] consciences. Now Sir, a system of religious, as well as political truth. Supported by irresistible and admitted Testimony, calculated to cut it's own way to the very center of any rational mind; be their oppinions what they may; and compelling them to believe verily, that by their coming votes their own destiny, not only for time but for an endless Eternity is absolutely involved, would produce a tremendious effect. This my dear Sir can be done, even by your humble Servant. Observe, I do not pretend to say that every vote in the Union shall be thus influenced. But, I say this. That by the means which I hold in my power [my manuscript] if assisted reasonably by your aid. It [the book] shall throw such a weight into the right scale as shall bring the other infallibly to kick the beam [tip the scales]. [12]

Jacobs clearly does not think much of the Mormons. When the president declined to help him publish, Jacobs seems to have turned to the Nauvoo press near the end of 1842.

Joseph and Udney had never met

There is also evidence that Jacob and Joseph had never met, even after publication of his pamphlet in 1842. In January 1844, Jacob wrote to Joseph:

I hope you will not consider this letter an intrusion—I have not to be sure the pleasure of a personal acquaintance with you nor do I know that I am worthy of that favor; yet I believe that I am worth saving.... [13]

Jacob would later join the Church, and in 1851 wrote Brigham Young about another matter:

I cannot imagine why you suspected me unless it was that I wrote a pamphlet some years since entitled the Peace Maker--you have certainly a wrong idea of that matter. I was not then a member of this Church, and that pamphlet was not written for this people but for the citizens of the United States who professed to believe the Bible. [14]

This is a private letter, not written for public consumption. Jacob was trying to disabuse Brigham (now his priesthood leader) of suspicion in some matter, and he takes pains to assure Brigham that he is not guilty of the matter under consideration, and that he did write the Peace Maker—but hastens to add that this had nothing to do with the Church and (presumably) he is not now advancing those ideas.

Brigham was in favor of polygamy—why would Jacob be trying to reassure him if the Church had been in on Joseph's "trial balloon" for polygamy all along?

And, why did these private letters go unpublished or unheralded if their intent was to throw us off the scent? Why were their contents not trumpeted by Joseph or Brigham if Jacobs was involved in some complex plot to hide Joseph's involvement with The Peace Maker?


Response to claim: 299 - Paul taught that there were be no marriage in heaven, but Joseph taught that this would not apply to the Saints

The author(s) of No Man Knows My History make(s) the following claim:

Paul taught that there were be no marriage in heaven, but Joseph taught that this would not apply to the Saints.

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Paul did not teach that there would be no marriage in heaven.

Question: Why does the Church teach that marriage is essential for full exaltation, when Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:1 that it is good for a man not to marry?

The evidence of Paul’s writings leads to the conclusion that he not only tolerated marriage among the saints, but encouraged and exhorted them to marry and bear children

Paul indicated that marriage is an essential part of the gospel framework, and asserted that one of the signs of apostasy in the last days would be teachings against marriage. (See 1 Timothy 4:1–3.) Certainly Jesus was foremost in importance to Paul, just as he should be in the hearts of men today, and on occasion Paul had to remind men called to the ministry to be fully dedicated to the Lord’s work. Nevertheless, Paul understood and taught that in the presence of the Lord, the man will not be without the woman, neither the woman without the man.[15]

There are several things that should be understood if one is to correctly interpret this chapter in Paul's letter to the Corinthians.

  1. The statement, "it is good for a man not to touch a woman" was probably not Paul's.
  2. Paul may well have been married himself, but traveling in the ministry without his wife.
  3. Paul taught the importance of marriage in many places.
  4. The reason for Paul's advice to the unmarried was for an unusual and a temporary situation.
  5. Paul is careful to point out that this advice to remain single for the time being is not God's commandment, but was only his personal (though very wise) opinion.
  6. Paul is clear that marriage, not celibacy, is a requirement for church leadership.


Question: Why did Paul say that it was not good for a man to touch a woman?

Paul begins verse 1 by quoting a statement that the Corinthians made in their letter to him. His response is to correct the false idea which they have expressed by pointing out the importance of each man having his own wife

The King James Version of 1 Corinthians 7:1-2 reads:

Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. [1 Corinthians 7:1-2 KJV]

The King James version of this passage is not clear as to who is saying "It is good for a man not to touch a woman." The original Greek for this verse is likewise unclear. However, the translators of the New Jerusalem Bible felt that this must have been a quote from Paul, so they render it, more clearly, as

Now for the questions about which you wrote. Yes, it is a good thing for a man not to touch a woman; yet to avoid immorality every man should have his own wife and every woman her own husband. [1 Cor 7:1-2, NJB]

which indicates that the words advising not to touch a woman are Paul's words in answer to some unspecified question. On the other hand, the English Standard Bible translates the original manuscript as

Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: "It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman." But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. [1 Cor 7:1-2, ESB]

which puts the statement into quotation marks and into the mouths of the Corinthians as part of their previous letter to him. And so Paul’s answer, that “each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband” represents just the opposite advice from the New Jerusalem Bible. Which translation is correct? Well, Joseph Smith would have sided with the ESB translators, because the Joseph Smith Version has

Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me, saying: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. [1 Cor 7:1-2, JSV, emphasis added]

This is not a radical idea. The Cor 7:1 footnote from the New English Translation (NET) Bible reads:

Many recent interpreters believe that here again (as in 6:12-13) Paul cites a slogan the Corinthians apparently used to justify their actions. If this is so, Paul agrees with the slogan in part, but corrects it in the following verses to show how the Corinthians misused the idea to justify abstinence within marriage (cf. 8:1, 4; 10:23). See also G. D. Fee, “1 Corinthians 7:1 in the NIV,” JETS 23 (1980): 307-14.

These translators, along with Joseph Smith, feel that Paul begins verse 1 by quoting a statement that the Corinthians made in their letter to him. His response is to correct the false idea which they (and some modern critics of our doctrine) have expressed by pointing out the importance of each man having his own wife and vice-versa.


Question: Was the Apostle Paul Married?

Paul may have been widowed or divorced at the time of his writing to the Corinthians, but we can be sure that he was married at one time

Paul's Judaic background would have required it. In his defense before the Jewish crowd outside the Roman barracks of the Antonian tower, Paul states that he was taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers and was zealous in living that law (Acts 22:3). Again, in his defense before the Pharisees and Sadducees, Paul claims that he is a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee (Acts 23:6). To the Galatians, Paul wrote that he was more zealous in fulfilling the requirements of his religion than others of his time (Gal 1:14). The emphasis that the Jews put on marriage as part of their law and tradition would certainly have been used against Paul in view of such statements if he had not been married, [16] especially if, as many scholars have suggested,[17] Paul was a member of the Sanhedrin, one of the qualifications for which was that a man must be married and the father of children.[18]

But was Paul still married at the time of his writing to the Corinthians? The only evidence against it occurs in this same chapter of 1 Corinthinans, where Paul says

I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. 1 Corinthians 7:8

Since Paul is advising the unmarried to continue in this state, even as he, it certainly seems to imply that he was unmarried at the time of his writing. On the other hand, Paul says later in this same letter

Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas? 1 Corinthians 9:5.

How would he have the power to lead about a wife on his travels, like the other apostles did, if he was not married or if his wife had died? So this seems to indicate that Paul was married, but that he simply did not take his wife with him in his ministry. If this is the case, then this might be the sense in which he is advising the Corinthian saints to "abide even as" he. Indeed, this is exactly the counsel he gives the married saints in 1 Corinthians 7:29.

But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none

So, based on Corinthians alone, it is hard to say whether Paul was widowed or was still married at the time he wrote his epistle. Fortunately, we have other, non-biblical, writers who had access to knowledge that has now clearly been lost about Paul's marital state during the time of his ministry. Eusebius,[19] the fourth-century Catholic Historian, states confidently that Paul’s yokefellow, whom he addresses in Philippians 4:3 with these words,

And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women who laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellow-labourers. (Philippians 4:2–3)

is in fact his wife. The Greek syzyge, the word translated “yokefellow,” is often used to refer to a spouse. Eusebius' conclusion is itself based on a statement from Clement of Alexandria,[20] who was writing sometime prior to 231 A.D. when the traditions about Paul were still very recent.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we should note that Ignatius, writing in the latter half of first century, states

I pray that, being found worthy of God, I may be found ... at the feet of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob; as of Joseph, and Isaiah, and the rest of the prophets; as of Peter, and Paul, and the rest of the apostles, that were married men.[21]


Question: What was Paul's teaching on marriage?

Paul teaches "neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord"

In this very same epistle to the Corinthians, Paul exhorts the saints to follow his example, especially in the ordinances of the church (1 Corinthians 11:1–2), and he specifically teaches that the husband is to honor the Lord as his head and the wife is to honor the husband as her head. Most importantly, he gives this statement, which sounds very much like an eternal principle:

neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. [1 Corinthians 11:11]

It is evident from the frequency of Paul’s counsel on marriage and family that he placed great importance on the subject. Paul exhorts the women in the Ephesian branch of the church to submit themselves to their own husbands (literally, become subject or obedient to), as they would to the Lord, comparing the husband and the family to Christ and the Church. (Ephesians 5:.) But he also charges the husbands to love their wives (Ephesians 5:25) as their Savior loved the church, so that they might sanctify and perfect their families through love. Paraphrasing one of the great commandments—to love one’s neighbor as oneself—Paul says, “So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.” (Ephesians 5:28.) A husband is not to rule as a tyrant over his wife but is to preside in love. (See Ephesians 5:33.)


Question: Why would Paul advise people not to be married?

Paul is not condemning marriage in this chapter, but is replying to a problem regarding missionaries who desire to become married

Paul says that he wishes (see 1 Corinthians 7:7) that all men were as he was. If Paul was either a widower or a married man traveling in the ministry without his wife, why would he want others to follow his example?

One reason for Paul's advice in these matters is found in verse 29 [1 Corinthians 7:29], where he states,

this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none.

So the reason for his counsel about marriage is that the time is short. Paul also says in 1 Corinthians 7:26

I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be.

Paul does not say what the present distress is, but whatever the problem was, he is clear that his advice is in regard to a situation that was temporary. When the present crisis was over, we would expect Paul’s advice to go back to the commandment explained in verse 2 – that every man should have his own wife and every woman her own husband.

Actually, Joseph Smith suggested what the term "the present distress" referred to when he amended 1 Cor 7:29 in the Joseph Smith Version to read

For this I say, brethren, the time that remaineth is but short, that ye shall be sent forth unto the ministry. Even they who have wives, shall be as though they had none; for ye are called and chosen to do the Lord’s work.

If Joseph Smith's understanding is correct, then, contrary to the common interpretation, Paul is not condemning marriage in this chapter, but is replying to a problem regarding missionaries who desire to become married. His advice is that while they are on their missions (and he declared that the time for missionary work is short), and in view of the present distress (likely the need for committed missionaries), they should be concerned with the work of the Lord and not with family or personal matters. He then gives the reason for this admonition. He explains in 1 Corinthians 7:32 that the unmarried saints (and those who are as though unmarried) care for the things of the Lord, while a married man puts other things before the work of the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:33). Paul is simply reminding those who have been called to God’s work to put that calling first, even before earthly matters.


Question: What part of Paul's advice regarding marriage actually represents Paul's opinion?

In verse 12, he explains that, in his advice to the unmarried, it is he who is speaking and not the Lord

As Paul counsels those who are married, he says

(10) And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: (11) But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife. (12) But to the rest speak I, not the Lord... (1 Corinthians 7:10-12)

Note how he begins by saying that he is commanding, and how he then stops himself and makes it clear that his advice to the married is actually God's commandment – those who are married should stay together. Then, in verse 12, he explains that, in his advice to the unmarried, it is he who is speaking and not the Lord.

Of course, verse 12 goes on with further advice:

(12) ... If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.

so that his opening statement in verse 12, "But to the rest speak I, not the Lord," seems to be introducing a new subject. However, we need to remember that there were no verses and no punctuation in what Paul wrote. Certainly, "But to the rest speak I, not the Lord" makes more sense as a closing of the previous subject than as an introduction to the next, since the rest of verse 12 is not actually addressed to "the rest" (i.e., to those not married) at all, but is again advising those who are married. At any rate, Paul makes clear in a later verse that his advice to the unmarried to remain single is not the Lord's commandment, but is his own wise advice.

(25) Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful. (26) I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be. (1 Corinthians 7:25-26)


Question: Should church officers be celibate?

In Paul’s last epistles, which were written to Timothy and Titus, he places emphasis on the need for marriage

In listing the qualities necessary for a bishop, Paul includes being married (see 1 Timothy 3:2) and being a good leader over his house: “For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?” (1 Timothy 3:5; cf. Titus 1:5–9). Even those called “deacons” in that day (the Greek literally means “one who serves” or a “helper”) were to be married and have orderly households. (See 1 Timothy 3:10–13.)


Response to claim: 302 - Joseph was sealed to women who were already married

The author(s) of No Man Knows My History make(s) the following claim:

Joseph was sealed to women who were already married.

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

Joseph was sealed to 11 women who were married for time to other men.

Question: Was Joseph Smith married or sealed to women who were already married to other living men?

Joseph Smith was sealed to 11 women who were married to men who were still living. Some of these men were even active members of the Church

Among Joseph's plural marriages and/or sealings, between eight to eleven of them were to women who were already married. Of the eight well-documented cases, five of the husbands were Latter-day Saints, and the other three were either not active in or not associated with the Church. In all cases, these women continued to live with their husbands, most of them doing so until their husbands died. These eternal marriages appear to have had little effect upon the lives of the women involved, with the exception that they would be sealed to Joseph in the afterlife rather than to their earthly husbands. One of the most well-known of these "polyandrous" marriages was to Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs.[22]

Of all the aspects of Joseph Smith's marital theology, this is the most difficult area to understand, because very little primary evidence exists. As one scholar noted:

Perhaps nothing is less understood than Joseph Smith's sealings to women already married, because the evidence supports conflicting interpretations.[23]

Criticisms related to Joseph Smith's "polyandrous" marriages

These "polyandrous" marriages have given rise to a number of criticisms:

  • Why would Joseph be sealed to other men's wives?
  • What was the nature of these marriages? Were they consummated?
  • Why did these 11 women continue to live with and have children with their husbands even after being sealed to Joseph Smith?
  • One critic of the church notes, "Joseph Smith would frequently approach other men’s wives about being his own plural wives..." [24]

At the time that celestial marriage was introduced, it was possible to be married for time to one person and sealed for eternity to another. These marriages appear to have been performed for the purpose of forming dynastic bonds in the afterlife, as there is no evidence that Joseph ever cohabited or had intimate relations with any of these women. No children from these marriages have ever been identified. These were sealings which would only affect Joseph's association with these women in the afterlife.


The Joseph Smith Papers: "Several later documents suggest that several women who were already married to other men were, like Marinda Hyde, married or sealed to Joseph Smith"

"Nauvoo Journals, December 1841–April 1843," The Joseph Smith Papers:

Several later documents suggest that several women who were already married to other men were, like Marinda Hyde, married or sealed to Joseph Smith. Available evidence indicates that some of these apparent polygynous/polyandrous marriages took place during the years covered by this journal. At least three of the women reportedly involved in these marriages—Patty Bartlett Sessions, Ruth Vose Sayers, and Sylvia Porter Lyon—are mentioned in the journal, though in contexts very much removed from plural marriage. Even fewer sources are extant for these complex relationships than are available for Smith’s marriages to unmarried women, and Smith’s revelations are silent on them. Having surveyed the available sources, historian Richard L. Bushman concludes that these polyandrous marriages—and perhaps other plural marriages of Joseph Smith—were primarily a means of binding other families to his for the spiritual benefit and mutual salvation of all involved.[25]


Improvement Era (1946): "Did Joseph Smith Introduce Plural Marriage?...It is also possible, though the Church does not now permit it, to seal two living people for eternity only, with no association on earth"

"Did Joseph Smith Introduce Plural Marriage?," Improvement Era (November 1946):

Several approaches to eternal marriage may be made: Two living persons may be sealed to each other for time and eternity. A living man may be sealed for eternity to a dead woman; or a living woman to a dead man. Two dead persons may be sealed to each other. It is also possible, though the Church does not now permit it, to seal two living people for eternity only, with no association on earth.

Further, under a divine command to the Prophet Joseph Smith, it was possible for one man to be sealed to more than one woman for time and eternity. Thus came plural marriage among the Latter-day Saints. By another divine command, to Wilford Woodruff, a successor to Joseph Smith, this order of marriage was withdrawn in 1890. Since that time the Church has not sanctioned plural marriages. Anyone who enters into them now is married unlawfully, and is excommunicated from the Church.[26]

"Did Joseph Smith Introduce Plural Marriage?," Improvement Era (November 1946)


Question: What is "Polyandry?"

Polyandry is one woman married to more than one husband at the same time

The term "polyandry" is derived from the Greek roots "poly" ("many") and "andros" ("men") to describe marriages in which one woman is married to more than one man. The term does not account for the concept of marriage after this life. Therefore, describing some of Joseph Smith's marriages as "polyandrous" implies that he was married to these women in this life, with all that is involved in such a relationship. Evidence does not bear this out, however. In fact, the existing evidence indicates that these women continued to associate with their current husbands. Therefore, by stating that Joseph "married" other men's wives without making the distinction that these sealings applied only to the next life, critics can draw many lascivious conclusions from Joseph's actions. The faithful member may feel uneasy because he has no ready "alibi" for the polyandry material which the gleeful critic insists is a "smoking gun" for Joseph's base motives.


Question: What was the nature of Joseph Smith's "polyandrous" marriages?

Evidence indicates that Joseph was sealed for eternity to eight to eleven women who were married to other men

The fact that these women continue to live with their earthly husbands and even have children by them indicates that the sealings to Joseph Smith were not marriages in the normal sense.

Joseph's sealing to their wives doesn't appear to have changed anything in their daily lives or their relationship to their current husbands

The relationship between these women and their husbands appear to have not changed even after they were sealed to Joseph Smith. Of the eight well-documented cases, five of the husbands were Latter-day Saints, and the other three were either not active in or not associated with the Church. In all cases, these women continued to live with their husbands, most of them doing so until their husbands died. These eternal marriages appear to have had little effect upon the lives of the women involved, with the exception that they would be sealed to Joseph in the afterlife rather than to their earthly husbands.


Question: Did Joseph Smith consummate any of these marriages with married women?

There is no evidence to indicate that Joseph consumated any polyandrous marriages, with one possible exception for a woman who considered herself divorced

The available evidence also does not support the claim that Joseph had intimate relations with these married women. Fawn Brodie, who repeatedly stated her belief that Joseph had intimate relations with many of his plural wives, identified several individuals that she thought “might” be children of Joseph Smith, Jr. Yet, even Brodie noted that “it is astonishing that evidence of other children than these has never come to light.” Brodie postulated, in spite of a complete lack of evidence, that Joseph must have been able to successfully practice some sort of primitive birth control, or that abortions must have been routinely employed.To date, DNA analysis has ruled out Joseph Smith as the father of any of the children of the women to whom he was sealed who were married to other men.

In 1915, Sylvia Sessions Lyon's daughter, Josephine, signed a statement that in 1882 Sylvia "told me that I was the daughter of the Prophet Joseph Smith"

In 1915, Sylvia Sessions Lyon's daughter, Josephine, signed a statement that in 1882 Sylvia "told me that I was the daughter of the Prophet Joseph Smith, she having been sealed to the Prophet at the time that her husband Mr. Lyon was out of fellowship with the Church." It is not known whether Sylvia was referring to her daughter as being a literal descendant of Joseph Smith, or if she was referring to the fact that she had been sealed to the prophet. In an article published in Mormon Historical Studies, Brian C. Hales demonstrates that Sylvia considered herself divorced prior to marrying Joseph polygamously. [27]


Question: Did Joseph Smith have any children through any of his polyandrous marriages?

DNA research has, so far, ruled out most who were suspected of being Joseph's children through polyandrous marriages

Mother Brodie’s claim [28] Modern evidence

Buell

Brodie claims that “the physiognomy revealed in a rare photograph of Oliver Buell seems to weight the balance overwhelmingly on the side of Joseph’s paternity.” Oliver Buell is not the son of Joseph Smith, Jr.

DNA research in 2007 confirmed Presendia Huntington Buell’s son Oliver, born sometime in 1838-1839, was the son of Norman Buell.[29] "Only 9 of the 23 genetic markers match when comparing the inferred Oliver Buell haplotype to that of Joseph Smith. Such a low degree of correlation between the two haplotypes provides strong evidence that they belong to two unrelated paternal lineages, thus excluding with high likelihood Joseph Smith Jr. as the biological father of Oliver N. Buell. Further weight is given to this observation by the close match of the inferred haplotype of Owen F. Buell to the independent Buell record in the SMGF data base, which genetic relationship dates back prior to Joseph Smith's era. Additionally, the two genetic profiles were run through a haplogroup predictor algorithm that assigned the Smith haplotypes to a cluster known as R1b and the cluster for the Buell's haplotypes to I1b2a, two deeply divergent clades that separated anciently, thus providing further evidence that the Oliver Buell and Joseph Smith lineages are not closely related" [30]

Alger

Brodie states that “[t]here is some evidence that Fannie Alger bore Joseph a child in Kirtland.” DNA research in 2005 confirmed Fanny Alger’s son Orrison Smith is not the son of Joseph Smith, Jr.[31]

Hancock

”Legend among the descendants of Levi W. Hancock points to another son of the prophet. If the legend is true, the child was probably John Reed Hancock, born April 19, 1841.” Nothing is yet known regarding the patrilineage John Reed Hancock.

John Reed's brother Mosiah is not the son of Joseph Smith, Jr.

DNA research in 2007 confirmed Clarissa Hancock's son Mosiah, born 9 April 1834, was the son of Levi Hancock.[32] "A 12-marker haplotype was already available for a paternal descendant of Mosiah Hancock, generated by an independent commercial laboratory. A comparison of the 12 markers to the shortened Joseph Smith haplotype showed only 5 matches, indicating a low likelihood of a biological relationship between Mosiah and Joseph. Additionally, we queried the SMGF database with the 12 Ycs Hancock markers. Six independent records returned matching all 12 markers, all having the surname Hancock with documented connections to Mosiah's grandfather Thomas Hancock III." [33]

Lightner

The son of Mary Rollins Lightner “may as easily have been the prophet’s son as that of Adam Lightner.” George Algernon Lightner, born March 22, 1842, died as an infant and therefore had no descendants. DNA testing cannot help determine paternity.

Hyde

Mrs. Orson Hyde’s sons Orson and Frank “could have been Joseph’s sons.” Orson Washington Hyde, born November 9, 1843, died as an infant and therefore had no descendants. DNA testing cannot help determine paternity.

Pratt

Mrs. Parley P. Pratt’s son Moroni “might also be added to this list.” Moroni Llewellyn Pratt is not the son of Joseph Smith, Jr.

DNA research in 2005 confirmed Mary Ann Frost Pratt's son Moroni, born 7 December 1844, was the son of Parley P. Pratt.[34]

Snow

”According to tradition,” Emma beat Eliza Snow and caused her to abort Joseph’s child. Both LDS and non-LDS reviewers have found several flaws in the story about Eliza.[35] Emma's biographers note that "Eliza continued to teach school for a month after her abrupt departure from the Smith household. Her own class attendance record shows that she did not miss a day during the months she taught the Smith children, which would be unlikely had she suffered a miscarriage."[36]

Jacobs

Zina was “about seven months pregnant with Jacobs' child at the time of her marriage to the prophet.” [37] John D. Lee and William Hall stated that Zina had been “pregnant by Smith.” Zebulon Jacobs is not the son of Joseph Smith, Jr.

DNA research in 2005 confirmed Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs's son Zebulon was the son of Henry Bailey Jacobs.[38]


Notes

  1. John Dehlin, "Questions and Answers," Mormon Stories Podcast (25 June 2014).
  2. Richard S. Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy: A History (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1986),48; citing Robinson, Journal, 23–24.
  3. Orson Hyde, "The Marriage Relations," (6 October 1854) Journal of Discourses 2:75-75.
  4. Note that "spiritual wifeism" likely refers to John C. Bennett's pattern of seduction and sexual license, which the Saints were always at pains to deny.
  5. That is, the Relief Society document condemning adultery, which Foster had engaged in under the tutelage of John C. Bennett.
  6. Again, Joseph is denying the spiritual wifeism of Bennett, which he calls "wickedness" and was quick to oppose via Church discipline.
  7. Jackson was another witness against Joseph Smith, and would go on to write an anti-Mormon tract: Joseph H. Jackson, The Adventures and Experiences of Joseph H. Jackson in Nauvoo, (Printed for the Publisher: Warsaw, Illinois, 1846).
  8. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 6:410-412. Volume 6 link
  9. M. Scott Bradshaw, "Defining Adultery under Illinois and Nauvoo Law," in Sustaining the Law: Joseph Smith's Legal Encounters, edited by Gordon A. Madsen, Jeffrey N. Walker, and John W. Welch (Provo, Utah: BYU Studies, 2014), 401–426.
  10. Joseph Smith, Jr., "Notice," Times and Seasons 4 no. 2 (1 December 1842), 32. off-site GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  11. Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Knopf, 2005), 445.
  12. Udney H. Jacob to Martin Van Buren, president of the United States [March 19, 1840], Illinois State Historical Library, Springfield, Illinois); cited by Kenneth W. Godfrey, "A New Look at the Alleged Little Known Discourse by Joseph Smith," Brigham Young University Studies 9 no. 1 (Autumn 1968), 52.
  13. Original in LDS archives, cited by Godfrey, "A New Look," 53. See also discussion in Kenneth W. Godfrey, "Causes of Mormon Non-Mormon Conflict in Hancock County, Illinois, 1839-1846," PhD thesis, Brigham Young University (1967), 90–110
  14. Udney H. Jacobs to Honorable Brigham Young, March 5, 1851, found in the LDS Church Historian's Library, Salt Lake City, Utah; cited by Godfrey, "A New Look," 53. Another Church source also rejected the idea that Joseph was involved: Eli B. Kelsey, "A Base Calumny Refuted," Millennial Star 12 no. 6 (15 March 1850), 92-93.
  15. C. Wilfred Griggs, "I Have a Question," Ensign (February 1976), 34.
  16. Mishnah, Aboth 5:21, trans. H. Danby, p. 458. “At five years old (one is fit) for the scripture, at ten years for the Mishnah, at thirteen for (the fulfilling of) the commandments, at fifteen for the Talmud, at eighteen for the bride-chamber, at twenty for pursuing (a calling), at thirty for authority, at forty for discernment, at fifty for counsel, at sixty to be an elder, at seventy for grey hairs, at eighty for special strength. …” See also David Smith, Life and Letters of St. Paul, p. 30f.
  17. Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul (Deseret Book, 1983) pp. 23-25.
  18. Sanhedrin 36:2.
  19. Eusebius Pamphilius, Ecclesiasical History Book III, Chap 30, in Nicene and post-Nicene Fathers Series 2, Volume 1 (NPNF2-01: Church History, Life of Constantine, Oration in Praise of Constantine), Philip Schaff, ed., (Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886) p. 162.
  20. Stromata, Book III, Chap 6, in Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 2 (ANF02. Fathers of the Second Century: Hermas, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, and Clement of Alexandria), Philip Schaff, ed., (Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886) p. 390.
  21. Philadelphians, Chap 4, in Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1 (ANF01. The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus), Philip Schaff, ed., (Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886) p. 81.
  22. Samuel Katich, "A Tale of Two Marriage Systems: Perspectives on Polyandry and Joseph Smith," Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research, 2003.
  23. Kathryn M. Daynes, More Wives than One: Transformation of the Mormon Marriage System, 1840–1910 (Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 2001), 29. ISBN 0252026810.
  24. John Dehlin, "Questions and Answers," Mormon Stories Podcast (25 June 2014)
  25. "Nauvoo Journals, December 1841–April 1843," The Joseph Smith Papers
  26. "Did Joseph Smith Introduce Plural Marriage?," Improvement Era (November 1946)
  27. See: Hales, Brian C. "The Joseph Smith-Sylvia Sessions Plural Sealing: Polyandry or Polygyny?" Mormon Historical Studies 9/1 (Spring 2008): 41–57.] DNA research is ongoing but it is rendered more difficult since the Y chromosome evidence of paternal lineage is not present in females.
  28. No Man Knows My History, p. 301, 345, 465.
  29. DNA Tests rule out 2 as Smith descendants, Deseret News Nov. 10, 2007.
  30. Ugo A. Perego, Jayne E. Ekins, and Scott R. Woodward, "Resolving the Paternities of Oliver N. Buell and Mosiah L. Hancock through DNA," Ugo A. Perego, Jayne E. Ekins, and Scott R. Woodward, "Resolving the Paternities of Oliver N. Buell and Mosiah L. Hancock through DNA," John Whitmer Historical Association Journal, 2008, Vol. 28, p. 133. off-site
  31. Ugo A. Perego, Natalie M. Myers, and Scott R. Woodward, “Reconstructing the Y-Chromosome of Joseph Smith Jr.: Genealogical Applications, Journal of Mormon History Vol. 32, No. 2 (Summer 2005) 70-88.
  32. Deseret News, 2007.
  33. Ugo A. Perego, Jayne E. Ekins, and Scott R. Woodward, "Resolving the Paternities of Oliver N. Buell and Mosiah L. Hancock through DNA," John Whitmer Historical Association Journal, 2008, Vol. 28, p134-135. off-site
  34. Perego, Myers and Woodward, 2005.
  35. This bit of folklore is explored in Maureen Ursenbach Beecher et al., "Emma and Eliza and the Stairs," Brigham Young University Studies 22 no. 1 (Fall 1982), 86–96.. RLDS author Richard Price also argues that the physical layout of the Mansion House makes the story as reported by Charles C. Rich unlikely, see "Eliza Snow Was Not Pushed Down the Mansion House Stairs," in Richard Price. "Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy: How Men Nearest the Prophet Attached Polygamy to His Name in Order to Justify Their Own Polygamous Crimes." (n.p.: Price Publishing Company, 2001), chapter 9. Price's dogmatic insistence that Joseph never taught plural marriage, however, cannot be sustained by the evidence.
  36. Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery, Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, 2nd ed. (Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1994), 136. See also discussion in Danel Bachman, "Plural Marriage Before the Death of Joseph Smith (Master's Thesis, Purdue University, 1975), 140n173.
  37. Brodie, p. 465.
  38. Perego, Myers and Woodward, 2005.