Mormons, What is your Position on Joseph Smith's Sexual Morality?

Joseph Smith clearly strayed from Christian teaching on marriage and sex.

How do Mormons deal with this?

Info:

i4m.com/think/history/joseph_smith_sex.htm

Chesterton:

I think they will point out that polygamy was acceptable in Mormonism at Smith’s time, and was only subsequently revealed to be unacceptable. The teaching changed.

P.S. It has taken great restraint on my part to not take advantage of your including the words “position” and “sexual” in the same thread title. I realize this is a famliy thread.

It is only clear to those who have no interest in learning the facts from both sides.
Here is a link to counter your link. (if it is against board policy to link to site that will counter the arguments of a link posted by another…sorry)
fairlds.org/apol/ai049.html

As I pointed out on the other thread, there are some pretty prominent OT figures that would have strayed from Christian teaching on marriage and sex too. They are revered and found favor in the sight of the Lord. How is that if the Lord does not change?

To address your concerns over what is “clear” we need to establish whether or not we agree that there is a Christian teaching advocating monogamy over polygamy. Is it fair to say you disagree?

To your point about OT figures (and I think there are NT as well), Christianity formed in a culture and part of the world where polygamy was acceptable (still is). Christian monogamy became a differentiator of Christian morality pretty early on, however. Similar arguments were made for slavery, I might add. Likewise, many OT practices were discontinued as Christianity took root (sacraficed any goats lately)?

Agreed. LDS advocate monogamy too. Polygamy, as commanded, was not a free-for-all. It had strict regulations and guidelines to be followed. Where David and Solomon went wrong was to step outside of what the Lord had given them.
Not all Christian teachings started at the time of Christ’s mortal ministry, otherwise the OT would have no relevance. What the OT stresses is that when the Lord commands something be done, it is best that you do it, whether it be wiping out an entire city, sacrificing your son, preaching to a violent city, or taking more than one wife.
Currently, the Lord has commanded plural marriage be stopped.

your point about OT figures (and I think there are NT as well), Christianity formed in a culture and part of the world where polygamy was acceptable (still is). Christian monogamy became a differentiator of Christian morality pretty early on, however. Similar arguments were made for slavery, I might add. Likewise, many OT practices were discontinued as Christianity took root (sacraficed any goats lately)?

Are you saying that morality changes with the times or is constant? If plural marriage was acceptable to the Lord under certain circumstances, who are we to limit God on what those circumstances are. Isn’t it the Lord who dictates what is acceptable, and when?

I understand why plural marriage is objectionable, it was not received well when it was given either, and I am happy that I do not have to worry about it now.

PS - is there something I can do to keep from being logged out every 5 minutes or so? Frustrationg not being able to post a response without being logged out…

Jesus was clear that marriage is for one man and one woman.

Joseph Smith claimed that Christianity had become corrupt then he went on to practice and preach sexual immorality that was not acceptable by Christians or OT men of God.

How do you deal with that?

Why should anyone take Joseph Smith seriously?

God permitted polygamy in the OT, he never APPROVED of it. The New Covenant holds man to a higher standard. It is called evolution of man’s understanding of what God wants for us.

True. I’m just applying the label ‘Christian’ to teachings held post-Christ. Before Christ is probably best labelled Jewish, no?

Does the OT command polygamy, or did OT society tolerate it?

I understand the term morality as “rules of behavior”, which is not the same thing as doctrine. Truth doesn’t change, God’s standards don’t change. Rules of behavior do change.

Divorce was also tolerated in certain circumstances, but I wouldn’t say acceptable, and certainly isn’t ideal. I don’t think plural marriage was ever God’s ideal plan for marriage, but the OT and NT personages were dealing with the reality on the ground in the times they lived. One of the things that in my mind testifies to the truth of the OT is that the people in it are not described in flattering terms: David’s and Solomon’s sins are recounted as well as their triumphs. People are presented as they are, in grubby detail - the reader knows God doesn’t approve of all they did. He forgives them over and over.

Yes - One woman is more than enough. ;):wink:

Sorry, about that. My wife is going to hit me.

There is a “Remember me” radio-button when you log in. Maybe try that. But I am not a technical guru.

The scriptures state that all of David’s wives and concubines were given to him by God, and if he had wanted more, God would have given him more.

7 ¶ And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul;
8 And I gave thee thy master’s house, and thy master’s wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things.

Doesn’t sound like it was merely tolerated.

That was the assumption of the author of that passage. However, he was actually the recipient of the wealth with which he could feed and house more than one wife, and all the children. If he could not handle that (remember Bathsheba?) then he would bear the consequences. And what percent of the male population of this world has the wealth and personality characteristics to handle more than one wife? LOL. Men have this strong tendency, call it the male ego, to take on more than they can handle. :smiley:

Too many sins can follow from polygamy. So why not avoid the occasion of sin?

Fortunately, I do not have to “deal” with that because it is a false accusation.
Polygamy was not acceptable by OT men of God? I suppose that excludes Abraham from being a man of God. Not only did he have more than one wife, but had concubines.
Isaac, Jacob? Plural marriages. David, Solomon? Ditto.
These were all men selected by God, that you are implying they were not men of God.

Why should anyone take Joseph Smith seriously?

That is for each individual to answer for themselves.

The point of that passage is that everything David had in terms of position status, being King, having all the wives, he owed to God - yet he had to go out and have Bathsheba too. If Nathan had added to the list of stuff David had “three Ferraris and and an air-conditioned palace”, you wouldn’t read that as an endorsement by God of sportcar ownership, would you?

When you get to Solomon, you have even less of a case for polygamy, as it is Solomon’s many wives who lead him to worship other Gods than the one true God.

By the time we get to Paul, we learn that for elders and deacons, an important criterion is “husband of one wife”.

I forgot about it earlier, but have a look at Deut. 17:14 for some additional thoughts on how many wives the King of Israel should have, and what the consequences might be if he has more than one:

When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, “Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us,” 15 be sure to appoint over you the king the LORD your God chooses. He must be from among your own brothers. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not a brother Israelite. 16 The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the LORD has told you, “You are not to go back that way again.” 17 He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.

I read it that the very idea of having a King in the first place is not a good idea, but if you have one, pick the one God chooses, and don’t let him take many wives. Hardly an endorsement of polygamy, but it is a recognition that men lust after many things: women, horses (think Ferrari), gold, etc.

I can agree with that, but remember, Jesus Christ did not come to found his own church, but to restore the religion/faith of the decendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Does the OT command polygamy, or did OT society tolerate it?

In 2 Samuel 12, when Nathan confronted David, this was said:
“9 Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon.”
Now I know this may be a stretch from your view point, but taking Uriah’s wife is lumped in with the commandments David despised(along with having Uriah killed - not trying to downplay that). It is not the number of wives David has, but the taking of one that was not approved. Same thing with Solomon.

I understand the term morality as “rules of behavior”, which is not the same thing as doctrine. Truth doesn’t change, God’s standards don’t change. Rules of behavior do change.

I can understand that, plural marriage is/was a practice that can change, and it has.

Divorce was also tolerated in certain circumstances, but I wouldn’t say acceptable, and certainly isn’t ideal. I don’t think plural marriage was ever God’s ideal plan for marriage, but the OT and NT personages were dealing with the reality on the ground in the times they lived. One of the things that in my mind testifies to the truth of the OT is that the people in it are not described in flattering terms: David’s and Solomon’s sins are recounted as well as their triumphs. People are presented as they are, in grubby detail - the reader knows God doesn’t approve of all they did. He forgives them over and over.

Divorce is addressed explicitly in the scriptures as a result of the weaknesses of men. Plural marriage is not, and is actually approved of by God in the circumstances I have mentioned.
Joseph Smith’s life is pretty much an open book. It has been laid out in more detail than anyone in the OT. If there was a figure in the OT that had a life identical to Joseph’s, he would be lumped together with the prophets of old.

Yes - One woman is more than enough. ;):wink:

Sorry, about that. My wife is going to hit me.

:thumbsup:

There is a “Remember me” radio-button when you log in. Maybe try that. But I am not a technical guru.

Thanks…so far it’s working.

Isaac, Jacob, Solomon, David, etc. were practicing what was culturally acceptable. Not what God had ordered marriage to be from the beginning (see Mark 10).

Mormons interpret the Bible in a similar fashion to atheists, that is, very literally, believing that if something is recorded, it means God ordered or approved of it. This is taking the wrong approach to scripture.

Please, if you claim to be Christians, then understand what Christ taught about marriage. That is the law that Christians follow. Not that of Smith or anyone else.

Christ and The Twelve were single; not polygamists like the founders of the Latter Day Saint Movement…

LDS have a basic misunderstanding of the Old Testament with regards to polygamy. They will often say that God commanded polygamy in the Old Testament, but this is nowhere found in the bible. God never commanded anyone in the bible to take plural wives. So where do they get this idea? It comes from Mormon scriptures–not the bible.

Now it is true that God permitted polygamy in the Old Testament, but that is a lot different from commanding it, as with the Mormons in modern times. So why did God permit polygamy in the Old Testament? To understand that, one must understand what happened when Israel broke the covenant with God when they made and worshipped the golden calf in the desert. Ever since the Israelites left Egypt, God had been trying to cure them of their addictions to the pagan gods and depraved practices (acquired over 400 years of living among a pagan society). But the Israelites proved to be a stiffnecked people, and the golden calf was the last straw.

The Israelites demonstrated to God that they were unwilling to live as trusting sons and daughters of God. As a result of this rebellion, God in effect put the Israelites on probation by instituting a multitude of new laws as chronicled in Deuteronomy. So what did their probation entail? The priesthood was taken away from all the tribes except the Levites, the only tribe that remained faithful. All kinds of restrictive dietary rules were enacted. Moses now permitted divorce for the first time because the Israelites had proven unable to live out marriage the way God had intended. And polygamy was now also permitted for the same reason. You see, polygamy was a practice of all the pagan kingdoms surrounding the Israelites, and they wanted to be like the other kingdoms, so God in effect said, “You asked for it, now you got it!” Often the punishment for sin is for God to allow us to continue in our sin and suffer the natural consequences. Look at all the mentions of polygamy in the Old Testament. They always end up badly.

What about before Moses? Mormons often claim that Abraham was commanded to be polygamous. This they get from their own LDS scriptures, not the bible. God never commanded Abraham to take multiple wives. God promissed Abraham that Sarah would conceive a child and that Abraham’s decendants would be as numerous as the stars. As time went by and Sarah did not conceive, Sarah lost her faith in God’s promise and told Abraham to take her servant Haggar as a concubine that so Haggar could bear a child for her. Abraham did so reluctantly and Haggar bore Ishmael. How did that work out for Abraham’s family? It tore them in two. After Sarah did eventually conceive (as promissed) and bore Isaac, she didn’t want anything to do with Haggar or Ishmael, so she forced Abraham to send them away from the tribe. Oh, and by the way, Ishmael is the father of the Arab race, and we all know how that family feud has been going on for centuries. If I were LDS I would not point to this instance as any kind of endorsement of polygamy. If anything, it’s just another example of how polygamy spells trouble, both then and now.

In the New Testament Jesus is asked about whether it is permissble for a man to put away his wife (divorce). What was his response? Jesus said that Moses permitted divorce because of the hardness of their (Israel’s) hearts, but in the beginning it was not so. Jesus says that what God has joined (sacrament of marriage), man is to not put asunder. The superior, and original, institution of marriage is a permanent, unbreakable bond. In the same way polygamy, like divorce, was permitted because of the hardness of Israel’s hearts. This is a far cry from the Mormon version.

Yes, I agree that the reason David is in trouble with God is the specific acts of adultery (Bathsheba) and murder (Uriah).

But as I read the text, Nathan is saying in effect “God gave you (David) everything you desired (kingship, wives, lands, etc.) and you (David) still went out and blew him off and broke his commandments (by adultery with Bathsheb and killing Uriah)!” I can’t read that as saying that God is endorsing acquiring politcal positions, wives and lands. He is listing all the stuff that David had and liked, and saying “God gave you this”.

I think the Deut. 17:17 (Here is how it goes in KJV): "17Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold. " sets the tone for what God really wanted from the King of Israel. The story of David is that he was a man after God’s heart but that he stumbles many times. It is a consistent theme. I don’t think we can just go out and live like David and say, “Well, David did it, and he was a man of God!” (I’m not going dance naked in front of the Temple.)

You are right that God permitted polygamy in OT and NT times, but God permits things that are not right or good. In our society, we tolerate homosexuals (morality) in a way that the people of David’s time (also morality) never would have. Doesn’t make it right or ideal.

I still haven’t seen an answer to the above question.

Are you asking for Chester to provide the verse, or for others to refute it?
I would ask that Chester should provide a reference to prove his statement.

I agree with this because that is what I am saying. He was okay as long as he stayed with what God have given him. It is when he strayed there was a problem.

When you get to Solomon, you have even less of a case for polygamy, as it is Solomon’s many wives who lead him to worship other Gods than the one true God.

Not a problem at all. 1 Kings 11:

But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites;
2 Of the nations concerning which the Lord said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love.

Again, it was not the number of wives but those that were not approved.

By the time we get to Paul, we learn that for elders and deacons, an important criterion is “husband of one wife”.

No argument there, by that time the practice was discontinued.

I forgot about it earlier, but have a look at Deut. 17:14 for some additional thoughts on how many wives the King of Israel should have, and what the consequences might be if he has more than one:

When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, “Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us,” 15 be sure to appoint over you the king the LORD your God chooses. He must be from among your own brothers. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not a brother Israelite. 16 The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the LORD has told you, “You are not to go back that way again.” 17 He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.

I read it that the very idea of having a King in the first place is not a good idea, but if you have one, pick the one God chooses, and don’t let him take many wives. Hardly an endorsement of polygamy, but it is a recognition that men lust after many things: women, horses (think Ferrari), gold, etc.

In the verses you cite it says “He must not take many wives,…”. In the KJV it states “Neither shall he multiply wives to himself,”.
I hate to split hairs, but it doesn’t quantify “many”, neither does it eliminate wives that are given by the Lord.
David’s wives were given to him by the Lord, and Solomon did not run into trouble until he went after “strange women”, or women not approved of by God.
It was not the number of wives, but going outside of the Lord’s boudries.

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