Joseph Smith as a Sexual Predator

A downloadable .mp4 file of video is available here.

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23 Responses to Joseph Smith as a Sexual Predator

  1. FIGJAM says:

    before leaving the LDS “church”, i fondly remember an incident involving warren jeffs, and the RLDS church. we were having the normal sunday family dinner at the in-laws when the evening news came on highlighting the days events. jeffs had been arrested and bus loads of women, many of them young teenage girls were being whisked away from his compound by law enforcement. i sat in silence as the entire family verbally condemned jeffs and his practices. in my silence, my mind was working over time. i bit my tongue and wanted to say to them, “this is the result of joseph smith”. “these are the exact same “revealations” of your “church’s” once great leader”. “this is no different than what went on during the church’s infancy”. i was a member then, but always battled such strong emotion for the “cause” (i.e., the family) and kept my mouth shut.

    this video brought me back to that time … the emotion … the disgust … the deceit … the indoctrination and the heart-ache.

  2. falcon says:

    FIGJAM,
    You nailed it right on. Here’s the problem, when someone accepts Joseph Smith’s testimony and claims, they will excuse his actions. This can be seen time and again in families where a member is involved in incest, for example, and everyone within the family works to justify or cover-up the behavior. Many turn on the victim and protect the predator.
    This is Mormonism. Nothing Joseph Smith did or taught or testified to can be questioned. To question it, would be to question the veracity of his entire testimony. I would guess some Mormons can get themselves to a point where perhaps they’d see Smith’s behavior as “wrong” but of course lots of people in the Bible did wrong things and we don’t discount their testimony. This is truly sick logic.
    The Bible tells us that when people exchange the truth for a lie they will be given over to a deluding spirit. This is the spirit of Mormonism. Joseph Smith was a sexual predator and he got a way with it then and continues to get a way with it now by Mormons who deny, placate and excuse Smith’s disgusting behavior.

  3. Megan says:

    I know that Mormons will vehemently deny Smith being characterized as a sexual predator, but it is impossible to read “In Sacred Loneliness” and not come away with that conclusion.

  4. Free says:

    The first impressions that came into my mind upon seeing this thread:

    While I was a member of the mormon church and unlearned of the hidden history/doctrine/writings, I remember hearing very moving stories of how persecuted the church was and how all the males of the church were being hunted down and killed, and how Heavenly Father needed his righteous branch to continue to populate the earth and restore the true church to mankind.

    So I was told that the polygamy practiced at the time was true and necessary divine revelation directly from Heavenly Father for these poor and righteous pioneers trying to restore God’s true church back to the earth.

    I remember hearing another story that after one of the early mormon church leaders (I can’t remember who) was told by “revelation” that he was to wed another woman other than his wife, that this poor man just couldn’t bring himself to tell his wife (a wise idea). But instead, the mormon god also gave this polygamy revelation to the man’s wife and she then gave this man her permission to marry another.

    The mormon church has been a master story teller, intertwining stories of loving families, suffering pioneers, and wrongly persecuted saints, with its so-called “revelations” and its white-washed history found in its Sunday School manuals.

    What a mind *game* (I can think of another four letter word). They really got you if you have kids and your spouse and your spouses family are indoctrinated. God help you if you should delve deep and read the JOD and/or Church History and other material found on the church website.

    Love one another – Jesus

  5. Linda says:

    Wow. No argument from LDS on this one. Very telling. Must be Sandra is too knowledgeable to argue with.

  6. setfree says:

    I was just going to make the same observation. How do you even compete with the logic that “feelings” are supremely more trustworthy than a mountain of evidence? How can you get past that kind of mindset? Only Jesus can.

    He said:
    Matt 13:15 “For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and [their] ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with [their] eyes, and hear with [their] ears, and should understand with [their] heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”

  7. st.crispin says:

    In typical of Sandra Tanner fashion she presents supposition engrained with conjecture and innuendo to besmirch the good name of Joseph Smith.

    Let’s examine the facts.

    1. It was very common in the 1830’s and 1840’s for married men to be sent on missions.

    2. Emma Smith was well aware that Joseph Smith was sealed to a number of women.

    3. Many, if not most, of the Joseph Smith’s sealings entailed a non-conjugal relationship.

    4. The definition of a “sexual predator” does not include a man who marries a woman and promises to provide for her for the rest of her life.

    5. If being a libertine was Joseph Smith’s objective then there are far easier ways to achieve that end rather than polygamous marriage.

    Let it be clear that Sandra Tanner is not a dispassionate historian – far from it – she is a propagandist pushing vehemently contra-Mormon crusade.

  8. “In conclusion, though it is possible that Joseph had some marriages in which there were no sexual relations, there is no explicit or convincing evidence for this (except, perhaps, in the cases of the older wives, judging from later Mormon polygamy). And in a significant number of marriages, there is evidence for sexual relations.” (Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, p. 15)

    “Partly to maintain secrecy, Joseph could not have spent much time with [Louisa] Beaman or any of the women he married. He never gathered his wives into a household–as his Utah followers later did–or accompanied them to public events. Close relationships were further curtailed by business. Joseph had to look after Emma and the children, manage the Church, govern the city, and evade the extradition officers from Missouri. As the marriages increased, there were fewer and fewer opportunities for seeing each wife. Even so, nothing indicates that sexual relations were left out of plural marriages” (Richard Lyman Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling [New York: Knopf, 2005], 438-39).

    “Meanwhile, the Prophet, with Louisa Beeman and my sister Delcena, had it agreeable arranged with Sister Almera, and after a little instruction she stood by the Prophet’s side and was sealed to him as a wife, by Brother Clayton; after which the Prophet asked me to take my sister to occupy number “10” in his Mansion home during her stay in the city. But as I could not long be absent from my home and business, we soon returned to Ramus, where on the 15th of May, some three weeks later, the Prophet again came and at my house occupied the same room and bed with my sister, that the month previous he had occupied with the daughter of the late Bishop Partridge, as his wife.” (Benjamin F. Johnson, Letter to George S. Gibbs, 1903, cited in E. Dale LeBaron, “Benjamin Franklin Johnson: Colonizer, Public Servant, and Church Leader” (M.A. thesis, Brigham Young University, 1967)

  9. st.crispin says:

    Aaron,

    1. Many scholars would disagree with Todd Compton’s assertions (there are several articles and reviews in LDSfair.org of Compton’s book In Sacred Loneliness which challenge many of his points.)

    2. The lack of many children sired by Joseph Smith through his 33 polygamous marriages is very strong evidence against there being sexual relations in most of these marriages. In contrast, Joseph Smith sired several children with Emma.

    3. It is clear from the historical record that the design and practice of polygamy amongst the LDS in the 1800’s was to “raise up a righteous posterity unto the Lord”. To this end many of the polygamous families became the “anchor” families in the LDS Church in pioneer Utah.

    Polygamy was practiced by only a small minority of LDS families – around 5%. The burdensome strain of raising a large family let alone several large families in the impoverished pioneer setting of Utah in the 1800’s made the practice of polygamy difficult if not prohibitive for most families notwithstanding their religious zeal.

  10. That many LDS “scholars” challenge “many of his points” doesn’t not equate to “Joseph Smith had a platonic relationship with all of his wives with Emma’s full consent”. I’ve given you two direct quotes from Compton and Bushman (two devout Mormons). Show me some quotes from authors of equal or greater caliber who directly dispute the content of what they said. I doubt you could substantiate that most LDS historical scholars argue that most of Smith’s polygamous affairs were platonic.

    Sylvia Sessions Lyon sure remembers having sex with Smith. Even if Josephine (hint, hint), her daughter who was conceived at a time when Sylvia was out of fellowship with her other living husband, doesn’t prove to be Smith’s child after DNA testing is completed, Sylvia thought it was Joseph’s.

    Also, Joseph was no dummy. I doubt he was ignorant of what natural family planning was.

    I cannot help but notice the disparity between your #2 and #3. If Smith wasn’t in polygamy to “raise up seed” (Jacob 2:30), then wasn’t he disobeying God’s revealed will in the Book of Mormon? Or was that BofM passage corrupted by another great apostasy along with other plain and precious truths?

    Polygamy was practiced by only a small minority of LDS families – around 5%

    I’ve heard Mormons say as little as 3%. They’re embarrassed, so they want it as little as possible. A utah.gov article (which was moved, I’m looking for the new location), says the following:

    “… in the Utah period the number who lived in plural households was considerably larger than previously believed. During the 1880s, Mormon representatives in testimony before Congress stated that no more than 1 or 2 percent of the church’s membership was polygamous. Church authorities in their sermons, missionaries abroad, and guides on Temple Square almost to the present time have repeated these figures. We now know, owing to work by [Larry] Logue, [Ben] Bennion and others, that the actual number, depending on the years and location, likely averaged between 15 and 30 percent.”

  11. jackg says:

    I would say that Sandra Tanner is a saved Christian who loves the Mormon people but hates the false religion that enslaves them to a faith that will most assuredly keep them separated from God for eternity. Oh, the “contra-Mormon crusade,” language that is right on target for the persecution complex that only fuels Mormons to believe that because they are persecuted the Church must be true. Such a folly in syllogistic reasoning. How can a righteous posterity to the LORD be conceived through sexual immorality? This just does not make any sense, and is an abominable thought to a Holy God. If JS were alive today, he would be excommunicated from the Church. Think about that for a minute. The power of progressive revelation, that is progressive by the fact that it erases so much of its past. Oh, and this is the true church of Christ? A church that is built on the sandy theology of a false prophet. The name of JS is not a good name. The name of Jesus Christ IS!!!

    Peace to all who seek the Truth!!

  12. st.crispin says:

    Aaron,

    I never stated that: “Joseph Smith had a platonic relationship with all of his wives with Emma’s full consent”. On the contrary, I even stated that Joseph Smith had a few children from his polygamous marriages – exactly how many is not certain {probably about 5}. So please do not put words in my mouth.

    Lloyd Anderson and Scott Faulring in “The Prophet Joseph Smith and His Plural Wives” [FARMS Review Vol. 10, #2, 1998] challenge many of Compton’s assertions in particular Compton’s use of pyscho-biography or the unwarranted and gratuitous imputing of emotions into historical figures (a favourite trick of Fawn Brodie).

    You are misattributing the claim concerning Sylvia Lyon, it is her daughter who makes that claim – some 30 years after the event. There is no first hand or primary evidence for this claim.

    The claim “actual number {of polygamous families}, depending on the years and location, likely averaged between 15 and 30 percent” seems like a far-fetched and gross exaggeration. I have various relatives who were polygamists (Mariner W. Merrill – LDS Apostle with 9 wives and 49 children) and reading their journals it would seem that polygamy was seldom practiced – certainly nowhere near 30%. A figure between 5% and 10% is more probable but it would be hard to verify accurately given the persecution suffered over the polygamy issue in the 1880’s.

  13. Ralph says:

    Aaron,

    Here is a quote from Todd Compton “The Tanners made great mileage out of Joseph Smith’s marriage to his youngest wife, Helen Mar Kimball. However, they failed to mention that I wrote that there is absolutely no evidence that there was any sexuality in the marriage, and I suggest that, following later practice in Utah, there may have been no sexuality. (p. 638) All the evidence points to this marriage as a primarily dynastic marriage.” The page number is in reference to his book ‘In Sacred Lonliness’.

    I am also not saying that JS did not have sex with other wives besides Emma, but the reference you gave from Todd Compton and the one I have just given both state that he did not service all of his wives and that some were platonic relationships.

    And as far as Sylvia and her daughter, if I remember correctly Sylvia was supposed to have said something to her daughter about belonging to JS on her death bed when she was looking at/thinking about the afterlife. Being sealed to JS, all of her children would also be sealed to him as well. In this light, Sylvia could mean that Josephine was JS daughter in an eternal sense, not physical. We have had this discussion about this before. I do remember you mentioning something about DNA testing being on the drawing board, and I too am interested in the results. But would they prove anything to anyone whether positive or negative? From your comment above it does not look like it.

  14. Megan says:

    I would like our Mormon posters (so far it looks like just Ralph and St. Crispin) to comment on Smith’s practice of marrying women who were currently already married to other men. These women are: Lucinda Morgan Harris (George W. Harris), Zina Huntington Jacobs (Henry Jacobs), Presendia Huntington Buell (Norman Buell), Sylvia Sessions Lyon (Windsor Lyon), Mary Rollins Lightner (Adam Lightner), Patty Bartlett Sessions (David Sessions), Marinda Johnson Hyde (Orson Hyde), Elizabeth David Durfee (Jabez Durfee), Sarah Kingsley Cleveland (John Cleveland), Ruth Vose Sayers (Edward Sayers), Elvira Cowles Holmes (Jonathan Holmes).

  15. Stuart,

    You said yourself that “Many, if not most, of the Joseph Smith’s sealings entailed a non-conjugal relationship.” You have failed to subsantiate this claim.

    I’m very aware that the claim concerning Sylvia comes from her daughter Josephine (cough, cough, cough) . If I was on my mother’s death bed I’d sure remember she said. Perhaps you think Josephine just made this up? She wrote,

    “Just prior to my mothers death in 1882 she called me to her bedside and told me that her days were numbered and before she passed away from mortality she desired to tell me something which she had kept as an entire secret from me and from all others but which she now desired to communicate to me. She then told me that I was the daughter of the Prophet Joseph Smith”.

    This reminds me of Clayton’s account of the preliminary “translation” of the Kinderhook Plates (“Prest. J. says…”) after spending that very day with Joseph. Oh my heck, he wrote the account in Smith’s very house (house-sitting while Smith took his new polygamous ‘wife’ on a ‘date’) after speaking with Smith. Mormons have a lot of deconstruction to do to save their religion.

    Remember, the first recorded sin in the Bible is Satan’s historical revisionism.

    I found the source for that above quote on the frequency of polygamy. It is from the Utah Historical Quality, Summer 2005, volume 73, number 3, available here. It is on page 9 of the PDF, and page 215 of the actual publication.

    Ralph, of course Compton argues that sexuality was not a part of some of the marriages. You are engaging a straw man. No one that I know has ever argued that Smith had sex with all of his wives, even the older ones. I was responding to Stuart who said, “Many, if not most, of the Joseph Smith’s sealings entailed a non-conjugal relationship.” Again, to quote Compton (Mormon),

    “In conclusion, though it is possible that Joseph had some marriages in which there were no sexual relations, there is no explicit or convincing evidence for this (except, perhaps, in the cases of the older wives, judging from later Mormon polygamy). And in a significant number of marriages, there is evidence for sexual relations.” (Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, p. 15)

    Ralph deconstructs Josephine’s account of Sylvia’s claim to the Joseph-Josephine (cough, cough, hack, cough, cough) relationship as a mere dynastic sealing relationship. Instead of attempting to further repudiate this myself, let me let a Mormon, GL Smith, argue against him. This is a quote from fairmormon.org/fairwiki.org, no less:

    The case of Josephine Lyon relies on a deathbed conversation:

    Just prior to my mothers death in 1882 she called me to her bedside and told me that her days were about numbered and before she passed away from mortality she desired to tell me something which she had kept as an entire secret from me and from all others but which she now desired to communicate to me. She then told me that I was the daughter of the Prophet Joseph Smith…. [39]

    Perhaps significantly, Josephine’s name shares a clear link with Joseph’s. Whether this account proves that she was his biological daughter has been debated:

    Rex Cooper…has questioned the interpretation that Smith was Fisher’s biological father. He posits that because Fisher’s mother was sealed to Smith, Fisher was his daughter only in a spiritual sense…More problematic is whether there is a discrepancy between what Fisher understood and what her mother meant. That is, did Fisher interpret her mother’s remarks to mean she was the biological daughter of Joseph Smith and thus state that with more certitude than was warranted, when in fact her mother meant only that in the hereafter Fisher would belong to Joseph Smith’s family through Session’s sealing to him? Because Sessions was on her deathbed, when one’s thoughts naturally turn to the hereafter, the latter is a reasonable explanation.[40]

    As Danel Bachman notes, however, there seems to be relatively little doubt that

    [t]he desire for secrecy as well as the delicacy of the situation assure us that Mrs. Sessions was not merely explaining to her daughter that she was Smith’s child by virtue of a temple sealing. The plain inference arising from Jenson’s curiosity in the matter and Mrs. Fisher’s remarks is that she was, in fact, the offspring of Joseph Smith. [41]

    It is possible, then, that Fisher misunderstood her mother, but this seems unlikely. Any unreliability is more likely to arise because of a dying woman’s confusion than from miscommunication. No evidence exists for such confusion, though we cannot rule it out.

    Josephine’s account is also noteworthy because her mother emphasizes that “…she [had] been sealed to the Prophet at the time that her husband Mr. Lyon was out of fellowship with the Church.”[42] This may explain her reasoning for being sealed to Joseph at all—her husband was out of fellowship. Alternatively—or additionally—it may explain why she was cohabitating with Joseph. Todd Compton opines that “[i]t seems unlikely that Sylvia would deny [her [[first]] husband] cohabitation rights after he was excommunicated,” but this conclusion seems based on little but a gut reaction.[43] These women took their religion seriously; given Sylvia’s deathbed remarks, this was a point she considered important enough to emphasize. She apparently believed it would provide an explanation for something that her daughter might have otherwise misunderstood.

    Later Mormon leaders taught that the first wife must consent to the addition of more wives. Smith did most of his marrying/whoring behind Emma’s back. She shed many tears and fought with strong, angry words with Smith over it at times. Joseph Smith was a jerk and all Mormons can do is give him a free pass.

  16. Ralph says:

    Hey Aaron,

    Do you have the swine flu or something? Better have that cough of yours looked at! :)

    As far as the Josephine account goes, in our past discussion I had found a page on FAIRLDS that stated that we do not know what happened and that either scenario could be likely and that given the distance in time it should be left as is – ie state both sides and let the observer decide. You stated one side, I stated the other, and if you look at my wording I said “In this light, Sylvia could mean that Josephine was JS daughter in an eternal sense, not physical.” I did not say that she ‘DID MEAN’. So I was not disagreeing with you, just giving the balancing argument.

    By the way, that’s a new quote, I don’t remember that from our last convo. Is it a recent find or you just decided not to use it then?

  17. Brian says:

    I’ve read the comments made to this topic. It seems like adding anything intelligent is difficult, as it would require making sense out of the conduct described.

    I shall give it a try, though. Our LDS friends may believe I’ve failed in this effort, and they may be correct. But here goes:

    I believe writings by early LDS leaders provide the key to understanding this topic. The key is this:

    Their disposition to what they called “the monogamic order of marriage;” that is, the union of one man and one woman in marriage.

    Did they believe it was a divine institution?

    1. First, let’s consider the following quotation from Jedediah M. Grant, one of Brigham Young’s counselors (this is from a sermon entitled, “The Power of God and the Power of Satan,” from the Journal of Discourses, 2:12–14):

    When Joseph Smith was alive, his declaration to me was as the voice of Almighty God. … When the family organization was revealed from heaven—the patriarchal order of God, and Joseph began, on the right and on the left, to add to his family, what a quaking there was in Israel. Says one brother to another, “Joseph says all covenants are done away, and none are binding but the new covenants; now suppose Joseph should come and say he wanted your wife, what would you say to that?” “I would tell him to go to hell.” This was the spirit of many in the early days of this Church. … What would a man of God say, who felt aright, when Joseph asked him for his money? He would say, “Yes, and I wish I had more to help to build up the kingdom of God.” Or if he came and said, “I want your wife?” “O yes,” he would say, “here she is, there are plenty more.” … Did the Prophet Joseph want every man’s wife he asked for? He did not, but in that thing was the grand thread of the Priesthood developed.

  18. Brian says:

    (continued)

    Did you see where it said, “all covenants are done away”? That means marriage covenants. What do we learn from this? We learn that during the time Jedediah Grant describes, Joseph Smith was maintaining heaven reveled to him that neither his followers nor anyone else had a valid marriage. And if you don’t believe your neighbor is married to his wife, then you might ask for her hand in marriage.

    2. Second, let’s consider the following: Why would all marriage covenants be invalid? This, I believe, is because these covenants were for monogamic (rather than polygamic — “the family organization … revealed from heaven”) marriages. And, the simple truth is, neither Joseph Smith nor Brigham Young had come to believe monogamy was a divine institution.

    Consider Brigham Young’s words (Journal of Discourses 9:322):

    Monogamy, or restrictions by law to one wife, is no part of the economy of Heaven among men. Such a system was commenced by the founders of the Roman empire. That empire was founded on the banks of the Tiber by wandering brigands. When these robbers founded the city of Rome, it was evident to them that their success in attaining a balance of power with their neighbours, depended upon introducing females into their body politic, so they stole them from the Sabines, who were near neighbours. The scarcity of women gave existence to laws restricting one wife to one man. Rome became the mistress of the world, and introduced this order of monogamy wherever her sway was acknowledged. Thus this monogamic order of marriage, so esteemed by modern Christians as a holy sacrament and divine institution, is nothing but a system established by a set of robbers.

    Later leaders, such as John Taylor, would be even more outspoken.

  19. Brian says:

    (continued)

    Is there a quotation by Joseph Smith stating that monogamy is not a divine institution? I am not aware of one. However, he may have alluded to this cryptically.

    Consider the following from Brigham Young: “The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy” (Journal of Discourses, 11:269).

    In late August 1843 (about six weeks after Joseph’s brother unveiled Joseph’s revelation on plural marriage to the High Council), Joseph spoke of those who “will come short of the glory of God [godhood?],” declaring that “one must put away all his false traditions [monogamy?]” (The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 321; brackets added).

    Later leaders would publicly identify monogamy as a false tradition.

    As a Christian, I do not believe that the family organization revealed to Joseph Smith was from heaven. I completely believe that monogamy is a divine institution. To me, it seems clear that Joseph Smith and his successors promoted revelations that are not of God.

  20. Kamperfoelie says:

    Brian,

    wow, very well-spoken. You make a good point.

    To everyone else: how is this relevant to today anyway?

    To all the LDS-bashers:
    Please explain to me how the hunting of witches and the inquisition fits into church doctrine? Wasnt this the work of the church? Or am i grossly mistaken now? And how about the world being flat?

    This was before JS and the BoM, so dont even go there.

    I’ll tell you how most people will respond. We go: “oh but that was aaaages ago, those were some crazy misled people, nothing to do with us. The church these days has nothing to do with that, we want to be judged for who we are today”

    Oh really?

    Then how about all todays neat, monogamous LDS members, many doing missions in Africa (with africans previously being considered inferior etc)? Do we hold the past against these?

    Or if your aim is to discredit a prophet for humanity (or erring, or being polygamist or whatever tag you want to use), then im guessing there will be some OT chapters missing from your Bible

    True: some of JS’s life falls short of being exemplary (and thats being kind). But honestly: have any of you ever tried writing a book? Just a story-book? You have any idea of the time and effort? And what about tying up all the loose ends? Like one man could just ‘make that up’.

    In short: Do you think any unlettered man, by himself, can fabricate the whole BoM in the space of one life-time?
    and then there is all the rest (books/translation/preaching/polygamy etc)

    Kindly, Kamperfoelie

  21. Megan says:

    Glad you included all this, Brian. I wanted to find the quote about “all covenants done away” but we moved recently and unfortunately our books are all still in boxes.

  22. setfree says:

    Kamperfoelie,

    I think, for these questions, I can answer for most Christians on this site. (I’ll leave it to them to disagree with me).

    The “gospel” (good news) given in the Bible is not about how perfect we are, it’s about how perfect Jesus is.

    Joseph Smith (and others like him) have taken a pure and wonderful message from the Bible, and JS’s case done a 180 with it, to pervert it into a works-based, no-win, self-focused deal.

    Thus, what JS did and taught (and what the LDS leadership teach about him now) is relevant because millions of people are following a prophet who is leading them directly AWAY from God/Jesus, the Bible, and the “gospel”.

    No, I doubt any of us would say “we want to be judged for who we are today?” We don’t want to be judged by who we are, but by who Jesus is. At least in the eyes of God. We want the same thing for you. And for everyone else here. Man’s opinions of us, while important because we don’t want to take glory from God/Jesus, don’t really matter other than in that respect.

    I also doubt that there is anyone here who thinks that any of the prophets of the OT were sinless. God never calls perfect people for one good reason: there aren’t any.

    And yes, after having read some very very long and very impressive fiction in my earlier life, I can easily see how an unlettered man by himself can fabricate the BofM. Research done on him has shown him to be both a talented story teller, and a great at memorizing. Also, he DID NOT tie up all the loose ends :)

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