July 4th is a day of fireworks here in the United States. Polygamy can bring out some explosive opinions too! Last week I posted 2 episodes with Brian Hales dealing with (1) Joseph Smith’s polyandrous wives, and (2) his teen brides. Brian makes the case that Joseph never had sexual relations with either of this subset of wives. You may remember that Brian originally argued that Josephine Lyons was the offspring of Joseph Smith & Sylvia Lyons. However a DNA test revealed that Josephine was the offspring of Windsor and Sylvia Lyons. This has caused Brian to re-write his initial theory.
I theorized that the marriage between Joseph Smith and Sylvia Sessions Lyon did include sexual relations in that plural marriage, and I had some theories as how that might have unfolded. When the DNA evidence came back—and part of the theory was that Joseph was the father of Josephine [daughter of Sylvia Sessions Lyon.] That’s an important point. But when the DNA evidence came back that Windsor Lyon was the father, it required me to re-write things. I’ll be honest with you. It wasn’t what I expected, but it was what I had hoped.
Brian now believes that there were no sexual relations between Joseph and any of these polyandrous marriages.
Brian: Why the women chose Joseph over their legal husbands, sometimes these men were active Latter-day Saints, we don’t know. It seems odd. But it’s not as odd as them practicing actual sexual polyandry without anybody ever talking about it or finding that to be controversial.
GT: Ok, so your opinion is of all the eleven polyandrous marriages, where a woman could have two husbands essentially, none of them involved sexual relations.
(Brian provides a few caveats to that, but essentially this is his position.) We also address the rumor that Joseph sent men on missions so he could marry their wives.
Brian: The problem is we have two sealing dates for Joseph and Marinda. The other date is from an affidavit Marinda signed that is well after Orson Hyde returning from Palestine. Even the one that appears to be a case where Joseph might have sent him on a mission, then he waits a year—it doesn’t make sense. A year later we have Joseph being sealed to Marinda, but again we have a second date. The second date is a signed affidavit which we probably would consider to be more reliable than something that was just scrawled on a page in Joseph’s journal, not in his handwriting but in I think Thomas Bullock’s [handwriting.] Again that story is false, yet it’s a sound bite. It’s all over the internet. We’ve got to kill it. It’s wrong. It’s false. Joseph did not send men on missions and so he could marry their wives according to any reliable documentation.
I also asked Brian why Joseph was sealed to teen brides instead of as a father-adopted daughter sealing.
Do you know there were no adoptions performed during Joseph’s lifetime. The only adoptions that we have any record of occurred in the Nauvoo Temple and they occurred around, depending on your definition of an adoption, there’s 205 or something. A lot of these, I use the word adoption to mean a child is sealed to parents who they are not biologically related.
In a message discussing this on Facebook, one person noted that it doesn’t really matter whether Joseph had sexual relations.
All his research does is defend the view of seeing women through the lens of their relationship to a man. In other words, the only reason it is so bad and so much worse than having sex with young teenage girls (all of which was going on without his wife’s knowledge) is because those polyandrous women were already “taken” by another man….
Every leader and prophet after Joseph produced children, many with very, very young teenage girls. So again, were they being disobedient apostates?
Let’s assume Brian is right. For some reason, Joseph married 30+ women and never had sex with any of them. For additional unexplained reasons, he felt too uncomfortable to share any of this with Emma even though he wasn’t being intimate with these women (enter flaming sword, etc.), and God didn’t deem it worthy to send an angel (flaming sword or otherwise) to convince Emma of this divine duty. But let’s put all that aside and believe this is exactly what happened.
Even if all of that is correct, every last word, it is undisputed that for almost 60 years, all of the church leaders and his successors did do all of this. Not only were they intimate with their polygamous wives, some of whom were very young girls, they celebrated those relationships and *condemned* monogamy. Not only were sexual polygamous relationships justified, they were *preferable,* considered the eternal order of marriage, and just like the relationship that God Himself had.
And that’s the best-case, faith-affirming angle Brian is arguing for.
To be clear, Brian does make the case that Joseph had sexual relations with some wives, just not the subset of polyandrous and teen brides. But given that caveat, that brings up a few questions.
- If Joseph is being sealed to other men’s wives, isn’t he a bit like King David “stealing” Uriah’s wife that the prophet Nathan condemned?
- Why do you think Brian makes the case that no sex was involved for some of these wives? Is it to assuage our feelings about Joseph Smith?
- Do you believe Brian is correct that there were no sexual relations between Joseph and his teen and polyandrous wives?
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