The Stories of the Wives of Joseph Smith


Consider the fact that Mormons told the women in the visual illustration that they were lying, since “Joseph Smith only had one wife.” The LDS Church lies by 1) not educating the common Mormon people about the nature of Joseph Smith’s polygyny and polyandry, and 2) allowing gigantic “faith-promoting rumors” concerning polygamy to perpetuate, all to the benefit of people maintaining their belief in Smith as a prophet.

Read through, notice the lack of any information on Smith’s polygamy, and think about the following:

“Even sharing the truth can have the effect of lying when we tell only half-truths that do not give the full picture. We can also be guilty of bearing false witness and lying if we say nothing, particularly if we allow another to reach a wrong conclusion while we hold back information that would have led to a more accurate perception. In this case it is as though an actual lie were uttered.” (Robert J. Matthews, Ensign, October 1994, p. 54)

The full-length video is available on YouTube, Vimeo, iPod format, MPEG 2 (great for burning to DVD), and Windows Media. Individual videos are also available:

I also have posted one clip of a Mormon’s opinion on the illustration:


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57 Responses to The Stories of the Wives of Joseph Smith

  1. JLFuller says:

    I watched some of your interviews Aaron. Your participants seem to be very nice people. However, just like I have seen elsewhere on antiMormon sites including this one, you only tell one side of any story. In preparing your particpants, did you do any research beyond finding the personal opinions and most lurid tales to tell? As inany jury trial, there is also the other side. But you never present those stories. Why is that? It seems to me that if it is important enough to discuss the way you do that the other guys story is important too.

  2. JLFuller, please see our comment policy regarding the filtering of the a-word, i.e. the term that Bill McKeever has appropriately called “the Mormon n-word“.

    From what I understand, the primary source for the stories of the wives of Joseph Smith in the illustration was Todd Compton’s In Sacred Loneliness. Compton is, to my knowledge, a faith, active Latter-day Saint. If you would like to cast aspersions on Latter-day Saint historians on this blog, go for it, but in the case of Compton’s book, we thought he did a pretty good job.

    That said, if any of the women said anything that specifically needs correction or clarification, please offer up suggestions.

  3. JLFuller says:

    I just have to say that there is nothing in what I said above that is profane. I don’t use foul language and it is irresponsible for Aaron to suggest I did.

  4. JLFuller, if one clicks the above link to Bill’s article on the “Mormon n-word”, it becomes apparent what word you used. Given the way the a-word has been used and what connotations it carries, we consider it a slur. If you simply used the word to describe critics or critical material, then please use the word “critic” or “critical” instead.

  5. JLFuller says:

    Acknowledged and understood.

  6. Jeffrey says:

    I actually bought Todd Comptons “In sacred Loneliness” from Borders (they had to special order it, I guess they don’t normally carry it). Also got “Rough Stone Rolling” by Richard Bushman for fathers day.

    I must admit I have yet to crack one of them open, lol. I have been studying for a job with the city I live in, and add to that a wicked stomach flu that has been going around. Also, lets not tell any half-truths here, the sheer size of these books (700 pages) scare me. haha.

    Cant wait to hear some unbiased research on JS though. Perhaps after July 7th I will break into them.

  7. falcon says:

    Hay JLFuller,
    I would love to hear both sides of the story regarding the wives of Joseph Smith. Could you please provide them? I’m wondering what the other side of the story would be for a fourteen year old girl. I’m guessing she seduced Joseph Smith, right? What would both sides of the story be anyway. We know Joseph Smith’s side. An angel with a sword appeared to him and threatened to kill him if he didn’t marry these women. Also that the women would lose their salvation if they didn’t marry him. What other side of the story is there? Were these women a bunch of harlots or what?

    By the way, while I was waiting for you to tell me what Mormons really believe, I taapped into a presentation by John P. Dehlin, an active Mormon, at Mormon Stories. You can get it at:

    It’s 57 minutes long but give it a listen and we’ll get together to chat about it. The moderators can give you my e mail.

  8. I’ve just registered with this site (I’ve been a ‘browser’ up to now) because I’ve just had a visit from two Mormon Missionaries. We chatted pleasantly for about 15 to 20 minutes at my front gate. I used to work for the Bishop of the Chapel they are connected to and I asked them to pass on my regards.

    Thay asked if I had heard of the LDS message, to which I replied that I had researched it in some depth. I started by saying that when someone turns up claiming to be a prophet, I take notice. I also said (as I had discussed at length with my ex-boss) that I could not get past two things; Joseph Smith and the early LDS’ polygamy (a core doctrine of the “restored” gospel) and JS lying about his ability to translate stuff (the Book of Abraham).

    The responses of the Missionaries is worth noting in this discussion; The first is that the plural marriages of JS and the LDS pioneers were not untoward relationships. After our discussion, I did a search on the internet. It seems that 8 children were produced by these relationships, according to LDS records, which directly contradicts the message that my Missionaries were spinning.

    The second relates to the changing doctrines of the LDS church. The response (the implications of which only sank in after the event) was that because the LDS was the only true church, it could change direction as God directed through the Holy Ghost.

    They asked where I got my information from, and I said that I had read a fair amount of literature and had searched the net. They appeared to dismiss the net stuff in particular as being “Anti-Mormon” (is this the “A-word”?). I responded by saying that what I had read was chapter and verse from contemporary sources. They showed no interest in exploring their own history.

    We had a pleasant conversation, but I now regret our encounter as an opportunity lost. I talked to these Missionaries about my doubts about LDS, but not once did we get to talk about the gift of God in Jesus Christ

  9. While I would agree that Smith was engaged in untoward relationships, I question the claim that eight children were the result of Smith’s polygamy. Please see this Mormon blog post for a discussion on possible children of Smith via polygamous relationships. Also see our article which touches on some topics related to Smith’s polygamy.

    While it is regrettable you didn’t share the gospel with the missionaries, we can pray that God uses your words to them in a larger process toward helping them come to Christ!

    Grace and peace!


  10. junelle says:

    Thank you for posting these stories! I feel as though we can finally get the real stories of J.S. told through his closest and most intimate relationships. I think what I have learned so far has helped me understand his personality so much better. {a big fat expletive here} ***sorry Aaron

    Martin, I just wanted to tell you that as a former mormon, my husband and I had to have hundreds of seeds planted in order to have the mormon *web of lies* we believed all our lives begin unravel. You did such an great thing by just engaging in conversation and helping those missionaries question their doctrine, beliefs, leaders, and history. Always find ways to validate the notion that “It is okay to ask questions.” Mormons hate (are afraid) of questioning. Jesus just looooves questions…I counted over 90 in the gospel of Matthew?! Praise God that you are willing to step out for Jesus in this way!

    Love to you!

  11. Ralph says:

    I finally got to hear one of the stories – Sylvia Porter Sessions Lyon. The reason I selected this one is because of an article I found at FAIRLDS. It says (with much editing to make it fit word numbers) ”Joseph’s marriage to Sylvia has been argued to be the sole marriage that included intimate relations in these types of unions…Josephine Fisher, Sylvia’s daughter, reportedly stated that her mother had told her that she was the daughter of Joseph Smith…This instance however, has been disputed by historians as to whether the reference was to a daughter in a biological respect or in an eternal spiritual sense…The plausibility of this argument comes from the fact that women sealed to men, other than their earthly husbands, also had their children sealed to the new eternal husband…Because Sessions was on her deathbed, when one’s thoughts naturally turn to the hereafter, the latter is a reasonable explanation.”

    You can read the full story in the pdf document here on page 6 –

    Again, to fully be considered ‘fair’ you must present all of the data. We believe in eternal families, and this could be a case (NOTE COULD, I am not saying it is, nor does the article) of critics misleading the public by omitting this belief and letting the listener make up their own mind after more investigation.

  12. Jeffrey says:

    What Ralph said made me think about what I was ponderin’ last night.

    If we were all spirit brothers and sisters in heaven under “Heavenly Father”, then that means when an LDS father on earth has one of his spirit brothers/sister born as their earthly child, they die, go to Heaven, then that means that person is the son/daughter of the Heavenly father but also then son/daughter AND brother/sister of the Earthly Father. Kind of a mind trip isn’t it? In all reality, we are all sleeping with our spiritual brothers and sisters, another mind trip to venture.

  13. “has been argued to be the sole marriage that included intimate relations”? Yeah, it “has been argued” that Americans never landed on the moon, too. The question is whether the what is “argued” is reasonable.

    To quote three Mormons:

    “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))

  14. May says:

    If it (all this twisted … sick, sexual, perverse… flesh driven perversion) was being done and justified under the name of “the Church of Joseph Smith” it would still be disturbing but not nearly like it is when “stuff” is excused, explained away and justified under the name of Jesus Christ.

    Jesus did not teach this, in fact he taught exactly the OPOSITE of all of what Dear Joey has taken upon himself to add, twist and adulterate.

    Like Christ needed Dear Joe’s help, enhancements or revisions.

    The whole thing is disgusting. Go look at your children, your wife, your little sister and then say any of this “stuff” is OK and is from God.

    It is nothing more than sinful, lustful man acting in his flesh and doing it in the name of “religion”.

  15. falcon says:

    As past leaders of the Mormon Church have argued, Mormonism is all about Joseph Smith. It (Mormon belief system) rises or falls on Joseph Smith’s character, credibility and personal history. The documented history is so compelling that all TBMs have left is a lot of very weak, at times almost laughable, explanations and excuses for the guy. It’s very hard to give up the dream of believing in the story of this poor ignorant, righteous farm boy who had visions and revelations from God. Once they figure out that their personal faith in Joseph Smith, the BoM and the Mormon church is based on emotion and not a revelation from God, the hook is removed.

    This is the bottom line. The Mormon church has zero percent growth. There are as many people going out the back door as are coming in the front. Two-thirds of those on the membership rolls are inactive. The church used to have two people handling resignations. They now have ten. I think that when people tire of the organizational deceit and just flat out religious grind, they jump ship. Once they lose their fear of going into outer darkness, it’s all over. Their gone. They don’t need the Mormon church for salvation. They need faith in the Jesus of the Bible absent all the religious hoops and skulldugery.

  16. Amen, May. I just learned recently that Smith’s manipulation of women started as early as Emma. I was reading this page and ran across the following:

    “Using his magical stone, he claimed a “revelation” that Emma was to be his wife. He used the “plate” story to manipulate her further by telling her that he could not obtain the plates unless she married him.”

    I asked Bill for some references for this and what he found surprised me. I’ll post about it later. I tell you, I’ve been studying this for about ten years now and the depth of Joseph Smith’s character continues to shock my moral sensibilities.

  17. Jeffrey says:

    Too bad Joseph Smith didn’t get a revelation about civilization becoming increasingly more intelligent, and not only more intelligent, but inventing ways for information and communication to flow more freely. (Radio, TV, Internet). He may of covered his bases a little more if he could in fact see into the future.

    I think its obvious he didn’t expect people to become so good at interpreting Egyptian artifacts or he might not have even dared to bring the book of breat.. I mean.. book of Abraham back to life.

    It’s amazing to see how gullible people were back then, but then again, 60 years from now our grandchildren will probably say the same things about people in our day.

  18. germit says:

    AARON: I notice with interest that your second reference to a mormon historian is Richard Bushman’s “Rough Stone Rolling” (which is on my must read list: I own a copy but as Jeff has said,”that book’s fatter than the Nutty Professor…” or something like that.

    My question to the mormon posters is : what think ye one and all of MR. BUSHMAN, is his historical sense to be trusted, and whose history DO you trust?? From my exposure to Richard B, I’d say he’s far and away better than most LDS sources, in my opinion, and tries to present what happened, as it happened. Just curious how other’s see this. GERMIT

  19. Ralph says:

    Sorry but I was in a rush with my last post. The quotes were from a paper about the marriages to women who had other husbands, not to the women who were single. So the part about there being no evidence of any physical union in the marriages only refers to these ones.

  20. JLFuller says:

    In my post on the other site, I have addressed some of these Joseph Smith issues. The 2k and 3 post limits here don’t allow enough space to do so adequately. OK OK I know I am a blabber mouth! But I am do pretty fair job of documenting. And after all, isn’t that what really counts? I mean opinions only go so far. At some point we have to get serious and to the grown up thing.

  21. Ralph, if Thomas Monson sent you on another 2-year-mission, then married your wife while you were gone, would you be OK with that? If the polyandrous marriages were all simply platonic, why did Joseph Smith wait for these kinds of circumstances and situations to take advantage of the women? Why keep a merely platonic sealing from the first husband’s knowledge?

    I think something the LDS fail to realize is that Joseph Smith believed a Celestial marriage-sealing gave him full marital rights and privileges. Even when Joseph did not exercise all these supposed rights and privileges it was not ethical or tasteful or God-honoring to enter into a covenant of marriage where he believed he could, in principle, partake of such rights and privileges.

    I’m with Sarah Pratt. Tell Joseph Smith to shove it and spill the beans when the husband gets home from his mission.

  22. falcon says:

    This whole deal with Joseph Smith and the women is just plain weird. And I really don’t understand the mindset of people who defend it or try to explain it away. It’s like they’ve joined Smith in his pathology. Joseph Smith was one sick puppy on a lot of different levels. But people will do whatever is necessary psychologically to keep thier hopes, dreams and beliefs alive. I would think that at some point the TBMs would have enough information that the light would go on regarding Joseph Smith.

    What was the spiritual reason for taking on all of these wives? Who told him to do it? What was going to happen to him if he didn’t do it? Yea, right Joe! You really have to admire Sarah Pratt for having the ego strength and discernment to tell JS to take a walk. I guess some people are more easily manipulated than others.

  23. Ralph says:

    Aaron, I know you have your agendum to push but your argument in this case has some holes and misrepresents the truth. Yes JS proposed to some women while their husbands were away, but as far as I can find, he never married any of these women. Also, Sarah Pratt walked out on her husband and the church later in life. So you go girl.

    As far as the 8 women that he did get sealed to who were already married to another husband – Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs’ husband officiated at the sealing which to me means that he knew about it and agreed with it; The husbands of Ruth Vose Sayers, Presindia Lanthrop Huntington Jacobs and Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner were nonmembers, so there was no way that JS could get them out of the picture while he did as you accused; Sylvia Porter Sessions Lyon husband was inactive and gave permission; Elvira Annie Cowles Holmes husband knew all about it and allowed it. So 6 out of 8 husbands, that I can find, knew about what was happening, so JS did not act covertly in these cases where he did get sealed to the women, as you are stating. I can’t find anything about the circumstances of the other 2 at this moment.

    Now as for your comment about JS beliefs, are you able to back that up with first hand evidence, ie autobiography or psychologist/doctor report? Or is this just your interpretation which you are presenting as fact? From the readings I can find there is no evidence there was any physical relationships with these women, except for possibly Sylvia Porter Sessions Lyon, as I said earlier. But that could just be a misinterpretation of what she told her daughter, as I pointed out. In fact, form some of the diary writings I have read from a couple of these 8 women, it sounds like there was nothing happening between them and JS. If you want to read these, go to the link I gave above.

    Falcon, if you really want to understand ” the spiritual reason for taking on all of these wives” then read the above link.

  24. Megan says:

    Ralph, I have a few questions for you: Have you read Todd Compton’s book, “In Sacred Loneliness”? If so, how can you justify believing that Smith did not have relations with his wives? I know you are very busy with work (as you have mentioned before), but if you have not read the book, why not? There are 165 pages of references and research at the end, which should satisfy your desire for proof.
    Jeffrey, don’t be put off by the length of the book. It’s an easy read, and it really is quite a page-turner. It’s easy to get caught up in the drama of these women’s lives, and after you read about each one you feel like you know them.

  25. Ralph says:


    My above comments were about the wives that were already married, not those who were married only to him. No I have not read the book as I don’t have a copy. As far as your question goes ”how can you justify believing that Smith did not have relations with his wives?” I will refer you to the author’s own words on this webpage about the book –

    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. Furthermore, in the Protestant polygamist tradition, it is common to find examples of marriages to young teenagers. (Cairncross, After Polygamy Was Made a Sin (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1974) p. 14.)

    Todd Compton said some more interesting things on this site –

    If the Tanners had been committed to providing a balanced perspective in discussing Mormon polygamy, … the Tanners may have known that other Protestant groups (such as the early Anabaptists) believed in polygamy and practiced it, and that Luther sanctioned polygamy — but they did not mention this. A book that gives some of this background is John Cairncross, After Polygamy Was Made a Sin (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1974)…especially pp. 36, 49.(emphasis mine)

    ”In the case of polyandry, the Tanners, if they had been committed to balance, might have admitted (as I pointed out in my book, p. 21) that many sincere, intelligent Protestant ministers in Joseph Smith’s environment were developing theologies including “spiritual wife” systems.

    Ralph, in the future please remember Mormon Coffee’s comment policy regarding summation of key points before including a link. Thanks.

  26. Megan says:

    Ralph, this is the first I have ever heard of protestants and polygamy, so I’ll have to check that out. If you haven’t read Compton’s book because you don’t have a copy, that is very easy to remedy. You can go to and order a copy. You should be able to find one for about $20.

  27. traveler says:

    Hello !

    As Falcon stated

    “As past leaders of the Mormon Church have argued, Mormonism is all about Joseph Smith. It (Mormon belief system) rises or falls on Joseph Smith’s character, credibility and personal history. The documented history is so compelling that all TBMs have left is a lot of very weak, at times almost laughable, explanations and excuses for the guy. ”

    WHY? why is the LDS church so invested in presenting JS as too perfect to be human?

    Most Lutherans do not appear to try to paint a halo over Martin Luther -he was an antisemite and rather vulgar at times, but I have not noted any attempts to try to whitewash these ‘all too human’ falacies out of their Church’s history.

    In making JS “flawless’ he looses the personal charm and home spun charisma that drew his followers to him in the first place!

    Did I miss something here?


  28. Just for Quix says:

    The Helen Mar Kimball story brought a lump to my throat of being denied love and children because she didn’t wish to upset the celestial apple cart of her father. LDS defenders can justify that girls married young in the general population, argue that ‘spiritual wifery’ may have had philosophical complement elsewhere in religious society, debate over which secret marriages were consummated and which weren’t. All begs the observation that Joseph did not act in full trust, propriety and confidence with his partner, that women were property and means to an end for someone else, for satisfying lusts or merely to preserve a dynasty in heaven by one’s own works. It’s a sad commentary on the place the female gender has accorded in much of human history — an heartrending to see it embodied in the stories of the lives of Joseph Smith’s wives.

  29. Ralph says:


    Oh no – they’ve kept the truth of their history from you –it must be a false church. Then have you heard about John Calvin? He was a monster – he approved of torture and burning witches. Then he also had the opinion that he was ‘it’. If anyone challenged his authority he had them arrested or beheaded. Some say that his ideology also demeaned the role of women in society by building a patriarchal system of living. Here is a reference for these statements so you know I am not making them up –
    Wikipedia also corroborates this but says that its controversial, however it agrees that he had a lot of power and control over the civil authorities. But most articles about Calvin agree that he was instrumental in the death of Servetus. Wow, sounds almost like someone else we like to discuss here.

    But as you Evs have said in the past, you can pick and choose what you wish to believe in and where you want to worship. So this means that you do not ‘own’ the history as we LDS do, so you can cop out by saying that you follow the teachings/ideology but you do not prescribe to the person. How easy.

    We LDS do not teach that our leaders are perfect nor are they infallible. Can you point out to me anywhere where we teach that idea? We accept our prophets as human and that they can and do make mistakes, which is why we can accept all this criticism you wish to place before us.

    A note to the moderator – the quotes are the summary in answer to Megan’s question. Todd Compton did state that not all of the marriages were consummated and I gave one example, where as Megan tried to say that he said all of the marriages were consummated. So I just put it in the wrong order – I gave the link first then the summary.

  30. Ralph, even if all the things you’ve said about Calvin were true (and for the record, you’ve grossly characterized Calvin), how would or should that affect people who believe in sola scriptura? I don’t think you understand the difference of what’s at stake here. You can’t have your cake and eat it too: You can’t have “continuing revelation” and “modern day prophets and apostles” and yet hold them to no more higher standard of accountability than mere pastors, preachers, theologians, etc.

    If your leaders are the real thing, living oracles of God who are the stream of continuing revelation who have promised never to lead their people astray, then we can’t simply wave aside their heresies and personal character with a slight of hand. If your leaders are merely latter-day commentators and opinionators, then yes, absolutely, you can just pick and choose what they do and say. But your religion has not only rejected sola scriptura, it has made a point of selling itself for providing more than old scripture.

    Even IF Mormonism was/became a religion of sola scriptura, I cannot share its prophets-can-do-anything-they-want attitude which it largely seems to already have. Brigham Young once said,

    “I recollect a conversation I had with a priest who was an old friend of ours, before I was personally acquainted with the Prophet Joseph. I clipped every argument he advanced, until at last he came out and began to rail against Joe Smith, saying, that he was a mean man, a liar, moneydigger, gambler, and a whore-master; and he charged him with everything bad, that he could find language to utter. I said, hold on, brother Gillmore, here is the doctrine, here is the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the revelations that have come through Joseph Smith the Prophet. I have never seen him, and do not know his private character. The doctrine he teaches is all I know about the matter, bring anything against that if you can. As to anything else I do not care. If he acts like a devil, he has brought forth a doctrine that will save us, if we will abide it. He may get drunk every day of his life, sleep with his neighbor’s wife every night, run horses and gamble, I do not care anything about that, for I never embrace any man in my faith. But the doctrine he has produced will save you and me, and the whole world; and if you can find fault with that, find it.” (Journal of Discourses, volume 4, p. 77-78)

    To be honest, reading a lot of literature by Mormons defending Joseph Smith brings me to the conclusion that, in a sense, Joseph Smith is treated as the god and king of Mormonism, the author of all things distinctively good about Mormonism who, practically speaking, can do no wrong. At the end of the day I have to choose who I will trust, and who I will teach my children to trust. I cannot trust Joseph Smith in good conscience.

    Whether Smith was “perfect” in all areas misses the point. No, we cannot put our heads in the sand when a self-professed prophet goes out of his way to “restore” and reintroduce something morally repulsive to American culture and to a holistic biblical worldview. Joseph Smith was an unrepentant whoremonger and heretic whose life in many and diverse strokes paints a portrait of an untrustworthy man.

    Teaching people to rebel against Satan when he says to hide and make a green leaf apron,


  31. falcon says:

    If true, if men gave permission for their wives to marry Joseph Smith, as Ralph stated, this whole deal is worse than imagined. What kind of a man would pass his wife around for some other man to have? It was spiritual only?

    David Koresh of the Branch Dividians had his main leader hand over his wife so he, Koresh, could impregnate her. Which Koresh did. This situation, of Mormon men handing their wives over to Smith, is beyond repulsive. Now please, is this not cult behavior?

    Ralph, what has got ahold of you man? To day in and day out come here and rationalize this abomination is beyond belief. You must be gearing up for Joseph Smith to hand you a big reward in the celestial kingdom. Truth is, there’s none coming.

  32. Bill McKeever says:

    “Joseph Smith is treated as the god and king of Mormonism, the author of all things distinctively good about Mormonism who, practically speaking, can do no wrong.”

    Actually, after reading some of the things posted here by some LDS, it seems worse than that. Smith can do wrong, and Mormons see nothing wrong in justifying it.

  33. germit says:

    hang out at Mormon Coffee and learn the darndest things: THe John Cairncross that Compton cites is none other than a self confessed spy that handed the soviets 5,832 documents (according to soviet archives, at least) over the years 1941 and 1945. He became a communist in 1937 and lived till 1995. If he didn’t ‘recant’, that would make him a communist for 58 years. Seemingly a very accomplished spy (and never convicted, I would add), but how was his history and why should I trust a life long communist to give me RELIABLE CHURCH HISTORY?? Ralph, you get kudos for giving a clear reference to your info, but I’ll take a pass on Mr.Cairncross’s history. Not sure he would know a real christian if he or she snuck up on him (unlikely, him being a spy and all)and bit him in the bum. blessings on all who are nursing ANY kind of wound. GERMIT

  34. Germit, deal with the claims of John Cairncross before you deal with John Cairncross himself. Being a communist doesn’t automatically make one a bad historian.

  35. Ralph says:

    Aaron, Did you read the website I referenced? its their thoughts not mine. To be fair I did look up other sites after finding this one, but most only discussed his ideology nothing about his character. But all said that he did have a hand in the execution of Servetus. Wikipedia was the only other site that had anything to say about his character and said that he was very influential with the civil authorities and that there is a controversy about how good/bad he was. It did say that he condoned torture and had at least one person tortured for heresy.

    Germit, John Cairncross was the reference used by Todd Compton, not me. I just copied his words over from the website and shortened them to fit in with the word limit.

    Falcon, can you prove there was any physical relations in those 8 polyandrous relations? From the info I can find there is only one piece of third hand ‘evidence’ that makes a possible case of a relationship in only one of those 8 marriages. But its not a firm piece of evidence and cannot be verified. So unless you have proof then why can’t I say there was nothing happening? Especially when 2 of the women in their own personal journals intimate (ie implicit not explicit statements) that nothing happened between them and Joseph, just the sealing in the temple. BTW did you see that Todd Compton references other Protestant ministers doing something similar at that time? So it wasn’t just JS.

  36. Ralph says:

    Aaron, here is a small amount of what that site had to say about Calvin and Calvinism, so you see I am not making it up –

    The basis of Calvinism in father-identification needs little stressing. We find it in the marked authoritarianism of the movement, in its depression of the status of women, and even in such characteristic details as a fervent belief in witchcraft: extreme Protestants persisted in this belief long after the rest of Europe had abandoned it: Wesley, for instance, was a firm believer in witchcraft. The stress placed by Calvinism on authority is quite striking. Not only did Calvin stress divine authority, but all paternal authority was sacrosanct. In Geneva a child was beheaded for striking its father: in Scotland, too, severe penalties were prescribed for any child who defied its father. If there was anything worse than to defy a father’s authority, it was to defy Calvin’s. Special penalties were prescribed for addressing Calvin as Calvin, and not as Mr. Calvin. Citizens who commented unfavourably on his sermons were punished by three days on bread and water. Gruet, who criticized Calvin’s doctrine and who had written “nonsense” in the margin of one of his books, was beheaded for treason and blasphemy. Berthelieu, who challenged the right of the Consistory to excommunicate, was beheaded, with several of his supporters … always in patriarchal systems, Calvinism was fanatically against intellectual freedom. Calvin himself said that he submitted his mind “bound and fettered” in obedience to God, and he expected a similar subservience from others. Not only Servetus and Cruet, but many others who dared to query the official teaching were condemned and imprisoned or killed; and since Church and State were one, to hold the wrong opinion was not only heresy but treason. Inevitably, Calvinists depressed the status of women.

  37. falcon says:

    OK Ralph,
    Now I have to go back and research Calvin and Wesely. I’ll go back through my issues of Christian History but I can’t remember reading anything like you have offered. And here we go again Ralph, as Christians we don’t do backflips over any of these guys and claim they were infallable prophets. Mormons place Joseph Smith right next to Jesus and in fact are more Joseph centered in there services then Jesus centered. As a Mormon, I don’t think you quite get that we don’t place men on pedestals.

    Now as to can I prove that Joseph Smith had sex with the married women he took as wives? Yes, God spoke to me and told me he did. Now in the Mormon program, my testimony counts as fact, right? I don’t need evidence from men. That was kind of fun doing Mormon for a second. What a trip!

    Look Ralph, the whole deal with men giving their wives to Joseph Smith is way out of bounce. I’m thinking about myself handing my wife over to Joseph Smith to be married even if there wasn’t going to be sex. Can’t you see the cult mind control tactic here. You get a man to hand over his wife, he’ll do anything else for you. Even kill for you if you ask. It’s part of the breaking down of someone’s will. Ralph….news flash….it’s the cultic mindset. Ralph…..another term is brain washing. Ralph, why do you continue to defend, rationalize and justify this man’s behavior. What’s the hook Ralph. Would you give your wife to Joseph Smith in a temple ritual even now if it would prove your devotion to Joseph Smith. What would you do for the “prophet” Ralph?

  38. Michael P says:


    Ralph has said they recognize their leaders as flawed human beings. Can anyone list something specific that they did wrong? Call them out, spefically, for a sin they committed.

    I tire of hearing the line. OK, OK, he was, but tell us how they were imperfect!

  39. Megan says:

    Ralph, I am well aware of the many faults and sins of Christian leaders over the past 2,000 years. I am willing to investigate anything and everything about anyone or anything you care to bring up. The question is, are you? I am not able to take your arguments about Smith seriously because you seem to be unwilling to investigate all of the evidence available. I realize that you do not have a copy of “In Sacred Loneliness”, but why not obtain one and read it? It’s not that this book is the final word on Smith’s polygamy, but it is an excellent source with excellent documentation. I realize that you are unable to both procure it and read it in time to add to this specific conversation, but please be willing to investigate it for the future. As I said, I am willing to read anything you have to suggest; please be willing to read anything we might suggest. If you would like, I could send you a copy. I am serious about that.

  40. In Ralph’s defense, he has seemed in many ways more willing than most to look into evidence. Where we differ, of course, is how to interpret it.

    And here we go again Ralph, as Christians we don’t do backflips over any of these guys and claim they were infallable prophets.

    To make it clear, Ralph never claimed they were infallible. My point above was that no one (Mormons included) really claim they were infallible in all areas. The problem is that some seem to want to equally hold self-professed prophets and apostles to the same kind of standard that is used for pastors, teachers, theologians, etc., whereas in reality prophets and apostles, at the very least, should be held to a higher standard.

    As for whether Joseph Smith married men’s wives to increase his control over the husband, that is a possibility, but it seems more obvious that his charisma and spiritual power over the men were already in place to make the polyandry possible in the first place. I haven’t seen any evidence that Smith abused the polyandrous relationships to further manipulate the husbands to do special favors for him, etc.

    It’s better to stick to issues we can substantiate. Let’s be careful not to attack Ralph as a way of avoiding engaging the issues.

    Grace and peace,


  41. Ralph, I’m aware of the issue with Calvin and Servetus, but much of the other accusations in your quote seem exaggerated and over-the-top. Replace the overdone quote with a quote from a more reliable source and I’ll take it more seriously. The author seems full of hyperbole.

    To add some balance:

    “So the bulk of the executions were for conspiracy to commit murder and for adultery. In addition to these, there was one girl who was executed for striking her mother – another capital crime in the Old Testament which could be, at least in ancient Israel, justly enforced by the penalty of death in certain instances. We are not told by history whether Calvin approved of this execution, but if he did, it was because he believed that it was the proper application of Old Testament law. Of the other executions, history has only given us details of two – the beheading of Jacques Gruet and the burning of Michael Servetus. Gruet was executed for heresy and sedition. He attached an anonymous note to Calvin’s pulpit threatening to kill Calvin and overthrow the government of Geneva if they did not flee the city. He was arrested, tortured for 30 days, and, upon confession, beheaded. History does not tell us whether Calvin approved of the torture; if he did he was wrong to do so. The execution, for conspiring to overthrow the government, may have been justified given the danger to the citizenry that such a conspiracy entailed. Either way, Calvin did not have the authority in Geneva to arrest, torture, or execute anyone. Those were the decisions, not of Calvin or the church Consistory, but of the Council and of the Council of 200.” (>>)

    I disagree in principle with Calvin over theonomy (which seeks to enforce most of Old Testament law over Gentiles in the present day), and I don’t expect to agree with everything he did in that kind of context. But I think you’re missing the point by pursuing this to begin with. Be careful not to persist in a distracting red herring, as it has already been made clear that your prophets and apostles should be held to a higher standard than mere pastors, preachers, theologians, etc.

  42. Megan says:

    Ralph, I am sorry, I did not mean to sound as if I was attacking you. I used to come on here quite often several months ago, and I do remember you exploring evidence. I think I was feeling frusterated because the Calvin thing did seem like a red herring, and as hard as I tried to sound polite, that frusteration came out. I just finished up my last round of treatment for a medical condition, and the drugs I’m on make me super out of it and seem to remove the “filter” I usually have. What was I trying to say in my post to you? Not quite sure, actually. Mainly that I hope you read “In Sacred Loneliness”, as it is excellent. Again, I apologize for sounding attacking.

  43. “BTW did you see that Todd Compton references other Protestant ministers doing something similar at that time?”

    Ralph, you said this after speaking of polyandry. Were you intending to speak of polyandry here or of polygyny?

    As for whether Smith engaged in sexual relations with Slyvia Sessions Lyon, you cast doubt on her daughter’s testimony of the death bed conversation. You say, “its not a firm piece of evidence and cannot be verified.” This overlooks, however, the DNA testing being done to verify it. “The effort to determine Lyon’s parentage has cost more than $100,000 to date” (>>). Regarding whether what Slyvia told her daughter was misunderstood, that it was merely speaking of the spiritual daughterhood of Josephine, you quote FAIR:

    “This instance however, has been disputed by historians as to whether the reference was to a daughter in a biological respect or in an eternal spiritual sense… Because Sessions was on her deathbed, when one’s thoughts naturally turn to the hereafter, the latter is a reasonable explanation.”

    Ironically, elsewhere on the FAIR site they favorably quote apologist GL Smith as saying that Josephine Lyong is “now considered the most likely potential child of Joseph.” (>>) GL Smith points out that “significantly, Josephine’s name shares a clear link with Joseph’s”, and then says,

    “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.’ It is possible, then, that Fisher misunderstood her mother, but this seems unlikely.”

    GL Smith goes on to note that Slyvia was sealed to Joseph Smith while “her husband was out of fellowship”, and then goes on to argue that Mormons like Slyvia would have found justification in denying cohabitation rights with excommunicated husbands and giving conjugal rights to a polyandrous husband. He seemingly argues (correct me if I am wrong) that it would have been appropriate and reasonable for Slyvia to be “[faithful] to the sealing ordinances” with Joseph Smith since she would have been out of a functional, sexual relationship with her first (undivorced) husband.

    While the DNA evidence will better tell us whether Josephine is Joseph’s biological daughter, for now it seems quite reasonable for us to agree with GL Smith that Josephine is “considered the most likely potential child of Joseph.”

    In general, physical relations should be assumed when a man and woman get married. Now, I would affirm that Joseph Smith engaged in a variety of kinds of marriages, some more sexual than others, some with more “sexual access” than others, but it seems those bent on making Smith look as good as possible start with the assumption that he didn’t have sex with any of his plural wives, and that we should only assume he had relations with plural wives when hard evidence (even empirical evidence) is there to prove it. That’s odd because, among other things, a healthy marriage should include sex, and the Bible says not to deprive one another of conjugal rights (1 Corinthians 7). As I have already noted (and I would be happy at some point to find the reference for you in Compton’s book, etc.) Smith believed that his plural marriages had all the normal rights and privileges. GL Smith notes on another FAIR page regarding polyandry, “This is not to argue, I hasten to add, that such marriages must not or could not involve sexuality. I believe they were legitimate marriages, and as such could easily accommodate righteous marital relations.” Ralph, do you agree with GL Smith here? Now, he goes on to say, “I find, though, that assuming full sexuality in these relationships makes less sense of the available data”, but I find his point nonetheless shocking. Even IF Smith engaged in full sexuality with all his polyandrous wives, Mormon apologists find it fully appropriate and ethically defensible. This seems to intensify the point I have before made: If such marriages came with full marital rights and privileges, then it would have been absolutely unethical for Smith to marry already-married women, and absolutely unethical for husbands to give their precious brides up to Joseph Smith.

    Trying to take the issues seriously,


  44. Ralph says:


    If you go back to my comment on June 29, I said Again, to fully be considered ‘fair’ you must present all of the data. We believe in eternal families, and this could be a case (NOTE COULD, I am not saying it is, nor does the article) of critics misleading the public by omitting this belief and letting the listener make up their own mind after more investigation. Note the bold part. I never denied that any physical relations happened, and neither does the article I referred to but due to space limitations I could only put in what I quoted. I am just saying that there is no proof except possibly in one case. So in all fairness, if you want to show a proper/fair argument you need to put in all the facts – ie, that there is no evidence of relationships but from one statement there is an inference of a possibility. The DNA study sounds interesting, but as you said, the ‘LDS apologists’ have an out on that respect as well. Just to let you know, I have known about JS wives for almost 20 years, I found out about them in the Missionary Training Centre in Provo.

    The comments about Calvin were just a bit of fun. I found this website which paints him up to be an evil man and decided to post it to show what some of you do with JS and BY. I never thought anyone here would discuss them seriously. As you said about Calvin, find an article that is fairer to JS and BY, there are many out there by non-LDS who say he was a good man, good father/husband, humble, patriotic, etc. Make the argument more balanced rather than pick and choose what supports your agendum.

    Todd Compton states ”In the case of polyandry, the Tanners, if they had been committed to balance, might have admitted (as I pointed out in my book, p. 21) that many sincere, intelligent Protestant ministers in Joseph Smith’s environment were developing theologies including “spiritual wife” systems.” So it is discussing polyandry.

  45. Ralph says:


    I never took anything you said as offensive. I do try and research things which is how I found this site – through MRM, ULM, Sydney MO, etc. I have even been on Ed Decker’s site. When my son died I questioned just about everything and now I am even more sure of what I believe in.

    About some of the things displaying JS fallibilities, in the PoGP we read Joseph Smith History 1:28 ”… I was left to all kinds of temptations; and, mingling with all kinds of society, I frequently fell into many foolish errors, and displayed the weakness of youth, and the foibles of human nature; which, I am sorry to say, led me into divers temptations, offensive in the sight of God. In making this confession, no one need suppose me guilty of any great or malignant sins. A disposition to commit such was never in my nature. But I was guilty of levity, and sometimes associated with jovial company, etc., not consistent with that character which ought to be maintained by one who was called of God as I had been. But this will not seem very strange to any one who recollects my youth, and is acquainted with my native cheery temperament.”

    This is only one of a few ‘confessions’ that JS has made about himself. Another I have read but can’t remember the ref, states that he had a problem with boasting now and then.

    I do not believe that we need to hold the prophet to a higher standing as we should all be worthy and ready for that calling if it comes, meaning we should all hold ourselves to that high standing. But only one person on this whole earth was perfect, so I can live with a prophet that is not. When we look at the OT prophets, they were far from perfect or omniscient. Jonah ran away from an assignment that God gave him until God showed him there was no where to hide. Moses classified a bat with birds. Paul said he had his share of human weaknesses. Need I go on?

  46. falcon says:

    I stand by my comments regarding the psychological control and manipulation JS was exercising over the men. I was responding to Ralph’s contention that at least one man was present when his wife was sealed to JS. This is mind control tactics…’s plain. If you think I’m roughing-up Ralph a little too much here, I find the defense of such actions appalling. It’s a mind set that needs to be addressed. Ralph’s a big boy.

  47. Ralph says:


    As I tell my wife – emphasis on the word “BOY” I never claimed to be a man.

    One question about your comment – out of the 8 confirmed polyandrous relations, 3 of the women were married to non-members and one husband of the other 5 was very inactive at the time. How does this fit into your ‘cult mindset’ if they were not in the cult nor wanting anything to do with the practise?

    As for your question towards me, I do not know how I would react if the prophet asked me that question. I do remember reading that Oliver Pratt went away for a while to think about it before he answered JS. I would probably ask for some time out as well.

    As for doing anything else the prophet asks (as per your example killing someone) I have answered this question in another article about MMM. I have a testimony of the prophet being the mouthpiece of God today, and if he tells me face to face (no other way) to do something like robbing a bank or killing someone, I would do it. I know you will find this comment scary, but God has told the people in the OT through His prophets to commit genocide. Samuel the prophet even slit the throat of a captive king ie bound and without weapons. In any book that constitutes murder.

    But back to another question I asked you, what do you think about Todd Compton’s research showing that Protestant ministers in JS times were also developing ‘polyandrous’ relations with married women as spiritual wives?

    I’m going on holidays next week with no internet access, any questions or answers for me will need to be posted in the next 2 days or wait a week (14-7-08).

  48. Ralph,

    The “Protestant ministers” Compton is referring to sound like the bunch of perverted nutjobs, the kind of guys described by Lawrence Foster in Religion and Sexuality.

    I asked you, “Ralph, do you agree with GL Smith here?” You didn’t seem to answer. Let me ask again: Do you agree with GL Smith when he said, “I believe they [the polyandrous marriages] were legitimate marriages, and as such could easily accommodate righteous marital relations.”

    You say there are articles by non-LDS about JS and BY the portray him as a “good man, good father/husband, humble, patriotic”. That sounds like a different emphasis. The trashy article you pointed us to on Calvin seems outright full of exaggerations and lies. Apples and oranges.

    I do not believe that we need to hold the prophet to a higher standing…

    Wow, Ralph. That speaks for itself. That’s a sad way to hold onto Mormonism.

    And again, you miss the point by knocking down the straw man that a prophet has to be infallible in all areas of his life. If your prophets are held to no higher standard than common people, then Mormonism is a sham. They promised they never would lead people astray. Again, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Deal with the above noted sola scriptura issue if you want to engage the heart of the issue.

  49. falcon says:

    There’s a saying in the medical field when a doctor has done everything he can to save a patient and all hope is gone; he writes in the chart “I can do nothing more for this patient.” In my opinion, you’ve crossed the line into a form of fanaticism that is unhealthy and quite frankly scary and foreign to me. Interaction with you is proving counter productive. You need deliverance and that’s something I can’t do over the internet. I’m moving on.

  50. Ralph says:


    I do not know what happened back then, and it appears that most do not either as the evidences we have are third hand at the best. I have read some sites that say that the ‘marriages’ were temple sealings only where as other sites say that they were for time and eternity – meaning that they were a full marriage. I also have found that the divorce laws were not as formal/strict as they are these days and so in the opnion of the authors of those sources the woman had divorced the husband and married JS, but for some reason or other they lived with their ex. So when it comes to the question if I agree with GL Smith opinion, if the marriages were for time and eternity then yes.

    You also misquote me about the prophet. I said “I do not believe that we need to hold the prophet to a higher standing as we should all be worthy and ready for that calling if it comes, meaning we should all hold ourselves to that high standing Note what I bolded. In other words, we are not ‘dragging’ the prophet down to our level, we need to ‘lift’ ourselves up to their level. God is no respecter of persons, we are all the same to Him. So we should not expect any more of another person regardless of what position in the church they hold than what God expects of us.

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