Joseph Smith/Polygamy/Polyandry

Joseph Smith and polyandry

This page is a summary or index. More detailed information on this topic is available on the sub-pages below.

Joseph Smith and polyandry

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

Why would Joseph Smith be sealed to other men's wives?

Summary: Why would Joseph Smith be sealed to other men's wives? Were these marriages for time or only for eternity? Were these marriages consumated? Why did these women continue to live with the husbands after being sealed to Joseph Smith?

Joseph's polyandrous marriages

Summary: Nothing in plural marriage mystifies—or troubles—members of the Church more than Joseph's polyandrous sealings. Marriage to multiple wives may seem strange, but at least it intrudes on our historical awareness, while many remain unaware of polyandry's existence in LDS history. But, most critical accounts do not provide all the facts. When we understand what these marriages consisted of—and what they did not consist of—they are much less strange.

Was Joseph sealed for eternity to women without the knowledge or consent of their living husband?

Summary: It is claimed that Joseph was sealed or married to women who were married to other men without the knowledge or consent of their husbands.

Did Joseph have any children through polygamous marriages?

Summary: Is there evidence of any children through Joseph's polyandrous marriages?

Did Joseph Smith send men on missions in order to "steal" their wives while they were gone?

Summary: Beginning with LDS dissident John C. Bennett, some have charged that Joseph would send men on missions in order to marry their wives. Does this claim match the historical evidence?

Did women turn Joseph down when he proposed marriage?

Summary: Some critics have claimed that significant pressure was put on women to practice plural marriage in Nauvoo. Did any of these women resist or refuse? What were the consequences of doing so?

Divine manifestations to plural wives and families

Summary: Did those who entered into plural marriage do so simply because Joseph Smith (or another Church leader) "told them to"? Is this an example of "blind obedience"?

Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs

Summary: A collection of articles about Zina.

Why weren't Joseph's polyandrous wives "destroyed" as specified in Doctrine and Covenants 132 verse 63

Summary: Doctrine and Covenants 132:63 states, "But if one or either of the ten virgins, after she is espoused, shall be with another man, she has committed adultery, and shall be destroyed." Since Joseph Smith was sealed to the wives of other men, why were they not "destroyed?"
See also Brian Hales' discussion: FAQ: Joseph Smith and Polyandry
Few things are more confusing to observers than Joseph Smith’s sealings to legally married women. Due to limitations in the number and types of documents available, understanding what transpired is difficult. The topic itself is very complex. Nevertheless, sufficient evidence is available to discern why these sealings took place and whether sexual polyandry occurred. (Link)
Did Joseph Smith’s Plural Marriages Include Sexual Relations?
The answer is yes or no, depending upon the type of plural marriage Joseph and the woman entered into. Those that were for this life and the next (called “time and eternity”) could include sexual relations. Those that were limited to the next life (“eternity only”) did not. Overall, evidence supports sexual relations in less than half of Joseph Smith’s polygamous unions, and available documents indicate that such relations were infrequent. (Link)
Sexual Relations are Documented In Less than Half of Joseph Smith’s Plural Marriages
Kathryn Daynes observed that any assertion that most of Joseph Smith’s plural marriages included sexual relations is “a conclusion that goes beyond documentary evidence.”[1] (Link)
Children from Joseph Smith’s Plural Marriages


  1. 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.

Further reading and additional sources responding to these claims