In reply to the chapter, “Lying Prophets and Apostles”
Pages 146, lines 3-9
“The early Mormons were urged by their founding Prophet to put everything down in daily journals or diaries; enough evidence was recorded to put Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and many of the other Mormon Apostles and Prophets in prison.” The authors say that the Church has “locked the incriminating documents away . . . but much of the scandal has leaked out.”
Why would those perpetrating a fraud encourage the keeping of records that could be used as incriminating evidence?
How do the authors know what is locked away? “Much of the scandal has leaked out,” they claim, but where are some examples?
One example of diary information that has come to light has brought new evidence that Joseph Smith received a revelation on plural marriage as early as 1831 or 1829.
The authors however reject this evidence because the 1843 date fits in more with their accusations that a plural marriage revelation was an afterthought in LDS history.
Page 146, lines 11-13
Mormons wear “secret underwear with occult Masonic markings that allegedly give it magic protective powers.”
There is nothing remarkable or unusual about religious persons wearing special clothing as a reminder of their religious obligations or status. Clerical garb, yarmulkes, or other religious vestments are familiar to all Americans; so are crucifixes and religious medals. The markings on garments are reminders of the high standards of personal behavior expected of followers of Christ. Official Church writings about the garment have made it clear that it has no supernatural protective powers, but one who keeps the covenants of proper moral conduct made in the temple is entitled to protection from the Lord.
Page 147, lines 1-14
“One’s genealogy must be traced all the way back to Adam.”
Church leaders have asked us to trace back four generations and more if possible. With present availability of sources, tracing one’s ancestors to Adam is obviously impossible.
Page 147, lines 20-21
“[The doctrine of] Celestial marriage is causing hundreds if not thousands of divorces among Mormons.”
There is no documentation for this assertion, though such was promised at the beginning of the book.
The “divorce bug” sweeping the nation does not leave LDS temple marriages immune, but the one out of ten divorce rate stated by President Spencer W. Kimball is much better than the one out of three to one Out of two national average (Spencer W. Kimball, Marriage and Divorce, p. 3).
Those who receive a temple marriage and honor their covenants know that it is the best factor in the world in reducing divorce and other marital problems.
Page 147, lines 35-37
“There is not one verse in either the Bible or the Book of Mormon that teacfws celestial marriage . . . is essential for eternal life.”
There are numerous biblical and Book of Mormon scriptures that indicate the importance God places on marriage. I Cor. 11:11 and I Peter 3:7 apply to eternal marriage in a general, way: “Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord” and husbands and wives are “heirs together of the grace of life with God.” Also “whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven” (Matt. 18:18).
Latter-day Saints, who have modern revelation (the Doctrine and Covenants), and living prophets, as well as the Bible, are able to claim scriptural authorization of all their doctrines. One reason for the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through Joseph Smith was that what remains today of ancient scriptures alone is insufficient to reflect God’s mind and will.
Page 148, lines 5-8
Celestial [Plural] marriages were not even dreamed of until 1845.
There is good evidence that Joseph Smith had received revelations on the plurality of wives as early as 1831 and perhaps 1829 and was married to additional wives by the mid-1830s. This evidence is discounted by the authors because they want everyone to think Joseph Smith and other early LDS leaders were adulterous. There is a statement, by Brigham Young, that Joseph Smith had a plural marriage revelation in 1829, and this statement was recorded in the Charles Walker journal (Diary of Charles Lowell Walker, 1:349).
Page 148, lines 17-18
“The ‘New and Everlasting Covenant’ makes polygamy an essential part of Celestial Marriage.”
The “New and Everlasting Covenant” in LDS doctrine entails the entire gospel plan, not one individual idea. Celestial marriage is one aspect of the New and Everlasting Covenant. Until 1890 plural marriage was an acceptable plan of marriage, but not the “New and Everlasting Covenant.” However, every gospel covenant is part of the New and Everlasting Covenant.
Within days after the church was organized, Joseph Smith received a revelation which speaks of a new and everlasting covenant (D&C 22:1). Speaking of the apostasy the Lord said, “[They] have broken mine everlasting covenant” (D&C 1:15). “So I have sent mine everlasting covenant into the world to be a light to the world” (D&C 45:9). Even in the revelation on eternal marriage. Section 132, the first half deals with celestial marriage in the context of a man and his wife, and the rest of the revelation speaks of celestial marriage with plural wives.
It should be noted that verses 15, 18, 19 and 26 in Section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants speak of godhood for a man and a wife, not wives. See comments about page 34, line 14 for earlier discussion that plural marriage is not essential to exaltation.
Page 150, lines 10-12
“We now know that this [claiming an 1831 revelation] was an attempt to cover for Joseph Smith in case the suppressed truth was discovered that he had been practicing polygamy for years before 1843” [the year Section 132 was recorded].
In order to make an adultery charge sound credible, the authors must of course claim that Joseph Smith did not receive an earlier revelation on plural marriage. It is difficult to reason with those who dismiss all the evidence of the date for the plural marriage revelation as 1829 or 1831. To every historian that I know who has studied the issue in depth, there is no question but that Joseph Smith claimed to have had a revelation and was practicing plural marriage in the 1830s.
This does not settle the question of whether the revelation was of God. (The authors deal with that issue by repeatedly, calling Joseph Smith a satanic liar.)
A total study of everything the Prophet said, lived and accomplished must be weighed in determining whether he was a prophet or a liar. Plural marriage, authorized at times, certainly has ample biblical support. To deny this would make our Savior’s lineage a long line of adulterous forefathers. The position of the LDS Church is that before plural marriage can be practiced it has to be sanctioned by God, and that at times it was sanctioned by God. At other times it is forbidden by God. (See comments in relation to page 34, line 14.)
Had Joseph Smith been adulterous, he certainly wouldn’t have handled adulterous cases in the LDS Church so strictly. The excommunication of several top church leaders for adultery such as convert John C. Bennett (who became Nauvoo’s first mayor, and who had helped the Church get the Nauvoo charter through the Illinois legislature) brought Joseph Smith endless trouble. It would have been easier for Joseph Smith to have ignored the immorality of such an important man if that man were merely another fellow adulterer. Joseph Smith’s repeated admonitions of chastity are inconsistent with a life of adultery. That Joseph Smith practiced plural marriage because God commanded him to do so is a more logical conclusion and the correct one.
Page 150, line 26 to page 153, line 8
The authors now launch into the “repeated denials” by LDS people that they practiced plural marriage.
The following facts and possibilities are not acknowledged by the authors.
In the eyes of the public, “plural marriage” was synonymous with adultery. To Latter-day Saints, who were adamant against adultery (Church procedure of handling violators bears this out), their denial of what society called “plural marriage” was perhaps justified because from their point of view they were denying adultery (sexual relations outside of marriage), since they were convinced their prophet had received the revelation from God.
Since the policy of the LDS Church at first required the leaders to demonstrate this difficult marriage practice, the denials that the LDS Church (that is, as a whole) was practicing polygamy were essentially correct. This was undoubtedly one rationale for denial. (Plural marriage did not become a publicly announced policy until 1852.)
There was an understandable reluctance to announce such an “earthshaking” doctrine, even though it came from God. This is especially true in the light of the tremendous persecution the LDS people were already subjected to for being “different.”
It might be pointed out that strictly speaking the Latter-day Saints were not practicing the broad doctrine of plural marriage or even polygamy; those terms can mean all kinds of sexual deviation. Polygamy involves having more than one husband or wife, which Latter-day Saints did not practice. The early LDS practice would technically be polygyny (more than one wife), not polyandry (more than one husband). Since polygamy encompasses both practices it was not illogical for those supporting LDS plural marriage to deny the charge of polygamy.
Page 152, lines 4-5
The book implies that LDS plural marriage practices were “crimes against humanity. ”
We can hardly avoid being exposed today to the most vile portrayal of rape, gruesome murders, homosexuality, and bestiality. The most gross sexual aberrations including adultery, fornication, wife and child beating are almost an epidemic. Hard core pornography including the use of children is available by the touch of a dial. One has to wonder how the authors regard these real “crimes against humanity” as compared with the early practices of Latter-day Saints.
Even if one can’t accept the divine origins of plural marriage at that time, any fair observer of that phase of LDS history will see the faithfulness, solidarity, love and high moral standards that prevailed in most of those situations. Certainly there were problems associated with living plural marriage, but to condemn the early LDS practice of recognizing more than one wife and supporting each family and calling this a “crime against humanity” instead of labeling as wicked abominations the worldly practices of abortions, abandonments, divorces, cheating, and prostitution —this is, to say the least, an inconsistent approach. The nineteenth-century critics of LDS plural marriage, including some of the public officials, often condoned and practiced premarital and extramarital affairs.
For example, the federal government often appointed officials to Utah who were of low moral character. Judge William F. Drummond was sent to Salt Lake City. “He left his wife and family in Illinois . . . and brought with him to the territory a common courtesan, whom he introduced as his wife. This woman he honored with a place by his side while he sat in court dispensing advice to the Mormons on morality” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Essentials in Church History , p. 405)
Page 152, lines 6-7
“If Joseph Smith had a genuine revelation from God, then why not stand up for it openly?”
See earlier comments with page 150, line 26. After the 1852 announcement, the LDS people did stand for it openly, and hundreds went to prison rather than renounce it.
Page 152, lines 25-29
“Dr. Hyrum Andrus of Brigham Young University let slip the fact that the 1831 ‘revelation’ is safe and secure in the vault of the LDS Church Historical Department.”
The reference given to substantiate this claim is incorrect—possibly a typographical error. One wonders why the authors here attempt to document a claim that there is an 1831 plural marriage revelation when elsewhere they maintain no such revelation exists.
If the LDS Church produced the earlier revelation, that the authors doubt really exists, would it change their minds to accepting it as genuine?
The latest edition of the Doctrine and Covenants in its introduction of the celestial marriage section (132) refers to Joseph Smith’s knowledge of plural marriage in 1831.
Page 153, lines 9-10
“Only false prophets lie.”
Statements that Joseph Smith denied practicing plural marriage were discussed with page 150, line 26. The alleged ‘”denials” may have been denials of adultery.
If Joseph denied having more than one wife when he actually did, it does not prove one way or another his calling from God, who works with imperfect mortals..
Most Christians don’t reject Peter when in a moment of self-preservation he denied three times that he knew Jesus. We can also wonder about, but overlook, Abraham introducing his wife Sarah to the guards in Egypt as his sister to save his life. (IDS scripture gives a different point of view on this incident in Abr. 2:22-25.) Peter’s and Abraham’s actions did not make them false prophets. We can also understand Miriam not revealing that she was the sister of baby Moses.
See comments about page 79, line 21 for discussion of a prophet not being infallible.
Page 153, lines 22-23
“If he [Joseph Smith] lied about this issue, what else would he lie about?”
Of course “if” Joseph lied about this issue he might have told other lies or he might not have told other lies. “The authors are building a case on a big “if.” If proves nothing.
I suspect the authors would not accept the calling of Joseph Smith if “evidence” claiming he denied he was practicing plural marriage were proved incorrect.
Page 153, line 23
“How could anyone accept anything he [Joseph Smith] said?”
The facts are that most of those who walked with, worked with, and sat next to the Prophet, accepted him as a prophet. It is unlikely that the majority of followers would give up all they possessed including homes, friends, and possessions, to follow the restored gospel had they not been convinced Joseph Smith was a prophet. These thousands of eyewitness testimonies speak louder than today’s self-appointed debunkers.
It is noteworthy that hundreds of intelligent, discerning people who knew him well—people who would have made their mark in the world quite apart from their religious beliefs—went to their deaths firm in the conviction that Joseph Smith was a mighty prophet of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Page 155, lines 3-6
“Predictably ‘the Lord’ from Kolob vindicated his ‘Prophet’ by commanding everyone to practice polygamy, by damning those who refused, and by declaring that polygamy was absolutely essential for the coveted ‘Godhood.’ “
It seems to make sense that the Lord would not expect his people to practice a controversial and difficult doctrine if the leaders could not do so first. But be that as it may, those who refused to practice it were not “damned.”
The actual requirements of Latter-day Saint marriage, then as now, were strict adherence to moral law. Brigham Young said, “This law was never given of the Lord for any but his faithful children; it is not for the ungodly at all; no man has a right to a wife, or wives, unless he honors his Priesthood and magnifies his calling before God” (JD 3:265).
Page 155, lines 7-9
“Some of the top leaders [in the 1840s] . . . were defecting.”
(Many of Christ’s disciples left him, too.) Why is there no mention that most of those top leaders returned to the LDS Church when their problems were resolved? Or that many of those who did not were subsequently discredited by their own base actions?
The authors avoid saying most of these cases were excommunications and call them defections instead. The authors of course want to emphasize “disillusionment” when in reality most of those who left had no choice; they were excommunicated because of not living gospel principles.
Why would Joseph Smith dare allow top aides to be excommunicated, when he needed all the friends he could get? Joseph Smith did what had to be done to keep intact the integrity of the church.
Page 155, lines 10 and 11
“Apostle Orson Pratt [was] a mathematics professor and one of the few educated men among the early Mormons. “
That depends on what meaning we put on the word educated. In my study of LDS Church history, I am amazed at how many bright, alert and influential people were attracted to Joseph Smith. In a day when few Americans had much education, LDS converts were a very impressive group for the most part.
Assuming the authors are implying that it is the uneducated that are attracted to the LDS Church, then the fact that second, third and higher generation Mormons have very high levels of education speaks well of the fact that Mormonism gets positive results.
Page 156, lines 26-28
“There must be ‘no truth in Mormonism’ because no one yet who has opposed it has ‘become [physically] dark as midnight.’ “
In the Orson Pratt talk that is quoted it is apparent the LDS Apostle was speaking of a mental and not a physical darkness, as the footnote claims. “The Spirit of God is withdrawn from them” is the context of the idea when reading that part of the talk (JD 17:224-225).
Page 157, lines 2-3
“The Mormon Church. . . suppresses and hides documents, lies and distorts with no apparent conscience. “
See comments in relation to page 86, line 11.
Page 157, lines 3-5
“The [revelation on plural marriage] was privately concocted by Joseph Smith. “
Not once in this chapter is any mention made of the many scriptures from the Bible which sanction th8 practice of plurality of wives at certain times. God actually gave numerous wives to David (2 Sam. 12:8). Elsewhere the authors made the claim that there is not one shred of evidence for God supporting plural marriage (see page 169, line 29).
Some of the other biblical scriptures where God’s leaders including Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were practicing plural marriage are as follows:
|Gen. 16:1-3||Deut.25:5-10||2 Sam. 2:1-4|
|Gen. 25:6||Jud. 8:30-31||2 Sam. 3:2-5, 14-16|
|Gen. 29:21-30||Jud. 12:8-9, 13-14||2 Sam. 5:13|
|Gen. 33:5-7||1 Sam. 1:1-2||2 Sam. 12:8|
|Gen. 37:2||1 Sam. 25:42-43||2 Sam. 15:16|
|Num. 12:1||1 Sam. 27:3||2 Sam. 19:5|
|Deut. 21:15-17||1 Sam. 30:5, 8||2 Sam. 20:3|
Nor is the correct Book of Mormon teaching on the subject ever quoted:
For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife . . .. For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts. Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, . . . for if I will [italics added), saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things (Jacob 2:27-30).
In other words, monogamy is the rule except at those times the Lord commands differently.
Page 157, lines 18-31,
“The official account states” that Joseph Smith was teaching “the law of sealing [plural wives]. “
The words in the brackets were added as part of the book’s text and were not in the 1855 talk given by Elder George A. Smith (JD 2:216-217). In Mormonism “sealing” and “‘plural wives” are not synonymous terms as is implied in the foregoing statement by the authors. Nor is the Journal of Discourses an official LDS account as claimed.
Page 157, line 32 to end of page 158
“Here then are the unpleasant facts.”
According to the book
According to historical fact
|1. The alleged “revelation” in Section 132 was “not some grand announcement from heaven to the world,” but was suggested by Hyrum Smith as a way to persuade Emma Smith to go along with her husband’s polygamy.||Part of the revelation was directed to Emma Smith. However, many of the chapters in the Doctrine and Covenants, the Book of Mormon and the Bible are in the form of instruction, letters, and revelation directed to individuals. Later these items became canonized because of the truths they teach which have universal application. Titus, Philemon, and both books to Timothy are examples. “The wording of the revelation in D&C 132 also indicates broader application than just to Emma.|
|2. Instead of being “destroyed,” as the revelation warned, Emma lived another thirty-six years, time enough to abandon her husband’s church.||Reading the revelation, it certainly is not speaking of a physical destruction as the authors interpret. It is also a fact that Emma Smith at times was supportive of her husband’s other wives and helped select them. After her husband’s death, Emma, for a time, considered going toUtahwith the majority of the Saints. Since she eventually joined an offshoot of the church her husband led, isn’t this an indication that she felt her husband’s prophetic call was real? At the age of seventy-four, thirty-nine years after her husband’s death, Emma said of Joseph, “I believe he was everything he professed to be.”|
|3. The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints repudiated polygamy and many other early Mormon doctrines.||Rather than use the word “repudiate,” it would be more accurate to say that the RLDS have rarely admitted plural marriage was part of Joseph Smith’s teachings. Rather they believe it was an innovation by Brigham Young.|
|4. Emma joined the RLDS church that repudiated plural marriage.||The authors omit the fact that sixteen years after Joseph Smith’s death some, who had remained in the midwest, prevailed on Joseph Smith III, Joseph and Emma’s son, to take over their leadership. This and the personality conflicts that developed between Emma and Brigham Young following Joseph Smith’s death were major reasons for her joining that organization.|
|5. “Surely a genuine prophet would have the courage to publicly proclaim a revelation from God.”||Maybe, unless God did not want it to be made public at first.|
|6. It took thirty-two years after Joseph Smith’s death to include section 132 in the Doctrine and Covenants.||No other editions were printed during those difficult years when the Saints were eking out a survival in the barren Salt Lake-valley. Making the desert “blossom as a rose” was LDS priority during those years. The book fails, to point out that “Section 132” had the status of canonized revelation after plural marriage was announced in 1852.|
|7. “[In 1876] Mormon leaders took Section 101 condemning polygamy out of the Doctrine and Covenants and inserted Section 132 in its place, all without explanation.”||The reason was obvious, since plural marriage had become official church practice in 1852. (See comments with page 169, lines 30-33.)|
|8. Today’s readers are led to assume that Section 132 had been in the D&C since 1843.||Every LDS reader knows it takes time for revelation to become canonized. Every commentary on the D&C and probably every history book about the Latter-day Saints discusses the circumstances surrounding Section 132. Anyone interested in learning the circumstances does not have to look far. The same could be said about any LDS and non-LDS scripture. One has to do extra reading to learn the historical background of all scripture. The authors’ charge that the insertion of Section 132 into the D&C in 1876 is suppressed knowledge is misleading.|
|9. Some later presidents of the church said they did not know how or why or by whom Section 132 was substituted for section 101 in the D&C in 1876.||Since Brigham Young was president of the Church, how could anyone not believe the substitution was made under Brigham Young’s direction?|
|10. Mormon leaders considered the polygamy revelation to be the most holy and important doctrine ever revealed on earth.||Since the book ignores the official statements of the LDS Church that are completely contrary to this charge, it becomes apparent they do not wish to deal with facts but to use contrary statements made during the period when plurality of wives was practiced. See page 148, lines 17-18 for previous statements on the LDS position on plural marriage. On page 159, lines 28-29, the book quotes a high Church leader, Heber C. Kimball, who called it me of the most holy principles. This is different from the “most important doctrine.” It is true that during this time plural marriage was practiced, leaders were enthusiastic in their efforts to promote this form of marriage.|
|11. One must not place confidence in the morals or the judgments of early LDS leaders because they believed in ‘ ‘the polygamy caper.”||See comments in relation to page 150, lines 10-12, for earlier discussion showing evidence that plural marriage was not an immoral institution. LDS history has ample examples of those who did not adhere to the strictest moral standards and were excommunicated. Often these people tried to paint an immoral picture of the LDS Church.|
In my research for another book years ago, I came across the account of a high-ranking LDS General Authority who during the practice of plurality of wives was married to several wives, yet he was excommunicated for adultery. A church with less than the highest standards would certainly not have cut off one of its leaders for adultery if all of the other leaders were living immorally (Gilbert W. Scharffs, Mormonism in Germany, p. 36).
The practice of both polygamy and monogamy can be either moral or immoral. To not believe in polygamy is one thing, but to generalize aid say its adherents are generally immoral is not rational. A large portion of the world, including Moslems and others, practice plurality of wives. Serious-minded Moslems are some of the most chaste people.