Criticism of Mormonism/Books/Nauvoo Polygamy/Romance

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Nauvoo Polygamy: Romance

A FAIR Analysis of: Nauvoo Polygamy: "... but we called it celestial marriage", a work by author: George D. Smith

Nauvoo Polygamy: Romance

Had romance blossomed between her and the charismatic...prophet?
Nauvoo Polygamy, p. 1

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The Whitney letter

The letter that Joseph wrote to the Whitney's appears to be "exhibit A" in the quest to show that Joseph was "romantic" with his plural wives. The letter is referred to over and over again, usually edited in such a way that the alleged "romantic" aspects are emphasized:

  • "The prophet then poured out his heart, writing to his newest wife: "My feelings are so strong for you…now is the time to afford me succour….I know it is the will of God that you should comfort me now." (p. 53)
  • Joseph "recommended his friend, whose seventeen-year-old daughter he had just married, should 'come a little a head, and nock…at the window.'" (p. 53)
  • "Emma Hale, Joseph's wife of fifteen years, had left his side just twenty-four hours earlier. Now Joseph declared that he was "lonesome," and he pleaded with Sarah Ann to visit him under cover of darkness. After all, they had been married just three weeks earlier. (p. 53)
  • “Did Sarah Ann keep this rendezvous on that humid summer night? Unfortunately, the documentary record is silent.” But “the letter survives to illuminate the complexity of Smith’s life in Nauvoo." (p. 54)
  • “when Joseph requested that Sarah Ann Whitney visit him and ‘nock at the window,’ he reassured his new young wife that Emma would not be there, telegraphing his fear of discovery if Emma happened upon his trysts.” (p. 64)
  • Joseph's "summer 1842 call for an intimate visit from Sarah Ann Whitney…substantiate[s] the intimate relationships he was involved in during those two years." (p. 185)

Joseph and women

The author portrays Joseph Smith through a critical lens as a womanizer who had a "predilection" to "take an interest in more than one woman" (p. x) and who was in a constant "quest for female companionship." (p. xii) The author talks about Joseph fitting "secret liaisons with women and girls" into his "busy schedule." (p. 55)

The author even states that what interested him the most was how Joseph "went about courting…these women." (p. 54), despite a total lack of evidence that any sort of "courtship" was involved! Joseph often used intermediaries—usually a relative—to approach any prospective plural wife.

Joseph is condemned through absence of evidence

Beyond his constant speculation regarding Joseph's alleged sins, the author condemns Joseph through the absence of evidence. For example, the author states that Joseph's 1842 letter to John Wentworth "left out any reference to the sinful thoughts he had previously mentioned. He had come effectively to de-emphasize the feelings of sin and guilt he had once experienced." (p. 21) The author notes that there is nothing in Lucy Mack Smith's history about "women, wives, or early struggles with chastity." (p. 22)

Joseph's association with future plural wives while they were children

The author appears to wish to make a point of noting that a number of Joseph's plural wives were young children when he first met them. It is noted that "[i]t was eleven years after the Smiths roomed with the Whitneys that Joseph expressed a romantic interest in their daughter." (p. 31) The author even speculates on the nature of Joseph's relationships with these young women "from the time he first met them," and asks: "How relevant is it that in many instances he had lived under the same roof as his future wife prior to marrying her?" (32-33)