Joseph Smith, founder of the LDS Church in 1830, was married to Emma Hale in 1827. He began practicing polygyny (one husband, more than one wife) in 1836 when he took Fannie Alger to be his second “bride.” In 1838 (estimated) he “married” Lucinda Pendleton Morgan Harris, wife of G.W. Harris. Forty-nine wives – at least twelve of whom had living husbands – were serially acquired by Joseph Smith and have been documented. Smith’s biographer, Fawn Brodie, believes he may have married as many as 65 women. He married five pairs of sisters and a mother and daughter. Six of the girls he married were living at various times as wards in his own home; Smith was their guardian.
He claimed he had a “revelation” from God about plural wives (but not about plural husbands for women:D). At the urging of his brother Hyrum, who also had several wives, he wrote the “revelation” he purportedly received from God. Hyrum then took it to Emma, including God’s statement that He would destroy her if she didn’t accept it. Emma was not pleased. His “revelation” concerning “celestial marriage” became Section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants (Mormon “scripture”).
“If any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then he is justified; he cannot commit adultery…and if he have ten virgins given unto him by the law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him. . .”
Joseph didn’t obey his “new law” about the “spouses” “not having vowed to no other man.” He married whomever he wished, whether they were already married or not.
Western Civilization’s two highest achievements are monotheism and raising the status of women from chattel to equality with men – the very achievements which Mormonism undermines with its polytheistic (or henotheistic), polygynous doctrines.
What is your opinion about the effect polygynous marriage has on women? Mormon polygyny – old men married to several wives, many of them very young girls – is a fact of life in my state (Arizona).
If same-sex marriage is approved by our judicial system can legalized polygamy (definition: one husband, two or more wives; one wife, two or more husbands; or any form of plural marriage) be far behind?
Reference: No Man Knows My History, The Life of Joseph Smith, by Fawn M. Brodie, Second Edition, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1979