LDS transparency: J Smith marriage to 14 yr old

Just read a few sources gleaned from MSN home page re: a essay released by the LDS that Joseph Smith’s numerous “marriages” especially to that of a 14 year old girl as well as up to 50 women (perhaps both polygamy & polyandry involved here). The angels made him do it! Why did the brethren allow this essay out to the public? Wasn’t the US Cavalry involved chasing after their leaders early on?

Opinions anyone? :smiley:

Here is the essay: I believe the brotheren presented this essay because the LDS church has been accused of white washing history. This appears to be an attempt to correct some of that by acknowledge difficult facts. I welcome a change in this direction and have felt it was needed for a number of years.

Of course polygamy was practiced by Old Testament prophets. Joseph upon asking God about the practice was commanded to practice the same. From accounts it appears Joseph struggled with this commandment. The essay says:

After receiving the commandment, he taught a few associates about it, but he did not spread this teaching widely in the 1830s. When God commands a difficult task, He sometimes sends additional messengers to encourage His people to obey. Consistent with this pattern, Joseph told associates that an angel appeared to him three times between 1834 and 1842 and commanded him to proceed with plural marriage when he hesitated to move forward. During the third and final appearance, the angel came with a drawn sword, threatening Joseph with destruction unless he went forward and obeyed the commandment fully.

Now, people not of the LDS faith do not believe this was a commandment of the Lord. Those who are LDS believe it was. If angels came from God and commanded it, who can deny it? If they did not, then Joseph is a sex crazed maniac. On this hinge hangs understanding (or not) of what Joseph and those involved did.

Regarding polyandry, the essay points out a distinction recognized at the time between marriages for time and marriages for eternity by saying, “Sealings for time and eternity included commitments and relationships during this life, generally including the possibility of sexual relations. Eternity-only sealings indicated relationships in the next life alone”. Most critics of the church try to blur this distinction and the fact that no evidence has been found of Joseph having any sexual relations with these married women.

There is also a section regarding Helen Kimball who was fourteen when sealed to Joseph. The essay points out:

Marriage at such an age, inappropriate by today’s standards, was legal in that era, and some women married in their mid-teens. Helen Mar Kimball spoke of her sealing to Joseph as being “for eternity alone,” suggesting that the relationship did not involve sexual relations. After Joseph’s death, Helen remarried and became an articulate defender of him and of plural marriage.

There is also another new essay put out by the LDS church detailing how plural marriage ended:

I don’t know a whole lot about Mormonism but what I do know about it is that J. Smith was secretly a polygamist and it was “revealed” to him by an angel of God that without plurality of marriage, that is one man with many wives, a man couldn’t become a god and therefore he wouldn’t be exalted in Heaven. He wrote about this after the main documents, the Book of Mormon was already written and as it’s Prophet could add to that body of doctrine at will up until death. But most folks of his day were adverse to such nonsense, it had to be kept secret. As for the ages of some of his “wives” the knowledge I have says the youngest was 15 not 14, as if that makes a whole lot of difference. There is also documentation that some of his wives were married to other men, but since being “sealed” to Joseph Smith gave the possibility to be resurrected in Heaven, of course what woman wouldn’t want to sleep with him married to a mere man, when you could sleep with the Prophet and get to Heaven for it! Hello? The same principle existed for the first presidents of their sect and even exists today although Mormonism has split into various camps, LDS and FLDS. The FLDS groups practice pluraity of marriage behind closed doors because it is illegal. Each splinter group has it’s own Prophet who leads them. Warren Jeffs was only one such “Prophet.” The LDS no longer have plurality of marriage as a fundamental belief, yet the first dozen presidents all had many wives because without many wives, a man couldn’t become a god and be exalted in Heaven. That is what they believed and practiced in private, while in public, they denied that they were having many wives. They had a public face and a private face, They also convinced the women they used for this polygamy that they’d be damned to Hell and destroyed if they didn’t submit in all things to their husband’s wishes for many wives. It was the hubby who was resurrected in Heaven as a god and then he resurrects the wives. If you weren’t sealed to a man in a polygamist marriage, then you had no hope of getting to Heaven at all if you were a woman. It was the only way you could be saved. Not “sealed” to a man in a plural marriage, then you weren’t ever going to see Heaven. Period. Sound too far fetched? But that is what they believe.

Now about some opinion: If gay marriage manages to pass as law in our land, then the LDS and the FLDS will be able to be one again because then all of these “marriages” will not be able to be called illegal because marriage itself will be decided by the parties involved. I think if same sex marriages happen in the States then they will have legal legs under them to reverse their State’s laws and they will be allowed out of hiding regarding their marriages. It may take some work, but with the right judges, you’ll be able to get it made law or rather it will become something un-challengable.

I also think that if you don’t believe in something, you’ll fall for anything.

I have nothing in my heart but pity for the women who get so mistreated and abused in such a setting as they are in that all I want to do is reach out in some way to let them know Jesus Christ and His healing ability in His Church. Being a woman I can only imagine the personal hell of being used as a repository for the seed of a man who is working on becoming a god by calling little angels down out of Heaven and planting them in my womb so as to populate the planet so he can one day have his own planet where my fertility in this life will be made manifest because I will be “resurrected” by him to have lots of sex and babies till a whole planet is filled! Breeding in a polygamist sect to get to Heaven and the only thing that matters is some man’s sexual satisfaction and that has got to be devastating to the psyche’s of these poor women. They exist to make babies. That’s all. It is heart rending.


Your post is offensive and does not represent LDS beliefs. Perhaps when I have more time I can address specific points.

I’m neither LDS or Catholic, but based on what I know (I am not a scholar on any of this)…

It was not unusual at that time for girls to marry at 14. It was not unusual for people to marry for reasons other than romantic love. Many marriages were arranged for financial, cultural or religious reasons.

Many religions have some very specific teachings that don’t make much sense and are even seen as wacky by people who don’t share the faith.

Many religions, perhaps most, at some time have been hunted down, chased, persecuted and reviled by others and the government has gotten involved in the persecution.

Many religions have practiced and encouraged polygamy, again, for financial, cultural and religious purposes.

While I have heard some very sad stories of abuse and misery among Mormons, I have likewise heard some very sad stories of abuse and misery among people of many religions.

Yes, most of us who have researched our family history can give examples.

It was in 19th century America, and still is, unacceptable for a married man in his thirties to chase after the 14 year old daughter of a friend. Also, it was not usual for a single man in his thirties to marry a 14 year old girl. If there where a young girl getting married, it would be to a young man. And finally, the median age for marriage of a woman at the time was 20-22 years of age. So yes, Smith chasing after 14 year old Helen was unusual.

We could argue all day on this one, but no matter the mean age statistically, I have read diaries and know of family histories of the time where it wasn’t uncommon, and in fact it was MORE common if the man was a family friend, because the parents felt safe to let their daughter go to him.

It was NOT common for a 14 yr old to marry say a 19 year old who did not yet have a solid means to support a family.

While this situation was not the norm, it wasn’t necessarily “out there” either.

For whatever mysterious reasons, many people God has chosen over history as part of his divine plan have been notorious sinners. So even if Smith was a reprobate, that does not mean he was not chosen and did not receive revelation.

If we start picking apart most religions and their history we will be hard pressed to find one that does not have someone who was involved in the defining of the faith that was not deeply involved in sin themselves.

I don’t make the rules, I just see what I see in various religions. God does what he will with whom he will.

Sorry, but I think you have to be really gullible to believe anything Smith claimed. Angels with flaming swords commanding you to get the young girl? Really? You think God would send a messenger for that purpose?

I don’t see it as a matter of historical significance, other than, a married man in his thirties claiming an angel told him to get going on collecting wives, cannot in any be defended by pointing to normal relationships. It is excuse making after the fact.

A sexual predator seeks to gain the trust of their prey and their families. That’s a fact.

I’m not a scholar. I never met Smith or the other parties involved. I was asked for my opinion and I offered it. I’m not Mormon and am not arguing for the validity of all Smith did or of the beliefs of their faith.

But the reality is that many religions leaders, prophets, etc were people who behaved in ways that were absolutely unusual and what I would call scandalous and reprehensible, yet their followers claim that on matters of faith, they were in the right.

I have no idea what an angel of God did or did not say to Smith, but from what I have heard about God, from those who know him well, he is not above asking very unusual things from those who serve him.

That IS a fact, but it is also a fact that not everyone who seeks to gain the trust of a person and their family is a sexual predator.

I was not there. I don’t know the family. I don’t know Smith.

As I said, you may be privy to information I do not have.

In 1843 Apostle Heber C. Kimball had an important talk with his only daughter, fourteen-year-old Helen Mar. She wrote: “Without any preliminaries [my Father] asked me if I would believe him if he told me that it was right for married men to take other wives…The first impulse was anger…my sensibilities were painfully touched. I felt such a sense of personal injury and displeasure; for to mention such a thing to me I thought altogether unworthy of my father, and as quick as he spoke, I replied to him, short and emphatically, ‘No I wouldn’t!’…This was the first time that I ever openly manifested anger towards him…Then he commenced talking seriously and reasoned and explained the principle, and why it was again to be established upon the earth. [This] had a similar effect to a sudden shock of a small earthquake.”

Then father “asked me if I would be sealed to Joseph…[and] left me to reflect upon it for the next twenty-four hours…I was sceptical-one minute believed, then doubted. I thought of the love and tenderness that he felt for his only daughter, and I knew that he would not cast her off, and this was the only convincing proof that I had of its being right. I knew that he loved me too well to teach me anything that was not strictly pure, virtuous and exalting in its tendencies; and no one else could have influenced me at that time or brought me to accept of a doctrine so utterly repugnant and so contrary to all of our former ideas and traditions.” Unknown to Helen Mar, Heber and Joseph had already discussed the prospect of Helen Mar becoming one of Joseph’s wives. Heber now sought her agreement. Helen recalls, “Having a great desire to be connected with the Prophet Joseph, he offered me to him; this I afterwards learned from the Prophet’s own mouth. My father had but one Ewe Lamb, but willingly laid her upon the alter”

The next morning Joseph visited the Kimball home. "[He explained] the principle of Celestial marrage…After which he said to me, ‘If you will take this step, it will ensure your eternal salvation & exaltation and that of your father’s household & all of your kindred.‘] This promise was so great that I willingly gave myself to purchase so glorious a reward. None but God & his angels could see my mother’s bleeding heart-when Joseph asked her if she was willing…She had witnessed the sufferings of others, who were older & who better understood the step they were taking, & to see her child, who had scarcely seen her fifteenth summer, following in the same thorny path, in her mind she saw the misery which was as sure to come…; but it was all hidden from me.” Helen’s mother reluctantly agreed and in May of 1843, Helen married Joseph Smith.

If the predator and prey can’t be seen in this account, then I have nothing more to add.

Again, I can only repeat, this does not prove anything about the validity of the revelations to Smith.

There are multitudes of similar stories in many faiths. Many were called to do things they did not want to and saw no good coming from it, or saw nothing but misery for them in following the dictates of their faith, or the request of their parent, all to gain spiritual/eternal reward.

Indeed some people say that such experiences are actually PROOF of the validity of their faith.

Breaking this question down to this was illuminating for me. The historical record is clear enough to show Joseph Smith did not have a great deal of sex as a product of his teachings on polygamy. If polygamy was instituted by the man Joseph Smith it seems obvious to me that it would be initiated for sex AND obvious that the historical record evidence much more sex than we can discern. If, as I suggest, the historical record witnesses against sex as motive, the alternative explanation (from God) becomes much more likely. And “from God” aligns very well with the historical records we have.
Charity, TOm


Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Do you believe God asks a person to act contrary to his commandments.

What a world we live in.

You leave out power. There are more instances than one where I think Joseph was going for how far people would follow him. What an amazing thing it must have been to have men turning over their daughters and wives to him, no?

Also, the historical records show that a doctor living in Nauvoo was performing abortions.

They are different faiths. And throughout history people have had all manner of revelations they say are from God.

They are contrary to the commandments God gave Moses, Jesus initiated a new Covenant and it is my understanding that there were things in the Mosaic law (though not the commandments) that people were no longer subject to…

As I said, throughout history God has (if his followers are to be believed) asked all manner of things from those who he has called. This is by their own words, not something I, from the outside, assign to them.

I can’t hold the Mormons subject to the teachings of Catholicism any more than I can hold Catholics subject to the teachings of Mormonism.

Many faiths have teachings, which when not understood through the eyes of faith, or for their mystical significance, appear abhorrent and bizarre to others.

It is my understanding that Catholics believe that Mary was given in marriage, when still a young teen to a man quite a bit older than her. But Catholics understand that the very important and eternal spiritual significance, and though in spite of a life of suffering, even to watching her son tortured and killed, it was all for the glory of God, and ultimately herself.

Indeed that would be considered a rather odd thing for an all powerful God to request of his obedient and loving servant, yet there it is.

People who do not have the gift of faith, cannot understand.

A religion that claims to be Christian can, and should be, held to the teachings of Jesus. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Relativism isn’t the way towards truth.

Btw I was raised LDS, have polygamists ancestors in my family line, and all of my family are Mormon. I understand what the Mormon Church teaches, and I understand what they hide as well. Spiritual wifery was brought into Nauvoo by a man named John Bennett, who was a follower of Jacob Cochran. He lived in the Smith home, and ran a brothel in Nauvoo.

Spiritual wifery was a cult practice, where the leaders of the group claimed divine prerogative and revelation, for sexual relations outside of their marriages. The boundaries of marriage mean nothing. Nothing different than any cult leader who claims the same, from Smith, to David Koresh, to Warren Jeffs.

I suppose if you think, oh well, some religions do that, fine, but I see it as criminal. Fraud putting on the cloak of religion.

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