Friday, June 22, 2012

Part 8 - A Case for Joseph Smith; A Case Against Polygamy

A Case for Joseph Smith; A Case Against Polygamy

“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.”  – Section 101 of the Doctrine and Covenants (1835 edition) (i.e., prior to being removed with the inclusion of Section 132)

Not one person has been proven through DNA to be the direct descendant of Joseph Smith outside Joseph’s marriage to Emma.

Although at least five persons have been tested, the fact that not a single child has been proven to be a descendant of Joseph Smith’s purported polygamous relationships strongly indicates that Joseph Smith is innocent of polygamy. [1]  

In contrast, by the time of his death, Young had 57 children by 16 of his wives; 46 of his children reached adulthood.  Joseph Smith purportedly had 33 wives (depending on your scholar) and yet not one child has been proven to be a direct descendant of Joseph Smith outside Joseph’s marriage to Emma. 

Many in the LDS Church would argue that Joseph did not have sexual relations with his wives (except Eliza Snow – which the LDS Church claims that lost her child as a result of being pushed down the stairs by Emma Smith).  Why the change in doctrine from semi- sexual wives under Joseph Smith to full- sexual wives under Brigham Young?
Years after Joseph Smith’s death, the LDS Church Knowingly Revised Doctrine and History to Bolster its Claim that Joseph Smith Revealed the Polygamy Doctrine

Doctrine & Covenants, Section 101

Unknown to nearly all of the members of the LDS Church, D&C 101 was amended in 1876, 33 years after Joseph’s death.  Some of the Cochanite (see below) converts to the church continued to practice their polygamous lifestyle discreetly, while others openly sought to recruit other Mormons to “the patriarchal order.”  Before long church leadership took notice, and denounced the practice.  The 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants included this Article on Marriage in Section 101:

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.”[2]  (Emphasis added).

The above passage from 1835 does not exist in the modern D&C 101.  Why?  It was removed when the Doctrine and Covenants was reprinted in 1876 (41 years later).  Joseph purportedly revealed polygamy in 1831 and began engaging in polygamy in early 1833.  Section 101 was revealed on December 16, 1833.  In other words, according to the time line recognized by the LDS Church, Joseph supposedly received revelation condemning polygamy after Joseph purportedly revealed polygamy in 1831 and was already married to his second wife, Fanny Alger.  How can this be possible?  Does God also lie about his own doctrine in order to protect the Church from its enemies?

The LDS Church has responded to the above scripture by claiming that Olivery Cowdery was the author of this verse which was composed while Joseph Smith was in Michigan.  Joseph Fielding Smith perpetuated the misinformation:

“This article on marriage was not a revelation and I want you never to forget it . . . . at this conference held on August 17, 1835, Joseph Smith and Frederick G. Williams . . . were not present; they were in Michigan . . . . this article on marriage . . . was written by Oliver Cowdery in the absence of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and the Prophet knew nothing of the action that was taken ordering them printed with the revelations.  These were not revelations, never were so considered, were ordered printed in the absence of Joseph Smith, and when Joseph Smith returned from Michigan and learned what was done---I am informed by my father, who got this information from Orson Pratt---the Prophet was very much troubled.  Orson Pratt and Joseph F. Smith, my father, were missionary companions; they traveled together, and my father learned a great many things from Orson Pratt of these early days.  When the Prophet came back from Michigan, he learned of the order made by the conference of the Church and he let it go through.”  Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 11, pp. 194-95.

First, Joseph Fielding Smith claimed to have gotten his information third-hand.  By the time Pratt allegedly told this to Joseph Fielding Smith, the LDS Church was in Utah, and Pratt himself was a polygamist.  It certainly served Joseph Fielding Smith’s agenda to “blame” the Article on Marriage on the excommunicated Cowdery, because of its obvious contradiction to the purported 1843 “revelation on celestial marriage.”

Second, the Article on Marriage was voted on by “common consent,” approved, and published in the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants.  If, as later the LDS Church claimed, that Joseph Smith had had his first “revelation” on plural marriage as early as 1831, then it is obvious that upon returning from Michigan, and learning of the Article on Marriage (a very important verse), he should have immediately called a meeting, corrected the mistake, and ordered the Article on Marriage torn out or stricken through in each copy.  Joseph Smith lived another nine years after the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants was published, and neither made a single statement against the Article nor took any action to correct it.  For the LDS Church to believe that Cowdery could slip an incorrect principle into the “standard works,” they must concede that Smith’s relationship with God was operating at somewhat less than peak efficiency.

Moreover, as detailed above, in response to Dr. Bennett’s libelous claims, Joseph Smith (not Oliver Cowdery) republished the law of marriage on at least two separate occasions in the Times and Seasons publication.  Joseph’s knowing republication of the revelation on at least two separate occasions is concrete evidence that Joseph supported the original content of Section 101.  The LDS Church’s implication that Joseph Smith did not agree with the above scripture is disingenuous and without merit.
Doctrine & Covenants, Section 132

According to the LDS Church’s institute manual:  “The revelation [Section 132] was not made public until Elder Orson Pratt, under the direction of President Brigham Young, announced it at a Church conference on 29 August 1852.  The revelation was placed in the Doctrine and Covenants in 1876.”[3]

Author Alan R. Waterman wrote the following trenchant response[4]: 

“So eight years after Joseph’s death, at a special conference called for the purpose, President Brigham Young (a polygamist) asked Apostle Orson Pratt (now also a polygamist) to read aloud a document purporting to be a revelation from the Lord to Joseph Smith, later to be incorporated into the Doctrine and Covenants as section 132.  The document revealed that plural marriage was not merely approved by the Lord, but now actually required for any good Latter-day Saint man or woman not wishing to be damned.

Brigham explained that this revelation of Joseph’s, which Brigham called ‘the New and Everlasting Covenant’ had been kept locked in a drawer in his desk all this time, but he didn’t explain why it hadn’t been released sooner.  Joseph Smith had been publicly declaiming against the very things contained within it for a year after it was reported to have been received.   Why would any prophet withhold a revelation that came directly from God?  Surely any information the Lord sees fit to reveal to His people would be intended for immediate dissemination.

More curious yet, this revelation is purported to have been given in July of 1843, just three months before Joseph, as both Prophet and Mayor, angrily took to the streets of Nauvoo and threatened to prosecute any who were ‘preaching, teaching, or practicing the doctrine of plurality of wives’ and further warning all citizens that they are forbidden from engaging in it.  In order to accept that Joseph Smith would engage in an impromptu tirade like this after having received such a revelation, you would have to believe that he was not just an outrageous, overwrought liar; you’d have to believe he was completely insane.

Nor does the excuse hold that Joseph had to be careful because of his many enemies.  His enemies already believed he was practicing polygamy.  This would not be news to them.  Joseph Smith was not the type of man to limp around a controversy, especially if delivered from God.  On the question of whether, supposing he had believed in plural marriage, would he have shied away from declaring it, he stated, ‘I have taught all the strong doctrines publicly, and always taught stronger doctrines in public than in private.’

Brigham’s later explanation for why the revelation was not in Joseph Smith’s handwriting was that this one was actually a copy of the original revelation, as ‘Sister Emma burnt the original.’

When Emma Smith, back in Nauvoo heard this claim, she replied that she had ‘never saw such a revelation until it was published by Pratt in The Seer.’

This ‘copy’ of a very lengthy revelation was in the handwriting of William Clayton, formerly a scribe of Joseph Smith.  He was also now a polygamist.

What I wonder about is this:  was it the practice of Joseph Smith to have his scribes immediately create a second copy of all of his revelations, or did Brigham Young simply ask Clayton to ‘recreate’ this one from memory?”

In Addition to Section 101, Other Verses in the Doctrine and Covenants Seemingly Contradict Polygamy

D&C 42:22 (February 9, 1831):  “Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else.”

D&C 49:16 (May 1831):  “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.”

Please continue to Part 9 (

[1] See Wikipedia, “Children of Joseph Smith,” “Though there were allegations of paternity in some of these polygamous marriages, no children have ever been proven to be Smith’s.  There is ongoing genetic research to determine if any descendants of alleged children have Smith’s genetic markers, and so far all tests have been negative.”
[2] History of the Church, Volume 2, p. 247:  Marriage should be celebrated with prayer and thanksgiving, and at the solemnization, the persons to be married, standing together, the man on the right and the woman on the left, shall be addressed by the person officiating as he shall be directed by the Holy Spirit, and if there be no legal objections, he shall say, calling each by name:  ‘You both mutually agree to be each other’s companion, husband and wife, observing the legal rights belonging to this condition: that is, keeping yourselves wholly for each other, and from all others, during your lives?’ And when they have both answered ‘yes,’ he shall pronounce them ‘husband and wife,’ in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by virtue of the laws of the country and authority vested in him.  ‘May God add His blessing and keep you to fulfill your covenants from henceforth and forever. Amen.’
“The clerk of every church should keep a record of all marriages solemnized in his branch.  All legal contracts of marriage made before a person is baptized into this Church should be held sacred and fulfilled.  Inasmuch as this Church of Christ 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, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again.  It is not right to persuade a woman to be baptized contrary to the will of her husband; neither is it lawful to influence her to leave her husband.  All children are bound by law to obey their parents, and to influence them to embrace any religious faith, or be baptized, or leave their parents without their consent, is unlawful and unjust. We believe that husbands, parents, and masters, who exercise control over their wives, children and servants, and prevent them from embracing the truth, will have to answer for that sin.”  (Emphasis added).
[3] See  “It is clear that the Prophet Joseph Smith received section 132 before it was recorded but delayed making it known.  The Prophet knew the Lord’s will on plural marriage within the new and everlasting covenant probably as early as 1831 (see History of the Church, 5:xxix).  In March 1843 he spoke to William Clayton of eternal marriage.  In July of that year, he was discussing the doctrine with his brother Hyrum in William Clayton’s presence when Hyrum said, ‘If you will write the revelation on celestial marriage, I will take it and read it to Emma, and I believe I can convince her of its truth, and you will hereafter have peace’ (History of the Church, 5:xxxii).  The Prophet consented and told William Clayton to get some paper to write; but to his brother’s ‘urgent request’ that the Prophet use the Urim and Thummim to recall the exact revelation, Joseph replied that he did not need it, ‘for he knew the revelation from beginning to end’ ( History of the Church, 5:xxxii).  When he had finished dictating, William Clayton read it back slowly, and Joseph said that it was exact. Bishop Newel K. Whitney heard the revelation read and asked permission of the Prophet Joseph Smith to have it copied.  With the Prophet’s approval, Bishop Whitney sent Joseph C. Kingsbury the next day to copy it. Brothers Kingsbury and Clayton compared the copy line by line to the original and found it correct.”
[4] See  This article was the primary inspiration of this review.

No comments:

Post a Comment