Troubled by Joseph Smith’s Polygamy

In this video, a returned Mormon missionary explains how personal revelation helped him on his mission. It seems an investigator was struggling with accepting the LDS Church due to troubling historical information she had learned about Joseph Smith and polygamy.

Watch the video to get the background and the greater context of the story. But here cutting to the chase, based on his personal revelation, the elder confronted the investigator:

“You have problems with Joseph Smith and polygamy. I know this is gonna sound crazy but you have had relationships in the past where there’s been infidelity, where there’s been adultery and stuff like that, and that is why you feel so opposed to just the idea of one man ever, ever associating with more than one woman. Correct?”

Apparently, he was correct. The woman was shocked and asked how he knew. The elder replied, “The Lord has told me this.”

Eventually, continuing to struggle with Joseph Smith’s polygamy, the woman asked the elder, “What can I do to overcome those feelings?” The video explains what happened next:

“She committed to kneel down that night and to ask God for forgiveness for those grudge and that feelings and to herself forgive those wrongs that had been committed against her. And she did… From that point on she was ready.”

And soon she was baptized.

As far as is evident from the elder’s recounting of the story on the video, this woman’s “problem” with Joseph Smith’s polygamy stemmed from past iniquity and adultery “that had been committed against her.” Thus, she had apparently committed no sin of adultery herself, but for concerns about polygamy, she needed to repent. For holding a “grudge” against the idea of one man “associating with more than one woman,” she needed to repent. For having troubled feelings related to the Prophet and polygamy, she needed to repent. Then she could overcome her negativity toward Joseph Smith and his 30-plus wives.

It’s interesting that the investigator needed to repent, but Joseph Smith — a man who flagrantly broke the anti-bigamy laws of Illinois, a man who wed women behind his legal wife’s back, a man who married other men’s wives, a man who publicly denied the very existence of dozens of his plural wives, a man who manipulated young women with promises of spiritual security for themselves or their families if they accepted plural marriage proposals (and vice versa) – Joseph Smith got off scot-free. Not only does the Prophet have nothing to repent of (according to Mormonism), but the poor investigator that had trouble swallowing his bad behavior is found to be in the wrong.

This is Mormonism. I say no more.

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
This entry was posted in Joseph Smith, Mormon Missionaries, Nauvoo, Polygamy and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Troubled by Joseph Smith’s Polygamy

  1. jaxi says:

    This story made me sick to my stomach. I guess I should repent for feeling that way. Joseph’s polygamy bothers me but I was never burned by infidelity. So what would he have me do? I don’t have a problem with the advice to forgive those that have wronged us. But this story seems abusive to me. I can relate though. It’s all warm and fuzzier about the Book or Mormon but as soon as those warm and fuzzier stop when it comes to polygamy, blacks and the priesthood, and other historical or doctrinal issues, it’s suddenly not about basing things on feelings but about repenting of your feelings that don’t fall in line. This interacting with people in this way is emotionally manipulative.

  2. Ironman1995 says:

    Sharon i love how you put things together in a such a logical way .
    You help strenghten each day with another wonderful story that touches the common sense of my mind with clear logic .

    You are a cool day after many hot Florida days.

    I am very grateful that you to continue to say much much more.

    I would appreciate with this story if you could in your wonderful logical way focus on how Joseph went after Heber C Kimball daughter .

    Explain to us when , why and how it turned out, would enjoy reading that from you.

    Happy healthy holidays to you and your family from a former Mormon here in Orlando fl

  3. Ironman1995 says:

    Off topic, in the Jason Borne trilogy he is told in the first movie ” look at how much they make you give”
    He was told that while he was trying to figure how who is was why they where trying to kill him.

    When he found out who he was and he didn’t want to kill anymore, at the 3rd movie he told one who was trying to kill him ” don’t you even know why you are trying to kill me ” look at what they make us give ”

    When i watched that trilogy now being a ex mormon, i was like Jason who did not know who i was and look at what they took from me and made me give .

    Now i am free and know who I am they can no longer hurt me , use me, make me feel guilty.

    I wanted to share this with a new year coming and holidays its great to truly feel alive .

  4. falcon says:

    Yea, “the Lord told him”.
    I think these guys should be arrested for religious fraud.
    What he did is called a “cold read”. Watch The Mentalist on TV for an example. I can do this. I do it all the time. I’ve shocked people with my supposed ability to “know” things. I’ve seen their jaws drop and eyes get wide as saucers when I tell them things that they can’t figure out (how I could possibly know it). There’s a guy on YouTube, I forget his name. He’ll sit in a public place and use his smart phone to do quick research on people posting from that particular area. He then approaches the people and tells them all sorts of things about themselves that they’ve posted on-line. He videos it and then posts it on YouTube. The people are just blown away thinking this guy has some super power or something.
    In this missionaries case, the woman probably told him something that hinted at infidelity. You can even take a shot in the dark and it appears that you know something when it’s just random.
    Consider this also.
    There is a Gift of the Holy Spirit called a Word of Knowledge. But there’s also something known as a “familiar spirit” used by people who are demon possessed to tell fortunes. (see Acts 16:16-18)
    I’m not at all impressed with this missionary. He’s as deceived as the woman whom he deceived.

  5. canuck54 says:

    People prepare to get baptized, people accept the gospel,(not Jesus), people stay active, people prepare for the temple, etc. etc. Not what Christ can and did do, but what YOU can and should do. I hope once reality sets in for these people they will run.

    Canuck

  6. Mike R says:

    This video looks like it came straight from the Mormon church P.R. Dept .
    It contained everything necessary to snow people . Thank goodness there are
    ministries available which can provide people with ” the rest side of the story ” ,
    ( as Paul Harvey used to say ) , about Mormonism .

  7. Ironman1995 says:

    I made the mistake of eating before i watched that video

  8. Tom says:

    Wow! This video is a bit stomach churning because it is so familiar. By that I mean I have related mission stories in a very similar way throughout my Mormon years. One thing struck me as I listened. Throughout the whole story, this guy uses a logical fallacy in an interesting way that is very typical of Mormons.
    1. He uses that sing-song speaking style that is reminiscent of General Conference talks. Mormon leaders project their authority in conference, and they do it while using that ‘special voice.’ Because this RM is talking in that manner, his intention, whether he realizes it or not, is to layer his story with church-authority-level authority.
    2. He uses story elements like ‘I looked her in the eye,’ and ‘I told her The Lord let me know.’ Again this is an appeal to authority because how many times have I heard top church leaders tell their spiritual experience stories using those same exact elements. I looked her in they eye–meaning he is claiming he had some special authority to tell her the unknowable. The Lord let me know–if God is talking to me, I clearly have the authority to divulge to you the unknowable things I supernaturally know.
    3. The white shirt and tie, for crying out loud, is an inherent appeal to authority.
    4. The story element of civilian members (non-full-time-missionary people) advising him to stick close to this family is an appeal to his authority as called missionary and servant of God. This kind of story element lends credibility because this member felt the need to rely on the missionary’s special status as one called and chosen. (Heaven forbid that this guy and his family would stick close to this investigator family on their own ‘authority.)
    5. Story elements such as the fasting and praying, going to visit this woman on the spur of the moment as the Spirit led, etc. are all appeals to the authority of the spiritual techniques employed by Mormons. We fasted and prayed, this whole family–husband included–joined, therefore the fasting technique obviously worked. We were led by the Spirit and ended up talking to her appropriately on the front porch, she and her whole family–husband included–joined the Mormon church, thus our ‘prompting’ to go visit her out of the blue was clearly God led.
    6. This whole tone, diction, syntax, etc. carries with it a sense of drama. This is again an appeal to the authority of how God works. Since their actions were relatively dramatic and resulted in a family joining the LDS church, that shows it was clearly from God.

    I’ll end. I’m kind of shooting from the hip here listing initial observations based on a once through of this video. Believe me, though, it is Mormon through and through. In my Christian walk since giving Mormonism the heave-ho, I have heard some remarkable stories of healing, experiences at the time of the death of loved ones, visits to troubled and struggling believers, many of which had a very strong supernatural component. Nevertheless, with this missionary there are clear appeals to the Mormon culture which are intended to lend validity to his story. Frankly, I don’t see that as fellow Christians tell their God stories.

  9. spartacus says:

    As I have said before, I have read that 50% of converts to the LDS church claim a protestant background of some sort (more or less) and 25% of converts to the LDS church claim a catholic background of some sort (more or less).

    And as I think I heard somone on Viewpoint on Mormonism mention recently, there is that principle that people who are taught (or who learn) a little become more dangerous.

    If these people knew how consistently polygamous unions in the Bible turn out for ill, this woman may have had another problem than her personal one with multiple wives. If they knew about the NT’s instruction for elders to have one wife, if they remembered that Adam was given Eve (God said it was wrong for him to be alone, not that it was wrong for him to be monogamous). And that’s just the Bible.

    These folk had some “Mormonism 101″. Had they taken it more seriously or given less trust to the missionaries (read “street wise”), then they could have learned all the shady ways Joseph went about his polygamy. If they just reasoned out Section 132, they would have seen that it is crazy for God to instruct that wives are to authorize a new wife and then just a few verses later say it’s ok if they don’t.

    If they had read the BoM (even just a few books in) and DnC 132 carefully, they would have seen God condemning David’s polygamy in one and exhonerating it in the other.

    If they were more serious and rigorous they could have recognized that the BoM only gives higher birth rates as a reason to order polygamy, while, with a little research, they could have learned that polygamy has never resulted in higher birthrates overall compared to monogamous societies, not even Mormon polygamy.

    I remember going through the missionary lessons the second time, as a Christian that time as opposed to the first time, and wondering “how could any informed Christian not be incredibly offended by this, let alone accept it as true”?

  10. spartacus says:

    Some quotes I thought interesting:

    “mormonism 101… all the bad stuff ever about any person that has been part of the church” – besides being an obvious exaggeration (that book was too small to fit all that), is he admitting that it, in fact, has a bunch of “the bad stuff” Joseph did, since he is the main person spoken of in that book?

    “spirit is not here, this is not helping” – maybe this is just imprecision in the Mormonese, but shouldn’t the Spirit be fighting for this woman even as she struggles honestly? Oh, yeah, you have to be worthy of the Spirit to have the Spirit help you realize the truth: worthy to be witnessed to by the Spirit, worthy to be baptized, worthy to receive the Spirit, worthy to hold a calling, worthy of the temple, worthy, worthy, worthy or the LDS God just lets you go…

    “not giving up on this family no matter what, ever” – I can appreciate this sentiment, if it is true or signficant: it is possible either he is re-editing his story for impact (not true) or he thinks this about every potential convert (not significant). Also, as I have posted before, I was told by some missionaries once that they are instructed to “move on” so to speak if progression stops with an investigator. I wonder if this woman and her family knows how close they could have been left on the side of the road until they were consigned to sub-Celestial levels?

    I have to wonder whose medical charity this was that helped her. What, no plug?

    I noticed his garment was plainly visible beneath his white shirt. Any LDS (past or present) here remember any LDS talking about how members should wear shirts thick enough not to “show off”?

    I love how he asked “what in her life” had given her a problem with Joseph Smith and polygamy! Maybe the true Holy Spirit? As stated before on this site, LDS talk about getting confirmation by good feeling from the Holy Spirit about possible truths, but do they ever wonder about the bad feelings they had/and still have about polygamy? Where’s the Spirit when they are feeling uncomfortable about discussing polygamy? Maybe the true Holy Spirit is right there, giving you real discernment.

    “…it was almost like frightening because it was so true” that he would die for this family to receive the (LDS) Gospel. “Frightening” is right! Parents everywhere take your most important beliefs SERIOUSLY before you have children that inherit them and think this way about something that is dead wrong!

    Lastly, he spoke of the whole spiritual experience saying, “this is real authentic stuff that happens [everywhere LDS missionaries go]“. Yep, and it happens with missionaries of other religions too. I think it was an ex-LDS here (or was it Lynn Wilder?) who said that she realized, after leaving the LDS church, that all the good things that God did for her and her family while they were members, and which she creditted her membership for, was actually from God alone, because He loves her and her family wherever they are, whatever their error.

    All praise be to God!
    And may God help this family and this missionary!
    In the Name of Jesus the Christ, Amen.

  11. Mike R says:

    The woman referenced in the video ( and her relatives ) were the victims of a cleverly
    planned sales program created by Mormon authorities and given to young men and women
    to take door to door as ” missionaries of Jesus Christ ” .

    Mormon leaders have claimed that Joseph Smith was led of Jesus to restore His church and
    gospel of salvation which He had established through His apostles in the first century . This
    claim is then used as a means to convince people that the doctrines that Mormon leadership
    reveal to their flock is that Jesus has directed them to do so since He is giving them on going
    supervision to spiritual feed His sheep .
    The foundational doctrine of Mormonism that bolsters this claim is that a complete apostasy
    from the gospel of salvation and of the church established by Jesus through His apostles
    occurred soon after they had died off because evil men had changed /altered the ordinances
    and laws and doctrines of Jesus’ church . Thus salvation was not again available to man until
    1830 when Joseph Smith allegedly restored Jesus’ church and gospel .

    Polygamy was taught as a essential ordinance in Jesus’ church according to Mormon leaders.
    How sincere people fall for this type of claim is truly a sad thing to see . But Jesus warned of
    latter days imposters who would come and attempt to mimic the claims of His true apostles
    thus detouring people into following their counterfeit gospels .
    Our hearts hurt for the Mormon people . They can be freed from following false apostles —-
    Rev 2:2

  12. MistakenTestimony says:

    I wonder what Clyde thinks of all this

  13. Kenneth says:

    I do not mean any offense by this, Sharon, but I feel as though you read between the lines too much in this article. As far as I can tell, the missionary in the video never said that he encouraged the woman to repent for her concerns about the polygamy practiced by Joseph Smith. Rather, he encouraged her to forgive those who had sinned against her. I would not draw the conclusions that you did without questioning the missionary further about exactly what was said.

  14. Mike R says:

    Kenneth,

    I’ll let Sharon answer for herself . But since the woman in the video was struggling with finding
    out about Joseph Smith’s polygamy , was there good cause for her , or anyone, to be
    concerned about this ( or the subsequent teachings by Mormon leaders about polygamy ) ?
    Any thoughts ?

  15. Kate says:

    “What in her past would make her have a problem with Joseph Smith and polygamy?”

    Are you kidding me? I about fell out of my chair when he said this lol! I don’t know, maybe she felt that one man married to 30+ women was immoral? I went 38 years without knowing that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy. The church taught us that it started with Brigham Young and the move West, all those darn widows. I was sickened and angered when I found out Joseph Smith had 30+ wives including children and women already married to other men. I thought of the abusive nature of polygamy, children being forced into it, repression of women. We see bits of it on our News all the time from Warren Jeffs and his group. I have told my Mom that if she wants to know what Joseph Smith was like just look at Warren Jeffs. He repulses her but for some reason Joseph Smith gets a free pass with this.
    The only thing this missionary did was move her attention from Joseph Smith and put it back onto herself. Don’t look at the man behind the curtain, nothing to see there, just look at yourself. If she had people in her past that she needed to forgive, then that’s great, but what on earth does that have to do with Joseph Smith’s polygamy? I’ll bet if she really dug in and studied Joseph Smith she would see that her first instincts were right on the money.
    I wonder if this missionary told her that LDS Mormons still practice polygamy daily in their temples and that according to Mormonism, she will be a polygamist wife herself if she and her husband work hard enough to become gods and have their own planet. I’ll bet if he had disclosed it all, she would have walked away. Mormon doctrine and theology is pretty far out there and polygamy is just the tip of the iceberg. This woman should have kept digging.

    Kenneth,
    This missionary had her look at her past and repent of grudges held against the people who wronged her instead of talking about Joseph Smith’s polygamy with her. Instead of holding JS accountable he turned it around on her. The sad thing is that she fell for it. She joined a false religion, is now worshiping a false god and has no idea that she herself will be a polygamist wife if she and her husband make it to the celestial kingdom. I wonder what she will think after she goes through the weird temple ceremony.
    Missionaries need to lay the entire Mormon program out for their potential converts. In order for one to become a Catholic they have to study and learn the religion for a year first. The Catholic church helps them learn it. Mormon missionaries are pushing baptism 20 minutes after knocking on the door! This is the reason that convert retention is so low.

  16. MJP says:

    Kenneth, the way I see it is that the missionary asked the woman to ignore the sins of Smith, which include potential infidelity. If you don’t see the connection to what this woman was concerned about, I am not sure what to tell you.

  17. Kenneth,

    No offense taken. I agree that there is some ambiguity in the story as related by the elder. This is how I understand the way he has told story:

    The elder is talking to the investigator about her opposition to polygamy: “You have problems with Joseph Smith and polygamy.” She “feel[s] so opposed to just the idea of one man ever, ever associating with more than one woman.” These feelings of opposition are caused by “relationships in the past where there’s been infidelity, where there’s been adultery and stuff like that.” The investigator asks, “What can I do to overcome those feelings?” It seems to me that she is referring to the feelings of opposition against Joseph Smith and polygamy (feelings caused, of course, by things from her past). The elders then talk to her about repentance and what it means to truly repent, and so she commits to “kneel down that night and to ask God for forgiveness for those grudge and that feelings…” Again, in the context of the story it seems to me that these feelings are the feelings of opposition to Joseph Smith and polygamy that has been the focus of the story. When the elder adds that as part of that prayer she wanted to “herself forgive those wrongs that had been committed against her,” I understand that to be a second issue. That is, she asked for forgiveness for her feelings of opposition, and she asked for help in forgiving those who sinned against her. On watching the video again, I see that the elder could have meant that she committed to repent, and she committed to forgive, making them two parts of one concern, but it’s impossible to really know without, as you say, questioning the missionary further.

    So, I don’t really think I’ve read between the lines. I’m a pretty literal person and as the story is told, it sounds like the investigator was encouraged to repent for her feelings against Joseph Smith and polygamy — and also — a good thing — to forgive those who had hurt her in the past. This is how it sounds to me; I don’t know any more than this.

  18. falcon says:

    I think Sharon gives a good take on what’s going on here. There are really no lines to read between.
    Tom nails it too. It’s an LDS flim flam game that the flim flamers believe in themselves. They’ve learned to integrate feelings and religious manipulation to seduce the woman reported about here. I’ve never been into the LDS culture but my bet is, bet on what Tom observes, that this is learned behavior.
    How do you think Joseph Smith got away with the things he did. The guy was a natural.

  19. Mike R says:

    It’s important that people are made aware of Mormon polygamy because in looking at what
    Mormon leadership taught about it can shed a spotlight on their claim of authority to be the
    true officers in Jesus’ church — restored in 1830 .

    The mess that resulted from polygamy is a hallmark of this doctrine which Mormon apostles
    believed was a essential ordinance of Jesus’ restored church . From the very beginning it caused
    turmoil in personal lives and in the church family . Subterfuge by church leaders characterized
    it’s introduction and even after a official declaration supposedly ended it’s practice in 1890.

    Given how Joseph Smith changed his view of God and taught his followers that Almighty God
    was only a exalted man who progressed to become a God , it was only a matter of time when Mormon leaders would create more aberrant doctrine from this view , which those who
    Smith mentored did later because of his untimely death . Mormon males could achieve eternal
    increase faster through polygamous unions , thus attaining more and more glory and
    dominion , ruling as heavenly fathers, Almighty Gods , over their expanding heavenly
    kingdoms of progeny .

    Mormon males : from sinful men to earning Godhood by climbing up to heaven on the rungs
    ( rules, regulations, laws ) of what Mormons have called their ” gospel ladder .”
    Thankfully Jesus warned about men who would alter His gospel by mixing in their own ideas
    to it . These men will especially be numerous in the latter days , and they will cleverly package
    their false teachings up and present them as ” restored ” gospel truth . What Mormon leaders
    did with polygamy is a good example of this behavior , and thus identifies Mormon apostles
    as only imitations of Jesus’ true apostles —2Cor 11:13 ; Rev 2:2

  20. Kenneth says:

    To be clear, I agree that Joseph Smith’s polygamy is a legitimate concern that the missionary should have addressed directly instead of circumventing. However, I still respectfully disagree with the general interpretation on this thread over what transpired when the missionary encouraged the woman to pray. The missionary obviously wanted the woman to set aside her doubts, but I am not convinced that he told her that her doubts were sinful. Thanks for hearing me out on this, everyone; I won’t belabor my point any further.

  21. fifth monarchy man says:

    Kenneth,

    This might help. Suppose a homosexual has difficulty accepting the Bible because they believe that Moses was wrong to condemn sodomy.

    It would be manipulative to tell him the real reason that he is having difficulty is because he needs to forgive the people that bullied him in high school for his sexual orientation.

    What such a tactic does is turn the doubters attention away from the real issue the morality of sodomy and instead turns the focus to a unrelated highly emotional mater. He might need to forgive the bullies from high school but that should be addressed separately from the question of the truth and morality of the Bible.

    It’s called misdirection and playing on emotions and it is wrong.

    peace

  22. fifth monarchy man says:

    Keep in mind this women was emotionally compromised because she was ill and concerned about how to pay for her medical bills.

    Then add the fact that this guy boldly told her that God told him that it was her lack of forgiveness that was the real problem. Placing the blame for her doubt squarely on her shoulders rather on the dubious behavior of Smith.

    Talk about slick salesmanship

    peace

  23. Mike R says:

    Kenneth,

    Expecting a Mormon missionary to address directly the issue of Mormon polygamy is asking
    for a miracle . While none of them should be expected to have extensive knowledge about it
    nevertheless they just are not going to want to spend much time talking to someone about it .
    What Mormon leaders taught their flock about polygamy goes right to the heart of their claims
    of authority . Therefore this doctrine should always be among the first to be examined when
    looking into Mormonism . Also, polygamy is not dead , it still plays an important part in the
    lives of temple Mormon men today , because they can be sealed to another wife after the first
    one has died , thus having plural wives in heaven one day .

    Mormonism has claimed that a complete apostasy occurred soon after the death of Jesus’
    apostles , this happened because men had changed the ordinances and the doctrines that
    Jesus’ apostles had taught , thus the true gospel had been altered by men who mixed in their
    ideas to it , which corrupted it . 1700 years later the very church and gospel that Jesus had
    established through His apostles was restored by God through Joseph Smith .
    So polygamy is a ” ordinance of the gospel ” of Jesus Christ restored in these latter days —-
    according to Mormonism .
    Nothing could be farther from the truth . This is actually a great example of how false prophets
    operate , and should alert investigators to dismiss the young missionaries who come with their
    ” restored ” gospel . Gal 1:8 ; 1 Jn 4:1 ; 2Jn 7-9 can be consulted about prophets like those in
    the Mormon church .

    Kenneth, thanks for sharing your thoughts .

  24. Fifth monarchy man, well said. In one sentence you communicated the very heart of the matter — something I was unable to do in a whole blog post! Thank you.

  25. fifth monarchy man says:

    Sharon,

    Thanks for the compliment. I had no trouble understanding the point of your post. It was clear and concise as usual.

    I really appreciate what you do here.

    May God continue to bless your labors with this website with success as he calls his children out of the Mormon organization and into the kingdom of his Son.

    peace

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