Criticism of Mormonism/Books/The Changing World of Mormonism/Chapter 9

Table of Contents

Response to claims made in "Chapter 9: Plural Marriage"

A FairMormon Analysis of: The Changing World of Mormonism, a work by author: Jerald and Sandra Tanner
Claim Evaluation
The Changing World of Mormonism
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Response to claims made in The Changing World of Mormonism, "Chapter 9: Plural Marriage"

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Response to claim: 205 - The 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants had a section denouncing polygamy

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

The 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants had a section denouncing polygamy.

(Author's sources: Doctrine and Covenants (1835), Section 101)

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. The section was removed when Section 132 was added.



Question: Why did the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants include a statement of marriage that denied the practice of polygamy at a time when some were actually practicing it?

Polygamy was not being taught to the general Church membership at that time

The Article on Marriage was printed in the 1835 D&C as section 101 and in the 1844 D&C as section 109. The portion of the Article on Marriage relevant to polygamy states:

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. [1]

This was true—the Church membership generally was not being taught plural marriage, and were not living it at that time.

The statement itself was not changed between the 1835 and 1844 editions of the D&C

In fact, the statement remained in the D&C until the 1876 edition, even though plural marriage had been taught to specific individuals since at least 1831, practiced in secret since 1836, and practiced openly since 1852. The matter of not removing it in 1852 was simply due to the fact that a new edition of the D&C was not published until 1876.

The available evidence suggests that Joseph Smith supported its publication

While some have suggested that the article was published against Joseph's wishes or without his knowledge, the available evidence suggests that he supported its publication. It was likely included to counter the perception that the Mormon's practice of communal property (the "law of consecration") included a community of wives.

The statement was not a revelation given to Joseph Smith - it was written by Oliver Cowdery

This statement was not a revelation given to Joseph Smith—it was written by Oliver Cowdery and introduced to a conference of the priesthood at Kirtland on 17 August 1835. Cowdery also wrote a statement of belief on government that has been retained in our current edition of the D&C as section 134. Both were sustained at the conference and included in the 1835 D&C, which was already at the press and ready to be published. Joseph Smith was preaching in Michigan at the time Oliver and W.W. Phelps introduced these two articles to the conference; it is not known if he approved of their addition to the D&C at the time, although he did retain them in the 1844 Nauvoo edition, which argues that he was not opposed to them. (Phelps read the article on marriage, while Cowdery read the one on government.) [2]

Some have suggested that the manner in which the conference was called suggests that Joseph was not the instigator of it, since it seems to have been done quite quickly, with relatively few high church leaders in attendance:

The General Assembly, which may have been announced on only twenty-four hours' notice, was held Monday, August 17[, 1835]. Its spur-of-the-moment nature is demonstrated by observing that a puzzling majority of Church leaders were absent. Missing from the meeting were all of the Twelve Apostles, eight of the twelve Kirtland High Council members nine of the twelve Missouri High Council members, three of the seven Presidents of the Quorum of Seventy, Presiding Bishop Partridge, and...two of the three members of the First Presidency. [3]

However, there is also some evidence that an article on marriage was already anticipated, and cited four times in the new D&C's index, which was prepared under Joseph's direction and probably available prior to his departure. Thus, "if a disagreement existed, it was resolved before the Prophet left for Pontiac." [4]


Question: Was Oliver Cowdery aware that some in the Church were practicing polygamy in 1835 at the time he authored the "Article on Marriage"?

Oliver Cowdery, the author of the 1835 "Article on Marriage," was aware that some in the Church were practicing polygamy at the time that the statement was published

On July 7, 1878, Joseph F. Smith discussed Oliver's awareness of polygamy at the time of this publication:

To put this matter more correctly before you, I here declare that the principle of plural marriage was not first revealed on the 12th day of July, 1843. It was written for the first time on that date, but it had been revealed to the Prophet many years before that, perhaps as early as 1832. About this time, or subsequently, Joseph, the Prophet, intrusted this fact to Oliver Cowdery; he abused the confidence imposed in him, and brought reproach upon himself, and thereby upon the church by "running before he was sent," and "taking liberties without license," so to speak, hence the publication, by O. Cowdery, about this time, of an article on marriage, which was carefully worded, and afterwards found its way into the Doctrine and Covenants without authority. This article explains itself to those who understand the facts, and is an indisputable evidence of the early existence of the knowledge of the principle of patriarchal marriage by the Prophet Joseph, and also by Oliver Cowdery. [5]

However, there continues to be debate about whether Oliver Cowdery knew about--or prematurely practiced--plural marriage in the 1830s. [6] Oliver would learn about the Fanny Alger marriage, but his reaction at the time seems to have been wholly negative.

The original D&C 101 article outlined the general practice of performing a Latter-day Saint wedding, explained LDS beliefs about the marriage relationship, and denied that the Saints were practicing polygamy.


Question: Was the practice of polygamy general knowledge among Latter-day Saints in 1835 when the "Article on Marriage" was published?

Knowledge of the practice of polygamy among the Saints was limited prior to the 1840s

Some have argued that rumors of "polygamy" may already have been circulating as a result of the Prophet teaching the concept to some of his close associates. However, Brian Hales has argued that there are few if any extant attacks on Joseph or the Saints about polygamy prior to the 1840s:

...if the article was designed to neutralize reports about Joseph Smith and his alleged "crimes," polygamy would not have been included because that allegation was not made then nor at any other time during the Kirtland period according to any documentation currently available. In other words, assuming that the denial of polygamy in the "Marriage" article [of D&C 101] was specifically tied to rumors of Joseph Smith's behavior is problematic, unless other corroborating evidence can be located. [7]

Charges of polygamy or "free love" or having wives in common were often made against new or little-known religious or social groups

On the other hand, charges of polygamy or "free love" or having wives in common were often made against new or little-known religious or social groups. As Hales reports:

Some [nineteenth-century utopian societies] experimented with novel marital and sexual practices, which focused suspicion on all the groups....Accordingly, early Latter-day Saint efforts to live the law of consecration, even though it sustained traditional monogamy, were instantly misunderstood....

John L. Brooke...wrote: "Among the non-Mormons in Ohio there were suspicions that the community of property dictated in the 'Law of Consecration' included wives."...

It seems plausible, even likely, that beginning in 1831, some uninformed individuals assumed that the law of consecration included a community of wives as one of its tenets, even publishing such claims, although there is no indication that this is how the Mormons themselves interpreted the law of consecration. Understandably, Church leaders would actively seek to deny such untrue allegations in a document on marriage to be included in the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants. [8]

Gilbert Scharffs notes:

The original Section 101 (never claimed as a revelation but approved as a statement of belief) did state that monogamy was the practice of the Church at that time. The section was not written by Joseph Smith and was voted upon by members in his absence. Perhaps the section was intended to prevent members from getting involved with plural marriage until such a time as the practice would be authorized by the Lord Church-wide. When that became the fact, the current Section 132 replaced the old Section 101. [9]


Response to claim: 207 - Section 101 was replaced with Section 132 in 1876

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Section 101 was replaced with Section 132 in 1876

FairMormon Response

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

The Saints believe in on-going revelation—Church policy may change from time to time.



Response to claim: 207 - A revelation on plural marriage given in 1831 was "suppressed" which said that the Indians would become "white and delightsome" though intermarriage with the Mormons

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

A revelation on plural marriage given in 1831 was "suppressed" which said that the Indians would become "white and delightsome" though intermarriage with the Mormons.

(Author's sources: Letter from W. W. Phelps to Brigham Young. August 12, 1861)

FairMormon Response

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

The revelation is based upon a late recollection from W.W. Phelps, and there is no evidence that it was suppressed, as the Tanners assert.



Question: Did the Church suppress a revelation given to Joseph Smith in 1831 which encouraged the implementation of polygamy by intermarriage with the Indians in order to make them a “white and delightsome” people?

The only evidence for this revelation is a letter written by W. W. Phelps in 1861 in which he recounts from memory some of Joseph's comments in Independence, Missouri, on 17 July 1831

It is claimed that the church "suppressed" a 1831 revelation in which the Church was commanded to make the Indians a “white and delightsome” people through polygamous intermarriage. The basis for this claim is a letter written by W. W. Phelps in 1861 (30 years after the revelation was said to have been given) in which he recounts from memory some of Joseph's comments in Independence, Missouri, on 17 July 1831. At present, the only evidence that an 1831 revelation was given is the 1861 document written by Phelps.

According to critics, Joseph Fielding Smith, who was Church historian at the time, stated that the principle of plural marriage was revealed to Joseph Smith in a revelation given in July 1831.[10] Critic Fawn Brodie claims that Joseph Fielding Smith told her about the revelation but would not allow her to see it.[11] Critics conclude that the “real reason” that the revelation was not released was because it commanded Church members to marry the Indians in order to make them a “white and delightsome” people.

The text of W. W. Phelps' 1861 recollection of the revelation

In 1861, 30 years after it was said to have been given, W. W. Phelps wrote from memory his recollection of what he claimed was the revelation given in 1831 by the Prophet:

Part of a revelation by Joseph Smith Jr. given over the boundary, west of Jackson Co. Missouri, on Sunday morning, July 17, 1831, when Seven Elders, viz: Joseph Smith, Jr., Oliver Cowdery, W. W. Phelps, Martin Harris, Joseph Coe, Ziba Peterson, and Joshua Lewis united their hearts in prayer, in a private place, to inquire of the Lord who should preach the first sermon to the remnants of the Lamanites and Nephites, and the people of that Section, that should assemble that day in the Indian country, to hear the gospel, and the revelations according to the Book of Mormon.

Among the company, there being neither pen, ink or paper, Joseph remarked that the Lord could preserve his words as he had ever done, till the time appointed, and proceeded:

Verily, verily, saith the Lord your Redeemer, even Jesus Christ, the light and the life of the world, ye can not discerne with your natural eyes, the design and the purpose of your Lord and your God, in bringing you thus far into the wilderness for a trial of your faith, and to be especial witnesses, to bear testimony of this land, upon which the Zion of God shall be built up in the last days, when it is redeemed. …

[I]t is my will, that in time, ye should take unto you wives of the Lamanites and Nephites, that their posterity may become white, delightsome, and Just, for even now their females are more virtuous than the gentiles.

Gird up your loins and be prepared for the mighty work of the Lord to prepare the world for my second coming to meet the tribes of Israel according to the predictions of all the holy prophets since the beginning; …

Be patient, therefore, possessing your souls in peace and love, and keep the faith that is now delivered unto you for the gathering of scattered Israel, and lo, I am with you, though ye cannot see me, till I come: even so. Amen.

Phelp's wrote his note 30 years after the revelation was said to have been given, after polygamy had been openly practiced for a number of years

A note written by W. W. Phelps in the 1861 document implies that marriage with the Indians coincided with Joseph Smith's planned intent to institute polygamy.

About three years after this was given, I asked brother Joseph, privately, how "we," that were mentioned in the revelation could take wives of the "natives" as we were all married men? He replied instantly "In the same manner that Abraham took Hagar and Keturah; and Jacob took Rachel, Bilhah and Zilpah; by revelation—the saints of the Lord are always directed by revelation."

It is important to note that Phelps wrote his note 30 years after the revelation was said to have been given, after polygamy had been openly practiced for a number of years.


Response to claim: 208-209 - Spencer Kimball believed that the Indians were becoming a "white and delightsome" people

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

*It was taught that the skin color of the Indians would change if they joined the Church. For example, Spencer Kimball believed that the Indians were becoming a "white and delightsome" people.

FairMormon Response

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

Church leaders did not realize until 1982 that Joseph Smith had edited a Book of Mormon verse in 1836 to avoid giving this impression.



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

The Saints do not believe in prophetic infallibility.



Response to claim: 212 - Brigham Young believed that the Indians skin would become white through intermarriage

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Brigham Young believed that the Indians skin would become white through intermarriage.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

A nineteenth century anti-Mormon work ("Abominations of Mormonism") is the only source



Response to claim: 214 - Church leaders did not approve of interracial marriage

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Church leaders did not approve of interracial marriage.

FairMormon Response

Question: Is interracial marriage prohibited or condemned within the Church?

Spencer Kimball prior to the lifting of the priesthood ban: "There is no condemnation," but rather concerns about "the difficulty…in interrace marriages."

In an address to Native American students at BYU in January 1965, then-Elder Spencer W. Kimball explained that there is no condemnation of interracial marriage:

Now, the brethren feel that it is not the wisest thing to cross racial lines in dating and marrying. There is no condemnation. We have had some of our fine young people who have crossed the [racial] lines. We hope they will be very happy, but experience of the brethren through a hundred years has proved to us that marriage is a very difficult thing under any circumstances and the difficulty increases in interrace marriages.[12]

Two years prior to the lifting of the priesthood ban, Spencer W. Kimball told a group of BYU students and faculty:

we recommend that people marry those who are of the same racial background generally, and of somewhat the same economic and social and educational background. Some of these are not an absolute necessity, but preferred; and above all, the same religious background, without question. In spite of the most favorable matings, the evil one still takes a monumental toll and is the cause for many broken homes and frustrated lives.[13]

Here inter-racial marriage is not recommended, but not as an absolute standard—it is grouped with other differences (such as socio-economic) which might make marriage harder, but not as absolutely necessary to success as sharing the same beliefs.

The Supreme Court declared anti-miscegenation laws in the 16 remaining states that still had them unconstitutional in 1967.

Church spokesman after the lifting of the priesthood ban: "So there is no ban on interracial marriage"

After the priesthood ban was lifted, church spokesman Don LeFevre stated:

So there is no ban on interracial marriage. If a black partner contemplating marriage is worthy of going to the Temple, nobody's going to stop him... if he's ready to go to the Temple, obviously he may go with the blessings of the church."[14]

The Church Handbook of Instructions say nothing concerning interracial marriages

On the LDS Church website, Dr. Robert Millet writes:

[T]he Church Handbook of Instructions... is the guide for all Church leaders on doctrine and practice. There is, in fact, no mention whatsoever in this handbook concerning interracial marriages. In addition, having served as a Church leader for almost 30 years, I can also certify that I have never received official verbal instructions condemning marriages between black and white members.[15]


Response to claim: 215 - Oliver Cowdery believed that Joseph had an improper relationship with Fanny Alger

The author(s) make(s) the following claim:

The Changing World of Mormonism Oliver Cowdery believed that Joseph had an improper relationship with Fanny Alger.

(Author's sources:
  • Letter written by Oliver Cowdery and recorded by his brother Warren Cowdery;
  • This source is vague and not much help to the reader. The actual source is: Oliver Cowdery to Warren A. Cowdery, "Dear Br. Warren," Far West, Missouri (21 Jan 1838); reproduced in "Letters of Oliver Cowdery." In New Mormon Studies CD-ROM (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1998).)

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. Oliver did not accept that idea of plural marriage.



Question: Did some of Joseph Smith's associates believe that he had an affair with Fanny Alger?

Oliver Cowdery perceived the relationship between Joseph and Fanny as a "dirty, nasty, filthy affair"

Some of Joseph's associates, most notably Oliver Cowdery, perceived Joseph's association with Fanny as an affair rather than a plural marriage. Oliver, in a letter to his brother Warren, asserted that "in every instance I did not fail to affirm that which I had said was strictly true. A dirty, nasty, filthy affair of his and Fanny Alger's was talked over in which I strictly declared that I had never deserted from the truth in the matter, and as I supposed was admitted by himself."[16]

Gary J. Bergera, an advocate of the "affair" theory, wrote:

I do not believe that Fanny Alger, whom [Todd] Compton counts as Smith’s first plural wife, satisfies the criteria to be considered a “wife.” Briefly, the sources for such a “marriage” are all retrospective and presented from a point of view favoring plural marriage, rather than, say, an extramarital liaison…Smith’s doctrine of eternal marriage was not formulated until after 1839–40. [17]

There are several problems with this analysis. While it is true that sources on Fanny are all retrospective, the same is true of many early plural marriages. Fanny's marriage has more evidence than some. Bergera says that all the sources about Fanny's marriage come "from a point of view favoring plural marriage," but this claim is clearly false.

Even hostile accounts of the relationship between Joseph and Fanny report a marriage or sealing

For example, Fanny's marriage was mentioned by Ann Eliza Webb Young, a later wife of Brigham Young's who divorced him, published an anti-Mormon book, and spent much of her time giving anti-Mormon, anti-polygamy lectures. Fanny stayed with Ann Eliza's family after leaving Joseph and Emma's house, and both Ann Eliza and her father Chauncey Webb [18] refer to Joseph's relationship to Fanny as a "sealing." [19] Eliza also noted that the Alger family "considered it the highest honor to have their daughter adopted into the prophet's family, and her mother has always claimed that she [Fanny] was sealed to Joseph at that time." [20] This would be a strange attitude to take if their relationship was a mere affair. And, the hostile Webbs had no reason to invent a "sealing" idea if they could have made Fanny into a mere case of adultery.


Response to claim: 219 - Lorenzo Snow said that anyone who had a plural marriage prior to the date of the revelation (July 12, 1843) was living in adultery

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Lorenzo Snow said that anyone who had a plural marriage prior to the date of the revelation (July 12, 1843) was living in adultery.

(Author's sources: Temple Lot Case, p.320)

FairMormon Response

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

This is a misrepresentation of the source.



Question: What is Lorenzo Snow claimed to have said about plural marriages being adultery prior to 1843?

One critic of the Church attributes the following quote to Lorenzo Snow during the Temple Lot Case:

A man that violated this law in the Doctrine and Covenants, 1835 edition, until the acceptance of that revelation by the church, violated the law of the church if he practiced plural marriage. Yes sir, he would have been cut off from the church, I think I should have been if I had. Before the giving of that revelation in 1843 if a man married more wives than one who were living at the same time, he would have been cut off from the church. It would have been adultery under the laws of the church and under the laws of the state, too. – Temple Lot Case, p.320-322 [Bold and italics by the author.]

The critic concludes:

According to Lorenzo Snow, Joseph had zero business marrying his plural wives before 1843 and he should have been cut off from the Church as it was adultery under the laws of the Church and under the laws of the State. Joseph’s marriage to Fanny Alger in 1833 was illegal under both the laws of the land and under any theory of divine authority; it was adultery.” [21]


Question: Did Lorenzo Snow state that polygamy was actually adultery prior to 1843?

Lorenzo Snow did not state that polygamy was adultery prior to 1843

Brian Hales responds to this assertion:

One example of the weaknesses that are repeated over and over in his essay is illustrated when Runnells allegedly quotes Lorenzo Snow’s 1892 Temple Lot deposition. According to Runnells, Snow gave this testimony:

A man that violated this law in the Doctrine and Covenants, 1835 edition, until the acceptance of that revelation by the church, violated the law of the church if he practiced plural marriage. Yes sir, he would have been cut off from the church, I think I should have been if I had. Before the giving of that revelation in 1843 if a man married more wives than one who were living at the same time, he would have been cut off from the church. It would have been adultery under the laws of the church and under the laws of the state, too. – Temple Lot Case, p.320–322 [Bold and italics by Runnells.]

Then Runnells concludes:

According to Lorenzo Snow, Joseph had zero business marrying his plural wives before 1843 and he should have been cut off from the Church as it was adultery under the laws of the Church and under the laws of the State. Joseph’s marriage to Fanny Alger in 1833 was illegal under both the laws of the land and under any theory of divine authority; it was adultery.”

It is obvious Runnells never viewed the actual 1892 Temple Lot deposition transcripts. Curiously, the last sentence in the paragraph above, the one that he emphasized with bold and italics, is incorrectly cited. Importantly, the words “and under the laws of the state too” are fabrication.[22] They are not in the original transcript; that is, Lorenzo Snow did not say them so far as any record is concerned. Notwithstanding, Runnells confidently asserts: “According to Lorenzo Snow, Joseph had zero business marrying his plural wives before 1843.” If Runnells had actually consulted the depositions, which are available at the Church History Library, he would have learned that later in that same deposition, RLDS attorney Kelley questioned Snow who directly disagreed with Runnells’ conclusion:

Q. Could he [Joseph Smith] receive a revelation and act upon it, that was contrary in its teachings and provisions to the laws of the church to govern the church, without a violation of those laws?

A. Yes sir, I see that distinctly and understand it and I want you to understand it too. [23]

This sort of problematic research and writing is common throughout the remainder of Runnells’ treatment of Joseph Smith’s plural marriages raising important questions regarding the accuracy and credibility of his conclusions.

Rather than provide a point-by-point rebuttal to Runnells’ claims, it might be most beneficial to refer him and other readers to JosephSmithsPolygamy.org where he can find the latest research dealing with all controversial topics regarding Joseph Smith’s Polygamy including supposed polyandry, young wives, Fanny Alger, sexuality, polygamy denials, Joseph’s interactions with Emma Smith, and other historical and theological considerations. [24]


Question: Are the original Temple Lot Case transcripts available online?

The original 1650-page transcripts were not available online until recently. Only a 507-page abstract was available online prior to this

The original 1650-page Temple Lot Case transcripts were not available anywhere online until recently. They are now available online at the Church History Library at the following link: MS 1160: United States testimony 1892, Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

All that was previously available online, which was commonly cited, were abstract summary transcripts (507 pages) which have been heavily edited by the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (now the Community of Christ). The edited transcripts that were available online were published by the RLDS Church and contain information that is not present in the original transcript. (see The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Complainant, Vs. the Church of Christ at Independence, Missouri [25])

A quote from the 507 page abstract is used by critics of the Church to prove that Lorenzo Snow claimed adultery

Here is the quote used by one critic of the Church, which is taken from the 507-page Abstract of Evidence Temple Lot Case:

[Question] A man that violated this law in the Doctrine and Covenants, 1835 edition, until the acceptance of that revelation by the church, violated the law of the church if he practiced plural marriage.
[Answer by Lorenzo Snow] Yes sir, he would have been cut off from the church, I think I should have been if I had. Before the giving of that revelation in 1843 if a man married more wives than one who were living at the same time, he would have been cut off from the church. It would have been adultery under the laws of the church and under the laws of the state, too. [26]

A scan of the relevant portion of page 320 of the Abstract of Evidence Temple Lot Case

The source of the edited quote in the original transcript is quite different from that in the abstract, and does not contain the statement about adultery

Here is the source of the heavily edited quote as it exists in the original 1650-page Temple Lot case transcript:

Page 128

321 Q. Could he [Joseph Smith] receive a revelation and act upon it, that was contrary in its teachings and provisions to the laws of the church to govern the church, without a violation of those laws?

A. Yes sir, I see that distinctly and understand it and I want you to understand it too.

323 Q. Could Joseph Smith receive a revelation and act upon it that was contrary in its teachings and provisions to the laws of the church as accepted by the church at that time, without being at the same time in violation of the laws of the church?

A. Why he might do so. Joseph Smith did, but I don’t consider he was a violator of any of the laws of the church, for he was the law of the church. I never knew of the church rejecting a revelation he gave to them. [27]

A scan of the relevant portion of page 128 of the original Temple Lot case transcript

A more complete explanation, with full page scans, may be viewed on Brian Hales' website Joseph Smith's Polygamy.


Question: I've seen Temple Lot court transcripts online. Are these not accurate?

The 507-page Temple Lot court transcript available online are heavily edited abstracts of the original. The original 1650-page transcript is not available online

There is at least one Temple Lot court summary transcript available online which contain the disputed phrase "and under the laws of the state too". This transcript can be viewed here: Abstract of Evidence Temple Lot Case U.S.C.C.. This is a 507 page abstract, but it is not the original transcript. The original transcript is 1650 pages long and was not available online until recently.

Brian Hales clarifies:

The Temple Lot legal case transcript covers more than 1,650 pages and is NOT available online....

The originals are housed at the Eighth District Court in Kansas City, Missouri, with a carbon copy at the Community of Christ Archives. The LDS Church History Library offers both microfilm and digital photographs of the microfilm (unrestricted). A 507-page version has been published and distributed by several booksellers including Herald House and Price Publishing Company; however, heavy editing makes this version of little or no use to polygamy researchers. Apparently parts of the original transcript have been digitally transcribed by Richard D. Ouellette.

The statement quoted by [Jeremy] Runnells is from one of the edited versions and I’m not surprised that the RLDS editor added some commentary that has been mistaken as in the original.

Here’s the transcript:

189 Q. And the man that violated this law in this book [Doctrine and Covenants 1835 edition] until the acceptance of that revelation by the church violated the law of the church if he practiced plural marriage? A. Yes Sir. He was cut off from the church. I think I should have been if I had.

190 Q. What would be the condition of the man that would marry more than one person prior to the giving of that revelation in 1843? A. What would be the condition of a man that would do that?

191 Q. Yes sir? A. Why he would be cut off from the Church.

192 Q. Would not it have been adultery under those revelations I have just read? A. Yes sir. I expect it would be.

193 Q. You are one of the apostles in the church at the present time are you not . . . [28]

A scan of this page of the transcript may be viewed on Hales' website Joseph Smith's Polygamy here: Lorenzo Snow’s Temple Lot Testimony.


Response to claim: 219 - It is claimed that Mormon leaders say that the 1843 revelation was actually received earlier

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

It is claimed that Mormon leaders say that the 1843 revelation was actually received earlier, but History of the Church says that this was the date the revelation was received.

FairMormon Response

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

The revelation was recorded on this date, but it is clear that Joseph knew and was teaching it earlier.



  • Danel W. Bachman, "A Study of the Mormon Practice of Polygamy before the Death of Joseph Smith" (Purdue University, 1975).
  • Danel W. Bachman, "New Light on an Old Hypothesis: The Ohio Origins of the Revelation on Eternal Marriage," Journal of Mormon History 5 (1978): 19–32.

Question: When did Joseph Smith receive the revelation on plural marriage?

Joseph's first introduction to the concept of plural came during the 1829 translation of the Book of Mormon

Of the little we do know, much comes from later reminiscences. Later memories are not useless, but memory can change, and can be influenced by what people later came to believe or desire. Such data must be used with caution.

There are enough scattered bits of evidence, however, that let us form some tentative conclusions.

The first specifically-LDS encounter with plural marriage was the 1829 Book of Mormon. The prophet Jacob rebuked the Nephites for their practice of having many wives and concubines. Jacob forbade this practice, and declared monogamy to be the norm unless "I will…raise up seed unto me…." [29]

It is not clear that the early Saints contemplated any exceptions to this command in their own case, until after Joseph had taught plural marriage. As late as May 1843, Hyrum Smith (not yet converted to Joseph's plural marriage doctrine) attempted to rebut rumors of plural marriage by citing the condemnation in Jacob 2. [30]

Evidence points to a 1831 date for the revelation to Joseph regarding plural marriage

There are no contemporaneous records which tell us when Joseph first taught plural marriage, or when he first had a revelation endorsing it. One account has Brigham Young placing the revelation to Oliver Cowdery and Joseph Smith in 1829 while translating the Book of Mormon. [31]

Most scholars have rejected this early date. Brigham was not even a member at this time, so he would have heard such a story second-hand at best, and may well have misunderstood the timing. There is nothing in the Book of Mormon that portrays plural marriage positively, so there is little which would inspire Joseph and Oliver to ask questions about it, and such questioning seems to have been a prerequisite to Joseph and Oliver's early revelations on baptism, the priesthood, and other matters. The journal which records the 1829 date may be in error, since there is another, earlier record in which Brigham Young opines that Joseph had the plural marriage revelation "as early as in the year 1831." [32]

Other evidence also points to an 1831 date. Joseph undertook his revision/translation of the Bible, and was working on Genesis in February–March 1831. [33] Hubert Howe Bancroft was the first to suggest this theory, [34] while Joseph Noble, [35] B.H. Roberts, [36] and Joseph F. Smith [37] have agreed. The obvious approval of the polygamous patriarchs in Genesis is a more likely stimulus for Joseph's questions to the Lord about plural marriage than the Book of Mormon's generally negative view.

Joseph was probably teaching the idea of plural marriage to a limited circle by the end of 1831

The date of 1831 is reinforced by a letter written years later by W.W. Phelps. Phelps reported that on 17 July 1831, the Lord told Joseph "It is my will, that in time, ye should take unto you wives of the Lamanites and Nephites, that their posterity may become white, delightsome and just." Phelps then said that he asked Joseph three years later how this commandment could be fulfilled. Joseph replied, "In the same manner that Abraham took Hagar and Keturah; and Jacob took Rachel, Bilhah and Zilpha, by revelation.” [38] Phelps' recollection is reinforced by Ezra Booth, an apostate Mormon. In November 1831, Booth wrote that Joseph had received a revelation commanding a "matrimonial alliance" with the natives, though he says nothing about plural marriage per se. [39]

Since Joseph's explanation to Phelps came three years later, this does not help us date the receipt of the revelation specifically. It may be that Joseph did not understand the import of the July 1831 revelation any more than Phelps did. On the other hand, Orson Pratt reported that Joseph told some early members in 1831 and 1832 that plural marriage was a true principle but that the time to practice it had not yet come. [40] Lyman Johnson also reportedly heard the doctrine from Joseph in 1831, [41] as did a plural wife who recalled late in life that in 1831 Joseph told her that he had been commanded to one day take her as a plural wife. [42] Mosiah Hancock reported that his father was taught about plural marriage in the spring of 1832. [43]

Some authors have suggested that Phelps' late recollection is inconsistent with other things that he wrote earlier. Richard Van Wagoner argues that:

the Phelps letter has been widely touted as the earliest source documenting the advocacy of Mormon polygamy, [but] it is not without its problems. For example, Phelps himself, in a 16 September 1835 letter to his wife, Sally, demonstrated no knowledge of church-sanctioned polygamy: "I have no right to any other woman in this world nor in the world to come according to the law of the celestial kingdom.” [44]

It seems, though, that the problem is more in Van Wagoner's reading of the data. Phelps says nothing about "church-sanctioned polygamy," one way or the other. He merely tells his wife that he has no right to any other woman. This was certainly true, since Joseph Smith had introduced no other men to plural marriage by September 1835. In fact, Phelps' remark seems a strange comment to make unless he understood that there were circumstances in which one could have "right to" another woman. [45]

Joseph F. Smith gave an account which synthesizes most of the preceding data:

The great and glorious principle of plural marriage was first revealed to Joseph Smith in 1831, but being forbidden to make it public, or to teach it as a doctrine of the Gospel, at that time, he confided the facts to only a very few of his intimate associates. Among them were Oliver Cowdery and Lyman E. Johnson, the latter confiding the fact to his traveling companion, Elder Orson Pratt, in the year 1832. (See Orson Pratt's testimony.)" (Andrew Jenson, The Historical Record 6 [Salt Lake City, Utah, May 1887]: 219) [46]

The bulk of the evidence, therefore, suggests that plural marriage was known by Joseph by early 1831. The Prophet was probably teaching the idea to a limited circle by the end of that year.


Response to claim: 220 - Brigham Young said that he lived "above the law"

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Brigham Young said that he lived "above the law."

FairMormon Response

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

Brigham claims he is obeying the law, while others seek to take away their rights. He nowhere says he is "above the law."



Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 1:361.,

I am at the defiance of the rulers of the greatest nation on the earth, with the United States all put together, to produce a more loyal people than the Latter-day Saints. Have they, as a people, broken any law? No, they have not. Have the United States? Yes! they have trampled the Constitution under their feet with impunity, and ridden recklessly over all law, to persecute and drive this people. Admit, for argument's sake, that the "Mormon" Elders have more wives than one, yet our enemies never have proved it. If I had forty wives in the United States, they did not know it, and could not substantiate it, neither did I ask any lawyer, judge, or magistrate for them. I live above the law, and so do this people. Do the laws of the United States require us to crouch and bow down to the miserable wretches who violate them? No. The broad law of the whole earth is that every person has the right to enjoy every mortal blessing, so far as he does not infringe upon the rights and privileges of others. It is also according to the acts of every legislative body throughout the Union, to enjoy all that you are capable of enjoying; but you are forbidden to infringe upon the rights, property, wife, or anything in the possession of your neighbor. I defy all the world to prove that we have infringed upon that law. You may circumscribe the whole earth, and pass through every Christian nation, so called, and what do you find? If you tell them a "Mormon" has two wives, they are shocked, and call it dreadful blasphemy; if you whisper such a thing into the ears of a Gentile who takes a fresh woman every night, he is thunderstruck with the enormity of the crime. The vile practice of violating female virtue with impunity is customary among the professed Christian nations of the world; this is therefore no marvel to them, but they are struck with amazement when they are told a man may have more lawful wives than one! 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. Five years ago the census of New York gave 15,000 prostitutes in that city. Is that law? Is that good order? Look at your Constitution, look at the Federal law, look at every wholesome principle, and they tell you that death is at your doors, corruption in your streets, and hell is all open, and gaping wide to inclose you in its fiery vortex. To talk about law and good order while such things exist, makes me righteously angry, Talk not to me about law.[47]

Response to claim: 220 - Polygamy is forbidden by the Book of Mormon

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Polygamy is forbidden by the Book of Mormon

FairMormon Response

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

The authors ignore the verse which states the conditions under which plural marriage is allowed.



Question: Does the Book of Mormon condemn polygamy?

"For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things"

Jacob 2:24-29 states:

24 Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.

25 Wherefore, thus saith the Lord, I have led this people forth out of the land of Jerusalem, by the power of mine arm, that I might raise up unto me a righteous branch from the fruit of the loins of Joseph.

26 Wherefore, I the Lord God will not suffer that this people shall do like unto them of old.

27 Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none;

28 For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts.

29 Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes.

Critics of the Book of Mormon generally refrain from citing the very next verse:

30 For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things. (Jacob 2:30).

The Book of Mormon makes it clear that the Lord may, under some circumstances, command the practice of plural marriage. </blockquote>


Response to claim: 220-221 - Joseph F. Smith and Orson Pratt said that the Book of Mormon forbid polygamy

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Joseph F. Smith and Orson Pratt said that the Book of Mormon forbid polygamy.

FairMormon Response

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

The authors neglect to provide the answer which their source provides on the very next page: Smoot hearings answer.



See Quote mining—Journal of Discourses 6:351 to see how this quote was mined.

Question: Did early Church leaders state that the Book of Mormon condemns polygamy?

In addition to ignoring Jacob 2:30, critics attempt to use the words of early LDS leaders to bolster their position. For example, note how the words of Orson Pratt are "mined" to support the critic's assertion that the Book of Mormon condemns polygamy:

Reference Original quote... What the critics want the quote to say...
Tanner, The Changing World of Mormonism, p. 221 quoting Orson Pratt in Journal of Discourses 6:351 The Book of Mormon, therefore, is the only record (professing to be Divine) which condemns plurality of wives as being a practice exceedingly abominable before God. But even that sacred book makes an exception in substance as follows—"Except I the Lord command my people." The same Book of Mormon and the same article that commanded the Nephites that they should not marry more than one wife, made an exception. Let this be understood—"Unless I the Lord shall command them." We can draw the conclusion from this, that there were some things not right in the sight of God, unless he should command them. We can draw the same conclusion from the Bible, that there were many things which the Lord would not suffer his children to do, unless he particularly commanded them to do them. The Book of Mormon, therefore, is the only record (professing to be divine) which condemns the plurality of wives as being a practice exceedingly abominable before God.

The critics use this quote to state that Orson Pratt "admitted" that the Book of Mormon condemns plural marriage by extracting only the portion of his quote that mentions it. They omit Pratt's subsequent explanation regarding the exception mentioned in Jacob 2:30, thus implying that Pratt was making an "admission" that the Book of Mormon condemned polygamy.

The Smoot hearings

Jerald and Sandra Tanner quote Vol. 1, p. 480 of the Smoot hearings for this claim. They ignore the exchange on the very next page in which President Joseph F. Smith responds to this claim in the Senate, with the senate making the same error made by the Tanners and other critics.

Joseph F. Smith insists that the senate consider what is now Jacob 2:30. Anti-Mormon attacks have not changed much since.


Response to claim: 222 - Joseph took wives without his first wife's consent

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Joseph took wives without his first wife's consent.

FairMormon Response

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

Emma was aware of some of these marriages.



Question: Did Joseph hide his plural marriages from Emma, his first wife?

Joseph did not always tell Emma immediately about some of his plural relationships

Joseph and Emma were in a complex and unique situation with regard to plural marriage—Emma had been warned by Joseph's revelation that if she refused to allow Joseph to obey the commandment he had received, he might proceed without her permission.

We also know relatively little about what Emma knew, and when she knew it. We should be cautious in assuming that the critical or anti-Mormon narrative of Joseph constantly sneaking around behind Emma's back is accurate.

Emma had periods where she accepted plural marriage, and then later rejected it

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." [48] It is certainly true that Joseph did not disclose all of his plural marriages precisely when they happened. For example, he had been sealed to Emily and Eliza Partridge already, and Emma later had one of her periods of acceptance of plural marriage, on condition that she get to choose the wives. [49] She chose Emily and Eliza, and so they were resealed to Joseph without disclosing that they were already sealed. Emma's change of heart didn't last long, and she soon had Joseph break off contact with the girls, and expected them to renounce the covenants they had made. [50]

Ultimately, Joseph had to choose between obeying Emma and obeying God

There are also other examples. It's difficult to know exactly what Emma knew, and when she knew it, because she would later insist that Joseph never practiced plural marriage. So, we have to kind of piece together the evidence from fairly fragmentary sources.

Was Joseph justified in this? Well, that's a difficult question to answer. If one doesn't believe that Joseph was commanded to practice plural marriage, then the whole enterprise was probably a bad idea. If Joseph was commanded to practice plural marriage (as he repeatedly testified that he had been), then ultimately he had to choose between obeying Emma and obeying God. And, Joseph seems to have been determined to obey God.


Question: Was Emma aware of the possibility that Joseph could take additional wives even without her consent?

Emma was warned about the possibility that Joseph could take wives even without her consent

Emma was warned about the possibility that Joseph could take wives even without her consent. [51] The D&C 132 revelation was Joseph's written instructions on the matter, put into writing at the request of his brother Hyrum, who felt he could use it to persuade Emma that plural marriage was a true principle. [52] However, there's an important line in there that speaks to the circumstance in which Joseph found himself with regard to Emma:

Therefore, it shall be lawful in me, if she receive not this law, for him to receive all things whatsoever I, the Lord his God, will give unto him, because she did not believe and administer unto him according to my word; and she then becomes the transgressor; and he is exempt from the law of Sarah, who administered unto Abraham according to the law when I commanded Abraham to take Hagar to wife (DC 132:65).

The Law of Sarah: Wives were to be first taught the revelation to see if they would accept it

In short, the Lord brings up something called "the Law of Sarah"--this refers to Sarah, wife of Abraham, who in order to fulfill the covenants made to Abraham, was willing to seek out another wife (Hagar) for her husband. So, the principle seems to be that wives were to be first taught the revelation, and see if they would obey. The previous verse reads:

And again, verily, verily, I say unto you, 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 (DC 132:64

If Emma rejected the teaching, then Joseph was exempt from the Law of Sarah

Thus, Joseph (who held the keys--and the only one who did so at the time, see DC 132:7) was to teach Emma--which he did. But, ultimately, if she refused to accept the revelation, then "he is exempt from the law of Sarah"---i.e., he no longer requires her approval or acceptance.

This is a stern doctrine, and we can all probably sympathize with Emma's situation. But, it is not clear that the alternative is any better, if one believes Joseph was acting by revelation--ultimately, either a mortal's will has to trump, or God's does. So, Joseph was to teach Emma, but if she ultimately refused, then Joseph was to obey, even in the face of her disobedience. She could not choose for him.

It may be that this clause did not apply to any other situation--the scripture says that it applies to a "man...who holds the keys of this power," and only the President of the Church did or does. So, this was likely not much of a model for others; it was very much an issue just between Joseph and Emma. One can see that throughout--the whole revelation is really targeted at helping solve their problems. (Joseph F. Smith would later say that if the revelation had not been written in that context, it would have been different, and perhaps more useful in a sense.) [53]

We can and should have considerable sympathy for Emma, since she was in a very difficult situation

She may ultimately have taken a harder road (leaving the Church, marrying outside the Church, lying about Joseph's teaching of plural marriage, raising an illegitimate child of her second husband's as her own child, etc.) to learning the same sorts of things that plural marriage would have taught her. As Brian Hales has pointed out, she had the hardest job (in a way) because she was the only woman who was faced with a revelation from her husband commanding it:

Emma may have also confronted the fear that perhaps she was inadequate to bind Joseph's affections, leading him to desire other companions and thus introducing the possibility that he could have been deceived by those desires. None of the first wives of other polygamists would have experienced this trial, because none of the other first wives were married to the man who received the polygamy revelation. All other pluralists could hold the Prophet and his teachings responsible....unlike Emma, they could more easily dismiss the question of whether their husband's adoption of plurality was related to their own contributions to the marriage or that they were somehow deficient. [54]

Emma believed in Joseph as a prophet but could not bear plural marriage

On the other hand, though, we must remember that Emma had many experiences that others did not have. (When asked by some women in the midst of the plural marriage at Nauvoo if she still believed Joseph was a prophet, she replied, "Yes, but I wish to God I did not know it." [55]) She accompanied Joseph to retrieve the golden plates. She wrote for him during the initial translation of the Book of Mormon. She participated in sacred ordinances, and knew Joseph and his calling in an intimate way that few if any others did, and continued to insist to her death that he had been a prophet. [56] So, perhaps it is not surprising that she was tested in ways that few others were. And, Joseph may well have not handled it perfectly. He likely did did his best, but it was an agonizing situation without ideal options. As Richard Bushman noted:

I see their [Joseph and Emma's] relationship as tragic. She believed in him but could not bear plural marriage. He loved her but could not resist his own revelation. They were both heroic actors on a large stage trapped in terrible moral dilemmas. [57]


Question: What possible modern lessons can we learn from Emma and Joseph's struggle with plural marriage?

Joseph Smith: "it is quite as necessary for you to be tried [even] as Abraham and other men of God"

These observations provide perhaps the most useful lesson for the modern members, since Joseph Smith told the Twelve, soon before his death: "'You will have all kinds of trials to pass through. And it is quite as necessary for you to be tried [even] as Abraham and other men of God, God will feel after you, and He will take hold of and wrench your very heart strings, and if you cannot stand it you will not be fit for an inheritance in the Celestial Kingdom of God.' ." (Cited by John Taylor, JD 24:197).

Harold B. Lee said of this statement:

Now I want to bear testimony to you that every one of us [the Twelve] has had that kind of testing. Some of us have been tried and have been tested until our very heart strings would seem to break. I have heard of persons dying with a broken heart, and I thought that was just a sort of a poetic expression, but I learned that it could be a very real experience. I came near to that thing; but when I began to think of my own troubles, I thought of what the Apostle Paul said of the Master, "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him" (Hebrews 5:8-9).

Don't be afraid of the testing and trials of life. Sometimes when you are going through the most severe tests, you will be nearer to God than you have any idea, for like the experience of the Master Himself in the temptation on the mount, in the Garden of Gethsemane, and on the cross at Calvary, the scriptures record, "And, behold, angels came and ministered unto him" (Matthew 4:11). Sometimes that may happen to you in the midst of your trials. [58]

We should not, then, judge Joseph or Emma too harshly. Who says but what we would face similar trials with as much grace as they did? And, hopefully we won't face ours in a fishbowl, like they did.


Response to claim: 225 - It is claimed that LDS leaders were worried that the missionaries would "take the best women"

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

It is claimed that LDS leaders were worried that the missionaries would "take the best women."

(Author's sources: Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses 6:256.)

FairMormon Response

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

Internal contradiction with p. 263: The authors quote Heber C. Kimball in the Deseret News, and attribute his remarks to Brigham Young. They don't tell the reader about the very next sentence, which calls their interpretation of Heber's remarks above into question: "I wish more of our young men would take to themselves wives of the daughters of Zion, and not wait for us old men to take them all; go-ahead upon the right principle, young gentlemen, and God bless you for ever and ever and make you fruitful, that we may fill the mountains and then the earth with righteous inhabitants. That is my prayer, and that is my blessing upon all the saints and upon your posterity after you, for ever: Amen."[59]



Question: Was Heber C. Kimball concerned that missionaries would "take all the best" convert women as plural wives before they returned to Salt Lake City?

Heber C. Kimball warns the missionaries simply that they are on the Lord's errand, and should allow the Lord to choose his sheep

Two quotes from Heber C. Kimball are used to demonstrate that nineteenth century Church leaders worried that missionaries would "take all the best" convert women as plural wives before they got to Salt Lake.

For example, Jerald and Sandra Tanner use a quote from Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses 6:256. to assert that "Mormon leaders were evidently worried that the missionaries would take the best women" [60]:

Let truth and righteousness be your motto; and do not go into the world for anything else but to preach the Gospel, build up the kingdom of God, and gather the sheep into the fold. You are sent out as shepherds to gather the sheep together; and remember that they are not your sheep: they belong to Him that sends you. Then do not make a choice of any of those sheep; do not make selections before they are brought home and put into the fold. You understand that. Amen.

The second quote is attributed to Heber C. Kimball in Stanley P. Hirshson's book The Lion of the Lord.

Brethren, I want you to understand that it is not to be as it has been heretofore. The brother missionaries have been in the habit of picking out the prettiest women for themselves before they get here, and bringing on the ugly ones for us; hereafter you have to bring them all here before taking any of them, and let us all have a fair shake.

The quote from the Journal of Discourses says nothing about choosing women. Heber C. Kimball warns the missionaries simply that they are on the Lord's errand, and should allow the Lord to choose his sheep. They are not to decide who is worthy of the gospel, they are merely to bring home those whom the Lord (as master shepherd) chooses.

The quote from Hirshson gives no indication regarding who heard Kimball state this.

Heber C. Kimball in the Journal of Discourses: "do not make selections before they are brought home and put into the fold"

Heber C. Kimball said,

Let truth and righteousness be your motto; and do not go into the world for anything else but to preach the Gospel, build up the kingdom of God, and gather the sheep into the fold. You are sent out as shepherds to gather the sheep together; and remember that they are not your sheep: they belong to Him that sends you. Then do not make a choice of any of those sheep; do not make selections before they are brought home and put into the fold. You understand that. Amen. [61]

Elsewhere in The Changing World of Mormonism, the Tanners quote Heber C. Kimball from the Deseret News:

The principle of plurality of wives never will be done away, although some sisters have had revelations that, when this time passes away and they go through the veil, every woman will have a husband to herself (Deseret News, November 7, 1855). [62]

The Tanners do not, however, include the very next sentence in Heber's speech, which calls their interpretation of his remarks from the Journal of Discourses above into question:

The principle of plurality of wives never will be done away, although some sisters have had revelations that, when this time passes away and they go through the veil, every woman will have a husband to herself. I wish more of our young men would take to themselves wives of the daughters of Zion, and not wait for us old men to take them all; go-ahead upon the right principle, young gentlemen, and God bless you for ever and ever and make you fruitful, that we may fill the mountains and then the earth with righteous inhabitants. That is my prayer, and that is my blessing upon all the saints and upon your posterity after you, for ever: Amen." [63]

"Remarks by Heber C. Kimball, directly after the sermon by President B. Young, printed in no. 34: Bowery, Oct. 6, 1855," Deseret News Vol. V, No. 35 (7 November 1855): 274

Clearly, Heber is here not worried about having missionaries "save" more wives for him. It seems, then, that his concern was in missionaries should be focused, during their missions, on bringing people to Christ and baptism. They were not to have other goals or priorities (including, but not limited to, marriage).

Yet, when they were home, Kimball encouraged younger men to enter plural marriage, and joked that he was tired of not having their support in this endeavor. The critics' reading, then, is questionable.

Alleged to be Heber C. Kimball by Stanley P. Hirshson: "The brother missionaries have been in the habit of picking out the prettiest women for themselves"

The provenance of this alleged Kimball quote is less certain. The most commonly cited source for this quote is Stanley P. Hirshson, The Lion of the Lord, pp. 129-130:

Brethren, I want you to understand that it is not to be as it has been heretofore. The brother missionaries have been in the habit of picking out the prettiest women for themselves before they get here, and bringing on the ugly ones for us; hereafter you have to bring them all here before taking any of them, and let us all have a fair shake.[65]

Hirshson's endnote [65] references The New York Tribune, May 15, 1860 and The New York Times, April 17, 1860. Here's the relevant paragraph from the newspaper article:

Some time ago HEBER KIMBALL was lecturing some missionaries who were preparing to start out on foreign missions, in the Tabernacle, and said to them: "Brethren, I want you to understand that it is not to be as it has been heretofore. The brother Missionaries have been in the habit of picking out the prettiest women for themselves before they get here, and bringing on the ugly ones for us; hereafter you have to bring them all here before taking any of them, and let us all have a fair shake." The old reprobate then had at least a score of women whom he called wives. [64]

No indication is given regarding who heard Kimball state this. The byline on the article is simply "From Our Own Correspondents." The New York Times article is clearly antagonistic toward the Church. Here is a sampling of phrases from the same article:

In all polygamic countries women are treated as though they were animals not to be trusted, and are watched with most jealous care. Utah is rather an aggravation than an exception to this general rule.

Caliph OMAR never kept a stricter watch over his youngest wife than BRIGHAM and his lecherous satellites do over their concubines.

We have a large army in Utah -- Does it not prevent the recurrence of such outrages? I answer, It does not; simply because it is chained down to a little military reservation of a few thousand acres, and is prohibited from operating outside of that; and outside of that BRIGHAM's power is absolute, and the degradation of the people as complete as it ever has been.


Response to claim: 226 - Heber C. Kimball remarked on the "great sorrow" of plural marriage

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Heber C. Kimball remarked on the "great sorrow" of plural marriage.

(Author's sources: Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses 4:178.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The authors spin Kimball's words to meet their needs.



See Quote mining—Journal of Discourses 4:178 to see how this quote was mined.

Question: Did early Church leaders "admit" that there were many difficulties with plural marriage that caused "problems" and "great sorrow"?

Plural marriage was a social institution with unique difficulties and challenges

In an attempt to make it appear that families practicing plural marriage were experiencing "great sorrow," critics quote early Church leaders. For example, Heber C. Kimball is quoted as saying:

There is a great deal of quarrelling in the houses, and contending for power and authority; and the second wife is against the first wife, perhaps, in some instances.[65]

A quote from Brigham Young appears to confirm these concerns:

A few years ago one of my wives, when talking about wives leaving their husbands said, 'I wish my husband's wives would leave him, every soul of them except myself.[66]

Elder Kimball was talking about the need to avoid quarreling in the home by allowing the Spirit of God to provide a positive influence

Looking at Heber C. Kimball's quote in context, we see:

Why do I keep talking these things over? Because I want you to understand them and get the Spirit of God and let its peaceable influence be upon you; then you will know the spirit of men and things. Read the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and every other good book, and keep busy at some good thing or other, and stop your quarrelling. There is a great deal of quarrelling in the houses, and contending for power and authority; and the second wife is against the first wife, perhaps, in some instances. But that is done away in my family, and there is none of it in brother Brigham's, nor in brother Wells', nor in any family where they have common sense.

Elder Kimball was talking about the need to avoid quarreling in the home by allowing the Spirit of God to provide a positive influence. His mention of plural marriage was not the main focus of his comments, but an example to illustrate his point. He certainly was not relating any sort of experience within his own family, nor was he commenting on the "sorrows" of plural marriage.

Brigham Young's quote was taken from a discourse regarding respecting women

I will now pass to my third text. I can say with confidence, that there is no people on the face of this earth that pay more respect to females than do this people. I know of no community where females enjoy the privileges they do here. If any one of them is old and withered and so dried up that you have to put weights on her skirts to keep her from blowing away, she is so privileged that she is in everybody's dish or platter—her nose is everywhere present—and still she will go home and tell her husband that she is slighted. Here we see the marked effect of the curse that was in the beginning placed upon woman, their desire is to their husbands all the time. It is also written, "and he shall rule over you." Now put the two together. Nobody else must be spoken to, no other body must be danced with, no other lady must sit at the head of the table with her husband.

A few years ago one of my wives, when talking about wives leaving their husbands said, "I wish my husband's wives would leave him, every soul of them except myself." That is the way they all feel, more or less, at times, both old and young. The ladies of seventy, seventy-five, eighty, and eighty-five years of age are greeted here with the same cheerfulness as are the rest. All are greeted with kindness, respect, and gentleness, no matter whether they wear linsey or silks and satin, they are all alike respected and beloved according to their behaviour; at least they are so far as I am concerned.

Again, this sermon hardly qualifies as a discourse regarding the "problems" and "sorrows" of plural marriage.


Response to claim: 226 - Brigham Young spoke of the "problems" of plural marriage

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Brigham Young spoke of the "problems" of plural marriage.

(Author's sources: Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 9:195.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

Plural marriage, without a doubt, created problems. However, the authors spin Brigham Young's quote to suit their needs.



Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 9:195.,

I will now pass to my third text. I can say with confidence, that there is no people on the face of this earth that pay more respect to females than do this people. I know of no community where females enjoy the privileges they do here. If any one of them is old and withered and so dried up that you have to put weights on her skirts to keep her from blowing away, she is so privileged that she is in everybody's dish or platter—her nose is everywhere present—and still she will go home and tell her husband that she is slighted. Here we see the marked effect of the curse that was in the beginning placed upon woman, their desire is to their husbands all the time. It is also written, "and he shall rule over you." Now put the two together. Nobody else must be spoken to, no other body must be danced with, no other lady must sit at the head of the table with her husband. A few years ago one of my wives, when talking about wives leaving their husbands said, "I wish my husband's wives would leave him, every soul of them except myself." That is the way they all feel, more or less, at times, both old and young. The ladies of seventy, seventy-five, eighty, and eighty-five years of age are greeted here with the same cheerfulness as are the rest. All are greeted with kindness, respect, and gentleness, no matter whether they wear linsey or silks and satin, they are all alike respected and beloved according to their behaviour; at least they are so far as I am concerned. It may be all well enough if a woman can attain faith to throw off the curse, but there is one thing she cannot away with, at least not so far as I am concerned, and that is, "and he shall rule over thee." I can do that by causing my women to do as they have a mind to; and at the same time they do not know what is going on. When I say rule, I do not mean with an iron hand, but merely to take the lead—to lead them in the path I wish them to walk in. They may be determined not to answer my will, but they are doing it all the time without knowing it. Kindness, love, and affection are the best rod to use upon the refractory. Solomon is said to have been the wisest man that ever lived, and he is said to have...[67]

Response to claim: 228 - Brigham Young offered to let any wife go who wanted to

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Brigham Young offered to let any wife go who wanted to.

(Author's sources:

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. Brigham would not require any woman to remain in any marriage against her will. Utah had some of the most liberal divorce laws in the Union. Many polygamous women who divorced a husband entered into polygamy again. [68]



Response to claim: 230-231 - Joseph and Emma fought about plural marriage

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Joseph and Emma fought about plural marriage.

(Author's sources:
  • Journal and autobiography, Joseph Lee Robinson
  • Wilhelm Wyl, Mormon Portraits Volume First: Joseph Smith the Prophet, His Family and Friends (Salt Lake City: Tribune Printing and Publishing Co., 1886), 57-58.)

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 true.



Question: How did Emma Hale Smith react to Joseph's practice of plural marriage?

Emma was aware of Joseph's plural marriage and sometimes gave permission, but did much to try and thwart it

Emma was aware of plural marriage; it is not clear at exactly what point she was made aware, partly due to there being relatively few early sources on the matter. Emma was generally opposed to the practice of plural marriage, and did much to try and thwart it. There were times, however, when Emma gave permission for Joseph's plural marriages, though she soon changed her mind.[69] Emma was troubled by plural marriage, but her difficulties arose partly from her conviction that Joseph was a prophet:

Zina Huntington remembered a conversation between Elizabeth [Davis] and Emma [Smith] in which Elizabeth asked the prophet’s wife if she felt that Joseph was a prophet. Yes, Emma answered, but I wish to God I did not know it.[70]

Emma did teach her children that Joseph had never taught the doctrine of plural marriage, and blamed its introduction on Brigham Young

Emma never denied Joseph's prophetic calling; she did, however, teach her children that Joseph had never taught the doctrine of plural marriage, and blamed its introduction on Brigham Young. Torn between two certitudes—her conviction of Joseph's prophetic calling, and her hatred of plural marriage—Emma had difficult choices to make for which we ought not to judge her.

But, the critics ought to let all of Emma speak for herself—she had a great trial, but also had great knowledge. That she continued to support Joseph's calling and remain with him, despite her feelings about plural marriage, speaks much of her convictions. As she told Parley P. Pratt years later:

I believe he [Joseph] was everything he professed to be.[71]

Allen J. Stout: "from moments of passionate denunciation [Emma] would subside into tearful repentance and acknowledge that her violent opposition to that principle was instigated by the power of darkness"

Allen J. Stout, who served as a bodyguard for Joseph, recounted a conversation he overheard in the Mansion House between Joseph and his tormented wife. A summary of his account states that "from moments of passionate denunciation [Emma] would subside into tearful repentance and acknowledge that her violent opposition to that principle was instigated by the power of darkness; that Satan was doing his utmost to destroy her, etc. And solemnly came the Prophet's inspired warning: 'Yes, and he will accomplish your overthrow, if you do not heed my counsel.'"[72]

Emma Smith: "The principle is right but I am jealous hearted. Now never tell anybody that you heard me find fault with that [principle;] we have got to humble ourselves and repent of it

Emma's inner conflict was also dramatized in another report:

Maria Jane Johnston, who lived with Emma as a servant girl, recalled the Prophet's wife looking very downcast one day and telling her that the principle of plural marriage was right and came from Heavenly Father. "What I said I have got [to] repent of," lamented Emma. "The principle is right but I am jealous hearted. Now never tell anybody that you heard me find fault with that [principle;] we have got to humble ourselves and repent of it."[73]

Emma Smith: "I desire a fruitful, active mind, that I may be able to comprehend the designs of God, when revealed through his servants without doubting"

Emma asked Joseph for a blessing not long before he went to Carthage. Joseph told her to write the best blessing she could, and he would sign it upon his return. Wrote Emma:

I desire with all my heart to honor and respect my husband as my head, ever to live in his confidence and by acting in unison with him retain the place which God has given me by his side...I desire the spirit of God to know and understand myself, I desire a fruitful, active mind, that I may be able to comprehend the designs of God, when revealed through his servants without doubting.[74]


Response to claim: 231 - Joseph had between 27 to "sixty or more" wives

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Joseph had between 27 to "sixty or more" wives.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The higher number is exaggerated. Many women were sealed to Joseph after his death, but he was probably married to around 33 wives in life. Relying on Brodie's figures is foolish; her standard of evidence was low, and she has been shown to be wrong in many cases.



Response to claim: 231 - There is a rumor that Emma beat Eliza Snow with a broomstick and caused her to fall down the stairs, preventing her from having Joseph's child

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

There is a rumor that Emma beat Eliza Snow with a broomstick and caused her to fall down the stairs, preventing her from having Joseph's child.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The story is implausible, and most historians have judged it to be false.



Question: Was a pregnant Eliza R. Snow pushed down the stairs by a furious Emma, resulting in a miscarriage?

The historical and logistical problems with this story make it unlikely to be true

Note: This wiki section was based partly on a review of G.D. Smith's Nauvoo Polygamy. As such, it focuses on that author's presentation of the data. To read the full review, follow the link. Gregory L. Smith, A review of Nauvoo Polygamy:...but we called it celestial marriage by George D. Smith. FARMS Review, Vol. 20, Issue 2. (Detailed book review)

There is little evidence that the stairs incident happened as described.

Evidences that “Eliza had conceived Joseph’s child and miscarried,” George D. Smith, the author of Nauvoo Polygamy "...but we called it celestial marriage" tells us, are “fragmented” and “questions cloud the story.” Despite this, “the secondary sources are convincing in their own right” (p. 130). Here again, the author’s representation of the data and references to those who disagree leave much to be desired. He cites other authors while giving no indication that they disagree with his reading. For example, from an essay in BYU Studies he cites the Charles C. Rich version of a pregnant Eliza “heavy with child” being shoved down the stairs by a furious Emma. Nowhere does he tell the reader that these authors concluded that the story given the present evidence was untenable:

But where are we? Faced with a folk legend, with genuine documents that tell no tales, and dubious ones that contradict themselves and the contemporary accounts, perhaps it is best for us to respond as we must to many paradoxes of our history: consider thoughtfully and then place all the evidence carefully on the shelf, awaiting further documentation, or the Millennium, whichever should come first.[75]

The statement that Eliza carried Joseph’s unborn child and lost it due to an attack by Emma is brought into question by Eliza’s own journal

Newell and Avery’s biography of Emma places the story into doubt:

The statement that Eliza carried Joseph’s unborn child and lost it [due to an attack by Emma] is brought into question by Eliza’s own journal. While her Victorian reticence probably would have precluded mention of her own pregnancy, if she were indeed carrying Joseph’s child, other evidence in the journal indicates that she may not have been pregnant. Eliza’s brother Lorenzo indicated that by the time she married Joseph, she was “beyond the condition of raising a family.” Also if she was “heavy with child” as the Rich account states, she would not have been teaching school, for even legally married women usually went into seclusion when their pregnancies became obvious. 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 not have been probable had she suffered a miscarriage.[76]

RLDS perspective

The award for most humorously ironic use of a source in this section goes to the author's citation of Richard Price. The author argues that “most convincing of all is to think that these stories were circulating widely and Eliza never considered to clarify or refute them.” He attributes this insight to Price (p. 134 n. 207). He believes that the “most convincing” aspect of the story is that Eliza never rebutted it. Uncorrected rumor or gossip is more convincing than the absence of diary or behavioral evidence for a pregnancy as outlined by Newel and Avery? If I do not rebut an unfounded rumor, does this mean I give it my consent? This seems a strange standard. Joseph and the members of the church tried to rebut the rumors spread by the Hurlbut-Howe affidavits, yet the author treats them as valuable insights. The Saints, it seems, are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

The author’s citation of Price might lead the reader to believe that Price agrees with Smith’s reading—that Eliza Snow never rebutted the story because it was true. But Price claims exactly the opposite.[77]

In addition to the indignity of having his work cited for a view that is the reverse of his own, Price suffers further. An RLDS conservative, Price is committed to the stance that Joseph did not teach or practice plural marriage.[78] Far from endorsing Smith’s view of the stairs incident, Price is adamant that the story is false. Though the author spends a page explaining why Joseph and Emma may have moved to the Mansion House earlier than thought (as the stairs story requires), he ignores Price’s diagram and argument for the story’s impossibility based on the Mansion House’s layout.[79] The author can hardly have been unaware of it since the same Web page contains the argument to which he makes reference. FairMormon does not agree with Price on all points—his dogged insistence that Joseph did not practice plural marriage cannot be sustained by the evidence, which often leads him to make unwarranted leaps—but the author ought to at least engage Price’s critique and fairly represent his views.


Question: If the story of Emma pushing Eliza Snow down the stairs is true, why did Eliza not make use of it?

Eliza went to considerable lengths to defend plural marriage and to insist that Joseph Smith had practiced it, so why did she never offer her pregnancy and miscarriage as evidence?

If the stairs story is true, why did Eliza not make use of it? The argument from silence cuts both ways: Eliza went to considerable lengths to defend plural marriage and to insist that Joseph Smith had practiced it. Why did she never offer her pregnancy and miscarriage as evidence? Eliza was not afraid to criticize Emma Smith for what she regarded as the latter’s dishonesty. Following Emma’s death and her sons’ publication of her last denial of plural marriage, Eliza wrote:

I once dearly loved ‘Sister Emma,’ and now, for me to believe that she, a once honoured woman, should have sunk so low, even in her own estimation, as to deny what she knew to be true, seems a palpable absurdity. If . . . [this] was really her testimony she died with a libel on her lips—a libel against her husband—against his wives—against the truth, and a libel against God; and in publishing that libel, her son has fastened a stigma on the character of his mother, that can never be erased. . . . So far as Sister Emma personally is concerned, I would gladly have been silent and let her memory rest in peace, had not her misguided son, through a sinister policy, branded her name with gross wickedness.[80]

Emma was safely dead; Eliza had no need to spare her feelings. Why not offer her alleged miscarriage or Emma’s angry assault as evidence if it were true? This scenario seems at least as plausible as the author’s weak claim that silence equals agreement. Yet more than a hundred pages later, the author asks us to “assume . . . that LeRoi Snow’s account was accurate” before asking leading rhetorical questions. Yet again, no links to the other side of the story are provided (p. 236).


Response to claim: 232 - Joseph was sealed to a large number of women after his death

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Joseph was sealed to a large number of women after his death.

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 certainly true, and may explain some of the underlying theology of plural marriage—sealing the faithful into one extended family. The Widtsoe reference explains this, but the authors do not mention it:
Women no longer living, whether in Joseph's day or later have also been sealed to the Prophet for eternity. The request for such unions has usually come from relatives or friends who would have their loved one share eternity with the Prophet, rather than with anyone else. Unscrupulous and unreliable writers have even added such marriages to the list of Joseph's wives.



Response to claim: 233 - Brigham Young had "fifty or sixty" wives, and boasted of his ability to obtain more

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Brigham Young had "fifty or sixty" wives, and boasted of his ability to obtain more.

(Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The authors spin Brigham's words to suit their needs.



Question: Did Brigham Young boast about his ability to get more wives even though he was married to 50-60 women?

The references do not support the claims

As is often the case, the references do not support the claims, and the worst possible interpretation is placed on what are likely innocent remarks, or remarks intended to teach a spiritual point.

The Tanners cite multiple sources for this claim. They are examined below.

Journal of Discousces 5:210

Brigham is here discussing Thomas B. Marsh's return to the Church, and it is inaccurate to describe him as "boasting."

In conversing with brother Marsh, I find that he is about the same Thomas that he always was—full of anecdotes and chit-chat. He could hardly converse for ten minutes without telling an anecdote. His voice and style of conversation are familiar to me.

He has told you that he is an old man. Do you think that I am an old man? I could prove to this congre[ga]tion that I am young; for I could find more girls who would choose me for a husband than can any of the young men.

Brother Thomas considers himself very aged and infirm, and you can see that he is, brethren and sisters. What is the cause of it? He left the Gospel of salvation. What do you think the difference is between his age and mine? One year and seven months to a day; and he is one year, seven months, and fourteen days older than brother Heber C. Kimball.

"Mormonism" keeps men and women young and handsome; and when they are full of the Spirit of God, there are none of them but what will have a glow upon their countenances; and that is what makes you and me young; for the Spirit of God is with us and within us.

When brother Thomas thought of returning to the Church, the plurality of wives troubled him a good deal. Look at him. Do you think it need to? I do not; for I doubt whether he could get one wife. Why it should have troubled an infirm old man like him is not for me to say. He read brother Orson Pratt's work upon that subject, and discovered that the doctrine was beautiful, consistent, and exalting, and that the kingdom could not be perfect without it. Neither can it be perfect without a great many things that the people do not yet understand, though they will come in the own due time of the Lord.

See Quote mining—Journal of Discourses 5:210 to see how this quote was mined.

Journal of Discourses 8:178

Brother Cannon remarked that people wondered how many wives and children I had. He may inform them that I shall have wives and children by the million, and glory, and riches, and power, and dominion, and kingdom after kingdom, and ..

See Quote mining—Journal of Discourses 8:178 to see how this quote was mined.


Response to claim: 234 - Mormon men believed that they "could have all the wives they wanted." Heber C. Kimball said that in the resurrection, he could have "thousands" of wives

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Mormon men believed that they "could have all the wives they wanted." Heber C. Kimball said that in the resurrection, he could have "thousands" of wives.

(Author's sources: Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses 4:209.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

Kimball was illustrating a point, not bragging that he could have all the wives he wanted.



Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses 4:209.,

I have known men from Nauvoo, men who were there worth $150 or $200,000, come here with nothing but a handkerchief, containing a change of shirts, under their arms. They left their property there; and what we did not leave in hell's kitchen we left at Devil's Gate. The devil has a gate where he may catch everything that is not to do us good, but that is calculated to create a craving appetite for that which is not here.... Supposing that I have a wife or a dozen of them, and she should say, "You cannot be exalted without me," and suppose they all should say so, what of that? The never will affect my salvation one particle. Whose salvation will they affect? Their own. They have got to live their religion, serve their God, and do right, as well as myself. Suppose that I lose the whole of them before I go into the spirit world, but that I have been a good, faithful man all the days of my life, and lived my religion, and had favour with God, and was kind to them, do you think I will be destitute there? No, the Lord says there are more there than there are here. They have been increasing there; they increase there a great deal faster than we do here, because there is no obstruction. They do not call upon the doctors to kill their offspring; there are no doctors there, that is, if they are there, their occupation is changed, which proves that they are not there, because they have ceased to be doctors. In this world very many of the doctors are studying to diminish the human family. In the spirit world there is an increase of males and females, there are millions of them, and if I am faithful all the time, and continue right along with brother Brigham, we will go to brother Joseph and say, "Here we are brother Joseph; we are here ourselves are we not, with none of the property we possessed in our probationary state, not even the rings on our fingers?" He will say to us, "Come along, my boys, we will give you a good suit of clothes. Where are your wives?" "They are back yonder; they would not follow us." "Never mind," says Joseph, "here are thousands, have all you want." Perhaps some do not believe that, but I am just simple enough to believe it. Help brother Brigham along, help brother Heber, brother Daniel, the Twelve, and every other good person. I am looking for the day, and it is close at hand, when we will have a most heavenly time, one that will be romantic, one with all kinds of ups and downs, which is what I call romantic, for it will occupy in full all the time, so that we may never become idle, nor sleepy, nor cease being active in the things of God, which will prevent dotage.[81]

Response to claim: 236 - Joseph asked for other men's wives, such as the wife of Heber C. Kimball

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Joseph asked for other men's wives, such as the wife of Heber C. Kimball

FairMormon Response

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

The request was a test to Heber and Vilate. Joseph did not actually take Heber's wife.



Question: How did Heber and Vilate Kimball receive a divine manifestation regarding plural marriage?

Helen Mar Kimball wrote of her mother, Vilate Kimball: "the vision of her mind was opened, and she saw the principle of Celestial Marriage illustrated in all its beauty and glory"

Helen Mar Kimball wrote of her parents:

My mother had noticed a change in his [Heber's] looks and appearance [since the command to practice plural marriage], and when she enquired the cause, he tried to evade her question, saying it was only her imagination, or that he was not feeling well, etc. But it so worked upon his mind that his anxious and haggard looks betrayed him daily and hourly, and finally his misery became so unbearable that it was impossible to control his feelings. He became sick in body, but his mental wretchedness was too great to allow of his retiring at night, and instead of going to bed he would walk the floor; and the agony of his mind was so terrible that he would wring his hands and weep, beseeching the Lord with his whole soul to be merciful and reveal to his wife the cause of his great sorrow, for he himself could not break his vow of secrecy. His anguish and my mother's, were indescribable and when unable to endure it longer, she retired to her room, where with a broken and contrite heart, she poured out her grief to [God]. . . .

My father's heart was raised at the same time in supplication, and while pleading as one would plead for life, the vision of her mind was opened, and she saw the principle of Celestial Marriage illustrated in all its beauty and glory, together with the great exaltation and honor it would confer upon her in that immortal and celestial sphere if she would but accept it and stand in her place by her husband's side. She was also shown the woman he had taken to wife, and contemplated with joy the vast and boundless love and union which this order would bring about, as well as the increase of kingdoms, power, and glory extending throughout the eternities, worlds without end.

Her soul was satisfied and filled with the Spirit of God. With a countenance beaming with joy she returned to my father, saying, "Heber, what you have kept from me the Lord has shown me."

She related the scene to me and to many others, and told me she never saw so happy a man as father was, when she described the vision and told him she was satisfied and knew that it was from God. She covenanted to stand by him and honor the principle, which covenant she faithfully kept, and though her trials were often heavy and grievous to bear, her integrity was unflinching to the end.[82]


Response to claim: 237 - Joseph married Heber C. Kimball's daughter, Helen

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Joseph married Heber C. Kimball's daughter, Helen.

(Author's sources: Life of Heber C. Kimball, pp.339)

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 Helen, although she continued to live with her parents and there is no indication that the marriage was ever consummated.



Question: Was Joseph Smith's marriage to 14-year-old Helen Mar Kimball indicative of "pedophilia"?

It is claimed by critics of the Church that Helen Mar Kimball expected her marriage to Joseph not to include physical relations but that it actually did

The use of the term "pedophilia" by critics is intended to generate a negative emotional response in the reader. Pedophila describes a sexual attraction to prepubescent children. There is no evidence that Helen ever cohabited with or had sexual relations with Joseph. Pedophiles don't advertise their obsession, and they certainly don't discuss marriages with the parents of their intended victims. It was Heber C. Kimball that requested that this sealing be performed, not Joseph. There is no evidence that Joseph was a pedophile.

It is claimed by critics that Helen Mar Kimball,

"expected her marriage to Joseph Smith" to be a ceremony "for eternity only," not an actual marriage involving physical relations. How surprised she was to discover "that it included [marriage for] time also": a physical union at age fourteen with a thirty-seven year-old man.[83]

Joseph was sealed to Helen Mar Kimball at her father's request

Joseph was indeed sealed to 14-year-old Helen Mar Kimball, and it was at her father's request. According to Helen:

My father was the first to introduce it to me, which had a similar effect to a sudden shock of a small earthquake. When he found (after the first outburst of displeasure for supposed injury) that I received it meekly, he took the first opportunity to introduce Sarah Ann [Whitney] to me as Joseph's wife.
—Helen Mar Kimball Whitney, 1828-1896, Autobiography (c. 1839-1846), "Life Incidents," Woman's Exponent 9-10 (1880-1882) and "Scenes and Incidents in Nauvoo," Woman's Exponent 11 (1882-83)) off-site

Helen continued to live with her parents after the sealing, and then married someone else and had children with them after Joseph's death

Helen continued to live with her parents after the sealing. After Joseph's death, Helen was married and had children.

Unlike today, it was acceptable to be sealed to one person for eternity while being married for time to another person. It is not known if this was the case with Helen, however.

There is no evidence whatsoever that Helen's marriage to Joseph was ever consummated

There is, despite the critics' insinuations, no evidence that Helen Mar Kimball's marriage was consummated. (Consummation would not have been inappropriate, since this was a marriage, but the critics are too anxious to find problems where no evidence for such exists. Helen did have some disappointments—these mostly revolved around being less free to participate in parties and socials, not at being physically joined to an older husband.

But, Helen later saw her youthful displeasure as inappropriate and insisted that she had been protected and blessed by being a plural wife, even though she did not know it at the time.

Helen spoke out on the subject later in her life

Helen ought to allowed to speak for herself:

I did not try to conceal the fact of its having been a trial, but confessed that it had been one of the severest of my life; but that it had also proven one of the greatest of blessings. I could truly say it had done the most towards making me a Saint and a free woman, in every sense of the word; and I knew many others who could say the same, and to whom it had proven one of the greatest boons--a "blessing in disguise." [84]


Question: Was Helen Mar Kimball's marriage to Joseph Smith ever consummated?

Critics generally do not reveal that their sources have concluded that Helen's marriage to Joseph Smith was never consummated

Critics generally do not reveal that their sources have concluded that Helen's marriage to Joseph Smith was unconsummated, preferring instead to point out that mere fact of the marriage of a 14-year-old girl to a 37-year-old man ought to be evidence enough to imply sexual relations and "pedophilia." For example, George D. Smith quotes Compton without disclosing his view,[85] cites Compton, but ignores that Compton argues that " there is absolutely no evidence that there was any sexuality in the marriage, and I suggest that, following later practice in Utah, there may have been no sexuality. All the evidence points to this marriage as a primarily dynastic marriage.” [86] and Stanley Kimball without disclosing that he believed the marriage to be "unconsummated." [87]

Helen wrote a poem entitled "Reminiscences," which is often cited by critics

Later in life, Helen wrote a poem entitled "Reminiscences." It is often cited for the critics' claims:

I thought through this life my time will be my own
The step I now am taking's for eternity alone,
No one need be the wiser, through time I shall be free,
And as the past hath been the future still will be.
To my guileless heart all free from worldly care
And full of blissful hopes—and youthful visions rare
The world seamed bright the thret'ning clouds were kept
From sight, and all looked fair but pitying angels wept.
They saw my youthful friends grow shy and cold.
And poisonous darts from sland'rous tongues were hurled,
Untutor'd heart in thy gen'rous sacrafise,
Thou dids't not weigh the cost nor know the bitter price;
Thy happy dreems all o'er thou'rt doom'd alas to be
Bar'd out from social scenes by this thy destiny,
And o'er thy sad'nd mem'ries of sweet departed joys
Thy sicken'd heart will brood and imagine future woes,
And like a fetter'd bird with wild and longing heart,
Thou'lt dayly pine for freedom and murmor at thy lot;
But could'st thou see the future & view that glorious crown,
Awaiting you in Heaven you would not weep nor mourn. [p. 2]
Pure and exalted was thy father's aim, he saw
A glory in obeying this high celestial law,
For to thousands who've died without the light
I will bring eternal joy & make thy crown more bright.
I'd been taught to reveire the Prophet of God
And receive every word as the word of the Lord.
But had this not come through my dear father's mouth,
I should ne'r have received it as God's sacred truth.[88]

The first portion of the poem expresses the youthful Helen's attitude. She is distressed mostly because of the loss of socialization and youthful ideas about romance. But, as Helen was later to explain more clearly in prose, she would soon realize that her youthful pout was uncalled for—she saw that her plural marriage had, in fact, protected her. "I have long since learned to leave all with Him, who knoweth better than ourselves what will make us happy," she noted after the poem.[89]

Helen was disappointed that she was not permitted to attend a party or a dance

Thus, she would later write of her youthful disappointment in not being permitted to attend a party or dance:

I felt quite sore over it, and thought it a very unkind act in father to allow William to go and enjoy the dance unrestrained with other of my companions, and fetter me down, for no girl danced better than I did, and I really felt it was too much to bear. It made the dull school more dull, and like a wild bird I longed for the freedom that was denied me; and thought to myself an abused child, and that it was pardonable if I did not murmur.

I imagined that my happiness was all over and brooded over the sad memories of sweet departed joys and all manner of future woes, which (by the by) were of short duration, my bump of hope being too large to admit of my remaining long under the clouds. Besides my father was very kind and indulgent in other ways, and always took me with him when mother could not go, and it was not a very long time before I became satisfied that I was blessed in being under the control of so good and wise a parent who had taken counsel and thus saved me from evils, which some others in their youth and inexperience were exposed to though they thought no evil. Yet the busy tongue of scandal did not spare them. A moral may be drawn from this truthful story. "Children obey thy parents," etc. And also, "Have regard to thy name, for that shall continue with you above a thousand great treasures of gold." "A good life hath but few days; but a good name endureth forever.[90]

So, despite her youthful reaction, Helen uses this as an illustration of how she was being a bit immature and upset, and how she ought to have trusted her parents, and that she was actually protected from problems that arose from the parties she missed.


Question: Did Helen Mar Kimball "confess" to having marital relations with Joseph?

Helen allegedly said "I would never have been sealed to Joseph had I known it was anything more than ceremony"

Critics of the Church provide a supposed "confession" from Helen, in which she reportedly said:

I would never have been sealed to Joseph had I known it was anything more than ceremony. I was young, and they deceived me, by saying the salvation of our whole family depended on it.[91]

The source of the statement is "suspect"

Author Todd Compton properly characterizes this source, noting that it is an anti-Mormon work, and calls its extreme language "suspect."[92]

Author George D. Smith tells his readers only that this is Helen "confiding," while doing nothing to reveal the statement's provenance from a hostile source.[93] Newell and Avery tell us nothing of the nature of this source and call it only a “statement” in the Stanley Ivins Collection;[94] Van Wagoner mirrors G. D. Smith by disingenuously writing that “Helen confided [this information] to a close Nauvoo friend,” without revealing its anti-Mormon origins.[95]

In order for this story to be true, Helen would be telling a story at variance with all other things that she wrote

To credit this story at face value, one must also admit that Helen told others in Nauvoo about the marriage (something she repeatedly emphasized she was not to do) and that she told a story at variance with all the others from her pen during a lifetime of staunch defense of plural marriage.[96]


Question: What were Helen Mar Kimball's views on plural marriage?

Helen disliked plural marriage because of the difficulties it placed on her mother

Helen made clear what she disliked about plural marriage, and it was not physical relations with an older man:

I had, in hours of temptation, when seeing the trials of my mother, felt to rebel. I hated polygamy in my heart, I had loved my baby more than my God, and mourned for it unreasonably….[97]

Helen is describing a period during the westward migration when (married monogamously) her first child died. Helen was upset by polygamy only because she saw the difficulties it placed on her mother. She is not complaining about her own experience with it.


Helen Mar Kimball: "I have encouraged and sustained my husband in the celestial order of marriage because I knew it was right"

Helen Mar Kimball:

All my sins and shortcomings were magnified before my eyes till I believed I had sinned beyond redemption. Some may call it the fruits of a diseased brain. There is nothing without a cause, be that as it may, it was a keen reality to me. During that season I lost my speech, forgot the names of everybody and everything, and was living in another sphere, learning lessons that would serve me in future times to keep me in the narrow way. I was left a poor wreck of what I had been, but the Devil with all his cunning, little thought that he was fitting and preparing my heart to fulfill its destiny….

[A]fter spending one of the happiest days of my life I was moved upon to talk to my mother. I knew her heart was weighed down in sorrow and I was full of the holy Ghost. I talked as I never did before, I was too weak to talk with such a voice (of my own strength), beside, I never before spoke with such eloquence, and she knew that it was not myself. She was so affected that she sobbed till I ceased. I assured her that father loved her, but he had a work to do, she must rise above her feelings and seek for the Holy Comforter, and though it rent her heart she must uphold him, for he in taking other wives had done it only in obedience to a holy principle. Much more I said, and when I ceased, she wiped her eyes and told me to rest. I had not felt tired till she said this, but commenced then to feel myself sinking away. I silently prayed to be renewed, when my strength returned that instant…

I have encouraged and sustained my husband in the celestial order of marriage because I knew it was right. At various times I have been healed by the washing and annointing, administered by the mothers in Israel. I am still spared to testify to the truth and Godliness of this work; and though my happiness once consisted in laboring for those I love, the Lord has seen fit to deprive me of bodily strength, and taught me to 'cast my bread upon the waters' and after many days my longing spirit was cheered with the knowledge that He had a work for me to do, and with Him, I know that all things are possible…[98]


Response to claim: 239 - Joseph married Zina, the wife of Henry Jacobs

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Joseph married Zina, the wife of Henry Jacobs.

FairMormon Response

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

Joseph was sealed to Zina for eternity in the next life, however, Zina continued to live with her earthly husband Henry.



Question: Why would Joseph be sealed to the wife of someone who was not only married to someone else, but pregnant with her husband's child?

Joseph asked Zina three times to marry him before she married Henry

Zina huntington jacobs 2.jpg

In 1839, at age 18, Zina arrived with her parents in Nauvoo after being driven out of Missouri. Faithful LDS missionary Henry Jacobs courted her during 1840–41. At the same time, Joseph Smith had taught Zina the doctrine of plural marriage, and thrice asked her to marry him. She declined each time, and she and Henry were wed 7 March 1841. [99] Zina and Henry were married by John C. Bennett, then mayor of Nauvoo. They had invited Joseph to perform the ceremony, but Bennett stepped in when Joseph did not arrive:

…Zina asked the Prophet to perform the marriage. They went to the Clerk’s office and the Prophet did not arrive, so they were married by John C. Bennett. When they saw Joseph they asked him why he didn’t come, and he told them the Lord had made it known to him that she was to be his Celestial wife. [100]

Zina and Henry were aware of Joseph's plural marriage teachings and his proposal to Zina

Family tradition holds, then, that Zina and Henry were aware of Joseph's plural marriage teachings and his proposal to Zina. While this perspective is late and after-the-fact, it is consistent with the Jacobs' behaviour thereafter. Zina's family also wrote that Henry believed that "whatever the Prophet did was right, without making the wisdom of God's authorities bend to the reasoning of any man." [101]

On 27 October 1841, Zina was sealed to Joseph Smith by her brother, Dimick Huntington. She was six months pregnant by Henry, and continued to live with him.


Question: Did Joseph Smith and Brigham Young steal Henry Jacobs' family?

This plaque located in the Church History Museum mentions Zina's sealing to Joseph Smith and marriage to Brigham Young (Photo taken in 2012)

Zina had refused Joseph's suit three times and chosen to marry Henry, but then decided to be sealed to Joseph

Joseph Smith and Brigham Young's "mistreatment" of Henry and their "theft" of his family have received a great deal of publicity, thanks to late 19th century anti-Mormon sources, and Fawn Brodie increased their cachet for a 20th century audience. [102] For present purposes, we will focus on Zina. She had refused Joseph's suit three times, and chosen to marry Henry. Why did she decide to be sealed to Joseph?

Zina stated that God had prepared her mind for Joseph's teachings even before she had heard them

When interrogated by a member of the RLDS Church, Zina refused to be drawn into specifics. She made her motivations clear, and explained that God had prepared her mind for Joseph's teachings even before she had heard them:

Q. "Can you give us the date of that marriage with Joseph Smith?"
A. "No, sir, I could not."
Q. "Not even the year?"
A. "No, I do not remember. It was something too sacred to be talked about; it was more to me than life or death. I never breathed it for years. I will tell you the facts. I had dreams—I am no dreamer but I had dreams that I could not account for. I know this is the work of the Lord; it was revealed to me, even when young. Things were presented to my mind that I could not account for. When Joseph Smith revealed this order [Celestial marriage] I knew what it meant; the Lord was preparing my mind to receive it." [103]

Henry Jacobs stood as proxy for Zina's post-martyrdom sealing to Joseph, and her marriage for time to Brigham Young

Henry was to stand as proxy for Zina's post-martyrdom sealing to Joseph, and her marriage for time to Brigham Young. He and Zina separated soon thereafter, and Henry was soon gone on one of his many missions for the Church. [104]

Zina herself clearly explains the basis for her choice:

…when I heard that God had revealed the law of Celestial marriage that we would have the privilege of associating in family relationships in the worlds to come, I searched the scriptures and by humble prayer to my Heavenly Father I obtained a testimony for myself that God had required that order to be established in his Church. [105] Faced with questions from her RLDS interviewer that she felt exceeded propriety, Zina became evasive. She finally terminated the interview by saying, "Mr. Wight, you are speaking on the most sacred experiences of my life…."[106]


Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs

Question: What did the husband of Zina D. Huntington know about her sealing to Joseph Smith for eternity?

Zina married Henry Jacobs in 1840, and was sealed to Joseph Smith for eternity in 1841

Zina married Henry Jacobs in 1840, and was sealed to Joseph Smith for eternity in 1841,

Be it remembered that on this first day of May A.D. eighteen sixty nine before me Elias Smith Probate Judge for Said County personally appeared, Zina Diantha Huntington ^Young^ who was by me Sworn in due form of law, and upon her oath Saith, that on the twenty-Seventh day of October A.D. 1841, at the City of Nauvoo, County of Hancock, State of Illinois, She was married or Sealed to Joseph Smith, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, by Dimick B. Huntington, a High Priest in Said Church, according to the laws of the same; regulating marriage; In the presence of Fanny Maria Huntington. [107]

There are many stories and accusations related to the marriage of Zina and Henry, and her sealing to Joseph. For details regarding each of these allegations, see Brian and Laura Hales, "Zina Diantha Huntington," josephsmithspolygamy.org off-site.

See also: Allen Wyatt, "Zina and Her Men: An Examination of the Changing Marital State of Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs Smith Young," FAIR Conference, 2006.


Response to claim: 239 - Brigham Young publicly told Henry Jacobs to find another wife

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Brigham Young publicly told Henry Jacobs to find another wife.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

Historical evidence does not support this claim.



Question: Did Brigham Young tell Henry Jacobs in front of hundreds of people that he needed to find another wife?

The immediate problem with such a statement is that there is no contemporary corroboration for it from among the "hundreds" who supposedly observed it

Allen Wyatt explains how this story originated,

The Charge by William Hall

Critics of the early Saints have, often with glee, latched onto William Hall’s story and used it as a prime example of ecclesiastical abuse, pitting a powerful Brigham Young against a penniless and ill Henry Jacobs, with Zina as some kind of prize for the winner of their imagined contest. It is easy to understand how one might see things that way; it is certainly the way that William Hall portrayed the episode:

At a place called, by the Mormons, Pisgah, in Iowa, as they were passing through to Council Bluffs, Brigham Young spoke in this wise, in the hearing of hundreds: He said it was time for men who were walking in other men’s shoes to step out of them. “Brother Jacobs,” he says, “the woman you claim for a wife does not belong to you. She is the spiritual wife of brother Joseph, sealed up to him. I am his proxy, and she, in this behalf, with her children, are my property. You can go where you please, and get another, but be sure to get one of your own kindred spirit.”37

The immediate problem with such a statement is that there is no contemporary corroboration for it. Hall states that Brigham’s statement was made in the hearing of hundreds of people, yet there are no other diaries that indicate such a statement or, indeed, any statement from Brigham to Henry. The statement itself would need to have been made sometime between Henry’s arrival at Mt. Pisgah (May 18) and his departure on his mission (approximately June 1).

For instance, Patty Bartlett Sessions, who was a detailed journal writer, arrived at Mt. Pisgah in the same company as the Jacobs’ and left Mt. Pisgah on June 2, 1846. None of her diary entries for the period refer to any such statement by Brigham Young, and it is safe to assume that she would have been among the “hundreds” referenced by William Hall. In fact, Sessions continues to refer to Zina as either “Zina Jacobs” or “sister Jacobs” as late as June 3, 1847,38 which reference would seem unlikely if she had heard Brigham claim Zina (and her children) as his property and exile Henry.

The diary of William Huntington records only one semi-public and one fully public meeting between May 18 and the first of June. There was a prayer meeting for selected individuals held on May 31,39 and a meeting in the grove near Huntington’s house on June 1 that turned into a “special conference” at which “considerable business” was done.40 There is, however, no record in his diary of any denouncing of his son-in-law by Brigham.[108]

For more information, see Allen Wyatt, "Zina and Her Men: An Examination of the Changing Marital State of Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs Smith Young," FAIR presentation transcript, 2006. FairMormon link


Response to claim: 239-240 - Some women who were associated with Joseph claimed that they did not know who the father of their children were

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Some women who were associated with Joseph claimed that they did not know who the father of their children were.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information

The source for this is only Ann Eliza Young, who was two years old in Nauvoo at Joseph's death! She was never "associated with Joseph" in any capacity.



Response to claim: 243 - Joseph performed a "pretended" marriage for time for Sarah Ann Whitney to Joseph Kingsbury

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Joseph performed a "pretended" marriage for time for Sarah Ann Whitney to Joseph Kingsbury.

(Author's sources: The History of Joseph C. Kingsbury)

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 Sarah Ann. Kingsbury agreed to act as a "surrogate" husband to spare Sarah the difficulty of refusing suitors while plural marriage was still a secret in Nauvoo.



Question: What did the husband of Sarah Ann Whitney know about her sealing to Joseph Smith for eternity?

Joseph actually requested that Joseph C. Kingsbury marry Sarah civilly in order to allay any suspicions regarding their plural marriage

Sarah Ann Whitney's marriage to Joseph Smith was unusual in that, at some point after the marriage, Joseph actually requested that Joseph C. Kingsbury marry her civilly in order to allay any suspicions regarding their plural marriage. This marriage, however, was a "pretend" marriage according to Kingsbury,

[I] was imployed in Joseph Smith’s Store under the direction of Bishop Newel K Whitney untill the fall of 1842 and on the 16th day Oct Caroline my Wife Died. . . . how thankfull I feal thinking I shall see & meat her again to enjoy each other society for ever to part no more & also my little sons . . . and on the 29th of April 1843 I according to President Joseph Smith council & others agreed to stand by Sarah \Ann/ Whitney as supposed to be her husband & had a pretended marriage for the purpose of bringing about the purposes of bringing about the purposes of God in the last days as spoken by the mouth of the prophet Isiah Jeremiah Ezekiel and also Joseph Smith, & Sarah Ann should rec-d a great glory Honner & Eternal Lives and I Also Should Rec-d a Great Glory Honner & Eternal Lives to the full desire of my heart in having my companion Caroline in the first resurrection to hail her & no one to have power to take her from me & we Both shall be crowned & enthroned togeather in the Celestial Kingdom of God Enjoying Each others Society in all of the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ & our little ones with us as is Recorded in this blessing that President Joseph Smith Sealed upon my head on the Twenty third day of March 1843 as follows. [109]

Sarah Ann and Joseph Kingsbury acted the part of husband and wife publicly, but apparently never consummated the marriage. Sarah married Heber C. Kimabll for time, not eternally, after Joseph's death and had seven children. According to Brian Hales, Joseph Kingsbury later billed the church for his services of acting as "front husband" for one of Joseph's plural wives. [110]

A biography of Sarah Ann Whitney may be viewed on Brian and Laura Hales' website "josephsmithspolygamy.org". off-site


Response to claim: 245-246 - The Bible prohibited a man from marrying sisters or mothers and daughters, therefore Mormon polygamy was not Biblical

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

The Bible prohibited a man from marrying sisters or mothers and daughters, therefore Mormon polygamy was not Biblical.

(Author's sources: Millennial Star vol. 19, pp.473-74)

FairMormon Response

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

Latter-day Saint plural marriage did not rely on biblical authority or interpretation (though they used biblical parallels to explain and understand the command which they believed they had received from God via a modern prophet.) Marrying two sisters was quite frequent, possibly because sisters had already learned to get along together, which made for more harmonious plural families. One researcher noted:

Marriage to the wife's sister, defined as incest only by Anglican canon law, is the only form of polygamous marriage of the [potentially 'incestuous] categories...that occurs in significant numbers. [111]





Question: Does the Bible prohibit polygamous marriages involving a mother and daughter?

A biblical prohibition under the Mosaic law prohibited polygamous marriages involving a mother and daughter or two sisters

A biblical prohibition under the Mosaic law prohibited polygamous marriages involving a mother and daughter:

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

The law also prohibited one from marrying two sisters:

And if a man take a wife and her mother, it is wickedness: they shall be burnt with fire, both he and they; that there be no wickedness among you. Leviticus 20:14


Question: Did Joseph Smith being sealed to mothers, daughters and sisters violate a biblical prohibition?

Joseph Smith did not restore the practice of plural marriage according to Mosaic law—plural marriage was practiced prior to the institution of the Mosaic law without these restrictions

Joseph Smith did not restore the practice of plural marriage according to Mosaic law—plural marriage was practiced prior to the institution of the Mosaic law without these restrictions. A well-known example is Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel: He was married to the two sisters Rachel and Leah.

For example, the Hebrew law of "levirate marriage" actually required a man to take his childless deceased brother's wife as his own wife in order to produce offspring for his brother

It should also be noted that the biblical practice of levirate marriage, as defined by Hebrew law, required a man to take his childless deceased brother's wife as his own wife in order to produce offspring for his brother. This was also a case of marrying two sisters.

Deuteronomy 25:5-6 states,

5 If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband’s brother unto her.
6 And it shall be, that the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel.

From the Wikipedia article "Levirate marriage":

Levirate marriage is a type of marriage in which the brother of a deceased man is obliged to marry his brother's widow, and the widow is obliged to marry her deceased husband's brother.....A levirate marriage (Hebrew: yibbum) is mandated by Deuteronomy 25:5-6 of the Hebrew Bible and obliges a brother to marry the widow of his childless deceased brother, with the firstborn child being treated as that of the deceased brother, (see also Genesis 38:8) which renders the child the heir of the deceased brother and not the genetic father. [112]


Response to claim: 246-247 - Joseph sealed brothers and sisters together

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Joseph sealed brothers and sisters together.

FairMormon Response

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

The authors do nothing to explain this practice. They want it to appear bizarre or repulsive. Joseph seems to have used marriage in the way that we know use "sealing." Thus, a "marriage" did not always imply a sexual or marital relationship. The authors hide the fact that a long list of living and deceased persons are part of the sealing. This is not a marriage, but a sealing into eternal family relationships.



Question: Did Joseph Smith perform marriages between brothers and sisters?

This is not a marriage, but a sealing of family and friends together into eternal relationships

When discussing plural marriage, critics of the Church announce that Joseph "sealed" brothers and sisters together, perhaps hoping that readers will conclude that brothers and sisters were thus married and engaging in incestuous relationships. However, the critics hide the fact that a long list of living and deceased persons are part of the sealing. This is not a marriage, but a sealing of family and friends together into eternal relationships.

This is a classic example of a dishonest use of a source. The relevant diary entry from John M. Bernhisel reads:

The following named deceased persons were sealed to me (John M. Bernhisel) on Oct[ober] 26th 1843, by President Joseph Smith: Maria Bernhisel, sister; Brother Samuel's wife, Catherine Kremer; Mary Shatto, (Aunt); Madalena Lupferd, (distant relative); Catherine Bernhisel, Aunt; Hannah Bower, Aunt; Elizabeth Sheively, Aunt; Hannah Bower, cousin; Maria Lawrence, (intimate friend); Sarah Crosby, intimate friend, /died May 11[th] 1839/; Mary Ann Bloom, cousin. [113]

The critics who use this source do nothing to explain this practice. They want it to appear bizarre or repulsive.

Joseph seems to have used some early plural marriages in the same way that modern members think about "sealing" families together for eternity. Thus, a "marriage" did not always necessarily imply a sexual or marital relationship.


Response to claim: 248 - Brigham said that monogamy was a "fruitful source of prostitution and whoredom"

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Brigham said that monogamy was a "fruitful source of prostitution and whoredom"

FairMormon Response

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

Brigham was pointing out that Christian critics of the Church, while attacking the LDS for the practice of polygamy, were tolerating and even indulging in moral wickedness. The authors fail to point out that Brigham was also discussing the evidence that Protestant reformers realized that polygamy was not unbiblical.



Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 11:128.,

We are in the hands of the Almighty as a people, and He is able to take care of us. We entertain no antipathies against any person or community upon this earth; but we would give eternal life to all, if they would receive it at our hands—we would preach the truth to them and administer to them the ordinances of the gospel. But, it is said, you believe in polygamy, and we cannot receive the gospel from your hands. We have been told a great many times that polygamy is not according to Christianity. The Protestant reformers believed the doctrine of polygamy. Philip, Landgrave of Hesse, one of the principal lords and princes of Germany, wrote to the great reformer Martin Luther and his associate reformers, anxiously imploring them to grant unto him the privilege of marrying a second wife, while his first wife, the princess, was yet living. He urged that the practice was in accordance with the Bible, and not prohibited under the Christian dispensation. Upon the reception of this letter, Luther, who had denounced the Romish church for prohibiting the marriage of priests, and who favored polygamy, met in council with the principal Reformers to consult upon the letter which had been received from the Landgrave. They wrote him a lengthy letter in reply, approving of his taking a second wife, saying:— "There is no need of being much concerned for what men will say, provided all goes right with conscience. So far do we approve it, and in those circumstances only by us specified, for the gospel hath neither recalled nor forbid what was permitted in the law of Moses with respect to the marriage. Jesus Christ has not changed the external economy, but added justice only, and life everlasting for reward. He teaches the true way of obeying God, and endeavours to repair the corruption of nature." This letter was written at Wittemburg, the Wednesday after the feast of St. Nicholas, 1539, and was signed by Martin Luther, Philip Melancthon, Martin Bucer and five other Reformers, and was written in Melancthon's own handwriting. The marriage was solemnised on the 4th of March, 1540, by the Rev. Denis Melanther, chaplain to Philip. Philip's first wife was so anxious "that the soul and body of her dearest spouse should run no further risk, and that the glory of God might be increased," that she freely consented to the match. This letter of the great Reformer's was not a hasty conclusion on their part that polygamy was sanctioned by the gospel, for in the year 1522, seventeen years before they wrote this letter, Martin Luther himself, in a sermon which he delivered at Wittemburg for the reformation of marriage, clearly pronounced in favor of polygamy. These transactions are published in the work entitled "History of the variations of the Protestant churches." Ladies and gentlemen, I exhort you to think for yourselves, and read your Bibles for yourselves, get the Holy Spirit for yourselves, and pray for yourselves, that your minds may be divested of false traditions and early impressions that are untrue. Those who are acquainted with the history [128] of the world are not ignorant that polygamy has always been the general rule and monogamy the exception. Since the founding of the Roman empire monogamy has prevailed more extensively than in times previous to that. The founders of that ancient empire were robbers and women stealers, and made laws favoring monogamy in consequence of the scarcity of women among them, and hence this monogamic system which now prevails throughout all Christendom, and which has been so fruitful a source of prostitution and whoredom throughout all the Christian monogamic cities of the Old and New World, until rottenness and decay are at the root of their institutions both national and religious. Polygamy did not have its origin with Joseph Smith, but it existed from the beginning. So far as I am concerned as an individu[a]l, I did not ask for it; I never desired it; and if I ever had a trial of my faith in the world, it was when Joseph Smith revealed that doctrine to me; and I had to pray incessantly and exercise faith before the Lord until He revealed to me the truth, and I was satisfied. I say this at the present time for the satisfaction of both saint and sinner. Now, here are the commandments of the Lord, and here are the wishes of wicked men, which shall we obey? It is the Lord and them for it. I pray that the Spirit of Truth may find its way to each heart, that we may all love the truth more than error, and cling to that which is good that we may all be saved in the kingdom of our God. Amen.[114]

Response to claim: 249 - Some Mormons believed that Joseph taught that Adam had two wives

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Some Mormons believed that Joseph taught that Adam had two wives.

FairMormon Response

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

Some Latter-day Saints no doubt believed this. However, in this case Naisbitt was simply explaining that there were traditions that taught the Adam had two wives, and he note that "it is said" that Joseph taught this as well. Naisbitt's point, however, was simply to illustrate the "marriage was ordained of God."



H. W. Naisbitt, Journal of Discourses 26:115.,

The Scriptures give an account simply of the woman Eve; declaring that this name was given her of Adam, because she was "the mother of all living;" but outside of biblical record there has been handed down from time immemorial the idea that Adam had two wives, the narrators go so far, or rather so near perfecting the tradition so as to give their names, Lilith being said to be the name of one as Eve was the name of the other, and while it may be difficult to harmonize all the Rabbinical and Talmudic versions of this matter, it is said that Joseph Smith the Prophet taught that Adam had two wives. Without however, assuming or basing anything upon this theory, or upon this tradition—which may be mythical in its character—it is nevertheless, very evident that marriage was ordained of God...[115]

Response to claim: 249-251 - Early Church leaders taught that Jesus was married to more than one wife

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Early Church leaders taught that Jesus was married to more than one wife.

(Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

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

Very few Church leaders taught this, and it was never official doctrine.



Question: Did early Mormon leaders believe that Jesus Christ was a polygamist?

A few Church leaders believed this, but the idea was never official Church doctrine

Since members in the nineteenth century were commanded to practice polygamy, many presumed that Jesus would have had to also practice this law.

Jedediah M. Grant

Jedediah M. Grant said:

This ancient philosopher says they were both John's wives. Paul says, "Mine answer to them that do examine me is this:—.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." He, according to Celsus, had a numerous train of wives.

The grand reason of the burst of public sentiment in anathemas upon Christ and his disciples, causing his crucifixion, was evidently based upon polygamy, according to the testimony of the philosophers who rose in that age. A belief in the doctrine of a plurality of wives caused the persecution of Jesus and his followers. We might almost think they were "Mormons."

But if you pass on in their history to seek for uniformity and beauty, you will find some grand flare-ups among them. Look, for instance, at Paul and Peter, disputing and quarrelling with each other....[116]

Grant believed that early writers, hostile to the Christians, charged members and even Jesus, with polygamy (a charge which would have offended sophisticated Roman opinion in the day). Grant sees the obvious parallels with how the Saints have been treated over the same issue, but Jesus' marital state is not his main point, but conflict and persecution. (It is not clear, however, to which source Grant is referring—FAIR has been unable to locate any such reference to Celsus.)

Orson Hyde

Likewise, Orson Hyde remarked:

I discover that some of the Eastern papers represent me as a great blasphemer, because I said, in my lecture on Marriage, at our last Conference, that Jesus Christ was married at Cana of Galilee, that Mary, Martha, and others were his wives, and that he begat children.

All that I have to say in reply to that charge is this—they worship a Savior that is too pure and holy to fulfil the commands of his Father. I worship one that is just pure and holy enough "to fulfil all righteousness;" not only the righteous law of baptism, but the still more righteous and important law "to multiply and replenish the earth." Startle not at this! for even the Father himself honored that law by coming down to Mary, without a natural body, and begetting a son; and if Jesus begat children, he only "did that which he had seen his Father do."[117]

Hyde is again not focused on Jesus' matrimonial state, and notes that being married and begetting children—polygamously or otherwise—is no evil, but is in accordance with God's commandments from time to time.


Charles Penrose (1912): "We do not know anything about Jesus Christ being married"

Charles W. Penrose:

Question 2: Do you believe that Jesus was married?
Answer: We do not know anything about Jesus Christ being married. The Church has no authoritative declaration on the subject. [118]


Response to claim: 258 - Brigham Young said that the "only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy"

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Brigham Young said that the "only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy."

(Author's sources: Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 11:269.)

FairMormon Response

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

The authors do not note that Brigham qualified this statement for those who did not practice plural marriage.



Question: Did Brigham Young believe that one could not enter the Celestial Kingdom unless they were a polygamist?

Wilford Woodruff: "President Young said there would be men saved in the Celestial Kingdom of God with one wife with Many wives & with No wife at all"

I attended the school of the prophets. Brother John Holeman made a long speech upon the subject of Poligamy. He Contended that no person Could have a Celestial glory unless He had a plurality of wives. Speeches were made By L. E. Harrington O Pratt Erastus Snow, D Evans J. F. Smith Lorenzo Young. President Young said there would be men saved in the Celestial Kingdom of God with one wife with Many wives & with No wife at all.[119]

Wilford Woodruff: President Young...said a Man may Embrace the Law of Celestial Marriage in his heart & not take the Second wife & be justified before the Lord

Then President Young spoke 58 Minuts. He said a Man may Embrace the Law of Celestial Marriage in his heart & not take the Second wife & be justified before the Lord.[120]


Response to claim: 258-259 - Polygamy was practiced in secret and denied publicly

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Polygamy was practiced in secret and denied publicly.

(Author's sources:
  • Times and Seasons, vol. 3, p.909
  • History of the Church 6:354-55
  • History of the Church 6:411
  • Times and Seasons, March 15, 1844, vol. 5, p.474
  • Millennial Star, vol. 3, p.74")

FairMormon Response

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

During the Nauvoo period, 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." [121]

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.”[122]


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.[123]

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.


Response to claim: 262-263 - John Taylor stated that he believed in keeping every law except the law against polygamy

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

John Taylor stated that he believed in keeping every law except the law against polygamy.

FairMormon Response

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

The Saints regarded polygamy as a religious belief which harmed no one, and which they were thus entitled to practice. Modern legal scholars have recognized that the legal treatment given the Saints was probably improper.
  • Edwin B. Firmage, "The Judicial Campaign against Polygamy and the Enduring Legal Questions," Brigham Young University Studies 27 no. 3 (Summer 1987), 91–113.
  • Stephen Eliot Smith, “The ‘Mormon Question’ Revisited: Anti-polygamy Laws and the Free Exercise Clause” (LL.M. thesis, Harvard Law School, 2005).



Response to claim: 263 - Brigham Young said the polygamy would never go away

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Brigham Young said the polygamy would never go away.

(Author's sources: Deseret News, November 7, 1855)

FairMormon Response

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

The author's get the source of the quote wrong, and then misinterpret what it means.



Question: Did some Church leaders teach that plural marriage was a practice that would persist forever?

Heber C. Kimball's remarks make it clear that plural marriage will remain a true principle, but in the same breath he anticipates a time when it will not be required

Jerald and Sandra Tanner wrote that "Brigham Young" said that polygamy would never go away in Deseret News of 7 November 1855. However, the remarks were made by Heber C. Kimball, not Brigham Young. Kimball's remarks make it clear that plural marriage will remain a true principle, but in the same breath he anticipates a time when it will not be required or in force for all those who are saved—which is exactly the opposite impression which the critics wish to create.

The issue of the Deseret News cited has a talk from Heber C. Kimball that addresses polygamy, but not Brigham Young. [124]

The text reads, in part:

The principle of plurality of wives never will be done away, although some sisters have had revelations that, when this time passes away and they go through the veil, every woman will have a husband to herself.

Heber clearly teaches that the principle "will never be done away," but then readily admits that some of the sisters (who are obviously not fond of the practice) have been reassured that the requirement that they practice it has been revealed to them to be necessary only for this life.


Response to claim: 270-281 - Polygamy was practiced after the Manifesto was issued

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Polygamy was practiced after the Manifesto was issued.

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 true.



Gospel Topics: "The Second Manifesto. At first, the performance of new plural marriages after the Manifesto was largely unknown to people outside the Church"

"The Manifesto and the End of Plural Marriage," Gospel Topics on LDS.org:

At first, the performance of new plural marriages after the Manifesto was largely unknown to people outside the Church. When discovered, these marriages troubled many Americans, especially after President George Q. Cannon stated in an 1899 interview with the New York Herald that new plural marriages might be performed in Canada and Mexico.40 After the election of B. H. Roberts, a member of the First Council of the Seventy, to the U.S. Congress, it became known that Roberts had three wives, one of whom he married after the Manifesto. A petition of 7 million signatures demanded that Roberts not be seated. Congress complied, and Roberts was barred from his office.41

The exclusion of B. H. Roberts opened Mormon marital practices to renewed scrutiny. Church President Lorenzo Snow issued a statement clarifying that new plural marriages had ceased in the Church and that the Manifesto extended to all parts of the world, counsel he repeated in private. Even so, a small number of new plural marriages continued to be performed, probably without President Snow’s knowledge or approval. After Joseph F. Smith became Church President in 1901, a small number of new plural marriages were also performed during the early years of his administration.[125]—(Click here to continue)


Notes

  1. Doctrine and Covenants, 1835 edition, Section 101.
  2. History of the Church, 2:246–247. Volume 2 link
  3. Brian C. Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy Volume 1: History (Salt Lake City, Utah: Greg Kofford Books, 2013), 154.
  4. Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy Vol. 1, 173, see pp. 171–1731 for full details.
  5. Joseph F. Smith, Journal of Discourses 20:29.
  6. Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy Vol. 1, 156–158.
  7. Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy Vol. 1, 161–162.
  8. Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy Vol. 1, 166, 168.
  9. Gilbert Scharffs, "Marriage Is Ordained of God", The Truth About "The God Makers" off-site
  10. The source is said to be a letter from Joseph Fielding Smith to J. W. A. Baily dated September 5, 1935.
  11. Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1945), 184, footnote. ( Index of claims )
  12. "Interracial Marriage Discouraged," Church News, 17 June 1978, italics added; off-site.
  13. Spencer W. Kimball, Marriage and Divorce: An Address [adapted from an address to BYU students and faculty, Fall 1976] (Salt Lake City, Deseret Book, 1976), 10. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  14. Don LeFevre, Salt Lake Tribune, 14 June 1978.
  15. Robert L. Millet, "Church Response to Jon Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven," 27 June 2003 off-site
  16. Richard Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, 323–25, 347–49.
  17. Gary James Bergera, "Identifying the Earliest Mormon Polygamists, 1841–44," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 38 no. 3 (Fall 2005), 30n75.
  18. Wilhelm Wyl, [Wilhelm Ritter von Wymetal], Mormon Portraits Volume First: Joseph Smith the Prophet, His Family and Friends (Salt Lake City, Utah: Tribune Printing and Publishing Company, 1886), 57; Ann Eliza Young, Wife No. 19, or the Story of a Life in Bondage, Being a Complete Exposé of Mormonism, and Revealing the Sorrows, Sacrifices and Sufferings of Women in Polygamy (Hartford, Conn.: Custin, Gilman & Company, 1876), 66–67; discussed in Danel W. Bachman, "A Study of the Mormon Practice of Polygamy before the Death of Joseph Smith" (Purdue University, 1975), 140 and Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 34–35.
  19. Ann Eliza would have observed none of the Fanny marriage at first hand, since she was not born until 1840. The Webbs’ accounts are perhaps best seen as two versions of the same perspective.
  20. Young, Wife No. 19, 66–67; discussed by Bachman, "Mormon Practice of Polygamy", 83n102; see also Ann Eliza Webb Young to Mary Bond, 24 April 1876 and 4 May 1876, Myron H. Bond collection, P21, f11, RLDS Archives cited by Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 34 and commentary in Todd Compton, "A Trajectory of Plurality: An Overview of Joseph Smith's Thirty-Three Plural Wives," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 29/2 (Summer 1996): 30.
  21. Jeremy Runnells, "Debunking FairMormon - Letter to a CES Director" (2014)
  22. Footnote 4 in Hales' response: Questions and answers to lines 189–193, Lorenzo Snow, deposition, Temple Lot transcript, respondent’s testimony (part 3), page 121, read:
    189 Q. And the man that violated this law in this book [Doctrine and Covenants 1835 edition] until the acceptance of that revelation by the church violated the law of the church if he practiced plural marriage?
    A. Yes Sir. He was cut off from the church. I think I should have been if I had.
    190 Q. What would be the condition of the man that would marry more than one person prior to the giving of that revelation in 1843? A. What would be the condition of a man that would do that?
    191 Q. Yes sir? A. Why he would be cut off from the Church.
    192 Q. Would not it have been adultery under those revelations I have just read? A. Yes sir. I expect it would be.
    193 Q. You are one of the apostles in the church at the present time are you not . . .
  23. Footnote 5 in Hales' response: Lorenzo Snow, deposition, Temple Lot transcript, respondent’s testimony (part 3), page 128, question 323.
  24. Brian Hales, "Jeremy Runnells—the New Expert on Joseph Smith’s Polygamy?", Rational Faiths (blog), posted 15 July 2014 off-site
  25. The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Complainant, Vs. the Church of Christ at Independence, Missouri: Richard Hill, Trustee; Richard Hill, Mrs. E. Hill, C.A. Hall [and Others] ... as Members of and Doing Business Under the Name of the Church of Christ, at Independence, Missouri, Respondents. In Equity. Complainant's Abstract of Pleading and Evidence off-site
  26. A digital abstract of the Temple Lot court proceedings containing this quote may be viewed here: Abstract of Evidence Temple Lot Case U.S.C.C.
  27. Brian Hales, "Lorenzo Snow’s Temple Lot Testimony," Joseph Smith's Polygamy (website) off-site
  28. Brian Hales, "Lorenzo Snow’s Temple Lot Testimony," Joseph Smith's Polygamy (website) off-site
  29. Jacob 2:27–30.
  30. Levi Richards Journal, 14 May 1843; cited by Richard S. Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy: A History (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1989), 54.; Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery, Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, 2nd ed. (Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1994), 141, 332.
  31. Brigham Young, quoted in Charles L. Walker, "Diary," (Harold B. Lee Library, BYU, 1855–1902), 25–26.
  32. Journal History, 26 August 1857; cited by Hyrum Leslie Andrus, Doctrines of the Kingdom (Salt Lake City, Utah: Desert Book Co., 1999), 489n436.
  33. Robert J. Matthews, "A Plainer Translation": Joseph Smith's Translation of the Bible, a History and Commentary (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1975), 64–67. Also discussed in Danel W. Bachman, "A Study of the Mormon Practice of Polygamy before the Death of Joseph Smith" (Purdue University, 1975), 67 and Danel W. Bachman, "New Light on an Old Hypothesis: The Ohio Origins of the Revelation on Eternal Marriage," Journal of Mormon History 5 (1978): 24. This view is endorsed by Todd Compton, "Fanny Alger Smith Custer: Mormonism's First Plural Wife?," Journal of Mormon History 22/1 (Spring 1996): 178–181.
  34. Bachman, "New Light on an Old Hypothesis," 22n11 notes that Roberts' History of the Church introduction (5:xxix) and Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of Utah (San Francisco: A.L. Bancroft Co., 1889), 161 were the first to posit the role of Joseph's revision of the Bible in the plural marriage revelation.
  35. Joseph Noble, cited in Millennial Star 16:454.
  36. Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, ed. Brigham H. Roberts, 7 vols. (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1980), 5:xxix.
  37. }Joseph F. Smith at funeral of Elizabeth Ann Whitney; cited in Deseret Evening News (18 February 1882).
  38. W.W. Phelps, Letter to Brigham Young, 1861, original in Church Archives, emphasis in original; cited by B. Carmon Hardy, Doing the Works of Abraham: Mormon Polygamy: Its Origin, Practice, and Demise, Kingdom in the West: The Mormons and the American Frontier (Norman, Okla.: Arthur H. Clark Co., 2007), 36–37
  39. Ezra Booth, Letter to the editor, Ohio Star (10 November 1831).
  40. Orson Pratt, "Celestial Marriage," Journal of Discourses, reported by David W. Evans (7 October 1869), Vol. 13 (London: Latter-day Saint's Book Depot, 1871), 192–193.
  41. Lyman Johnson as recounted by Orson Pratt, reported in “Report of Elders Orson Pratt and Joseph F. Smith," Millennial Star 40/50 (16 December 1878): 788; cited in Bachman, "Mormon Practice of Polygamy", 56.
  42. Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner to Emmeline B. Wells, Summer 1905, LDS Archives; cited by Newell and Avery, Mormon Enigma, 65.
  43. Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1997), 644. ( Index of claims ); citing Mosiah Hancock Autobiography, 61–62.
  44. Richard S. Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy: A History (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1989), 3n2.
  45. Phelps would publicly teach the idea of eternal marriage soon thereafter: "[W]e came into this world and have our agency, in order that we may prepare ourselves for a kingdom of glory; become archangels, even the sons of God where the man is neither without the woman, nor the woman without the man in the Lord…" - WW Phelps to O[liver] Cowdery, "Dear Brother in the Lord," Latter-day Saint Messenger & Advocate 1/9 (June 1835): 130. See discussion of the Phelps material in Bachman, "New Light on an Old Hypothesis," 28–29
  46. Joseph F. Smith (comment made 4 March 1883) in "Utah Stake Historical Record, 1877–1888," LDS Archives;Richard and Pamela Price, Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy—Vision Articles [from Vision Magazine, Vol. 32–46, 48–51, 53–56], vol. 2 (E-book: Price Publishing Company, n.d.), "LDS Leaders Accused Oliver Cowdery of Polygamy".
  47. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 1:361.
  48. John Dehlin, "Questions and Answers," Mormon Stories Podcast (25 June 2014).
  49. "I will give you two wives if you will let me choose them," – Emma to Joseph, as per "Incidents of the early life of Emily Dow Partridge," written beginning December 1876, finished 7 January 1877, BYU Special Collections; cited by Andrew F. Ehat, "Joseph Smith's Introduction of Temple Ordinances and the 1844 Mormon Succession Question," (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, Master's Thesis, 1981), 60.
  50. Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1997), 409. ( Index of claims )
  51. Danel W. Bachman, “A Study of the Mormon Practice of Polygamy Before the Death of Joseph Smith,” (1975) (unpublished M.A. thesis, Purdue University), 164–166.
  52. 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), 5:xxxiii. Volume 5 link
  53. Joseph F. Smith, Journal of Discourses 20:29-30.
  54. Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy Vol. 2, 136.
  55. Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 251.
  56. Mary Audentia Smith Anderson (editor), "Memoirs of Joseph Smith III (1832–1914)," The Saints Herald (2 April 1935): 431–434.
  57. Richard L. Bushman, Interview with Millennial Star Blog, 14 November 2005; conveniently reprinted in Richard Lyman Bushman, On the Road With Joseph Smith: An Author's Diary (Salt Lake City, Utah: Greg Kofford Books, Ltd., 2007), 72.
  58. Harold B. Lee, Teachings of Harold B. Lee (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1996), 192. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  59. Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses 6:256.
  60. Jerald and Sandra Tanner, The Changing World of Mormonism, p. 225
  61. Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses 6:256.
  62. Jerald and Sandra Tanner, The Changing World of Mormonism, p. 263.
  63. "Remarks by Heber C. Kimball, directly after the sermon by President B. Young, printed in no. 34: Bowery, Oct. 6, 1855," Deseret News Vol. V, No. 35 (7 November 1855): 274 (2nd page of this number). off-site
  64. FROM UTAH.; "Polygamy and its Fruits--The Missionaries--The Pony Express--More Pugnacious Preaching--Death of a Prominent Physician--The Season.", The New York Times, May 15, 1860.
  65. Heber C. Kimball, "THE BODY OF CHRIST—PARABLE OF THE VINE—A WILD ENTHUSIASTIC SPIRIT NOT OF GOD—THE SAINTS SHOULD NOT UNWISELY EXPOSE EACH OTHERS' FOLLIES," (January 11, 1857) Journal of Discourses 4:178.
  66. Brigham Young, "ROBBING THE DEAD—DANCING, NOT A PART OF THE SAINTS' RELIGION—KINDNESS IN GOVERNMENT—MORE TELEGRAPHIC WIRES," (February 9, 1862) Journal of Discourses 9:195.
  67. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 9:195.
  68. Eugene E. Campbell and Bruce L. Campbell, "Divorce among Mormon Polygamists: Extent and Explanations," Utah Historical Quarterly 46/1 (Winter 1978): 5; citing Box containing nine folders, numbered 1 to 917, plus several ledgers, Archives Division, Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City.
  69. Emma gave permission for at least the marriages of Eliza and Emma Partridge, and Sarah and Maria Lawrence. See Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1997), 409, 475. ( Index of claims )
  70. Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1997), 261. ( Index of claims )
  71. Mary Audentia Smith Anderson (editor), "Memoirs of Joseph Smith III (1832–1914)," The Saints Herald (2 April 1935): 431–434.
  72. Allen J. Stout, "Allen J. Stout's Testimony," Historical Record 6 (May 1887): 230–31; cited in Wendy C. Top "'A Deep Sorrow in Her Heart' – Emma Hale Smith," in Heroines of the Restoration, edited by Barbara B. Smith and Blythe Darlyn Thatcher (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997), 17–34.
  73. Emma Smith to Maria Jane Johnston, cited in Wendy C. Top "'A Deep Sorrow in Her Heart' – Emma Hale Smith," in Heroines of the Restoration, edited by Barbara B. Smith and Blythe Darlyn Thatcher (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997), 17–34.; quoting Newell and Avery, Mormon Enigma, 161.
  74. Emma Hale Smith, Blessing (1844), Church Archives, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.
  75. Maureen Ursenbach Beecher et al., “Emma and Eliza and the Stairs,” BYU Studies 22/1 (Fall 1982): 86–96. Compare Smith, Nauvoo Polygamy, 131 n. 195.
  76. Newell and Avery, Mormon Enigma, 136. Compare Smith, Nauvoo Polygamy, 132 n. 201.
  77. Richard Price and Pamela Price, “Eliza Snow Was Not Pushed Down the Mansion House Stairs,” in Richard Price, chap. 9 of “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 Co., 2001), off-site (accessed 5 November 2008). FairMormon's consultants do not sustain Price's view, however, that Joseph Smith did not practice or teach plural marriage.
  78. On Price’s break from the RLDS (now Community of Christ) mainstream, see: William D. Russell, “Richard Price: Leading Publicist of the Reorganized Church’s Schismatics,” in Differing Visions: Dissenters in Mormon History, ed. Roger D. Launius and Linda Thatcher (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1994), 319–37.
  79. Compare Price and Price, “Eliza Snow Was Not Pushed,” with George D. Smith’s opinion in Nauvoo Polygamy, 133.
  80. Eliza R. Snow, Woman’s Exponent 8 (1 November 1879): 85; cited in Newell and Avery, Mormon Enigma, 307–8.
  81. Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses 4:209.
  82. H[elen] M[ar] Whitney, "Life Incidents" 11 (15 July 1882):26; cited in Stanley B. Kimball, "Heber C. Kimball and Family, the Nauvoo Years," Brigham Young University Studies 15 no. 4 (Summer 1975), 461–462.
  83. GDS, p. 201-202; citing Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 500.
  84. Helen Mar Kimball, Why We Practice Plural Marriage, 23-24 cited in Andrus, Doctrines of the Kingdom.
  85. George D. Smith, Nauvoo Polygamy
  86. Todd M. Compton, “Response to Tanners,” post to LDS Bookshelf mailing list (no date), http://www.lds-mormon.com/compton.shtml (accessed 2 December 2008). Compare with Smith, Nauvoo Polygamy, 198–202, 302, 362 and Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 14.)
  87. Stanley B. Kimball, Heber C. Kimball: Mormon Patriarch and Pioneer (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1981), 98. See also Stanley B. Kimball, "Heber C. Kimball and Family, the Nauvoo Years," Brigham Young University Studies 15/4 (Summer 1975): 465.
  88. "Helen Mar Kimball Whitney 1881 Autobiography," Appendix I in Helen Mar Whitney, A Woman's View: Helen Mar Whitney's Reminiscences of Early Church History, ed. Jeni Broberg Holzapfel and Richard Neitzel Holzapfel (Provo, Utah / Salt Lake City, Utah: BYU Religious Studies Center, distributed by Bookcraft, 1997), 486.
  89. Helen Mar Whitney, A Woman's View: Helen Mar Whitney's Reminiscences of Early Church History, ed. Jeni Broberg Holzapfel and Richard Neitzel Holzapfel (Provo, Utah / Salt Lake City, Utah: BYU Religious Studies Center, distributed by Bookcraft, 1997), 486–487.
  90. Helen Mar Whitney, Scenes and Incidents, 90. (italics added)
  91. Catherine Lewis, Narrative of Some of the Proceedings of the Mormons (Lynn, MA: n.p., 1848), 19.
  92. Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1997), 195. ( Index of claims )
  93. George D. Smith, Nauvoo Polygamy: "...but we called it celestial marriage" (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2008), 202. ( Index of claims , (Detailed book review))
  94. Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery, Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, 2nd edition, (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1994), 147.
  95. Richard S. Van Wagoner, Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait of Religious Excess (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 2005), 293. (Reviews)
  96. On Helen’s authentic statements, see Helen Mar Whitney, A Woman’s View: Helen Mar Whitney’s Reminiscences of Early Church History, ed. Jeni Broberg Holzapfel and Richard Neitzel Holzapfel (Provo, UT: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1997), ix–xliii.
  97. Augusta Joyce Crocheron (author and complier), Representative Women of Deseret, a book of biographical sketches to accompany the picture bearing the same title (Salt Lake City: J. C. Graham & Co., 1884).
  98. Augusta Joyce Crocheron (author and complier), Representative Women of Deseret, a book of biographical sketches to accompany the picture bearing the same title (Salt Lake City: J. C. Graham & Co., 1884).
  99. Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 263–264.
  100. Allen L. Wyatt, "Zina and Her Men: An Examination of the Changing Marital State of Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs Smith Young," in FAIR Conference (Salt Lake City, Utah: FAIR, 1st draft, 2006).
  101. Oa J. Cannon, "History of Henry Bailey Jacobs," (L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Brigham Young University, n.d.), 1; cited by Wyatt, "Zina and Her Men: An Examination of the Changing Marital State of Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs Smith Young," (emphasis added). See also Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy, 44; Van Wagoner, "Mormon Polyandry in Nauvoo," 78; Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 80.
  102. These charges are examined in detail (here).
  103. Cannon, "History of Henry Bailey Jacobs," 5; cited in Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy, 44.
  104. See here for a more in-depth analysis of attacks on Brigham and Joseph regarding Zina and Henry.
  105. Interview of John Wight [RLDS] with Zina D.H. Young, October 1, 1898, "Evidence from Zina D. Huntington-Young," Saints’ Herald, 52 (11 January 1905), 29; cited in Wyatt, "Zina and Her Men: An Examination of the Changing Marital State of Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs Smith Young".
  106. Autobiography of Zina D. Young, no date, part of the Zina Card Brown Family Collection (1806-1972), LDS Church Archives, MS 4780, box 2, folder 17, cited by Wyatt, "Zina and Her Men: An Examination of the Changing Marital State of Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs Smith Young,"; John Wight with Zina D.H. Young, 1 October 1898, “Evidence from Zina D. Huntington-Young,” Saints Herald, 52 (11 January 1905): 28.
  107. Joseph F. Smith Affidavit Books, 1:5, CHL.
  108. Allen Wyatt, "Zina and Her Men: An Examination of the Changing Marital State of Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs Smith Young," 2006 FAIR Conference.
  109. Joseph C. Kingsbury, “History of Joseph C. Kingsbury,” (photocopy of manuscript), in Ronald and Ilene Kingsbury Collection, MS 522 Box 3 Folder 2, page 13, Marriott Library. off-site
  110. Brian and Laura Hales, "Sarah Ann Whitney," josephsmithspolygamy.org off-site
  111. Jessie L. Embry, "Ultimate Taboos: Incest and Mormon Polygamy," Journal of Mormon History 18/1 (Spring 1992): 93–113.
  112. Wikipedia, "Levirate marriage," off-site (Accessed May 18, 2014)
  113. Joseph Smith, An American Prophet's Record:The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith, edited by Scott Faulring, Significant Mormon Diaries Series No. 1, (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books in association with Smith Research Associates, 1989), 424. Entry in handwriting of Robert L. Campbell, signed by Bernhisel, and entered on 29 July 1868 for the date 26 October 1843.
  114. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 11:128.
  115. H. W. Naisbitt, Journal of Discourses 26:115.
  116. Jedediah M. Grant, "UNIFORMITY," (7 August 1853) Journal of Discourses 1:346.
  117. Orson Hyde, "The Judgements of God on the United States--The Saints and the World," (18 March 1855) Journal of Discourses 2:210.
  118. Charles W. Penrose, "Peculiar Questions Briefly Answered," Improvement Era 15 no. 11 (September 1912).
  119. Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols., ed., Scott G. Kenny (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 6:527 (journal entry dated 12 February 1870). ISBN 0941214133.(emphasis added)
  120. Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols., ed., Scott G. Kenny (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 7:31 (journal entry dated 24 September 1871). ISBN 0941214133.(emphasis added)
  121. John Dehlin, "Questions and Answers," Mormon Stories Podcast (25 June 2014).
  122. Richard S. Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy: A History (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1986),48; citing Robinson, Journal, 23–24.
  123. Orson Hyde, "The Marriage Relations," (6 October 1854) Journal of Discourses 2:75-75.
  124. "Remarks by Heber C. Kimball, directly after the sermon by President B. Young, printed in no. 34: Bowery, Oct. 6, 1855," Deseret News Vol. V, No. 35 (7 November 1855): 274 (2nd page of this number). off-site
  125. "The Manifesto and the End of Plural Marriage," Gospel Topics on LDS.org