Question: Since Joseph Smith "married" the wives of 11 other men, why were those women not "destroyed" as specified in the Doctrine and Covenants since they continued to live with their "previous" husbands?

Table of Contents

Question: Since Joseph Smith "married" the wives of 11 other men, why were those women not "destroyed" as specified in the Doctrine and Covenants since they continued to live with their "previous" husbands?

What does the Doctrine and Covenants say on this subject?

Doctrine and Covenants 132:63 states,

But if one or either of the ten virgins, after she is espoused, shall be with another man, she has committed adultery, and shall be destroyed; for they are given unto him to multiply and replenish the earth, according to my commandment, and to fulfil the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my Father continued, that he may be glorified.

Joseph was sealed to those women, but they continued to live with their current husbands during their earthly existence

Since Joseph Smith "married" the wives of 11 other men, why were those women not "destroyed" as specified in the Doctrine and Covenants since they continued to live with their "previous" husbands? The answer is that they were not previous husbands, but current husbands. Joseph's sealing to them made him a future husband in the next life.

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

Joseph Smith's "polyandrous" marriages were for eternity, in the next life

Joseph Smith's "polyandrous" marriages were for eternity. He was sealed to those women, but they continued to live with their current husbands during their earthly existence. When they were sealed to Joseph, this did not invalidate their current marriage. These married women continued to live as husband and wife with their current (not "prior") husbands. Being sealed to Joseph for eternity did not invalidate their existing marriage for time. They would not have been "destroyed" for doing so since Joseph was never "with" these women in a situation which would have been classified as adultery according to D&C 132:63. In the case of these married women, the marriages (i.e., the sealing) to Joseph would only have effect after death.

Notes