Nov 192014
 
Joseph & Emma Smith

I learned that Joseph Smith had many wives when I was in seminary at Provo High School in the 1970’s. It bothered me, but I figured if the Church is true we would just have to accept certain doctrines whether we liked them or not or understood them or not. It was the same with the teaching that Heavenly Father came down and had sexual intercourse with Mary, the mother of Jesus. I clearly remember sitting in my seminary class in 10th grade. The teacher said that Jesus was the “literal” son of Heavenly father and was conceived in the same way that the rest of us were. I was mortified. Just to clarify and make sure I understood him correctly, I went up after class and asked,

“Brother Tanner, are you saying that…well, you know…that Heavenly Father came down and, well, you know,” I felt my cheeks turning red, “that he ‘did it’ with Mary?”

“That’s right,” the teacher replied. “But there was nothing immoral about it. Mary was set apart as one of Heavenly Father’s wives in the preexistence.”

“But What about Joseph?” My mind was reeling. That poor man! Spending his life with Mary for “time only,” while in the eternities she would be given back to Heavenly Father.

“We don’t have to worry about that,” Brother Tanner said. “It will all be worked out when this life is over.”

My eyes welled up with tears, and as soon as I got out the door of the seminary building I ran across the lawn behind the school, weeping. “How can this be?” I cried out in silent prayer. “Heavenly Father, please help me understand!” The thought that maybe the Church wasn’t true struck me, and I was suddenly gripped with fear. What if I had made the biggest mistake of my life by becoming a Mormon?

For days I was in turmoil. Fast & Testimony Meeting Sunday approached, and when it came I heard affirmation after affirmation by all the people I respected as they testified of the truthfulness of the gospel. I felt comforted at last. I decided to put Jesus’ conception on a mental shelf tucked carefully away in the back of my mind. If the Church was true then all the things I didn’t understand at present would be sorted out in the afterlife. Polygamy was one of those issues.

The seminary program rotated the curriculum over a four-year period, so from ninth through twelfth grades students would learn about the Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants/Pearl of Great Price, Old Testament, and New Testament. During the year we studied the D&C I learned about Joseph Smith’s polygamy and how Emma had a hard time coming to terms with it. I was taught that Joseph himself was loathe to take on other wives, but that an angel with a drawn flaming sword threatened to take his life if he didn’t obey God and live the principle of plural marriage. I felt sorry for him and Emma both.

Over the years we didn’t hear much about Joseph Smith’s polygamy. The knowledge of it was always bubbling under the surface, and on the rare occasions when it was brought up in a Sunday school or Relief Society lesson it was always spoken in somber and reverential tones. If the Prophet Joseph Smith wasn’t too happy about having to have more than one wife, then we shouldn’t be happy discussing it. That was our inference.

Brigham Young and his 50-something wives was a different story altogether. It was almost an enjoyable narrative to discuss, as it was easy to imagine President Young compassionately marrying as many pioneer widows as possible, whose husbands had perished on the plains. Of course, I secretly harbored the thought that he could have just provided for them instead of marrying them, which would have been the nobler thing to do; giving to someone that you know can’t give back. Otherwise it appeared too gauche: I’ll take care of you as long as you put out once every 53 days.

I knew a lot about the Church’s history and the foibles of its leaders. I knew they weren’t perfect and didn’t expect them to be. Maybe a cut above the rest of us; after all, they were so valiant in the preexistence that they were sent down to earth to be the great leaders of The Restoration. The Church told us not to expect perfection from its leaders, although we were warned never to speak ill of them. The truth was they were human too. But that’s only half the story.

It wasn’t the half-truths (the half that I was told) that made me leave the Church. It was the other half, the untold half that caused me to realize that Mormonism is not the Way, the Truth, and the Life that leads to reconciliation with God. The Mormon Church, for all the good it may have done over the last couple centuries, is simply a religion that began in the imagination of a man named Joseph Smith and evolved into a massive organization ran by men whose ideals got confused somewhere along the way.

The history shows that Mormonism was never based on truth. It began with a con about Gold Plates that (conveniently) got taken up to heaven, that were never actually seen by the physical eyes of the Three Witnesses, but rather with their “spiritual eyes” (in other words they imagined it).

You see, as members of the Church we were told one thing, but the reality was another.

  • The Urim and Thummim? Smith buried his face in his hat.
  • The angel Moroni? The original story was the angel Nephi.
  • Joseph had a few wives? 40 to be exact, including a 14-year-old and other men’s wives.
  • The Temple Ceremony? Lifted from the Masons.
  • American Indians descended from Jews? DNA proves otherwise.
  • Book of Abraham written by the Patriarch Abraham himself? Uh, not.
  • Early Mormons persecuted? Yes, after doing some pretty horrendous things first.

I didn’t leave the Church because of the things I was taught; I left over the things I wasn’t. When I found out the details they weren’t telling me, they denied it despite the evidence, like a five year old insisting he didn’t get into the cookies when there are crumbs all over his shirt and remnants of chocolate chips in his teeth. And when I got the courage to point out that “the emperor had no clothes,” they demonized me and threatened to excommunicate me simply for speaking the truth.

To those Mormons who are now questioning, whose faith has been shaken, I implore you to do your own research. The Church lied to you about many things; how can you trust that their new “transparency” (think “Perestroika and Glasnost”) is really all that transparent?

  11 Responses to “Joseph Smith’s 40 Wives: It’s What They Didn’t Say”

  1. The gold plates were seen by 3 witnesses and then by 8 witnesses. How many more do you need? Temple ceremony lifted from the Masons? Was ‘tother way round lady. So how do YOU say the American Indians got here? Joseph Smith practiced polygamy because he was commanded to do so, not because he was a dirty lustful man. He admitted he was human and made mistakes but why don’t YOU write something close to the Book of Mormon and see how close you can come. People like you can only find fault. For you, the cup is always half empty. Do you think Joseph Smith WANTED to be thrown in jail? You think he WANTED to be martyred? You think he WANTED 40 wives? I’ll bet he had trouble handling Emma, alone; forget about the other 39. How about David. How many Wives and concubines did he have? Any complaints about HIM? 2,500 was it? And you think 40 is bad? You were never truly converted. You allowed Satan to enter your heart and give you an excuse to go loo for a church that meets your own beliefs. Did you find one? You seem to have a one track mind (sex). I’d work on that if’n I was you. The scriptures tell us “By their fruit ye shall know them.” referring to prophets. How can you ignore all the fruits of the prophets of the LDS church and simply walk away? I hope whatever new church you found gets put under the same microscope as the one you used on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. You will have a lot of regrets when you reach the other side. You embraced the truth, but chose to walk away. How could you? You need to see the gold plates yourself to believe? Doubting Thomasina!!!! Your reason for leaving is bass-ackwards lady. All that learnin’ should count for SOMETHIN’.

    • Dear Mr. Brewer, I’m happy to answer your points one by one.

      The gold plates were seen by 3 witnesses and then by 8 witnesses. How many more do you need?

      The issue is not the number of witnesses, but how credible they are. The Three Witness; Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris, said they had seen the plates “by faith” “in a vision.” All three again affirmed later in their lives that they had only seen the plates with their “spiritual eyes,” not their physical eyes.

      The Eight Witnesses said they had “hefted” the plates, but described them as being in a box with a cloth covering them. In another account the plates were allegedly in a sack. They could have been hefting a box of rocks for all they knew. The stories of these eleven men are not consistent. Eventually, all but three of the living witnesses (Joseph Smith’s father and two brothers) left the Church. Brigham Young stated;

      “Some of the witnesses of the Book of Mormon, who handled the plates and conversed with the angels of God, were afterwards left to doubt and to disbelieve that they had ever seen an angel.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 164).

      Now, I don’t know about you, but if I had seen real angels with my real eyes and beheld physical plates of gold, holding them in my own hands, it would be indelibly etched upon my mind and soul. When I was six years old I met the famous actor Roy Rogers. My mom and I were in a shoe store in Apple Valley, Calif, and I was trying on cowboy boots. My hero, Roy Rogers, walked up to me, bent down to my level and asked, “How’s my little cowgirl?” I’ll never forget it. And Roy Rogers was only an ordinary human. How much more would I remember if he had been a heavenly being?

      Temple ceremony lifted from the Masons? Was ‘tother way round lady.

      The first endowment ceremony was performed by Joseph Smith on the upper floor of his Nauvoo store in 1842. A book by Captain William Morgan, entitled Illustrations of Masonry was copyrighted and printed in 1827 (available on Amazon), 15 years prior. The book goes into detail about the signs, tokens, symbols, and oaths of Freemasonry. An honest comparison indicates that the similarities (many word-for-word and using exact gestures) between Freemasonry and the original LDS endowment are more than just coincidental.

      So how do YOU say the American Indians got here?

      Since I’m not an anthropologist, I can only point you to research by scientists. They conclude that Native American Indians came here over the Bering Strait—a land bridge connecting northeast Asia to modern Alaska—thousands of years ago. DNA studies conclude that their ancestry is a combination of East Asian and Western Eurasian (see articles from National Geographic and Medical News Today). I suppose I could make up a story about how they got here, like Joseph Smith and many others did in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s; however, I prefer to stick with facts.

      Joseph Smith practiced polygamy because he was commanded to do so, not because he was a dirty lustful man.

      Whether or not Smith was a dirty, lustful man is debatable; that he was commanded by God to practice polygamy is improbable. Nowhere in the Bible did God command anyone to practice polygamy. The Patriarchs and Prophets of the Old Testament era lived in a tribal society where such practices were not uncommon, and polygamy was a means to ensure progeny when the wife was barren.

      The first polygamist recorded in the Bible was the wicked Lamech (Genesis 4:19). Abraham took Hagar as a concubine (not a wife) at the behest of Sarah. Abraham and Sarah’s use of a concubine was an act of unbelief that God could miraculously cause Sarah to conceive a child, so they took matters into their own hands. Jacob had four wives due initially to his uncle’s trickery and subsequently to Leah and Rachel’s insistence in trying to outdo one another in childbearing. In none of this was God consulted.

      You think he WANTED 40 wives? I’ll bet he had trouble handling Emma, alone; forget about the other 39.

      Apparently Joseph DID want 40 wives or he would not have “married” them.

      How about David. How many Wives and concubines did he have? Any complaints about HIM? 2,500 was it?

      Scripture alludes to David having seven wives (1 Chronicles 3), far less than your assertion he had 2,500. Solomon had 700 wives (princesses) and 300 concubines. These were political alliances, many of which God had instructed Israelites not to intermarry with. Solomon’s wives turned his heart away from God and lead him into idolatry.

      And you think 40 is bad?

      It isn’t whether or not I think having 40 is bad. The number of plural wives isn’t the issue, regardless of if he had four wives or 40. The issue is that all the evidence indicates Smith’s “revelation” to practice polygamy was an excuse for dalliances. There is no Biblical precedent for polygamy to be the established order. Furthermore, bigamy, polygamy, and polyandry were illegal in the United States.

      Based on God’s integrity, character, and holiness, as well as His teachings on the sanctity of marriage, is it likely that God would command a man (prophet or not) to take another man’s wife as his own? Or as in Smith’s case to take 11 wives from other men and then lie about it to Emma, Church members, and the public?

      He admitted he was human and made mistakes but why don’t YOU write something close to the Book of Mormon and see how close you can come.

      I’m a good writer, but fiction is not my forte. With all due respect (and considering that about 433 BoM verses are lifted from Isaiah), the Book of Mormon is not the most creative literary endeavor. Consider authors like J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Terry Goodkind, Orson Scott Card, and countless others who write tomes detailing different worlds, societies, governments, coinage, characters, and plots! Such imagination and ability can hardly be fathomed. And while the Book of Mormon doesn’t come close to the amazing masterpieces penned by those authors, Joseph Smith was not an ignoramus. You don’t seem to give him enough credit.

      People like you can only find fault. For you, the cup is always half empty.

      What do you mean by this, and from what do you infer this is the case? You don’t know me; therefore you have no direct knowledge of what kind of people I’m like and whether or not “the cup is always half empty” in my perspective. Let me ask you this: if you were about to buy a new house, car, or computer, would you not do some research first to find out if there are any problems with the structure or the product? Is that “finding fault?” Or, if you were deciding who to vote for in an election, would you not first examine the character and record of the candidate? Is that viewing “the cup as half empty?” If you would be prudent in worldly things, how much more important is it to examine eternal things?

      Do you think Joseph Smith WANTED to be thrown in jail?

      I’m certain that Butch Cassidy, Charles Ponzi, and Warren Jeffs didn’t want to be thrown in jail either.

      You think he WANTED to be martyred?

      Martyrs are individuals killed because of their religious beliefs. Joseph Smith was not killed specifically because of his Mormon beliefs. He had made enemies for political and economic reasons as well. Smith was in jail because he issued two orders for the Nauvoo Expositor printing press to be destroyed, an unlawful act against a free press (First Amendment), as well as the destruction of private property. He was responsible for a cadre of several hundred men led by the town marshal to carry out this violent act.

      An arrest warrant was issued for Joseph and 17 others. Smith fled the jurisdiction to avoid arrest. Eventually he was caught and charged with inciting a riot and for treason against the state of Illinois. While incarcerated and awaiting trial, a mob converged upon the jail to attack Smith and those with him. Smith was not unarmed. Before he was killed, he shot three men, two of whom died from their wounds. While it was awful that Smith was killed, he was not a martyr by any means.

      You were never truly converted. You allowed Satan to enter your heart and give you an excuse to go look for a church that meets your own beliefs. Did you find one?

      You seem to make judgments that are beyond your ability to ascertain. You don’t know my heart. You don’t know my life. I presume you didn’t take the time to read my book, because if you did, I believe you wouldn’t be so quick to judge. It isn’t fair for you to make these assumptions and accusations without knowing me or my motives.

      You seem to have a one track mind (sex). I’d work on that if’n I was you.

      Actually that train was derailed a long time ago. Seeing how I’ve only had two husbands (and not simultaneously), sex would be less on my mind than a man with 40 wives. Do you have children? Ask your wife if taking care of preschoolers, toddlers, and nursing babies and maintaining a household is conducive to romance. I have ten children (still raising the tail end). I can tell you firsthand that sex is the last thing on my mind. In fact, I’m not even sure I had sex to conceive my kids. All I had to do was stand downwind of my husband in a stiff breeze and Bam! Bun in the oven.

      The scriptures tell us “By their fruit ye shall know them.” referring to prophets. How can you ignore all the fruits of the prophets of the LDS church and simply walk away?

      You’re absolutely right. “By their fruits…” And what are the fruits of the LDS prophets? False teachings. Polytheism. Replacement theology. Doctrines that elevate man to the level of God and that lower God to the level of man. Characterizing God as dishonest. The Pearl of Great Price has “God” telling Abram to lie to the Pharaoh of Egypt about his relationship with Sarai. D&C 19 has “Jesus” admitting that he was playing word games with his name just to scare the h*ll out of people to keep them in line.

      The book of Jacob (BoM) says David and Solomon’s polygamy was an abomination to the Lord, and D&C 132 contradicts it by saying the Lord gave them all their wives and concubines.

      One LDS prophet preaches that something is doctrine (Adam-god, polygamy, men can become gods, white people more valiant in the preexistence than dark-skinned people) and then a later prophet says that the previous prophet was just giving his opinion.

      The fruits of LDS prophets are confusion, contradiction, opinion, speculation, revisions, and reversals peppered with admonitions to love your neighbor, be nice to your family, and pay a full tithe. And don’t ask questions.

      I hope whatever new church you found gets put under the same microscope as the one you used on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

      My walk with God isn’t about a “church.” It’s not about membership in or affiliation with a particular organization. The real church is invisible; meaning that it’s comprised of those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ).

      I take my salvation and relationship with God seriously; enough to put all religions under a microscope. That’s why I don’t identify myself with any particular religious organization. I identify myself with Jesus Christ and Him alone.

      You will have a lot of regrets when you reach the other side. You embraced the truth, but chose to walk away. How could you?

      Everyone will have regrets when they reach the other side, but God will “wipe away every tear” (Revelation 21:4) of those who belong to Him. I chose to walk away from false religion so that I could embrace the truth. How could I? Because truth was more important to me than personal comfort and convenience.

      A definition of truth is when the Word and Deed become one. In other words, concept and reality must be in agreement. If the facts don’t align with the claims, then you don’t have truth, no matter how good you feel about a matter. In the case of Mormonism, the claims and the facts don’t align.

      You need to see the gold plates yourself to believe? Doubting Thomasina!!!! Your reason for leaving is bass-ackwards lady. All that learnin’ should count for SOMETHIN’.

      Do you need to hear President Monson declare over the pulpit that Mormonism is based on deception and fraud before you disbelieve? Hard-hearted Pharaoh!!! Is your reason for staying “bass-ackwards?” Since I don’t know you I cannot say; but I implore you to get as much “learnin’” as you can; your eternal destiny depends on it.

      • What a great response to Marvin! I will pray that God will open his eyes to truth and will release him from the bondage of a false religion and bring him to a saving relationship with the biblical Jesus. I thank God every day for the joy and peace I now have since He drew me out of mormonism and to Himself.

  2. @ Mormonismandme Awesome reply to a very ignorant human being!

  3. Beautifully stated! That is the reason why I left also, because when I started researching Mormonism it wasn’t aligning with the Bible which I was told it did. I was outraged that Joseph Smith stated he was better than Jesus! Really?!! Blasphemy!! I will never follow a man in life or death that says he is better than my Lord and Savior! History of the Church Vol. 6 pg. 408-409 I fear for anyone’s soul that would follow such a man.

  4. I felt that you and I one in Christ because these are the very things I have thought and said to mormons I know and meet. Thanks so much.

  5. This reply is beautiful and well thought out and much better than the commenters accusatory and judgmental attack deserved. Thank you for being such a wonderful and loving voice of reason!

  6. Tracy, where can I get a copy of your book?

    • You can get a copy of my book online through Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or other booksellers in paperback or eBook formats. You can also just click on this link to purchase. Thanks!

  7. Tracy, by the way that was an excellent responce

  8. Excellent response. Our relationship is with the one true God…religion does not determine grace. Grace is the free gift of God. We are one body, not one church or religion. We are one in the Lord. Bless you! I will find and read your book. Just reading your response to the misguided Mr. Brewer was compelling. Bless you and keep speaking the truth in love!

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