“What Many People Called Sin Was Not Sin” Part I

Joseph Smith & Plural Wife

A Church Court is convened. A man is accused of committing adultery and fathering a child with another man’s wife.  One of the presiding elders speaks to those assembled about the offender and says that,

“This matter was bro[ugh]t before Council … [and] his Priesthood was required to be laid down until he came here—… she was living in his house –we deemed it improper for her to be there [and] he sent her away to a retired place—she was delivered of a child—she is again living in his house … he wishes to retain his fellowship in the Church. He says he has [spoken to her husband] & he is satisfied.”

The accused adulterer apologizes to those who are presiding over the Disciplinary Court and says,

“I am come purposefully if possible to get the matter settled & atone for the wrong I [ha]ve done. I [ha]ve neglected to lay it before you before this… all I can do is beg for mercy—I became acquainted with the girl, & the consequences [a]r[e] as they [a]r[e]— …I am come here to atone for the wrong I [h]av[e] done.”

The accused then states,

“I never heard any conversation to say it was right to go to bed to a woman if not found out—I was aware the thing was wrong.”

The accused then adds that he,

“was familiar with the first frigging—that was done in his [the accused adulterer’s] house with his mother in law—by [the leader of the church].”

Even with this apparent example by the leader of the church, the accused concludes,

“I knew at the time I was doing wrong [by committing adultery with another man’s wife]. I never [h]av[e] taken anybody [else’s actions] as a[n] excuse[—] I never plighted my faith on [that leader of the church’s] transactions.” (Source: Misc Minutes, Brigham Young Collection, d 1234, CHL, Sept. 2, 1850, restricted; excerpts transcribed by D. Michael Quinn, bx 3 fd 2, Quinn Collection, Yale Library.)

“Frigging” is 19th century slang for having sexual relations. In other words, the accused adulterer here, claimed that what he did with another man’s wife (commit adultery) was wrong, and that he never based his faith on what he saw the leader of the Church doing (even if it was the same thing).

Is this account troubling? It should be, because the leader of the church referred to in the account is Joseph Smith.  The woman mentioned by the accused (Joseph E. Johnson) was his mother-in-law, Mary Heron Snider.  Mary at the time was married to another man, John Snider. According to Brian Hales:

John Snider

John Snider

“John Snider, died in Salt Lake City in 1875, having served valiantly in the Church.  The notice of his death read:  ‘Deceased was a veteran in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having been connected with it in the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith and ever since.  He was a man much respected, being true to his convictions of right.’  Two weeks later, Apostle John Taylor penned a second obituary, which stated:  ‘He [John Snider] gathered to Utah in 1851, where he has since continued a steadfast, faithful and honorable member in the Church… Having been well acquainted with him for upwards of forty years, I thought it proper to give the above short statement.’”

In response to a presentation on Polygamy given by Brian Hales at a F.A.I.R. Conference in 2012, D. Michael Quinn wrote:

Joseph E. Johnson

Joseph E. Johnson

“Using a slang vulgarity for sexual intercourse her [Mary Heron Snider’s] son-in-law Joseph E. Johnson privately told a group of devout Mormons in 1850: ‘He was familiar with the first frigging that was done in his house with his mother in law by Joseph.’ Johnson said this during a council meeting that was deciding whether to excommunicate him for impregnating one of Apostle Lorenzo Snow’s plural wives whom Johnson now wanted to marry. She loved him, not the apostle. A Church court in Kanesville, Iowa, had already decided that ‘his priesthood was required to be laid down [i.e., he was disfellowshipped] until he came here’ to Salt Lake City. I cannot take seriously the suggestion by Hales that this Church court’s official minutes misquoted Johnson’s words. First, by any reasonable logic, who would assume that any LDS clerk introduced a crudely sexual term into a non-sexual remark or into a remark that only implied sex? Second, by 1850, the LDS Church’s clerks routinely used stenographic shorthand to accurately record such meetings, especially when Brigham Young participated (as he did in this one).” (Source: The Sexual Side of Joseph Smith’s Polygamy,  D. Michael Quinn,  2013, pp. 21-22 expanded/finialized version)

Even Brian Hales admits that he believes the Joseph E. Johnson account:

I think he’s telling the truth. I believe it. I’m willing to make this assumption. But, the next assumptions you are willing to make are very important. Because if you assume there was no plural sealing, that Joseph is just involved with Mary Heron, without any kind of a marriage, then it’s adultery. If you want to assume there was a plural sealing and that she was also having conjugal relations with her legal husband, then it’s sexual polyandry and this is what Michael Quinn is promoting and believes happened.” (Source: Joseph Smith’s Sexual Polyandry and the Emperor’s New Clothes: On Closer Inspection, What Do We Find?, F.A.I.R. Conference, 2012, emphasis mine. )

According to Quinn, Joseph Johnson was not an uninformed novice about Smith’s polygamy. He was aware that two of his sisters (Delcena in 1842, then Almera in 1843) were his polygamous wives, and that Joseph Smith unsuccessfully asked the Johnson’s 16-year-old daughter Esther to become his wife in the spring of 1843 (Quinn, pg. 22).

Though some were surprised by Johnson’s account of what Joseph had done with Mary Snider, it did not seem to phase Brigham Young and other leaders at all. According to Quinn:

“…this pioneer-defender of Joseph Smith expressed no criticism for what Joseph E. Johnson had said about the Prophet’s ‘frigging.’ Instead, Brigham merely chastised Johnson for his adulterous conduct, and instructed the Church court to rebaptize him. Aside from being temporarily disfellowshipped in Iowa, he received no punishment from the Church court over which Brigham presided in Utah. (ibid, pg. 23, emphasis mine.)

Why would Joseph Smith be having sex with the wife of another, faithful Mormon? And why would Joseph E. Johnson bring this fact up in a church court where he claims that he knows adultery is wrong, and that he would never “plight his faith” on “Joseph [Smith’s] transactions”? This indicates that Johnson knew that Joseph was having sex with Johnson’s mother-in-law in a way that Johnson linked with his own adultery.  As Brian Hales wrote:

[An interpretation of the evidence] “…also acknowledges the existence of sexual relations between Joseph and Mary and assumes the two were sealed in a plural marriage making Mary Heron Joseph Smith’s thirty-fifth plural spouse.  It also assumes that at that time, Mary was also experiencing conjugal relations with her legal husband, John Snider, thus creating a sexual polyandry situation. This version also describes the Prophet as an adulterer and a hypocrite because he taught that sexual polyandry was adultery (D&C 132:63).  D. Michael Quinn apparently concurred, writing in his notes (now housed at Yale University): ‘If the statements about Joseph Smith in this trial are accurate, and they do not seem to be disputed with respect to the impropriety of circulating them, then JOSEPH SMITH HAD SEXUAL INTERCOURSE (AND PRESUMABLY PLURAL MARRIAGE) WITH MARY HERON SNIDER.’” (emphasis in original)

Hales attempts to downplay this as adultery by trying to claim that since Mary and John Snider did not have any children after 1828 (when their son John was born), their marriage was therefore sexless, and this scenario somehow gave Joseph Smith the right to claim her as a wife and have sex with her; and that she only stayed married to John Snider to create what Hales calls a “front husband.”

Yet, Mary traveled to Salt Lake City with John Snider in 1847, where she died in 1852 (still his wife). Also, John and Mary had a daughter Julia who was born in 1833. Still, because there were no other children after 1833, is that reason enough to make the assumption that the marriage was sexless and therefore Joseph was justified in having sex with another man’s wife?

Or that the rightful husband was not having sex with her, and was only a “front” or prop husband? She simply could have had health issues, or complications from her last pregnancy that made it difficult for her to conceive, or any number of other reasons. What legitimate reason could there ever be for a “front husband”?

Why would these “front husbands” agree to such a thing? One argument that is often used by those who claim that these are legitimate marriages is that there is no record of them having “complained” about it; and that the husbands simply stopped having relations with their wives to allow Joseph to do so, therefore, what Joseph did was not adultery or polyandry, but a legitimate marriage approved by God, who approved of this deception by everyone involved.

Would you consider what Joseph Smith did with Mary Snider adultery or a legitimate marriage? We will further discuss this issue in Part II.

This entry was posted in Early Mormonism, Joseph Smith, Lorenzo Snow, Mormon History, Polygamy and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to “What Many People Called Sin Was Not Sin” Part I

  1. falcon says:

    It’s a case of Joseph Smith was a prophet and anything he did was fine. There’s always a way of rationalizing sinful behavior. If a person is totally sold on Joseph Smith as a prophet, they wouldn’t be able to accept his sexual misdeeds.
    The faithful Mormon will deny that any of it happened. Then when it’s apparent that it did happen, instead of calling it what it is, an excuse is found. Joseph Smith acted out sexually and was totally out of control by the time of his death. He was clever enough to invent the concept of celestial marriage in order to justify his deviant behavior.
    William Law paid the price for calling Smith on it. From all accounts Law was a decent man, Smith was not. The troubling thing is the degree people will go to excuse sin in order to maintain there emotional equilibrium.

  2. falcon says:

    My third sentence doesn’t sound right to me. Maybe it should be “would” instead of “wouldn’t”. At-any-rate, it does take courage and a deep conviction of right and wrong to call into question and condemn the behavior of someone who is seen as a “prophet”.
    The other thing we have going here is the effect that the behavior of Smith had on those who followed him. They went along with it, endorsed it, excused it and in many cases started doing it themselves. There’s the real danger in out-sourcing your moral decision making to another person. But here’s the deal. What we are talking about are the “deeds of the flesh”. For many, sin is fun and if you can get sin to not be sin in your own mind, you have a perfect license to follow your own lusts.
    Smith had a problem with sexual sin from the get go. Becoming a prophet allowed him access to a pool of women who were easily seduced by him based on his status.
    Let’s face it folks. Where do leaders most often go down the road to destruction? It’s always abuse of power, or money or sex. Smith had all three and it eventually led to his destruction.

  3. falcon says:

    Here’s a podcast with Grant Palmer that discusses the topic at hand. It’s worth the time it takes to listen.

  4. MJP says:

    Adultery, of course. What’s most stunning in this article to me was that he (Smith) apparently had people who saw him and did the exact same things. What did they lack that he had? Threat of death by flaming sword for failure to act.

  5. Mike R says:

    The way that Mormon leaders introduced and then taught about polygamy is a great example
    of why Mormonism is a man made religion . Prophets like Joseph Smith can do what ever they
    want because once people have been manipulated into submitting to them , then to question
    the behavior / teachings they introduce is to invite trouble , namely , God’s anger .
    Men like Joseph Smith / Brigham Young and other latter days ( ” Mormon “) prophets provide
    a example how sincere people can be fooled into following and accepting what ever these
    prophets introduce is ” new light ” from God . Warren Jeffs and even David Koresh are extreme
    cases but nonetheless sincere people accepted their lies in a similar manner .

    The Mormon people were manipulated by latter days false prophets , and the introduction of
    polygamy makes that abundantly clear .

  6. Kate says:

    Two things:

    First, was Mary Snider a virgin when she was with Joseph?
    I guess not, since she was married with children fathered by her legal husband John Snider.

    Second, did Emma Smith know about Joseph sleeping with Mary Snider and did she give her consent for them to be married/sealed to each other?
    I highly doubt Emma was aware of any of this.

    According to D&C 132, Joseph and Mary Snider committed adultery. Period. This isn’t rocket science. Joseph Smith was a sexual deviant and it’s interesting to me how LDS Mormons are so disgusted with Warren Jeffs when he is only acting the way their founding prophet acted. He’s only carrying on what the first 4 or 5 LDS prophets “revealed” and practiced themselves.
    Joseph Smith committed adultery with over three dozen women and he caused those women to commit adultery as well. No amount of mental gymnastics will ever justify this.

  7. johnnyboy says:


    I keep going back and forth on whether or not Emma knew about Joseph’s affairs. I’m pretty sure she knew about all of them, but just kept quiet to keep up appearances that everything was well in Zion. In my opinion I think she was in on the whole scam from the get go. Occasionally it seems the wives of joseph would get uppity, or once in a while Joseph would be a little TOO open about his relationships with them. When that would happen, Emma was first in line to push someone down the stairs, or scream and lock herself in a room or something.

  8. falcon says:

    Listen to the podcast of Grant Palmer I posted above. You’ll get your answer. You have to get a little ways into it before it’s addressed.

  9. grindael says:


    Emma was just jealous. She caught Jo with Fanny Alger. She knew about his fooling around. From “Mormon Polygamy, A History”:

    In an 1885 affidavit Law testified that Smith had told him in 1843 that “he had several wives sealed to him, and that they afforded him a great deal of pleasure … [but] Emma had annoyed him very much about it.” According to Law, Emma had also complained to him about “Joseph keeping his young wives in her house and elsewhere, and his neglect of her” (ibid.). This closeness between Law and the prophet’s wife gave rise to rumors and caused bouts of jealousy for the prophet. When, two days after Law’s excommunication, Emma left Nauvoo and traveled downriver, the 23 April 1844 St. Louis Republican reported, “Joe Smith … has turned his wife out of doors for being in conversation with a gentleman of the Sect which she hesitated or refused to disclose.” Though Emma had only gone to Saint Louis on a short shopping trip, the rumors about her and William Law obviously upset Joseph. One day after her departure, according to Smith’s own account, he gave a group of men a “history of the Laws’ proceedings, in part, in trying to make a difficulty in my family” (HC 6:343).3

    Though no evidence exists to show that the relationship between Emma Smith and William Law was anything more than platonic, it posed enough difficulties that the prophet was cited in the 17 June 1844 Nauvoo Neighbor Extra as blaming “all the sorrow he ever had in his family” upon “the influence of Wm Law.” The friendship between Law and Emma Smith may have been the reason that the prophet refused to seal Law to his wife, Jane. Hyrum Smith suggests such a possibility as recorded in the 12 June 1844 journal of William Clayton: “Law wanted to be sealed [to his wife] & J[oseph] told him he was forbid—which begun the hard feeling.” Alexander Neibaur, a close friend of the prophet, related in his 24 May journal that Smith told him “Mr. Wm Law—wisht to be Married to his Wife for Eternity Mr Smith said would Inquire of the Lord, Ansered no because Law was [an] Adulterous person.” Hyrum Smith, according to the 17 June 1844 Nauvoo Neighbor Extra, also accused Law of adulterous behavior.

    [p.66] The accusations of adultery against Law may have been for the purpose of discrediting him in the eyes of the Saints. No adultery charges were mentioned during his excommunication proceedings in April 1844. One day previous to the Neibaur journal entry, however, Law had filed a suit against Smith in Hancock County Circuit Court, charging the prophet with living with Maria Lawrence “in an open state of adultery” from 12 October 1843 to 23 May 1844. Smith commented on the charges the next day in Sunday services, noting that such accusations were not new to him. “Another indictment has been got up against me,” he said. “I had not been married scarcely five minutes, and made one proclamation of the gospel, before it was reported that I had seven wives.… What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one” (ibid., 408-11). Smith, who had been sealed to Maria and Sarah Lawrence in the summer or early fall of 1843, had himself appointed legal guardian of the two orphan girls on 4 June 1844, two weeks after Law’s charges were filed. He also decided on the fourth of June, after discussing the matter with several church leaders, to prosecute “Laws and Fosters for perjury, slander, &c.… in behalf of Maria Lawrence” (ibid., 427).

    Law’s charge of adultery against the prophet was apparently his final attempt to get Smith to abandon polygamy. On 8 January 1844, nearly five months before filing the suit, Law noted in his journal that he had told the prophet in an emotional street encounter that “polygamy was of the Devil and that [Smith] should put it down.”4 Law’s son Richard later added that his father, “with his arms around the neck of the Prophet, was pleading with him to withdraw the doctrine of plural marriage[,] … with tears streaming from his eyes. The Prophet was also in tears, but he informed [Law] that he could not withdraw the doctrine, for God had commanded him to teach it, and condemnation would come upon him if he was not obedient to the commandment” (pp. 507-10).

    Smith told Law during this encounter that he was excluded in the future from the Endowment Council and that he was dropping him from the First Presidency as well. Law did not take the dismissal lightly. “I confess I feel ennoyed very much by such unprecedented treatment,” he wrote in his 8 January journal, “for it is illegal, inasmuch as I was appointed by revelation (so called) first [and was sustained] twice after by unanimous voice of [crossed out in the original: “the”] general Conference.” But Law felt “relieved from a most embarrassing situation. I cannot fellowship the abominations which I verily know are practiced by this man, consequently, I am glad to be free of him.” (Richard S. Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy, pp. 65-66)

    From Clayton’s diaries,

    [August 21, 1843. Monday.]…E[mma] asked if I handed 2 letters to Joseph which she showed me. I had not done it. I satisfied her I had not. They appeared to be from E[liza] R[oxcy] Snow and President Joseph found them in his pocket. E[mma] seemed vexed and angry.

    [August 23, 1843. Wednesday.]…President Joseph told me that he had difficulty with E[mma] yesterday. She rode up to Woodworths with him and called while he came to the Temple. When he returned she was demanding the gold watch of F[lora]. He reproved her for her evil treatment. On their return home she abused him much and also when he got home. He had to use harsh measures to put a stop to her abuse but finally succeeded… (George D. Smith, An Intimate Chronicle; The Journals of William Clayton, p.118)

    [October 19, 1843. Thursday.] A.M. at the Temple Office comparing books and recording deeds. At 11 W[illiam] Walker came and said President Joseph wanted me to go to Macedonia. I went immediately to see him and he requested me to go with him. I went home and got dinner and got ready. He soon came up and we started out. After we had got on the road he began to tell me that E[mma] was turned quite friendly and kind. She had been anointed and he also had been a[nointed] K[ing]. He said that it was her advice that I should keep M[argaret] at home and it was also his council. Says he just keep her at home and brook it and if they raise trouble about it and bring you before me I will give you an awful scourging and probably cut you off from the church and then I will baptise you and set you ahead as good as ever. (p.122)

    The kind feelings wouldn’t last. What is interesting, is that at one point they did enter into some kind of “agreement”:

    [July 13, 1843. Thursday.] This A.M. Joseph sent for me and when I arrived he called me up into his private room with E[mma] and there stated an agreement they had mutually entered into. They both stated their feelings on many subjects and wept considerable. O may the Lord soften her heart that she may be willing to keep and abide by his Holy Law… (p.110)

    Once, to get back at him, she said she that if Jo could “indulge himself” then she could too:

    [June 23, 1843. Friday.] This A.M. President Joseph took me and conversed considerable concerning some delicate matters. Said [Emma] wanted to lay a snare for me. [Clayton] He told me last night of this and said he had felt troubled. He said [Emma] had treated him coldly and badly since I came…and he knew she was disposed to be revenged on him for some things. She thought that if he would indulge himself she would too. He cautioned me very kindly for which I felt thankful. He said [Robert] Thompson professed great friendship for him but he gave away to temptation and he had to die. Also Brother [Newel] Knight he gave him one but he went to loose conduct and he could not save him. Also B[righam] Y[oung] had transgressed his covenant and he pled with the Lord to spare him this end and he did so, otherwise he would have died. B[righam] denied having transgressed. He said if I would do right by him and abide his council he would save my life while he lived. I feel desirous to do right and would rather die than loose my interest in the celestial kingdom…

    Jo was even suspicious of Clayton at one point (concerning Emma). Clayton writes,

    [May 29, 1843. Monday.] This A.M. President Joseph told me that he felt as though I was not treating him exactly right and asked if I had used any familiarity with E[mma]. I told him by no means and explained to his satisfaction. At the store office.

    You see the kinds of arguments that Smith used here. HE could save them. Just listen to Jo, and all will be well and he would save them all. He was spouting this in 1841, (see OP above) when he said he would take them all to heaven as his “backload”.

    Emma was a mixed bag. She was jealous, went along with it for awhile, then saw that Jo was not going to stop with only a few men’s wives and young women, he was going to keep doing it. Take this entry by Clayton,

    [August 11, 1843. Friday.] A.M. To the Temple office. P.M. President Joseph came to my house and I went home with him [p.115] and took dinner with him. In our conversation about Judge [James] Adams Joseph made this remark “No man can put forth his hand to steady the ark but God and his servant Joseph.” By the ark I understood him to mean this work and that no man could dictate and govern it but Jehovah and he whom God had appointed viz. his servant Joseph…Judge Adams died about 10 o’clock P.M. None of his family are here having only been sent for a few days and they are at Springfield. It is truly afflicting to see the sickness which exists through the city and the loss of this man seems very grievous. He attended the polls on Monday last and was elected Probate Judge for this County but he is gone to receive his reward in the other world. Joseph told me to day that [William?] “Walker” had been speaking to him concerning my having taken M[argaret] away from A[aron] and intimated that I had done wrong. I told him to be quiet and say no more about it. He also told me Emma was considerably displeased with it but says he she will soon get over it. In the agony of mind which I have endured on this subject I said I was sorry I had done it, at which Joseph told me not to say so. I finally asked him if I had done wrong in what I had done. He answered no you have a right to get all you can.

    You see, Clayton’s (now) plural wife, Margaret Moon, had been engaged to Aaron Farr, who was absent on a proselytizing mission for the Mormon church. Clayton writes,

    [July 8, 1843. Saturday.]…Marg[are]t wrote a letter to Aaron [Farr] which I dictated informing him that she should not marry.

    Problem was, she was ALREADY married to Clayton, on April 27, 1843, and they never bothered to inform her fiance. This is the kind of deception that was practiced by Jo and those involved with polygamy. And they talked these gullible women into it, telling them that their “salvation” and the salvation of their families DEPENDED on them obeying “the prophet”. Notice the date of this entry:

    [April 27, 1843. Thursday.] At the Temple A.M. went to Presidents who rode with me to Brother H[eber] C. Kimballs where Sister Marg[are]t Moon was sealed up by the priesthood, by the president, and M[arried] to me …evening told Mother in law concerning the priesthood.

    It wasn’t until JULY, that Smith then penned the polygamy “revelation”:

    [July 12, 1843. Wednesday.] This A.M. I wrote a Revelation consisting of 10 pages on the order of the priesthood, showing the designs in Moses, Abraham, David and Solomon having many wives and concubines &c. After it was wrote Presidents Joseph and Hyrum presented it and read it to E[mma] who said she did not believe a word of it and appeared very rebellious. Joseph told me to Deed all the unincumbered lots to E[mma] and the children. He appears much troubled about E[mma].

    Here, we see Clayton troubled by all of it, concerning Margaret Moon:

    [July 22, 1843. Saturday.]…M[argaret] and A[aron] had a long conversation together. She. has stood true to her covenant with W[illiam] C[layton]. I also had some talk with him and although the shock is severe he endures it patiently. And I pray the Great Eloheem to make up the loss to him an hundred fold and enable him to rejoice in all things. My heart aches with grief on his and M[argaret]’s account and could almost say O that I had never known h[er]. But Thou O God knowest the integrity of thy servant. Thou knowest that I have done that which I have understood to be thy will and am still determined to do so and I ask thee in the name of Jesus Christ either to absolutely wean my affections from M[argaret], or give me hers entire and then I am content. But to live in this state of feeling I cannot. If I have done wrong in this thing, show it me that thy servant may repent of it and obtain forgiveness. But O Lord have mercy on me and by some means release me from this grievous bondage of feeling and thy servant will praise thee. President Joseph came to see me and pronounced a sealing blessing upon Ruth and me. And we mutually entered into an everlasting covenant with each other.

    Clayton was STILL questioning this even after he had gone ahead and done it.

  10. Mike R says:

    grindael asks the question: ” Would you consider what Joseph Smith did with Mary Snider
    adultery or a legitimate marriage ? ”

    At the time this took place what was the official church law on marriage that was sustained by
    the LDS church body as binding doctrine/practice ? Was’nt it one man and one woman ?

    What Joseph Smith did with this issue ( marriage ) , as well as other important doctrines ,
    should’nt surprise anyone . Mormon leaders could’nt make up their minds about God in
    their teachings and this wandering continued with their teaching/practicing about other
    issues — like marriage .

    The Mormon people deserved better then , and today . Mk 13:22-23

    Bottom line : the New Testament gospel is available for all who are drawn to follow Jesus .
    His apostles taught the truth about salvation ( and marriage ) , no need to get detoured by
    religious leaders arising in the latter days who wander away from what Jesus apostles taught ,
    and cleverly convince people to follow them —- 2 Tim 4: 3,4

  11. falcon says:

    It’s pretty clear that what modern day Mormonism presents in terms of Joseph Smith the “prophet” is a clear distortion of the truth. I wouldn’t even call it a distortion. It’s an out right lie and fraud is being committed by those in leadership who know better.
    I read one response to the presentation by Grant Palmer regarding Joseph Smith’s indecent proposal to William and Jane Law and the TBM said that Smith was simply “testing” the Laws like God had tested Abraham. How disgusting is that?
    But it’s a clear indication of how deep in the delusion some folks get. There’s always some type of explanation to sweep away the truth so that the fantasy might continue.
    We’re not talking here about whether the BoM, BoA etc. are true or not although they clearly are not, we’re talking about the sin of adultery and how those who followed Smith were influenced by (his adultery). With the women, they were seduced into having sex with someone they believed to be a prophet. With some men, they followed Smith head long into his debauchery and their own spiritual destruction.
    Question everything!

  12. falcon says:

    What would Mormons do today if they learned that their prophet Thomas Monson was engaging in illicit sexual behavior with female members of the LDS sect?
    My guess is that there are any number of Mormons who would find a way to excuse the behavior. Some, taking their cue from the leader, would begin doing it themselves. And still others, while clinging to their belief in Mormonism, would none the less lose confidence in the “prophet” and the church. This later bunch would be accused of failing the test of faith put before them.
    There are christian churches that are rocked from time to time by sex scandals. In fact it may seems that it’s an epidemic. Generally the perpetrators of such behavior use their positions of power and authority to gain control over their prey.
    Joseph Smith was one of a few religious leaders who tie their illicit sexual behavior to the doctrine of their church. In Smith’s case, his cover for his adultery was a high calling that would allow the practitioner to reach the highest level of the Celestial Kingdom where he would become a god. Smith let other men into the act and in a strange way made it a mainstream activity.

    Here’s a good video of Malcom X exposing Elijah Muhammad’s adultery. A four minute video. It’s amazing how this sort of thing keeps repeating itself even with different religions.


  13. falcon says:

    Here is what one commentator wrote in the comments section under the video I posted above:

    “It is amazing to me to know that many people see Malcolm as a great man and a great leader truth be told Malcolm and Farrakhan could have been great men and leaders if they would have followed their leader and teacher the hon Elijah Muhammad. But no both men have the same problem they want to be Elijah someone that Allah did not want them to be that is what got Malcolm killed. Wanting to be something he was not”

    Do you see it? Malcom X was the bad guy for exposing the leader’s sin of adultery. “X” was the problem for revealing what was going on.
    Listen folks. It doesn’t matter if it’s Mormonism as practiced by the LDS or FLDS or the Black Muslims or whatever the group who venerates a “leader”. People get diluted to the point where all reason and truth are pushed aside to follow the anointed leader.
    Remember how Ralph tells us that he would kill or steal if told directly, face-to-face, by the LDS prophet to do it? That’s scary stuff and makes me wonder if Ralph would give his wife to the prophet if the prophet told him face-to-face to do it. One of David Koresh’s followers did just that.

    The point is that Mormons need to have the courage to face the truth of what it is their founding “prophet” did. It’s well documented and there’s no excuse for his behavior. What these TBMs have isn’t faith. It’s fanaticism and it’s dangerous.

  14. Ralph says:

    A nice little cut and paste job done in this article. If anyone was willing to go to the source material they would see that the writer’s (Hales) comments/conclusions are gutted to show that he supports the idea the evidence indicates that JS committed adultery. From the first article mentioned he clearly states in the beginning –

    “Now the question is, did the women really have two husbands after their sealing to Joseph Smith? Well, according to his teachings, the answer is “no”. Joseph Smith taught that celestial and plural marriage were part of the “new and an everlasting covenant” (D&C 132:4). He also taught: “…that all old covenants have I caused to be done away in this thing; and this is a new and an everlasting covenant” (D&C 22:1). The covenant that was then being discussed was baptism and we have no record of Joseph Smith applying this principal to the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. But we also have no record of him contradicting it or saying that it didn’t apply. The revelation simply states “all old covenants are done away in the new and everlasting covenant.”

    Accordingly, a sealing in the new and everlasting covenant would supersede a legal matrimonial covenant, causing it to be “done away”. A woman who contracts both a legal covenant and an eternal sealing for “time and eternity”, would not thereafter have two “lawful” husbands, lawful in God’s eyes, with whom she could experience sexual relations. If a woman did not have two husbands after being sealed to Joseph, were their civil husbands suddenly disfranchised from the marriage? The answer again is “no.” But to understand how this works, we’re going to introduce some new ideas.

    Historical evidence shows that legally married women could be sealed for “eternity only” to someone other than their civil husband. The sealed marriage covenant would not apply until the next life.”

    This means that if there was a temple marriage and sealing done then according to the scriptures in the LDS church (and this is the perspective one needs to look at) any earthly covenants previously performed – eg marriage – is null and void. Thus leaving JS as her one and only husband, in which he did not commit adultery if there were any conjugal visits.

    From the other article this should be the quote, not what is given above –

    A third interpretation also acknowledges the existence of sexual relations between Joseph and Mary and assumes the two were sealed in a plural marriage making Mary Heron Joseph Smith’s thirty-fifth plural spouse. It also assumes that at that time, Mary was also experiencing conjugal relations with her legal husband, John Snider, thus creating a sexual polyandry situation. This version also describes the Prophet as an adulterer and a hypocrite because he taught that sexual polyandry was adultery (D&C 132:63). D. Michael Quinn apparently concurred, writing in his notes (now housed at Yale University): “If the statements about Joseph Smith in this trial are accurate, and they do not seem to be disputed with respect to the impropriety of circulating them, then JOSEPH SMITH HAD SEXUAL INTERCOURSE (AND PRESUMABLY PLURAL MARRIAGE) WITH MARY HERON SNIDER” (emphasis in original).[21] Contrasting this view is the lack of recorded pregnancies of Mary Heron after 1828, which leaves unanswered the question regarding the couples connubial relations thereafter. “

    (bold mine) This article gave 4 different interpretations of the data, NOT one as the abbreviated quote above tends to indicate. It also indicates that it is NOT an interpretation that he supports. Here is the abbreviated conclusion from that article giving all FOUR conclusions of the data that Hales gives –

    ”Without any additional evidence, it is impossible to conclusively identify the nature of Joseph Smith’s relationship with Mary Heron, if any special relationship ever existed. The opinions of observers will be based upon their willingness to assume or to not assume (1) that without additional supportive evidence, the Joseph E. Johnson’s story was accurate, (2) a plural sealing occurred between Joseph Smith and Mary Heron, (3) conjugality between John Snider and Mary Heron continued after her sealing to the Prophet, and/or (4) a Church divorce (in conjunction with the sealing) curtailed connubial relations between Mary Heron and John Snider. Unfortunately, without additional historical data, assumptions are required to bridge the gaps but even then, no researcher can claim his or her view constitutes documented history.

    Some reviewers might assert that the discussion of the Joseph Smith-Mary Heron relationship should be included with the polyandrous sexuality accounts. However, including it there requires acceptance of the assumption that both the Joseph E. Johnson’s account is true and that a plural sealing occurred between Joseph and Mary, neither of which is reliably documented. Classifying Joseph E. Johnson’s comment with the other available ambiguous historical data seems wise until additional explanatory historical evidence is found.”

    As you can read he also states clearly that the only evidence of a possible relationship between JS and Mary Snider is from this one man’s testimony. In both articles, Hales does question this man’s testimony as to whether he was making this up or not. The part above stating that he agrees the testimony is true is actually saying that he believes that the word ‘frigging’ was used in the testimony and not added in by someone else – again if one wants to read through the full articles above by Hales they will see this.

    Please note – at this point in time I am not condoning nor condemning JS and his polygamy, I am saying that the article above clearly misrepresents what Hales is saying in his articles that are referenced within the above.

  15. Pingback: “What Many People Called Sin Is Not Sin” Part II | Mormon Coffee

  16. grindael says:


    I don’t know where you are getting your ideas from, but they could not be more wrong. First, I gave the link to Hales’ article so that anyone can read it for themselves. Second, the THIRD interpretation is one interpretation of the evidence that Hales gives. I never said in the article that Hales agrees with that INTERPRETATION, only that he BELIEVES Johnson’s account, which he clearly states. In fact, the quote you use says that it is impossible to conclusively identify the nature of Joseph Smith’s relationship with Mary, IF any special relationship ever existed. There is, in FACT, NO EVIDENCE at all that anything occurred between Mary Heron Snider and Smith EXCEPT a “frigging” based on what Johnson says, and apparently accepted by Brigham Young and all the others as actually happening. Thus, all the other scenarios that Hales brings up are only his speculation. The actual FACT is that Johnson testified that he saw Jo and Mary “frigging”, and he gave it in the context of his own adultery.

    I was totally factual in saying that there was a certain interpretation given by Hales. I even say that “Hales attempts to downplay this as adultery…”, so anyone who actually read my article with comprehension and without an obvious bias would know that Hales does not believe that Joseph committed adultery.

    The article does not misrepresent at all what Hales wrote.

  17. Kate says:

    Once again we see a LDS Mormon do everything but discuss the actual topic. Ralph, why don’t you defend Joseph Smith’s behavior or tell us why his polygamy/polyandry is so important to Mormon exaltation instead of attacking the person bringing the information. This is all Mormons seem to do. Attack the person bringing to light anything about Mormonism. Try and discredit them at all costs instead of actually engaging in meaningful dialog.

    If Mormonism is the truth then why aren’t Mormons shouting it all from the roof tops? Why aren’t they trying to openly save our souls? Why is it all secret? Why don’t LDS missionaries lay it all out for us when they knock on our doors? Why aren’t the missionaries telling us polygamy is practiced by their god? Come on Mormons, enlighten the world about polygamy’s role in Mormon eternity!
    Sorry for the rant but I’m just so tired of all the cover up, side stepping and whitewash!

  18. Mike R says:

    Kate , you’ve earned the right to ” rant ” . You were detoured for so many years by latter days
    false prophets in S.L.C. into accepting their counterfeit gospel . But now you’re free in Jesus .

    Adultery ? Smith’s clandestine lifestyle of pursuing other women and marrying them , would
    that be adultery ? His church body would have said ” yes” . Polygamy violated official church
    law on marriage and so Joseph himself agreed publically that polygamy was an iniquity like
    adultery . But that’s what he stated in PUBLIC and so his flock blindly continued their
    submission to him .

  19. Ralph says:


    Sorry for the late reply but I work nights and can only really access the computer on my nights off which are 2 nights per 9 – ie I work 7 nights and have 2 off.

    In your article you are using Hales work to support your opinion of JS as having an adulterous relationship with Mary. I am saying that his writings do not support this at all. In fact you actually state in your last post to me what he wrote (and I quoted) – “ There is, in FACT, NO EVIDENCE at all that anything occurred between Mary Heron Snider and Smith EXCEPT a “frigging” based on what Johnson says”. Those are your words. So you are making something out of nothing as there is no evidence that anything occurred.

    Hales words, as I quoted earlier, are “ Some reviewers might assert that the discussion of the Joseph Smith-Mary Heron relationship should be included with the polyandrous sexuality accounts. However, including it there requires acceptance of the assumption that both the Joseph E. Johnson’s account is true and that a plural sealing occurred between Joseph and Mary, neither of which is reliably documented. Classifying Joseph E. Johnson’s comment with the other available ambiguous historical data seems wise until additional explanatory historical evidence is found.” So this also indicates that the trial is not reliably documented.

    As far as your assertion that Hales believes Johnson’s account because it was ”apparently accepted by Brigham Young and all the others as actually happening” is not true. Hales states that ” D. Michael Quinn apparently concurred, writing in his notes (now housed at Yale University): “If the statements about Joseph Smith in this trial are accurate, and they do not seem to be disputed with respect to the impropriety of circulating them, then JOSEPH SMITH HAD SEXUAL INTERCOURSE (AND PRESUMABLY PLURAL MARRIAGE) WITH MARY HERON SNIDER” – in other words Hales said that someone else (ie Quinn) is the one who believes Johnson’s account. Hales calls it into question a number of times in his 2 articles – see the quote in the paragraph above for one example and your last post to me for another.

    Bottom line – you are using someone’s work to support your own when it clearly states that he does not support what you are saying and calls into question the only evidence you have based your argument on.

  20. grindael says:


    Once again, You are completely wrong. I already said that Hales doesn’t believe that Smith committed adultery. But he DOES believe that the account is accurate, and gives A scenario as to what it COULD BE. I agree with PART of THAT scenario. It is all very simple and adequately explained by me, except for people who are purposefully swatting at gnats. Here is exactly what Hales said,

    The first is a willingness to assume that Joseph E. Johnson was accurate and accurately quoted. Joseph E. Johnson was Benjamin F.’s brother. They were a very prominent family in the church. I think he’s telling the truth. I believe it. I’m willing to make this assumption. But, the next assumptions you are willing to make are very important. Because if you assume there was no plural sealing, that Joseph is just involved with Mary Heron, without any kind of a marriage, then it’s adultery.

    Fact is, THERE WAS NO PLURAL SEALING. That is why I agree with this scenario. Hales produces NO EVIDENCE at all that there was. I say right in my article (as I have explained already very adequately) that Hales DOES NOT BELIEVE that Jo committed adultery. But he does believe the account of the “frigging”. And since there is NO EVIDENCE that there was ANY KIND OF MARRIAGE, or SEALING, even after Jo’s death, then that is strong evidence that it was not a marriage and hence, adultery. Quinn assumes a marriage also, therefore he calls it sexual polyandry. Coupled with THE REST OF THE STATEMENTS IN THE ARTICLE WHICH YOU ARE IGNORING, it makes a very good case for adultery, especially with Jo being willing to LIE about what he did constantly and justify adultery for years.

    Every Historian has the right to interpret the evidence as he sees it, and use others research to do so. I don’t agree with Quinn’s assessment either, but he also, does not agree with Hales about the sexual polyandry. (Hales doesn’t believe it, Quinn does and shows evidence, and Hales has to literally jump through hoops by saying that the marriage was sexless which he has no way to ever prove). I believe it was adultery with no marriage at all, something ALL THE EVIDENCE SUPPORTS. I advise you to read Quinn’s paper before you make judgements about what my conclusions are. You are only seeing one side of it, the side you WANT to see. And once again, you are focusing on one small part of the article and nitpicking it to death. This is also the MO of people like you, to divert the conversation away from the actual EVIDENCE.

    But that is typical of you Ralph.

  21. takebreath says:

    History is not a perfect science – look at when there’s a crime. There can be five witnesses who saw the whole thing and the police officers will get five different descriptions of the event. Thus being said I would remind you of two important lessons from the Bible: How much the Lord loved King David and how important of a prophet/spiritual leader of the Old Testament he was, yet he was far from perfect, even an adulterer. And second: Ye that are without sin cast the first stone. Perhaps you should spend less time casting stones at Joseph Smith and more time on your knees.

  22. grindael says:


    Thanks for the comments, but you are mistaken about David, and Smith. Here’s why. After David did what he did with Uriah, the Lord cursed him. He was no longer the “spiritual leader” of Israel, he lost his place. Jesus was only born through his line because of a former promise. All of this because of what David did. When confronted by Nathan the prophet, David admitted his sin. In punishment, Bathsheba’s child died and David was cursed with the promise of a rebellion from within his own house. Bathsheba and David soon conceived a second son, Solomon. The sword never left David’s house. His own sons were murderers and were murdered. Solomon became an abomination. It was the prophets like Nathan and Samuel that were the spiritual leaders of Israel, not David, though in his early years he was a righteous King. Of course History is not a perfect science. But evidence is evidence. You have not contradicted any of the evidence I have presented, instead, you have simply tried to divert the issue and cast doubts. And it is not “throwing stones” to report what other people said and experienced in relation to Smith. It always seems to be the self righteous people, that claim that others aren’t praying. Perhaps you should read the Bible more and maybe you would know what you are talking about. Instead of dying a martyr, Smith died in a gun fight because he was charged with treason and adultery and unfortunately, his own megalomania set the stage for what happened to him at Carthage. He had himself ordained “King”, but was no King and like David, perhaps he paid the price for the sins he claimed weren’t really sins.

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