Question: Was Joseph Smith sealed or married to other men's wives without the knowledge or consent of their husband?

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Question: Was Joseph Smith sealed or married to other men's wives without the knowledge or consent of their husband?

Joseph Smith was sealed to between 11 to 14 women who were married to men who were still living

Joseph Smith was sealed to between 11 to 14 women who were married to men who were still living. Some of these men were even active members of the Church.

  • One critic claims that these were "unions without the knowledge or consent of the husband, in cases of polyandry." [1]

Each case is unique. In some cases, the husband was not a member of the Church who didn't believe in marriage after this life and simply didn't care if Joseph was sealing to his wife for eternity

To conclude that these "unions" were performed without the knowledge or consent of the living husband is a gross oversimplification. Each case is unique. In some cases, the husband was not a member of the Church who didn't believe in marriage after this life and simply didn't care if Joseph was sealing to his wife for eternity. Since the husbands didn't necessarily believe in a "next life," it seems that they had no problem with the idea of their spouse being sealed to Joseph.

For some whose husbands were Church members, there is circumstantial evidence that the husbands approved

For some whose husbands were Church members, there is circumstantial evidence that the husbands approved, since they continued to live with their wives and associate with the Saints.

Here is a summary of the situation of each of these 14 women and whether or not their husbands knew and approved

  1. Ruth Vose Sayers: Sealed to Joseph for eternity only with the knowledge and consent of her husband Edward (a non-member), and with the consent of Joseph's wife Emma. Ruth continued to live with Edward as earthly husband.
  2. Esther Dutcher: Married her husband Albert at age 15. Sealed to Joseph for eternity only without the knowledge or consent of her Latter-day Saint husband. Esther and Albert continued to live as earthly husband and wife until Esther died. After her death, Albert acted as proxy to have her sealed to Joseph for eternity and to himself for time.
  3. Mary Elizabeth Rollins: Married her non-Mormon husband Adam at age 17. Sealed to Joseph for eternity after trying and failing to convince her husband to join the Church. Mary lived with Adam until his death. She does not specify whether or not Adam knew of or consented to her sealing to Joseph.
  4. Presendia L. Huntington: Married her husband Norman at age 16. Sealed to Joseph for eternity only after her husband Norman left the Church. Presendia continued to live with Norman. She does not specify whether or not Norman knew of or consented to her sealing to Joseph.
  5. Sarah Kingsley: Sealed to Joseph for eternity. Her husband John was not a member of the Church, but was friendly to the Latter-day Saints. She does not specify whether or not John knew of or consented to her sealing to Joseph.
  6. Patty Bartlett: Married her husband David at age 17. Sealed to Joseph for eternity. Her husband David was a member of the Church, and they continued to live together until he died. He and Patty received their endowment together in Nauvoo after Joseph's death. She does not clarify what her Latter-day Saint husband thought of her sealing to Joseph, or whether or not he knew and consented to this.
  7. Elizabeth Davis: Sealed to Joseph for eternity, but continued to live with her LDS husband Jabez Dufee. She does not specify whether or not her husband knew of and consented to the sealing, although there is some circumstantial evidence that he may have objected to this.
  8. Lucinda Pendleton: Married her husband William Morgan at age 18. Sealed to Joseph for eternity after his death. There is no written evidence that she was sealed to him during his lifetime.
  9. Elvira Annie Cowles: Sealed to Joseph for eternity. She was married to her husband Jonathan apparently at Joseph's request. Jonathan was fully aware of Elivra's sealing to Joseph prior to this marriage.
  10. Marinda Nancy Johnson: Married her husband Orson Hyde at age 19. She was sealed to Joseph some time after her marriage to Orson. There are conflicting accounts that indicate that she did this either with, or without, her husband's knowledge and consent.
  11. Zina Diantha Huntington: She was married to her husband Henry and pregnant by him at the time she was sealed to Joseph for eternity. Her husband Henry was aware of this.
  12. Sylvia Sessions: Married her husband Windsor at age 20. She was sealed to Joseph after Windsor was excommunicated and left Nauvoo. Sylvia may have considered herself "divorced" from Windsor at this point. Sylvia's daughter Josephine may be a legitimate child of Joseph Smith, but a clear link has not yet been proven.
  13. Sarah Ann Whitney: Sarah was married to Joseph for time and eternity while she was still a single woman. Later, she was married civilly to Joseph Kingsbury as a "pretend marriage," in which they lived in the same home, but which apparently did not include marital relations. Joseph Kingsbury therefore had the knowledge that he was marrying one of Joseph's plural wives and consented to it.
  14. Mary Heron: Married her husband John Snider at age 18. John was an active member of the Church. There is insufficient information to determine whether or not her husband knew of and consented to her sealing to Joseph.

Notes

  1. Jeremy Runnells, "Letter to a CES Director"