Mormon Church Posts Essays on Joseph Smith’s Polygamy

Joseph Smith & Plural WifeIt’s all over the news. The Mormon Church has finally “admitted” long-buried facts about Joseph Smith’s polygamy. The new Church essays were actually posted at sometime around October 22nd (2014), but for some reason the news only hit the big-time mainstream media this week. Once the New York Times picked up the story, many major news outlets jumped on the bandwagon.

MRM’s Viewpoint on Mormonism radio show is currently airing a 12-part series in which Eric Johnson and Bill McKeever discuss the information included – and left out of — these newsworthy “official” essays on Mormon polygamy.

Reactions to the essays have been interesting and varied. Mormon blogger Jana Riess noted,

“ ‘These statements contained some bombshells about Mormonism’s past that will not be news to most students of history but may indeed prove disturbing for some rank-and-file Latter-day Saints.”

Even so, for Dr. Riess the “provisional, hesitant language” of the essays (that is, the liberal use of the word “may”) leaves the understanding of Mormon polygamy in the same place that it’s been for a long time; nothing new here.

Kristy Money describes herself as “a Mormon woman who loves the Church.” Nevertheless, as a psychologist with a Ph.D. from Brigham Young University, Dr. Money would like the LDS Church to revise several parts of its essay series in order to prevent “negative consequences” for Mormon teens. For example, she suggests,

“Ideally, please acknowledge that Joseph may have erred in his practice of polygamy…

“Please excise mollifying language for Joseph’s polygamy and his secrecy surrounding the practice. Consider acknowledging that practicing polygamy while releasing ‘carefully worded’ denials that ‘emphasized that the church practiced no marital law other than monogamy’ (i.e. secrecy toward the public and his wife Emma Smith) was a mistake…

“…given the essay’s obedient tone and assertion that Joseph never erred, their quotes [from Joseph’s younger wives that reveal the young women’s initial revulsion and later acceptance of Smith’s proposals] could actually lead to victims [of sexual abuse] resonating with their initial sorrow and hoping to later find similar joy/peace.”

Author and Mormon historian Gary James Bergera believes the essays on polygamy represent “a good first step in acknowledging the history of the controversial doctrine” as they

“tackle head-on some of the most problematic aspects of the church’s embrace of what it once called ‘celestial marriage.’ This includes church founder Joseph Smith’s marriages to young women, at least one of whom was 14 (the essays characterize her as just shy of 15); Smith’s marriages to other men’s wives (which the essays contend may not have included sexual relations); Smith’s concealing most of his plural marriages from his civil wife, Emma Hale; Smith’s and the church’s carefully worded denials regarding the practice of polygamy; the church’s ‘civil disobedience’ in performing the illegal marriages; and the church’s clandestine attempts to keep plural marriage alive for a decade or more even after publicly disavowing it in 1890.”

Yet, Mr. Bergera believes the essays still fall short in several areas. One is the failure of the essays to mention “some of the most important scholarship on Mormon polygamy.” Another involves the essays’ use of primary source material that is unavailable to the general public. And finally,

“…the essay on polygamy during Joseph Smith’s lifetime reflects an emerging apologetic argument that seeks to portray Smith as a reluctant polygamist who had to be coerced by an angel into engaging in sexual relations with his plural wives. Such a position misrepresents Smith’s zest for life and self-perception as Heaven’s lawgiver, while imposing on him a particular brand of morality that was foreign to him. ‘That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another,’ he taught (History of the church, 5:134). He also stated that there were ‘many things in the Bible which do not, as they now stand, accord with the revelation of the Holy Ghost to me’ (Words of Joseph Smith, p. 211).”

According to the New York Times,

“Kristine Haglund, the editor of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, said that while she found the church’s new transparency ‘really hopeful,’ she and other women she had talked with were disturbed that the essays do not address the painful teaching about polygamy in eternity.

“ ‘These are real issues for Mormon women,’ Ms. Haglund said. ‘And because the church has never said definitively that polygamy won’t be practiced in heaven, even very devout and quite conservative women are really troubled by it.’”

CNN journalist Daniel Burke takes a mildly critical tone in his reporting. Mr. Burke notes that “until recently Mormon leaders had taken pains to present its founding prophet as happily married to one woman.” He also points out that, while Joseph Smith saw Mormonism as a restoration of the “ancient principles” of biblical prophets who had multiple wives, “Smith’s first wife [Emma], however, was not amused.” While most news media articles has included the information that Joseph Smith had a wife as young as 14 years old, Mr. Burke is one of the few journalists to mention the Mormon Church’s baffling (my word) defense of this particular marriage:

“Most of the women Smith married were between 20 and 40, the church said, but one was as old as 56 and one as young as 14.

“ ‘Marriage at such an age, inappropriate by today’s standards, was legal in that era, and some women married in their mid-teens,’ the church said in its online essay.”

I find this defense baffling in that the Mormon Church essay appeals to the legality of a girl in her mid-teens marrying “in that era,” while ignoring the elephant in the room: It was most certainly not legal “in that era” (or any other in America) for a 14-year-old girl to marry a man who had over two dozen additional wives, some of whom had additional husbands as well. I find the Church’s assertion to be a rather strange defense of Joseph Smith’s marriage to a child bride.

At any rate, these are interesting times in the life of the Mormon Church. The New York Times reports that Church historian and leader Steven Snow explains,

“ ‘There is so much out there on the Internet that we felt we owed our members a safe place where they could go to get reliable, faith-promoting information that was true about some of these more difficult aspects of our history.

“ ‘We need to be truthful, and we need to understand our history,’ Elder Snow said. ‘I believe our history is full of stories of faith and devotion and sacrifice, but these people weren’t perfect.’”

Nor are those who are now charged with presenting “faith-promoting information” on Mormonism’s controversial history. One of the Church essays explains that

“rumors prompted members and leaders to issue carefully worded denials that denounced spiritual wifery and polygamy but were silent about what Joseph Smith and others saw as divinely mandated ‘celestial’ plural marriage.”

I believe the Church’s new essays should be approached with thoughtful discernment; “carefully worded denials” coupled with selective “silence” might be regarded just as appropriate today as it was 175 years ago.

About Sharon Lindbloom

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

37 Responses to Mormon Church Posts Essays on Joseph Smith’s Polygamy

  1. falcon says:

    Great article!
    It exposes the LDS church’s continual blah, blah, blah tone. Here’s a line that caught my eye.

    “ ‘There is so much out there on the Internet that we felt we owed our members a safe place……….’

    Isn’t too bad that the too young girls Smith seduced couldn’t have been given a place of safety to shelter them from this sexual predator? I guess I should include the other women also but there is just something so hideous about what Smith was up to.
    falcon’s rule…………………… the behavior an “event” or a “pattern”. Obviously, with Smith it was a pattern. The guys was a sick sociopath. Sorry but this really riles me up!

  2. MJP says:

    Falcon outlined the line I found most relevant, too. I’d add the “faith promoting” phrase, too. Its as if they are still spinning it such that they cannot be blunt about it and just tell it like it is. It has to be self serving and lift people up in their program and not merely information. Sure, they can support their members, but the information itself need not be faith promoting.

    Besides the ‘experts’ Sharon listed above, has anyone gotten any information from rank and file members on what their reaction is?

  3. SR says:

    Besides the ‘experts’ Sharon listed above, has anyone gotten any information from rank and file members on what their reaction is?

    To my surprise and deep sadness, the response a friend of mine gave me when I asked them if they’d read it was that none of it was surprising and they knew all of that already but that the church was wording things a bit differently, in a way that they liked.

  4. Mike R says:

    It seems that not being forthright with certain important issues in their history is a common theme in large autocratic religions like Mormonism and the Watchtower Society ( Jw’s ) . They have to spin things , otherwise they will lose members and that will stymie their proselytizing , loss of members means loss of power . These powerful organizations are being forced to finally come clean but it’s being done , it looks like , in a abbreviated manner . I guess that shouldn’t surprise anyone.

    I personally don’t put to much emphasis on the fact that Joseph Smith “married ” a 14 yr old girl because that age wasn’t to unusual from marriage laws in Europe at one time . However , it’s the way Joseph Smith introduced polygamy together with other important factors concerning it which we find in Mormonism that is the reason why we should dismiss Mormon leaders to be who they claimed to be . Bottom line : Jesus did not appoint them to teach His gospel as he did Paul .

    I hope and pray that a multitude of LDS will dismiss their leaders and look to Jesus’ true apostles for their spiritual food . The Mormon people have been tossed to and fro doctrinally by their leaders Eph 4:14 , and polygamy is a good example . Don’t be surprised if at next Conference it will announced that the practice of polygamy being an essential ordinance of the church can be practiced with leadership’s approval .

    Mormonism is not the answer .

  5. MJP says:

    “…hey knew all of that already but that the church was wording things a bit differently, in a way that they liked.”

    Faith confirming and soothing to the ears…

    Its a bit sad how otherwise intelligent people are so willing to forgo critical thinking.

  6. Brian says:

    Why was Joseph Smith involved in polygamy? The answer to this question is found in early LDS beliefs about monogamy.

    Joseph’s successors spoke in detail of monogamy’s origin and consequences. Brigham Young, in an address titled, “Contrast Between the Religion of Jesus Christ As Enjoyed By the Saints and that of Professed Christianity” (Journal of Discourses 9:322), reveals what he believed to be monogamy’s origin:

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

    John Taylor certainly let his followers know what he thought of monogamy. Characterizing monogamy as “the Christian’s idol” (Journal of Discourses 23:36), he stated,

    The pious, zealous, religious and hypocritical in our day, uniting with political demagogues, have set up a God for us to worship, which they boastfully represent as the embodiment of everything that is pure and virtuous, embodying the enlightenment and civilization of the nineteenth century. Their god is overlaid with gilt and tinsel, but inside it is pregnant with the social evil with its twin adjuncts feticide and infanticide. Like a great Moloch it is crushing out female virtue, trampling upon innocence, and prostituting and destroying millions of the fair daughters of Eve. Yet this loathsome, filthy, debauched, degraded monster is held up for our veneration and worship by its corrupt Christian devotees as the essence of everything that is great and grand, noble and praiseworthy …

    This is the regard these men held in God’s design for marriage. To their everlasting shame. I believe portions of John Taylor’s colorful picture of monogamy’s defenders would be well suited for false prophets.

  7. Mike R says:

    Brian , great post ! It’s truly sad that decent people can be detoured from the New Testament teachings , not only about marriage but about other important truths also , but that is what latter days false prophets like to do to sincere people . It sells well by clever speech . The Mormon people can be free from their man made religious organization . Mormon leaders did not restore Jesus’ church/gospel , they replaced it .

    Polygamy and polyandry introduced as important ordinances of Jesus’ church by a latter days prophet? Sorry , but that type of error is nothing new as Paul had to contend with some in his day who sought to introduce unsound doctrines to those he kept watch over . Joseph Smith , Brigham Young etc are nothing new , they departed from the gospel of salvation Jesus’ apostles preached far and wide ( Rom 1:16 ) by mixing in their own innovations onto it . The Mormon people should take note of 2 Tim 4:3, 4 , because it aptly describes the behavior of latter days prophets such as those in leadership in the Mormon church since 1830 .

    People simply don’t need Mormonism to receive forgiveness from God and the fullest blessings of eternal life in God’s home above . It’s that simple , and that is truly good news .

  8. Old man says:

    Brian, it’s interesting that you should mention John Taylor in regard to polygamy as
    Taylor wasn’t just a polygamist; he was like Smith, a proven liar. He once quoted from doctrine and covenants a passage condemning polygamy (later removed) to prove to his accusers that the LDS were monogamist yet at the same time, (1850) he was ‘married’ to eleven women.
    As I have said on this forum several times, the Corporation was founded on deception and has continued in that deception to the present day.

    Like much of the essay the LDS admission that one girl was just short of 15 years of age is also misleading, there were in fact two girls aged 14, Nancy Winchester and Helen Mar Kimball. Smith married both girls in 1843 when he was 38.
    One other issue worthy of note is that in the early years of the 19th Century the onset of puberty was considerably later than it is now, a 14 year old then would roughly equate to 10-12 years of age in our present time thus Helen Mar Kimball rightly said after agreeing to marry Smith

    “…and like a wild bird I longed for the freedom that was denied me; and thought myself an abused child, and that it was pardonable if I did murmur.”.

    The LDS in its efforts to sustain Smith as a prophet resorts to nonsensical statements such as
    “There is little or no evidence that he actually had sex with these women who were sealed to him”
    Yet Smith himself explained the reason for polygamy was to “raise up seed”
    I’m still waiting for the ‘church’ to explain away these totally contradictory statements.

    Let’s not mince words here, Smith, far from being what he claimed, was in fact a sexual predator, a paedophile and a serial adulterer.

  9. grindael says:

    I think that Smith was actually a sexual predator, a hebephile (attracted to 11-14 year olds like Warren Jeffs was), and a serial adulterer. And Smith himself confessed to his untoward or LEWD behaviors in 1834.

    George D. Smith who wrote Nauvoo Polygamy, claimed that Smith had 38 wives and did not consider Fanny Alger one of them, but that Joseph Smith committed adultery with her. Smith presents some very good arguments to document how Joseph Smith’s polygamy evolved from his troubled youth as a womanizer. To show how Brian Hales (who I believe contributed to the Polygamy Essays) manipulates evidence, I reproduce a portion of his review of George D. Smith’s book on polygamy,

    George D. Smith comments several times that Joseph Smith had polygamy on his mind in the 1820’s, even as a teenager (xiv, 12, 21, 29) but supporting documentation is equivocal. He also provides some psychoanalysis based on limited clinical data, stating that Joseph eventually came “to effectively de-emphasize the feelings of sin and guilt he had once experienced” (21). George D. Smith lays out the following hypothetical reconstruction:

    Did young Joseph experience the usual challenges and questions accompanying adolescence? Is there anything to suggest a coming-of-age struggle? A few passages from his autobiography indicate that two years after the family moved to New York State, he confronted some uncertain feelings he later termed “sinful.” At a time when boys begin to experience puberty, “from the age of 12 years to15,” or 1817-21, he “became convicted [convinced] of my sins.” Seeing his awakened emotions as “sinful” seems to have reflected parental admonitions prior to the age of fifteen or sixteen (1820-22), when he also sought divine assistance for his worries. “I cried unto the Lord for mercy . . . in the 16th year of my age,” he wrote. In response to his prayer, a personage he would later identify as Jesus confronted him and said: “Joseph my son thy sins are forgiven thee.”

    Even so, he reported that he again “fell into transgression and sinned in many things . . . there were many things that transpired that cannot be written.” These cryptic words echo in his subsequent statements to friend and counselor Oliver Cowdery, leaving us to suspect that he was referring to the curious thoughts of an intense teenager. . . .

    Two years after his initial autobiographical sketch, Smith addressed similar vaguely defined infractions of youth, including “vices and follies,” he wrote. The contemporary definition of “vice” was “every act of intemperance, all falsehood, duplicity, deception, lewdness and the like,” as well as “the excessive indulgence of passions and appetites which in themselves are innocent,” according to Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary. “Folly” was defined as “an absurd act which is highly sinful; and conduct contrary to the laws of God or man; sin; scandalous crimes; that which violates moral precepts and dishonors the offender.” In other words, “vices and follies” implied sins great and small, which conceivably involved sex but were not limited to it. (17-18; brackets George Smith’s)

    George Smith reasons that Joseph Smith confessed to “sins great and small, which conceivably involved sex but were not limited to it.”However, the entire quotation, published in December 1834 in the Messenger and Advocate is susceptible of a different reading:

    During this time, as is common to most, or all youths, I fell into many vices and follies; but as my accusers are, and have been forward to accuse me of being guilty of gross and outrageous violations of the peace and good order of the community, I take the occasion to remark, that, though, as I have said above, “as is common to most, or all youths, I fell into many vices and follies,” I have not, neither can it be sustained, in truth, been guilty of wronging or injuring any manor society of men; and those imperfections to which I allude, and for which I have often had occasion to lament, were a light, and too often, vain mind, exhibiting a foolish and trifling conversation.

    The full quotation therefore lends itself to a self-accusation of silliness and light-mindedness, not sexual sin. (Dialogue, A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol. 42:4, pp. 220-221).

    Unfortunately neither George D. Smith nor Hales employs the FULL quotation from the Messenger and Advocate. George D. Smith really didn’t need to, but it devastates Hales’ argument that Smith’s self accusation was only about “silliness and light-mindedness”. Here is the rest of the Joseph Smith quote from the 1834 Messenger and Advocate which Hales does not quote for good reason:

    This being all, and the worst, that my accusers can substantiate against my moral character, I wish to add, that it is not with out a deep feeling of regret that I am thus called upon in answer to my own conscience, to fulfill a duty I owe to myself, as well as to the cause of truth, in making this public confession of my former uncircumspect walk, and unchaste conversation: and more particularly, as I often acted in violation of those holy precepts which I knew came from God. But as the “Articles and Covenants” of this church are plain upon this particular point, I do not deem it important to proceed further. I only add, that I do not, nor never have, pretended to be any other than a man “subject to passion,” and liable, without the assisting grace of the Savior, to deviate from that perfect path in which all men are commanded to walk! (Joseph Smith, Letter, Kirtland, Ohio, to Oliver Cowdery, Kirtland, Ohio, December, 1834; Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate, Dec. 1834, p. 40. Online here, Accessed October 20, 2014.

    Not only does Joseph Smith tell of vices, but he confesses to “unchaste conversation” and that he “often acted in violation of those holy precepts which I knew came from God.” He then claims that he is a man who is “subject to passion” and liable to deviate from the path of the Lord. Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines “unchaste” as: a. Not chaste; not continent; not pure; libidinous; lewd.

    So Smith here admits to “lewd conversation”, and that is defined by Webster’s 1828 dictionary as,

    LEWD, a. [Heb.]
    1. Given to the unlawful indulgence of lust; addicted to fornication or adultery; dissolute; lustful; libidinous. Ezek 23.
    2. Proceeding from unlawful lust; as lewd actions.
    3. Wicked; vile; profligate; licentious. Acts 27.

    Libidinous isn’t much better,

    LIBID’INOUS, a. [L. libidinosus, from libido, lubido, lust, from libeo, libet, lubet, to please, it pleaseth; Eng. love, which see. The root is lib or lub.]
    Lustful; lewd; having an eager appetite for venereal pleasure.

    And the word conversation was not used as it is today, which is chiefly “to talk” but in 1834 it was used in this order,

    CONVERSATION, n. [Webster’s 1828]
    1. General course of manners; behavior; deportment; especially as it respects morals.
    Let your conversation be as becometh the gospel. Phil 1.
    Be ye holy in all manner of conversation. 1 Pet 1.
    2. A keeping company; familiar intercourse; intimate fellowship or association; commerce in social life. Knowledge of men and manners is best acquired by conversation with the best company.
    3. Intimate and familiar acquaintance; as a conversation with books, or other object.
    4. Familiar discourse; general intercourse of sentiments; chat; unrestrained talk; opposed to a formal conference.
    What I mentioned in conversation was not a new thought.

    So Smith himself in 1834 admitted to lewd behavior, not “silly talk”. And this was after the supposed visit from God and Jesus and Moroni numerous times! And then there is the moneydigging with the peepstones and being arrested as a “glasslooker”.

    Is it any wonder that he continued in this vein throughout his life? Even though Joseph Smith tries to extricate himself from the charges of being a womanizer that were being bandied about throughout his career as both a moneydigger and a self proclaimed “prophet”, he still inadvertently shows us his real character by his choice of words to describe himself in this revealing letter from 1834.

    This indeed helps us to understand that Joseph Smith did believe that “adultery was no crime”, (as both Ezra Booth and Levi Lewis claimed) and that he tried to seduce Eliza Winters, and did commit adultery with Fanny Alger.

    That, along with his affair with Mary Heron Snider that her son in law described in a Church Trial in 1850 where he claimed to have caught them “frigging” each other in his house, throw Smith’s polygamy right into the realm of John C. Bennett’s “spiritual wifeism, and shows us exactly where Bennett got his doctrine from.

    The only difference was that Smith sanctioned certain relationships with his “priesthood”, which is really, no difference at all.

  10. makeitshine says:

    @SR “To my surprise and deep sadness, the response a friend of mine gave me when I asked them if they’d read it was that none of it was surprising and they knew all of that already but that the church was wording things a bit differently, in a way that they liked.”

    Unfortuantely, I think this is going to be the common response. My family has always known about polygamy. Maybe that is only because my great grandfather had 3 wives and 30 kids that my family knew, but I think most other mormons did too, this is 20 years ago I am talking about. I did not know that Joseph Smith had more than one wife initially, that wasn’t talked about but my parents knew, it came out over dinner one night when Mom was talking about Josephs wife and dad said rudely “which one” He was on his way out of the church… my mom glared at him, she knew but somehow rationalized it.

    We were always told that it was because there were more women than men, and this was needed so they could be sealed for the celestial kingdom. Procreation is also important though because that is how the spirit children can come have their earthly experience.

    The rationalization goes something like this. Well the prophet wasn’t perfect, sinfull even but his revelations are true and the restoration of the priesthood is still vaid. That God chose him because he had the right character to get the job done. The success of the Churches spread is proof to them.

  11. SR says:

    We were always told that it was because there were more women than men, and this was needed so they could be sealed for the celestial kingdom.

    Yes, my friend has said that to me as well, though this essay, I think, disproves that. It specifically says that Joseph Smith married women who were already married to other men. He wasn’t just marrying all the single women. Also, if you look at censuses from that time period, men actually outnumbered women. I fail to comprehend how someone can look at historical fact and believe a lie over it. Then again, a lot of Mormonism can be discredited with historical fact and it’s ignored. So while it isn’t a surprise, it still hurts me.

  12. makeitshine says:

    @sr – Then again, a lot of Mormonism can be discredited with historical fact and it’s ignored.

    – ya pretty much all of it except maybe one tidbit here and there in gnosticism. I initially read a book with the writings of the Church Fathers to see if Mormons could back claims, and not only did I not find Mormonism there, but highlighted a bunch of stuff that was opposed to it. Of course the Mormons believe after the apostles died all the bishops were corrupt and the Priesthood was lost (nevermind the fact that almost all early Bishops were martyred in their so called corruption)…. I did read an article I think maybe in the ensign that was something like “Ignatius, Clement and Polycarp, between the Apostles and the Apostasy”.

    They were using quotes from the Fathers to to prove the authority of the priesthood, but left out the rest. Not sure if this was before people had access to the internet but all you have to do is actually read Ignatius, Polycarp and Clement to disprove other mormon ideas. Then they might say, well that had not been revealed yet. Also there is the issue of Mormons using the same words with different meanings, so something might mean one thing to a Christian, but when a Mormon reads it, because they understand differently they might say, look they are talking about Mormonism. I noticed this with myself, so I had to read and re-read things though a different Christian angle.

    Mental gymnastics for sure. What happened to the faith once given.

  13. Mike R says:

    I think there are many Mormons who are troubled by finding out about that Joseph Smith had so many wives . This information has not been readily known by rank and file Mormons largely because their leaders have not been to anxious to make it widespread knowledge . The way Mormon leaders have handling polygamy has been embarrassing , they have lied , and they have taught some very egregious things concerning it in an effort to sell it to church member as proper behavior in Jesus’ church .

    In the New York Times article a couple of days ago there is a comment that is quite revealing because it mentions that church members are disclosing their feelings about this information about Joseph Smith as being troubling to them . They explain that this is not the church they grew up
    with , this is not the Joseph Smith they love .

    Without a doubt there are many Mormons who are disturbed by Joseph Smith’s polygamy .
    Some will naturally down play this ( pride ) , but Mormon leaders are back pedaling , they are forced to answer serious questions . However as we notice with their recent attempt to placate
    a growing number of members by offering the recent Essays , these men at the top still will not be completely forthright with their flock .

    Mormonism is not the answer . More and more Mormons are finding that the Mormon church is a man made religious organization . We get to help them by pointing them to the answer where they will find rest for their souls — Jesus . Jn 14:6

  14. MistakenTestimony says:

    I’m curious, does anyone have any written evidence that these latest articles on polygamy are actually disturbing some members, or seen this first-hand? The LDS “testimony” is nothing but a subjective feeling one gets when they think about the LDS religion. Do Mormons just cherry pick the good feelings and act like the bad feelings that would disprove their “testimony” are simply mistaken?

  15. falcon says:

    Don’t you know? That was a long time ago and we don’t practice polygamy any more! Besides, he was thee prophet so he must have had a good reason for doing what he did. The important thing is to keep on believing………………..and paying your tithe. Bedsides, besides I knew that a long time ago and it doesn’t effect my testimony one bit. It’s still as strong as ever. It makes me feel bad so there must be more about this than we know. It doesn’t matter because the restoration is still true even if the prophet did these things. The church is true!

  16. MistakenTestimony says:

    And anyone ever notice how ridiculous of a staement that is to say “the church is true”? Wouldn’t it make more sense to say “the Gospel is true”? For Christianity we are church which is full of sinners on this earth. A Christian would rather say “Christ is the truth.” He is the branch we are the vine, the ONLY reason why we can say that the church is true and holy is because He alone as head of His body is true and holy. Yet for Mormons their emphasis is on their church being true, but the true Church knows that His kingdom is not of this world. Mormons are all about their worldy leadership rather than the one who reigns and rules over all creation. Sickening.

  17. MistakenTestimony says:

    I slipped up when I said, “He is the branch we are the vine,” I was getting John 15:5 mixed up with Zech 3:8; 6:12; Jer 33:15; Isaiah 11:1. Sorry.

  18. cattyjane says:

    That is interesting what you just pointed out by accident MistT.

  19. falcon says:

    With the LDS, it’s all about the “system”. Even the Mormon god is subject to the system because it was the system that made him a god. And as far as polygamy goes, it to is part of the system. I don’t know how the 1890 manifesto could change something that is suppose to be so intricate to reaching the highest level of the Celestial Kingdom.
    We all know though, that polygamy is still on “the books” of the LDS system. I was a little shocked way back, when one of our LDS posters “revealed” that it isn’t necessary to “practice” polygamy, but the faithful Mormon must “believe” in polygamy. These folks sure have a way with words don’t they?
    So we ask what will the current fessing-up by the corporation do to the rank-and-file TBM? I say not much. It’s the system……………even though we are told that Joseph Smith holds the keys to this current dispensation. He must have sure been a valiant dude in the pre-existence because by my calculation, he wasn’t much in the here-and-now.

  20. falcon says:

    The problem with polygamy is that at some point you’re going to run out of women. The pool of possible female candidates gets pretty shallow. So then it’s necessary to move the program from the women to the girls. If polygamy was necessary for a man to become a god then there will be a limited number of men that can become gods. The leadership snags all of the women it can leaving the rank and file men out in the cold.
    By the time Smith was killed, he had really been on a bender. He was what is known as a “spree” offender. Had he lived he would have been so totally out of control that a major crisis within the Mormon sect was inevitable. It has been reported that he was in the process of reversing course as far as polygamy was concerned. I doubt if he could have stopped. He was one sick puppy.

  21. MistakenTestimony says:

    Moderator, I noticed that my last 3 posts have not posted and are not in moderation limbo, is there an issue with the website or my account?

  22. makeitshine says:

    @MistT – “I’m curious, does anyone have any written evidence that these latest articles on polygamy are actually disturbing some members, or seen this first-hand?”

    Yes I have been watching facebook dialogs from some recently left members I am friends with there and they are saying this is a very heavy weight for the “shelf”.

    Here’s my take on the “shelf”.

    The “shelf” is made up of many different “elements” the 2 strongest being:
    1. Spiritual Deception
    2. Ego

    Then there are lesser elements such as:
    3. Social acceptance,
    4. Brainwashing
    5. Observance of the testimony of others
    6. Success of the Church
    – and many more.

    Everyones “shelf” is of a different thickness and composed of the above elements in different proportion. The thickness and strength of the “shelf” will determine how much this new weight is going to affect them as individuals.

    My “shelf” was very thin, composed mostly of #4 and #5, with a little bit of #2. It broke very quickly, probably because the strongest element of #1 was missing.

    My moms “shelf” (the super duper TBM) is mostly composed of #1 and #3 a little bit of each of the rest of the elements, however her shelf is very thick, and she keeps it locked in a room, to which she does not have the combination. Only God will be able to unlock it by an act of divine mercy.

    Joseph Smith on the other hand, did not have a “shelf” but rather a full body suit composed mostly of #2 and #1…. similar to that of Iron Man … fashioned for him by non other than Satan and his minions aka “being of light, Moroni”.

    There are others who have followed in the footseps of Joseph, and have also had “suits” fashioned for themselves. The “suit” is the exact opposite of the wedding garment given by Christ.

  23. makeitshine says:

    The “suit” also has another important element I forgot to add, that is the desire for power.

  24. makeitshine says:

    @Falcon –
    “With the LDS, it’s all about the “system”. Even the Mormon god is subject to the system because it was the system that made him a god.”

    Not only is this system un-Biblical , but irrational as well!

    I guess the system would have “laws” that it operates by right? What are those laws? What could they be but Love? Isn’t that the highest thing according to Jesus, the law that we are all subject to?

    But wait, Isn’t God love? 1 John 4:8 – He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

    And Love always involves a relationship right. Most other ancient spiritual traditions even understand the necessity of the 3.

    How can an single impersonal system BE Love or even have a law of Love within itself?

    Also if its in the nature of an eternal intelligence (spirit-being) to need higher godly parents in order to become a god, then who was the first god? How did the process start, some kind of spiritual evolution? Joseph said there have always been gods, but according to his kind of god’s very nature, its completely irrational.

  25. MistakenTestimony says:


    Speaking of the System, check out

  26. Mike R says:

    If anyone is wondering why we can’t accept the claim of Mormon leaders to be Jesus’ modern day counterparts of those apostles He appointed in New Testament , we just point them to how Mormon leaders introduced polygamy as a essential ordinance in Jesus’ church . This issue with polygamy in Mormonism is important because it goes a long ways to identifying Mormon leaders as among those prophets Jesus’ mentions in Matt 24: 11 who would come on the scene in the latter days .

    The victims in all this are the women who accepted Mormon leaders as authorities in their lives , these sincere women were fooled . Mormon women today are equally deceived , and that is really sad .

    It’s interesting to note that although Joseph Smith introduced polygamy to selected members of his flock , because of his untimely death , he was prevented from revealing more about it .
    D&C 132:66 mentions more would be revealed , and right on cue Brigham Young did just that .
    He had his officers go far and wide after the 1852 public announcement that the Saints were indeed living in polygamy , to defend the practice of polygamy as a gospel truth given to them by God .
    It’s amazing what Mormon authorities taught about polygamy in the 1850’s and for the next several decades , both in volume and content . Under Brigham’s auspices trusted men preached far and wide that polygamy was a revealed truth . From these men the Mormon people learned that polygamy was called ” the patriarchal order of Marriage ” ,God introduced it to Abraham because
    it mirrored the family arrangement in heaven where God lived . Adam also was a polygamist .
    But to those church members who balked at accepting it’s practice as part of Jesus’ gospel the trump card in defense of it was delivered by their leaders , namely, Jesus their great exemplar was Himself a polygamist ! These teachings ARE the Mormon gospel , they call it the ” restored gospel ” of Jesus Christ , but in reality it’s not . Rather , it is another gospel , a man made message . Paul warned that after him this would happen . Both Gal 1:8 and 2Tim 4:3, 4 are relevant scriptures that speak about what to expect from religious leaders in the latter days who are not appointed by Jesus.

    The Mormon people are fooled into following latter days false prophets , men who are well dressed , act polite , and talk about ” following Jesus ” . But false prophets can also fit that
    description , and it seems that this fact is something that many Mormons have trouble grasping .

  27. makeitshine says:

    @MikeR said – Jesus their great exemplar was Himself a polygamist !

    Oh yeah! I forgot about Jesus the polygamist as opposed to the bridegroom to all.

    On March 18, 1855 Hyde said:
    “I discover that some of the Eastern papers represent me as a great blasphemer, because I said, in my lecture on Marriage, at our last Conference, that Jesus Christ was married at Cana of Galilee, that Mary, Martha, and others were his wives, and that he begat children” (Journal of Discourses 2:210).

    Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt agreed with his contemporary when he wrote,

    “One thing is certain, that there were several holy women that greatly loved Jesus — such as Mary, and Martha her sister, and Mary Magdalene; and Jesus greatly loved them, and associated with them much; and when He arose from the dead, instead of showing Himself to His chosen witnesses, the Apostles, He appeared first to these women, or at least to one of them — namely, Mary Magdalene. Now it would be natural for a husband in the resurrection to appear first to his own dear wives, and afterwards show himself to his other friends. If all the acts of Jesus were written, we no doubt should learn that these beloved women were His wives” (The Seer, p.159).

    I’m suprised they didn’t add the samaritan woman in there too since Jesus met her at the well…. If they understood scripture better they might have!

    @MistT – that blog post was great, especially grindaels post. I printed that off!

  28. johnnyboy says:

    Hey everyone! Hope all of you are doing well.

    This essay is causing quite the stir in my neck of the woods. My parents, who last year accused me of “believing in lies”, are now suddenly reading the NYTimes and telling me they knew about this. I had mentioned to them a week ago about the essay and my father still didn’t believe it until the NYTimes article. My dad tried to make excuses for old Joe. “The prophet isn’t perfect” type of crap.

    It’s so sad how deluded mormons are.

    Anyhoo, just wanted to let you all know that I am now 1 1/2 years out of mormonism, and my life is going great! I say a little prayer of thanks to old Joe for being a conman, because I now am the new owner of a great business… and its all because I left mormonism! Thanks Joe, I now can pay for my kids college education 😉

    My dad’s prophecy that I would be divorced and penniless in a year seems to have gone awry.

  29. Mike R says:

    johnnyboy , good to hear from you again . Keep praying for your parents !

  30. MistakenTestimony says:


    “My dad’s prophecy that I would be divorced and penniless in a year seems to have gone awry.”

    If my daughter abondoned faith in the one Lord who is God incarnate I would warn her that she is going down a very dangerous road and inform her that she is outside of the church and I would urge her to repentance as often as needed, but I (and I’m willing to bet anyone else here) would never speak those kinds of curses over her life even if she were currently going through marital problems and a bankruptcy. When we here stories like that it definitely shows us that Mormonism is not only a theological cult but it is also a sociological cult as well. I am sorry to hear that and I am sure that your parents are very good people as citizens, parents, relatives, and friends in this world. I’ve heard far too many stories like this to know that this is not isolated behavior, but is rather the common mindset which flows right out of the LDS system which has to be held as true above all other things. That’s tough to hear, Johnnyboy.

  31. falcon says:

    Can you imagine the desperation your parents, particularly your dad, is feeling? Sometimes the most vehement true believers are the ones that are the closest to cracking. I’m happy to hear you are doing so well. I’ve been hearing a lot about the Mormon “shelf”, the place Mormons put things that are so troubling about Smith and the corporation. My guess is that your folks have way too much things on that shelf.
    Jesus is the answer for your folks as you are aware. I wouldn’t ignore your people at all. I’d just keep talking to them about the Lord. Mormonism just can’t stand-up in the presence of the authentic Christ.

  32. Mike R says:

    It interesting to observe the Mormon apostasy . Mormon missionaries went far and wide preaching their gospel , claiming it was the same gospel as Paul preached . But soon what happened within Mormonism was similar to what allegedly happened soon after the death of Jesus’ original apostles , namely a great apostasy occurred and the result was that the true gospel of salvation was
    altered and became diluted to become of no effect where salvation was concerned etc .

    According to Mormon authority James Talmage what happened to produce the apostasy of
    the Christian church were such things as a corrupting of the simple doctrines of the gospel of Jesus by a mixture with man made teachings ; unauthorized additions to the prescribed rites of the church and the introduction of vital alterations in essential ordinances ; unauthorized changes in church organization ….( Jesus the Christ p 748-749 ) .

    Of course Mormons need to advertise their great apostasy doctrine. But it’s interesting to note that what Talmage lists as the cause of it can be applied to what happened in Mormonism also .
    Polygamy is one example of this . Mormon leaders claimed it was an important doctrine of Jesus’ gospel and thus inserted it into their church as an essential ordinance . So it appears that this is a case of the pot calling the kettle black . It’s apparent that Mormon leaders can’t be trusted to preach the true gospel , the one Paul taught ( Rom 1:16) . Thus people are safe in embracing the New Testament as their standard for spiritual truth about the true gospel of salvation authorized by Jesus Christ .

  33. makeitshine says:

    As I suspected …some of my very large TBM family are now posting on facebook a blog defending polygamy as a response to the essay. The blog actually says that “God commanded” it in the old testament, and since he did it then, why should we question it now just because it seems strange to our culture. (a couple Christian responded to this so called commandment) The blog paints Joseph as a reluctant practitoner of polygamy and doesn’t address the controversial parts of the essay or of course the more intimate and hard details that the essay left out in the first place (other responders pointed these out). The TBMs are buying it as usual as using it as a defense.

    @MikeR – It looks like the Mormons are still defending the practice as being ordained by God though. I dont think theres a way for them to get out of this one.
    The only thing they can really say about it, is that it was ordained by God, but Joseph abused it and he was wrong. When I was a teenager, we were actually taught in church that there were some that thought Joseph could have been a fallen prophet late in his life. It seemed that it was being presented to us as a possibility that the Church agreed with this. They may have been trying to leave the door open to push certain ideas out like polygamy as one of his “fallen” revelations.

  34. RikkiJ says:


    “I’ve heard far too many stories like this to know that this is not isolated behavior, but is rather the common mindset which flows right out of the LDS system which has to be held as true above all other things. That’s tough to hear, Johnnyboy.”

    Yes, there are some TBM that respond negatively to departures from the LDS church. Yet, to have a fair and balanced viewpoint is to remember that some Christians also ‘curse'(despite the teachings of Christ to the contrary) their children in this way. It would not necessarily be just the LDS church alone. Some Christians have been unnecessarily harsh on the backsliders. I’m not sure that every Mormon family reacts in this way, but I certainly can understand(not condone) the extremity of the reaction (Johnnyboy’s dad). It’s a great testimony that Christ through Johnnyboy has effected a wonderful testimony.

  35. MistakenTestimony says:


    This reminds me of a debate I had with someone once contrasting Christianity with another world religion that has a violent inclination toward outsiders. His angle was that all religions were equally violent by pointing to the crusades and Christians who blow up abortion clinics. My challenge to him was, when was the last time anyone heard of a Christian blowing up an abortion clinic in the name of Christ? I then asked him how many incidents within recent history he could name that were acts of violence by this other religion.

    The point is that at the very smallest of levels all religions are guilty of all the same things. However, when the picture gets zoomed out more and more it becomes apparent that unique patterns of behavior emerge on a much larger scale and with a greater degree of predictability. Bill Maher made a good observation with the Book of Mormon musical. He asked, how would a certain world religion have reacted if a musical was made entitled The Book of Islam. Both would be satirical musicals but clearly both religions would not respond in the same way.

    There is an obvious pattern of behavior in Mormonism that requires shunning once someone leaves the system. All one has to do is look at the exit stories of people who have just posted here to see that that is true. I can remember hearing others and even one girl stating that her own mother told her that she had wished she had never had any children. That’s crazy harsh. With all due respect it is completely unfair to look at Westboro Baptist Church and say, “See, Christians shun people too so let’s not talk about shunning happening in the LDS religion,” when this is a very real problem that exists with a much higher frequency in theological cults such as LDS and JW religions.

  36. Mike R says:

    makeitshine, I’m glad that you were not surprised at what some your TBM family is attempting to do about the recent Church Essay’s about polygamy , particularly concerning Joseph Smith’s .
    This shouldn’t surprise anyone , some Mormons have to try and rationalize things about this doctrine and especially the way their leadership has handled it .

    Concerning how Mormons try and cite the Old Testament as a way to justify polygamy being introduced in Mormon church : first of all , God never commanded polygamy in the O.T. but that
    really is’nt the point with Mormonism because Mormon leaders have clamed that their church is the exact same church Jesus established through His apostles 1700 years before Joseph Smith came.
    . The Mormon church claimed to be Jesus’ church , not Moses’ church ( see 3Nephi 27:8) and New Testament ( and Book of Mormon) do not teach that Jesus’ apostles taught polygamy was practiced as an essential ordinance in His church . But Mormon ” apostles” have taught this about polygamy therefore they are exposed as per Paul — Gal 1:8 .

    You stated that your Mormon family asked why should we question polygamy now just because it seems strange to our culture . But that isn’t the point . Being “strange” isn’t what we are concerned with rather it’s about the claims of Mormon leaders being faithful to Jesus’ gospel or not . As far as the Joseph Smith supposedly being ” a reluctant practitioner ” of polygamy therefore being a
    reason why we should believe polygamy was revealed by God to Him , again that is weak reason
    for why we should believe he actually introduced polygamy because God told him to . There’s just too many reasons why Christians should not accept Mormon polygamy as coming from Jesus
    who supposedly supervises the teaching activity of leaders of Mormonism .
    Joseph Smith was , as you say , a fallen prophet . Brigham Young was also . They swerved from teaching correctly about marriage , because their personal apostasy produced aberrant teachings about it ( polygamy is only one example ) . They rejected correction from friends and thus can correctly be labeled as false prophets . The Mormon people then , and those today , can be faithful to God by dismissing their prophets from their lives . The Mormon people are the victims of a broken trust . Rev 2:2

  37. falcon says:

    I think one of the more creative explanations I’ve heard regarding Smith’s proclivity for married women is that those women had been assigned to him in the pre existence. I picked that up in a video on Mormon Stories when John Dehlin was interviewing Ann Wilde. She was the plural wife of Ogden Kraut who was a prolific writer in the FLDS vein of Mormonism. They didn’t occupy the same domicile but (he’d) come to visit on a regular basis; from my understanding.
    These folks have better than average intelligence but they are major Kool-Aid drinkers when it comes to Joseph Smith. Ms. Wilde sounded like a 19th century Mormon.

    My point is that those who are dedicated to Joseph Smith and his religion can always find an explanation for his behavior. When the burden gets to heavy to carry the water for Smith, they may go so far as to say Smith was wrong on some things. They may even conclude he was a fallen prophet. BUT the church is still true.

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