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

Table of Contents

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. [1]

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.

Notes

  1. 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.