A Case for Joseph Smith; A Case Against Polygamy
Benjamin R. Horton
A Review of the Book:
Richard and Pamela Price
“Inasmuch as this church 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.” – D&C 101 (1835 and 1844 editions) (revelation dated, December 16, 1833)
“What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one.” – Joseph Smith (LDS History of the Church, 6:410–411)
“And again, I say unto you, that whoso forbiddeth to marry, is not ordained of God, for marriage is ordained of God unto man: wherefore it is lawful that he should have one wife, and they twain shall be one flesh and all this that the earth might answer the end of its creation: and that it might be filled with the measure of man, according to his creation before the world was made.” – Joseph Smith
“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” – John 8:32
“Tu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito.”
Most LDS and non-LDS scholars largely accept that Joseph Smith had between twenty-seven to forty-nine wives (most claim around thirty-four). See http://www.wivesofjosephsmith.org/. As semi-officially recognized by the LDS Church, Joseph’s first polygamous wife was allegedly Fanny Alger who supposedly married Joseph at the young age of sixteen.
Although undocumented, the marriage of Fanny and Joseph most likely took place in Kirtland, Ohio sometime in 1833. She would have been sixteen years old. At the time, Fanny was living in the Smith home, perhaps helping Emma with house work and the children. Ann Eliza Webb recalls, “Mrs. Smith had an adopted daughter, a very pretty, pleasing young girl, about seventeen years old. She was extremely fond of her; no mother could be more devoted, and their affection for each other was a constant object of remark, so absorbing and genuine did it seem.”
Shockingly, Fanny Alger was not the youngest alleged wife of Joseph Smith. Helen Mar Kimball was purportedly only fourteen when she claimed to have married Joseph Smith in May 1843 (Joseph would have been thirty-seven). According to Ms. Kimball:
“[Joseph explained] the principle of Celestial marriage . . . After which he said to me, ‘If you will take this step, it will ensure your eternal salvation & exaltation and that of your father’s household & all of your kindred.[‘] This promise was so great that I willingly gave myself to purchase so glorious a reward.”
When I first learned of Fanny’s and Helen’s FALSE claims (which are not disputed by the LDS Church), I was spiritually distraught. Because the LDS Church did not dispute these claims in any manner, I assumed Fanny and Helen were telling the truth. Having served a two-year mission for the LDS Church in Russia and being ignorant of the extent of Joseph’s purported reprehensible polygamous deeds, I often engaged in spiritual acrobatics to explain polygamy as the issue regularly arose. My most common defense was that polygamy was part of an arcane “restitution of all things” or was necessary to raise “a righteous seed,” practiced by only a very few, but that it was no longer necessary under God’s plan (I knowingly never mentioned the fact that LDS temples continue the practice of sealing more than one woman to the same man and that polygamy was officially sanctioned in Section 132 of the Doctrine & Covenants constituting a higher celestial law as accepted by modern Mormonism). Of course, I correctly emphasized that any current polygamist in the LDS Church was immediately excommunicated.
Notwithstanding my sincere but feeble efforts, and to my chagrin, many moral people refused to join the LDS Church because of their legitimate contempt for polygamy. Also, most converts joined the LDS Church without knowledge of its polygamist past (a material omission). It made no sense to me why God built his “perfect” church in such a manner to discourage good and upright people from joining His church. I was not the only missionary to share this sentiment – but missionaries were certainly not trained to question their authorities or raise the issue.
Not surprisingly, many Mormons similarly view the polygamous doctrine with embarrassment and derision. The LDS Church, the repository of most of the records, largely evades any clear discussion of the doctrine as shown herein. For example, LDS Church manuals and other media brazenly omit any mention of Joseph’s (and Brigham’s) supposed other wives. It was not until after my mission that I became aware of the official but unspoken, shocking, and false position of the LDS Church regarding Joseph.
Believing the stories of Fanny Alger and Helen Mar Kimball (as supported by the LDS Church), spiritual acrobatics no longer mattered, I rightfully refused to believe that God would instruct his so-called “Prophet” to marry a sixteen-year-old “very pretty, pleasing young girl” who was Joseph’s so-called “adopted daughter” in Joseph’s household, or that God would command Joseph (at thirty-seven) to marry a fourteen-year-old girl under the disingenuous promise of exaltation for her and her family. For me, God would not tolerate let alone command His chosen servant to engage in such adulterous and lascivious behavior. Based on these claims, I had no logical choice but to consider Joseph Smith an impostor and a morally corrupt monster that exploited young women to satisfy his wicked sexual desires. However, I was wrong about Joseph Smith!
Several years later, I became aware of and read the book Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy by Richard and Pamela Price. I discovered the truth about Joseph Smith and the origins of Mormon polygamy and the truth felt great. As Joseph stated in the King Follett sermon, “This is good doctrine. It tastes good. I can taste the principles of eternal life, and so can you.” Thank you Richard and Pamela Price for your extensive research on the subject!
In short, the evidence overwhelmingly shows that Joseph Smith (and Hyrum Smith) did not engage in or support polygamy but vehemently fought and preached against polygamy until his death. Unknown to LDS members, polygamy did not originate with Joseph Smith, but originated with a polygamous sect known as the Cochranites and other polygamous converts from England. Joseph Smith was the victim of a successful doctrinal conspiracy led primarily by Dr. John Bennett and Brigham Young. Moreover, Brigham shamefully but effectively led the effort to rewrite and cover-up Joseph’s history to such an extent to wrongfully convince the world that Joseph was the founder of polygamy in the LDS Church thereby forever damning the growth of the LDS Church.
Why does it matter?
Many ask why it matters whether Joseph Smith practiced and founded polygamy. First, if Joseph was adamantly opposed to polygamy and not its originator, as the evidence strongly shows, then Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Lorenzo Snow, Joseph F. Smith, et al. perpetrated a manifest fraud against God, Joseph Smith, the LDS Church, and the world. No moral man should view these men as God’s chosen but as vile men, adulterers, and slanderers whose lies contributed to the murder of Joseph Smith and were in fact the greatest hindrances to the spread of Joseph’s true doctrine – i.e., millions of virtuous people will have nothing to do with Joseph Smith because of the lies of these men.
Second, if Joseph Smith did in fact vehemently oppose polygamy, Section 132 of the Doctrine & Covenants (as provided by Brigham Young under very dubious circumstances) is a patent forgery by Brigham Young and that any continued practice of polygamy in the temples of the LDS Church constitutes an abomination as taught by Joseph Smith. Any claim that polygamy is a so-called higher law in heaven is undoubtedly false and all other doctrines originating with Brigham Young must be viewed with extreme skepticism. Further, all other polygamous communities outside the LDS Church that also believe in Section 132 and the teachings of Brigham Young must likewise abandon their fraudulent belief system.
Third, it is probable that the current leaders of the LDS Church are aware of (or knowingly remain ignorant of) Brigham’s fraud and nevertheless continue to support Brigham as a great “Prophet” when in fact they may know Brigham was a debase liar and a tyrant. Why would the current leadership of the LDS Church knowingly continue to support the treacherous Brigham Young? - In order to protect the current leaderships’ specious claim to the priesthood keys of God’s kingdom.
Fourth, the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (now commonly known as the Community of Christ), including Emma Smith and Joseph Smith III, were correct in their assessment of Brigham Young and the false doctrines of the LDS Church. The LDS Church should formally apologize to the Reorganized Church (Community of Christ) and attempt to bridge the fallacious chasm the polygamists created between these two churches.
Finally, at the very least, if the chain of priesthood authority is broken (how could the keys of the kingdom pass through the lies, deceit, adultery, and lasciviousness of Brigham Young and others), the current President of the LDS Church, Thomas S. Monson, is no more a prophet than Pope Benedict XVI (who supposedly received his authority through a series of contemptible Popes). Any claim that the LDS Church, as founded on the lies of Brigham Young, is God’s true and only church is plainly false and should be rejected.
I do not consider myself an enemy of the LDS Church but a truth seeker. I firmly believe the LDS Church has done many wonderful things in the world and has many wonderful doctrines that contribute to a better and healthier people. As a missionary, I personally saw many lives become better through the LDS Church’s respectable teachings. However, the false histories and doctrines of the LDS Church must be shunned and discarded in the most open and repentant matter before the LDS Church can gain its integrity and earn a rightful place as a Christian church.
Please read this discussion (10 Parts) and evaluate the evidence and decide for yourself whether Joseph was innocent of polygamy. If my position is correct, as the evidence shows, Joseph Smith certainly deserves to have his reputation as a virtuous and monogamous man restored.
- Not one child has been discovered through DNA evidence to be the issue of Joseph's alleged polygamous relationships (yet Joseph purportedly had thirty-four wives, thirteen of which claimed that Joseph's relationships were sexual). Further, Joseph had several children with Emma during this time. In contrast, Brigham Young had fifty-six children.
- Chauncey L. Higbee, a lawyer, was able to exploit young women by claiming that Joseph Smith secretly sanctioned polygamy. On May 24, 1842, Joseph Smith, under oath, sued Higbee in the State of Illinois for slander related to his claims that Joseph was a polygamist. Clearly, Joseph would not sue an attorney in a state where polygamy was illegal - because truth is the ultimate defense to a slander cause of action. Higbee would have undoubtedly defended Joseph's suit by claiming that Higbee's allegations of Joseph's polygamous "secret doctrine" and practice were true. Either Joseph was insane and an intrepid liar, willing to bet his freedom that the Illinois court would not discover the "secret" truth, or Joseph only brought the slander claim against Chauncey because Joseph was truly innocent of polygamy.
- Joseph repeatedly and unequivocally denounced polygamy (please read through the many quotes provided herein) as a vile and wicked practice up until the date of his death. One of his harshest sermons against polygamy occurred only one month and one day before his death ("I had not been married scarcely five minutes, and made one proclamation of the Gospel, before it was reported that I had seven wives . . . I am innocent of all these charges . . . What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one." LDS History of the Church 6:410-11). The LDS Church claims that Joseph had over thirty wives at this time - Nonsense! Either Joseph was one of the biggest liars in history (and sexually exploited young teenagers under the promise of exaltation) as the LDS Church purports, or Joseph was innocent of the polygamy charge and Brigham Young fraudulently altered Joseph's history to support Young's claim to leadership.
- Many other leaders of the Church (nearly all) repeatedly, publicly, and unequivocally denounced polygamy up until the date of Joseph's death and denied that Joseph Smith was preaching any such doctrine, secret or otherwise. These Church leaders submitted affidavits and public statements attesting to Joseph's innocence. Either these Church leaders were liars, conspiring with Joseph in covering up polygamy as a "secret doctrine" as the LDS Church claims, or they were telling the truth and Joseph was innocent of polygamy.
- Emma Smith and Joseph Smith III (he was 11 1/2 years old at the time of Joseph's death) continually declared until the end of their lives that Joseph was innocent of polygamy. Emma denied every seeing D&C Section 132 or burning the original document.
- Polygamy did not originate with Joseph Smith, but with a polygamous sect known as the Cochranites, many of which were converted to Mormonism (Brigham married one of the Cochranites). These polygamous practices were adopted by Dr. John C. Bennett, Brigham Young, and others. Joseph took substantial measures to expel those known individuals practicing polygamy (Brigham's polygamy remained a secret).
- Material paragraphs of Section 101 of the Doctrine and Covenants were intentionally deleted by Brigham Young when Brigham introduced Section 132 under VERY spurious circumstances. Section 101 (1835 edition) stated: "Inasmuch as this church 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." Unbelievably, Section 132 was provided by Young (supposedly a revelation of Joseph Smith's) eight years after Joseph's death and not in Joseph's handwriting. Ridiculously, Young claimed that the original Section 132 (the one in William Clayton's handwriting, not Joseph's), was burned by Emma when Hyrum showed it to her, but that a second copy was fortuitously made beforehand by Joseph C. Kingsbury, the store clerk of Bishop Whitney (the copy that exists today). He also added that the Kingsbury copy of the revelation was inexplicably left in a desk drawer until discovered by Young many years after Joseph's death. Young also never explained why Joseph and Hyrum never mentioned the revelation or the Emma incident to anyone or why Joseph never made an attempt to authenticate the Kingsbury's copy since the original was purportedly destroyed. In other words, Section 132 has every telltale sign of being a complete fabrication.
- Brigham Young led the conspiracy to alter LDS Church history and even Joseph's personal journal in order to bolster his claim that polygamy originated with Joseph Smith. On April 1, 1845, Young brazenly recorded the following: "I commenced revising the History of Joseph Smith at Brother Richard's office: Elder Heber C. Kimball and George A. Smith were with me." Other polygamists, under Young's control and direction, submitted false affidavits decades after Joseph's death to further claim that Joseph revealed polygamy.
Please continue to Part 2 (http://www.confessionsofanelder.blogspot.com/2012/06/case-for-joseph-smith-case.html)
 Virgil’s Aeneid, Book VI, which means “Do not give in to evil but proceed every more boldly against it.”
 The term “LDS” refers to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also known as the Mormons.
 See http://www.wivesofjosephsmith.org/02-FannyAlger.htm. (Emphasis added).
 See http://www.wivesofjosephsmith.org/26-HelenMarKimball.htm. (Emphasis added).
 This was another doctrinal issue I could never grasp, why would the LDS Church excommunicate persons who were practicing exactly what was taught in Section 132? – It seemed hypocritical. I raised the issue with my Bishop in a personal interview when I was sixteen; however, he only scoffed at my question.