Joseph Smith/Polygamy/Emma Smith/Emma to be annihilated

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Was Emma was promised "annihilation" if she didn't accept plural marriage?

Important introductory material on plural marriage available here

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It is claimed that "In the revelation [D&C 132] Emma was promised annihilation if she failed to 'abide this commandment.'"[1]

To see citations to the critical sources for these claims, click here


Despite G.D. Smith's gloss, there is no "annihilation" in LDS doctrine. An earlier verse makes it clear that death will "destroy" all that is not sanctioned and endorsed by God, including marriage contracts (D&C 132:12-14). The section then draws a distinction between being "destroyed" and "destroyed in the flesh." (DC 132:26)—thus some sinners may suffer physical "buffeting" by Satan while their marital relationship may remain sanctioned.

Detailed Analysis

The scripture says,

And I command mine handmaid, Emma Smith, to abide and cleave unto my servant Joseph, and to none else. But if she will not abide this commandment she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord; for I am the Lord thy God, and will destroy her if she abide not in my law" (D&C 132:54.

The commandment given to Emma which she must "abide" is to "abide and cleave unto" Joseph. She is to remain faithful and supportive of her spouse. G.D. Smith's portrayal of this language applying to polygamy is false.

Other references to "destroyed"

Elsewhere, others said to be destroyed are those who have pretended to moral purity despite sexual sins (see DC 132:52,63).

A final verse says that "if any man have a wife, who holds the keys of this power, and he teaches unto her the law of my priesthood, as pertaining to these things, then shall she believe and administer unto him, or she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord your God; for I will destroy her; for I will magnify my name upon all those who receive and abide in my law." Note that God will destroy those who disobey—this is not a threat from Joseph about physical harm to Emma, and Emma certainly did not refrain from opposing plural marriage thereafter. She does not seem to have been frightened or intimidated.

For further information related to this topic

See also Brian Hales' discussion: 1840—Plural Marriage Secretly Introduced
Sometime in 1840 Joseph Smith first broached the topic of plural marriage privately to trusted friends. Most of the apostles were in England and thus were unavailable for an introduction to the practice. (Link)
Emma Learns that Plural Marriage Has Been Restored
Emma Accepts Plural Marriage and Participates in Four of Joseph’s Plural Sealings
Emma’s Resistance Prompts a New Revelation
Joseph and Emma: Conflict and Agreement


  1. George D. Smith, Nauvoo Polygamy: "...but we called it celestial marriage" (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2008), 29. ( Index of claims , (Detailed book review))

Further reading and additional sources responding to these claims

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