It’s Time To Stop Hating on Mormons About Polygamy

Fact: Early mormons practiced polygamy.

Fact: Yes…it sounds just as weird to me as it does to you.

Fact: If you’re a Christian, Jew, or Muslim…then you’d have to abandon your faith if you condemn periodic requirements to live in polygamous societies.

Fact: If you’re an atheist…then there is no moral law prohibiting you from practicing polygamy. Any moral laws that you live by have either been dictated by society or self. And if we’re living by societal norms…then those can change with the wind.

Let me make one thing clear. I am not defending or advocating polygamy. Just the thought of it makes me cringe…and I’m a man. Without a doubt…I don’t want another woman.

I am however defending the logic behind why polygamy might have been practiced in the early days of the church.

polygamy mormons

Over the past few days…I’ve been hit with emails, texts, private Facebook messages and every other type of message asking me about one topic; Polygamy. It appears as if every major news outlet in the world decided it would be fun to “front page” the fact that polygamy took place 150 years ago in the LDS church.

Big news right?

The media has no idea why Mormons practiced polygamy…so don’t listen to them.

The Church is making a big push to get everything aired out. They’re cleaning out their closet. They’re saying in effect…”here it is…this is who we are.” They seem to be doing this in order to set the record straight on things that detractors of the Church are otherwise presenting in a decontextualized fashion.

Mormon’s don’t live polygamy today and haven’t done so for over 120 years. So how come the media and others can’t just leave it alone.

There’s a  major problem with how these topics hit the mainstream media. As they come across your Facebook or Twitter feed in the morning, you’re hit with a title that makes it seem as if no one had ever known about polygamy prior to this week. How it’s just coming out. How it’s now “Official”. They’re putting it out there for the entire world to see in a way that makes Mormons look like crazy fanatics.

In a NYTimes article this week…they quote a church member that says “Joseph Smith was presented to me as a practically perfect prophet, and this is true for a lot of people.”

Not sure where that came from but…Joseph was never painted as a perfect man to me. He was painted as a prophet of God…but never a perfect man. I learned about many of his weaknesses and how he…like many of the prophets and apostles of the past were fallible, sinful, and in need of the atoning blood of Christ. All you have to do is read some of the first few sections of the doctrine and covenants to watch Joseph Smith get rebuked by the Lord over and over again. He gets rebuked in those scriptures more than any other person in the church.

But for a church member to say Joseph was presented as “practically perfect” and then insinuate that polygamy was some sort of carnal secret of Joseph Smith’s that has now been revealed and has therefore tarnished his righteousness is completely illogical. According to Joseph Smith…he was commanded to take additional wives. He didn’t want to do it. He loved his wife Emma.

He said that, “an angel appeared to him three times between 1834 and 1842 and commanded him to proceed with plural marriage when he hesitated to move forward. During the third and final appearance, the angel came with a drawn sword, threatening Joseph with destruction unless he went forward and obeyed the commandment fully.”

If he was just doing what he was commanded…and you believe he was a prophet…then plural marriage shouldn’t taint the “practically perfect” picture you initially had of the prophet.

If so…then we’ll need to discard almost the entirety of the Bible. Remember…Jesus was “Jehovah” of the Old Testament. That means that it was Jesus that was commanding the most well known and loved Old Testament prophets to live the law of polygamy at various times in history.

Why do people make Joseph Smith into some kind of a monster but omit the fact that Jesus commanded those Old Testament prophets and that those prophets lived that principle fully?

Joseph Smith, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Solomon, Moses. These men are the same. Joseph Smith happens to hit much closer to home because the time period in which he lived. Polygamy seems so weird to us because of the time period that we ourselves live in. But time periods mean nothing when it comes to defining righteousness.

If polygamy was commanded by God in the Bible…then there is no reason polygamy can’t be commanded in our day. And if it was righteous in Abraham’s day then it can be righteous in Joseph Smith’s day. Society can have no claim on what is right and wrong. Only God can!

If I lived in the days in which the principle of plural marriage was revealed I’d have probably reacted like Brigham Young or Heber C. Kimball.

Brigham Young’s first reaction was to say that “it was the first time in my life that I had desired the grave, and I could hardly get over it for a long time. And when I saw a funeral, I felt to envy the corpse its situation, and to regret that I was not in the coffin…” (Journal of Discourses 3:266 (Jul. 14, 1855)

Heber C. Kimball said “I never felt more sorrowful,” speaking of the moment he learned of plural marriage in 1841. “I wept days. … I had a good wife. I was satisfied.”

That’s how I feel.

According to Helen Mar Kimball, Joseph Smith said that “the practice of this principle would be the hardest trial the Saints would ever have to test their faith.”

It’s interesting that he’d put it that way. “The hardest trial the saints would have to test their faith”? It seems as if it was true then…and still true today.

From June 7, 1844 with the Nauvoo Expositor to November 10, 2014 at every major news outlet in the world…the media has been publishing the fact that Joseph Smith and others had multiple wives. Those same media reporters go to their various churches on Saturday or Sunday and quote the polygamous Abraham or Moses. They get on stage and sing hymns that were published by the polygamous David, or quote proverbs from the polygamous Solomon.

Polygamy was not a cultural norm in Joseph Smith’s day. It wasn’t cool at the time and it wasn’t acceptable either. It wasn’t in Joseph Smith’s best interest to put it into place. If he was a bad guy…then there were plenty of other ways he could have found to gratify any convoluted sexual pleasures he had. He knew polygamy might cost him his life so why would he make it so public? He could have secretly used his power and influence to have sex with various women while staying under the radar. One has to ask themselves why he didn’t just head to the local bar or brothel like so many men in his day were doing and continue to do now.

It doesn’t make sense that someone would concoct an entire religion from the days of their youth and place their life on the line just so that they could be with multiple women when there were so many easier ways to go about that.

But in all of this…you’ll notice that there’s been no attempt by the Church to apologize for polygamy or write it off as “one of Joseph Smith’s carnal shortcomings.”

Why is that?

Because it wasn’t something that you can just write off as a human folly or consider him as a “fallen prophet” in his later years. Plural marriage was woven into the very beginnings of Mormonism for a very specific purpose without Joseph Smith even knowing.

But as we look back in hind sight…we can see that there is a doctrinal reasoning behind why all of it took place.

We’ll explore The Doctrinal Reasoning Behind Why Mormons Practiced Polygamy in Part II


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  • Sean Endicott

    This is a very well articulated article. I have said the same thing many times. Today we have a very one and only culture when it comes to relationships (except for swingers, adulterers, open relationships, hooking up, etc.) and I know that I wouldn’t want to be with another person other than my girlfriend.
    That being said, I’m amazed that we have reached a point at which Christians claim polygamy is wrong and homicidal marriage is Christian.
    The 12 tribes of Israel came from polygamy and therefore the line of Judah, The Saviour himself, and many others came from polygamy.

    • Thanks Sean. You’re exactly right.

      • Sean Michael Endicott

        I try my best to be calm in the comments section because I’ve tried being angry in life and my mom says that anger makes you stupid(she’s right).
        I think people have issues with what they view as dishonesty and other things regarding the early saints.
        My grandfather remarried after his first wife died and no one had an issue with him loving two women. Like I said, I don’t think I could do it but people should focus on the parts of it that they disagree with.

    • Victorious

      Why do people refer to the Old Testament as justification for polygamy? The Old Testament was the old law. Didn’t Christ come to bring the new higher law? Doesn’t the New Testament say a man should have one wife? Aren’t we supposed to be evolving spiritually rather than going backwards? The Old Testament says “an eye for an eye” and condoned “stoning,” and said it was okay to sell your daughter into slavery. Don’t we all agree that we’ve evolved beyond those archaic ideas? I don’t believe polygamy/polyandry was ever doctrine, was ever inspired, nor was it ever right.

      • Omar Josef

        Victorious, Sean & Greg are correct. And it really does not matter if you believe that this was doctrine or not, nevertheless it was practiced anciently and it was an accepted practice, and your Savior and mine, came through that lineage. You have to pray and ask our Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ if Joseph Smith was teaching doctrine that had to be restored as part of the Restitution of All Things ( Acts 3:19-21 ). You have to trust the answer to your prayers and then be willing to follow the promptings of the Spirit. No one will force you. But please do not come to any conclusion based upon some teaching of men. Trust God and your prayers. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

        • Alex Eisenberg

          Wow Omar!!! So with your rationalizing, are you not allowed to think? God gave you reason, use it!! “The Glory of God is intelligence, in other words, light and truth”!! Tell me where in the Old Testament did God command polygamy? It was the custom, not a commandment!!! Sarah gave Hagar as a sex slave to Abraham!!! It was a sexist society!! Do you think an all mighty God is sexist! Are men more valuable than women? The essay gives only JS point of view! Human beings change their morals and laws, not God!! This all polygamy stuff is simply defending the indefensible! The church will be better off just accepting that JS made a mistake with polygamy! For an innocent and vulnerable teenage girl giving up a faithful marriage as a sacrifice is too much. Whoever defends that is just a sexist with double standards!! Why condemning adultery then? Polygamy in JS times was much worse!!

        • Brother_Joseph

          In this case, these are not the teachings of men. These are verifiable facts about the way Joseph conducted his life while destroying others including that of his first wife Emma Hale Smith. As far as raising up righteous seed unto the Lord. There never was not even one single member of his progeny that remained in the Church. Not one. The Church has presented it in the most faith promoting way possible and it is still abhorrent.

    • GrumpyUtahan

      “homicidal marriage is Christian” .. lol

  • amy

    The argument that asks why would he choose something so anti society doesnt fit for me….people choose polygamy today. They are people we can see in real time, and they all look absolutely nuts to me. It is painful to put that same camp. The only thing that would make this bearable is if JS were not sexual with anyone but Emma. Just because poygamy has always been done does not make it more palatable to me.

    • Fred

      If he didn’t have sex with him, he would be disobeying D&C 132 Verses 62 and 63 Verses 62-63: And if he [Joseph Smith] have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified…. 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.

  • nellie83

    Love what you wrote but unfortunately because of the fundamentalist LDS offshoot churches who are extreme and conduct child marriages, etc. this is what the world thinks we are or they think that’s how we were. There were several of Joseph Smith’s wives whom he never consummated with by the admission of those particular wives as well, they were just for sealing in the temple to.
    I don’t have polygamist ancestors, that I know of, but my children do as their dad came from families whose ancestors were polygamists. As against it as I am and others are for these days, that is a part of the heritage of some members. Agree with what they did or not, that is the truth of it.
    If I believe/know through the spirit that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and the Book of Mormon is true and the gospel is true, then I must also believe that any revelation given to him which he then instructed the church to do, was also true and came from God.
    It had it’s place in the church at the time, but because of the laws of the land, does not have it’s place now. We see very plainly how the men in the offshoots of the church use polygamy to have unrighteous dominion over their wives which makes them subservient. Now, having said that not all polygamist offshoots/communities treat their wives poorly, just to clarify.
    I believe it was given as revelation from Heavenly Father at that time to help the church to grow, but interested to see what you’ll say in part II

  • Kari

    I think it’s naive for you to assume that all members knew about Joseph Smith and polygamy. You also leave out the fact that he practiced polyandry as well. The new essay released by the church reveals startling information. The fact that he had 40 polygamous wives is shocking. My husband is a convert, and this information is not given in the short four lessons you have before committing to baptism. Some of his polygamous wives were as young as 14. I was raised in the church and was told we practiced polygamy out of necessity because the husbands had been killed. These new essays blow that theory out of the water, so for some of us, it has rattled our testimonies. I am thankful the church has started to be more transparent about our past history, and they should be prepared for the backlash that this will cause.

    • Ya I agree…this stuff is tough. I don’t assume that all members knew or know about it. I just don’t like the way the media presents it.

      • Brother_Joseph

        Joseph didn’t like the way the Expositor presented it either. Knowing what we know now, the Expositor was telling the truth and Joseph was lying through his teeth.

    • Omar Josef

      Kari, I too am a convert to the Church. My mom’s side Catholic & dad’s side Baptist. I joined when I was a 2nd semester college student and 18 months later I was on my mission in England. I have never looked back. We should be grateful that the Church is finally becoming proactive, and actually telling people what we believe. I don’t know about you, but it bothers me when someone who is not of our faith tries to tell me what I believe. Listen to what one of our favorite Apostles stated last year in General Conference, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters—my dear friends—please, first doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.8 We must never allow doubt to hold us prisoner and keep us from the divine love, peace, and gifts that come through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.” Kari, think about how you feel when you listen to the music & talks at General Conference. To me they all ring true. Have faith and be patient, and this will clarify itself and this too shall pass.

      • Brother_Joseph

        At some point, all doubt must give way to verifiable facts.

        • Omar Josef

          We are here to walk by faith and not sight or by the Philosophies of Men Mingled with Scripture. Also we are not here to walk just by the “verifiable facts” of men. So please, “first doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.” God speaks to His children through Inspiration and not by facts. First comes the Witness from God, and then we reinforce that event or witness with the verifiable facts. It is not the other way around.

      • Jonathan

        “We should be grateful that the Church is finally becoming proactive, and actually telling people what we believe” – Two weeks ago we didn’t believe that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy and polyandry. We didn’t believe that he’d married young teenage girls with the promise of salvation to them and their families. We didn’t believe these things so vehemently that we’d excommunicate people for teaching it.

        • QED

          My whole life I have grown up knowing that Brigham Young, John Taylor, and Joseph Smith practiced polygamy.

          I think Gerald Lund’s series The Work and the Glory does a wonderful job of explaining polygamy, especially in connection with Joseph and his feelings on the matter. These books have been out for quite a while, directly contradicting your statement that, “Two weeks ago we didn’t believe that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy…”

          The other place where your statement is false is where you say “we”. Perhaps you never believed this personally, but as you are not the spokesperson for the Church, you, therefore cannot make generalized statements for it. Although you may not have believed this, using the term “I” must be the limit of your argument, unless you quantify who “we” includes.

      • caringincanada

        How can you quote Jesus and use teachings of a false idol. Omar there are many that used to be of your faith telling what was believed and practised. where do you think the hilarious Mormon musical came from silly.

    • Kim

      A 14 yr old in the 1800’s was not considered a child – the world and culture was different then.
      Children normally were not very educated – the focus was on working and EVERYONE worked.
      There can be no comparison between then and now – it is 2 different worlds

      • Hilary

        A focus on working is not the same as a focus on marrying. The average age of marriage was actually comparable to today’s. Did you know that girls in the 1800’s actually hit puberty significantly later than girls do today?

        • Jon Goff

          You are so wrong. Look at the laws in every state. When can a girl get married. A girl can get married, with parental consent at 14 in New York, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. In George, Indiana, Hawaii, Michigan, and Missouri at 15. Every other state at 16. In Colorado, there is no minimum as long as a judge approves. These laws are indicative of the age of consent to marriage, most often with parental approval, but a 14 year old girl was considered old enough to marry. Yes, today it shocks us, but then we have the luxury of not dying in our forties.

          • Sarah Zarate Braudaway-Clark

            Legal does not equate to common or even morally acceptable. People of the time were just as outraged at Joseph’s behavior as we are today, evidenced by his need to continually hide his actions and publicly lie about them. At least some of the mob activity Mormons faced was brought on by the outrage over his actions with young girls. A doctor was brought specifically to castrate him during one episode. His attentions toward young teens was not acceptable at the time, no matter how legal it might have been for an UNMARRIED man to marry a teen at the time.

          • Sarah Zarate Braudaway-Clark

            And most people weren’t dying in their 40s. Lifespan numbers were skewed by high infant and child mortality rates. Most people who made it out of childhood went on to live into old age.

          • GrumpyUtahan

            Under-aged teenagers can still be married, with parental consent, in most states today. It was no more common in Joseph Smith’s day than it is today. We cannot justify polygamy/polyandry with this reasoning.

          • Luman Walters

            but picture a 14 year old or a 12 year old today(since they do hit puberty sooner) doesn’t that look wrong to you? What about warren jeffs and his 14 year old bride is that ok then?

      • GrumpyUtahan

        There are currently laws on the books that allow teenagers to marry, with parental consent. Those laws have been in place for many years. But, just as in the 1800’s, we do not consider it normal for someone to be married at the age of 14, especially to someone who is already married, and significantly older. The reasoning that “it is 2 different worlds” as justification for polygamy and polyandry is without merit. Do some research on the subject and you will find that it was just as unusual then as it is now.

    • Henry

      I agree strongly with what you said Kari. I knew about the polygamy of Smith, but there was no doubt in my mind that others did not. Nor is there any doubt that this will shake testimonies. In my opinion though the church should have came out and told the public sooner. However, the church, in my opinion, just really didn’t want to talk about it. I think that for a long time that even a lot of the leaders of the church didn’t even know about it until maybe around the start of the 21st century. I listened to a talk given at BYU by Mitt Romney and he joked that when he attended school there that the Beatles was the only boy band and that Emma was Joseph Smith’s only wife. So it’s clear to me that this information (while not being kept a “secret”) was not talked about.

      • QED

        I definitely agree about it not being talked about much. Polygamy was, and still is, a sensitive topic for many.

  • tyler peck

    Thanks for this article… my girlfriends parents are always assuming we practice polygamy and when I tell them mormons dont its as almost like they dont believe me.. ill show them this article. Well put together. Thanks

  • CJ

    Delicious, delicious cognitive dissonance. yum yum yum.

    • BHarris

      Yes, lots of cognitive dissonance here. Most of the negative commenters were church members at one time — which means they prayed, and asked God directly if the church was true and His, and they felt the spirit and got an answer. They then learned many beautiful truths and met wonderful people. But then they learned a few things from Mormon history they didn’t like, and buckled. You can bash Greg and the rest of us, but we follow Jesus Christ, and we know the Holy Ghost. The minute either of them tell us to do something different we will. If Joseph Smith or Solomon made it up so they could have multiple partners, I’d like to be there in the courts above when they get asked about it. But I suspect it will be all of us getting asked about it, why we refused to follow the spirit based on hearsay, half-truths, distortions, and extrapolations.

      Please consider this: none of us are experts on Mormon polygamy — there are thousands of documents we have never seen nor read, and we are responding more with emotion than intelligence. Now consider Don Bradley, the ex-Mormon professional researcher who was hired by Brian Hales to collect and read every single document ever written anywhere on Mormon polygamy, positive or negative. It took him ~2 years, but he finally did it. And he was looking for evidence of the prurient opportunist he assumed Joseph to be. And when he was done, he *rejoined* the church.

      If you suppose you would do differently, maybe you should give it a 2-year shot. Or save yourselves the trouble and go back to God and wrestle with him about the truth of it all. Of one thing I’m certain, we’re all going to feel like we’ve been intellectual 2-year-olds the whole time when we’re finally standing in front of Him — saying “But what about… oh.”

      • baytrail

        Yeah. Sorry. Don Bradley rejoined the LDS church prior to being invited to join the “Joseph Smith Papers” project. It wasn’t just him who was “hired…to collect and read every single document ever written anywhere on Mormon plygamy”, it was a church sponsored venture to promote JS and Bradley was one of many who worked on the project. Nice try, but just like Joe Smith himself did countless times, you misrepresent facts.

        • Jack

          The above post was not about the Joseph Smith Papers project. It was about the gathering of all papers on polygamy so that Dr. Brian Hales could write his book titled “Joseph Smith’s Polygamy”.

  • joycoach

    “’Joseph Smith was presented to me as a practically perfect prophet, and this is true for a lot of people.’

    Not sure where that came from but…Joseph was never painted as a perfect man to me.”

    The quote did not say that Joseph Smith was painted as a perfect man. Also, please provide verses of the Bible that say polygamy was “commanded by God in the Bible”.

    • Boyd

      So, you are comfortable putting your eternal salvation on a hope that even though you know JS actually was aperverted sex maniac, he did the restoration, so all is cool. Is that pretty well it?

  • megara
  • BoydFromOz

    I think you are too close to this and writing with your conclusion in mind. How would you feel if you read a flds person write this about Warren Jeffs. Respectfully, as a non Mormon, this is how I feel reading your piece

  • Douglas Collins

    Thing is, polygamy is still a doctrinal reality for Mormons. It is an option in the next life if they decide to go for it. It is only a non-practiced (yet celestial!) law because the federal government and general public wouldn’t allow it. So, the joking or weird feelings from so-called antagonists is fair game, right?

    • Omar Josef

      Douglas, please note what was written to you in the above posts by RBP. You seem like a nice person who was probably raised in the Church, and replaced your faith with doubts. It is very difficult to listen to the modern day Prophets and Apostles without feeling that what they are saying it correct. Don’t forget the prayers you learned as a young man growing up in the Church, or whatever church you grew up in. Nellie83 is spot on, IF through the Spirit you come to know that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God and the Book of Mormon is True, and the Gospel is True, then every subsequent revelation given to him is True as well. The Prophet Joseph had his human flaws, all Prophets did, but that does not negate the fact that they were Prophets of God. Nothing comes close to these restored teachings (Acts 3:19-21). Douglas there is a famine on this earth, but not of bread and water, but of hearing the Word of God (Amos 8:11-12), so pray to your Heavenly Father with a sincere heart and real intent, to know if all of this is true, and you will come to many as many of us have that this is the marvelous work and a wonder prophesied to come in the last days (Isaiah 29: 13-14). Take care. It is all up to you, and therein lies the beauty.

  • Just because you type things doesn’t make them true. Well articulated article…full of opinions and half truths. The behavior of JS was inexcusable. It is a well documented fact he was an adulterer. Many of his close associates and members who didn’t apostatize acknowledge it. Do some actual research. Even his own wife acknowledged it. He was guilty of things people would be excommunicated for today. An he used his power and office to satisfy his sexual appetites.

  • Samuel on the Wall

    I encourage you and anyone who holds the opinions that you do to read Doctrine and Covenants section 132. It contradicts literally everything you just said. In it you will find Joseph Smith pointing out Abraham and David’s “wives and concubines” as an excuse for himself to have wives and concubines. Your own scriptures make the excuse for men to have as many “virgins” as he desires to take unto him. How you can read this and think Joseph Smith is anything other than a liar and a fraud and a manipulator to fill his desires for power for wealth and for sex in the name of God an prophecy is mind boggling to me. That you the church who screams louder than anyone I know about “one man one woman” has it printed in your own scriptures that men can have sex with as many women as he wants as long as he married them is hypocrisy unmatched in today’s world.

    61 And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood—if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else.

    62 AND IF HE HAVE TEN VIRGINS GIVEN UNTO HIM BY THIS LAW, HE CANNOT COMMIT ADULTERY, FOR THEY BELONG TO HIM, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified.

    63 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.

    64 And again, verily, verily, I say unto you, if any man have a wife, who holds the keys of this power, and he teaches unto her the law of my priesthood, as pertaining to these things, then shall she believe and administer unto him, OR SHE SHALL BE DESTROYED, saith the Lord your God; for I will destroy her; for I will magnify my name upon all those who receive and abide in my law.

    Every Mormon out there should be asking themselves right now. If the founder of my church, if the supposed prophet seer and revelator literally hand picked by God from the beginning of time to be the one picked to reveal the fullness of his gospel in these all important latter days was a pedophile, was making excuses to marry and have sex with children, was making excuses to marry and sex with other mens wives, and commanding these women and children that if they didn’t have sex with him they would be destroyed, that their families would be destroyed and they would face everlasting hell, what else was he lying about? How much of the religion in which you have based your entire life is a complete fraud? How can you put your faith and your lives on the word of such a man? That is my question for you. Read your own scriptures and learn for yourself before you dismiss the truth in your arrogance.

  • Emma Lee

    Could you give me the biblical reference of “Jesus commanded those Old Testament prophets and that those prophets lived that principle fully”?

  • Jason

    Lol! When did God EVER require Christians to practice polygamy? Why is it all of sudden all over the news? How about because your church released the essay finally admitting to what had been denied for so many years? What was once lies, bashing, and hatred, is now considered “old news” by you and those like you who hide from the truth at all costs. Joseph Smith was a pedophile polygamist??? Well that’s Ok because I still have a testimony! Wake up! It started with lies and they continue to grow! Like this “old news” though, the truth will come out eventually.

  • Nick

    Dude…. who is this Dave guy? Sounds like he is about to burst an aneurysm or something….

    • Gee… I don’t know. But the points he makes are very interesting and valid. Like: how do you justify Joseph Smith’s adultery and an institution which lies and teaches others to lie about it? Look, if the foundation is rotten, it’s rotten. And Joseph Smith is disgusting. 40 wives. A third of them teens. Two of them 14 years old. TWO. And for what? It’s not like you are going to get your own planet. What? You didn’t know about that? Here it is – clarification from Church HQs itself:

      Damn right I am angry: it turns out I don’t get my own planet. What’s your excuse?

      • Defender of Truth

        Wow Dave, you just can’t help yourself, you keep limiting your potential. I know you don’t see it, but you have more potential than you think you do. We meet on Sundays at a church near you. You can go to our website put in your address and they will tell you what ward you belong to. They will nurse you back to health and get you back on the road to recovery.

        • Seriously? You are a coward speaking out of a sock puppet. What is thy name that we may know thee?

          • Nick

            So out of curiosity…. what DO you believe Dave?

          • Nick

            So Dave, just curious…. what DO you believe?

          • I believe Joseph Smith was a convicted fraud (wiki Joseph Smith and the Criminal Justice System). Just like that author of the ‘Sealed Portion’ Christopher Nemelka (Google it).

            His adultery and sexual congress with up to 40 women including teenagers and children – two add young add 14 – is indefensible. (Google those facts). It’s time for the church to repent of it and excise that stink out of its doctrines and tell the full truth about it.

            Mormons claim to have prophets. They should use them. Fix the broken Church, or remain rightly condemned for the continued fraud.

            With the internet you don’t need the Urim and Thummin.

            What will you do with these facts?

        • Boyd

          How do I know if you are LDS or rlds? You could be either. You could even be scientologist. Your words sound mindless drone like. Bizarre

  • Joseph Smith might not have been painted to you as a perfect man, but when you grow up as a member of ‘The church,’ you are indoctrinated otherwise. “Praise to the Man” is sung on a weekly basis. You here quotes like this: “…A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet . . . ” (History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 408-409). And you reed SCRIPTURES like this: “Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it” (D&C 135:3).

    What am I supposed think? When I went on a mission for this organization, we were told explicitly that Joseph did not practice polygamy. And we were to tell everyone that asked, that polygamy was practiced because so many males were lost crossing the planes. This was by a man who is now in the 1st Q. of the 70. On the fast track to the big leagues. Tell me please, how am I supposed to believe in an organization that has lied to me for 30+ years? They told me the African Americans were cursed by god for not obeying him in the ‘War in Heaven.’ Or that it was a curse from Cain…. Now they say these were incorrect theories of men. THEORIES OF MEN!!?!?!?! This was a taught by prophets. Called of god. From the pulpit during general conference ( The Book of Abraham was INSPIRED by the Egyptian papyri after it was proven to be a funeral text not even written in the same century as Abraham ( When I was growing up, the doctrine of ‘the church’ was that Joseph Smith directly translated the BoA.

    There are endless stories that ‘the church’ has hidden for over a century, and the fact that Joseph Smith was a pedophile is just one of them. I still refuse to believe that they did it solely for the money. However, I’m not sure how the magnificent 15 could live such plush lives if all the millionaire mormons would have know JS was sending men on missions so he could marry their already pregnant wives, before they pay their tithing each month.

    If it was JUST polygamy and polyandry with no other black marks on the history of ‘the church,’ I might be able to let it go. But when you add pedophilia, translating gold plates by looking at a rock in a hat (, sending members to massacre innocent people, fake papyri translations, 10+ different versions of the so-called ‘first vision’ ( I just can’t accept it.

    Faith is to believe in things you can’t see but that you assume are true. But what is it called to believe in something in the face of evidence that there is no way it could be true?

    • Micheal

      Hey man. I read your thing, the first paragraph only, and noticed that quote. I was dramatically taken out of context and was possible that Smith didn’t even say that because it was written a year after he was killed and the one’s who said he said it was dated a month after Smith was killed. So there are some holes when you use that alleged quote by Smith. As a critic I have noticed that other critics are so stupid every time they use that quote.

    • e.g.g.

      Where is proof that Praise to the Man is sung weekly.

      Where is proof Smith sent men on missions just so he could marry their wives. And all the wives were already pregnant.

      Marrying a 14 year old is not pedophilia.

      Back up the accusations with verifiable facts and sources

      All the haters narrowly focus on the wrong things, have a double standard, and any criticism lobbed at the LDS church pertains to all religions.

  • Anndee

    @David McGrath your comments are some of the most hateful I have ever read, and have little to nothing to do with the topic of this post.
    I am a convert to the faith. I spent years searching, attending other churches, and trying to find the truth for myself. As such, I have absolutely no respect for someone who bashes another’s religion on the internet. Your comments don’t sway me or others to abandon my faith, but I am amused by your ignorance to it.
    Great job citing Mormon hating articles you googled, though. Even I have to respect the effort that took.

    • My comments are true and cut like a razor. Truth is like that: it sets you free. The topic of this post is justifying and rationalizing the illegal and abhorrent adulterous behavior of Joseph Smith. It is what it is: and it is up to 40 wives, 10 of them teenagers, and 2 of them age 14. Only ONE of those was a widow. He violated every provision for polygamy (Celestial or Eternal Marriage) in Section 132 (e.g. for raising up seed (his marriages produced no seed because Elder John C. Bennett – an abortionist – ensured no pregnancies ensued). Section 132 calls the wives and concubines of Kings Solomon and David an abomination – as does the Book of Mormon in Jacob 2: 23-24. Go – read it. I’ll wait.

      27 Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none;

      So what is your excuse for supporting Joseph Smith’s obvious adultery because obvious? What could Greg Trimble’s excuse possibly be? I think you should be angry at your church for their unclean hands in not telling you. In my case, I am repenting: of 50 years of missionary work, temple attendance, service in my ward and community, and relentless study. I am sorry I was silent – because you should have known earlier.

      • michael welliver

        Dave, as a former LDS, I feel your pain and frustration. In fact, out of all my family that still attend a church service, I am the only nonLDS. Please don’t take this as me trying to downplay your feelings about the disillusionment you have for the Mormons. All of this polygamy, lies, changes in doctrine, etc., are pointless in the context of the reality of real Church history, that there never was a total apostasy. They will all claim that they get their doctrines from inspired scripture, or inspired visions, but know this, the Bible says the Church is the pillar of truth. And there is only one church I know of that was spreading the news of Jesus before there was a Bible. Yes, it is full of hipocrites. 2000+ years of hipocrites all the way back to Peter. It is hard to show people facts when all that is important in discernment is how they feel. You are probably aware how amazing the brain is in that anyone can convince themselves of anything. I mean, just a basic psychology course can point that out. Faith is a gift from God, not an emotion. And just like love, faith requires action to show it’s true fruits. Hope that helps.

        • Michael, your kind words are appreciated as is kindness everywhere. But the religion of my youth taught me to value truth above everything else. We sang sons like “I am a child of God … yeah me all that I must know …” Faith became the motive energy to study it out -really study – winnow fact from belief – use reason and logic and appreciate history and the human condition. Be rigorous and honest. In short, it is because of my deep and abiding faith in my Mormon religion that I became atheist.
          Study has taught me the gods of the bible are a product of the evolution of human history. As are the gods of the Egyptians and the Greeks. The gods that man creates or imagines are the creations and imaginations of man.
          I am content knowing that.
          I would enjoy a glass of wine and to break bread with you. But I don’t think I want any brand of Christianity.

          • michael welliver

            I don’t understand your anger, but I am familiar with it. My dad is an athiest because of the pain he had experienced from life in general. I experience this anger and grief when helping patients who are dying or hurting. I think where the disconnect occurs is when those looking at the hurt and angry become frightened to do what Christ asked his followers to do, help carry our neighbors crosses, not for them but with them. I am glad that you constantly search for truth.

          • Yes indeed. Thank you. I help people use the internet. You don’t need seer stones from unreliable prophets any more.

          • Angels

            Yes, “the internet” is the source of all truth! 🙂

  • Bob

    Oh snap! What a smackdown!

  • beawesome

    Jesus’s mother was a teenager. You can’t expect to go by today’s laws. Women couldn’t keep property etc. back in Joseph Smith’s time etc. Teenagers got married routinely at the time. There were many aspects to things in his day that we do not understand or realize as we are a different culture and time. Each person who lived polygamy in that day needed their own testimony of it. Perhaps this is an opportunity for you to ask God yourself and receive your own testimony of Polygamy. And if a destroying angel came to you and told you do something or be destroyed. I would think it might scare you into doing what you were told- despite the consequences of men. He had to fulfill everything the bible prophets did or the gospel would not be fully restored. So if anything- blame the bible prophets for their misconduct that now has to be restored as -what so ever a prophet says on earth is bound in heaven. So im sure Joseph had to have wives, concubines, etc. in order that he could restore what the bible prophets were doing.

    • GrumpyUtahan

      Can you please provide a source for your statement: “Teenagers got married routinely at the time.”

  • marie

    This is a super tough issue for sure. It goes to the heart of “what’s in our hearts?” The media/much of the world “rapes” the very concept of intimacy. It’s exploited and mocked at nearly every turn. I think in God’s view, intimacy was meant to be a purer thing. Safe within marriage, between people with pure hearts. And marriage is far more than physical. Joseph Smith was sealed to many women with whom he did not have a physical relationship. The marriages were for eternity only. Were these women he had made promises to before this life? Is strong family the true currency of heaven? Did polygamy did generate some very solid family lines? Many great families came from this principle. Was this because women finally got the support they needed from other women to help them build households? People died so much younger back then (this is why they often married in their teens). Did polygamy fill in gaps for children without mothers? And more than anything, do we trust God? In the Old Testament? In pioneer times? Ever? I’m not an advocate for polygamy, and I’m really grateful to live now. But when I don’t understand something, I often ask myself “What could God have been thinking here?” Knowing He loves us and has our best interests at heart, I have to trust that He wanted, ultimately, the best for all family members. People may not have lived it well, but it was sent to build and strengthen families. A lot of women got to go back to school, and have careers, knowing their children were in the best possible care, with additional mothers who would have ties with them forever. Ideally women formed friendships, overcoming the jealousy that can prevent deep, spiritual female friendships. I think it was far more about responsibility, and building the kingdom, and rolling the gospel forward and giving children strong, organized homes than it was about worldly lust. I think it was about God, once again, trying to help us while at the same time testing our worthiness.
    Men who were in it for lust failed the test.

  • Daisy

    Thank goodness my great-grandfather was a polygamist…otherwise, there would have been two other women that would not know the joys of motherhood. Since my great-grandmother was the first wife, she had to give consent for the second wife, and they both had to give consent for the third. They did so of compassion because of the lack of men in the Salt Lake Valley. Taking on the additional wives also meant the financial burden and care taking of the families. These women would not have survived without protection, and wouldn’t have been blessed with realizing the eternal joys of motherhood.

    By nature, human kind is imperfect. All God has is imperfect people to work with. We do the best we can. Let’s not forget there is a difference between the Church (organization of humans attempting to live and carry out their preferred religion) and the Gospel (the fundamental doctrine of a particular faith). If the gospel of each denomination was judged by the Church carrying it out, then we are all under fire. At what point do we look at our behavior and say, “How Christ-like is it to bash and place personal judgement on another?” Facts are facts, but when it becomes a personal obsession to “disprove” someone else, one must ask about motive. If your motive is to save their soul, then wouldn’t Christ’s example say to do so with love? I mean Christ had every right to condemn men, yet he didn’t….and somehow we feel justified in pointing our own sinner finger at someone else? If your motive is to “prove” someone else was wrong and you are right…well, I’m not sure how many points that gives you among men (nor should we place our value on the opinions of men), but it doesn’t seem to follow Christ’s example of what was important.

    Personal Crusades are important…passion for a cause is important. If your cause is to bring down someone (who is dead) or a religion (who doesn’t follow that practice anymore), perhaps you could make better use of your time.

    • Great comment!

      • Troy Hallewell

        Are you assuming that women that gave birth as polygamous wives would not have had the chance to do so in a non-polygamous world?

        I don’t see logic there? Am I misinterpreting what you are saying?

      • GrumpyUtahan

        Her comment is based on a premise that is not factual, and contradicts the evidence we have surrounding early populations of Mormons, so I don’t understand how you can call it “great.”

    • Alex Eisenberg

      Daisy, with due respect, Utah population in late 1800 and early 1900 show both male and female births were equal in numbers, so your comment about lack of men to marry is a lie, or you ignore the facts! Raising seed was the purpose of polygamy, however Brigham Young married 29 women and had 56 children, less than 2 children per polygamous wife. I know many LDS marriages whose children average is much more than that! A man with 10 wives would have much less children than 10 wives with a husband each! Also the essay says that many polygamous wives didn´t have enough food nor money to live decently. Many of them raised their children themselves! For a woman giving up a faithful and decent marriage is too much for a sacrifice!! Most women who arrived in Utah those days didn´t know anything about polygamy and were coerced to enter into it!! Most were vulnerable!!! It´s astonishing to find a sexist woman these days! You are one of them, you should be ashamed for defending those sexist and racist early leaders!!

    • amy

      Do we have census evidence of the disproportion of men to women in that time?.

      • GrumpyUtahan

        We have census evidence, but it contradicts her comment.

  • Brother_Joseph

    It wasn’t the polygamy per se that people are angry about. Joseph lied to Emma his wife about it all. He lied to the married women and teenagers (Helen Mar and Zina) he coerced into marrying him with tales of the angel with a sword (catch 22 – either be sestroyed or have your family destroyed. God doesn’t work that way, especially in secret). He lied in public numerous times that he had only one wife (History of the Church). He illegally destroyed a printing press for printing the truth. He falsely accused and attempted to destroy the honor and integrity of those who told of his activities and telling the truth all along. He coerced teenage Zina into marrying him when she was seven months pregnant with Henry Jacobs son destroying her family, her husband and ultimately her faith in humankind. Joseph Smith Jr’s practices of polygamy, polyandry, plural marriage, whathaveyou were the most anti-family, and the most un-Christ-like things imaginable. The persecutions of the Saints were brought upon them by JOSEPH SMITH’S abhorrent behavior, not by other sects afraid of the true church. We are not upset at polygamy, WE’RE PISSED AT JOSEPH SMITH, OUR FAITH’S FOUNDER, FOR BEING A COMPLETE AND TOTAL LYING JACKASS TO HIS WIFE, TO THOSE WHO LOVED HIM, AND FOR MANIPULATING AND ABUSING MARRIED AND SINGLE WOMEN AND TEENAGERS AND DESTROYING THEIR FAMILIES CAUSING THEM TO SCURRY ABOUT IN CLOAK AND DAGGER SECRECY AND DEPRIVING THEM OF THE HONOR AND INTEGRITY TO WHICH THEY WERE ENTITLED AS CHILDREN OF GOD.


  • Heidi Jensen

    Wow so much hate in this world. Thank you for trying to share goodness Greg and doing it so tactfully. Wonderful article. The Lord gave the commandment of polygamy whenever there was a need for growth in his church…both in biblical times and again in the restoration. I’m thankful to my ancestors who made that tremendous sacrifice and obeyed that incredible test of faith. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is true. I’m thankful for it and for the beauty it brings to my life and to the life of my family. I love my Savior Jesus Christ and I know he died for me that I might live again. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that Thomas S. Monson is the living prophet today. I’m so grateful for this knowledge and for the comfort and peace it brings me. I hope and pray that for so many of you so full of hatred and anger towards the church can find peace as well and focus your lives and energy going about doing good rather than investing so much time on so much ugliness, negativity, and hatred. Thank you again Greg for all of your effort.

  • big fatty

    One glaring mistake in your recitation . Jesus Christ is NOT Jehovah according to the written word of the BoM and the bible . This I can prove . Alma 29:11 and BoActs 3:13 . A major contradiction . Also James Talmage said that the Father appeared to Moses in the burning bush . This contradicts everything in the PoGP .

  • Jake

    The answer to polygamy is not complex. The answer is found in the Book of Mormon, which all Latter-day Saints believe to be the word of God along with the Bible as far as it translated correctly. The passage is taken from the Book of Jacob, chapter 2 which reads:

    27 Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none;
    30 For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.

    Basically when the Lord wants to quickly raise a righteous group of people, then multiple wives is the best way to have as many choices olden from righteous fathers. This is why Abraham and other prophets were commanded to do it and is why the early LDS Church leaders did it as well, to produce lots of righteous seed quickly and grow the Church. That’s it, there’s nothing else to it. Now with the changing laws of the land where two guys can marry, and there’s nothing to stop us from soon marrying dogs, or plants, or….dare I say multiple women, you won’t see it happen in the LDS church unless it comes from God; this is unlikely since the Church is big now…like 15 million.

    • SpeakingMyMind

      If you read ALL of Jacob 2 it is all about denouncing polygamy. Vs. 30 is where polygamists hang all there hopes on. In 1828 Webster, “otherwise” meant “in a different manner”. He will raise up seed in a different manner than polygamy in the new world as he was clearly denouncing it all over this chapter…..

  • Jennifer

    I think a lot of the negativity towards mormonism stems from the fact that it’s more exclusive and secretive (and new!) than other branches of christianity. Quite a few mormons have a tendency to also act morally superior because of their lifestyle choices as mandated by certain principles of the religion.

    Don’t get me wrong, so do many other types of christians, and in far greater numbers, but I think when all of the above is combined, it creates a lot of suspicion and loathing amongst outsiders.

    Which is why I think it’s great that the LDS church is clearing the air and admitting to their past. Every church has their sordid history that was justifiable at the time or through scripture, but this way nobody can accuse the mormons of pretending not to anymore.

    But there’s also the fact that I feel like if people questioning or discussing your faith and its history makes you uncomfortable, or leads you to think that they are “hating,” by merely seeking out adknowledgement of the truth, perhaps you aren’t so secure in your faith. It can be scary and unsettling when people shake and attempt to level the foundation of everything you believe in. Some introspection (and perhaps, reaffirmation) might be better suited than admonishing others. Food for thought.

    • GrumpyUtahan

      Great thoughts, Jennifer. Very accurate.

  • SpeakingMyMind

    I don’t believe Joseph Smith was a polygamist. He didn’t keep a journal with any completeness. Fanny Alger, who said JS got her pregnant, had a child who has no DNA (to the rescue!) matching that of Joseph’s. My guess is that she was in the haystack with a local boy and it was easier to blame JS as all this polygamy stuff was circulating. JS also destroyed the printing press. Obvioulsy, something was wrong there. Could this be because the polygamy was proposed by other people? And then attributed to JS? And then railroaded through by Brigham Young? BY went on a mission and ended up in Saco, Maine which is right near Portland and converted a small congregation of Cochranites. The minister was married to something like 1/2 the women. My guess is that is was the younger/prettier half. Then BY brought them to Nauvoo. Do you “maybe” think that stirred the nest a little?? Most if not all of the origingal 132rd section was “missing” and probably rewritten. By BY?

    Many of JS’s “marriages” were after he was already dead. Prominent Salt Laker women “sealed” themselves to JS most likely to keep their positions in tact and remain in ruling positions. 2 apostles (John W. Taylor and Matthias F Cowley) resigned as apostles as a result of the Manifesto. The endowment house had to finally be torn down to get the people to get the message. (Wikipedia on Manifesto) A second Manifesto had to be issued to get the attention of the people and then finally excommunication of they didn’t stop. This was the start of the fundamentalist movement related to the LDS Church.

    Whether polygamy was “sactioned” and or not, this I know for a fact….the abuse was HUGE. After the Manifesto many did drop their polygamous wives and they nearly starved to death. Guys like Curtis Bolton (big member early on…responsible for BofM being translated into French) married a widow AND her teenage daughter in Nauvoo. ??? When was that ever ok?! She ultimately had a number of children with daddy/husband and then went out to hang with guys her own age. They were in the SLC area by now and he “divorced” her. Having no where to go and her mom/sister wife was married to him still, she came back. He had sex with her “unmarried” and got her pregnant. Then he gave her poison to kill the baby and nearly killed her. He was found out and sent on a mission to the Indians. Poor Indians. Many, many years later he was finally excommunicated. BUT WHAT ABOUT THIS POOR GIRL?? Where are the apologizes for women like her?? And for the rest of the polygamous women in general? This history on Curtis Bolton was as a result of a very close friend’s genealogical research for Pete’s sake! Look it up. Disgusting.

    While I don’t believe JS was involved in polygamy….I do believe he wasn’t this type of lecher. I think that the church is trying to come clean on this topic and has made baby steps on It is unfortunate to lose great people today when when they stumble on this junk and can’t put it together with what we are taught today. The focus needs to be on the Savior. I do agree that the history has been sanitized. I remember as a convert reading the Church History book in the 70’s with the SL temple on it and there is virtually no mention of polygamy. I have to ask myself why. The prophets won’t be allowed to lead the Church to its total demise. I am sure huge errors have occurred esp in the wild west days. Recipe for disaster: Men, sex and doctrinal license to have it. I do believe that the Manifesto was God’s intervention through the government to force the people to stop the abuse.

    I would like to see statues erected to polygamous women as an apology for the abuse. How about putting them in place of the Lion House right near temple square?

    I lost my husband to this topic and he no longer in involved in the LDS church. Very sad for me. I can only hope that the real story is still deeply buried and I can forgive the lechers but I can’t sit idley by and not acknowledge those abused and readily come to their defense. The men in the hallways at church who think this is coming back are just dirty old men. Period.

    I love the Savior and He is what it is all about. Prophets are wonderful people with legitimate divine callings….but they are still men. Worth listening to, but not the source. This is the only thing that centers me is to keep the focus and testimony on Jesus Christ 🙂

    • Brother Stevens

      Are you insane? You still don’t think Joseph was involved in polygamy? Wow. I am dumbfounded. I do like your idea about the church issuing an apology for the abuse against women.

  • SpeakingMyMind

    One more thing….off direct topic. I do believe that Joseph Smith was divinely inspired and saw Jesus Christ and God the Father. And as importantly, I believe in the words of the Book of Mormon. Greater truths have never been told than in that book. I really don’t care how it came about…JS with the stones in a hat….or with a cat or how about sleeping with them on his head etc etc It doesn’t really matter if you read it then it all becomes very clear the divinity of that book.

  • Fuzzy

    As an Atheist I’m very offended that you completely misinterpreted where we pull our morals from. First of all, it’s a great many factors and places but you don’t have to look at society and you don’t have to look at yourself to realize what’s right and what’s wrong. We do not change our morals like the wind unlike you. Yes you, 1978 blacks FINALLY got the priesthood. Guess society’s norms caught up to you. Drinking Coke or Polygamy which you say makes you sick however you should really look at what your faith believes because in order to become like god you have to pick a few more girls and start making spirit babies. That’s right, the LDS faith still practices polygamy spiritually. It’s a requirement to reach the highest level of heaven. You should really do your homework before writing an article like this. The Nauvoo Expositor published one paper and were quickly put on trial by Joseph Smith who was acting mayor and the press was ordered to be destroyed promptly. That’s not publicly stating anything, that’s a cover up.

    • GrumpyUtahan

      Great comment.

    • e.g.g.

      Look at the laws during the time period of the Nauvoo Expisitor, look at what happened to other printing presses at that time that printed things that ticked off people.

  • Truth is the kindest cut. It makes me sad you don’t see it that way. 🙁 <– unhappy face.

    Actually: using logic, facts and that brain you evolved with helps to cut through the nonsense.

    And Joseph Smith's polygamy was nonsense. It literally got him killed. That's why he was in Carriage jail without his garments drinking wine when the lynch mob came. Because he'd been arrested for destroying the Nauvoo Expositor printing press, inviting a riot, and the charge was treason against the State of Illinois. Because that press was going to expose his adultery.

    Google that. All those details are on official LDS websites. But not in your relief society manuals not in the priesthood or Sunday school or seminary manuals..

    Why is that? Wouldn't you be perturbed if you'd invested in a mission, church schooling, tithing, time and talents if they lied to you?

    I consider this joyful missionary work. It's every bit as much of a duty as my 2 year mission – with the added bonus of it also, this time, being true.

  • Beauford T

    I think the most interesting blog post I’ve seen on the subject is this one:

    This is a complete summary of the topic for those that want to dig a little deeper.

  • jon

    Actually read In Sacred Loneliness, the very book the church references and then come back here and tell me You honestly believe it was inspired of God. People will forever defend something that they don’t even fully research. And yes, go back to your JoD and read where Joseph elevates himself to near perfect. I thought the JoD was supposed to rendered “inaccurate” anyway? Only when it doesn’t suit your needs, I suppose.

  • Troy Hallewell

    Always nice to see a friend…

  • treadmillfan

    When I was in my 20’s as a student at BYU I found out about all the history of Joseph Smith and polygamy, mainly by being rebellious and reading stuff like No Man Knows My History and various Sunstone and Dialogue articles. I was always bothered by how JS practiced polygamy. It has been my hope for over 30 years that the church would become more open and honest and at some point admit that what JS did was wrong. To me, it seems so blatantly obvious that he did wrong: lying about the practice, marrying women behind Emma’s back, propositioning women who were already married, blackening the character of women who turned him down, marrying sisters, marrying teenagers living at the Nauvoo mansion, marrying a mother//daughter pair, using the threats of an angel with a sword to convince young girls to marry him, promising salvation for entire families if the daughter would marry him, and did I mention lying and being deceitful to Emma.

    So when I heard the essays were coming out to address all this, I was somewhat optimistic that finally what I felt was wrong would be acknowledged. I credit the church for opening up about all this disturbing history, although I still feel facts are massaged to make things not look as bad as they were. What is even more troublesome to me is members defending the behavior, acting like JS did nothing wrong. Or worse, blaming it all on him just following God’s commandments. That’s throwing God under the bus if you ask me.

    JS himself said some revelations are from God, some from man, some from the devil. If any revelation seems to be from either man or the devil, this is it.

    I don’t think it would be a terrible thing to acknowledge that how he practiced polygamy was wrong. Why can’t we seem to do that?

  • Cammie

    I am a member of the church. My difficulties are two fold. First, that the published article on says that Joseph got sealed to women without Emma’s knowledge. And second the law of Sarah in D&C 132:65. Would you discuss your thoughts on these points?

  • Greg, I think the issue for modern audiences is that it doesn’t really help them to say, “Well, it happened in the Bible so it must be OK.” This doesn’t really do much to advance an argument’s morality. Modern audiences generally acknowledge that many of the things supposedly commanded in the Bible are still morally questionable, such as genocide and poor treatment of women. So for JS to say he was commanded of God to do something doesn’t really help a lot; nor does an appeal to the Bible. They will generally opt to believe that he was mistaken rather than assume that God really did command it. And honestly, who can blame them? If I were to tell you that you needed to give me your daughter because God commanded it, even if you knew me to be a very good person, you would be justly suspicious. To dismiss journalists for echoing this same suspicion is actually to dismiss our shared sense of human morality itself.

  • Brett

    If you are going to try to be factual in your discussion of polygamy, I’d challenge you to revise this post to present the timeline accurately. You said that we have haven’t lived polygamy for over 120 years. Actually, we were led by a prophet who was a polygamist up until 1945. That would be roughly 70 years ago. George Albert Smith was the first non-polygamist prophet of this dispensation.

  • Jessica

    But what about POLYANDRY (the fact that Joseph Smith married other men’s wives?) and what about him marrying young women who didn’t need to be ‘taken care of’ because they weren’t widowed and they still lived with their families?

    The church essays share all of this and THAT is what the articles on NY Times, etc. are talking about.

    This is WAY bigger than just Polygamy.

  • Jon Goff

    Marriage of a young woman to an older man is common throughout history. In fact, they were desirable, ensuring that the daughter would be well taken care of by a man already established in life, rather than a young man with no prospects. While the trend was dying out in the early days of the Church, it was still fairly common. Facts are our friends, so what you are describing as terrible and horrible is…. by our standards. So is making your child work ten to twelve hours in the blazing hot sun, so is taking your family for a nice public execution, so are a lot of things that were culturally acceptable 150 years ago.

    • Sarah Zarate Braudaway-Clark

      You’re simply incorrect. It was not common. Only 1% of 14 year olds married at that time. 15-17 year olds only made up 3%. Yes, facts are our friends. Look them up and make friends with them.

      • Omar Josef

        Sarah, your statement above would be more credible if you had your facts referenced. Help your facts become our friends.

        • caringincanada

          Anyone referencing facts even on the Exmormon files by an ex-bishop is called a liar. Use the brain God gave you .

        • meme

          how about that line to the 14 year olds that an angel with a sword was going to kill him if they did not comply and he always included don’t tell Emma, Omar

    • Lucky39

      Helen Mar Kimball (one of the 14 year olds JS married) wasn’t taken care of by JS. She still lived w/ her parents.

  • Truth

    The 116 pages of the original manuscript for the Book Of Mormon that were stolen by agents working for the Father Of Contention, who edited them and turned them into false doctrine, so that they could prove that the BoM was wrong and that Joseph Smith was a liar. They thought that when Joseph re translated the lost pages, that they could bring the pages that they altered and show the inconsistency between the texts. However, the Lord cannot be conquered and He commanded Joseph to not translate the same passage and instead use a different part of the plates that had the same message. That is the reason why there are all the false takes on Polygamy and other concepts of the church. Satan has forged so called “truth” and used it to sow dissent among the righteous. He has, does and will always do it again. What I can’t stand is how the first prophet of the restored Church of Jesus Christ is being bashed and insulted and ridiculed by sowers of dissent who are not very well informed by the Spirit. If you wish to gain true eternal knowledge, the only way there is through scripture, prayer, and the Holy Spirit of God. But if you wish to gain “knowledge” of man, which is only of the world and is worthless in the sight of Eternity, then you can listen to Satan who didn’t want you to have a choice in the first place. The kicker is that Im 15 and I have His true knowledge. I was born in the church, but I’m also a convert to its doctrines. In the words of Joseph Smith “I have learned for myself” and I suggest you all do the same.

    • GrumpyUtahan

      I have heard the story you recited regarding the 116 pages numerous times. Each time, since I first heard it, I have wondered the same thing: if the story is true, and individuals really were going to alter those pages to attempt to defraud Joseph (a task that would have proven utterly impossible), why did those pages never surface later? If “conspiring men” had those pages, they should have turned up sooner or later, even if many years later.

      It seems more logical that the pages really were lost, and Joseph knew he could not reproduce them (the Book of Lehi) word for word, so he created an elaborate story to rationalize recording completely different pages (Book of Nephi). This was his insurance in case the pages did re-appear, and people wondered why they were different.

      Also, why would God care if men altered the pages and attempted to prove Joseph wrong? If the Book of Mormon is the “most correct book” and contains the “fullness of the gospel,” who cares if someone attempts to defraud it. The truth will prevail, regardless of what those “agents working for the Father Of Contention” attempt to do.

  • Eugene NG

    Hi Greg I struggle to understand “Jesus was “Jehovah” of the Old Testament. That means
    that it was Jesus that was commanding the most well known and loved Old
    Testament prophets to live the law of polygamy” is there a scripture to support your claim? I’m trying to learn more about it.

  • kencarriere

    I haven’t read everything posted here but enough to know that it is important for some people to spend an enormous amount of time trying to prove the LDS church is not the Lord’s true church because of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Why? It all boils down to the adversary misleading people – who may be well -intentioned but nonetheless, still misled. If these same people would just put the polygamy thing aside for just a minute and focus on what Joseph Smith accomplished and endured in restoring the Lord’s church, including suffering in jail and being murdered by mobsters, they would soon realize that this was a very special man. Yes, he had faults but his record of service to the people and to the Lord is unbelievable and incredible. I am so thankful for his courage and his testimony that was sealed with his blood. Unfortunately many ex members of the LDS church have let go of the iron rod and have subjected themselves to those who dwell in the big spacious building and who now have access to the internet. My testimony remains even stronger because of the so called “intellectuals” who know everything but who don’t know where or who have forgotten where the source of truth

  • GP

    “It’s Time To Stop Hating on Mormons About Polygamy”. The NYT reported on content in essays published by the church. Where is the hate? Yes, the general public disagrees with the church, but I’m not seeing anyone express any hatred.

  • GrumpyUtahan

    You seem to believe that everything in the bible must be taken literally, or else rejcted entirely. We call that a false dichotomy (or a false dilemma). Many individuals, active LDS or not, accept that the bible may contain fallacies and fictional stories. The bible, like the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price, was completely recorded by man, thus its contents are subject to interpretation. This opens the possibility that doctrines contained in the scriptures may be faulty. Why else would Joseph feel the need to re-translate volumes within the bible? Also, the bible contains many examples of “what not to do,” and polygamy may fall into that category. Regardless, the fact that the bible contains references to polygamy cannot justify engaging in polygamy. The bible also says we should stone women who are divorced from their husbands; I hope you would not follow-through with that teaching.

    • michael welliver

      “thus its contents are subject to interpretation.” Doesn’t Peter says that no scripture is open to personal interpretation?

  • GrumpyUtahan

    I am an active, tithing-paying, temple-recommend-holding, calling-magnifying member of The Church, and I believe Polygamy was an error on the part of Joseph Smith. This major, human-driven blunder in Church History was later followed up with Brigham Young’s racism (see the LDS dot org essay on Blacks and the Priesthood). I am grateful these errors have been corrected over time, and I look forward to more errors being corrected in the years to come. In recent years, The Church has made huge strides to correct sexist policies and teachings, truly embracing abilities of all members of the church, regardless of their gender. I’m grateful that the leadership of the church can be humbled to accept new doctrines and teachings. Sometimes this comes directly from God, and sometimes from the body of Christ (the membership of the Church).

    I believe in and support the Articles of Faith, including that “…we believe that [God] will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.”

  • Jonathan

    Holy crap! This is an incredibly awful piece of tripe. The cognitive dissonance is disgusting and palpable. You make it seem that the latest surprise in the media is that mormons practiced polygamy. Everyone knows they practiced polygamy. What wasn’t known, nor official, was the fact that Joseph Smith himself practiced it. And the church; up until these recent essays, has gone through incredible and despicable lengths to hide that fact; to include excommunicating those who tried to bring it to light.

    You say, “If he was a bad guy…then there were plenty of other ways he could have found to gratify any convoluted sexual plesures he had.” I dissagree. If he was a bad guy and a false prophet then there is no better way than to gratify any convoluted sexual plesures he had. He had a whole pile of believing women at his disposal to take advantage of.
    You also said, “he knew polygamy might cost him his life so why would he make it so public?” He didn’t! He didn’t make it public. He lied about it until his death, he lied about it his wife Emma, and he ordered the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor printing press because they made his practice of polygamy public. This final act is what lead to his death at Carthage jail.
    You also said, “He could have secretly used his power and influence to have sex with various women while staying under the radar.” That’s precicesly what he did for as long as he could. up until the radar wasn’t enough to keep it a secret and he got exposed publicly for it.
    This is the worst attempt at defending polygamy I’ve read so far. Utterly disgusting.

  • GP

    If I could upvote multiple times, I’d do so for your post… well-said.

  • Lucky39

    When you get right down to it, Joseph Smith was a horny bastard that made up revelations to justify his perverted behavior.

  • Steve O

    “Not sure where that came from but…Joseph was never painted as a perfect man to me.”

    Really? Ever heard this song: Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah, Jesus anointed that prophet and seer(who used a black hat to translate the BoM), blessed to open the last dispensation, kings shall extoll him and nations revere, hail to the prophet, ascended to heaven, traitors and tyrants, now fight him in vain, mingling with Gods he can plan for his brethren, death cannot conquer the HERO(!) again.

    Forgive millions of us for thinking that there was an effort to beatify JS, we are not stupid. Neither are the majority of members who don’t attend like me. People don’t hate Mormons or polygamy, they hate being lied to by those they were taught to trust from childhood.

  • yumi s

    Great article. I am a convert to the church and it has been over 10 years now and absolutely love to be a member of lds church because my life is much better and easier especially when I have trials because I know if not for the church, I would have given up many things in life by now……but I am happier person for who I am and what I have all because I am in the right place with my unshakeable faith. Hope you all are happy of who you are then you may focus more enjoying your life while living on this beautiful earth instead of waste ones’ energy judging others.

  • Broken bose

    In the last essay posted on (search for polygamy+Kirtland+Nauvoo to get to the essay on, it says that Joseph received the revelation of polygamy somewhere close to 1831, but in the 1835 version of this DC, in section 101 (until 1876 when it was removed), it says this:

    “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.”

    While it’s been alleged that Joseph Smith didn’t approve of this section, he nonetheless reissued it in the 1844 publication of the DC prior to his death that year.

    I pulled the info above directly from The only answer they gave was that this was not a general practice of the LDS general congregation–but section 101 does not stipulate to that. Its simply a general statement on the belief of the LDS Church as a whole.

    And it doesn’t answer the question. If this was the word of God according to DC 101 in 1835, then either the Scripture is false, or it’s true and Smith (who was with Fanny Alger prior to 1835) was committing adultery–which places the entire plural marriage question in a dubious light.

    But the question is this:

    If plural marriage was God’s law on or about 1831 according to the official website’s essay on the topic, then why was section 101 published in 1835 and left there by Joseph Smith in 1844 if it’s untrue? Is the DC really the Word of God if a section can be both included and later deleted when it doesn’t suit the facts of a situation? Was Joseph Smith lying when he said plural marriage was commanded by God if this section was approved by Smith in the DC in 1835/1844?

  • marie

    There have been people throughout history who have “worn the face of evil” and who are truly reprehensible. People like Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini…and more. Words like “horrible” and “reprehensible” are absolutely for them. Here I am seeing these words thrown at Joseph Smith. But Joseph Smith was the opposite of these people. Here was a man who was not only martyred for his beliefs, but was tortured along the way. Mobs hunted him, tarred and feathered him, knocked his teeth out, and more. One night a mob dragged him out of his home while he was tending a small baby and the baby died after the chaos that ensued. His people were pushed out of state after state. They were given an extermination order-something heretofore unheard of in the United States. Buildings were burned, homes ransacked, women raped, a temple destroyed. On his way to his own death (he was shot by mobs, with his loyal and kind brother) he sensed what was coming. He said “I go to the slaughter, but my soul if devoid of offense toward all men.” He had forgiven his enemies. Was he perfect? Did he, like other prophets, mess up sometimes? Was the adversary working over time on this man? Did he lie sometimes because he was afraid of consequences? Did he have reason to be afraid? Have you ever lied because you were afraid? Did he bumble through on how to follow the commandment on polygamy that he really didn’t want to follow when he was told about it by an angel? (he ignored it until an angel came with a sword to demonstrate how serious heaven was about this). Was the life span shorter then and were teen marriages very common? Yes to all of this. If you don’t believe in the restored gospel, no problem. You can believe or not believe whatever you want. But to say these vindictive things about a man who, like Tynsdale (also martyred), gave the world beautiful scripture-well, that’s just wrong. We have a second witness of Jesus Christ because of this man. When we all get home to heaven, I think there will be many that will seek out Joseph Smith to apologize for their vicious words here. The Savior, also misunderstood, persecuted and reviled understands.

  • I’m troubled by how conveniently “Prophets are imperfect people” is used as a scapegoat for poor behavior on the part of supposedly infallible spiritual leaders. It is Mormon teaching that a Prophet will not lead us astray, and that if they were to try, God would remove them immediately. So we follow the Prophets unquestioningly until they do something so blatantly stupid that we MUST question them, and then… Well, oops, they make mistakes too

  • chris Harrison

    I am shocked and disappointed about the facts the LDS church has put out about Joseph Smith but he was the utensil the cooking pot can we say God used to restore the Gospel in its fullness not the meal itself. I believe the teachings of Doctrine the LDS church teaches and that for me is enough

  • michael welliver

    I was wondering, why doesn’t the LDS practice marriages for the dead, just like baptisms for the dead for those who died before getting the opportunity?

  • Donald McGuinness

    The lies and distortions concerning Joseph Smith and the practice of Polygamy will continue until the Lord returns. They have been spun and twisted and turn and embellished for almost 200 yrs now. And not one thought about where the information and actual history came from. And that being the church history itself. We have always been open on the subject. No matter what those outside and some inside the church might have you believe out of their own ignorance on the topic. So let them rant and rave and kick against the pricks. One day every man and woman will know and understand. For now it is tinkling brass. And of no real uplifting value. And even if it did matter, where is their christian forgiveness ? Where is the allowance for repentance? Two of the main principles of the Gospel preached by Jesus Christ. Seems many profess with their lips but their hearts are far from him.

  • Donald McGuinness

    I wounder when some find the time to work out their own salvation when they are so busy condemning another’s?

  • Omar Josef

    I agree with a GMLewis of Houston, Texas who simply stated in the comment section from the link below, “I have participated in several disciplinary councils over the years. While apostasy from revealed doctrine was occasionally manifest, in every instance what precipitated the action was unrepented moral sin. At no time was there a desire to punish someone because
    of disbelief or ignorance. I think I can speak for the others on those councils that our earnest desire was for the person to repent and come back into the fold.” I am one of the others on those councils and Brother Lewis is spot on. Listen to the pleas from President Uchtdorf, an Apostle of the Lord. His words are true.

    Speaking during the Saturday morning session, President Uchtdorf said that God’s children will find “the words of eternal life, the promise of blessed redemption, and the pathway to peace and happiness” in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    “If you seek truth, meaning and a way to transform faith into action; if you are looking for a place of belonging: Come, join with us,” he said.

    “If you have left the faith you once embraced: Come back again. Join with us.

    “If you are tempted to give up: Stay yet a little longer. There is room for you here.

    “I plead with all who hear or read these words: Come, join with us.”



  • Omar Josef

    Do not let the modern day Nehors, Korihors, and Sherems take you down with them. We have been given one of the greatest gifts on Earth, so please don’t let their lack of faith mixed with their philosophies of men take you away from what has been restored by God and is true (D&C 6:13).

    The Church has never said any of its Prophet or Apostle leaders were perfect any more than Protestants claim any of the Prophets or Apostles in the Holy Bible were perfect, except for Jesus Christ. Either that same Jesus Christ along with our Heavenly Father appeared to the boy Joseph or they did not. Those of us, who pondered the words in the Book of Mormon and the words of the missionaries and then prayed about it and received a witness from the Holy Ghost, know the Church is true, and someday we will know all things. That someday, when it comes to the knowing of all things will come, but in the next life. (Moroni 10:3-5,33,34).

  • Omar Josef

    Listen to and then read the comments (see link below) of the incredible inspired talk by President Uchtdorf, especially when he said “my dear friends—please, first doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.” Remember the words the Lord spoke to Oliver in D&C 6: 22-23 and then remember your own personal experience when you asked our Heavenly Father in the name of His Son, our Elder Brother if this work or the Book of Mormon is True, and then remember when the Holy Ghost spoke peace to your mind and heart, or as Stephen Covey would say, “the ear of your spirit.” The end of verse 23 asks, “What greater witness can you have than from God?” Fall back on that experience and never forget it. I had that experience in Oct 1973 as a 2nd semester Jr in college, and I have never looked back, and 18 months later I was on my mission in England. Don’t be like Lot’s wife and look back, and please don’t listen to the modern day anti-christs.

  • Meg Stout

    I know this is super old, but I do recommend you read what I’ve written over at Millennial Star on A Faithful Joseph.

  • Brenna

    Beautifully said. My Young Women leader said it was her dream to have a large family ever since she was a teenager. Then, after she got married, she discovered that she was infertile. She said something along the lines of: “It has brought me closer to God. I believe that God took away the one thing that I wanted–a large family–because it would be a trial of my faith. It would bring me closer to Him.” I think this can be applied to Joseph and polygamy. He did not want to have another wife, but one reason why God may have given him the commandment to do so was because it would test His faith to the max. Would He be willing to give up something he treasured so dearly for God’s will?

  • e.g.g.

    For all the people who are criticizing polygamy and have such high morals and know better than anyone else……..

    There are people from many different mainstream Christian religions who are practicing polygamy in secret. They say that polygamy was practiced (it was), is in the Bible (it is), was commanded by God in specific instances (it was). It is no longer just fundamental LDS and ex LDS practicing polygamy today.

    Why do critics throw away the Old Testament? It is part of the Bible, put together by the Nicene council and following counsels. If the Old Testament is not to be followed or not to be believed anymore then why was the Old Testament included?

    Modern mainstream Christianity throws the Old Testament out. And picks and chooses what they want to believe from the New Testament. Selective beliefs, cognitive dissonance.

    When Jesus came He did not say the old was to be thrown away, but built upon. The Ten Commandments were not thrown out, they were expanded. Thou shalt not commit adultery was expanded to ……if thou look upon another with lust it is adultery. No, Jesus did not throw away the old laws, He raised the bar.

    There are many, many mainstream Christian churches that are doing worse things today than what the LDS church supposedly did decades ago. Yet these modern churches get no criticisms, get no attention, never get challenged. The hypocrisy and double standards by critics is glaring and appalling.