Citation #9 and 10

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Some Quick Info:

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When we dive deeper into the full history of polygamy we find some interesting information about the way that Joseph tried to balance the Lord’s command to practice polygamy with Emma’s interests as his wife.

This information is best characterized by what are actually some of his more controversial marriages: the polyandrous sealings which involved Joseph being sealed for eternity to women who were already married to other men for time.

These relationships were non-sexual and viewed as relationships that would begin after this life. It is important to note that none of the husbands of these women accused Joseph of anything improper and they remained friendly toward Joseph throughout his life.

Polyandrous Marriages:

The historical record seems to indicate that Joseph engaged in “eternity-only” polyandrous marriages in an attempt to fulfill the Lord’s commandment through eternity-only sealings because they came without the possibility of sexual relations and would thereby avoid troubling Emma.

One evidence for this is the timeline of Joseph’s weddings. Joseph’s first plural marriage occurred in 1833. We do not know whether Joseph consummated that marriage, but it would appear that Emma didn’t initially know about the marriage–perhaps because Joseph was afraid to tell her what the Lord had commanded him to do and perhaps because he wanted to spare her the pain he knew the plural marriage would bring.

When Emma learned of the plural wife, the plural marriage was dissolved.

Even though he had been commanded to practice plural marriage, Joseph did not return to the practice until 5 years later when the Saints were living in Nauvoo. Somewhere around that time Joseph received a visit from an angel in which he was rebuked for not fulfilling the Lord’s command to practice polygamy.

At this point Joseph begins marrying plural wives–but the interesting thing is that of the next 12 marriages, 10 were to married women and 1 was to a widow. The arrangement provided that the polyandrous sealings would allow these women to be married to their husbands in this life and sealed to Joseph in the next. None of the husbands accused Joseph of anything improper and remained friends with Joseph.

It is strange that Joseph would pursue this type of arrangement unless he was trying to take on plural wives, while not having to engage in sexual relations with women other than Emma.

It seems from this that Joseph, wishing not to hurt Emma, entered into polyandrous, eternity-only sealings in an attempt to balance the Lord’s command with the interests of his wife.

Later, Joseph receives a visit from an Angel with a drawn sword commanding Joseph to practice polygamy or be destroyed. According to Lorenzo Snow, the angel told Joseph that he had “demurred” on the practice of polygamy. At this point that Joseph seems to begin to more earnestly seek out more traditional plural wives.

There’s a lot that we do not know, but we do know that intimate relations did not occur with polyandrous marriages and that sexual relations were either non-existent or extremely limited in the other marriages.

The whole issue of polygamy is difficult to understand, and regardless of the circumstances it would have been an incredible trial of faith for the early members.

If any of this seems really crazy, please learn more on the subject. Brian Hales has written three great volumes on the subject of Joseph’s polygamy.

I promise that once you get the whole picture, polygamy will be faith promoting–not faith weakening.


More information from Brian Hales, one of the foremost experts on Joseph’s Polygamy:

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More information from on Joseph’s Polygamy: