Criticism of Mormonism/Books/One Nation Under Gods/Chapter 18

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Response to claims made in "Chapter 18: Cover-Ups, Conspiracies, and Controversies"



A FAIR Analysis of: One Nation Under Gods, a work by author: Richard Abanes
Claim Evaluation
One Nation Under Gods
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Response to claims made in One Nation Under Gods, "Chapter 18: Cover-Ups, Conspiracies, and Controversies"


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Response to claim: 402 (PB) - Does the Mormon Tabernacle Choir "proselytize unsuspecting music lovers"?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Does the Mormon Tabernacle Choir "proselytize unsuspecting music lovers"?

Author's sources:
  1. Author's opinion.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

This is simply an absurd claim. How does one "proselytize unsuspecting music lovers?"


Response to claim: 403 - "The general public, especially outside America, still possesses little knowledge of the unsavory nature of Mormonism"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: "The general public, especially outside America, still possesses little knowledge of the unsavory nature of Mormonism."

Author's sources:
  1. Author's opinion.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

This book's many errors and misrepresentations will not help anyone gain an accurate understanding of the Church.

Response to claim: 403, 605n9 (PB) - Baptisms for the dead were performed for Nazis, including Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Baptisms for the dead were performed for Nazis, including Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun. Was this done so that they could "thereby become gods?"

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

Members of the Church leave all judgment in God's hands. They are commanded to perform vicarious ordinances for all deceased persons for whom records exist. This is no way guarantees or implies Hitler's acceptance of Mormonism or forgiveness. Such matters are left to God. Does the author really wish to imply, though, that even the most wicked sinner might be beyond the reach of Christ's atoning grace? The Latter-day Saints do not.

Response to claim: 403 - Baptisms for the dead are incompatible with Christianity

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Baptisms for the dead are incompatible with Christianity

Author's sources:
  1. Author's opinion.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The Bible itself describes Christians carrying out this practice: 1 Corinthians 15:29. It may not be a practice found in the author's brand of Christianity, but it has ample precedent among early believers.
  • Hugh W. Nibley, "Baptism for the Dead in Ancient Times," Improvement Era (1948, 1949), multiple. off-site

Question: What is baptism for the dead?

Proxy baptism is a way to provide redemption for those who died without hearing the Gospel

Explained Elder G. Todd Christopherson:

Christian theologians have long wrestled with the question, What is the destiny of the countless billions who have lived and died with no knowledge of Jesus? [1] There are several theories concerning the “unevangelized” dead, ranging from an inexplicable denial of salvation, to dreams or other divine intervention at the moment of death, to salvation for all, even without faith in Christ. A few believe that souls hear of Jesus after death. None explain how to satisfy Jesus’ requirement that a man must be born of water and spirit to enter the kingdom of God (see John 3:3-5). Lacking the knowledge once had in the early Church, these earnest seekers have been “forced to choose between a weak law that [allows] the unbaptized to enter heaven, and a cruel God who [damns] the innocent.” [2]
With the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ has come the understanding of how the unbaptized dead are redeemed and how God can be “a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also.” [3]
While yet in life, Jesus prophesied that He would also preach to the dead [see John 5:25]. Peter tells us this happened in the interval between the Savior’s Crucifixion and Resurrection [see 1 Peter 3:18-19]...


D. Todd Christofferson (1998): "The principle of vicarious service should not seem strange to any Christian"

D. Todd Christofferson:

The principle of vicarious service should not seem strange to any Christian. In the baptism of a living person, the officiator acts, by proxy, in place of the Savior. And is it not the central tenet of our faith that Christ’s sacrifice atones for our sins by vicariously satisfying the demands of justice for us? As President Gordon B. Hinckley has expressed: “I think that vicarious work for the dead more nearly approaches the vicarious sacrifice of the Savior Himself than any other work of which I know. It is given with love, without hope of compensation, or repayment or anything of the kind. What a glorious principle.[4]


Question: Does the practice of baptism for the dead have ancient roots?

There is considerable evidence that some early Christians and some Jewish groups performed proxy ordinance work for the salvation of the dead

The most obvious of these is 1 Corinthians 15:29:

Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?

There have been attempts to shrug this off as a reference by Paul to a practice he does not condone but only uses to support the doctrine of the resurrection. These claims are indefensible. Paul's statement makes no sense unless the practice was valid and the saints in Corinth knew it. This is easily demonstrated if we just imagine a young Protestant, who doubts the resurrection, who goes to his pastor with his problem. The pastor answers him, saying, "But what about the Mormons who baptize for the dead? If the dead rise not at all, why are they then baptized for the dead?" You know what the young doubter would say. He would say, "Pastor, they're Mormons! What's your point?"

In fact, we know that baptism for the dead was practiced for a long time in the early church. As John A. Tvedtnes has noted:

... historical records are clear on the matter. Baptism for the dead was performed by the dominant church until forbidden by the sixth canon of the Council of Carthage in A.D. 397. Some of the smaller sects, however, continued the practice. Of the [Cerinthians]> of the fourth century, Epiphanius wrote:
“In this country—I mean Asia—and even in Galatia, their school flourished eminently and a traditional fact concerning them has reached us, that when any of them had died without baptism, they used to baptize others in their name, lest in the resurrection they should suffer punishment as unbaptized.” (Heresies, 8:7.) [5]

Thus, baptism for the dead was banned about four hundred years after Christ by the church councils. Latter-day Saints would see this as an excellent example of the apostasy—church councils altering doctrine and practice that was accepted at an earlier date.

Tvedtnes continues:

In early Judaism, too, there is an example of ordinances being performed in behalf of the dead. Following the battle of Marisa in 163 B.C., it was discovered that each of the Jewish soldiers killed in the fight had been guilty of concealing pagan idols beneath his clothing. In order to atone for their wrong, Judas Maccabaeus, the Jewish high priest and commander, collected money from the survivors to purchase sacrificial animals for their dead comrades:
“And when he had made a gathering throughout the company to the sum of two thousand drachmas of silver, he sent it to Jerusalem to offer a sin offering, doing therein very well and honestly, in that he was mindful of the resurrection: for if he had not hoped that they that were slain should have risen again, it had been superfluous and vain to pray for the dead. And also in that he perceived that there was great favour laid up for those that died godly, it was an holy and good thought. Whereupon he made a reconciliation for the dead, that they might be delivered from sin.” (2 Maccabees 12:43–46.) [6]

Collection of Other Sources that Can Support the Latter-day Saint Position

Other sources can give credence to the Latter-day Saint position on this matter. Below we list a selective compilation of quotes from scholars that can demonstrate that:

  1. Vicarious baptism was practiced by the ancients
  2. The practice wasn't condemned by Paul (even though that would be a natural thing to do given the corrective purposes of the first letter to the church at Corinth).
  3. The best translation of the original Greek refers to a practice of vicarious baptism.

The passage in the Bible is, at the very least, very short and cryptic. We can't know much about the practice accept the preceeding three assertions. Thus the following scholars would not affirm that the practice of vicarious baptism matches the modern Latter-day Saint conception of it i.e. that it was done on such a massive scale, for salvific purposes, etc. Some argue on linguistic grounds that this only had to do with catechumens (prospective converts to Christianity who died without baptism) but that is not fully substantiated by the text nor the historical context of the passage. Furthermore, as is noted by several scholars (a couple of which are included below), it is complicated by the fact that Paul spoke approvingly of believing Christians becoming vicarious, sanctifying vessels for non-believing spouses.[7] This could naturally be extrapolated to all kindred, non-believing dead.

There is much that we can't know from the text of the Bible itself following an exegetical approach. At some point, additional revelation is necessary to illuminate and expand on previous revelation. That would be the Latter-day Saint position. As Joseph Smith has said concerning the Restoration, it occured so that "a whole and complete and perfect union, and welding together of dispensations, and keys, and powers, and glories should take place, and be revealed from the days of Adam even to the present time. And not only this, but those things which never have been revealed from the foundation of the world, but have been kept hid from the wise and prudent, shall be revealed unto babes and sucklings in this, the dispensation of the fulness of times."[8] Latter-day Saints need not feel compelled to defend every last element of their theology from antiquity. Some elements may appear in seed and then be expanded on later by those "things which never have been revealed from the foundation of the world[.]" What 1 Corinthians 15:29 can tell us without a doubt is that the practice is ancient and that it wasn't rejected by Paul or others of the earliest Christians. The Greek of the passage is unequivocally said to support the notion that vicarious baptism was performed. Other revelation outside of the Bible can expand on it in the Restoration.[9]

Following is our selective listing of sources.[10] All bolded text has been added by the editor of this article:

  • Søren Agersnap: "It cannot be denied that Paul is here [1 Cor 15:29] speaking of a vicarious baptism: one is baptised for the dead to ensure for them a share in the effect of baptism, and this must relate to a post-mortal life. It is also clear that Paul himself refers to this baptismal practice, and without distancing himself from it (This is the embarrassing perception which is the reason for some (comparatively few) interpreters making an imaginative attempt to ignore that this relates to a vicarious baptism)."[11].
  • Charles Kingsley Barrett: "The primary reference is to Christian baptism: certain people (οί βαπτιζόμενοι suggest a particular group, not all Christians) undergo the rite of Christian baptism—in what appear to be very strange circumstances. They are baptized on behalf of the dead. The second part of the verse follows clearly enough. If the dead are dead and are beyond recall, there is no point in taking this or any other action on their behalf. But what was the practice of baptism for the dead, and did Paul approve of it? An account of the history of the interpretation of this passage is given by M. Rissi, 'Die Taufe für die Toten (1962)'...It is very unlikely that with the adjective dead (νεκρός) a noun such as works (cf. Heb. vi. I) should be supplied. Throughout this chapter (and in Paul usually) ‘the dead’ are dead men. It is equally unlikely that on behalf of (ὺπέρ) is to be taken in a local sense, and that the reference is to baptism carried out over the dead, that is, over their graves. The most common view is that Paul is referring to some kind of vicarious baptism, in which a Christian received baptism on behalf of someone, perhaps a friend or relative, who had died without being baptized. There is evidence for some such rite among various heretics (among other quotations Lietzmann cites Chrysostom, on this passage: ‘When a catechumen among them [the Marcionites] dies, they hide a living man under the dead man’s bed, approach the dead man, speak with him, and ask if he wished to receive baptism; then when he makes no answer the man who is hidden underneath says instead of him that he wishes to be baptized, and so they baptize him instead of the departed), and there were precedents in Greek religious practices, though not close precedents (see Schweitzer, 'Mysticism', pp. 283 f.). Stauffer lays great stress on 2 Acc. xii. 40-5. Apart however from 1 Corinthians there is no evidence that a rite of this kind arose as early as the 50’s of the first century. This does not make it impossible; many strange things happened in Corinth. But would Paul have approved of it? It is true that in this verse he neither approves nor disapproves, and it may be held that he is simply using an argumenatum ad hominem: if the Corinthians have this practice they destroy their own case against the resurrection. This is the view held by some, and it is possible; but it is more likely that Paul would not have mentioned a practice he thought to be in error without condemning it. Of those who accept this position some draw the conclusion that vicarious baptism cannot be in Paul’s mind, others that, if he did not practice the custom himself, he at least saw no harm in it, since he too held an ex opere operato view of baptism that bordered on the magical…The idea of vicarious baptism (which is that most naturally suggested by the words used) is usually supposed to be bound up with what some would call a high sacramental, others a magical, view of baptism. Immersion in water is supposed to operate so effectively that it matters little (it seems) what body is immersed. The immersion of a living body can secure benefits to a dead man (at any rate, a dead catechumen). This however was not Paul’s view. He did not himself give close attention to baptism (i. 14-17), and though it is probable that most of the members of his churches were baptized it is quite possible that some of the Corinthian Christians had not been baptized, and by no means impossible (even if we do not, with Rissi, think of an epidemic or an accident) that a number of them may have died in this condition. There was no question of making these persons Christians; they were Christians, even though unbaptized. But baptism was was powerful proclamation of death and resurrection, and in this setting it is not impossible to conceive of a rite—practiced, it may be, only once—which Paul, though he evidently took no steps to establish it as normal Christian usage, need not actively have disapproved. And what would be the sense of it, if the dead are not raised?"[12]
  • Stephen C. Barton: "…Paul adds further ad hominem arguments against those who deny the resurrection of the dead (cf. 15:12). …the Corinthians’ own ritual practice (of surrogate baptism on behalf of the dead, a suggestive analogy for which appears in 2 Acc 12:43-45) testifies abasing denial of the resurrection of the dead and would be rendered meaningless apart from resurrection faith (15:29)."[13]
  • Richard E. Demaris: "The isolated character of 1 Corinthians 15:29 in its literary context and the lack of indicators in the verse as to the nature of the rite make it all too easy to propose a range of grammatically possible translations. But the highly speculative interpretations that result only underscore the need to place the text (and practice described therein) in the fullest possible context. Behind all attempts to remove vicarious action from baptism for the dead, one senses uneasiness about Paul or the early church’s association with a rite that appears to be 'superstitious' or 'magical' (Raeder 1955: 258–9; Rissi 1962: 89–92). (Understood vicariously, the practice would affirm that the living can ritually affect the dead.) But who is feeling the discomfort? Paul himself maintained that family members could act vicariously for each other (1 Cor 7:14), and he recognized an efficacy in eucharist that certainly appears to be 'magical' (Sellin 1986: 278; M. Smith 1980: 248): 'Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves. For this reason many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.' (1 Cor 11:28–30)...[The culture of Greco-Roman society was one] in which aiding the dead was all-important and which assumed that the world of the living could affect the world of the dead. In such a culture baptism undertaken by the living for the dead would have made perfect sense…At the very least, the adaptability of funerals to non-funerary situations opens the door to finding baptism other than where we might expect to find it, at the threshold of the church. Furthermore, two extraordinary types of funeral are noteworthy for how they elucidate baptism on behalf of the dead: (1) a replacement or substitute rite performed vicariously for the dead; and (2) funerals for the living. Both applications are imaginary rites, whose context indicates whether we further qualify them as honorary or mock. This, then, is the language for baptism on behalf of the dead that is both contextually and ritually sensitive: it was an imaginary rite of the honorary type...Isolating baptism for the dead, as Meeks did, made it mystifying to him (Meeks 1983: 162), but placing it in context has the opposite effect. Set alongside funerals for the living – those of Turannius and Pacuvius – baptism for the dead does not appear mysterious. In terms of who undergoes them, both rites reverse ordinary practice. Likewise, in light of surrogate or replacement funerals in which a person or community carried out a rite for someone in absentia – for Pertinax and the Lanuvium burial club member whose body could not be recovered – baptism on behalf of the dead falls within the typical range of ritual variation in the Greco-Roman world. In the context of other rites, therefore, baptism for the dead is, contrary to what New Testament scholars claim, not obscure."[14]
  • James D.G. Dunn: "Similarly he accepts a diversity of belief about baptism (1.10-16; 15.29). He does not insist on the sole legitimacy of his own view or of a particular view of baptism. Instead he plays down the role of baptism; it is kerygma that matters not baptism (1.17). And though in 10.1-12 he is probably arguing against a magical view of baptism, in 15.29 he shows no disapproval of the belief in vicarious baptism, baptism for the dead; on the contrary he uses the practice as an argument for the belief in resurrection...I Cor. 15.29 probably refers to a practice of vicari­ous baptism whereby the baptism of one was thought to secure the salvation of another already dead. Here then is indication of influ­ences shaping the theology of baptism and developing views of bap­tism which are far removed from anything we have already examined. And yet Paul addresses those who held such views as members of the Christian community in Corinth – these views were held also by Christians. In other words, as soon as we move outside that sphere of Christianity most influenced by the Baptist’s inheritance the diver­sity of Christian thinking about baptism broadens appreciably."[15]
  • Gordon D. Fee: "First, as already noted (n. 15), this unusual use of the third person plural, when elsewhere Paul always turns such references into a word to the community as a whole (e.g., vv. 12-13, 35-36), suggests that it is not the action of the whole community. On the other hand, there is no reason to deny that it was happening with the full knowledge of the community and probably with their approval. Second, Paul’s apparently noncommittal attitude toward it, while not implying approval, would seem to suggest that he did not consider it to be as serious a fault as most interpreters do. On the other hand, it is difficult to imagine any circumstances under which Paul would think it permissible for living Christians to be baptized for the sake of unbelievers in general. Such a view, adopted in part by the Mormons, lies totally outside the NT understanding both of salvation and of baptism.[Fee is an evagelical scholar and thus is less open to scholarship that would support Latter-day Saints. There actually isn't evidence to support this view. See how he hedges in suggestion "(b) below.] Therefore, the most likely options are (a) that it reflects some believers’ being baptized for others who either were or were on their way to becoming believers when they died (e.g., as in 11:30), but had never been baptized; or (b) that it reflects the concern of members of households for some of their own number who had died before becoming believers. What they may have expected to gain from it is not quite clear, but one may guess that at least they believed baptism to be necessary for entering the final eschatological kingdom. In any case, and everything must be understood as tentative, this probably reflects the Corinthian attitude toward baptism in general, since 1:13-17 and 10:1-22 imply a rather strongly sacramental stance toward baptism on their part, with some apparently magical implications. Perhaps they believed that along with the gift of the Spirit baptism was their 'magical' point of entrance into the new pneumatism that seems to have characterized them at every turn. If so, then perhaps some of them were being baptized for others because they saw it as a way of offering similar spirituality to the departed. But finally we must admit that we simply do not know.[Interesting thing to conclude with considering his assertion before about Latter-day Saints.][16]
  • Rolf Furuli: "There can be no question that the most natural rendering of 'baptizomenoi huper tōn nekrōn' would be 'being baptized for the dead' or 'being baptized in behalf of the dead.' In almost every other context, such a rendering would have been chosen."[17]
  • David Bentley Hart: "The practice of Christians receiving baptism on behalf of other persons who died unbaptized was evidently a common enough practice in the apostolic church that Paul can use it as a support of his argument without qualification. And the form of the Greek (ὑπὲρ τῶν νεκρῶν [hyper tōn nekrōn]) leaves no doubt that it is to just such a posthumous proxy baptism that he is referring."[18]
  • Scott M. Lewis: "Verse 29 is one of the most vigorously disputed passages in the NT. On the surface, it seems rather simple. Using the statement of the opposition as a springboard—there is no resurrection—Paul points to the inconsistency and futility of a practice of the Corinthians, i.e., being baptized on behalf of the dead. Despite the numerous attempts to explain this passage away, or get out of the difficulties and discomfort it causes, it seems better to accept the obvious surface meaning of the passage: Some Corinthians practiced a form of vicarious baptism. What is meant exactly by that, and when and under what circumstances it was practiced is impossible to answer…"[19]
  • Andrew T. Lincoln: "With regard to the problematic verse 29 it is likely that the Corinthians’ confusion is at the root of the practice which has produced an even greater confusion among later commentators. One could guess that with their bewilderment about the fate of those who had died and their strong faith in the efficacy of baptism, some Corinthians were practising a baptism for the dead which they believed might still somehow ensure a place in the kingdom for deceased believers. An ad hominem argument by the apostle points out the futility of such a practice if the dead are not raised."[20]
  • Steve Mason and Tom Robinson: "The only reference among 1st-century Christian writings to proxy baptism on behalf of those who have died without having been baptized. Myriad alternative explanations that have been proposed reflect more the interpreters’ discomfort with the plain meaning of the words than any linguistic ambiguity. Paul simply uses this example without explanation and quickly discards it (see the angels of 11:10). We have no opportunity to determine what he thinks of the custom."[21]
  • Leon Morris: "This reference to baptism for (hyper) the dead is a notorious difficulty. The most natural meaning of the expression is that some early believers got themselves baptized on behalf of friends of theirs who had died without receiving that sacrament. Thus Parry says: 'The plain and necessary sense of the words implies the existence of a practice of vicarious baptism at Corinth, presumably on behalf of believers who died before they were baptized.' He stigmatizes all other interpretations as 'evasions . . . wholly due to the unwillingness to admit such a practice, and still more to a reference to it by S. Paul without condemnation.'[22]
  • John J. O'Rourke: "Nevertheless many ancient and most modern writers understand this as a vicarious baptism received by baptized Christians on belief of deceased catechumens. The obvious difficulty is that Paul does not appear to offer any objection to this practice, so prevalent later among heretics."[23]
  • William F. Orr and James A. Walther: "The allusion to the idea and/or practice of baptism on behalf of the dead is unique in the New Testament in this passage. . . . Close inspection of the language of the reference makes all attempts to soften or eliminate its literal meaning unsuccessful. An endeavor to understand the dead as persons who are 'dead in sin' does not really help; for the condition offered, if the dead are not being raised at all, makes it clear that the apostle is writing about persons who are physically dead. It appears that under the pressure of concern for the eternal destiny of dead relatives or friends[,] some people in the church were undergoing baptism on their behalf in the belief that this would enable the dead to receive the benefits of Christ’s salvation. Paul remarks about the practice without specifying who or how many are involved and without identifying himself with them. He attaches neither praise nor blame to the custom. He does take it as an illustration of faith in a future destiny of the dead."[24]
  • Stephen E. Potthoff: "Cult of the ancestral dead in classical Greece has been thoroughly documented, and scholars have also identified the early Christian ritual of baptism for the dead mentioned by the apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 15.29) as an outgrowth of the longstanding cult of the departed in Corinth (Garland 1985: 107–120; Johnston 1999: 36–81; DeMaris 1995: 663–671)."[25]
  • Thomas R. Schreiner and Shawn D. Wright: "One of the most controversial and difficult texts in all of Pauline literature is the reference to baptism for the dead. It is not my purpose to canvas the various interpretations proposed, nor does the view argued for in this essay depend in any way upon the interpretation proposed here. What the verse suggests, however, is that baptism was considered to be indispensable for believers. The plethora of interpretations indicates that the original meaning of the verse is not easily accessible to modern readers. The difficulty of the verse is not entirely surprising, for Paul does not explain the meaning of baptism here, but instead appeals to the baptism of the dead in support his theology of the resurrection. Any baptism performed for the sake of the dead is superfluous, Paul argues, if the dead are not raised. Strictly speaking, Paul does not praise or condemn the practice of baptism for the dead, and hence a theology of baptism for the dead can scarcely be established from this verse. It seems most likely, in my judgment, that baptism for the dead was practiced when someone became a believer and died very quickly thereafter—before baptism was possible. What this verse suggests, despite its obscurity, is the importance of baptism. Baptism was considered to be the standard initiation rite for early Christians, and hence some believers at Corinth thought that baptism should be done for the sake of the dead."[26]
  • John Short: "The point is that there would be no sense in the procedure if there were no resurrection. Whatever doubts some members of the church had concerning it, there were others who were such firm believers in the Resurrection that they submitted to this rite of vicarious baptism on behalf of certain of the brethren, probably catechumens, who had passed away before they had been baptized and received into the full membership of the church. Perhaps also they had a feeling, natural enough at that stage of Christian understanding among those who had so recently been pagans, that unbaptized believers at the resurrection would not be so near to their Lord as those who had undergone the rite. Or they may have done it to ensure as far as possible that nothing would be lacking in respect of the eternal bliss of the redeemed. At its best, the vicarious ceremony was a tribute to the spirit of fellowship, of unity, and of solidarity in the community, and as such it would be sure to commend itself to Paul. There are still some survivals of this ancient Christian practice, though in the main it has fallen into disuse. In a sense it might be compared with prayers offered for the dead. They too may for some signify the deep spiritual solidarity of the Christian fellowship in heaven and on earth, in which all are one in Christ Jesus. Whatever the effect of such practices on the joy of the saints in heaven, they do reflect a kindly, generous, and Christian spirit on the part of those on earth in the desire for the continued and increasing wellbeing of those who have passed beyond the veil. Perhaps it is well to leave the matter there. Paul is content to do so, merely pointing to this ancient rite, and incidentally giving us another glimpse into the customary procedures of the early Christian fellowship as they illustrated the truth of the Resurrection. If Christ is not raised, and if therefore no resurrection of the dead, what could such baptism mean?"[27]
  • William Tabbernee: "In mainstream Christian circles, 'vicarious baptism' may have been practiced as early as the time of St. Paul (1 Cor 15:29). It was almost certainly practiced, from the second century C.E. onwards, by the Cerinthians.[28]
  • James D. Tabor: "For Paul baptism is not a symbolic ritual but a powerful spiritual activity that effected real change in the cosmos. Paul, for example, refers to some who 'baptized in behalf of the dead,' evidently referring to a practice of proxy baptism for loved ones who had died before experiencing their own baptism (1 Corinthians 15:29). Whether Paul endorsed the practice or not we cannot be sure, but it would be unlike Paul to refrain from condemning a practice he did not at least tolerate. After all, there is a sense in which all baptism is 'for the dead' since it represents a 'burial' of the dying mortal flesh in preparation for receiving the life-giving Spirit. Whatever the case, this practice of 'baptism for the dead' shows just how efficacious the activity was understood to be as a means of invoking the Christ-Spirit—even for those who had died!"[29]
  • Jeffrey A. Trumbower: "Paul alludes to a practice of some Corinthian Christians in 1 Cor. 15:29, 'Then what are they doing, those who are baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised, why are they baptized on their behalf?' Paul does not here object to this practice, whatever it is, and he uses it to convince the Corinthians that if they are baptized on behalf of the dead, they must also believe in the resurrection as Paul understands it. Enormous vats of ink have been emptied in both pre-critical and critical scholarship speculating on precisely what those Corinthian Christians were doing, why they were doing it, and Paul’s attitude toward it. A thorough 51-page survey of opinion from the second century down to 1962 was assembled by Mathis Rissi; there is no need to rehearse that entire history here. I agree with Rissi and Hans Conzelmann (and, for that matter, with Mormon prophet Joseph Smith), that the grammar and logic of the passage point to a practice of vicarious baptism of a living person for the benefit of a dead person."[30]

Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship, "Baptized for the Dead"

Kevin L. Barney,  Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship, (August 31, 2020)
This thorough treatment of the mention of baptism for the dead in 1 Corinthians 15:29 gives a meticulous analysis of Paul’s Greek argument, and lays out the dozens (or perhaps hundreds) of theories that have been put forth with respect to its interpretation. Barney concludes that “the most natural reading” and the “majority contemporary scholarly reading” is that of “vicarious baptism.” Therefore, “the Prophet Joseph Smith’s reading of the passage to refer to such a practice was indeed correct.”

Click here to view the complete article


Response to claim: 404 - "It is possible that many readers of this book have had their deceased relatives baptized by proxy into Mormonism"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: "It is possible that many readers of this book have had their deceased relatives baptized by proxy into Mormonism, even though such persons might not have wanted anything to do with Mormonism during their lives."

Author's sources:
  1. Author's opinion.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

Certainly, it is possible. LDS proxy baptisms only give the dead the opportunity to accept it if they wish. They have no power on any who decline them. If one believes the LDS Church is false, then LDS proxy baptisms can have no power whatever, and the dead are completely unaffected thereby.

Question: Are the dead being "baptized into the Mormon faith?"

The ordinance is provided but is only contingent upon the dead accepting it

Some have misunderstood and suppose that deceased souls “are being baptised into the Mormon faith without their knowledge” [31] or that “people who once belonged to other faiths can have the Mormon faith retroactively imposed on them.” [32] They assume that we somehow have power to force a soul in matters of faith. Of course, we do not. God gave man his agency from the beginning. (See fn11) “The dead who repent will be redeemed, through obedience to the ordinances of the house of God,” [33] but only if they accept those ordinances. The Church does not list them on its rolls or count them in its membership.
Our anxiety to redeem the dead, and the time and resources we put behind that commitment, are, above all, an expression of our witness concerning Jesus Christ. It constitutes as powerful a statement as we can make concerning His divine character and mission. It testifies, first, of Christ’s Resurrection; second, of the infinite reach of His Atonement; third, that He is the sole source of salvation; fourth, that He has established the conditions for salvation; and, fifth, that He will come again. [34]


Response to claim: 404, 605n14 (PB) - Latter-day Saints performed vicarious baptisms for Jews who had died in the Holocaust

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Latter-day Saints performed vicarious baptisms for Jews who had died in the Holocaust.

Author's sources:
  1. Bob Mims, "LDS Try to End Unauthorized Work for Jews," Salt Lake Tribune, May 2, 2001.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

Those who did so violated the Church's stated policies.


Question: Is temple work being performed for victims of the Jewish Holocaust and other prominent people?

It has been pointed out that baptisms for the dead have been performed in behalf of victims of the Shoah, the Jewish Holocaust, and that these baptisms continue to be performed despite repeated requests from the Jewish community to end the practice and remove all Jewish Holocaust names from the Church's genealogical records used for posthumous baptisms.

It has also been pointed out that baptisms for the dead have been performed for other prominent individuals, including Princess Diana, Albert Einstein, and Adolf Hitler.[35]

These ordinances are performed contrary to Church policy. "Generally, Church members should not submit names to FamilySearch.org from the following groups:

  • Famous people
  • Names gathered from unapproved extraction projects
  • Jewish Holocaust victims"[36]

Exceptions are allowed if:

  • "You are an immediate family member of the deceased (parent, spouse, child, or sibling).
  • You have permission from all living immediate family members.
  • If no immediate family members are alive, you have permission from the closest living relative."[37]

Some Church members choose to ignore this policy and perform vicarious ordinances for these individuals. "When the church is made aware of documented concerns, action is taken" to remove those ordinances from Church records.[38]

While work toward the complete removal of all Holocaust victims' names from the Church's database continues, controversy and frustration may well continue to surface. It is important to remember that progress has been made, and that as temple approval safeguards become more sophisticated, one can hope that misguided individuals will be much less able to violate the agreement.

Those of the Jewish faith are to be commended for the spirit of dialogue and cooperation in which they have approached this matter, and their willingness to work with the Church to solve it.

There have also been some moving expressions of friendship between Mormons and Jews; some Jewish authors have pointed out that belief and theology matter much less than behavior and brotherhood, and on this score Mormon-Jewish relations have always been excellent.[39]

History of the practice

In 1995—after it was learned that a substantial number of Holocaust victims were listed in the Church's temple records as having been baptized—an agreement was signed between the Church and leading Jewish authorities which officially ended baptizing Jewish Holocaust victims posthumously.

Controversy over the matter flared again in 2002 when it was found that there was still thousands of Holocaust victims’ names in the Church's records. The Church responded by re-enforcing its policy for temple work, which requires that members only perform proxy baptisms for ancestors to whom they can demonstrate a familial link. Furthermore, the Church established a committee with Jewish leaders to investigate why the names of Holocaust victims remained in the database.

More concern was expressed in 2006, when it was discovered that there were still many Holocaust victims' names in the database.

Mistakes in the database

Despite critics' claims, fingers should not be pointed at the institutional Church in this instance. Instead, the fault lies with a few misguided members, who took active steps to circumvent the Church’s policies:

Gary Mokotoff [...] who will head the Jewish side of the joint commission, said that individual church members had managed to circumvent the current monitoring process by misspelling names. "There's guaranteed to be a trickle going through the screen," he said, "but it's been very embarrassing for the Mormons." Mike Otterson, director of media relations for the church, told the Post that the church was working on creating a mechanism to prevent "overzealous members" from violating the agreement.[40]

Counsel of LDS leaders

Church general authorities have asked members to concentrate on completing the work for their own ancestors. Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve taught:

Here, on this side of the veil, there are limitations of available time and temples. This means that choosing to identify and perform ordinances for our own kindred should receive our highest priority. The Spirit of Elijah will inspire individual members of the Church to link their generations, rather than submit lists of people or popular personalities to whom they are unrelated. Now, we are mindful of those not of our faith who are concerned about or even offended by the practice of temple ordinances for the dead. To them we say, our Heavenly Father directed the restoration of keys of priesthood authority and surely intended no offense to any of His children. Quite to the contrary. He intended to bless them. This doctrine and its ordinances are laden with love and are intended to perpetuate the sweetest of all relationships — in families forever.

Nevertheless, the Church is sensitive to these concerns. The First Presidency has asked that, as far as possible, individual rights of privacy be protected. In 1972, they wrote, "Persons submitting names for other than direct ancestors [should] have obtained approval from the closest living relative of the deceased before submitting records of persons born within the last ninety-five years." In addition, reminders of rights of precedence and privacy appear each time our computer programs are used.[41]


Response to claim: 405, 605n18-19 (PB) - Do LDS leaders suppress access to Church archives?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

*Do LDS leaders suppress access to Church archives?

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The author fails to note that Fawn Brodie worked in the 1940s, when the archives were less well-organized—her experience is irrelevant to the present-day.
  • Steven L. Olsen, "Is the Church Archives Closed?" (FAIR Conference, 2007). FAIR link

Response to claim: 405, 607n21 (HB) 605n21 (PB) - "LDS leaders re-write historical documents, deny that other documents exist, create fictitious historical data..."

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: "LDS leaders re-write historical documents, deny that other documents exist, create fictitious historical data, add words to update old revelations so that they conform to current events/knowledge, and delete various sections of divine pronouncements said to have been transcribe perfectly when originally delivered."

Author's sources:
  1. Richard N. and Joan K. Ostling, Mormon America: The Power and the Promise, (New York:HarperCollins Publishers, 2000), 249. ( Index of claims ), summarizing the views of Mark P. Leone, Roots of Modern Mormonism, 204, 211.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

This claim is nonsense. Critics routinely accuse the Church of suppressing and hiding uncomfortable facts from its own history, yet they quote Church sources in order to provide proof of their claims.

Question: Has the Church "whitewashed" some of the information about its origins to appear more palatable to members and investigators?

Response to claim: 406, 605n22 (PB) - The History of the Church was mostly written after his death, but reads as if he wrote it himself

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The History of the Church was mostly written after his death, but reads as if he wrote it himself.

Author's sources:

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

This is no secret; using Joseph's authorial voice was standard practice for the day. The history was completed up to 5 August 1838 under Joseph's direction (See Jesse, 466).



The History of the Church, which bears Joseph Smith’s name, was begun under his dictation and direction and completed after his death according to his instructions. The original sources used to compile the History were the Prophet’s own diaries, correspondence, and other documents. Those who may feel that the work is not a fundamental historical source because the Prophet did not personally write much of it are in error. The History, with its priceless collection of primary documents, remains the most important source of historical information on the life of Joseph Smith and early Latter-day Saint history.

—Dean C. Jessee, "I Have a Question," Ensign (July 1985)
∗       ∗       ∗

Who is the author of History of the Church?

The History of the Church, though credited to Joseph Smith, was not actually authored by him

Dean C. Jessee wrote of this question [42]:

The History of the Church, which bears Joseph Smith’s name, was begun under his dictation and direction and completed after his death according to his instructions. The original sources used to compile the History were the Prophet’s own diaries, correspondence, and other documents. Those who may feel that the work is not a fundamental historical source because the Prophet did not personally write much of it are in error. The History, with its priceless collection of primary documents, remains the most important source of historical information on the life of Joseph Smith and early Latter-day Saint history.

The work presents the teachings and activities of the Prophet with a remarkable degree of accuracy. A look at how it was produced, and at the concepts that governed historical writing at that time, helps tell us the nature of the history.

Production of the history

Continued Jessee:

Among the difficulties encountered by Joseph Smith was his own lack of formal literary education. He wrote that it took the exertions of all his father’s family to sustain themselves, “therefore we were deprived of the benefit of an education. … I was merely instructed in reading, writing and the ground rules of arithmetic, which constituted my whole literary acquirements.” [43] Throughout his life the Prophet seemed to be concerned with his lack of literary training. In his extant correspondence he refers to his “lack of fluency in address,” his limited “ability in conveying my ideas in writing,” and “the imperfections of my writing.” [44]

The Prophet thus relied on others to write for him. More than two dozen clerks are known to have assisted him in a secretarial capacity. Of these, nine left the Church (typical of the challenges of those years), and four others died while engaged in important writing assignments.

A major inhibition of efforts to keep a record was the persecution the Prophet and the Church experienced. During the years in which the history was being written, the Latter-day Saints moved or were driven across two-thirds of the North American continent. Such unstable conditions resulted in the loss of some records and affected the accuracy of many of those that were preserved. In addition, the Prophet endured lawsuits and repeated arrests that took his attention from the history.

When Willard Richards took over the duties of Church historian in December 1842, a mere 157 pages of a work that eventually numbered 2,000 pages had been written.

On 1 March 1842, publication of the history in serial form commenced in the Nauvoo newspaper Times and Seasons. By 27 June 1844, the date of Joseph Smith’s death, the manuscript had been completed only to 5 August 1838 and published to December 1831. However, important source material had been preserved for completing the history. Shortly before his death, the Prophet wrote: “For the last three years I have a record of all my acts and proceedings, for I have kept several good, faithful, and efficient clerks in constant employ: they have accompanied me everywhere, and carefully kept my history, and they have written down what I have done, where I have been, and what I have said.” [45] Some have indicated that, prior to his death, the Prophet reviewed most of what his clerks had written.

While in Carthage Jail shortly before his death, Joseph Smith instructed the Church historian, Willard Richards, who was there with him, to continue the history. [46] This Elder Richards did, and for the next decade he was the custodian of the records and the architect of the history. After Joseph Smith’s death, work on the history continued, even as the Saints prepared to leave Nauvoo for the Rocky Mountains. With the addition of 674 pages to the manuscript, nearly as much work was done on the history in the period between the Prophet’s death and the departure of the Saints from Nauvoo as had been done in the preceding years.

At the time the records of the Church were packed at Nauvoo for the journey west in February 1846, Willard Richards had compiled the history to 1 March 1843. But in the disruptive years that followed, he was never able to complete that work. After Brother Richards’s death in 1854, George A. Smith and Wilford Woodruff continued work on the history. To assure accuracy, every effort was made to collect information. Late in 1845, for instance, an epistle to the Saints urged all who knew of “any fact, circumstance, incident, event, or transaction” that should be in the history to please report it. [47]

Finally, in August 1856, eighteen years after the history was begun, the work was completed to the death of Joseph Smith. The entire manuscript had been read in the hearing of the First Presidency and other witnesses for a general appraisal.

The History of the Church

Modern standards of history writing were not always observed in earlier time periods. For example, some are surprised to learn at the six-volume History of the Church has portions which were written as if Joseph Smith had written the words, when in fact the original documents were written by others.

Is this an attempt at dishonesty?

The common nineteenth-century format of writing was chosen by Joseph Smith, who directed his clerks to write a first person

Historian Dean Jessee described the differences between historical writing as practiced by a modern writer, and those practices in place in Joseph Smith's day:

Since none of the manuscript of the history is in Joseph Smith’s handwriting, and apparently not much of the text was actually dictated by him, why did those employed on the work write in first person, as though the Prophet himself were writing? That common nineteenth-century format was chosen by Joseph Smith, who directed his clerks to write a first person, daily narrative based upon diaries kept by himself and his clerks. In addition, since Joseph Smith’s diary did not provide an unbroken narrative of his life, the compilers of the history were to bridge gaps by using other sources (diaries, Church periodicals, minute and record books of Church and civic organizations, letters and documents kept on file, and news of current world happenings), changing indirect discourse to direct as if Joseph Smith had done the writing himself. Not uncommon according to the editorial practices of the day, this method of supplying missing detail had the effect of providing a smooth-flowing, connected narrative of events.

Many examples from other works of the period show that this was the historical standard of the time. Nineteenth-century American methods of historical writing and editing were very different from those of today. In 1837, for example, Jared Sparks—regarded as “the first great compiler of national records”—edited in twelve volumes the Writings of George Washington. When his work was later compared with original manuscripts, it was found that he had rewritten portions of letters, deleted or altered offensive passages, and changed irregularities in style and awkward modes of expression.

In his review of historical editing in the United States, Lyman E. Butterfield has noted that changing text and creating text faithful to the ideas of the writer were not uncommon in early years, and that seldom were original texts left to speak for themselves. [48] The History of the Church was written in the general literary and historical climate of its time.

New Testament parallels

Jessee noted that this 19th century approach to historiography matches more ancient practices, such as those used by some Biblical authors:

New Testament writers apparently used a similar method in writing the Gospels. One Bible commentary records that Matthew and Luke borrowed from Mark (Interpreter’s Bible, 7:235–36) and omitted or altered what seemed to be critical of the Apostles. For example, Mark records that James and John came to the Savior and asked that he give them whatsoever they desired; whereupon, the Savior heard their plea that each might sit by his side when he came in glory. (Mark 10:35–37.) When Matthew recorded the event, he said that it was the mother of James and John who desired this privilege for her sons (Matt. 20:20–21.) This difference in recording the circumstances, presumably to place the Apostles in a better light, does not destroy the credibility of the Savior’s mission, nor may we believe that there was dishonesty in making the change.

Challenges with direct citation

Jessee cautions:

One of the challenges facing those who compiled the history was that of presenting the Prophet’s sermons and teachings. Since none of Joseph’s clerks had mastered shorthand during his lifetime, reports of what he said were made longhand. Many of these were smooth-flowing, well-connected summaries and were copied into the history almost as recorded. In some instances, however, it was necessary to reconstruct an address from brief notes and disconnected ideas. George A. Smith’s editorial work was careful, and when he was finished, each discourse was read to members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve, some of whom had also heard the original address. Their input proved invaluable. These measures no doubt guaranteed the doctrinal accuracy of such reporting of Joseph Smith’s discourses, but the result obviously would not reflect his personality and speaking style as accurately as a verbatim report would have done.

An analysis of the History reveals those portions obtained from material written personally by Joseph Smith. These clearly reflect his loving and warm spirit. For example, the following is an entry from the History stemming from a portion of Joseph Smith’s 1835 diary written by himself:

“September 23. I was at home writing blessings for my most beloved brethren, but was hindered by a multitude of visitors. The Lord has blessed our souls this day, and may God grant to continue His mercies unto my house this night, for Christ’s sake. This day my soul has desired the salvation of Brother Ezra Thayer. Also Brother Noah Packard came to my house and loaned the committee one thousand dollars to assist building the house of the Lord. Oh! may God bless him a hundred fold, even of the things of the earth, for this righteous act. My heart is full of desire today, to be blessed of the God of Abraham with prosperity, until I shall be able to pay all my debts, for it is the delight of my soul to be honest. O Lord, that thou knowest right well. Help me, and I will give to the poor.” [49]

Is History of the Church not accurate because Joseph Smith did not write it himself?

The content of the History of the Church is likely largely accurate

Dean C. Jessee noted:

The History will continue to be the most important source of information on the life of the Prophet and early Latter-day Saint history. Since the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve—some of whom were participants in the historical events—reviewed the history, it is reliable. It should be known that the revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants are also recorded in the History of the Church and most assuredly are true and reliable.

It is important to realize that the content of the History of the Church is likely largely accurate, though it can of course be supplemented with other material to expand or correct it. Areas which may be less accurate are the precise wording attributed to Joseph Smith, or the 'personality' of some of the entries, especially the later ones written after his death. Though the History of the Church speaks in the first person as if Joseph were writing, these words are put in his mouth by admirers, often after his martyrdom. Thus, small details of Joseph's "personality" in the History are less likely to be accurate.

Related article:History of the Church as the "most correct" history?
Summary: Quote mining of Doctrines of Salvation about the History of the Church being "the most correct" of any history.


Source(s) of the criticism
Critical sources


Notes

  1. John Sanders, introduction to What about Those Who Have Never Heard? Three Views on the Destiny of the Unevangelized, by Gabriel Fackre, Ronald H. Nash, and John Sanders (1995), 9.
  2. Mormonism and Early Christianity (Vol. 4 of Collected Works of Hugh Nibley), edited by Todd Compton and Stephen D. Ricks, (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Company ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1987), 101.
  3. Alma 42꞉15
  4. D. Todd Christofferson, "The Redemption of the Dead and the Testimony of Jesus," Ensign (January 1998).
  5. John A. Tvedtnes, "Proxy Baptism," Ensign 7 (February 1977): 86. The source erroneously refers to the "Marcionites" instead of the "Cerinthians".
  6. Ibid.
  7. 1 Corinthians 7:14.
  8. Doctrine and Covenants 128:18
  9. This obviously requires a rejection of the doctrine of sola scriptura and the affirmation of continuing revelation outside the Bible. For the best treatments of those from a Latter-day Saint perspective, see Robert S. Boylan, Not By Scripture Alone: A Latter-day Saint Refutation of Sola Scriptura (Charleston, SC: CreativeSpace, 2017). See also Robert S. Boylan, After the Order of the Son of God: The Biblical and Historical Evidence for Latter-day Saint Theology of the Priesthood (Charleston, SC: CreativeSpace, 2018).
  10. FairMormon thanks Jaxon Washburn for his compilation of these sources.
  11. Søren Agersnap, Baptism and the New Life: A Study of Romans 6:1-14 (Aarhus, Denmark: Aarhus University Press, 1999), 175–76.
  12. Charles Kingsley Barrett, A Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians (Harper & Row Publishers Inc, 1987), 362–364.
  13. Stephen C. Barton, “1 Corinthians,” Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible, James D.G. Dunn, ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2003), 1348.
  14. Richard E. DeMaris, The New Testament in its Ritual World (London: Routledge, 2008), 59, 63–64.
  15. James D.G. Dunn, Unity and Diversity in the New Testament: An Inquiry into the Nature of Earliest Christianity (London: SCM Canterbury Press, 2006), 25, 172.
  16. Gordon D. Fee, "The First Epistle to the Corinthians,” The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987), 766–767.
  17. Rolf Furuli, The Role of Theology and Bias in Bible Translation With a Special Look at the New World Translation of Jehovah’s Witnesses (Murrieta, CA: Elihu Books, 1999), 289.
  18. David Bentley Hart, The New Testament: A Translation (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2017), 297.
  19. Scott M. Lewis, So That God May Be All in All: The Apocalyptic Message of 1 Corinthians 15:12-34 (Rome, Italy: Editrice Pontificia Universitá Gregoriana, 1998), 70–71.
  20. Andrew T. Lincoln, Paradise Now and Not Yet: Studies in the Role of the Heavenly Dimension in Paul’s Thought with Special Reference to His Eschatology (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1981), 36.
  21. Steve Mason and Tom Robinson, Early Christian Reader: Christian Texts from the First and Second Centuries in Contemporary English Translations Including the New Revised Standard Version of the New Testament (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2013), 70.
  22. Leon Morris, The First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians: An Introduction and Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1960), 218.
  23. John J. O'Rourke, "1 Corinthians,” A New Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture, Reginald C. Fuller, Leonard Johnston, and Conleth Kearns, eds. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd., 1969), 1159.
  24. William F. Orr and James A. Walter, 1 Corinthians: A New Translation (New York: Doubleday, 1976), 337.
  25. Stephen E. Potthoff, The Afterlife in Early Christian Carthage: Near-Death Experience, Ancestor Cult, and the Archeology of Paradise (London: Routledge, 2017), 3.
  26. Thomas R. Schreiner and Shawn D. Wright, Believer’s Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant in Christ (Nashville: B&H Publishing, 2006), 130–131.
  27. John Short, "Exposition of First Corinthians," The Interpreter’s Bible, vol. 10, 12 vols., George Arthur, ed. (Abingdon, UK: Pierce and Washabaugh, 1953), 240.
  28. William Tabbernee, “Initiation/Baptism in the Montanist Movement,” Ablution, Initiation, and Baptism: Late Antiquity, Early Judaism, and Early Christianity, David Hellholm, ed. (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2011), 941.
  29. James D. Tabor, Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010), 277–278.
  30. Jeffrey A. Trumbower, Rescue for the Dead: The Posthumous Salvation of Non-Christians in Early Christianity (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), 35.
  31. See Ben Fenton, “Mormons Use Secret British War Files ‘to Save Souls,’ ” The Telegraph (London), 15 Feb. 1999.
  32. Greg Stott, “Ancestral Passion,” Equinox (April/May 1998): 45.
  33. D&C 138꞉58
  34. D. Todd Christofferson, "The Redemption of the Dead and the Testimony of Jesus," Ensign (November 2000): 9.off-site (Footnotes have in places been integrated into the main text; citation for has been slightly modified.
  35. Jordan Teicher and Richa Naik, "Here Are 10 Famous People Posthumously Baptized By Mormons," Business Insider, 2 Mar 2012 (accessed 7 Nov 2023).
  36. "28.1.1.2 Submitting the Names of Celebrities and Unauthorized Groups," General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (accessed 7 Nov 2023).
  37. "Can I do temple work for victims of the Jewish Holocaust?" FamilySearch.org, 25 Sep 2023 (accessed 7 Nov 2023; requires a FamilySearch account to view).
  38. D. Todd Christofferson, in Ian Urbina, "Again, Jews Fault Mormons Over Posthumous Baptisms," The New York Times, 21 Dec 2003 (accessed 7 Nov 2023).
  39. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, "The Mormons are Jews' brothers," Deseret Morning News (30 December 2003).
  40. Jerusalem Post, "Jews and Mormons tackle 'proxy baptism' controversy," jpost.com (accessed 2 June 2006).
  41. Russell M. Nelson, "The Spirit Of Elijah," Ensign (November 1994): 84.
  42. Text is from Dean C. Jessee, "I have heard that Joseph Smith didn't actually write his history—that it was prepared by clerks under his direction. If so, how reliable is it?," Ensign (July 1985): 15. off-site; headings and additional material have been added as noted.
  43. Joseph Smith (“Autobiography,” 1832), Kirtland Letter Book, p. 1, manuscript.
  44. Letters to Moses Nickerson, 19 November 1833; to Emma Smith, 6 June 1832, original in the Chicago Historical Society, Chicago, Ill.; and to Emma Smith, 21 March 1839.
  45. Joseph Smith address, 26 May 1844, reported by Thomas Bullock; published in Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 6:409. Volume 6 link
  46. George A. Smith to Wilford Woodruff, 21 April 1856.
  47. Manuscript History of the Church, 16 November 1845.
  48. L. H. Butterfield and Julian Boyd, Historical Editing in the United States (Worcester, Mass.: American Antiquarian Society, 1963), 19, 24–25.
  49. History of the Church, 2:281. Volume 2 link

Response to claim: 406 - Was writing the History of the Church as if Joseph himself wrote it a "flagrant breach of standard protocol for persons producing historical works" as the book claims?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Was writing the History of the Church as if Joseph himself wrote it a "flagrant breach of standard protocol for persons producing historical works" as the book claims?

Author's sources:
  1. No citation provided.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

Using Joseph's authorial voice was standard practice for the day. The Jesse article cited above by the author demonstrates that no effort was made to hide who had written the history.

Alleged whitewashing of Church history

Real history with real mortals is complex and messy. It is not uncommon to be troubled by an aspect of Church history. Critics of the Church often seek to make these concerns worse by claiming or implying that the Church hides troubling aspects of its history.

The History of the Church

Modern standards of history writing were not always observed in earlier time periods. For example, some are surprised to learn at the six-volume History of the Church has portions which were written as if Joseph Smith had written the words, when in fact the original documents were written by others.

Is this an attempt at dishonesty?

The common nineteenth-century format of writing was chosen by Joseph Smith, who directed his clerks to write a first person

Historian Dean Jessee described the differences between historical writing as practiced by a modern writer, and those practices in place in Joseph Smith's day:

Since none of the manuscript of the history is in Joseph Smith’s handwriting, and apparently not much of the text was actually dictated by him, why did those employed on the work write in first person, as though the Prophet himself were writing? That common nineteenth-century format was chosen by Joseph Smith, who directed his clerks to write a first person, daily narrative based upon diaries kept by himself and his clerks. In addition, since Joseph Smith’s diary did not provide an unbroken narrative of his life, the compilers of the history were to bridge gaps by using other sources (diaries, Church periodicals, minute and record books of Church and civic organizations, letters and documents kept on file, and news of current world happenings), changing indirect discourse to direct as if Joseph Smith had done the writing himself. Not uncommon according to the editorial practices of the day, this method of supplying missing detail had the effect of providing a smooth-flowing, connected narrative of events.

Many examples from other works of the period show that this was the historical standard of the time. Nineteenth-century American methods of historical writing and editing were very different from those of today. In 1837, for example, Jared Sparks—regarded as “the first great compiler of national records”—edited in twelve volumes the Writings of George Washington. When his work was later compared with original manuscripts, it was found that he had rewritten portions of letters, deleted or altered offensive passages, and changed irregularities in style and awkward modes of expression.

In his review of historical editing in the United States, Lyman E. Butterfield has noted that changing text and creating text faithful to the ideas of the writer were not uncommon in early years, and that seldom were original texts left to speak for themselves. [1] The History of the Church was written in the general literary and historical climate of its time.

New Testament parallels

Jessee noted that this 19th century approach to historiography matches more ancient practices, such as those used by some Biblical authors:

New Testament writers apparently used a similar method in writing the Gospels. One Bible commentary records that Matthew and Luke borrowed from Mark (Interpreter’s Bible, 7:235–36) and omitted or altered what seemed to be critical of the Apostles. For example, Mark records that James and John came to the Savior and asked that he give them whatsoever they desired; whereupon, the Savior heard their plea that each might sit by his side when he came in glory. (Mark 10:35–37.) When Matthew recorded the event, he said that it was the mother of James and John who desired this privilege for her sons (Matt. 20:20–21.) This difference in recording the circumstances, presumably to place the Apostles in a better light, does not destroy the credibility of the Savior’s mission, nor may we believe that there was dishonesty in making the change.

Challenges with direct citation

Jessee cautions:

One of the challenges facing those who compiled the history was that of presenting the Prophet’s sermons and teachings. Since none of Joseph’s clerks had mastered shorthand during his lifetime, reports of what he said were made longhand. Many of these were smooth-flowing, well-connected summaries and were copied into the history almost as recorded. In some instances, however, it was necessary to reconstruct an address from brief notes and disconnected ideas. George A. Smith’s editorial work was careful, and when he was finished, each discourse was read to members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve, some of whom had also heard the original address. Their input proved invaluable. These measures no doubt guaranteed the doctrinal accuracy of such reporting of Joseph Smith’s discourses, but the result obviously would not reflect his personality and speaking style as accurately as a verbatim report would have done.

An analysis of the History reveals those portions obtained from material written personally by Joseph Smith. These clearly reflect his loving and warm spirit. For example, the following is an entry from the History stemming from a portion of Joseph Smith’s 1835 diary written by himself:

“September 23. I was at home writing blessings for my most beloved brethren, but was hindered by a multitude of visitors. The Lord has blessed our souls this day, and may God grant to continue His mercies unto my house this night, for Christ’s sake. This day my soul has desired the salvation of Brother Ezra Thayer. Also Brother Noah Packard came to my house and loaned the committee one thousand dollars to assist building the house of the Lord. Oh! may God bless him a hundred fold, even of the things of the earth, for this righteous act. My heart is full of desire today, to be blessed of the God of Abraham with prosperity, until I shall be able to pay all my debts, for it is the delight of my soul to be honest. O Lord, that thou knowest right well. Help me, and I will give to the poor.” [2]

To learn more:Editing practices for the History of the Church

Altering the history

Others have been concerned that the recasting of history in the History of the Church included altering documents to conceal embarrassing facts.

For example, some have claimed that Oliver Cowdery's blessing and promise to Orson Hyde contained a false prophecy, which was then altered before being printed in History of the Church.

Claims of "false prophecy" rest upon the most narrow, critical reading possible, and ignore important aspects of LDS thought and theology

It is claimed that the ordination blessing given to Orson Hyde is an example of false prophecy. It is also claimed that Hyde's blessing was altered in the History of the Church for propaganda reasons.[3]

Changes made to the text clarify but do not alter its meaning. Claims of "false prophecy" rest upon the most narrow, critical reading possible, and ignore important aspects of LDS thought and theology.

Text of the Orson Hyde blessing was edited in History of the Church?

The original of Hyde's blessing is in the Kirtland Council Minute book. It is compared here (left) with the version as it appears in the History of the Church (bold text indicates differences):

Kirtland Council Minute Book History of the Church

Orson Hyde blessing. Oliver Cowdery proceeded and called upon the Lord to smile upon him and that his faith shall be perfect, and that the blessings promised shall be realized. He shall be made mighty and be endowed with power from on high, and go forth to the nations of the earth to proclaim the gospel. That he shall escape all the pollutions of the world. The Angels shall uphold him, and that he shall go forth according to the commandment, both to Jew & Gentile and shall go to all nations, kingdoms and tongues and shall All who hear his voice, shall acknowledge him to be a servant of God. He shall be equal in holding the Keys of the Kingdom. He shall stand on the earth and bring souls till Christ comes. We know that he loves thee, and may this thy servant be able to walk through pestilence and not be harmed. The powers of darkness shall have no ascending over him. He shall have power to smite the earth with pestilence, to divide waters and lead through the Saints. He shall go from land to land and from sea to sea. He shall be like unto one of the three Nephites.

Oliver Cowdery called upon the Lord to smile upon him; that his faith be made perfect, and that the blessings pronounced may be realized; that he be made mighty, and be endued with powers from on high, and go forth to the nations of the earth to proclaim the Gospel, that he may escape all the pollutions of the world; that the angels shall uphold him; and that he shall go forth according to the commandment, both to Jew and Gentile, and to all nations, kingdoms and tongues; that all who hear his voice shall acknowledge him to be a servant of God; that he shall be equal with his brethren in holding the keys of the kingdom; that he may stand on the earth and bring souls till Christ comes. We know that he loves Thee, O, Lord, and may this Thy [p.190] servant be able to walk through pestilence and not be harmed; and the powers of darkness have no ascendency over him; may he have power to smite the earth with pestilence; to divide waters, and lead through the Saints; may he go from land to land and from sea to sea, and may he be like one of the three Nephites.

The word "shall" was changed to "may"

The majority of the changes alter a phrase like "shall" to a phrase like "may." The critics presumably wish to mislead the unwary into concluding that the initial version gave unconditional promises or prophecies, while the History of the Church version adds a conditional aspect. Yet, the critics are simply ignorant of word usage in the early 1800s. Webster's 1828 dictionary noted of "shall":

In the second and third persons [i.e., when applied to another person], shall implies a promise, command or determination. "You shall receive your wages," "he shall receive his wages," imply that you or he ought to receive them; but usage gives these phrases the force of a promise in the person uttering them.[4]

Thus, "shall" indicates a promise or command—and, LDS theology (with its strong emphasis on moral agency) always holds that man is free to accept or reject the commandments or promises of God. The History of the Church makes this fact more unambiguous for the modern reader, perhaps, in its use of "may." But, this change in no way changes the content of the blessing.

In fact, the ordination given to Brigham Young on the same day includes similar promises, but usually uses "may" instead of "shall." Since Brigham's blessing was given by Martin Harris, while Orson's was given by Oliver Cowdery, this difference is probably best explained by the habits in language between the two men. (Compare Brigham Young ordination blessing.) Latter-day Saints do not believe that such blessings are generally word-for-word dictation from God, but instead are the speaker's best attempt to put into words the information communicated to them by the Holy Spirit (e.g., D&C 1꞉24). Those people who edited the History of the Church understood this.

Critics reading through their own theology and ideas

This is another excellent example of sectarian critics' tendency to read LDS scripture and language through their own lenses—the critics are often Calvinists, believing in God's absolute predestination of events and acts. But, LDS theology has never seen the matter that way. Instead, God gives promises or commands to mortals who may choose to participate or not. As the Lord said elsewhere:

49 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that when I give a commandment to any of the sons of men to do a work unto my name, and those sons of men go with all their might and with all they have to perform that work, and cease not their diligence, and their enemies come upon them and hinder them from performing that work, behold, it behooveth me to require that work no more at the hands of those sons of men, but to accept of their offerings....
51 Therefore, for this cause have I accepted the offerings of those whom I commanded to build up a city and a house unto my name, in Jackson county, Missouri, and were hindered by their enemies, saith the Lord your God. (D&C 124꞉49,51

This is simply not a false prophecy

Critics go further in claiming that the blessing which says that Hyde "shall stand on the earth and bring souls till Christ comes" proves that this is a false prophecy.

But, the blessing nowhere asserts that Hyde will be a mortal until the Second Coming. Unlike many Christian theologies, the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not place the abode of the dead in another world or realm. Likewise, it does not cause the preaching of the gospel and the redeeming of souls to cease with death. Missionary work continues in the spirit world after death, and the "spirit world" to which the dead go is on earth. Brigham Young said:

When you lay down this tabernacle [i.e., mortal body], where are you going? Into the spiritual world. Are you going into Abraham's bosom. No, not anywhere nigh there, but into the spirit world. Where is the spirit world? It is right here. Do the good and evil spirits go together? Yes, they do. Do they both inhabit one kingdom? Yes, they do. Do they go to the sun? No. Do they go beyond the boundaries of this organized earth? No, they do not. They are brought forth upon this earth, for the express purpose of inhabiting it to all eternity. Where else are you going? Nowhere else, only as you may be permitted....

Father Smith and Carlos and brother Partridge, yes, and every other good Saint, are just as busy in the spirit world as you and I are here. They can see us, but we cannot see them unless our eyes were opened. What are they doing there? They are preaching, preaching all the time, and preparing the way for us to hasten our work in building temples here and elsewhere, and to go back to Jackson County and build the great temple of the Lord. They are hurrying to get ready by the time that we are ready and we are all hurrying to get ready by the time our Elder Brother is ready (emphasis added).[5]

Thus, faithful apostles would continue their work among the wicked (either as a mortal or among the spirits) until Christ comes.</onlyinclude>

Source(s) of the criticism
Critical sources


Sidney Rigdon and the succession crisis of 1844

Joseph Smith's murder posed a dilemma for early members—who would lead the Church while he was gone. Sidney Rigdon offered himself as a leader; this was opposed by Brigham Young and the twelve apostles.

Sidney was not sustained by Church members, and the Twelve pointed out that Joseph himself had wanted to remove Sidney from his role as Joseph's counselors. Critics have again pointed to differences between the original source for his membership trial (the Church's newspaper Times and Seasons) and the version which appears in History of the Church.

There are some differences, which we will examine in detail below.

The history may have been modified by Joseph's successors for noble or base reasons, and they may have served or harmed historical accuracy in doing so

The basic story is essentially unchanged—Joseph wanted to get rid of Sidney, and did not fully trust him or have much confidence in him even when he continued in his role as counselor. Joseph held out some hope that Sidney would rise to his calling, and it is this that is omitted in the History of the Church's version.

The history may have been modified by Joseph's successors for noble or base reasons, and they may have served or harmed historical accuracy in doing so. It is difficult to determine which at this remove.

If those compiling the history did wrong, this simply demonstrates that fallible leaders are not without faults, flaws, or improper jealousies. Most members, however, would probably conclude that the History of the Church version removed the ambiguity in Joseph's initial response simply because Sidney had clearly failed to measure up—for the compilers, there was ambiguity no longer.

Needless to say, such a procedure does not meet modern historical standards, and ought not be undertaken today.

The two accounts are compared in the table below

The two accounts are compared in the table below (paragraphing has been slightly altered so the accounts will align better for comparison). Red italics have been added, the green text is italicized in the original History of the Church:

Times and Seasons version[6] History of the Church version[7]


MINUTES OF A SPECIAL CONFERENCE. Of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, held in the City of Nauvoo, commencing on the 6th of October, 1843.

Friday, October 6th, 10 o'clock A. M.

The weather proving unfavorable, the organization of the conference was postponed until the next day at 10 o'clock, A. M.

Saturday, 10 'clock A. M. Conference assembled and proceeded to business.

President Joseph Smith was called to the chair, and Gustavus Hills chosen clerk.

Opened with singing by the choir, and prayer by elder Almon Babbitt. The president stated the items of business to be brought before the Conference, to be,

1st. The case and standing of elder Sidney Rigdon, counsellor to the First Presidency.

2d. The further progress of the Temple; after which, any miscellaneous business.

Elder Sidney Rigdon addressed the conference on the subject of his situation and circumstances among the saints.

President Joseph Smith addressed the conference, inviting an expression of any charges or complaints which the Conference had to make. He sated his dissatisfaction with elder Sidney Rigdon as a counsellor, not having received any material benefit from his labors or counsels since their escape from Missouri. Several complaints were then brought forward in reference to his management in the Post Office; a supposed correspondence in connection with John C. Bennett, with Ex-Governor Carlin, and with the Missourians, of a treacherous character: also his leaguing with dishonest persons in endeavoring to defraud the innocent.

President Joseph Smith related to the Conference the detention of documents from J. Butterfield, Esq., which were designed for the benefit of himself, (President Smith,) but was not handed over for some three or four weeks, greatly to his disadvantage. Also, an indirect testimony from Missouri, through the mother of Orin P. Rockwell, that said Rigdon and others had given information, by letter, of President Smiths' visit to Dixon, advising them to proceed to that place and arrest him there. He stated that in consequence of those, and other circumstances, and his unprofitableness to him as a counsellor, he did not wish to retain him in that station, unless those difficulties could be removed; but desired his salvation, and expressed his willingness that he should retain a place among the saints.

Elder Almon Babbitt suggested the propriety of limiting the complaints and proofs to circumstances that had transpired since the last Conference.

President Joseph Smith replied, and showed the legality and propriety of a thorough investigation, without such limitation.

Elder Sidney Rigdon plead, concerning the documents from J. Butterfield, Esq., that he received it in answer to some inquiries which he had transmitted to him that he received it at a time when he was sick, and unable to examine it—did not know that it was designed for the perusal and benefit of President Joseph Smith—that he had, consequently, ordered it to be laid aside, where it remained until inquired for by Joseph Smith. He had never written to Missouri concerning the visit of Joseph Smith to Dixon, and knew of no other person having done so. That, concerning certain rumors of belligerent operations under Governor Carlin's administration, he had related them, not to alarm or disturb any one, but that he had the rumors form good authorities, and supposed them well founded. That he had never received but one communication from John C. Bennett, and that of a business character, except one addressed to him conjointly with Elder Orson Pratt, which he handed over to President Smith—that he had never written any letters to John C. Bennett.

The weather becoming inclement, Conference adjourned until Sunday 10 o'clock A. M.


Sunday, 8th inst., 10 o'clock, A. M.

Conference assembled agreeably to the adjournment and opened with singing by the choir, and prayer by Elder William W. Phelps.

Elder Sidney Rigdon resumed his plea of defence. He related the circumstances of his reception in the city of Quincy, after his escape from Missouri the cause of his delay in not going to the city of Washington, on an express to which he had been appointed—and closed with a moving appeal to President Joseph Smith concerning their former friendship, associations and sufferings, and expressed his willingness to resign his place, though with sorrowful and indescribable feelings. During this address, the sympathies of the congregation were highly excited.

Elder Almon Babbitt related a conversation he had had with Esq. Johnson, in which he exonerated elder Sidney Rigdon from the charge or suspicion of having had treacherous correspondence with Ex-Governor Carlin.

President Joseph Smith arose and satisfactorily explained to the congregation the supposed treacherous correspondence with Ex-Governor Carlin, which wholly removed suspicion from elder Sidney Rigdon, and from every other person. He expressed entire willingness to have elder Sidney Rigdon retain his station, provided he would magnify his office, and walk and conduct himself in all honesty, righteousness, and integrity; but signified his lack of confidence in his integrity and steadfastness, judging from their past intercourse.

President Hyrum Smith followed with appropriate and expressive remarks on the attribute of mercy in God, as that by which He influences, controls, and conquers—and the propriety and importance of the saint's exercising the same attribute towards their fellows; and especially towards their aged companion and fellow servant in the cause of truth and righteousness.

Elder Almon Babbitt and pres't. Wm. Law followed with remarks in defence of elder Sidney Rigdon.

On motion by President William Marks, and seconded by President Hyrum Smith, Conference voted that elder Sidney Rigdon be permitted to retain his station as Counsellor to the First Presidency.

Singing by the choir prayer by pres't. Wm. Law.

Conference adjourned for one hour.

MINUTES OF A SPECIAL CONFERENCE. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in Special Conference, held in the City of Nauvoo, commencing on the 6th of October, 1843.

Friday, October 6, ten o'clock, a.m.

The weather proving unfavorable, the organization of the Conference was postponed until the next day at ten o'clock, a.m.

Saturday, ten o'clock, a.m. Conference assembled and proceeded to business.

President Joseph Smith was called to the chair, and Gustavus Hills was chosen clerk.

Singing by the choir, and prayer by Elder Almon W. Babbitt. The president stated the items of business to be brought before the conference to be—

1st. The case and standing of Elder Sidney Rigdon, Counselor in the First Presidency.

2nd. The further progress of the Temple; after which, any miscellaneous business.

Elder Sidney Rigdon addressed the conference on the subject of his situation and circumstances among the Saints.

President Joseph Smith addressed the conference, inviting an expression of any charges or complaints which the conference had to make. He stated his dissatisfaction with Elder Sidney Rigdon as a Counselor, not having received any material benefit from his labors or counsels since their escape from Missouri. Several complaints were then brought forward in reference to his management in the post office; a supposed corespondence and connection with John C. Bennett, with Ex-Governor Carlin, and with the Missourians, of a treacherous character; also his leaguing with dishonest persons in endeavoring to defraud the innocent.

President Joseph Smith related to the conference the detention of a document from Justin Butterfield, Esq., which was designed for the benefit of himself, (President Smith,) but was not handed over for some three or four weeks, greatly to his disadvantage; also, an indirect testimony from Missouri, through the mother of Orrin P. Rockwell, that said Rigdon and others had given information, by letter, of President Smith's visit to Dixon, advising them to proceed to that place [p.48] and arrest him there. He stated that, in consequence of these and other circumstances, and Elder Rigdon's unprofitableness to him as a Counselor, he did not wish to retain him in that station, unless those difficulties could be removed; but desired his salvation, and expressed his willingness that he should retain a place among the Saints.

Elder Almon W. Babbitt suggested the propriety of limiting the complaints and proofs to circumstances that had transpired since the last conference.

President Joseph Smith replied, and showed the legality and propriety of a thorough investigation, without such limitation.

Elder Sidney Rigdon pleaded, concerning the document from Justin Butterfield, Esq., that he received it in answer to some inquiries which he [Rigdon] had transmitted to him [Butterfield]; that he [Rigdon] received it at a time when he was sick, and unable to examine it; did not know that it was designed for the perusal and benefit of President Joseph Smith; that he had, consequently, ordered it to be laid aside, where it remained until inquired for by Joseph Smith. He had never written to Missouri concerning the visit of Joseph Smith to Dixon, and knew of no other person having done so. That, concerning certain rumors of belligerent operations under Governor Carlin's administration, he had related them, not to alarm or disturb any one; but that he had the rumors from good authorities, and supposed them well founded. That he had never received but one communication from John C. Bennett, and that of a business character, except one addressed to him conjointly with Elder Orson Pratt, which he handed over to President Smith. That he had never written any letters to John C. Bennett. The weather becoming inclement, conference adjourned until Sunday, ten o'clock, a.m.


Sunday, 8th, ten o'clock, a.m. Conference assembled agreeably to adjournment.


Singing by the choir, and prayer by Elder William W. Phelps.

Elder Sidney Rigdon resumed his plea of defense. He related the circumstances of his reception in the city of Quincy, after his escape from Missouri,—the cause of his delay in not going to the city of Washington, on an express to which he had been appointed: and closed with a moving appeal to President Joseph Smith, concerning their former friendship, associations, and sufferings; and expressed his willingness to resign his place, though with sorrowful and indescribable feelings. During this address, the sympathies of the congregation were highly excited.

Elder Almon W. Babbitt related a conversation he had had with Esquire Johnson, in which he exonerated Elder Sidney Rigdon from the [p.49] charge or suspicion of having had a treacherous correspondence with ex-Governor Carlin.

President Joseph Smith arose and explained to the congregation the supposed treacherous correspondence with ex-Governor Carlin, and expressed entire lack of confidence in his integrity and steadfastness, judging from their past intercourse.


Patriarch Hyrum Smith followed with appropriate and impressive remarks on the attributes of mercy in God, as that by which He influences. controls and conquers; and the propriety and importance of the Saints exercising the same attribute towards their fellows, and especially towards their aged companion and fellow-servant in the cause of truth and righteousness.

Elder Almon W. Babbitt and President William Law followed with remarks in defense of Elder Sidney Rigdon.

On motion by President William Marks, and seconded by Patriarch Hyrum Smith, conference voted that Elder Sidney Rigdon be permitted to retain his station as Counselor in the First Presidency.

President Joseph Smith arose and said, "I have thrown him off my shoulders, and you have again put him on me. "You may carry him, but I will not." [Fn 2:This paragraph in Italics appears as footnote in the Ms. History.]

Singing. Prayer by Elder William Law.

Conference adjourned for one hour.

There are only two significant differences between the accounts

Thus, there are only two significant differences:

Times and Seasons version History of the Church version

President Joseph Smith arose and satisfactorily explained to the congregation the supposed treacherous correspondence with Ex-Governor Carlin, which wholly removed suspicion from elder Sidney Rigdon, and from every other person. He expressed entire willingness to have elder Sidney Rigdon retain his station, provided he would magnify his office, and walk and conduct himself in all honesty, righteousness, and integrity; but signified his lack of confidence in his integrity and steadfastness, judging from their past intercourse.

(Material in bold was removed from the History of the Church account.)

President Joseph Smith arose and explained to the congregation the supposed treacherous correspondence with ex-Governor Carlin, and expressed entire lack of confidence in his integrity and steadfastness, judging from their past intercourse.

(Material in bold was added to the History of the Church account.)

No corresponding text

President Joseph Smith arose and said, "I have thrown him off my shoulders, and you have again put him on me. "You may carry him, but I will not." [Fn 2:This paragraph in Italics appears as footnote in the Ms. History.]

A modern historian, of course, cringes at this modification of the original text

In both cases, it is clear that Joseph still does not trust Sidney, even after he has been cleared of the issue with Gov. Carlin's letters. In the contemporaneous text, however, Joseph does express willingness to keep Sidney as councilor if he will conduct himself properly (though he still expresses doubt that he will).

Since Sidney was kept on as councilor, for him to have any chance of success or influence, Joseph could not simply "cut him off at the knees"—that would guarantee Sidney's failure. Thus, the contemporary account allowed for the possibility of Sidney's proper functioning, though Joseph remained publicly dubious, and privately even more so.

By the time the History of the Church was printed, Sidney had nearly torn the Church apart. He had challenged the right of Brigham Young and the Twelve to lead after Joseph's death. Thus, those compiling the history were firmly convinced that Sidney had failed his chance. Those who compiled it may also have not wanted to portray Joseph as at all 'wrong' about Sidney—they may have known (or believed) that Joseph considered his conciliatory remarks to be of little hope. Or, on a more cynical interpretation, they may have wished to undermine Sidney's claims to leadership after Joseph's death.

It should be noted too that this account is not a verbatim transcript—it is an author's summary of what they heard. Some who compiled the history were doubtless present at the same meeting. They may have remembered the matter quite differently, especially with the passage of time and subsequent events which made them more hostile to Sidney. They may well have seen the Times and Seasons report as too biased in Sidney's favor, or (as discussed above) bending over backward to soft-peddle what Joseph had actually said. They may, then, have seen themselves as restoring accuracy which had been compromised.

The note about the Manuscript History is clearly marked as an addition, and was not included in the original account. It may represent:

(a) a properly-remembered public remark of Joseph's that was not inserted into the record at that time to spare Sidney's effectiveness;
(b) a properly-remembered remark of Joseph's to the Twelve or others; or
(c) a mis-remembered or deliberately fabricated remark inserted after Joseph's death to weaken Sidney's claims to the succession.

One's attitude to Joseph, Sidney, the Twelve, and the Church's truth claims will probably determine which explanation seems most plausible to each reader.</onlyinclude>

Source(s) of the criticism
Critical sources


A more modern example

In an effort to portray this type of supposed 'deception' as a routine Church tactic, critics will often point to the decision to have Elder Ronald L. Poelman's 1984 conference talk re-recorded with a "cough track"

This decision is then portrayed as an effort to hide the fact that changes had been made to his talk before its publication. As we might expect, the reality is more complicated and far less sinister.

Elder Poelman voluntarily edited his talk when he learned that some "fundamentalist" Mormons were using his address as justification for their beliefs

Elder Ronald L. Poelman's 1984 conference talk was edited after delivery and re-recorded with a cough track. Some have claimed that this was an effort to hide the fact that changes had been made. Other have claimed Elder Poelman was ordered to make the changes to his talk. [8]

Elder Poelman voluntarily edited his talk when he learned that some "fundamentalist" Mormons were using his address as justification for their beliefs. The re-recording was intended for distribution to the world-wide Church, and was not an effort to hide the fact that changes had been made.[9]

Elder Poelman was not in any way forced to make changes to his talk

Elder Poelman was not in any way forced to make changes to his talk. In fact, the substance of what he said in 1984 is extremely similar to the things that Elder Uchtdorf said in one of his recent conferences addresses. However, after the conference, members and leaders raised issues about how his talk might be received and used by some who sought reasons to discount the counsel of leaders to justify practices such as polygamy. Because of the questions raised, Elder Poelman was desirous to clarify his remarks so that it could not be used as a license by others to disregard modern revelation or counsel.

Because it is common practice for talks to be edited for publication, it was thought that the "official" record should reflect the clarified intent of the talk

Because it is common practice for talks to be edited for publication, it was thought that the "official" record should reflect the clarified intent of the talk. As such, Elder Poelman himself made modifications to his own remarks for the official record that would be published in the Ensign.

Clearly, producing an "updated" version of a talk that had already been recorded posed some problems

In 1984, producing video records of the conference for home use was relatively new. Clearly, producing an "updated" version of a talk that had already been recorded posed some problems. For one, a recording with no background noise would stand out in contrast to all the other talks with no modifications. In addition, there was likely a desire not to deceive but to give authenticity to the presentation so as to not distract from its actual message.

While perhaps a unwise decision in hindsight, the intent was simply to let the core of the message be the focus, not the distractions of the delivery because of the changes

While perhaps a unwise decision in hindsight, the intent was simply to let the core of the message be the focus, not the distractions of the delivery because of the changes. For these reasons, background noises were allowed to be introduced or were intentionally added. (It is not clear whether the background noise--sometimes termed a "cough track" was intentionally added, or whether those in the tabernacle during the retaping were simply were allowed to behave as they would have during the original presentation, resulting in a low level of ambient noise similar to other talks.)

In the end, the intent and purpose was to make the excellent remarks of Elder Poelman the focus of the video, and to allow him to make changes he himself desired to have made, which were made without any compulsion whatsoever from any other church leader.

Unfortunately, critics have shifted the focus from his beautiful message to a misleading discussion of a "cover up," and attempted even in retrospect to impute meaning to his original talk that he did not intend. If anything, this demonstrates the wisdom of making the clarifications he did, if not the technical means used to circulate the changes.

The most telling comment made by the sources available to FairMormon volunteers was that the late Elder Poelman would be horrified to know people today were using his talk to attack the Church. The intent of his talk, including the changes, were intended to foster faith, not doubt in the Church.

In retrospect, this talk was a beautiful one in its original form, and had it been left as it was originally delivered it would have have never become the focus of criticism for secular and "intellectual" critics, though some "fundamentalist" groups might have embraced and misused its ideas.

Ironically, the changes Elder Poelman introduced promoted the very criticism and fault-finding with the Church that he had hoped to forestall, but one cannot fault a faithful servant for trying to make his offering more effective, or fault those who sought to make the new technological distribution of his talk as congruent with the rest of conference as possible as they prepared the official record for dissemination.

I personally do not consider his talk, the changes, or the potentially misguided efforts to make the video version authentic as anything deceitful. Given that all knew that the original recording existed, with press and others present for the original delivery, it defies reason that there was an attempt at a cover up or deceive. Rather, there was an effort only to allow him to amend his official remarks in both the written and video record, and allow it to be as authentic as all the other recorded talks.


Conclusion

These types of attacks, then, rely on the reader misunderstanding the nature of historical writing in the past, and ascribing nefarious motives to understandable decisions.

Main article:Alleged whitewashing of polygamy in Church history
Source(s) of the criticism
Critical sources

Notes

  1. L. H. Butterfield and Julian Boyd, Historical Editing in the United States (Worcester, Mass.: American Antiquarian Society, 1963), 19, 24–25.
  2. History of the Church, 2:281. Volume 2 link
  3. Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Mormonism—Shadow or Reality?, 5th edition, (Salt Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1987), 188.
  4. Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language (New York: S. Converse, 1828), s.v. "shall."
  5. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 3:370.
  6. Times and Seasons 4:330.
  7. History of the Church, 6:47–48. Volume 6 link
  8. Lavina Fielding Anderson, "The LDS Intellectual Community and Church Leadership: A Contemporary Chronology," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 26 no. 1 (1993), 23. https://dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/Dialogue_V26N01_23.pdf; L. Jackson Newell, "An Echo from the Foothills: To Marshal the Forces of Reason," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 19 no. 1 (1986), 27. https://dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/Dialogue_V19N01_28.pdf
  9. FairMormon editors and volunteers have discussed this matter with reliable witnesses to Elder Poelman's actions and thoughts regarding the unwarranted controversy which accompanied his conference talk.

Response to claim: 406, 608n23 (HB) 606n23 (PB) - Was a "forged prediction" added to the history that a "mighty people" that would dwell "in the midst of the Rocky Mountains"?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Was a "forged prediction" added to the history that a "mighty people" that would dwell "in the midst of the Rocky Mountains"?

Author's sources:

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

To accept a "forgery" theory, we must accept that all of the people listed who remembered Joseph speaking about the Rocky Mountains were lying or fabricating their experience


Articles about Joseph Smith

Question: Did Joseph Smith make "forged predictions" and add them retroactively to the history of the Church that a "mighty people" that would dwell "in the midst of the Rocky Mountains"?

To accept a "forgery" theory, we must accept that all of the people listed who remembered Joseph speaking about the Rocky Mountains were lying or fabricating their experience

Furthermore, we must also accept that Joseph was sending explorers to the west with no real expectation of moving, and the discussion of heading west by both members and enemies was all idle talk.

Furthermore, the mention of moving to the west is often incidental—Church leaders mention the matter as if many of their hearers from Nauvoo would recall it. No great effort is made to establish the truth of the matter; it is presumed to be too obvious to require much demonstration.

The source of the prophecy account

The prophecy source is the biography of Anson Call, in August 1842. The relevant section reads as follows:

"A block schoolhouse had been prepared with shade in front, under which was a barrel of ice water. Judge Adams, the highest Masonic authority in the State of Illinois, had been sent there to organize this lodge. He, Hyrum Smith and J. C. Bennett, being high Masons, went into the house to perform some ceremonies which the others were not entitled to witness. These, including Joseph Smith, remained under the bowery. Joseph as he was tasting the cold water, warned the brethren not to be too free with it. With the tumbler still in his hand, he prophesied that the Saints would yet go to the Rocky Mountains, and said he, 'This water tastes much like that of the crystal streams that are running from the snow-capped mountains. I had before seen him in a vision, and now saw, while he was talking, his countenance change to white, not the deadly white of a bloodless face, but a living, brilliant white. He seemed absorbed in gazing upon something at a great distance and said, "I am gazing upon the valleys of those mountains."

I had before seen him [Joseph Smith] in a vision [i.e., while seeing or reporting a divine vision or revelation], and now saw while he was talking his countenance change to white; not the deadly white of a bloodless face, but a living brilliant white. He seemed absorbed in gazing at something at a great distance, and said: "I am gazing upon the valleys of those mountains." This was followed by a vivid description of the scenery of these mountains, as I have since become acquainted with it. Pointing to Shadrach Roundy and others, he said: "There are some men here who shall do a great work in that land." Pointing to me, he said, "There is Anson, he shall go and shall assist in building up cities from one end of the country to the other, and you, rather extending the idea to all those he had spoken of, shall perform as great a work as has been done by man, so that the nations of the earth shall be astonished, and many of them will be gathered in that land and assist in building cities and temples, and Israel shall be made to rejoice."

It is impossible to represent in words this scene which is still vivid in my mind, of the grandeur of Joseph's appearance, his beautiful descriptions of this land, and his wonderful prophetic utterances as they emanated from the glorious inspirations that overshadowed him. There was a force and power in his exclamations of which the following is but a faint echo: "Oh the beauty of those snow-capped mountains! The cool refreshing streams that are running down through those mountain gorges!" Then gazing in another direction, as if there was a change in locality: "Oh the scenes that this people will pass through! The dead that will lay between here and there." Then turning in another direction as if the scene had again changed: "Oh the apostasy that will take place before my brethren reach that land! But," he continued, "The priesthood shall prevail over its enemies, triumph over the devil and be established upon the earth, never more to be thrown down!" He then charged us with great force and power, to be faithful to those things that had been and should be committed to our charge, with the promise of all the blessings that the Priesthood could bestow. "Remember these things and treasure them up. Amen." [1]

Thus, the accusation must be not only that the Church decided to "forge" a prophecy by Joseph, but that Anson Call did as well. Can we assess how likely these claims are?

It could be, of course, that Anson Call forged his account, and all the Church leaders and members lied about remembering Joseph speak about the matter. But why then appeal to "many of you" remembering Joseph speaking about it? Why not claim it was a private, secret teaching given to the apostles—for, they certainly also reported these. If the claim was fraudulent, why risk exposure?

Or, the story could have started after the Saints reached the valley, and simply grown in the telling with members "remembering" the story as it was retold to them. But, the contemporary evidence would seem to argue against this, and witnesses often mentioned how struck they were by Joseph's remarks. They also described him discussing this idea in a variety of setting, which argues against an accumulated "folklore."

It is strange to see critics argue that Joseph would not prophesy about this—in their view, Joseph was always larding his ideas with prophetic pronouncement. And, is it any stretch to think that he would say that the people would grow "mighty" there. Would even a false prophet or charlatan tell his beleaguered followers that they were going into the wilderness to become weak and oppressed?

The simplest explanation seems to be that Joseph discussed moving to the west several times, and likely prophesied about it. Too many witnesses would have to collude or self-deceive for it to have no basis in fact. Whether the story grew in the telling, of course, is difficult to determine.

None of this, to be sure, proves that Joseph Smith was a true prophet. But, to claim that the account of him discussing and even prophesying a move to the west rests on nothing but "forgery" is to distort and ignore too many sources, from too broad a time period, over what is essentially a peripheral issue.

How have less friendly historians treated this prophecy?

We have seen that believing historians such as B. H. Roberts or Orson F. Whitney would be likely to accept this claim. How have less friendly historians treated it?

Hubert Howe Bancroft opined that "In 1842 an expedition had been planned to explore the country toward or beyond the Rocky Mountains; but when Joseph Smith put himself forward as a candidate for the presidency of the United States, all other matters were for the time forgotten." [2] Thus, Bancroft saw the move west as one long contemplated.

D. Michael Quinn, whose work has been repeatedly cited by the author of the critical work One Nation Under Gods, includes this in his Church timeline without comment or qualification, even using the date traditionally ascribed it in the History of the Church:[3]

6 Aug [1842]. While attending a Masonic ceremony Smith prophesies that Mormons would settle in the Rocky Mountains.[4]

Historian Dale Morgan, certainly not an LDS apologist or propagandist, wrote to a private correspondent who seemed to share the author's views of this account:

it is my understanding from reading controversial works involving the Reorganized Church that you have combatted the idea that Joseph Smith ever intended leading the Mormons out of the Mississippi Valley to the West, and that you tend to regard proofs advanced by the L.D.S. church as being revisions of original history to serve the propagandic purposes of this church. This is a matter to which I have given especial attention, and in the work on the Mormons that I have conceived, I believe I shall be able to demolish once and for all any argument that Joseph Smith did not entertain this purpose.

My materials have been drawn in some part, though by no means wholly, from the L.D.S. archives here, but I do not think historians of the Reorganized Church will seriously question my findings when I am enabled to publish them. I cannot speak so authoritatively about the authenticity of the Rocky Mountains prophecy, but I am by no means disposed to doubt it, in view of what I have learned about Smith's purposes in the winter of 1844. I cannot undertake to discuss the whole subject at length here, so for the present I must content myself with assuring you that the statements in the Utah Guide about the proposal to migrate to the Rocky Mountains have a firm factual foundation, and I will publish the proofs in due course.[5]

Thus, Morgan thought it clear that Joseph Smith had intended to go to the Rockies with the Saints, and felt it plausible that Joseph had made a prophecy to that effect. Thus, whatever the facts, it seems unlikely that a crude "forgery" is at work.

Many other Church members later wrote about Joseph's discussion of the Rocky Mountains area

Before the Nauvoo Expositor incident, Benjamin F. Johnson said,

...the Prophet had foreshadowed the close of his own earthly mission, and the near approach of the time when the Saints in tribulation would find a place of refuge in the far-off vales of the Rocky Mountains, which has already taken place; and also relating still to the future, when a path will be opened for the Saints through Mexico, South America, and to the center Stake of Zion.

These, and many more great things were given by him, some of which, as with the ancient disciples, we could not comprehend until fulfilled....It was now revealed to the Prophet that his only safety was in flight to the Rocky Mountains, and he crossed the river with a few faithful friends with a full purpose not to return.[6]

"These things did not come upon us unexpectedly," observed Wandle Mace,

--at least to those who were watching the signs of the times--the Prophet Joseph had told us that many of us would live to go the "Rocky Mountains', and there become a mighty people, therefore we were looking forward to this time. Some of us was afraid we would not have time to finish the [Nauvoo] temple before these things came upon us, they were coming so fast.[7]

Samuel W. Richards remembered being assigned by Joseph to "explore the Rocky Mountains with 23 other men to find a place where the Church could be established." [8]

In 1864, Brigham Young remembered:

In the days of Joseph we have sat many hours at a time conversing about this very country. Joseph has often said, "If I were only in the Rocky Mountains with a hundred faithful men, I would then be happy, and ask no odds of mobocrats." And neither do I.[9]

In 1880, Orson Pratt asked:

Was it upon our own natural judgment [that we came to the valley]? No; we founded our expectation upon that which God had spoken in the modern revelations which He had given to us as a people. He told us, by revelation, before our prophet was martyred, that we would have to leave the United States: go beyond the Rocky Mountains, and seek our home in the wilderness, and that we would have a great people gather with us.[10]

John Taylor spoke of Joseph's frequent mention of this idea:

Many a time have I listened to the voice of our beloved Prophet, while in council, dwell on this subject [the removal of the Saints to the Rocky Mountains] with delight; his eyes sparkling with animation, and his soul fired with the inspiration of the Spirit of the living God. It was a theme that caused the bosoms of all who were privileged to listen, to thrill with delight; intimately connected with this, were themes upon which prophets, patriarchs, priests and kings dwelt with pleasure and delight: of them they prophesied, sung, wrote, spoke and desired to see, but died without the sight. My spirit glows with sacred fire while I reflect upon these scenes, and I say, O Lord, hasten the day! [11]

As is often the case, Mosiah Hancock confirmed Joseph's Rocky Mountain destination in an off-hand manner:

Before the Prophet spoke from the frame [in his last speech before Carthage], he had started to go to the rocky mountains, and went as far a Montrose; but through the interference of some pretended friends, he returned. I was a witness to these things--and when the Prophet spoke from the frame, he spoke with power, and the people loved him.[12]

Some of these later witnesses discussed the matter under different circumstances, which strongly suggests that this was no "secret" teaching of the prophet's, but well noised about. For example, Bathsheba W. Smith remembered:

Joseph, the Prophet, said we would come to the Rocky Mountains, and he had a company of young men selected to hunt a location for a home for the Saints. Samuel Richards was one of that company. I heard of it when we were in Illinois, and I remember an old lady coming in and talking to mother about what Joseph, the Prophet, had said that we would be in the Rocky Mountains sometime. I said I would like the time to come soon, I would like to get away from our enemies. She gave me a right good scolding, saying it was terrible to think of going to the Rocky Mountains.[13]

Rachel Grant remembered that "It tried a great many people when the Prophet gave out the word that there was to be no more gathering at Nauvoo, as the people thought that was the place. He first told them to gather there, but later told them the Rocky Mountains would be the gathering place. It was his thought that they would come to the Rocky Mountains." [14]

Rudger Clawson's diary described a talk he heard:

Patriarch Jas. H. Leathead bore an interesting testimony. Said that he was a resident of [p.613] Nauvoo in the early days of the church and filled the position of drummer boy in the Nauvoo band. Said that he was present and heard the Prophet Joseph Smith predict that the saints would move to the Rocky Mountains.[15]

Wilford Woodruff reported the earliest account of Joseph's teaching on the west. He recorded one of his own addresses on 5 October 1884:

spok 10 M, & gave an Account of the first testimony of the Prophet Joseph in kirtland Aprail 1834 of filling the Rocky Mountains with the Saints of God.[16]

Woodruff would also copy Philo Dibble's record of Joseph's last address to the Nauvoo legion, noting that "Broth J Jaques this Book is W Woodruffs private Historical Book. I wish you to take special care of it yourself until I call for it. I wish you to copy last pages in red ink & file in the office as it is the Last Address of Joseph Smith before his death [from Philo Dibble] and I think we have no Copy of it in the office. The Book itself I wish locked up." [17]

Confirmatory witnesses

Other members also mentioned their own spiritual experiences about the west. Wilford Woodruff recalled that

When in the western country, many years ago, before we came to the Rocky Mountains, I had a dream. I dreamed of being in these mountains, and of seeing a large fine looking temple erected in one of these valleys which was built of cut granite stone, I saw that temple dedicated, and I attended the dedicatory services, and I saw a good many men that are living today in the midst of this people.[18]

The same or a similar account was also noted by L. John Nuttall on 7 October 1891 at a meeting

Over fifty years ago, while in Boston, he [Woodruff]...dreamed that the Saints migrated to the Rocky Mountains, built a Temple and dedicated it; that at the dedicatory services Elders were set apart to go among the Gentile nations to bind the law and seal the testimony.[19]

Other evidence from Joseph's lifetime

There is other evidence recorded during Joseph's lifetime that lends plausibility to the account given by Call and others.

For example, Elder Jonathan Dunham was sent to explore the western countries, and was "most probably prospecting a possible trail and locating resting places for the Saints when engaged in a great westward movement." [20] Why else would Joseph send Dunham—whom he later trusted to head the Nauvoo Legion during his final days before being taken to Carthage—on such a long and difficult journey, given all the pressing difficulties which remained in Nauvoo? As one author noted, "During the Council of Fifty's first meetings in March and April 1844, the Mormon prophet urged the exploration of the American West. In this region the Saints would make a settlement and raise "a standard and ensign of truth for the nations of the earth." [21]

Members of the Council of Fifty believed, in "a retrospective statement on Smith's purposes" according to William Clayton, that when Joseph

crossed the Mississippi River intending to go to the Rocky Mountains. Several hours before his departure, he asked his followers to make a sixteen-foot emblematic flag "for the nations," apparently hoping to take a Mormon, scripture-fulfilling banner with him on his journey. However after less than a day on the Iowa side of the river, he returned to Nauvoo and began his fateful journey to Carthage. The day prior to Smith's death, not fully understanding his danger, Nauvoo citizens responded to his earlier wish and began preparation of a flag of white cloth. The flag, said one of the Saints later, was not intended for Nauvoo. Smith undoubtedly meant the banner to be a tangible symbol of a restored latter-day Kingdom in the mountainous West.[22]

In a related vein, Lorenzo Snow later remembered that

On the 20th of February, 1844, the Prophet Joseph Smith instructed the Twelve Apostles to send a delegation and make explorations in Oregon and California, and seek a good location to which we can remove after the Temple is completed, and "where we can build a city in a day, and have a government of our own....Previous to this, the Prophet had remarked to me that he anticipated moving to the Rocky Mountains with all his family, where he could live in peace and worship God unmolested. But other scenes and prospects awaited us.[23]

There is also a Times and Seasons newspaper account of a conference held on November 1, 1842 in Kirtland, Ohio by LDS missionaries. Reporting on their success, one wrote:

One woman, who at the commencement of the conference declared herself good enough without re baptism, has now come forward before the close and says that she would go to the Rocky Mountains if Joseph said so....[24]

This might be a mere figure of speech, i.e., such as "to the moon and back if Joseph said so." On the other hand, it may be that Joseph's thoughts about the west were beginning to percolate among the Saints and even their enemies, so it can hardly have been much of a secret. Oliver Olney, an apostate member who was supporting John C. Bennett, wrote a letter to Joseph Smith on the matter on 20 July 1842:

"They say with your numerous wifes and maidens you are about to start west as far as the Rocky Mountains where you will raise up a Righteous Branch without being molested by the Laws of the Land." Olney later noted that the Saints "are fast a fixing to go West where they can live in peace without being molested By the laws of the land. They say soon to start If what I hear is correct as far West as Origen Territory and establish a stake of Zion." [25]

As we have seen above, there are accounts of Joseph discussing the matter at least as early as 1834.

Source(s) of the criticism
Critical sources


Notes

  1. Tullidge's Histories, Vol I. History of Northern Utah, and Southern Idaho.--Biographical Supplement, p. 271. See History of the Church, 5:85, note. note Volume 5 link; Orson F. Whitney, Conference Report (April 1916), 66-67.
  2. Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of Utah, 1540-1886, 198.
  3. The History of the Church note by B.H. Roberts says of this matter: "While in Tullidge's biography of Call the date is given as the 14th of July, 1843, evidently an error. There is no entry in the Prophet's journal for the 8th of August, 1842, and the entries for the 8th of August, 1843, and the 14th of July, 1843, relate to matters of quite a different character. Tullidge, in relating Anson Call's recollection of the incident also says that J. C. Bennett was present on the occasion, which must also be an error, as the rupture between Bennett and the Church and its authorities occurred and he had left Nauvoo previous to the 6th of August, 1842. In the Call statement as published by Tullidge, the name of Mr. Adams, the Deputy Grand Master Mason in charge of the ceremonies, is given as George, it should be James."
  4. D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power (Signature Books, 1994), 635.
  5. Dale Morgan to S.A. Burgess, "Dear Mr. Burgess" (1 July 1842); citing in John Phillip Walker, editor, Dale Morgan on Early Mormonism: Correspondence and a New History (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1986), 38. (emphasis added)
  6. Autobiography of Benjamin F. Johnson, from My Life's Review (Independence, MO: Zion's Printing and Publishing Co., 1947), 101.
  7. Autobiography of Wandle Mace, 188–189.
  8. Samuel W. Richards, cited in Autobiography and Diary Excerpts of Anthony W. Ivins (8 October 1905); compare similar story recorded by Diary Excerpts of Thomas A. Clawson, 1904-1906 Bk, p. 350 (Aug 6, 1906).
  9. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 11:16.
  10. Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses 21:274.
  11. B.H. Roberts, The Life of John Taylor, 179–180.
  12. Autobiography of Mosiah Lyman Hancock, 28.
  13. Bathsheba W. Smith, Young Woman's Journal 16 (1905): 549-58
  14. Rachel Ridgeway Grant, Young Woman's Journal 16 (1905): 549-58
  15. Larson, Diaries of Rudger Clawson, 612–613.
  16. Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols., ed., Scott G. Kenny (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 8:279. ISBN 0941214133.
  17. Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols., ed., Scott G. Kenny (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 8:appendix (journal entry dated 24 November 1878). ISBN 0941214133.
  18. Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses 21:299.
  19. L. John Nuttall Papers, Letter Press Book #4, 285.
  20. History of the Church, 5:xxviii. Volume 5 link
  21. Ronald W. Walker, "'A Banner is Unfurled': Mormonism's Ensign Peak," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 26 no. 4, 72.
  22. Walker, 72-73; citing Council Meeting, 26 Feb. 1847, Thomas Bullock minutes, LDS Archives.
  23. Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow, 76.
  24. John P. Green, "Kirtland, October 28, 1842," Times and Seasons 4 no. 3 (15 December 1842), 39. off-site GospeLink
  25. Marvin S. Hill, Quest for Refuge, 120; citing Olney papers, #15 and #30.

Response to claim: 406, 606n23 (PB) - Was a "forged prediction" added to the history of the Church regarding the future political career of Senator Stephen A. Douglas?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:


  • Was a "forged prediction" added to the history of the Church regarding the future political career of Steven (sic) A. Douglas?
  • (Note: Should be "Stephen" A. Douglas)

    Author's sources:

  • History of the Church, vol. 5, 85, 393-394, 398.
  • No other citation is given to support this claim.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

In fact, the prediction was published more than a year before Douglas' attack on the Church; this was well-before his aspirations to the U.S. presidency or fall in political fortunes.
Articles about Joseph Smith

Alleged false prophecies by leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Many critics of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints assert that its past presidents (men that Latter-day Saints consider prophets) have made failed prophecies and that this either proves or provides evidence for the claim that they aren't true prophets receiving revelation from God.

We will first discuss general principles regarding alleged false prophecies.[1]

The Three Models of Prophecy: Film Reel, Weather Forecast, and Plan

How we understand a claim of false prophecy will depend on what we understand prophecy to be. There are at least three potential models:

  1. Film Reel model: The future is already planned out and God, like an old-timey projectionist, can unfurl the reel and see what happens further on in the movie of life, come back to the present, and reveal that will to his children. Key to this model of prophecy is that the events revealed in prophecy will certainly happen.
  2. Weather forecast model: God makes a prediction of the future based off of present circumstances. If present circumstances change, then the prophecy does not have to reach fulfillment. God’s formula in scripture seems to be one set up on conditional statements. In this model, prophecy is a description of what will probably happen, not a certain declaration.
  3. Plan model: God revealing his plans for the future given certain conditions being met. If those conditions are not met, then God will act differently. For instance, God can state that if A happens, then B will happen. (For example, "If you do not repent, you will be destroyed." Under this model, humans make choices right now that change the outcome of the prophecy. Key to this model of prophecy is that the events revealed and described in prophecy will contingently happen.

Elements of all models may apply in some situations. We often have a model in mind without realizing it, and so make judgments based on only a partial view of what prophecy is or can be.

A more speculative fourth option—God's foreknowledge may not be absolute

A more speculative option (and one that is likely to be much more objectionable for some) is the idea that God does not have exhaustive foreknowledge of the future. (Conservative protestant critics, often Calvinists by theology, would typically reject this option strongly since they believe in God's absolute sovereignty—including the idea that some people are unconditionally chosen from all eternity to be saved. Those so chosen will always respond to God's decision to offer them salvation, and this saved state cannot be undone by any human choice or action,

By contrast, the restored Church of Jesus Christ holds to none of these views—God has not predestined any of his children to salvation or damnation, all have the moral agency to respond to God's gracious offer of salvation, and even those who are in a saved state and covenant relationship can use that same moral agency to reject God and not "endure to the end."[2]

The Church does not take an official position as to how members ought to view God's foreknowledge.[3]

Some believe that God has knowledge of all things that will actually happen in the future.

Others believe that the nature of free will or moral agency means that even God cannot be certain how truly free creatures will act until they do so. Thus, God has a very good idea of how things will go, but he does not achieve certainty until we choose to act. Those who hold this view insist that this does not mean that God does not have all the power it is possible to have—merely that absolute foreknowledge is a logical impossibility. Further, they also believe that regardless of these considerations, God is still absolutely capable of bringing to pass his purposes, and no moral agent can thwart his plans, save as it regards themselves.[4]

Deuteronomy 18—a biblical test of true prophesy

Critics from other branches of Christianity often cite Deuteronomy 18:20–22 as a scriptural test of a claim to prophethood. That scripture states:

But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.

This test is straightforward—if a prophesy is made and it fails, the speaker of the prophesy should be regarded as a false prophet. While simple on the surface, the matter quickly becomes more complex. If the critics used this standards on the bible as they try to use it against Joseph Smith, they would soon dismiss much of the bible.

John Tvedtnes wrote:

Based on the false premise that "all you need is one false prophecy to have a false prophet," some critics have ignored many of Joseph Smith’s [fulfilled] prophecies and have zeroed in on ones they consider to be false. But they typically identify unfulfilled commandments, opinions, and counsel as "false prophecies." In doing so, they forsake the rules laid out in 18?lang=eng&id=p20-22#p20-22 Deuteronomy 18꞉20-22, ignoring the fact that the passage defines a false prophecy as one uttered in the name of the Lord which does not come to pass.

The main problem is that the critics do not apply these same standards to biblical prophecies. And when we try to show that, by these standards, many of the biblical prophets fail the tests they have set up for Joseph Smith, we are accused of "Bible-slamming." To those who ascribe more divinity to the Bible than to God, such a "sin" is worse than blasphemy itself. Honesty, however, impels us to submit the biblical prophets to the same tests as those applied to Joseph Smith.

For this reason, following the logic of the critics, we would have to conclude that Moses-to whom the revelation in Deuteronomy 18:20-22 is ascribed-was a false prophet. In Numbers 25꞉13, he said, in the name of the Lord, that Phinehas, his grand nephew, would hold the priesthood eternally. But if Hebrews 7꞉11-12 is correct, the Aaronic priesthood is not eternal. In this particular example, Moses fills the requirement for the test of Deuteronomy much more closely than does Joseph Smith in most of the examples of "false prophecies" cited by the critics. How, then, can Latter-day Saints accept both Joseph Smith and Moses as true prophets, regarding their prophecies as divinely-inspired? The answer lies in the fact that prophecy is typically conditional.[1]

Step #1: Ensure that the account of the prophecy is authentic and is not based on hearsay

John Tvedtnes wrote:

This brings us to the fact that some critics quote secondary sources to illustrate "false prophecies" uttered by Joseph Smith. By their very definition, such sources cannot be considered totally accurate in their representation of the prophet’s words. One of the critics became rather selective in his use of secondary sources. Whenever the "prophecy" (some of them weren’t prophecies), in his judgment, failed, he was quick to pronounce the secondary source "authentic" or "reliable." But when it was fulfilled, he denounced it as coming from a secondary source and therefore unreliable. He even went so far as to term one failed prophecy as "reliable" because its source was "Mormon," while denouncing another fulfilled prophecy on the very same grounds.

For my part, I use all secondary sources with caution. They may give insights, but they cannot be considered with the same weight as known statements of Joseph Smith. This is true of journal accounts as well, for the reason that they are generally written after the fact (often at the end of the day) and are usually not reviewed by the person who made the statement.

Here is an example of how journals are sometimes misused: One critic quoted a revelation of Joseph Smith as found in Parley P. Pratt’s Autobiography (page 100), reading "surely Zion cannot fail, neither be moved out of her place." Elder Pratt, however, gave an abbreviated version of the revelation, which is found in D&C 97꞉19-20. In the original, we find that the words in question are what "the nations of the Gentiles shall say" of Zion at some point in the future. The secondary version was evidently used because it is more susceptible to interpretation as a "false prophecy."

Other problems arise when the critics cite a known forgery or a "false prophecy" by Joseph Smith whose only source is another anti-Mormon publication. Of a particular document, one critic wrote, "I believe this might be the most clear cut prophecy Joseph Smith ever gave." The document in question is a forgery prepared by Mark Hofmann. ...

One critic asked, "Do you really want to risk your eternal salvation on men who make statements like these?" To this, I reply, Can we risk our eternal salvation on the Bible, which reports that the sun and the moon stood still for Joshua (Joshua 10꞉12-14), when we know that this-like Quakers living on the moon-is a scientific impossibility? One might object that what the Bible describes is the standing still of the earth, rather than of the heavenly bodies (which is precisely the way the Book of Mormon puts it in Helaman 12꞉13-15). But the point is that the author of Joshua held an incorrect belief concerning the movement of celestial bodies, even if that does not invalidate the basic story he tells. So, too, Joseph Smith (and others) could have held false views concerning these same celestial bodies and yet told the truth about the revelations he received from God.[1]

Step #2: Verify that the source claims that the prophecy came by revelation from God

Tvedtnes continued:

Under date of February 8, 1843, Joseph Smith wrote, "[I] visited with a brother and sister from Michigan who thought that >a prophet is always a prophet;’ but I told them that a prophet was a prophet only when he was acting as such" (History of the Church 5:265). Prophets are, after all, human beings. The fact that they speak for God on occasion does not remove their free agency. Like all of us, prophets have opinions. Sometimes, these opinions are clearly set off, as Paul did in his first epistle to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 7꞉10,12,25,40). Joseph Smith occasionally used wording such as "this is my counsel" (History of the Church 1:455) or "I therefore warn" ( Nauvoo Neighbor, June 19, 1844).[5] Elder Charles W. Penrose, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve and later a counselor in the First Presidency, wrote, "At the head of this Church stands a man who is a Prophet…we respect and venerate him; but we do not believe that his personal views or utterances are revelations from God."[6]

More recently, Joseph Fielding Smith wrote:

It makes no difference what is written or what anyone has said, if what has been said is in conflict with what the Lord has revealed, we can set it aside. My words, and the teachings of any other member of the Church, high or low, if they do not square with the revelations, we need not accept them. Let us have this matter clear. We have accepted the four standard works as the measuring yardsticks, or balances, by which we measure every man’s doctrine. You cannot accept the books written by the authorities of the Church as standards in doctrine, only in so far as they accord with the revealed word in the standard works. (Doctrines of Salvation 3:203)

Similar thoughts were expressed by President Harold B. Lee in a European area conference:

If anyone, regardless of his position in the Church, were to advance a doctrine that is not substantiated by the standard Church works, meaning the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price, you may know that his statement is merely his private opinion. The only one authorized to bring forth any new doctrine is the President of the Church, who, when he does, will declare it as revelation from God, and it will be so accepted by the Council of the Twelve and sustained by the body of the Church. And if any man speak a doctrine which contradicts what is in the standard Church works, you may know by that same token that it is false and you are not bound to accept it as truth.[7]

In January 1970, six months after the first Apollo moon landing, Joseph Fielding Smith became President of the Church. Some anti-Mormon groups took delight in pointing out that he had, during his tenure as an Apostle, declared that it was "doubtful that man will ever be permitted to make any instrument or ship to travel through space and visit the moon or any distant planet."[8] What these same critics failed to point out was that President Smith never attributed his belief to a revelation from God. Indeed, many of his generation held the same opinion, and all were surprised-but delighted-when proven wrong. Incorrect opinions do not make false prophets. Some of the Bible’s foremost prophets, such as Moses and Jeremiah, objected that their lack of eloquence made them unsuited to fill the role the Lord had cut out for them. God overruled these opinions and sent them on their way.[9]

Step #3: Ensure that the account of the prophecy does not misrepresent or misinterpret what the prophet actually said.

To avoid misrepresenting or misinterpreting what a prophet said:

  • Check sources: Revisit the source of the prophecy to see if there is any missing context.
  • Check interpretation: Consider alternative interpretations. Have other Latter-day Saint or other Christians authors examined the prophecy in question? Have they offered alternative interpretations? Is there only one possible interpretation that is compelled by the source or are there multiple possible interpretations?
  • Ask, 'Vision or prophecy?': John Tvedtnes wrote that
Visions are often highly symbolic and hence require interpretation. They cannot, therefore, necessarily be taken as "prophecy" in the sense of predictions of precise future events. As an example, we may consider Joseph Smith’s vision of the celestial kingdom (History of the Church 2:380-381). It has been highly criticized because in it he saw the twelve apostles of his day in the celestial kingdom. Of the twelve, however, five were excommunicated and never returned to the Church. This, the critics say, is evidence of a false prophecy. More likely, it is an indication of what the Lord intended for them, had they all remained faithful. If Joseph Smith is to be condemned as a false prophet on the basis of this vision, then we must condemn Jesus as a false prophet for similar reasons. Christ promised his twelve apostles that, when he returned to reign in glory, they would sit on twelve thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28). And yet Judas, who was one of the twelve at the time, later fell away and, losing his place as an apostle, was replaced by Matthias (Acts 1:15-26).12 If we take Jesus’ words literally, then either Judas will receive the reward (which makes the account in Acts wrong), or Jesus lied. On the other hand, if we do not hold Jesus to every word, should we not extend the same courtesy to Joseph Smith who, after all, was far less perfect than the Savior?[1]
  • Multiple ways to fulfillment: Latter-day Saints (like many other Christians) believe in the concept of dual fulfillment. That is: prophecies can be fulfilled in multiple ways.
  • Check timeframe: Often, prophecies do not have a set timeframe for when they will be fulfilled. Sometimes they use language that's equivocal. For instance, prophecies may state that God will "soon" act in a certain way. But, as many know, our "soon" and God's "soon" may not be the same.[1]
  • Prophetic language: Tvedtnes observed that "[w]hen it comes to written revelations, the question of language becomes paramount. Was the revelation taken from the Lord’s dictation by the prophet? Or does it reflect the prophet’s language, reflecting the truths revealed to him by God? One could argue either case without clear resolution. But Latter-day Saints realize that the Lord "speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding" (2 Nephi 31꞉3; see also D&C 1꞉24). Thus, each prophet of the Old Testament wrote in his own dialect. Some of the later ones even used Aramaic or Persian words then being borrowed by the Hebrew language."[1]

Step #4: Remember that most prophecies are contingent on conditions being met—even if that contingency is not made clear by the explicit text of the prophecy

Prophecy is virtully always conditional in the Latter-day Saint view. Before concluding that a prophesy is false, we should look for any stated or implied conditions for fulfillment.

John Tvedtnes wrote:

It was the Lord himself, through the biblical prophet Jeremiah, who explained the conditional nature of prophecy:
At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them. (Jeremiah 18:7-10)[10]
Jeremiah himself exemplified the principle of conditional prophecy when he told king Zedekiah, in the name of the Lord, that he would not go captive into Babylon if he followed the prophet’s instructions; otherwise, he would be taken captive and Jerusalem would be destroyed (Jeremiah 38꞉17-23). The conditional nature of prophecy explains why Jonah is not a false prophet. The Lord’s threat to destroy Nineveh within forty days (Jonah 3꞉4) was mitigated by the repentance of the city’s population (Jonah 3꞉4-9). "And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not" (Jonah 3 10). Ironically, Jonah was upset by the fact that the prophecy was not fulfilled, and the Lord had to explain to him that the resultant repentance of "sixscore thousand persons" was more important than fulfilling the word (Jonah 4꞉1-11). From this story, it is obvious that the free-will actions of men play a role in the fulfillment of prophecy. Here are other examples from the Bible:
  • The Lord told David that the men of Keilah "will deliver thee up [to Saul]" (1 Samuel 23꞉12). This did not happen, however, because David fled from the city (verses 13-14).
  • Isaiah told king Hezekiah, "Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live." (2 Kings 20꞉1) But after the king pleaded with the Lord, the prophet delivered a new message, saying that fifteen years would be added to his life (verses 2-6).
  • The Lord told Moses that he would destroy the Israelites and make of Moses a greater nation than they. When Moses protested that this would be wrong, the Lord changed his mind (Numbers 14꞉11-20).
  • The Lord said through Elisha that the combined armies of Israel, Judah and Edom would "smite every fenced city" of Moab and that he would "deliver the Moabites also into your hand." But one city, Kir-hareseth, was not taken. When Mesha, the Moabite king, sacrificed his son on the city wall, the Israelites left and went home. The prophecy was not fulfilled because the Israelites would not cooperate with the Lord’s wishes.
  • Through Ezekiel, the Lord declared that the Lebanese city of Tyre would be destroyed by the Babylonian king Nebuchadrezzar, never to be rebuilt (Ezekiel 26, especially verses 4, 7, 12, 14). Though Nebuchadrezzar laid siege against Tyre from 598 to 586 B.C., he was never able to take the city.
  • The Lord then told Ezekiel that, in compensation for his not taking Tyre, Nebuchadrezzar would be given the land of Egypt, (Ezekiel 29 17-10). Its people would be slain and its rivers dry up (Ezekiel 30꞉10-12; Ezekiel 32꞉11-15) and the land of Egypt would remain uninhabited for forty years (Ezekiel 29꞉11-13). But though Nebuchadrezzar defeated an Egyptian army in battle, he never conquered Egypt either.
  • Isaiah, in his prophesy against Babylon (Isaiah 13꞉1), declared that the Medes would slay men, women and children and that Babylon would "be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation" (Isaiah 13:17-20). In 539 B.C., Cyrus, king of the Medes and Persians, took Babylon without bloodshed, and made it one of the principal cities of his empire. Babylon remained inhabited for centuries afterward.
It is in the light of the conditional nature of prophecy that we must consider some of Joseph Smith’s prophecies. For example, the missionary calling promised Thomas B. Marsh in D&C 112 was never fulfilled because he was excommunicated and forfeited his blessings. Critics have stated that if God really knew Marsh’s heart (verse 11), he would have known that he would apostatize and not be worthy of the promised blessings. The same argument has been used in regard to George Miller’s calling to the bishopric (D&C 124꞉20-21), eight years before he was disfellowshipped.
  • By this same reasoning, God should not have promised a throne to David (1 Samuel 16꞉12-13; 2 Samuel 3꞉9-10; 1 Kings 2꞉4; 1 Kings 8꞉25; 1 Kings 9꞉5), since David, in future, would commit adultery and order the death of an innocent man (1 Samuel 11). This also brings up the question of Jesus’ promise to his twelve apostles: "Ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matthew 19꞉28). This promise was made before Judas betrayed the Master and he was obviously included among those who would sit on the "twelve thrones." How could Jesus have made such a promise to the one who would betray him, whom he termed "a devil" (John 6꞉70-71)? The answer seems obvious: at the time of the promises, Judas, Thomas B. Marsh and George Miller were faithful to the Lord. By their subsequent actions, they lost all claim to those promises.[1]

Step #5: Remember the commandment "shall" and the predictive "shall"

One mistake people make in interpreting prophecies mistaking a commandment for a foretelling. That is because both may use "shall". There's obviously a difference between "thou shall not kill" (command) and "thou shall be in Arizona in four months" (foretelling of location).

Step #6: most prophecies can be considered "unreasonable" by some standard

John Tvedtnes wrote:

Some of the critics have included "unreasonable" prophecies in their lists of false prophetic utterances by Joseph Smith. The subjective nature of such a determination makes this procedure unacceptable. What is "unreasonable" to one person may be perfectly acceptable to another. For example, the prophets Ezekiel and Jeremiah "contradicted" each other concerning an essential point, and yet were both right. Ezekiel had prophesied that king Zedekiah would go to Babylon but never see it (Ezekiel 12:13), while his contemporary Jeremiah prophesied that Hezekiah would be taken captive to Babylon (Jeremiah 32:5). But, in the end, both prophets proved true, for Zedekiah indeed went captive into Babylon, but did not see the city, for he had been blinded (2 Kings 25:7). Thus, we see that prophecies "impossible" of fulfillment have, in the course of time, proven true. Joseph Smith deserves at least the same kind of consideration.[1]

Conclusion

We will use these principles to evaluate Joseph Smith's alleged prophecies.

First, however, we need to consider a question that may lurk behind many Christian critics of Joseph Smith. Although they search for "false prophecies" to discredit him, the underlying motive may be that they "know" that there cannot be any more prophets today. They believe the bible "says so," and thus Joseph must be a false prophet. Their evaluation of Joseph's prophecies are not intended, then, to ascertain if he is a true prophet. They have already decided that he is a false prophets on other grounds.

Are there not supposed to be any more prophets after Christ's day?

The belief that there would be no more prophets after Christ is firmly rooted in tradition, not the Bible

The belief that there would be no more prophets after Christ is rooted in tradition, not the Bible. The Bible teaches the opposite of this traditional belief. "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." (Amos 3꞉7, (emphasis added)) God has always had direct dealings with man, through the prophets and through revelation. "Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off?" (Jeremiah 23꞉23) This is the process God has used since the time of Adam. "As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began." (Luke 1꞉70) it is only logical, and biblically correct, to expect God to have the same relationship with man today.

Christianity claims that God does not change. This is a statement that Latter-Day Saints agree with. Yet, while making this claim, most of Christianity says God has changed because he does not now call prophets.

Only the living prophets are opposed

Those who oppose Joseph Smith as a prophet, do not oppose dead past prophets, but the living ones. Jesus himself noted the irony—the religious leaders opposed him most strongly. Christ understood that his opponents claimed to believe in the past prophets while rejecting a present-day messenger from God. Jesus described them as having the appearance of righteousness, yet were full of iniquity:

Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city (Matthew 23꞉28-34):

Many follow this pattern today—they proclaim a belief in Christ while denying living prophets.

Alleged false prophecies of Joseph Smith

Did Joseph Smith prophesy that he couldn't be killed within 5 years of August 1843?

It would appear that the letter written by Sarah Scott on 22 July 1844 is a blending of separate and distinct pieces of information and they have been assembled in order to support her view that Joseph Smith was a false prophet

Claim: Joseph Smith prophesied in August 1843 "that he could not be killed within five years from that time". Since he was killed less than one year later, some claim that his statement counts as a false prophecy and that he should be considered a false prophet.

The letter written by Sarah Scott on 22 July 1844 is likely a blending of separate and distinct pieces of information and they have been assembled—whether consciously or subconsciously—in order to support her view that Joseph Smith was a false prophet.

As always, we consider the original document in analyzing this claim:

Joseph also prophesied on the stand a year ago last conference that he could not be killed within five years from that time; that they could not kill him till the Temple would be completed, for that he had received an unconditional promise from the Almighty concerning his days, and he set Earth and Hell at defiance; and then said, putting his hand on his head, they never could kill this Child. But now that he is killed some of the Church say that he said: unless he gave himself up. My husband was there at the time and says there was no conditions whatever, and many others testify to the same thing.

Biases of the author

We note first that the author and her husband "were influenced by William Law to leave the Church in 1844" - close to the time when the document was composed.[11] That does not mean that the report is false, but we need to account for the writer's bias.

Secondly, this letter is not an eyewitness account of what was said by Joseph. The writer stead cites someone else (her husband) who was an eyewitness and so the information second-hand. 

Thirdly, this information is being relayed about 11 months after the Prophet spoke, so memories may be more flawed. The author is also not clear about the dates—the sentence above should read: "a year ago [before] last conference"). The underlined portion of the letter accurately reflects what Joseph Smith said on 27 August 1843.[12] 

The "five years" aspect is from an earlier statement

The 'five-year prophecy' is being included where it doesn't belong. On 12 January 1838 the Prophet met in council at his father’s house in Kirtland, Ohio. During a discussion about the dire circumstances caused by apostates and mobs – and in anticipation of his leaving for Missouri - Joseph Smith said: "One thing, brethren is certain, I shall see you again, let what will happen, for I have a promise of life five years, and they cannot kill me until that time is expired."[13] Five years would expire by January 1843, and it is interesting that on 22 January 1843 the Prophet said: "I understand my mission and business. God Almighty is my shield and what can man do [see D&C 122:9] if God is my friend? I shall not be sacrificed until my time comes, then I shall be offered freely."[14]

The idea of an "unconditional promise" with respect to the Prophet's "days" on the earth also appears to be a misapplication of information

The idea of an "unconditional promise" with respect to the Prophet's "days" on the earth also appears to be a misapplication of information. While the Prophet was languishing inside Missouri's Liberty Jail the Lord informed him in March 1839: "Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less" (D&C 122꞉9). These words were published in Nauvoo in 1840, and so we see how Sarah Scott or her informant could have either intentionally or unintentionally mixed them with a later statement.[15]

Contemporary records do not support the claim

Sarah Scott's claim that on 27 August 1843 Joseph Smith said that nobody could kill him "till the Temple would be completed" is not supported by the notes taken by Willard Richards, Franklin D. Richards, and William Clayton[16].

And, at least three months prior to the composition of Scott's letter the Prophet had told a group of Saints, "There is something going to happen; I don't know what it is, but the Lord bids me to hasten and give you your endowment before the Temple is finished".[17] Indeed, in 1839 Joseph Smith had prophesied his own death before the age of 40—which would have been on 23 December 1845.[18] Knowing about these well-established claims from Joseph makes us more confident that Scott was misreporting or misrepresenting the matter.

This letter also discounts the idea that Joseph said he could not be killed unless he gave himself up

This letter also discounts the idea (testified to by some unidentified Church members) that Joseph said he could not be killed unless he gave himself up. Scott's husband was present at the 27 August 1843 meeting and did not hear any such thing. And it does not appear from contemporaneous notes that Joseph said this on that date. However, on 31 August 1842 Joseph Smith told a gathering of Relief Society sisters "that great exertions had been made on the part of [the Church's] enemies, but they had not accomplished their purpose—God had enabled him to keep out of their hands. . . . the Lord Almighty had preserv'd him . . . . He said he expected th[at] heavenly Father had decreed that the Missourians shall not get him - if they do, it will be because he does not keep out of the way."[19]

Source(s) of the criticism
Critical sources
  • Letter, Sarah Scott to Calvin and Abigail Hall (parents), 22 July 1844, Nauvoo, Illinois. Published in George R. Partridge, ed., “The Death of a Mormon Dictator: Letters of Massachusetts Mormons, 1843–1848," New England Quarterly 9/4 (December 1936): 597.

Why did Joseph Smith say that David Patten would serve a mission when he was killed only six months later?

D&C 114 was not a prophecy, it was a mission call

It is claimed that Joseph Smith prophesied that David Patten would go on a mission (D&C 114꞉1), yet six months later Patten was killed in Missouri at the Battle of Crooked River. [20]

"Thus saith the Lord"

Some critics have pointed to the "thus saith the Lord" phrase at the beginning Patten's call in D&C 114}1-2} proves that this was a prophecy. Other sections where "thus saith the Lord" was part of the revelation demonstrates that the phrase was not used exclusively for prophecies (as in D&C 87) but is also used in revelations where instructions (D&C 21, 44, 49, 50, 52, 75, 89, 91, etc.) callings (D&C 36, 55, 66, 69, 99, 100, 108, etc.), and reproof (D&C 61, 95) are given. More than half the time the phrase was used in the first verse. When used in the first verse, it appears to be an indication that what followed was the product of revelation.

Patten's call

Those who make this argument employ a misreading of the call to Patten and a double standard regarding prophecy to condemn Joseph Smith.

D&C 114 was not a prophecy, it was a mission call. Joseph Smith issued a call for David Patten to go on a mission the following spring. This call by revelation is not a prophecy that David would serve a mission, but an admonition to set all his affairs in order so that he could.

In any event, Patten's death would not change the instructional nature of that call. Joseph Smith declared that: To the "great Jehovah . . . the past, present, and future were and are, with Him, one eternal 'now'."[21] Despite this, God still gives agency to us and to others who impact on our lives, which usage often precludes what would have happened if the Lord's will were done on earth as it is in heaven.

Biblical parallels

There are several Biblical parallels to David Patten's mission call, such as the calling of Judas as an Apostle. As one of the Twelve Apostles, Judas was promised by the Lord that he would sit on twelve thrones with the others and judge the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt 19꞉28). Judas's choices never fulfilled this promise of the Lord. This doesn't make Christ a false prophet. Patten's death at the hands of Missourians was their doing, not his.

As D&C 124꞉49 says, if "their enemies come upon them and hinder them from performing that work, behold, it behooveth me to require that work no more at the hands of those sons of men, but to accept of their offerings."

Source(s) of the criticism
Critical sources

Did Joseph Smith state that the moon was inhabited, and that it's inhabitants were dressed like Quakers?

This is not a quote from Joseph Smith, but rather a late, third-hand account of something that Joseph is supposed to have said

The source for this claim is not Joseph Smith himself; the first mention comes in 1881 in Oliver B. Huntington's journal, who attributed the information from Philo Dibble. So, we have a late, third-hand account of something Joseph is supposed to have said.[22] Hyrum Smith [23] and Brigham Young [24] both expressed their view that the moon was inhabited.

A patriarchal blessing given to Huntington also indicated that "thou shalt have power with God even to translate thyself to Heaven, & preach to the inhabitants of the moon or planets, if it shall be expedient." [25]

Huntington later wrote an article about the concept for a Church magazine:

As far back as 1837, I know that he [Joseph Smith] said the moon was inhabited by men and women the same as this earth, and that they lived to a greater age than we do—that they live generally to near the age of a 1,000 years.

He described the men as averaging nearly six feet in height, and dressing quite uniformly in something near the Quaker style.[26]

The idea of an inhabited moon or other celestial body was not foreign to at least some early LDS members. It is not clear whether the idea originated with Joseph Smith.

In the 1800s, the idea that the moon was inhabited was considered scientific fact by many

In any case, this idea was considered 'scientific fact' by many at the time. William Herschel, the discoverer of the planet Uranus, died in 1822. Herschel argued "[w]ho can say that it is not extremely probable, nay beyond doubt, that there must be inhabitants on the Moon of some kind or another?" Furthermore, "he thought it possible that there was a region below the Sun's fiery surface where men might live, and he regarded the existence of life on the Moon as 'an absolute certainty.'" [27]

Other scientists announced that they had discovered "a lunar city with a collection of gigantic ramparts extending 23 miles in either direction." [28]

The 1835 Great Moon Hoax added to the belief in lunar inhabitants

In addition to these pronouncements from some of the most prominent scientists of the day, a clever hoax in 1835 only added to the belief in lunar inhabitants.

John Herschel, son of the famous William, went to South Africa to study stars visible only in the southern hemisphere. This was the cause of considerable public interest, given Herschel's involvement.[29]

On 23 August 1835, Richard Locke published the first article in the New York Sun of what purported to be reports from Herschel's observations. Over a total of six installments, Locke claimed that Herschel was reporting lunar flowers, forests, bison, goats, unicorns, bipedal tailless beavers who cooked with fire, and (most provocatively) flying men with wings:

They appeared to be constantly engaged in conversing, with much impassioned gesticulation; and hence it was inferred, that they are rational beings. Others, apparently of a higher order, were discovered afterwards. . . . And finally a magnificent temple for the worship of God, of polished sapphire, in a triangle shape, with a roof of gold.[30]

These reports were widely believed and caused a minor sensation. They were carried in the Painsville Telegraph, adjacent to Mormon Kirtland.[31] The Sun eventually hinted that the matter was a hoax:

Certain correspondents have been urging us to come out and confess the whole to be a hoax; but this we can by no means do, until we have the testimony of the English or Scotch papers to corroborate such a declaration.[32]

Popular belief in lunar inhabitants persisted for decades after the hoax

No more than this was forthcoming, and the Painsville Telegraph made no mention of the possibility of a hoax. Popular belief in lunar inhabitants persisted for decades. Herschel initially found the episode amusing, but he eventually grew frustrated with having to continually explain to the public that the whole matter was a hoax, with which he had nothing to do: he would later refer "the whole affair as 'incoherent ravings'".[33]

In a private letter, Hirschel's wife indicated how skillfully the hoax was carried out:

Margaret Herschel was more amused. She called the story "a very clever peice of imagination," and wrote appreciately ... "The whole description is so well clenched with minute details of workmanship...that the New Yorkists were not to be blamed for actually believing it as they did...." [34]

Modern prophets and general authorities will sometimes cite newspaper articles or books to illustrate the points which they wish to make

Church publications did not shy from embracing later scientific findings on the matter:

1856

Desert News noted:

Proof that the Moon is not Inhabited.

"Dr. Scoresby, in an account that he has given of some recent observations made with the Earl of Rosse’s telescope, says: ‘With respect to the moon, every object on its surface of 100 feet was distinctly to be seen; and he had no doubt that, under very favorable circumstances, it would be so with objects 60 feet in height…. But no vestiges of architecture remain to show that the moon, is, or ever was, inhabited by a race of mortals similar to ourselves….. There was no water visible…."[35]

1880

"As there is no air nor water on the moon, but very few changes can take place upon its surface. There can be no vegetation and no animals, and although many astronomers have brought their imaginations to bear upon this subject, and have given us descriptions of the beautiful scenery upon its surface, and have even peopled it with inhabitants, we have every reason to believe that it is as barren and lifeless as an arid rock."[36]

Modern analogies

Modern prophets and general authorities will sometimes cite newspaper articles or books to illustrate the points which they wish to make. In doing so, they are not endorsing such articles or books as being prophetically correct in all particulars. Rather, they are using the science and information of their day to enhance their preaching of the gospel.

"Worlds without number"

LDS doctrine was not provincial, since it provided for "worlds without number" (Moses 1꞉33) created by Christ. These worlds held those who would require the gospel, since by Christ "the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God." (D&C 76꞉24)

Information given to the 19th century Saints by the authorities of the day were consistent with these doctrines, and so they believed them, and occasionally mentioned them in a religious context.

As always, prophets and believers are products of their time. Biblical authors, for example, clearly accepted a geocentric (earth centered) cosmos, with a flat earth and heavens supported by four pillars.

Like the authors of the Bible, modern prophets are generally beholden to their era's scientific concepts, except where corrections in those concepts are needed to permit the gospel to be understood and applied. This does not mean, however, that prophets of any era do not receive revelation about matters of eternal significance.

Brigham Young on an inhabited moon.

Summary: Brigham seems to have derived a similar idea from similar influences.


Source(s) of the criticism
Critical sources
  • Contender Ministries, Questions All Mormons Should Ask Themselves. Answers
  • Tower to Truth Ministries, "50 Questions to Ask Mormons," towertotruth.net (accessed 15 November 2007). 50 Answers
  • Jay Jacobson, "Three Reasons Not to Become a Mormon,": 7.
  • Search for the Truth DVD (2007) Resources
  • The God Makers (film, 1982)
  • Jerald and Sandra Tanner, The Changing World of Mormonism (Moody Press, 1979), 23.( Index of claims )

Did Joseph Smith claim at one time that Kirtland Safety Society notes would be "as good as gold"?

Joseph was likely being optimistic regarding the bank's future

Whatever one thinks of Joseph's conduct in connection with the Kirtland Safety Society, this promise, ironically, eventually came true.

  • Brigham Young redeemed Kirtland Safety Society scrip for gold in Utah.
  • Marvin S. Hill notes that, "Brigham Young needn't have gone to such pains to ensure that this prophecy was fulfilled. Today [1977] these notes are worth far more than the exchange rate between currency and gold."[37]
Source(s) of the criticism
Critical sources

Did Joseph Smith give a false prophecy by claiming that queens would pay respect to the Relief Society within ten years?

The prophecy is clearly conditional on the continuing righteousness of the Relief Society

Such a record exists, although critics generally do not cite the entire text. Abanes, One Nation, for example, cites only: "I now prophecy that before ten years shall roll around, the queens of the earth shall come and pay their respects to this Society." Abanes then notes, "No queens have ever fulfilled this prophecy.".[38]

Here is the prophecy in context, with several key phrases highlighted:

Females, if they are pure and innocent can come into the presence of God, for what is more pleasing to God than innocence; you must be innocent or you cannot come up before God. If we would come before God let us be pure ourselves. The devil has great power—he will so transform things as to make one gape at those who are doing the will of God—You need not be teasing men for their deeds, but let the weight of innocence be felt which is more mighty than a millstone hung about the neck. Not war, not jangle, not contradiction, but meekness, love purity, these are the things that should magnify us. Action must be brough[t] to light—iniquity must be purged out—then the vail will be rent and the blessings of heaven will flow down—they will roll down like the Mississippi river. This Society shall have power to command Queens in their midst—I now deliver it as a prophecy that before ten years shall roll around, the queens of the earth shall come and pay their respects to this Society—they shall come with their millions and shall contribute of their abundance for the relief of the poor—If you will be pure, nothing can hinder.

After this instruction, you will be responsible for your own sins. It is an honor to save yourselves—all are responsible to save themselves.[39]

According to Joseph's own words, the prophecy is clearly conditional on the continuing righteousness of the Relief Society.

Critics omit the qualifier as they try to discredit Joseph.

Fulfillment of the prophecy

There are several schools of thought regarding this prophecy:

  1. That fulfillment has been delayed.
  2. That it has already been fulfilled.

We do not take a position on this issue, but present the various arguments here.

Was the fulfillment of the prophecy delayed?

If the prophecy remained unfilled, then it would be because the conditions set forth were not met. There is some evidence to support this position.

For example, it is known that Joseph received considerable trouble from his wife, Emma, as head of the Relief Society. Emma would not support plural marriage, and used the Relief Society to attempt to thwart Joseph's teaching of it. Joseph was frequently trying to draw people up to their own better potential and encourage people to prepare to behold the face of God—he gave similar reproofs to the men of the Church:

How vain and trifling have been our spirits, our conferences, our councils, our meetings, our private as well as public conversations—too low, too mean, too vulgar, too condescending for the dignified characters of the called and chosen of God, according to the purposes of His will, from before the foundation of the world! We are called to hold the keys of the mysteries of those things that have been kept hid from the foundation of the world until now. Some have tasted a little of these things, many of which are to be poured down from heaven upon the heads of babes; yea, upon the weak, obscure and despised ones of the earth. Therefore we beseech of you, brethren, that you bear with those who do not feel themselves more worthy than yourselves, while we exhort one another to a reformation with one and all, both old and young, teachers and taught, both high and low, rich and poor, bond and free, male and female; let honesty, and sobriety, and candor, and solemnity, and virtue, and pureness, and meekness, and simplicity crown our heads in every place; and in fine, become as little children, without malice, guile or hypocrisy.[40]

However, in the case of the Relief Society prophecy, Joseph states, point blank, that "iniquity must be purged out," which implies that it has to be there to begin with. There were certainly apostates among the Relief Society.

Problems with the Relief Society

Brigham Young was not pleased about what the Relief Society leadership had done to oppose Joseph and to oppose plural marriage, and the associated difficulties which the Relief Society and their zeal to expunge impurity caused. (Joseph spoke to them about this also, see below.)[41])

Hiatus for the Relief Society

Following the death of Joseph Smith, the Relief Society as an organization went on "hiatus," in part due to these concerns.

Brigham noted, one year after the martyrdom:

When I want Sisters or the Wives of the members of the church to get up Relief Society I will summon them to my aid, but until that time let them stay at home if you see Females huddling together, veto the concern, and if they say Joseph started it all tell them it is a damned lie for I know he never encouraged it.[42]

Note that Brigham's issue is not with the existence of the Relief Society, but the "huddling together" to seek out iniquity. John Taylor gives us further background on why the organization was suspended,

The "reason why the Relief Society did not continue from the first organization was that Emma Smith the Pres. taught the Sisters that the principle of Celestial Marriage as taught and practiced by Joseph Smith was not of God."[43]

Emma's opposition

It should be noted that critical authors Newell and Avery claim this is not true in the strict reading of the minutes—however, it is well known that Emma did everything she could to discourage people from following Joseph's teachings on plural marriage, both in what she said privately and publicly. Newell and Avery provide evidence of this tendency themselves when citing Emma Smith's announced plans, but don't draw the obvious conclusion:

"We [the Relief Society] intend to look into the morals of each other, and watch over each other…. All proceedings that regard difficulties should be kept among the members [of the Relief Society]…. None can object to telling the good but withhold the evil." Given human nature, Emma was demanding an impossible commitment from her members…[44]

Eliza R. Snow's testimony

Even Eliza R. Snow felt it necessary to correct the impression that the Relief Society in Nauvoo had done "more harm than good," emphasizing that it "saved many lives." But, the mere fact that she needed to correct this impression should tell us something about how the Relief Society under Emma's tenure was seen—there were lives saved, but there was also a somewhat darker side that kept Brigham from reconstituting the organization for ten years, and made Eliza need to emphasize that it had been worth it, on balance, even with the problems.[45]

Joseph expressed similar concerns

Joseph expressed his own reservations:

"You need not be teasing men for their deeds, but let the weight of innocence be felt which is more mighty than a millstone hung about the neck."—i.e., quit acting as a type of police on public morals. He spoke on this more than once; it was an on-going problem, and much of it was driven by Emma. (Joseph had previously spoken to the Relief Society and cautioned them about their zeal not being according to knowledge.[46]

Joseph said that there were problems that had to be improved. This could be good evidence that in Emma's case, that the problem wasn't solved. Joseph repeatedly talked to them about judging the actions of others, minding their own business, sustaining the prophet, and so forth. The following remarks from 28 April 1842 are from the same discourse as the prophecy under consideration:

  • "He exhorted the sisters always to concentrate their faith and prayers for, and place confidence in their husbands, whom God has appointed for them to honor, and in those faithful men whom God has placed at the head of the Church to lead His people; that we should arm and sustain them with our prayers; for the keys of the kingdom are about to be given to them, that they may be able to detect everything false; as well as to all the Elders who shall prove their integrity in due season."
  • [Joseph] "said the same aspiring disposition will be in this Society, and must be guarded against; that every person should stand, and act in the place appointed, and thus sanctify the Society and get it pure (italics added)."
  • [Joseph continued] "saying everyone should aspire only to magnify his own office and calling....and said, don't be limited in your views with regard to your neighbor's virtue, but beware of self-righteousness, and be limited in the estimate of your own virtues, and not think yourselves more righteous than others; you must enlarge your souls towards each other, if you would do like Jesus, and carry your fellow-creatures to Abraham's bosom. He said he had manifested long-suffering, forbearance and patience towards the Church, and also to his enemies; and we must bear with each other's failings, as an indulgent parent bears with the foibles of his children (italics added)."
  • "How precious are the souls of men! The female part of the community are apt to be contracted in their views. You must not be contracted, but you must be liberal in your feelings. Let this Society teach women how to behave towards their husbands, to treat them with mildness and affection. When a man is borne down with trouble, when he is perplexed with care and difficulty, if he can meet a smile instead of an argument or a murmur—if he can meet with mildness, it will calm down his soul and soothe his feelings; when the mind is going to despair, it needs a solace of affection and kindness. (italics added)"
  • "When you go home, never give a cross or unkind word to your husbands, but let kindness, charity and love crown your works henceforward....Let your labors be mostly confined to those around you, in the circle of your own acquaintance, as far as knowledge is concerned, it may extend to all the world; but your administering should be confined to the circle of your immediate acquaintance, and more especially to the members of the Relief Society. Those ordained to preside over and lead you, are authorized to appoint the different officers, as the circumstances shall require."[47]

Was the prophecy fulfilled?

One might ask, "What would it otherwise have taken to fulfill the prophecy? Was the Queen of England supposed to come to Nauvoo?" One could argue that the prophecy was in fact fulfilled. The queens in their midst were anointed as part of the endowment, revealed by Joseph at Nauvoo, and some had their election made sure before leaving for Utah. Joseph's speech to the Relief Society could be a foreshadowing of the temple ordinances they would later receive and that would qualify and prepare them to receive such.

Did Joseph Smith prophesy that Jesus Christ would return in 1890?

Jesus Christ stated that no mortals or angels would know when He would return

Said Jesus of his return:

But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only (Matthew 24:36).

Because we do not know, we need to constantly be ready for his return, for "in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh" (Matthew 24:44).

In February 1835, Joseph Smith is reported to have said that "fifty-six years should wind up the scene"

B.H. Roberts in History of the Church notes the Prophet's remark in 1835 when he is reported to have said that,

...it was the will of God that those who went Zion, with a determination to lay down their lives, if necessary, should be ordained to the ministry, and go forth to prune the vineyard for the last time, or the coming of the Lord, which was nigh—even fifty-six years should wind up the scene.[48]

In Feb 1835, fifty six years in the future was February 1891. This would be shortly after Joseph's 85th birthday (he was born 23 December 1805).

Joseph made continuous reference to this date in light of a revelation which he reported. It is recorded in D&C 130꞉14-17, and it is clear that the revelation leaves the exact date of Christ's second coming much more uncertain. Whatever Joseph meant or understood by "wind up the scene," it must be interpreted in light of the revelation as he reported it, and the conclusions which he drew from it.

This particular revelation is a favorite of anti-Mormon critics. They have misquoted it, misreported it, misinterpreted it and misexplained it. Most often they simply do not complete the quote, making it appear that the Prophet said something he didn't.

Joseph acknowledged as he recorded this revelation that he didn't understand its meaning or intent

The revelation is reported in abbreviated form, and Joseph acknowledged as he recorded it that he didn't understand its meaning or intent:

I was once praying very earnestly to know the time of the coming of the Son of Man, when I heard a voice repeat the following: Joseph, my son, if thou livest until thou art eighty-five years old, thou shalt see the face of the Son of Man; therefore let this suffice, and trouble me no more on this matter. (D&C 130꞉14-15).

Many critics end the quote at this point, and then they hope the reader will assume that the statement is a prophecy that the Savior would come in the year 1890 or 1891, since the Prophet Joseph was born in 1805. (Other critics do not even bother to cite D&C 130, and simply rely on the quote from the Kirtland Council Minute Book of 1835, reproduced in History of the Church.

Joseph expresses his uncertainty: "I believe the coming of the Son of Man will not be any sooner than that time"

However, if we continue further, we see how Joseph Smith himself understood the revelation, unfiltered through note-takers or critics who wish to explain his meaning:

I was left thus, without being able to decide whether this coming referred to the beginning of the millennium or to some previous appearing, or whether I should die and thus see his face (D&C ꞉130).

The actual content of Joseph's prophecy—if personal opinion can be said to be prophecy—does not occur until the next verse:

I believe the coming of the Son of Man will not be any sooner than that time.(D&C 130꞉17.)

Joseph's belief was correct—he Lord did not return to the earth for His Second Coming before that time.

At least twice, as is recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants, Joseph saw the face of the Son of Man

But there are other aspects of fulfillment that should also be considered. We do not know when it was that the Prophet earnestly prayed to know the time of the Lord's coming. The context, (verse 13), shows that it may have taken place in 1832 or earlier. At least twice, as is recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants, Joseph saw the face of the Son of Man. D&C 76꞉20-24 and D&C 110꞉2-10 both record appearances of the Lord Jesus Christ, either of which may constitute fulfillment of the Lord's prophetic promise. He may also have seen the Lord's face at the time of his death in 1844, as he pondered in D&C 130:16.

The History of the Church describes Joseph's return to the same ideas:

I prophesy in the name of the Lord God, and let it be written—the Son of Man will not come in the clouds of heaven till I am eighty-five years old.[49]

Again, Joseph Smith doesn't say the Lord will come then, but that He will not come before that time. The return to his age 85 shows that all these remarks derive from the same interpretation of his somewhat opaque revelation from the Lord, who seems determined to tell his curious prophet nothing further.

Joseph denies that anyone knows an exact date

Later, Joseph Smith again prophesied on the subject of Christ's coming:

I also prophesy, in the name of the Lord, that Christ will not come in forty years; and if God ever spoke by my mouth, He will not come in that length of time. Brethren, when you go home, write this down, that it may be remembered. Jesus Christ never did reveal to any man the precise time that He would come. Go and read the scriptures, and you cannot find anything that specifies the exact hour He would come; and all that say so are false teachers.[50]

This remark was made on 10 March 1844. It echoes a teaching given through Joseph in the Doctrine and Covenants in March 1831

And they have done unto the Son of Man even as they listed; and he has taken his power on the right hand of his glory, and now reigneth in the heavens, and will reign till he descends on the earth to put all enemies under his feet, which time is nigh at hand—I, the Lord God, have spoken it; but the hour and the day no man knoweth, neither the angels in heaven, nor shall they know until he comes. (D&C 49꞉6-7, emphasis added)

Thus, from the beginning to the end of his ministry, Joseph Smith denied that a man could or would know the date of the second coming of Christ. (Joseph's remarks may have been instigated by the intense interest among religious believers in William Miller's prophecy that Christ would return by 1843.)

Source(s) of the criticism
Critical sources

Was a "forged" prophecy about Stephen A. Douglas added to the History of the Church?

Joseph Smith prophesied that Stephen A. Douglas would run for the presidency four years before he actually did

Page one of Deseret News (24 Sept 1856). Material on Stephen A. Douglas, at it appears in the History of the Church is outlined in read.
Detail of the Stephen A. Douglas prophecy, printed on 24 September 1856. This was nearly a year before Douglas would 'turn against' the Saints, and more than four years before he was nominated as President of the United States.

Joseph Smith told Judge Stephen A. Douglas four years before he was nominated for the Presidency of the United States:

I prophesy in the name of the Lord God of Israel, that unless the United States redress the wrongs committed upon the Saints in the State of Missouri and punish the crimes committed by her officers, that in a few years the government will be utterly overthrown and wasted, and there will not be so much as a potsherd left, for their wickedness in permitting the murder of men, women and children, and the wholesale plunder and extermination of thousands of her citizens to go unpunished; thereby perpetrating a foul and corroding blot upon the fair fame of this great republic, the very thought of which would have caused the high minded and patriotic framers of the Constitution of the United States to hide their faces with shame. Judge, you will aspire to the presidency of the United States; and if ever you turn your hand against me or the Latter-day Saints, you will feel the weight of the hand of Almighty upon you; and you will live to see and know that I have testified the truth to you; for the conversation of this day will stick to you through life.[51]

The claim that this prophecy was added after the fact is false

As B.H. Roberts' editorial remark in the History of the Church noted:

There is, and can be no question about the prophecy preceding the event. The prophecy was first published in the Deseret News of September 24, 1856. It was afterwards published in England in the Millennial Star, February, 1859. The publication in the Deseret News preceding Douglas' Springfield speech, mentioned above, (June, 1857) by about one year, and about four years before Douglas was nominated for the presidency by the Charleston Democratic convention.[52]

This paper is available in digital form on-line. Screenshots are included in this article.

Why did Joseph prophesy that the wicked "of this generation" would be swept from the face of the land and the Lost Ten tribes would be gathered?

The final and total return of the Ten Tribes is not required by the prophecy—only the preparation and preliminaries for their return

The destruction of the wicked was seen by those to whom the prophecy was given as fulfilled by the Civil War and its attendant destruction, and it was this that those living were commanded to avoid by fleeing to Zion and the safety of the gospel:

And now I am prepared to say by the authority of Jesus Christ, that not many years shall pass away before the United States shall present such a scene of bloodshed as has not a parallel in the history of our nation; pestilence, hail, famine, and earthquake will sweep the wicked of this generation from off the face of the land, to open and prepare the way for the return of the lost tribes of Israel from the north country. The people of the Lord, those who have complied with the requirements of the new covenant, have already commenced gathering together to Zion, which is in the state of Missouri; therefore I declare unto you the warning which the Lord has commanded to declare unto this generation, remembering that the eyes of my Maker are upon me, and that to him I am accountable for every word I say, wishing nothing worse to my fellow-men than their eternal salvation; therefore, "Fear God, and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment is come." Repent ye, repent ye, and embrace the everlasting covenant, and flee to Zion, before the overflowing scourge overtake you, for there are those now living upon the earth whose eyes shall not be closed in death until they see all these things, which I have spoken, fulfilled. Remember these things; call upon the Lord while He is near, and seek Him while He may be found, is the exhortation of your unworthy servant.[53]

There are two aspects to the prophecy.

1. Destruction of the wicked (marked in blue.

These events were certainly seen by the nineteenth-century Saints as fulfilled. They saw the Civil War as the culmination of prophecies against wicked people in a wicked nation. For more information see:

Those now living are to flee to Zion to avoid the scourge—i.e., the destruction, which certainly bypassed the Saints in Utah during the Civil War.

2. The preparation for the return of the ten tribes (marked in red.

The critics wish to say that Joseph prophesied the return of the Ten Tribes—but, he did not. He prophecied that those living would see those things necessary to "prepare the way" for the return of the tribes. The prophecy also noted (in green) that this gathering was already beginning as those who embraced the covenant gathered to Zion.

Source(s) of the criticism
Critical sources

Why did Joseph Smith claim that Thomas B. Marsh, who later apostatized, would be "exalted," and that he would preach "unto the ends of the earth"?

This was a conditional prophesy, which was not fulfilled in Marsh's case because of his apostasy

Many feel that Marsh's replacement as President of the Quorum of the Twelve (Brigham Young) did fulfill this prophecy, especially in reference to the line which reads: "thy path lieth among the mountains, and among many nations." Had Marsh remained faithful, he and not Brigham would have directed the western exodus of the Saints to the Rocky Mountains. He also would have joined in the missions abroad conducted by Brigham.

Those who offer the criticism that this is a false prophecy generally do not cite the entire text

Richard Abanes, One Nation Under Gods, for example, cites only verses 3–4, 7–8, and 11.

In D&C 112꞉3-11, note the material highlighted in bold, which the author of One Nation Under Gods omits:

Nevertheless, inasmuch as thou hast abased thyself thou shalt be exalted; therefore, all thy sins are forgiven thee. Let thy heart be of good cheer before my face; and thou shalt bear record of my name, not only unto the Gentiles, but also unto the Jews; and thou shalt send forth my word unto the ends of the earth. Contend thou, therefore, morning by morning; and day after day let thy warning voice go forth; and when the night cometh let not the inhabitants of the earth slumber, because of thy speech. Let thy habitation be known in Zion, and remove not thy house; for I, the Lord, have a great work for thee to do, in publishing my name among the children of men. Therefore, gird up thy loins for the work. Let thy feet be shod also, for thou art chosen, and thy path lieth among the mountains, and among many nations. And by thy word many high ones shall be brought low, and by thy word many low ones shall be exalted. Thy voice shall be a rebuke unto the transgressor; and at thy rebuke let the tongue of the slanderer cease its perverseness. Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers. I know thy heart, and have heard thy prayers concerning thy brethren. Be not partial towards them in love above many others, but let thy love be for them as for thyself; and let thy love abound unto all men, and unto all who love my name.

With the benefit of hindsight, we can see the material cautioning Marsh again pride—the cause of his apostasy and fall from Church leadership—as genuinely prophetic.

Source(s) of the criticism
Critical sources

Why did Joseph describe the United Order in revelation as "everlasting" and "immutable and unchangeable" until Jesus comes?

The United Order is an "everlasting" covenant because it comes from God, reflects his purposes, and is attended by promised blessings for all who obey

This does not mean—just as with biblical examples which use identical language—that "everlasting" is a prophecy about its duration of practice or implementation.

The relevant scripture reads (color emphasis added for clarity):

1 Verily I say unto you, my friends, I give unto you counsel, and a commandment, concerning all the properties which belong to the order which I commanded to be organized and established, to be a united order, and an everlasting order for the benefit of my church, and for the salvation of men until I come—

2 With promise immutable and unchangeable, that inasmuch as those whom I commanded were faithful they should be blessed with a multiplicity of blessings;

3 But inasmuch as they were not faithful they were nigh unto cursing.

4 Therefore, inasmuch as some of my servants have not kept the commandment, but have broken the covenant through covetousness, and with feigned words, I have cursed them with a very sore and grievous curse.

5 For I, the Lord, have decreed in my heart, that inasmuch as any man belonging to the order shall be found a transgressor, or, in other words, shall break the covenant with which ye are bound, he shall be cursed in his life, and shall be trodden down by whom I will;

6 For I, the Lord, am not to be mocked in these things—(D&C 104꞉1-6)

We note:

  • the practice of the Order is not prophesied to be "immutable and unchangeable." Rather, the Lord says that the promise is "immutable and unchangeable"—and, that promise is that "inasmuch as those whom I commanded were faithful, they should be blessed with a multiplicity of blessings."
  • the United Order is to be everlasting—that is, it is always the Lord's highest law. Temple-worthy Latter-day Saints promise to observe the law of consecration. They are not, at present, commanded to enter the United Order, but covenant to do so if asked.
  • the Lord makes it clear (verses 3-6) that some might break the covenant, and suffer the penalty. Thus, failure to live the law is not failure of a prophecy, but failure to live a commandment.

Biblical parallels: similar uses of the term "everlasting" that describe the importance and efficacy of certain commandments or ordinances

There are similar uses of the term "everlasting" that describe the importance and efficacy of certain commandments or ordinances. Yet, Christians do not believe they are bound to continue to observe these ordinances and covenants at all historical times. For example (emphasis added in all cases):

  • Aaron and the Levites are given an "everlasting priesthood throughout their generations" (Exodus 40:15, see also Numbers 25:13). Yet, modern day Christians (like many of our critics) do not believe that the only legitimate priestly authority persists with Levitical descendants, or that such descendants currently enjoy divine sanction.
  • Circumcision is described as "a token of the covenant betwixt me and you" that "my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant." Those who are not circumcised "shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant" (Genesis 17:10-14). Yet, modern Christians do not believe that circumcision continues to be binding or necessary.
  • Likewise, the "bread for a memorial" is commanded to be "set...in order before the Lord continually," since it is "taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant" (Leviticus 24:8). Do the critics likewise believe that this ought to be continued in unbroken succession to the present for it to be a valid commandment from God?
Source(s) of the criticism
Critical sources

Did Joseph Smith prophesy that Zion, in Jackson County, Missouri, would be redeemed by September 1836?

There were many conditionals placed on this prophecy—its fulfillment relied on the members' faithfulness:

use every effort to prevail on the churches to gather to those regions and locate themselves, to be in readiness to move into Jackson county in two years from the eleventh of September next, which is the appointed time for the redemption of Zion. Ifverily I say unto youif the Church with one united effort perform their duties; if they do this, the work shall be complete....and if we do not exert ourselves to the utmost in gathering up the strength of the Lord's house that this thing may be accomplished, behold there remaineth a scourge for the Church, even that they shall be driven from city to city, and [p.146] but few shall remain to receive an inheritance; if those things are not kept, there remaineth a scourge also; therefore, be wise this once, O ye children of Zion! and give heed to my counsel, saith the Lord. (emphasis added)

Compare with:

  • D&C 101꞉1-9- given on 16 December 1833 (History of the Church 1:458-464)
  • D&C 103꞉1-12- given on 24 February 1834 (History of the Church 2:36-39)
  • D&C 105꞉6-13 - given on 22 June 1834 (History of the Church 2:108-111)[54]

Was Joseph Smith's prophecy that the Independence, Missouri temple "shall be reared in this generation" a failed prophecy?

On 20 July 1831 Joseph Smith recorded a revelation identifying Independence, Missouri, as "the center place; and a spot for the temple[.]" (D&C 57꞉3). Joseph and Sidney Rigdon dedicated a site for the temple on 3 August 1831. The following year, Joseph received another revelation concerning the gathering to Zion:

[T]he word of the Lord concerning his church, established in the last days for the restoration of his people, as he has spoken by the mouth of his prophets, and for the gathering of his saints to stand upon Mount Zion, which shall be the city of New Jerusalem. Which city shall be built, beginning at the temple lot, which is appointed by the finger of the Lord, in the western boundaries of the State of Missouri, and dedicated by the hand of Joseph Smith, Jun., and others with whom the Lord was well pleased. Verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation. For verily this generation shall not all pass away until an house shall be built unto the Lord, and a cloud shall rest upon it, which cloud shall be even the glory of the Lord, which shall fill the house (D&C 84꞉2-5, (emphasis added)).

The Saints were expelled from Jackson County in late 1833, before they could make any progress on the temple. Despite their best efforts, they were unable to return to reclaim their lands.

Critics of the Church charge that this is a false prophecy since the temple in Independence was never completed in Joseph Smith's generation.

Commandment, not Prophecy

The supposed "prophecy" was actually a commandment and the command may have already been fulfilled.

After the Saints settled in Nauvoo, Illinois, Joseph recorded another revelation rescinding the earlier revelation given to build the Independence temple:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, that when I give a commandment to any of the sons of men to do a work unto my name, and those sons of men go with all their might and with all they have to perform that work, and cease not their diligence, and their enemies come upon them and hinder them from performing that work, behold, it behooveth me to require that work no more at the hands of those sons of men, but to accept of their offerings. ... Therefore, for this cause have I accepted the offerings of those whom I commanded to build up a city and a house unto my name, in Jackson county, Missouri, and were hindered by their enemies, saith the Lord your God (D&C 124꞉49,51).

Thus, when Smith declared the "temple shall be reared in this generation," he meant this as a directive (compare to the ten commandments: "thou shalt.." and D&C 59꞉5-13) and thus D&C 84 is not actually a prophecy. Webster's 1828 dictionary noted of "shall":

In the second and third persons [i.e., when applied to another person], shall implies a promise, command or determination. "You shall receive your wages," "he shall receive his wages," imply that you or he ought to receive them; but usage gives these phrases the force of a promise in the person uttering them.[55]

Thus, "shall" indicates a promise or command—and, Latter-day Saint theology (with its strong emphasis on moral agency) always holds that man is free to accept or reject the commandments or promises of God, and that God will often not overrule the free-agent acts of others which might prevent his people from obeying. In such cases, God rewards the faithful for their willingness and efforts to obey, and punishes the guilty accordingly.

Potential Fulfillment for the Commmandment?

Latter-day Saints have speculated that the commandment may have already been met.

D. Charles Pyle wrote:

Indeed, this verse was fulfilled—in Kirtland. Here is what was recorded for that event in 1836:

George A. Smith arose and began to prophesy, when a noise was heard like the sound of a rushing mighty wind, which filled the Temple, and all the congregation simultaneously arose, being moved upon by an invisible power; many began to speak in tongues and prophesy; others saw glorious visions; and I beheld the Temple was filled with angels, which fact I declared to the congregation. The people of the neighborhood came running together (hearing an unusual sound within, and seeing a bright light like a pillar of fire resting upon the Temple), and were astonished at what was taking place. (History of the Church, 2:428)

See also Section 110 of the Doctrine and Covenants. Most people who read the above verse in the above section of the Doctrine and Covenants assume that verse 5 has to refer only to the temple that was to be built in the center place of that time. However, all that is required is that a temple be built and that certain events happen in order to meet the conditions of this portion of the prophecy.

Trouble with [anti-Mormon] argumentation is that the prophecy was fulfilled, even if the location of the fulfillment was moved due to the conditional nature of prophecy and of the Doctrine and Covenants. The Bible is filled with such contingent prophecies. However [many] critics of the Church . . . take the Doctrine and Covenants out of context. Building a temple there would require the Saints to remain there in the center place. However, remaining in the center place was contingent by nature. Reading a number of sections of the Doctrine and Covenants shows the conditional nature of their stay there. The Saints failed to live up to the expectations and requirements to stay there. Therefore, they were driven out. ...

The Saints were building the city. The temple site had already been dedicated and foundational cornerstones laid the year previous. Note also the past tense of the latter part of verse 3. However, verse 2, as already noted, was to be tempered by the contingent nature of sections of the Doctrine and Covenants surrounding Section 84, particularly Section 58 and the Sections numbering in the 100s. Note the following verses from Section 58:

Behold, verily I say unto you, for this cause I have sent you—that you might be obedient, and that your hearts might be prepared to bear testimony of the things which are to come; And also that you might be honored in laying the foundation, and in bearing record of the land upon which the Zion of God shall stand; ...:For verily I say unto you, my law shall be kept on this land. ...
Who am I that made man, saith the Lord, that will hold him guiltless that obeys not my commandments? Who am I, saith the Lord, that have promised and have not fulfilled? I command and men obey not; I revoke and they receive not the blessing. Then they say in their hearts: This is not the work of the Lord, for his promises are not fulfilled. But wo unto such, for their reward lurketh beneath, and not from above. And now, verily, I say concerning the residue of the elders of my church, the time has not yet come, for many years, for them to receive their inheritance in this land, except they desire it through the prayer of faith, only as it shall be appointed unto them of the Lord. For, behold, they shall push the people together from the bends of the earth. ...
And I give unto my servant Sidney Rigdon a commandment, that he shall write a description of the land of Zion, and a statement of the will of God, as it shall be made known by the Spirit unto him; And an epistle and subscription, to be presented unto all the churches to obtain moneys, to be put into the hands of the bishop, of himself or the agent, as seemeth him good or as he shall direct, to purchase lands for an inheritance for the children of God. For, behold, verily I say unto you, the Lord willeth that the disciples and the children of men should open their hearts, even to purchase this whole region of country, as soon as time will permit. Behold, here is wisdom. Let them do this lest they receive none inheritance, save it be by the shedding of blood. And again, inasmuch as there is land obtained, let there be workmen sent forth of all kinds unto this land, to labor for the saints of God. Let all these things be done in order; and let the privileges of the lands be made known from time to time, by the bishop or the agent of the church. And let the work of the gathering be not in haste, nor by flight; but let it be done as it shall be counseled by the elders of the church at the conferences, according to the knowledge which they receive from time to time.

Note the words concerning "many years" in the afore-cited revelation? As can be seen, this above revelation shows some interesting things concerning this land and even was prescient concerning what would come in this region as well as what people would say when the Lord revokes and takes blessings away due to failure to keep the law of God. Did this not indeed happen? Had not it indeed been seen in those days by those who left the Church? And, is not it now being fulfilled by every single critic who has written concerning Section 84 and the land of Zion?

D&C 84꞉4 Verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation.

The Saints did begin gathering to this location and building the city. They were driven out before the city could be completed because they had failed to live up to expectations for remaining there as a people. Again, see the context of the Doctrine and Covenants sections preceding and succeeding Section 84, particularly those numbering in the 100s. The Saints did not keep the conditions and were driven out. They were told to keep quiet of these things and not to boast, as well as keep the law of God concerning this land. They failed in all these things and were driven out as promised in a following revelation in the Doctrine and Covenants. See, for example, Section 97:26. This forced a move of locations for the building of a temple in that generation. . . . Suffice it to say, that it still was in the Lord's plan to build a temple within that generation.[56]

Source(s) of the criticism
Critical sources
  • Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, Mormonism 101. Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2000), Chapter 9. ( Index of claims )
  • Jerald and Sandra Tanner, The Changing World of Mormonism (Moody Press, 1979), 420-421.( Index of claims )
  • Tower to Truth Ministries, "50 Questions to Ask Mormons," towertotruth.net (accessed 15 November 2007). 50 Answers
  • Watchman Fellowship, The Watchman Expositor (Page 3)
  • Watchman Fellowship, The Watchman Expositor (Page 7)
  • Watchman Fellowship, The Watchman Expositor (Page 8)

Is the prophecy concerning OIiver Granger contained in section 117 of the Doctrine and Covenants an example of a false prophecy?

Figure 1: Headstone of the grave of Oliver Granger in Kirtland, Ohio.

Joseph received a revelation on 8 July 1838 "concerning the immediate duties of William Marks, Newel K. Whitney, and Oliver Granger" (D&C 117). The revelation written in Far West Missouri, and was addressed as a letter to the three men, all living at the time around Kirtland, Ohio:

The Lord made clear that Marks and Whitney were to relocate to Missouri before winter (117:1-2). Once in Missouri they would preside over the Saints in their respective callings…To expedite their move [Marks' and Whitney's], the Lord instructed that Oliver Granger be dispatched to Kirtland to act as an agent for the First Presidency in settling some of their business affairs…Oliver Granger labored to resolve the Church’s unpaid debts in Kirtland until his death in August 1841. He succeeded in settling the affairs of the First Presidency to the satisfaction of their creditors. One of them wrote, 'Oliver Granger’s management in the arrangement of the unfinished business of people that have moved to Far West, in redeeming their pledges and thereby sustaining their integrity, has been truly praiseworthy, and has entitled him to my highest esteem, and every grateful recollection.’[57]

Concerning Oliver Granger specifically:

I remember my servant Oliver Granger; behold verily I say unto him that his name shall be had in sacred remembrance from generation to generation, forever and ever, saith the Lord. Therefore, let him contend earnestly for the redemption of the First Presidency of my Church, saith the Lord; and when he falls he shall rise again, for his sacrifice shall be more sacred unto me than his increase, saith the Lord (D&C 117꞉12-13).

Critics of the Church claim that this represents an example of a false prophecy by Joseph Smith since, today, members do not hold any sort of special occasion for the "sacred remembrance" of Oliver’s assistance to the First Presidency.

"Sacred Remembrance" as remembered in the canon

The first interpretive possibility is that "sacred remembrance" refers to humans remembering Granger. If this is true of the revelation, then canonizing his revelation holds Granger’s name available to all members of the Church. His contributions to building up the Church are not forgotten. Communities of worship, and especially Jews and Christians have used the canon as a means of collective remembrance and shared value for hundreds of years. This possibility fulfills the revelation’s injunction to hold Oliver Granger in sacred rememberance.

"Sacred Remembrance" as divine regard

The second interpretive possibility is that "sacred remembrance" refers to divine remembrance and regard for Granger’s efforts.

John Tvedtnes writes:

Several critics have pointed to D&C 117꞉12-15 as a "false prophecy" because Oliver Granger’s name is unfamiliar to most Latter-day Saints despite the fact that the Lord said "that his name shall be had in sacred remembrance from generation to generation, forever and ever" (verse 12). It seems unlikely that the memory of any mortal can be called "sacred," so the words "sacred remembrance" most likely refer to the fact that the Lord would remember him. After all, the verse begins with the Lord saying, "I remember my servant Oliver Granger."[58]

Robert S. Boylan has added scriptures from the bible as evidence for the strength of Tvedtnes’ argument of interpreting this verse as divine remembrance instead of human rememberance. "Indeed," Boylan writes, "often Yahweh in the Old Testament is said to ‘remember’ things such as his covenant with people, showing this concept of divine remembrance. For a good discussion, see Joachim Jeremias, The Eucharistic Words of Jesus, especially his analysis of αναμνησις ('remembrance/memory') in Luke 22 and 1 Cor 11."[59]

Boylan continues:

With respect to αναμησις, the term appears five times in the Septuagint [Greek translation of the Old Testament]. Four of these five instances are within the sense of priestly sacrifice; the exception is Wisdom of Solomon 16:6. The NRSV translates the verse as follows:

They were troubled for a little while as a warning, and received a symbol of deliverance to remind (αναμνησις) them of your law's command.

The other instances of this term in the Septuagint are Leviticus 24:7; Numbers 10:10; Psalms 38:1 [Septuagint 37:1] and 70:1 [Septuagint 69:1]), translating the Hebrew terms אַזְכָּרָה (Lev 24:7); זִכָּרוֹן  (Num 10:10) and הַזְכִּיר (Psa 38:1; 70:1). The NRSV captures the original language text rather well:

  • You shall put frankincense with each row, to be a token offering for the bread, as an offering (αναμνησις) by fire to the Lord. (Leviticus 24:7)
  • Also on your days of rejoicing, at your appointed festivals, and at the beginnings of your months, you shall blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings and over your sacrifices of well-being; they shall serve as a reminder (αναμνησις ) on your behalf before the Lord your God: I am the Lord your God. (Numbers 10:10)
  • A Psalm of David, for the memorial offering (αναμνησις). . . (Psalms 38:1)
  • To the leader. Of David, for the memorial offering (αναμνησις). . . (Psalms 70:1).

All of these are instances wherein God is 'reminded' of His covenant via sacrifice.

Additional passages supporting the ‘divine remembrance’ concept include:

  • And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. (Genesis 9:15-16)
  • And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. (Exodus 2:24)
  • And I have also heard the groaning of my children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage; and I have remembered my covenant. (Exodus 6:5)
  • Then I will remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember, and I will remember the land . . . but I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the heathen, that I might be their God: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 26:42, 45)
  • He hath remembered his covenant forever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations. (Psalms 105:8)
  • And he remembered for them his covenant, and repented according to the multitude of his mercies. (Psalms 106:45)
  • Nevertheless I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee and everlasting covenant. (Ezekiel 16:60)
  • Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, and has remembered his holy covenant. (Luke 1:72, NRSV)

The evidence discussed above can be summed up with the words of the Psalmist:

Remember all thy offerings, and accept thy burnt sacrifice; Selah. (Psa 20:3)

All of this strongly supports Tvedtnes’ reading of D&C 117:12.[59]

Responding to an attempt to discredit Tvedtnes' argument

There was an attempt to respond to and refute Tvedtnes' argument. The critic wrote:

Tvedtnes’ argument also suffers from the fact that the term "sacred remembrance" has frequently been used to refer to HUMAN remembrance: B. H. Roberts, in a Pioneer Day address in 1886 said (emphasis added in all quotations):

"My Brethren and Sisters: We have met on this occasion to bear witness to the world that we hold in sacred remembrance the entrance of the Pioneers into this region."

Joseph Smith said:

". . . our circumstances are calculated to awaken our spirits to a sacred remembrance of everything, ..." (DHC, Vol. 3, p. 290).

Writing from Liberty Jail, he wrote to Bishop Partridge:

"Our situation is calculated to awaken our minds to a sacred remembrance of your affection" (Times & Seasons, 1:7:99).

Later in the same letter he wrote:

"… [we] send our respects to fathers, mothers, wives, and children, brothers and sisters, and be assured we hold them in sacred remembrance." ([History of the Church] 3:297-298)

In a letter to Major-General Law (August 14, 1842) he wrote:

"And will not those who come after hold our names in sacred remembrance?" ([History of the Church] 5:94)

Orson Pratt, in commenting on Ezekiel 37:11, said:

"…in other words, our forefather, whose children we are, and whose names are held in sacred remembrance by us, are all dead." ([Journal of Discourses] 20:17).[60]

Boylan responded:

Firstly, the impression that [he] is trying to give (that all instances of "[sacred] remembrance" refers to human, not divine, remembrance) is fallacious. Note D&C 127:9, dated September 1, 1842:

And again, let all the records be had in order, that they may be put in the archives of my holy temple to be held in remembrance from generation to generation, saith the Lord of Hosts.

Furthermore, it ignores the biblical evidence of God "remembering" things, as discussed previously, language which did influence early Latter-day Saints.

Finally, [his] argument suffers from a structural fallacy, that of the excluded middle. If one maps out his argument, it would go something like this:

First Premise: Some instance of "[sacred] remembrance" refers to human remembrance.
Second Premise: D&C 117:12 contains the term, "sacred remembrance."
Conclusion: D&C 117:12 refers to human remembrance.

To those familiar with formal logic, the fallacy is evident: [][Logical_fallacies/Page_4#Fallacy_of_the_undistributed_middle|the fallacy of undistributed middle]. This means that the predicates in both the major and minor premises do not exhaust all the occurrences of "[sacred] remembrance," and would not necessitate the interpretation of "human remembrance" as [he] argues for. At best, it could refer to human remembrance, but the evidence discussed in this study shows that this is not the most exegetically sound reading.[61]

In any case, either reply suffices to dispel the idea that this is a false prophesy.

Is Doctrine and Covenants 84:114 warnings to New York, Albany, and Boston an example of a false prophecy?

Figure 1. Portrait of Newel K. Whitney.

On 22 and 23 September 1832, Joseph Smith received a revelation after several of his followers had returned from proselyting missions in the eastern United States. Part of this revelation contains a prophecy that assigns Newel K. Whitney, the presiding bishop of the Church, to a mission in New York City, Albany, and Boston. This revelation is canonized as Doctrine and Covenants 84. The 114th verse of this revelation reads as follows:

114 Nevertheless, let the bishop go unto the city of New York, also to the city of Albany, and also to the city of Boston, and warn the people of those cities with the sound of the gospel, with a loud voice, of the desolation and utter abolishment which await them if they do reject these things.
Figure 2. Greek depiction of Second Coming of Jesus Christ circa 1700 A.D. Public domain.

Critics of the Church claim that this is a false prophecy since the cities of Albany, Boston, and New York still remain without "desolation and utter absolishment" close to 200 years after this revelation was given and recorded.[62]

The text itself refers to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The Doctrine and Covenants tells us that "[w]hen the Lord comes, every corruptible thing will be consumed, the elements will 'melt with fervent heat,' and the works of the world will be burned up (2 Pet. 3:10-12; D&C 101:24-25)."[63] The Doctrine and Covenants also tells us that "all the wicked will be destroyed by burning" (Mal. 4:1; D&C 29:9; 64:23-24; 133:63-64).""[63]

The "wicked", according to this very revelation, are those that "come not unto" and/or "receiveth not [the] voice" of the Savior nor the people that he sends to bear testimony of his Gospel.[64]

Concerning the Second Coming, the Doctrine and Covenants tells us that "the hour and the day no man knoweth, neither the angels in heaven, nor shall they know until he comes."[65]

It should be noted that the prophecy is contingent upon repentance (i.e. "if they do reject these things.") and that this revelation should not be taken to mean that all of Boston, New York, and Albany will be destroyed. It means that those that reject the Gospel will be and that can include individual people from those cities.

This argument should remind all that prophecy may take time to interpret correctly and that the timeframe that we assign to the fulfillment of a prophecy may not be the timeframe the Lord has in mind for it.[66] We should remember to read the scriptures contextually as well as holistically; that is, read the scriptures in their historical context as well as read everything that scripture has to say on any given topic.


Source(s) of the criticism—D&C 84 and the destruction of New York, Boston, and Albany
Critical sources
  • Dick Baer
Past responses

Source(s) of the criticism—Alleged false prophecies of Joseph Smith
Critical sources


Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 John A. Tvedtnes, "The Nature of Prophets and Prophecy," FAIR Publications, accessed November 3, 2022, https://www.fairlatterdaysaints.org/archive/publications/the-nature-of-prophets-and-prophecy-2.
  2. [citation needed]
  3. James E. Faulconer, "Foreknowledge of God," in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, ed. Daniel H. Ludlow (New York: MacMillan Publishing, 1992; 2007), 2:521–22.
  4. This stance in other branches of Christianity is sometimes called open theism. [citation needed]
  5. Elder Bruce R. McConkie, in his The Mortal Messiah (1:10), indicated that the very nature of that book made it inevitable that it would contain some of his own opinions and speculations.
  6. Millennial Star 54 (21 March 1892): 191.
  7. The First Area General Conference for Germany, Austria, Holland, Italy, Switzerland, France, Belgium, and Spain of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, held in Munich Germany, August 24-26, 1973, with Reports and Discourses, 69.
  8. Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, Vol. 2 (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1958), 191.
  9. Tvedtnes continues:

    One opinion held by Joseph Smith, frequently cited by critics, is that the Lord would come in 1890 (e.g., History of the Church 2:182). That this was, in fact, his feeling, is clearly indicated by the number of references he made to it. Joseph’s statements on this subject were made in reaction to Adventist prophecies that Christ would come in the 1840s (History of the Church 5:272, 290-291, 326, 337). Joseph reported that he had once prayed to know the time of the Lord’s coming, and had been told, "My son, if thou livest until thou art eighty-five years of age, thou shalt see the face of the Son of Man." But Joseph was careful to add, "I was left to draw my own conclusions concerning this; and I took the liberty to conclude that if I did live to that time, He would make His appearance. But I do not say whether He will make His appearance or I shall go where He is" (History of the Church 5:324, 337; D&C 130꞉14-17).

    Since Joseph did not live to the age of 85, the "if" portion of the Lord’s statement to him clearly shows that it was conditional. Moreover, Joseph was not told that the Lord would return in glory in 1890, only that he would see him at that time if he was yet alive. In other words, the Lord did not answer Joseph’s question directly, for the very reason that no one knows the time of his coming–not even Joseph Smith or the angels of heaven (Matthew 24꞉36).

    One might enquire about the likelihood that the Lord would "trick" Joseph Smith thus, making him think that he would see the Lord in 1890 when, in fact, the Lord knew Joseph would die in 1844. The question is mooted by a similar situation in the Bible. Isaiah came to King Ahaz in the name of the Lord and told him that Ephraim (head of the northern kingdom of Israel) would be broken "within threescore and five years" ). Ahaz reigned in Judah from 734 to 728 B.C. Sixty-five years later would be 689-663 B.C. In actual fact, however, Israel was taken captive in 722 B.C., just six years after Ahaz’s death, when his son Hezekiah was king of Judah.

    Joseph made an assumption based on what the Lord told him, but it was only an assumption, and it was unwarranted. But this assumption guided some of his other declarations. This does not make him a false prophet, only a mortal who–like the rest of us–often let preconceived notions govern his thoughts. He was perfectly willing (and able) to change direction when the Lord contradicted any of his preconceptions.

    This same charge is addressed here further in the article.
  10. Some might be disturbed by the use of the word "repent" in this passage. The meaning of the underlying Hebrew verb used in the passage is "to regret," and does not imply that the Lord is guilty of any wrongdoing. At the time the King James Bible was translated, "repent" merely meant to change one’s mind.
  11. (BYU Studies, vol. 20, no.2, Winter 1980, 218, ftnt. [needs work]
  12. Words of Joseph Smith [citation needed] ideally to JSPP.
  13. (Lucy Mack Smith History, chapter 46).
  14. (Words of Joseph Smith).  [needs work]
  15. (Times and Seasons, vol. 1, no. 8 June 1840, 133)
  16. see Words of Joseph Smith [needs work]
  17. (Times and Seasons, vol. 5, no. 17, 15 September 1844, 651).
  18. (see HC, 7:212; JD, 1:364).
  19. (Words of Joseph Smith[needs work]
  20. The original form of this article is from Stephen R. Gibson, "Did Joseph Smith Prophesy Falsely Regarding David Patten?," in One-Minute Answers to Anti-Mormon Questions (Bountiful, Utah: Horizon Publishers, 2005) ISBN 0882907840. off-site. Because of the nature of wiki projects, over time it may have been altered substantially from the original.
  21. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 4:597. Volume 4 link
  22. Van Hale, "Mormons And Moonmen," Sunstone 7 no. (Issue #5) (September/October 1982), 13–14. off-site
  23. Hyrum Smith, "Concerning the plurality of gods & worlds," 27 April 1843; cited in Eugene England (editor), "George Laub's Nauvoo Journal," Brigham Young University Studies 18 no. 2 (Winter 1978), 177.off-site
  24. Brigham Young, "The Gospel—The One-Man Power," (24 July 1870) Journal of Discourses 13:271-271.
  25. Patriarchal Blessings Books 9:294–295.
  26. Young Woman's Journal (1892) 3: 263.
  27. Patrick Moore, New Guide to the Moon (W.W. Norton & Company, New York: 1976), cited by Van Hale, "Mormons And Moonmen," Sunstone 7 no. (Issue #5) (September/October 1982), 15. off-site
  28. Van Hale, "Mormons And Moonmen," 15.
  29. Holmes, 464.
  30. Moore, New Guide to the Moon 130–131; cited by Van Hale, "Mormons And Moonmen," 16.
  31. Painesville Telegraph (11 September 1835).
  32. New York Sun 16 September 1835; cited by Alex Boese, "The Great Moon Hoax," museumofhoaxes.comoff-site
  33. Richard Holmes, The Age of Wonder (London: Harper Press, 2008), 199.
  34. Holmes, 465, (italics in original).
  35. Deseret News 6 (1856): 134d.
  36. ‘Quebec,’ "The Moon", Contributor 1/9 (June 1880): 193-5, from page 195
  37. Marvin S. Hill, Keith C. Rooker and Larry T. Wimmer, "The Kirtland Economy Revisited: A Market Critique of Sectarian Economics," Brigham Young University Studies 17 no. 4 (Summer 1977), 445, and footnote 113. PDF link
  38. Richard Abanes, One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church (New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2003), 464, 617 n. 23 ( Index of claims ) D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power (Signature Books, 1994), 634.
  39. Joseph Smith, "Observations Respecting the Priesthood," A Sermon Delivered on 28 April 1842, from the Minutes of the Nauvoo [Illinois] Relief Society, original in Church Archives; reproduced in Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of Joseph Smith, 2nd Edition, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1996), 114. Also in Joseph Smith in The Essential Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature, 1995), 162-163. Compare with edited versions of these remarks in Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 227. off-site and History of the Church, 4:605–606. Volume 4 link
  40. Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 137. off-site
  41. Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery, Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, 2nd edition, (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1994). [citation needed]
  42. Newell and Avery, 174; citing Brigham Young statement, 9 March 1845, Seventies Record, LDS Archives
  43. Newell and Avery, 174; John Taylor, 29 June 1881, LDS Archives
  44. Newell and Avery, 109; citing RS Minutes, 18th meeting, 28 September 1842.
  45. Eliza R Snow, "A Book of Records Containing the Minutes of the Organization and Proceedings of the Female Relief Society of West Jordan Ward," 12 April 1868, LDS Archives
  46. For example, Joseph spoke to the Relief Society on 30 March 1842: "Pres. Joseph Smith arose—spoke of the organization of the society. Said he was deeply interested that it might be built up to the Most High in an acceptable manner—that its rules must be observed—that none should be received into the society but those who were worthy. Proposed that the society go into a close examination of every candidate—that they were going too fast—that the society should grow up by degrees; should commence with a few individuals—thus have a select society of the virtuous, and those who will walk circumspectly. Commended them for their zeal but said some times their zeal was not according to knowledge. One principal object of the institution was to purge out iniquity—said they must be extremely careful in all their examinations or the consequences would be serious. Said all difficulties which might and would cross our way must be surmounted, though the soul be tried, the heart faint, and hands hang down—must not retrace our steps. That there must be decision of character aside from sympathy. That when instructed we must obey that voice, observe the constitution, 2 that the blessings of heaven may rest down upon us. All must act in concert or nothing can be done, that the society should move according to the ancient Priesthood, hence there should be a select society, separate from all the evils of the world, choice, virtuous and holy." - Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of Joseph Smith, 2nd Edition, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1996), 110. Compare versions in Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 201. off-site; and History of the Church, 4:570. Volume 4 link
  47. Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 225–229. off-site See also History of the Church, 4:602-607. Volume 4 link
  48. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 2:182. Volume 2 link
  49. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 5:336–337. Volume 5 link
  50. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 6:254. Volume 6 link
  51. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 5:394. Volume 5 link
  52. History of the Church, 5:393. Volume 5 link The History of the Church notes that the original source was taken "from the journal of William Clayton, who was present," though the prophecy against Douglas is in not the published portions of Clayton's journals (See Cecelia Warner, "The Tanners On Trial," Sunstone: Review 4:4/6 (April 1984); Lawrence Foster, "Career Apostates: Reflections on the Works of Jerald and Sandra Tanner," Dialogue 17/2 (Summer 1984): 48 and n. 28; James B. Allen, review of An Intimate Chronicle: The Journals of William Clayton, by George D. Smith, ed., BYU Studies 35/2 (1995): 165–75). It is not known if more material is in the Clayton journals that served as a basis for the complete History of the Church entry. At any rate, the publication of the prophecy before June 1857 makes the point moot—the Church was claiming this as a prophecy well before it was fulfilled, and had no reasons before then to attack Douglas if the prophecy was unauthentic.[citation needed]
  53. History of the Church, 1:315-316. Volume 1 link
  54.  [needs work]
  55. Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language (New York: S. Converse, 1828), s.v. "shall."
  56. D. Charles Pyle, email to author, 2009. Cited in Jeff Lindsay, "What About the Failed Prophecy of a Temple in Missouri," <https://www.jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/FQ_prophets.shtml#temple> (14 July 2020).
  57. Alexander L. Baugh, "Historical context and overview of Doctrine and Covenants 117," Doctrine and Covenants Reference Companion, Dennis L. Largey and Larry E. Dahl, eds. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 2012), 828; citing Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957). Volume 3 link
  58. John Tvedtnes, "The Nature of Prophets and Prophecy," <https://www.fairmormon.org/archive/publications/the-nature-of-prophets-and-prophecy-2> (13 May 2020).
  59. 59.0 59.1 Robert S. Boylan, "Oliver Granger and ‘Sacred Rememberance’," (13 May 2020).
  60. Richard Packham, "Joseph Smith as Prophet," <http://packham.n4m.org/prophet.htm> (13 May 2020).
  61. Boylan, "Oliver Granger," (13 May 2020).
  62. John A. Tvedtnes, "A Reply to Dick Baer," <http://www.shields-research.org/Critics/Tvedtnes.htm> (29 June 2020).
  63. 63.0 63.1 Donald W. Parry and Jay A. Parry, Understanding the Signs of the Times (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1999), 465.
  64. DC 84꞉50-53,94].
  65. DC 49꞉6-7].
  66. See John A. Tvedtnes, "The Nature of Prophets and Prophecy," <https://www.fairmormon.org/archive/publications/the-nature-of-prophets-and-prophecy-2> (29 June 2020).

Response to claim: 407, 606n26 (PB) - LDS leaders claim that the "official history" is "the most accurate history in all the world"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Were over 62,000 words were added or deleted from the history of the Church? The endnote adds that LDS leaders claim that the "official history" is "the most accurate history in all the world."

Author's sources:
  • John Widtsoe, Joseph Smith-Seeker After Truth, 297.
  • Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 2, 199.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

President Smith does not claim that the multi-volume set of the History of the Church is "the most accurate history." He merely argues that "the history" of the LDS Church is most accurate, because it contains "revelation...in the Doctrine and Covenants, in the Book of Mormon" as well as other "revelation that comes to us through the servants of the Lord."

Response to claim: 407 - The minutes of a conference dealing with Sidney Rigdon discussed in Volume six of the History of the Church differs from the minutes originally printed in the Times and Seasons

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The minutes of a conference dealing with Sidney Rigdon discussed in Volume six of the History of the Church differs from the minutes originally printed in the Times and Seasons.

Author's sources:
  • History of the Church, vol. 6, 47-48.
  • Times and Seasons, vol. 4, 330.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

The basic story is essentially unchanged—Joseph wanted to get rid of Sidney, and did not fully trust him or have much confidence in him even when he continued in his role as counselor. Joseph held out some hope that Sidney would rise to his calling, and it is this that is omitted in the History of the Church's version.
  1. REDIRECTAlleged whitewashing of Church history


Response to claim: 412 - The book claims that there is "academic dishonesty foisted upon church members by LDS scholars"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The book claims that there is "academic dishonesty foisted upon church members by LDS scholars"

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

This is simply the author's opinion.

Response to claim: 412 - "Mormonism has been an emotion-based religion opposed to intellectual, rational thought"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Author's quote: "Mormonism has been an emotion-based religion opposed to intellectual, rational thought."

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

Many Mormons seem to have been able to use "intellectual, rational thought" to demonstrate the many errors, distortions, and misstatements in this work attacking their faith. LDS testimonies involve both mind and heart. Members of the Church become more active and committed to their faith as their degree of education increases: Education and belief. This does not prove the Church true, but it does put the lie to claims that members are ill-informed, uneducated, or ignorant.

Response to claim: 412 - Latter-day Saints are supposed to only rely on the "burning in the bosom" even if they are "faced with irrefutable facts that undermine the LDS church"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Latter-day Saints are supposed to only rely on the "burning in the bosom" even if they are "faced with irrefutable facts that undermine the LDS church"

Author's sources:
  1. Author's opinion.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

This is simply the author's opinion.


Question: Is a "burning in the bosom" simply a subjective, emotion-based, unreliable way to practice self-deception?

It is a fundamental misunderstanding or misstatement to say that the Latter-day Saint revelatory experience is exclusively or primarily “emotional”

It is claimed by some that the Latter-day Saint appeal to "revelation" or a "burning in the bosom" is subjective, emotion-based, and thus ineffective, unreliable and susceptible to self-deception.

It is a fundamental misunderstanding or misstatement to say that the LDS revelatory experience is exclusively or primarily “emotional.” The united witness of mind and heart is key in LDS doctrine. Even the body is involved in many instances, hence the use of language exactly like “burning in the bosom.” The LDS concept of human experience is not one where we are carved up into separate, rigid compartments labeled emotional, intellectual, and physical. The LDS approach to human experience is holistic and involves all of our faculties operating simultaneously and inextricably. According to LDS scripture, “the spirit and the body are the soul of man.” (D&C 88:15)[1] We are greater than the mere sum of our inner and outer parts. Ordinarily, it’s not possible, nor is it desirable, to reject and shut down any one of our faculties . All of them combine to provide useful and valid ways of coming to know ourselves, the world, and God. All are involved in true spiritual experience.

A Latter-day Saint “spiritual” experience has intellectual content as well as emotional elements of peace or joy

Accordingly, a Latter-day Saint “spiritual” experience has intellectual content as well as physical phenomena which can include elements of peace or joy. In the early days of the Church, Oliver Cowdery received the following revelation through Joseph Smith:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things. Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God? (D&C 6:22–23).

Notice the information is spoken to the “mind,” and the feeling of peace accompanies the intellectual gift. Further, the solution for later doubts or concerns is not reliance on “a feeling” alone but an admonition to recall specific information communicated earlier.

This matches the revelatory pattern later explained to Oliver Cowdery when he attempted to participate in the translation process of the Book of Mormon:

Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me. But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong… (D&C 9:7–9).

Again, the united witness of intellect and heart are essential. If either does not agree, then revelation has not yet confirmed the matter under consideration. Anyone who relies exclusively on any one faculty – either feeling or reasoning or physical sensation – does not properly understand the LDS approach to spiritual witness.

Talk of “feelings” does not mean simply experiencing an “emotion”

To be sure, many Church members will talk about how they “felt” when they prayed or had other experiences with God. However, it is to fundamentally misunderstand these experiences to assume (as critics often do) that talk of “feeling” means simply—or only, or primarily— experiencing an “emotion.” What's lacking from these descriptions is vocabulary. The problem with them is more semantic than it is substantial. The LDS member is stymied, in a sense, because there is no good, available word for what happens during a spiritual experience. These experiences are ineffable. By definition, they defy description. Since few of us have the poetic and metaphorical powers of prophets like Isaiah and John, we are left to try our best to convey what we've experienced in words laden with secular connotations which critics can misinterpret if they so choose.

LDS scholar,Hugh Nibley, hazarded a guess at what this process of willful misinterpretation might look like:

He cannot conceive how anyone could possibly acquire knowledge by any method other than his. He cannot believe that any man has experienced anything which he has not experienced. . . . ‘I have never seen a vision,' says the [skeptic], ‘therefore, Joseph Smith never had one. I have seen dreams [or had emotionally moving experiences], therefore, I will allow him that.'”[2]

Early Christians experienced similar feelings to a "burning in the bosom"

Justin Martyr wrote in his book Dialogue with Trypho, of his conversion that he was a philosopher until he met an old man who introduced him to the Hebrew Prophets when “a flame enkindled his heart” and he found “this philosophy (Christianity) alone to be sure and profitable.” [3]

The Shepard of Hermas, which was once considered scripture, reads “There are two angels with a man-one of righteousness, and the other of iniquity...The angel of righteousness is gentle and modest, meek and peaceful. When he ascends into your heart, he speaks to you of righteousness, purity, chastity, contentment, and every other righteous deed and glorious virtue. When all of these things come into your heart, know that the angel of righteousness is with you” [4]


Response to claim: 412, 609n34 (HB) 607n34 (PB) - Latter-day Saints are instructed to "simply not think and obey church authorities"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Latter-day Saints are instructed to "simply not think and obey church authorities." The endnote states that this message was never officially rescinded by the Church.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

Actually, President George Albert Smith immediately repudiated this message:

Even to imply that members of the Church are not to do their own thinking is grossly to misrepresent the true ideal of the Church, which is that every individual must obtain for himself a testimony of the truth of the Gospel, must, through the redemption of Jesus Christ, work out his own salvation, and is personally responsible to His Maker for his individual acts.


Question: For Latter-day Saints, when our leaders speak, has the thinking been done?

The prophets themselves have counseled us to think for ourselves

It is clear the Church leaders counsel us to follow the guidance of the prophet. It is also clear that the prophets themselves have counseled us to think for ourselves. James E. Talmage summarized it well when he said that "God has not established His Church to make of its members irresponsible automatons, nor to exact from them blind obedience. Albeit, blessed is the man who, while unable to fathom or comprehend in full the Divine purpose underlying commandment and law, has such faith as to obey. So did Adam in offering sacrifice, yet, when questioned as to the significance of his service, he answered with faith and assurance worthy the patriarch of the race: 'I know not, save the Lord commanded me.'"[5] Each one of us will ultimately be responsible for the decisions that we ourselves have made—not those that the prophet have made. As the Prophet Joseph Smith once said, "I teach [the members] correct principles and they govern themselves."[6]

Critics use a statement made in the Ward Teachers' Message published in the Improvement Era in June 1945 to claim that members must do whatever Church leaders say without question

Critics use a statement made in the Ward Teachers' Message published in the Improvement Era in June 1945 to claim that members must do whatever Church leaders say without question. The statement is presented by the critics as follows:

Any Latter-day Saint who denounces or opposes, whether actively or otherwise, any plan or doctrine advocated by the "prophets, seers, and revelators" of the Church is cultivating the spirit of apostasy.... Lucifer ... wins a great victory when he can get members of the Church to speak against their leaders and to "do their own thinking."...

When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan—it is God's plan. When they point the way, there is no other which is safe. When they give direction, it should mark the end of controversy.[7]

We provide the complete quote below, with the phrases emphasized by the critics in bold type:

Any Latter-day Saint who denounces or opposes, whether actively or otherwise, any plan or doctrine advocated by the "prophets, seers, and revelators" of the Church is cultivating the spirit of apostasy. One cannot speak evil of the Lord's anointed and retain the Holy Spirit in his heart.

It should be remembered that Lucifer has a very cunning way of convincing unsuspecting souls that the General Authorities of the Church are as likely to be wrong as they are to be right. This sort of game is Satan's favorite pastime, and he has practiced it on believing souls since Adam. He wins a great victory when he can get members of the Church to speak against their leaders and to "do their own thinking." He specializes in suggesting that our leaders are in error while he plays the blinding rays of apostasy in the eyes of those whom he thus beguiles. What cunning! And to think that some of our members are deceived by this trickery.

The following words of the Prophet Joseph Smith should be memorized by every Latter-day Saint and repeated often enough to insure their never being forgotten:

I will give you one of the Keys of the mysteries of the Kingdom. It is an eternal principle, that has existed with God from all eternity: That man who rises up to condemn others, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way, while he himself is righteous, then know assuredly, that that man is in the high road to apostasy; and if he does not repent, will apostatize, as God lives. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 156-157.)

When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan--it is God's plan. When they point the way, there is no other which is safe. When they give direction, it should mark the end of controversy. God works in no other way. To think otherwise, without immediate repentance, may cost one his faith, may destroy his testimony, and leave him a stranger to the kingdom of God.

Response from President George Albert Smith regarding the statement: "The passage quoted does not express the true position of the Church"

When the ward teaching message was published, concerns were raised regarding how this statement would be interpreted. President George Albert Smith responded to a concern expressed by Dr. Raymond A. Cope of the First Unitarian Society:

The leaflet to which you refer, and from which you quote in your letter, was not "prepared" by "one of our leaders." However, one or more of them inadvertently permitted the paragraph to pass uncensored. By their so doing, not a few members of the Church have been upset in their feelings, and General Authorities have been embarrassed.

I am pleased to assure you that you are right in your attitude that the passage quoted does not express the true position of the Church. Even to imply that members of the Church are not to do their own thinking is grossly to misrepresent the true ideal of the Church, which is that every individual must obtain for himself a testimony of the truth of the Gospel, must, through the redemption of Jesus Christ, work out his own salvation, and is personally responsible to His Maker for his individual acts. The Lord Himself does not attempt coercion in His desire and effort to give peace and salvation to His children. He gives the principles of life and true progress, but leaves every person free to choose or to reject His teachings. This plan the Authorities of the Church try to follow.[8]

Finally, we should point out that, in a 1946 letter to Dean Brimhall, Elder Albert E. Bowen of the Quorum of the Twelve rejected the ward teachers' message even more forcefully than had President Smith and explained that it had been written by a young clerk in the Presiding Bishop's office and sent out without anyone in authority having approved it.[9]

Brigham Young: "I exhort you to think for yourselves"

Brigham Young made the following statements:

Ladies and gentlemen, I exhort you to think for yourselves, and read your Bibles for yourselves, get the Holy Spirit for yourselves, and pray for yourselves.[10]

The great masses of the people neither think nor act for themselves. . . . I see too much of this gross ignorance among this chosen people of God.[11]

Joseph Smith said the following:

All have the privilege of thinking for themselves upon all matters relative to conscience. . . . We are not disposed, had we the power, to deprive anyone of exercising that free independence of mind which heaven has so graciously bestowed upon the human family as one of its choicest gifts.[12]

Dallin H. Oaks: "We can be united in following our leaders and yet independent in knowing for ourselves."

Dallin H. Oaks shared the following in the April 2008 conference:

Members who have a testimony and who act upon it under the direction of their Church leaders are sometimes accused of blind obedience.

Of course, we have leaders, and of course, we are subject to their decisions and directions in the operation of the Church and in the performance of needed priesthood ordinances. But when it comes to learning and knowing the truth of the gospel—our personal testimonies—we each have a direct relationship with God, our Eternal Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ, through the powerful witness of the Holy Ghost. This is what our critics fail to understand. It puzzles them that we can be united in following our leaders and yet independent in knowing for ourselves.

Perhaps the puzzle some feel can be explained by the reality that each of us has two different channels to God. We have a channel of governance through our prophet and other leaders. This channel, which has to do with doctrine, ordinances, and commandments, results in obedience. We also have a channel of personal testimony, which is direct to God. This has to do with His existence, our relationship to Him, and the truth of His restored gospel. This channel results in knowledge. These two channels are mutually reinforcing: knowledge encourages obedience (see Deuteronomy 5:27; Moses 5:11), and obedience enhances knowledge (see John 7:17; D&C 93꞉1).[13]


Response to claim: 413-414, 609-610n39 (HB) 607n39 (PB) - Did Ezra Taft Benson's talk about "Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet" speech eliminate the possibility of Latter-day Saints exercising independent thought?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Did Ezra Taft Benson's talk about "Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet" speech eliminate the possibility of Latter-day Saints exercising independent thought?

Author's sources:
  1. Ezra Taft Benson, "Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet," February 26, 1980.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

Actually, the 14th point implies a choice: "The prophet and the presidency — the living prophet and the First Presidency — follow them and be blessed; reject them and suffer."

Response to claim: 414, 610n42 (HB) 608n42 (PB) - N. Eldon Tanner said, "When the prophet has spoken, the debate is over"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

N. Eldon Tanner said, "When the prophet has spoken, the debate is over"

Author's sources:
  1. Steve Benson, 60 Minutes, April 7, 1996.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The original claim that "the thinking is done" was made once in a church magazine, and the president of the Church immediately declared it to be false. Anti-Mormons continue to invoke it. N. Eldon Tanner did say the following in 1979 regarding moral issues:

Why should there be any debate over the moral issues which are confounding the world today? When the prophet speaks the debate is over. ("The Debate is Over", Ensign, August 1979) (emphasis added)


Question: Why did President Tanner say: "When the prophet speaks the debate is over"?

President Tanner's statement was referring to several specific moral issues

N. Eldon Tanner once said, "When the prophet speaks the debate is over." One critic of the Church even goes so far to state, "Some things that are true are not very useful + It is wrong to criticize leaders of the Church, even if the criticism is true + Spying and monitoring on members + Intellectuals are dangerous + When the prophet speaks the debate is over + Obedience is the First Law of Heaven = Policies and practices you’d expect to find in a totalitarian system such as North Korea or 1984; not from the gospel of Jesus Christ." [14]

President Tanner is speaking about several specific moral issues, which he outlines in his talk. He is not advocating that one should not think for themselves:

Why should there be any debate over the moral issues which are confounding the world today? From the beginning God has made his position very clear in regard to marriage, divorce, family life and love of children, immorality, chastity, virtue, and the high and holy role of women. Through his prophet today he reiterates the Old and New Testament teachings which are clear on these matters.
....
To gain these riches many engage in the debates on moral issues. The alcohol and tobacco industries and dealers in pornography are accumulating great wealth at the expense of the people and to the detriment of their health. With all the evidence of child pornography, it is deplorable that any parent would allow any child to be so exploited. Some children are being neglected and abused because their mothers are seeking worldly pleasures and careers outside the home. Many fathers are more concerned with their financial success than with the welfare of their wives and children.

We must turn all this about. We cannot serve God and mammon. Whose side are we on? When the prophet speaks the debate is over.


Response to claim: 415, 608-609n43-57 (PB) - Did the Church excommunicate a number of "dissidents"?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Did the Church excommunicate a number of "dissidents"?

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

The Church did excommunicate several people for a variety of reasons, however, the label "dissidents" was not used.

Response to claim: 418, 611n58 (HB) 609n58 (PB) - President Hinckley said that "dissidents" that were excommunicated got what they deserved "as cursed servants of Satan"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

President Hinckley said that "dissidents" that were excommunicated got what they deserved "as cursed servants of Satan." President Hinckley said:

"I think the Lord had them in mind when he declared: 'Cursed are all those that shall life up the heel against mine anointed, saith the Lord.'...[T]hey are the servants of sin, and are the children of disobedience themselves."

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The author has distorted President Hinckley's words. He never referred to anyone as "cursed servants of Satan."

Response to claim: 418, 611n59-60 (HB) 609n59-60 (PB) - Is the "Strengthening Church Members Committee" is a group used to spy on members of the Church?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Is the "Strengthening Church Members Committee" is a group used to spy on members of the Church?

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The committee used publicly accessible documents, such as newspapers - it did not "spy" on members of the Church.


Question: What is the Strengthening Church Members Committee?

The SCMC was originally created as a "clipping service"

The Strengthening Church Members Committee has been described as a "clipping service" which kept track of public statements by Church members who openly criticized the Church in the media. Some have accused the committee of hunting down and exposing historians and intellectuals in order to subject them to Church discipline.

Although a "clipping service" probably made sense back in 1985, in the internet-rich world of the present, it seems somewhat anachronistic. Anyone with Internet access can likely find any information more quickly than it could have been "clipped" from newspapers in 1985.

The following is from the Church News, August 22, 1992 off-site

First Presidency statement cites scriptural mandate for Church committee

Generally, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not respond to criticism levied against its work. But in light of extensive publicity recently given to false accusations of so-called secret Church committees and files, the First Presidency has issued the following statement:

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was established in 1830 following the appearance of God the Father and Jesus Christ to the Prophet Joseph Smith in upstate New York. This sacred event heralded the onset of the promised `restitution of all things.' Many instructions were subsequently given to the Prophet including Section 123 of the Doctrine and Covenants:" `And again, we would suggest for your consideration the propriety of all the saints gathering up a knowledge of all the facts, and sufferings and abuses put upon them. . . .

" `And also of all the property and amount of damages which they have sustained, both of character and personal injuries. . . .

" `And also the names of all persons that have had a hand in their oppressions, as far as they can get hold of them and find them out.

" `And perhaps a committee can be appointed to find out these things, and to take statements and affidavits; and also to gather up the libelous publications that are afloat;

" `And all that are in the magazines, and in the encyclopedias, and all the libelous histories that are published. . . . (Verses 1-5.)'

"Leaders and members of the Church strive to implement commandments of the Lord including this direction received in 1839. Because the Church has a non-professional clergy, its stake presidents and bishops have varied backgrounds and training. In order to assist their members who have questions, these local leaders often request information from General Authorities of the Church.

"The Strengthening Church Members Committee was appointed by the First Presidency to help fulfill this need and to comply with the cited section of the Doctrine and Covenants. This committee serves as a resource to priesthood leaders throughout the world who may desire assistance on a wide variety of topics. It is a General Authority committee, currently comprised of Elder James E. Faust and Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. They work through established priesthood channels, and neither impose nor direct Church disciplinary action.

"Members who have questions concerning Church doctrine, policies, or procedures have been counseled to discuss those concerns confidentially with their local leaders. These leaders are deeply aware of their obligation to counsel members wisely in the spirit of love, in order to strengthen their faith in the Lord and in His great latter-day work."

- The First Presidency


Question: Does the Strengthening Church Members Committee still exist?

The Committee apparently still exists

The Committee apparently still exists, as noted in the Jeffery R. Holland BBC interview in March 2012. We do not know what function the committee performs, if any.

John Sweeney: What is the Strengthening Church Members Committee?

Elder Holland: The Strengthening Church Members Committee was born some years ago to protect against predatory practices of polygamists.

Sweeney: I asked what it is, not was

Holland: That is what it is…

Sweeney: So it does still exist?

Holland: It does still exist...it does still exist…

Sweeney: And it....looks at....it’s there to defend the church against polygamists?

Holland: Principally, that is still its principal task.

Sweeney: So what is its subsidiary task?

Holland: I just....suppose to....to be protective generally, just to watch and to care for any insidious influence. But for all intents and purposes, that’s all that I know about it....is that it’s primarily there to guard against polygamy. That would be the substantial part of the work. I’m not on that committee so I don’t know much about it.


Response to claim: 419 - The 1997 Relief Society manual makes it sound as if Brigham Young only had one wife and six children

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The 1997 Relief Society manual makes it sound as if Brigham Young only had one wife and six children

Author's sources:
  1. 1997 Relief Society manual.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

It is fairly common knowledge, both inside and outside of the Church, that Brigham Young was not a monogomist.


Alleged whitewashing of polygamy in Church history

Polygamy or plural marriage was the Church's most controversial teaching and practice, and it remains the most controversial part of its history today.

Critics who hope to portray the Church as hiding its history misrepresent several aspects of the Church's history writing to make it appear as if the Church hopes to hide its polygamist past.

Nauvoo troubles

For example, some critics claim that the Church does not admit to polygamy's role in the vicious persecution suffered by the Saints in Illinois, including the murder of Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum.

The claim that six Latter-day Saint histories omit plural marriage as a cause for difficulties in Nauvoo is clearly false

"Mormons accepted as sufficient the explanation that Joseph Smith’s death was due to an angry mob, without caring to know specifically what those Illinois neighbors had been angry about,” writes one critical author, citing five works from 1888 to 1979 (pp. 5, 449–50, n. 105). These references provide a textbook example of footnotes that do not support one’s claims. [15]

The author's claim that these six histories omit plural marriage as a cause for difficulties in Nauvoo is clearly false.[16]

Roberts: Contrary to the author's claim about B.H. Roberts’s Comprehensive History, Roberts described plural marriage

Contrary to G.D. Smith’s claim about Roberts’s Comprehensive History, Roberts described plural marriage, concluding, “Bearing this situation in mind, I am sure the reader will better appreciate the many complications which follow in this Nauvoo period of our history.”[17] Roberts’s discussion of the Expositor reminds the reader of “the introduction of the practice of the new marriage system of the church, permitting under special conditions a plurality of wives,” and notes that the dissident paper had “charged the Prophet with exercising illegal authority, both in ecclesiastical and civil affairs; with the introduction of the plural wife system, and other supposed doctrinal heresies; with gross immoralities; and malfeasance in the administration of the affairs of the church.”

Roberts did not deny that errors by the Saints played a role:

This bitterness had been created in the public mind in large part through the misrepresentations that had been made of the purposes and designs of the church leaders; in part by the unwisdom of church members, for whom no claim is made of impeccability, either in word or action; nor is absolute inerrancy in judgment and policy claimed for even the leaders of the church.[18]

Joseph Fielding Smith: Admits the introduction of plural marriage by Joseph Smith and writes that the Prophet was arrested on a charge of polygamy

For his claim that plural marriage was ignored as a cause of Joseph’s death, G.D. Smith also cites Joseph Fielding Smith’s Essentials of Church History. Yet Joseph Fielding Smith both admits the introduction of plural marriage by Joseph Smith and writes that the Prophet was arrested on a charge of polygamy.[19]

Berrett argues that one of the new doctrines that set the Saints apart was "the doctrine of plural marriage"

G.D. Smith’s appeal to William E. Berrett’s The Restored Church for the suppression thesis is likewise unpersuasive. In a section titled “Causes of the Conflict in Illinois,” Berrett argues that one of the new doctrines that set the Saints apart

was especially responsible for bringing persecution upon the Church. That was the doctrine of plural marriage by divine sanction. . . . In 1840, the doctrine was taught to a few leading brethren who, with the Prophet, secretly married additional wives in the following year. This secrecy could not be long kept, yet the doctrine was not openly discussed. This state of affairs gave rise to serious slander outside the Church. . . . He was convinced that the practice of the doctrine would bring bitter persecution upon the Church and eventually cause him to lose his life. . . . The Prophet was aware that the social order he contemplated would arouse bitter opposition in Illinois. . . . And this not because the Mormons were hard to get along with, or because non-Mormons were wicked, but because the teachings of the Church and the existing social orders were so directly in conflict. (italics in original)[20]

That Berrett’s work was originally published by the church’s Educational Department in 1937 (a fact not noted in G.D. Smith’s footnote) is significant—this is not an effort to hide anything.

Whitney tells the well-known story of Joseph requesting Vilate Kimball as his wife

G.D. Smith’s footnote also suggests that Orson F. Whitney’s biography of Heber C. Kimball supports his claim. Whitney’s biography tells the well-known story of Joseph requesting Vilate Kimball as his wife and introduces the martyrdom by declaring that “without doubt, the revelation of the great principle of plural marriage was a prime cause of the troubles which now arose, culminating in the Prophet’s martyrdom and the exodus of the Church into the wilderness.”<ref<{{Book:Whitney:Life of Heber C. Kimball|pages=323–29, (emphasis added)</ref>

Arrington and Bitton: “An additional element [that] contributed to the Mormons’ problems in Illinois—as if more were required—were the rumors of plural marriage that began to circulate in Nauvoo"

Finally, Smith appeals to Leonard Arrington and Davis Bitton’s The Mormon Experience. These authors again note the contribution of polygamy that G.D. Smith insists Mormon histories ignore. The following language contradicts his thesis: “An additional element [that] contributed to the Mormons’ problems in Illinois—as if more were required—were the rumors of plural marriage that began to circulate in Nauvoo,” and “paradoxically, continuing revelation . . . contributed to the divisions of Nauvoo because of the development during this period of certain unusual doctrines, . . . especially plural marriage.” “From the first, polygamy was an explosive issue,” according to Arrington and Bitton. “A scandal to non-Mormon neighbors, it also caused a number of defections within the Mormon camp even before the death of Joseph Smith. . . . By the fall of 1843 the subject of plurality was on every tongue in the city.” Arrington and Bitton also point out that the Expositor “contained inflammatory allegations about the sex lives of Mormon leaders and members.”[21]

Godfrey: “Saints were accused of believing in plural marriage...this doctrine and practice became a major source of non-Mormon resentment.”

G.D. Smith even goes so far as to claim that “one LDS Educator in 1967 wrote about the ‘causes’ of conflict in Nauvoo and mentioned Joseph’s death as a watershed moment . . . without mentioning plural marriage.” He cites the seventh chapter of Kenneth W. Godfrey’s 1967 PhD dissertation for this claim.[22] This chapter is actually entitled “Plural Marriage”—a strange title to use if not about plural marriage!

“As early as 1836,” wrote Godfrey, the “Saints were accused of believing in plural marriage. But it was not until the Nauvoo period . . . that this doctrine and practice became a major source of non-Mormon resentment.”[22]:91 Godfrey discusses the first hints of plural marriage in 1831, the Fanny Alger marriage, and Oliver Cowdery’s angry reaction.

When he treats the Nauvoo period, Godfrey notes that “by 1841 or 1842 plural marriage was secretly being practiced with increased frequency.” Godfrey even follows, without comment, Brodie’s exaggerated estimate of forty-nine wives for Joseph.[22]:95 He also details the secrecy surrounding plural marriage and the deception used to maintain it:

Possibly Joseph Smith, partly because of Gentile opposition, kept the doctrine as secret as possible. . . . It was kept so secret that many members of the Church denied that it was even taught. . . . Even though some members of the Church denied the existence of plural marriage, there are a number of documents to support the view that, among the faithful, many such marriages were being performed.[22]:97-98

Contrary to G.D. Smith’s claim that polygamy’s impact was ignored by Latter-day Saint historians, Godfrey wrote that “gradually rumors became more and more persistent regarding the Mormon matrimonial system,” adding that one author “argues that ‘spiritual wifery was one of the leading causes of the Mormon-Gentile trouble in Hancock County.’”[22]:99-100 John C. Bennett and Oliver Olney had published about polygamy, and Godfrey argues that “such extensive publicity appears to have aroused the public against Mormonism and its marriage system.”[22]:103 Bennett’s claims about a Cyprian order of women “available to any Mormon who desired her . . . was . . . not true but nevertheless it was somewhat effective in arousing the public mind against Mormonism.”[22]:108

Godfrey also quotes extensively from the 25 April 1844 edition of the Warsaw Signal to demonstrate the animus in which polygamy was held.[22]:92n930 As his narrative approaches Joseph’s death, Godfrey argues that “one of the reasons for the publication of the Nauvoo Expositor was to publicly proclaim opposition to the plurality of wives doctrine as taught by the Prophet.”[22]:106-107

The Warsaw Signal listed spiritual wifeism as one of the major reasons for its opposition to the Mormons, and many claimed that the Prophet . . . was a licentious seducer of young women. Such declarations played their role in arousing public indignation against the Mormons and their marriage system. If polygamy was not the main reason for the Mormon expulsion, at least it can safely be said that it aroused the moral indignation of many people.[22]:108-11

Contrary to what G.D. Smith asserts, Godfrey dealt with polygamy as a cause of the hostilities towards the Saints in Nauvoo. His abstract and conclusion summarize his views:

Peculiar religious beliefs held by Latter-day Saints caused some of the difficulties they experienced in Illinois. Such doctrines as plural marriage . . . led to further hostility. . . . Perhaps in retrospect both Mormons and non-Mormons were to blame for the disharmony. . . . The Mormons . . . engaged in a marriage system held by Gentiles to be adulterous. . . . Since polygamy was unannounced yet practiced, credance [sic] was given to the claims of former Mormons which cast even more doubt upon the Prophet’s character. It become [sic] almost impossible to overstress the role exscinded Mormons played in arousing people against leaders of the Church.[22]:2-3, 215

The claim that an “LDS educator” discussed the Illinois troubles “without even mentioning plural marriage” is thus likewise false. All of these claims are disproven by the references that are offered to support them.

Wilford Woodruff

Not content with misrepresenting modern LDS authors, critics also claim that Wilford Woodruff sought to disguise the Church's polygamous history.

They point to Wilford Woodruff's criticism of assistant Church Historian Andrew Jenson's decision to publish the names of those who were married to Joseph Smith. Woodruff did this, we are told, because he wanted to hide the fact that Joseph was married to other women.

Here again, the critics are not being fair. Jenson’s material, coming when it did, could have put members in danger. But G.D. Smith makes it appear that Woodruff was trying to hide the practice of plural marriage in 1887. [23]

What is not explained or acknowledged is that Woodruff’s paramount concern was not to hide history or deny plural marriage

G.D. Smith writes that Jenson's article “appeared on the down-side slope of the historical peak in polygamy . . . [and] Woodruff complained to Jenson.” G.D. Smith quotes Woodruff to the effect that “we do not think it a wise step to give these names to the world at the present time in the manner in which you have done. . . . Advantage may be taken of their publication and in some instances, to the injury, perhaps, of families or relatives of those whose names are mentioned” (p. 447).[24]

What is not explained or acknowledged is that Woodruff’s paramount concern was not to hide history or deny plural marriage. (The Manifesto was three years in the future: polygamy was hardly a secret! The United States government knew very well that the Saints practiced polygamy, knew that they taught that Joseph had practiced it, and was determined to stamp it out. Woodruff can hardly be disguising these facts.

Woodruff likely feared the very real risk of spies and government agents using the information to prosecute members of the church

Rather, Woodruff likely feared the very real risk of spies and government agents using the information to prosecute members of the church. At this period, women were jailed for refusing to testify against husbands; hundreds of men were in hiding or in prison. “Words are inadequate to convey the feelings of those times—the hurts to individuals and families, to the church. . . . Families were torn apart, left to provide as best they could.”[25]

Source(s) of the criticism
Critical sources

Modern day example

This well-worn tactic has not stopped even today.

Some even insisted that the Church manual, The Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, attempted to "hide history" by portraying Brigham Young (a well-known polygamist) as having only one wife.

This is a strange claim, since it is fairly common knowledge, both inside and outside of the Church, that Brigham was a polygamist. Many US history textbooks used in public high schools mention Brigham's polygamy, for example, and many news stories and other mentions of the Church in modern media will mention polygamy, so it would seem odd (and a bit futile) for the Church to attempt to rewrite this aspect of its history by means of a single lesson in a single manual.

What does The Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young say about Brigham's wives?

The manual mentions his marriage to and the death of his first wife and his subsequent remarriage to Mary Ann Angel, but does not discuss his other marriage relationships or family life

A review of the manual itself reveals that it does not claim Brigham Young "only has one wife," nor does it "paint [him] as a monogamist." In fact, it primarily concentrates on Brigham's teachings, and only briefly touches on his personal life.

Brief biographical information on Brigham appears in a one-page "Historical Summary." [26] Chapter 1, "The Ministry of Brigham Young," also has some biographical data, although it almost exclusively focuses on his conversion, missionary experiences, calling to the Quorum of the Twelve, and colonization and leadership of Utah. The Historical Summary and Chapter 1 both mention his marriage to and the death of his first wife, Miriam Works,[27] and his subsequent remarriage to Mary Ann Angel.[28] Other than that, they do not discuss his marriage relationships or family life.

In Chapter 23, "Understanding the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage," two instances of the term "wives" were modified to "[wife]," with brackets included to notify the reader of the editorial change. Since the statements did not refer to Brigham's own wives, but were part of his counsel to men regarding their marriages, the edited reading is easier for today's Latter-day Saints, none of whom are married to more than one wife.

The next manual in the series, Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, stated "This book is not a history, but rather a compilation of gospel principles"

The next manual in the instructional series—Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith—includes this clarifying statement in the "Historical Summary" of President Smith's life:

This book is not a history, but rather a compilation of gospel principles as taught by President Joseph F. Smith. However, in order to put the teachings in a historical framework, the following list is provided to summarize some of the milestones in his life that have most immediate relationship to his teachings. This summary omits some important events in his personal life, including his marriages (plural marriage was being practiced in the Church at that time) and the births and deaths of his children, to whom he was devoted.[29]

This explanation, which is almost certainly directed at detractors of the Brigham Young manual, clarifies that the purpose of the series is not biographical or historical, but didactic. Other Church publications that are historical discuss the subject of plural marriage and its practice among the Latter-day Saints in the nineteenth century.[30]

The quotations in the Brigham Young manual are not referring to Brigham's wives, but the wives of the men that he was addressing

Note also that a careful reading of the quotations as shown in the Brigham Young manual or in their original sources (which are clearly referenced in the manual) will show that Brigham is not actually referring to his own wives and family in these quotes but to the families of the people he was addressing, so the suggestion that this quote somehow recasts Brigham as a monogamist is somewhat puzzling. The fact that the author of the letter mentions changing "wives" to "wife" in the Brigham Young manual without sharing the actual quote, which provides this additional explanatory context, suggests that this criticism is borrowed from elsewhere, since many sectarian critics of the church picked up on this story when the manual first came out and characterized it in similar terms and without the proper context, as the author has done here. A FairMormon publication by Mike Parker, "The Church’s Portrayal of Brigham Young," explains further:

In Chapter 23, “Understanding the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage,” two instances of the term “wives” were modified to “[wife],” with brackets included to notify the reader of the editorial change. Since the statements did not refer to Brigham’s own wives, but were part of his counsel to men regarding their marriages, the edited reading is easier for today’s Latter-day Saints, none of whom are married to more than one wife.

The next manual in the instructional series–Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith–includes this clarifying statement in the “Historical Summary” of President Smith’s life:

This book is not a history, but rather a compilation of gospel principles as taught by President Joseph F. Smith. However, in order to put the teachings in a historical framework, the following list is provided to summarize some of the milestones in his life that have most immediate relationship to his teachings. This summary omits some important events in his personal life, including his marriages (plural marriage was being practiced in the Church at that time) and the births and deaths of his children, to whom he was devoted.10

This explanation, which is almost certainly directed at detractors of the Brigham Young manual, clarifies that the purpose of the series is not biographical or historical, but didactical. Other Church publications that are historical discuss the subject of plural marriage and its practice among the Latter-day Saints in the nineteenth century.11

The Brigham Young manual and the manuals that followed it include selected teachings on selected subjects that have application to subjects of concern to today's Latter-day Saints. They do not teach history, but how to live the gospel of Jesus Christ. Despite the complaints of its detractors, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not engaged in a cover up, nor is it attempting to hide an "embarrassing past."

The use of square brackets is an accepted editorial convention when a later author wants to use an earlier author's words but change them slightly to fit a different purpose

Furthermore, the use of square brackets is an accepted editorial convention when a later author wants to use an earlier author's words but change them slightly to fit a different purpose without changing the overall message of the quote. In the case of the quote in question, Brigham Young is giving counsel to a group of men on how they can be good leaders in their families, which for many of them at the time would have included polygamous marriages. In the modern church, members would only have one spouse, yet the counsel on how to be good leaders of families is still relevant, though it would require an editorial change (clearly marked in square brackets) to change "wives" to "wife".

Brigham the monogamist.jpg


Source(s) of the criticism
Critical sources


Notes

  1. This is essentially the view that biblical scholars recognize as being advocated in the Bible. Donald R. Potts, "Body" in Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible ed., David Noel Freedman (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000) 194; Henry L. Carrigan, Jr., "Soul" Ibid., 1245; Alice Ogden Bellisb, "Spirit" Ibid., 1248.
  2. Hugh W. Nibley, The World and the Prophets, 3rd edition, (Vol. 3 of Collected Works of Hugh Nibley), edited by John W. Welch, Gary P. Gillum, and Don E. Norton (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company; Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1987), 31.
  3. Dialogue with Trypho 8, Ante-Nicene Fathers 1:198
  4. Shepard of Hermas, Ante-Nicene Fathers 2:24
  5. James E. Talmage, The Vitality of Mormonism, (Deseret News Press, 1919), 42.
  6. George Q. Cannon, Life of Joseph Smith, the Prophet (Salt Lake City, Utah: Juvenile Instructor Office, 1888), 529.
  7. Ward Teachers' Message for June, 1945, "SUSTAINING THE GENERAL AUTHORITIES OF THE CHURCH" Improvement Era, June 1945, p.354
  8. Letter from President George Albert Smith to Dr. J. Raymond Cope, Dec. 7, 1945 (emphasis added).
  9. Albert E. Bowen to Dean Brimhall, 26 October 1946, p. 1. Dean R. Brimhall papers, MS 114, box 12, folder 21, Manuscripts Division, J. Willard Marriott Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
  10. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 11:107.
  11. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 9:295.
  12. Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 49. off-site
  13. Dallin H. Oaks, "Testimony," Ensign (May 2008).
  14. Jeremy Runnells, "Letter to a CES Director" (2013)
  15. George D. Smith, Nauvoo Polygamy: "...but we called it celestial marriage" (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2008), 449–450. ( Index of claims , (Detailed book review))
  16. Other histories that include mention of plural marriage as contributing to the problems in Nauvoo include Church History in the Fulness of Times, CES Manual for Religion 341–43, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Intellectual Reserve, 2003), 256, 263, 268, 274; Glen M. Leonard, Nauvoo: A Place of Peace, a People of Promise (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and BYU Press, 2002), chap. 13; and Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Knopf, 2005), 529.
  17. Brigham H. Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1965), 2:93-110. GospeLink
  18. Roberts, Comprehensive History, 2:221, 227–28.
  19. Joseph Fielding Smith, Essentials in Church History: A History of the Church from the Birth of Joseph Smith to the Present Time (1922), with Introductory Chapters on the Antiquity of the Gospel and The “Falling Away” (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1922), 282, 300–301.
  20. William Edwin Berrett, The Restored Church (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1974), 247–48, 251.
  21. Leonard J. Arrington and Davis Bitton, The Mormon Experience: A History of the Latter-Day Saints, 2nd ed. (New York: Knopf : distributed by Random House/University of Illinois Press, [1979] 1992), 55, 69, 77–78. ISBN 0252062361. off-site
  22. 22.00 22.01 22.02 22.03 22.04 22.05 22.06 22.07 22.08 22.09 22.10 Kenneth W. Godfrey, “Causes of Mormon Non-Mormon Conflict in Hancock County, Illinois, 1839–1846” (PhD diss., Brigham Young University, 1967). G.D. Smith’s footnote (p. 450) mistakes the title, citing “Non-Mormon Conflict” instead of “Mormon Non-Mormon Conflict.”
  23. George D. Smith, Nauvoo Polygamy: "...but we called it celestial marriage" (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2008), 446. ( Index of claims , (Detailed book review))
  24. G.D. Smith cites Richard S. Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy: A History, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1989), 135, which includes a letter from Wilford Woodruff to Andrew Jenson, 6 August 1887.
  25. S. George Ellsworth, “Utah’s Struggle For Statehood,” Utah Historical Quarterly 31/1 (Winter 1963): 66.
  26. Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1997), vii.
  27. Ibid., vii, 2, 3.
  28. Ibid., vii, 4.
  29. Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2000), viii. A similar statement appears in the coursebook for 2004, entitled Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant: "This book is not a history, but rather a compilation of gospel principles as taught by President Heber J. Grant. The following chronology provides a brief historical framework for these teachings. It omits significant events in secular history, such as wars and worldwide economic crises. It also omits many important events in President Grant’s personal life, such as his marriages and the births and deaths of his children." (emphasis added) [Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2002), viii.]
  30. See, for example: The Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual (Religion 324-325), 1981, pp. 327, 333-34, 361-363; and Church History In the Fulness of Times (Religion 341-343), 1989, pp. 256, 424-425, 440-441. Scripturally, Doctrine & Covenants Section [D&C 132 132] and Official Declaration 1 remain as canonized statements regarding plural marriage.

Response to claim: 420, 611n63 (HB) 609n63 (PB) - Gordon B. Hinckley tried to cover up the Church's polygamous past when he appeared on Larry King Live and said that only two to five percent of the early LDS practiced it

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Gordon B. Hinckley tried to cover up the Church's polygamous past when he appeared on Larry King Live and said that only two to five percent of the early LDS practiced it.

Author's sources:
  1. Larry King Live

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

It would take a lot more than a single statement from President Hinckley to hide the Church's involvement with polygamy. The author is assuming motive, and presuming that President Hinckley knew that his figure was wrong. The calculated incidence of polygamy varies depending on one's assumptions. The 2-5% figure is true if all polygamous males are divided by total members, but this is probably not the best measure to use.
  1. REDIRECTThe Church of Jesus Christ and plural marriage today#Did Gordon B. Hinckley claim that polygamy was "not doctrinal" on Larry King Live?
Articles about Plural marriage
Doctrinal foundation of plural marriage
Introduction of plural marriage
Plural marriage in Utah
End of plural marriage



Does the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) have any association with polygamist groups?

Some modern groups practicing polygamy have their origins in the Church established by Joseph Smith, however, they no longer recognize the authority of LDS Church leaders

Critics of the Church or ill-informed commentators often try to make it appear as if modern polygamist groups continue to have Church connections. Some often call upon the Church to "stop" the polygamist activities of such groups. The media may sometimes portray modern polygamist groups as "fundamentalist Mormons," but this does not mean that the Church has any influence over their doctrine or practices. Only civil officials have any jurisdiction in this matter.

The Church declares that the Lord does not sanction the practice of plural marriage at present, but such teachings are not believed by polygamist break-off groups.

Some modern groups practicing polygamy have their origins in the Church established by Joseph Smith. However, they have broken away from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and no longer recognize the authority of LDS Church leaders.

The modern Church has nothing whatever to do with those practicing polygamy

President Gordon B. Hinckley stated the following about polygamy in the Church's October 1998 general conference:

I wish to state categorically that this Church has nothing whatever to do with those practicing polygamy. They are not members of this Church. Most of them have never been members. They are in violation of the civil law. They know they are in violation of the law. They are subject to its penalties. The Church, of course, has no jurisdiction whatever in this matter.

If any of our members are found to be practicing plural marriage, they are excommunicated, the most serious penalty the Church can impose. Not only are those so involved in direct violation of the civil law, they are in violation of the law of this Church. An article of our faith is binding upon us. It states, 'We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law' (Articles of Faith 1:12).[1]

Why did Bruce R. McConkie say that polygamy would be practiced again before the Second Coming?

The Church has no position on whether polygamy will ever be reinstated

Bruce R. McConkie in Mormon Doctrine said "The holy practice will commence again after the Second Coming of the Son of Man and the ushering in of the millennium." [2] Elder Bruce R. McConkie, therefore, believed that it would. Others believe not. In any case, the book Mormon Doctrine is not an official publication of the Church.

The Church official website responded to the question, "Is polygamy gone forever from the Church?" by saying:

We only know what the Lord has revealed through His prophets, that plural marriage has been stopped in the Church. Anything else is speculative and unwarranted. [3]

Did Gordon B. Hinckley claim that polygamy was "not doctrinal" on Larry King Live?

Hinckley said that he condemned polygamy as a practice because he thought that it was not doctrinal

Gordon B. Hinckley made the following statement on Larry King Live on September 8, 1998 with regard to the practice of polygamy:

I condemn it [polygamy], yes, as a practice, because I think it is not doctrinal. It is not legal. And this church takes the position that we will abide by the law. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, magistrates in honoring, obeying and sustaining the law.

How can President Hinckley claim that polygamy is "not doctrinal" if it was a required practice in the 19th-Century Church?

The Church no longer teaches polygamy as doctrine, despite the fact that it was doctrine in the 19th-Century Church

Despite the fact that rules regarding polygamy are outlined in D&C 132, the Church no longer teaches it as doctrine. It was taught as doctrine in the 1800's, it is not taught as doctrine today. There is no doctrine that allows the present practice of plural marriage in the Church. Its practice is "not doctrinal."

Polygamy is illegal today, and Church policy is to respect the law on the matter

Polygamy is illegal today, and Church policy is to respect the law on the matter. For most of the practice of plural marriage, the Church fought the anti-polygamy laws, and regarded them as violations of the Constitution. Any decision to disobey secular law for conscience sake must be specifically commanded by the Church's leaders. At present, that has not happened.

Many constitutional law scholars--LDS and non-LDS--regard the Supreme Court decisions on the legality of plural marriage as clearly biased and motivated by religious prejudice. The nineteenth century Saints had good grounds for believing that the law was unjust and would eventually be overturned. [4]

Gospel Topics: "Today, any person who practices plural marriage cannot become or remain a member of the Church"

"Plural Marriage and Families in Early Utah," Gospel Topics on LDS.org:

After the Manifesto, monogamy was advocated in the Church both over the pulpit and through the press. On an exceptional basis, some new plural marriages were performed between 1890 and 1904, especially in Mexico and Canada, outside the jurisdiction of U.S. law; a small number of plural marriages were performed within the United States during those years. In 1904, the Church strictly prohibited new plural marriages. Today, any person who practices plural marriage cannot become or remain a member of the Church.[5]


Twentieth centuray LDS publications regarding plural marriage

Eliza R. Snow (1884)

Eliza R. Snow, Biography of Lorenzo Snow, 69 [Joseph Smith teaches plural marriage to Lorenzo Snow] (1884; numerous reprints)

CHAPTER XIII. (69-70)

Plural Marriage.—It tries the Prophet.—God commands, and he must obey.—Interview on the bank of the river.—The Prophet's words.—Gives Lorenzo a precious promise.—Lorenzo and myself visit our Parents, and return.—Lorenzo goes to Ohio.—Where he finds me on his return.—Close of 1843.—A social gathering.—Extract from Lorenzo's speech.—He organizes a company.—The General's compliment.—Lorenzo's experience in an unfortunate school.—Makes a success.—Mobbing at Lima.

IT was at the private interview referred to above, that the Prophet Joseph unbosomed his heart, and described the trying mental ordeal he experienced in overcoming the repugnance of his feelings, the natural result of the force of education and social custom, relative to the introduction of plural marriage. He knew the voice of God—he knew the commandment of the Almighty to him was to go forward—to set the example, and establish Celestial plural marriage. He knew that he had not only his own prejudices and prepossessions to combat and to overcome, but those of the whole Christian world stared him in the face; but God, who is above all, had given the commandment, and He must be obeyed. Yet the Prophet hesitated and deferred from time to time, until an angel of God stood by him with a drawn sword, and told him that, unless he moved forward and established plural marriage, his Priesthood would be taken from him and he should be destroyed! This testimony he not only bore to my brother, but also to others—a testimony that cannot be gainsayed.

From my brother's journal: "At the interview on the bank of the Mississippi, in which the Prophet Joseph explained the doctrine of Celestial Marriage, I felt very humble, and in my simplicity besought him earnestly to correct me and set me right if, at any time, he should see me indulging any principle or practice that might tend to lead astray, into forbidden paths; to which he replied, 'Brother Lorenzo, the principles of honesty and integrity are founded within you, and you will never be guilty of any serious error or wrong, to lead you from the path of duty. The Lord will open your way to receive and obey the law of Celestial Marriage.' During the conversation, I remarked to the Prophet I thought he appeared to have been endowed with great additional power during my mission in England. He said it was true; the Lord had bestowed on him additional divine power."

James E. Talmage (1899)

James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith (Deseret Book Company 1899; 1913; 12th edition 1924; 1961)

384An Illustration of such suspension of divine law is found in the action of the Church regarding the matter of plural marriage. This practise was established as a result of direct revelation, [D&C 132] and many of those who followed the same felt that they were divinely commanded so to do. For ten years after plural marriage had been introduced into Utah as a Church observance, no law was enacted in opposition to the practise. Beginning with 1862, however, Federal statutes were framed declaring the practise unlawful and providing penalties therefor. The Church claimed that these enactments were unconstitutional, and therefore void, inasmuch as they violated the provision in the national Constitution forbidding the government making laws respecting any establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Many appeals were taken to the national court of final resort, and at last a decision was rendered sustaining the laws as constitutional and therefore binding. The Church, through its President, thereupon discontinued the practise of plural marriage, and announced its action to the world, solemnly placing the responsibility for the change upon the nation by whose laws the renunciation had been forced. This action has been approved and confirmed by the official vote of the Church in conference assembled. [see Appendix 23. 4] (424)

Appendix 23. 4 Discontinuance of Plural Marriage The official act terminating the practice of plural marriage among the Latter-day Saints was the adoption by the Church, in conference assembled, of a manifesto proclaimed by the President of the Church. The language of the document illustrates the law-abiding character of the people and the Church, as is shown by the following clause: ‘Inasmuch as laws have been enacted by Congress forbidding plural marriages, which laws have been pronounced constitutional by the court of last resort, I [President Wilford Woodruff] hereby declare my intention to submit to those laws, and to use my influence with the members of the Church over which I preside to have them do likewise.’ In the course of a sermon immediately following the proclaiming of the manifesto, President Woodruff said regarding the action taken: ‘I have done my duty, and the nation of which we form a part must be responsible for that which has been done in relation to that principle’ (i.e., plural marriage). See D&C pp. 256, 257)” (524-5)

Joseph F. Smith (1902)

http://archive.org/stream/improvementera0512unse#page/988/mode/2up EDITOR'S TABLE. PLURAL WIVES OF JOSEPH SMITH, THE PROPHET. Improvement Era, 5.12 (October, 1902)

A subscriber in Oregon writes: "I have it in the 'Succession in the Presidency' that the Prophet Joseph Smith had plural wives. A Josephite preacher proselyting here says that the prophet never had plural wives, and that Brigham Young was the author of the revelation on plural marriage, and the founder of polygamy. In view of this, will you kindly name the plural wives of the Prophet Joseph Smith?"

Taking into account the interest in this subject, awakened by a recent article in the Arena, by Joseph Smith, president of the Re-organized church, and the replies thereto touching the origin of polygamy in America, an answer to the question, is timely and appropriate, although it can be given here only in brief.

I can positively state, on indisputable evidence, that Joseph Smith was the author, under God, of the revelation on plural marriage. On this subject, we have the affidavit of William Clayton, private secretary of Joseph Smith, that he wrote the revelation as it was given through the lips of the Prophet, and that he himself sealed to Joseph Smith as a plural wife, Lucy Walker, at Joseph Smith's own residence, on May 1, 1843. This lady is still living, in Salt Lake City, and is willing to testify at any moment to this fact. Following are some of the names of young ladies who were sealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, as testified to under oath by themselves—this during the lifetime of the prophet: Eliza R. Snow, Emily D. Partridge, Eliza M. Partridge, Melissa Lot, Lucy Walker, Sarah Ann Whitney, Helen Mar Kimball, Fanny Young (sister to Brigham Young), and Rhoda Richards (sister to Willard Richards who was with the Prophet at his martyrdom in Carthage jail). All these noble women have testified, under oath, giving names and dates, that they were sealed, during his lifetime, to the Prophet Joseph Smith. These facts have been published in Jenson's Historical Record, and in the Deseret News, in years past; and I know, by the established and virtuous character of these noble women, that their testimonies are true.

A careful reading of the revelation on plural marriage should convince any honest man that it was never written by Brigham Young, as it contains references to Joseph Smith himself, and his family, which would be utterly nonsensical and useless if written by President Young. The fact is, we have the affidavit of Joseph C. Kingsbury, certifying that he copied the original manuscript of the revelation within three days after the date on which it was written. I knew Joseph C. Kingsbury well. Furthermore, the revelation was read by Hyrum Smith to a majority of the members of the High Council, in Nauvoo, at about the time it was given, to which fact we have the sworn statements of the members of the High Council. As inquiries on this subject are becoming very frequent, the publication of these affidavits and facts in pamphlet form or in the ERA may be considered.

Joseph F. Smith.

Joseph W. McMurrin

https://archive.org/stream/improvementera0607unse#page/506/mode/2up Elder Joseph W. McMurrin, “An Interesting Testimony”, Improvement Era 6. 7 (May 1903): 507-510.

Many testimonies concerning the teachings of Joseph Smith have been borne by those who were personally acquainted with the great modern Prophet. Those who can testify to having heard from the mouth of the Prophet the doctrines advanced by him are fast passing away. It will only be a few years when there will not be left a man upon the earth who can bear such a record. Many of the testimonies of those who were personally acquainted with the Prophet have been carefully preserved, and are now greatly prized. As time advances, these declarations will become more and more important.

The writer, by appointment from the Presidency of the Church, has for some weeks past been engaged in missionary work in the city of Boise, Idaho, where he came in contact with a gentleman, Mr. Richard S. Law, not connected with the Church, who has related a circumstance concerning the teachings of Joseph Smith that is of sufficient importance to be preserved. After listening to Mr. Law's statement, on a number of different occasions, it was incorporated in a letter by the writer of this article to a friend. Before mailing the letter, the contents were read to Mr. Law, in order that any mistakes might be corrected. The following is an extract from the communication referred to:

"Shortly after my arrival in Boise, I was introduced to a gentleman by the name of Richard S. Law. I was greatly surprised, also very much pleased, to learn that he is a son of William Law, who, in the early days of the Church, was a counselor to the Prophet Joseph Smith.

"Mr. Law is now seventy-seven years of age. He is, however, a well-preserved man, erect in bearing, active in his movements, and possessing a vitality that many a younger man lacks. He has a high forehead, blue eyes, and a very intelligent face. His manners are very pleasing, and, in conversation, he is agreeable and entertaining. I have enjoyed several conversations with the gentleman, during the few weeks that I have been located here. Among the various themes we have discussed, the topic in which I have been most interested has been plural marriage.

"Mr. Law was quite surprised to learn that Mr. Joseph Smith, the president of the Reorganized or Josephite Church, has often denied, and again recently denied, in an article in the North American Review, that his father, the Prophet Joseph, introduced the doctrine of plural marriage in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"He is very pronounced in the statement that Emma Smith knew that her husband, the Prophet Joseph Smith, claimed to have received a revelation commanding him to teach the doctrine of plural marriage. He also asserts that this fact was well known to many of the people of Nauvoo.

"Mr. Law has related to me, and to others, the following circumstance:

"About the year 1842, he was present at an interview between his father and the Prophet Joseph. The topic under discussion was the doctrine of plural marriage. William Law, with his arms around the neck of the Prophet, was pleading with him to withdraw the doctrine of plural marriage, which he had at that time commenced to teach to some of the brethren, Mr. Law predicting that if Joseph would abandon the doctrine, 'Mormonism' would, in fifty or one hundred years, dominate the Christian world. Mr. Law pleaded for this with Joseph with tears streaming from his eyes. The Prophet was also in tears, but he informed the gentleman that he could not withdraw the doctrine, for God had commanded him to teach it, and condemnation would come upon him if he was not obedient to the commandment.

"During the discussion, Joseph was deeply affected. Mr. Richard S. Law says the interview was a most touching one, and was riveted upon his mind in a manner that has kept it fresh and distinct in his memory, as if it had occurred but yesterday.

"Mr. Law also says, that he has no doubt that Joseph believed he had received the doctrine of plural marriage from the Lord. The Prophet's manner being exceedingly earnest, so much so, that Mr. Law was convinced that the Prophet was perfectly sincere in his declaration.

"The gentleman says his father believed that Joseph had become possessed of an evil spirit and had been deceived. He also claims that the foundation for his father's disaffection, and final withdrawal from the Church, was owing to the teaching of plural marriage to him by the Prophet Joseph Smith. He declares further that his mother was taught the same doctrine by the 'Mormon' Prophet.

"Mr. Law speaks in high terms of Joseph Smith, and says he was one of the most lovable men in his disposition and temperament he had ever met. While speaking with the utmost respect and affection of the Prophet Joseph as a man, he has no faith whatever in the Gospel as revealed through him in this dispensation.

"The matter herein presented was read to Mr. Law in the presence of two witnesses, and he acknowledged the same to be correct:

"We, the undersigned were present when Elder McMurrin read the above statement to Mr. Richard S. Law. We heard him declare that the items therein mentioned are correct in every particular. "MELVIN J. BALLARD, LOGAN. "L. E. CARTER, 326 Dooly Building, Salt Lake City."

The first witness was appointed by the Church as a missionary in that district, and resides in Logan, Utah. The other witness, Mr. L. E. Carter, is a non-"Mormon," and became interested in Mr Law's statement through the following circumstance: Mr. Carter has a friend, who is a member of the Reorganized Church, by the name of Edmund Ford, who had written him from Curlew, Iowa, a letter in which he attempted to prove that the Prophet Joseph never introduced the principle of plural marriage. Mr. Carter came to me and asked if I could answer the statements made by his friend. As Mr. Law was sitting in the hotel office, at the time, I introduced him to Mr. Carter, at the same time saying: "The testimony of a living witness to the fact that Joseph Smith did teach plural marriage, from one who has no connection with the 'Mormon' Church, will probably be more satisfactory than anything I could say. Mr. Law then repeated to Mr. Carter the substance of what I have written. Mr. Carter is fully convinced, by the statement, made to him by Mr. Law, that Joseph Smith did introduce the doctrine of plural marriage in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The home of Mr. Richard S. Law is in San Francisco. He is interested in mining properties in Idaho, and has been in Boise for some weeks, waiting for the weather to moderate, in order that he may get into the mountains and commence work upon a mine recently purchased. He has been a practising physician in former days, but for many years he has followed mining, and during these years he has traveled practically around the world.

B.H. Roberts, History of the Church (1909)

Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, vol. 5, edited by B. H. Roberts (Deseret Book 1909; 1949; 1980): 29-46.

Introduction to Volume 5.

This volume deals with the History of the Church from May 3, 1842, to 31st of August, 1843. It, therefore, covers a period of about sixteen months. …

…[xxix] But the climax in doctrine as in moral daring is reached in this volume by the Prophet committing to writing the revelation on the eternity of the marriage covenant, and, under special circumstances and divine sanction the rightfulness, of a plurality of wives. As the time at which this revelation was given has been questioned, and also the authorship of it, extended consideration is given to both these matters in the following treatise :

The Time When the Revelation on the Eternity of the Marriage Covenant, Including a Plurality of Wives, Was Given, and its Authorship.

I. The Date of the Revelation.

The date in the heading of the Revelation on the Eternity of the Marriage Covenant, Including the Plurality of Wives, notes the time at which the revelation was committed to writing, not the time at which the principles set forth in the revelation were first made known to the Prophet. This is evident from the written revelation itself which discloses the fact that Joseph Smith was already in the relationship of plural marriage, as the following passage witnesses:

"And let mine handmaid, Emma Smith, receive all those that have been given unto my servant Joseph, and who are virtuous and pure before me."

There is indisputable evidence that the revelation making known this marriage law was given to the Prophet as early as 1831. In that year, and thence intermittently up to 1833, the Prophet was engaged in a revision of the English Bible text under the inspiration of God, Sidney Rigdon in the main acting as his scribe. As he began his revision with the Old Testament, he would be dealing with the age of the Patriarchs in 1831. He was doubtless struck with the favor in which the Lord held the several Bible Patriarchs of that period, notwithstanding they had a plurality of wives. What more natural than that he should inquire of the Lord at that time, when his mind must have been impressed with the fact—Why, O Lord, didst Thou justify Thy servants, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; as also Moses, David, and Solomon, in the matter of their having many wives and concubines (see opening paragraph of the Revelation)? In answer to that inquiry came the revelation, though not then committed to writing.

Corroborative evidences of the fact of the revelation having been given thus early in the Prophet's career are to be found in the early charges against the Church about its belief in "polygamy." For example: When the Book of Doctrine and Covenants was presented to the several quorums of the priesthood of the Church for acceptance in the general assembly of that body, the 17th of August, 1835, an article on "Marriage" was presented by W. W. Phelps, which for many years was published in the Doctrine and Covenants. It was not a revelation, nor was it presented as such to the general assembly of the priesthood. It was an article, however, that represented the views of the assembly on the subject of marriage at that time, unenlightened as they were by the revelation already given to the Prophet on the subject. What the Prophet Joseph's connection was with this article cannot be learned. Whether he approved it or not is uncertain, since he was absent from Kirtland at the time of the general assembly of the priesthood which accepted it, on a visit to the Saints in Michigan (see History of the Church, Vol. I, pp. 243-53).

In this article on marriage the following sentence occurs:

"Inasmuch as this Church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication and polygamy, we declare that we believe that one man should have one wife, and one woman but one husband, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again."

From this it is evident that as early at least as 1835 a charge of polygamy was made against the Church. Why was that the case unless the subject of "polygamy" had been mooted within the Church? Is it not evident that some one to whom the Prophet had confided the knowledge of the revelation he had received concerning the rightfulness of plural marriage—under certain circumstances—had unwisely made some statement concerning the matter?

Again, in May, 1836, in Missouri, in a series of questions asked and answered through the Elder's Journal, the following occurs:

"Do the Mormons believe in having more wives than one?"

To which the answer is given:

"No, not at the same time."

This again represents the belief of the Saints at that time, unenlightened as they then were by the revelation received by their Prophet. But again, why this question unless there had been some agitation of the subject? Had some one before the time had come for making known this doctrine to the Church, again unwisely referred to the knowledge which had been revealed to the Prophet some seven years earlier?

All these incidents blend together and make it clearly evident that the revelation on marriage was given long before the 12th of July, 1843. Doubtless as early as 1831.

In addition to these indirect evidences is the direct testimony of the late Elder Orson Pratt, of the council of the Twelve Apostles. In 1878, in company with President Joseph F. Smith, Elder Pratt visited several states east of the Mississippi in the capacity of a missionary; and at Plano, Illinois, at a meeting of the so-called Reorganized Church of the Latter-day Saints, he was invited by the presiding officer, a Mr. Dille, and the meeting, to occupy the time, which he did. In his remarks, according to his own and his companion's report of the meeting—

"Elder Pratt gave a plain, simple narration of his early experience in the Church, relating many interesting incidents connected with its rise; explained the circumstances under which several revelations were received by Joseph, the Prophet, and the manner in which he received them, he being present on several occasions of the kind. Declared [that] at such times Joseph used the Seer-stone when inquiring of the Lord, and receiving revelation, but that he was so thoroughly endowed with the inspiration of the Almighty and the spirit of revelation that he often received them without any instrument, or other means than the operation of the spirit upon his mind. Referred to the testimony which he received of the truth of the great latter-day work while yet a boy. Testified that these things were not matters of belief only with him, but of actual knowledge. He explained the circumstances connected with the coming forth of the revelation on plural marriage. Refuted the statement and belief of those present that Brigham Young was the author of that revelation; showed that Joseph Smith the Prophet had not only commenced the practice himself, and taught it to others, before President Young and the Twelve had returned from their mission in Europe, in 1841, but that Joseph actually received revelations upon that principle as early as 1831. Said 'Lyman Johnson, who was very familiar with Joseph at this early date, Joseph living at his father's house, and who was also very intimate with me, we having traveled on several missions together, told me himself that Joseph had made known to him as early as 1831, that plural marriage was a correct principle. Joseph declared to Lyman that God had revealed it to him, but that the time had not come to teach or practice it in the Church, but that the time would come.' To this statement Elder Pratt bore his testimony. He cited several instances of Joseph having had wives sealed to him, one at least as early as April 5th, 1841, which was some time prior to the return of the Twelve from England. Referred to his own trial in regard to this matter in Nauvoo, and said it was because he got his information from a wicked source, from those disaffected, but as soon as he learned the truth, he was satisfied.

(Signed) "Orson Pratt,

(Signed) "Joseph F. Smith"

(The above is taken from a signed report of Elders Orson Pratt and Joseph F. Smith of the Council of the Twelve on the occasion of their visit to the East in 1878, and is to be found in the Millennial Star, Vol. 40, Nos. 49 and 50.)

Relative to committing the revelation to writing on the 12th of July, 1843, that can best be told by the man who wrote the revelation as the Prophet Joseph dictated it to him, William Clayton; and the man who copied it the day following, Joseph Kingsbury; and from which copy the revelation was afterwards printed as it now stands in the current edition of the Doctrine and Covenants. In a sworn statement before John T. Caine, a notary public in Salt Lake City, on February 16th, 1874, William Clayton said:

"On the 7th of October, 1842, in the presence of Bishop Newel K. Whitney and his wife, Elizabeth Ann, President Joseph Smith appointed me Temple Recorder, and also his private clerk, placing all records, books papers, etc., in my care, and requiring me to take charge of and preserve them, his closing words being, 'when I have any revelations to write, you are the one to write them.' * * * On the morning of the 12th of July, 1843; Joseph and Hyrum Smith came into the office in the upper story of the brick store, on the bank of the Mississippi river. They were talking on the subject of plural marriage. Hyrum said to Joseph, 'If you will write the revelation on celestial marriage, I will take it and read it to Emma, and I believe I can convince her of its truth, and you will hereafter have peace.' Joseph smiled and remarked, 'You do not know Emma as well as I do.' Hyrum repeated his opinion, and further remarked, 'The doctrine is so plain, I can convince any reasonable man or woman of its truth, purity and heavenly origin,' or words to that effect. Joseph then said, 'Well, I will write the revelation and we will see.' He then requested me to get paper and prepare to write. Hyrum very urgently requested Joseph to write the revelation by means of the Urim and Thummim, but Joseph in reply, said he did not need to, for he knew the revelation perfectly from beginning to end.

"Joseph and Hyrum then sat down and Joseph commenced to dictate the revelation on celestial marriage, and I wrote it, sentence by sentence, as he dictated. After the whole was written, Joseph asked me to read it through, slowly and carefully, which I did, and he pronounced it correct. He then remarked that there was much more that he could write on the same subject, but what was written was sufficient for the present.

"Hyrum then took the revelation to read to Emma. Joseph remained with me in the office until Hyrum returned. When he came back, Joseph asked him how he had succeeded. Hyrum replied that he had never received a more severe talking to in his life, that Emma was very bitter and full of resentment and anger.

"Joseph quietly remarked, 'I told you, you did not know Emma as well as I did.' Joseph then put the revelation in his pocket, and they both left the office.

"The revelation was read to several of the authorities during the day. Towards evening Bishop Newel K. Whitney asked Joseph if he had any objections to his taking a copy of the revelation; Joseph replied that he had not, and handed it to him. It was carefully copied the following day by Joseph C. Kingsbury. Two or three days after the revelation was written Joseph related to me and several others that Emma had so teased, and urgently entreated him for the privilege of destroying it, that he became so weary of her teasing, and to get rid of her annoyance, he told her she might destroy it and she had done so, but he had consented to her wish in this matter to pacify her, realizing that he knew the revelation perfectly, and could rewrite it at any time if necessary.

"The copy made by Joseph C. Kingsbury is a true and correct copy of the original in every respect. The copy was carefully preserved by Bishop Whitney, and but few knew of its existence until the temporary location of the Camps of Israel at Winter Quarters, on the Missouri

River, in 1846. * * * * * (Signed) "Wm. Clayton. "Salt Lake City, Feb. 16th, 1874."

On May 22, 1886, Joseph C. Kingsbury made the following statement before Charles W. Stayner, a notary public, in Salt Lake City:

"In reference to the affidavit of Elder William Clayton, on the subject of the celestial order of patriarchal marriage, published in the Deseret Evening News of May 20th, 1886, and particularly as to the statement made therein concerning myself, as having copied the original revelation written by Brother Clayton at the dictation of the Prophet Joseph, I will say that Bishop Newel K. Whitney, handed me the revelation above referred to either on the day it was written or the day following, and stating what it was, asked me to take a copy of it. I did so, and then read my copy of it to Bishop Whitney, we compared it with the original which he held in his hand while I read to him. When I had finished reading, Bishop Whitney pronounced the copy correct, and Hyrum Smith coming into the room at the time to fetch the original, Bishop Whitney handed it to him. I will also state that this copy, as also the original are identically the same as that published in the present edition [1886] of the Book of Doctrine and Covenants.

"I will add that I also knew that the Prophet Joseph Smith had married other women besides his first wife, Emma; I was well aware of the fact of his having married Sarah Ann Whitney, the eldest daughter of Bishop Newel K. Whitney and Elizabeth Ann Whitney, his wife. And the Prophet Joseph told me personally that he had married other women, in accordance with the revealed will of God, and spoke concerning the principle as being a command of God for holy purposes. (Signed) "Joseph C. Kingsbury."

II. Authorship of the Revelation.

In addition to the testimony of these affidavits as to the authorship of the revelation, and many more on file in the Church Historian's office, equally positive and unimpeachable, which might be quoted, there is another sort of evidence as to the authorship, not before used, so far as I know, to which I desire to appeal, and which is even more certain and convincing on this subject than the testimony of any affidavit by whomsoever given. I refer to the internal evidence that Joseph Smith, under the inspiration of God, of course, is the author of it. The revelation carries with it so many characteristics of his style found in other revelations given through him, that to doubt his authorship of it is impossible. Let us consider these characteristics.

1. The Revelation Was Given in Answer to the Prophet's Inquiry—A Characteristic of Nearly All his Revelations.

The revelation was given in answer to the Prophet's inquiries upon one branch of the subject of which it treats, viz., the justification of some of the Bible Patriarchs and Prophets in having a plurality of wives. It is so generally the case that the revelations the Prophet received came in response to inquiries either by himself or by those who sought to learn their duty or to know some truth, that such inquiries may be considered as a condition precedent to his receiving revelations; at any rate it is plainly a characteristic of the whole volume of revelations which Joseph Smith gave to the world.

The Prophet's first revelation, the one respecting the errancy of the religious world, accompanied as it was by a full view of God the Father, and God the Son, was received in answer to a most earnest inquiry to know what course he should pursue in the midst of the religious confusion then existing—which church should he join. (History of the Church, Vol. I, chapt. 1.)

The first of that series of meetings with the angel Moroni, which finally resulted in the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, was brought about through the Prophet asking for a spiritual manifestation from the Lord, that he might know of his "state and standing before Him." (History of the Church, Vol. I, chapt. 2.)

The series of revelations given during the time the Book of Mormon was in course of translation were chiefly given in response to inquiries on the part of the persons who came to the Prophet seeking to know the will of the Lord with reference to the relationship they should assume towards the work then coming forth. See Doc. and Cov., Sec. 10; History of the Church, Vol. I, p. 23, also pp. 28-33, 36, 45, 48, 49, 51, 53. These revelations are found in the Doc. and Cov., Sec. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17.)

The revelation authorizing the organization of the Church and outlining that organization and some of the fundamental doctrines of the Church (Doc. and Cov., Sec. 20), was given in answer to most earnest inquiry as to how the Prophet and his associates should proceed with the work of organization. "We had for some time made this matter a subject of humble prayer," writes the Prophet, "and at length we got together in the chamber of Mr. Whitmer's house, in order more particularly to seek of the Lord what we now so earnestly desired; and here to our unspeakable satisfaction, did we realize the truth of the Savior's promise, 'ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you'—for we had not long been engaged in solemn and fervent prayer, when the word of the Lord came to us in the chamber." (History of the Church, chapt. 7.) Then follows the revelation on Church organization and doctrine.

I may say that all the great revelations of the Church, as well as those which might be regarded as merely personal, were received in response to earnest inquiries of the Lord. Thus the revelation which in 1831 was regarded as making known the moral law of the Gospel was received after earnest inquiry. (History of the Church, Vol. I, p. 148; Doc. and Cov., Sec. 42, par. 3.) So also the great revelation on priesthood. (History of the Church, Vol. I, p. 287; Doc. and Cov., Sec. 84.) The great revelation on the order of the priesthood and the relations of the quorums to each other was given in response to a formal and very earnest petition on the part of the quorum of the Twelve Apostles. (History of the Church, Vol. II, pp. 219, 220; Doc. and Cov., Sec. 107.) So also as to the revelation on tithing and the disposition of it. (Doc. and Cov., Sec. 119, 120; History of the Church, Vol. III, p. 44.) So the great revelation setting in order the affairs of the Church at Nauvoo, given January 19, 1841. "Your prayers are acceptable before me," said the Lord to the Prophet, "and in answer to them I say unto you," then continues that great revelation. (Doc. and Cov., Sec. 124:2.) In fact, to particularize no further, it may be said that by far the greater number of the revelations received by the Prophet were in response to his petitions and inquiries or the Lord; and therefore the fact that this revelation on marriage was given in response to inquiries by the Prophet, to know why the Lord justified the worthy patriarchs named, and some of the prophets, in their plural marriage relations, is characteristic of practically all the revelations received by him.

2. It Possesses the Characteristic of Frankness in Reproving the Prophet.

Another characteristic of the Prophet Joseph's revelations is the frankness with which the Prophet himself is reproved for his follies and transgressions of the counsels of the Lord. He is never shielded; never justified when he steps aside from the path direct; reproof, chastisement and warnings are administered to him. God in these revelations deals with him indeed as with a son whom he loves, if it be true—and we have warrant of holy writ that it is—that God chasteneth whom he loveth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. (Heb. 12:6-8.) The following quotations from the revelations will illustrate what I mean. The Lord thus reproved the Prophet in 1829: "And behold, how oft you have transgressed the commandments and the laws of God, and have gone on in the persuasions of men. * * * * You should not have feared man more than God. * * * * Thou wast chosen to do the work of the Lord, but because of transgression, if thou art not aware, thou wilt fall. * * * Repent. * * * Except thou do this, thou shalt be delivered up and become as other men, and have no more gift. * * * Thou hast suffered the counsel of thy director to be trampled upon from the beginning." (Doc. and Cov., Sec. 3.)

Again in 1829 this: "I command you my servant Joseph to repent and walk more uprightly before me, and yield to the persuasions of men no more." (Doc. and Cov., Sec. 5.)

This was said of the Prophet in a revelation given in 1830: "After it was truly manifested unto this first elder (Joseph Smith) that he had received a remission of his sins, he was entangled again in the vanities of the world. But after repenting and humbling himself sincerely, through faith, God ministered unto him by an holy angel," etc. that is, took him again into divine favor. (See Doc. and Cov., Sec. 20.)

Again in 1830: "Thou art not excusable in thy transgressions; nevertheless, go thy way and sin no more." (Doc. and Cov., Sec. 24.)

In 1831 this was said of the Prophet: "There are those who have sought occasion against him without cause; nevertheless he has sinned, but verily I say unto you, I the Lord, forgive sins unto those who confess their sins before me and ask forgiveness, who have not sinned unto death." (Doc. and Cov., Sec. 64.)

In 1833, this: "Verily, I say unto you, my son, thy sins are forgiven thee, according to thy petition, for thy prayers, and the prayers of thy brethren, have come up into my ears." (Doc. and Cov., Sec. 90.)

In the same year this: "Verily, I say unto Joseph Smith, Jr., you have not kept the commandments, and must needs stand rebuked before the Lord." (Doc. and Cov., Sec. 93.)

In 1841 this was said to the Prophet: "Verily thus saith the Lord unto you my servant Joseph Smith, I am well pleased with your offering and acknowledgments, which you have made, for unto this end have I raised you up, that I might show forth my wisdom through the weak things of the earth." (Doc. and Cov., Sec. 124.)

It is but in harmony then with the whole course of God with this man that in this revelation on marriage his sins should be referred too. It is particularly Joseph Smith-like that it should be done, and it is done: "Let my handmaid forgive my servant Joseph his trespasses; and then shall she be forgiven her trespasses wherein she has trespassed against me. * * * * * * Let no one, therefore, set on my servant Joseph; for I will justify him; for he shall do the sacrifice which I require at his hands, for his transgressions, saith the Lord your God." (Doc. and Cov., Sec. 132:56-60.)

Thus it will appear that all the frankness with which the Prophet was reproved in other revelations is manifested in this revelation on marriage; and hence, to the extent of that characteristic, identifies this revelation on the marriage covenant with the other revelations received by the Prophet.

3. The Evidence of the Largeness of Range in the Revelation on Marriage.

The next characteristic to be noted is the largeness of range in this revelation so characteristic of all the Prophet's revelations. His main inquiry was why God justified the ancient patriarchs in having many wives. The answer went far beyond the inquiry, and there was given to the Prophet a new marriage law, so far transcending the conceptions of men concerning marriage, as the thoughts of God transcend the thoughts of men on all subjects. The marriage covenant must be an eternal one, not marriage "until death does you part." The marriage relation will exist in heaven. Procreation within the marriage covenant of man is to be an eternal, creative power. It shall people the increasing heavens as it has the multiplying worlds with offspring of the Sons of God. It is to be of the things that shall not pass away, but a means of perpetuating the lives and all their purifying, and uplifting relationships. And the power to establish these relationships is in the Priesthood of God, the keys of which were restored through Joseph Smith.

4. The Evidence of Identical Phraseology in This and Other Revelations.

The recurrence and peculiar use of certain phrases to be found in both this revelation on Marriage and the other revelations given out by Joseph Smith, establish clearly the authorship to be the same. Such, for example, as the peculiar use of "mine" instead of "my." In the revelation on marriage we have this: "Behold! mine house is a house of order" (v. 8); "If a man be called of my Father, * * * by mine own voice," etc., (v. 59). "Through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed," etc., (v. 7); and are sealed * * * according to mine appointment (v. 26); and let mine handmaid Emma Smith, (v. 54); "verily I say, let handmaid forgive my servant Joseph," etc., (v. 56).

Let these expressions be compared with the following phrases from various revelations: "Behold this is mine authority and the authority of my servants" (Doc. and Cov. sec. 1: 6); "They have strayed from mine ordinances (v. 15); "that mine everlasting covenant be established," etc., (v. 22); "shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or the voice of my servants" (v. 38); "it is meet unto you to know even as mine apostles" (sec. 19:8); "ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect for mine elect hear my voice" (sec. 29: 7); "it hath gone forth * * * that mine apostles, the Twelve," etc. (v. 12) ; "it is the workmanship of mine hand" (v. 25); "Michael, mine archangel, shall sound his trump" (v. 26); "through faith on the name of mine Only Begotten Son" (v. 42); "from the foundation of the world through mine Only Begotten" (v. 46); "according to mine own pleasure" (v. 48). And so on throughout the revelations this phrase occurs. It is used eight times in the revelation on marriage and runs through nearly all the revelations sometimes fewer, sometimes more than this. In section 101 it occurs eleven times, in section 103 six times. But it is always used sufficiently to make it a characteristic of the revelations received by Joseph Smith.

(2) The phrase "as touching," is used several times in this revelation on marriage; "as touching the principle and doctrine," etc., (v. 1); "will answer thee as touching this matter" (v. 2); "and as touching Abraham and his seed" (v. 30); "as touching the law of the priesthood," etc., (v. 5). The same expression is found in Sec. 42—"As ye * * * are agreed as touching this one thing" (v. 3). Also in the Book of Mormon: "He spake as touching all things concerning my people."

(3) Such phrases as "I am the Lord thy God, and will answer thee," etc., are frequent in this revelation. The above is in verse 2; then again, "I am the Lord thy God, and will give unto thee the law," etc., (v. 28); "I am the Lord thy God, and I gave unto thee an appointment (v. 40); the same in verse 57; indeed it comes in almost as a refrain of poetic emphasis at about equal distances throughout the revelation, giving them in places almost rhythmic effect. This will be found characteristic of several other revelations, notably section 1: The Lord speaking of His servants says: "I, the Lord, have commanded them" (v. 5); "Wherefore I, the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come," etc., (v. 17); "for, I, the Lord, cannot look upon sin," etc., (v. 31.)

So also in slightly different form the peculiarity will be found in section 12: "Behold, I am God and give heed, etc., (v. 2); "behold, I speak unto you," etc., (v. 7); "behold, I am the light and life of the world," etc., (v. 9). Also in section 29: "Thus did I the Lord God appoint unto man" (v. 43); "wherefore I, the Lord God, will send forth flies" (v. 18); "wherefore I, the Lord God, caused that he should be cast out," (v. 41); "and thus did I, the Lord God, appoint unto man the days," etc., (v. 43). Again in section 50: "Behold, I, the Lord, have looked upon you" (v. 4); wherefore I, the Lord, ask you this question" (v. 13). Also section 52; "Behold, thus saith the Lord unto the Elders," etc., (v. 1); "I, the Lord, will make known unto you" (v. 2); "behold I, the Lord, will hasten the city," etc., (v. 43.)

The peculiar use of "none other," in place of "no other," and of "none" instead of "no one," is an expression both in the revelation on marriage and a number of other revelations about which there is no question of the authorship being Joseph Smith's. In the revelation on marriage we have this: "Abraham * * * abode in my law, as Isaac also, and Jacob did none other things than that which they were commanded; and because they did none other things than that which they were commanded, they have entered into their exaltation (v. 37). In section 43 we have the same phrase: "There is none other appointed unto you," etc., (v. 3); "I say unto you that none else shall be appointed unto this gift" (v. 4); also in Section 61, the following: "It shall be said in days to come that none is able to go up to the land" (v. 16); also Section 82, "and none doeth good, for all have gone out of the way (v. 6); and they * * * shall find none inheritance in that day," etc., (Sec. 85:9).

The use of the plural "Gods" in the revelation on marriage and in other revelations, tends to prove common authorship. In the revelation on marriage we have the following: "And henceforth are not Gods, but are angels of God forever and ever" (v. 17); "it cannot be received there because the angels and the Gods are appointed there, by whom they cannot pass" etc. (v. 18); "then shall they be Gods because they have no end; then shall they be Gods because they have all power (v. 20); and sit upon thrones, and are not angels, but are Gods (v. 36); in the revelation called the Vision, Doc. and Cov. Sec. 76, which revelation was given in February, 1832, and first published in the Evening and Morning Star of July, 1833, (vol. 1, number 2, p. 28) occurs the following: "And are priests of the most high, * * * wherefore, as it is written, they are Gods even the Sons of God (v. 58) also in Sec. 121; "Nothing shall be withheld, whether there be one God or many Gods, they shall be manifest (v. 28); according to that which was ordained in the midst of the Council of the Eternal God of all other Gods, before this world was" (v. 32).

The phrase, "My house is a house of order," is used in the revelation on marriage (v. 18), also in Doc. and Cov., section 88, the phrase occurs, "a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God" (v. 119); "this shall be the order of the house of the presidency" (v. 128).

In closing the revelation on marriage the paragraph reads as follows: "And now, as pertaining to this law, verily, verily I say unto you, I will reveal more unto you hereafter; therefore let this suffice for the present. Behold, I am Alpha and Omega. Amen." This is some-what characteristic of the closing of a number of revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants. The revelation in section 60 closes with—"Behold, this is sufficient for you * * * the residue hereafter. Even so. Amen." Section 84 closes, "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. Amen" (v. 120). Section 94 closes: "And now I give you no more at this time (v. 17). Section 95 closes "Let the higher part of the inner court be dedicated unto me for the school of mine apostles, saith Son Ahman; or in other words, Alphus, or in other words, Omegus, even Jesus Christ your Lord. Amen" (v. 17).

In other revelations the expression Alpha and Omega comes in the body of the revelation as for instance in section 45, "Verily I say unto you that I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the light and life of the world" (v. 7). The same phraseology is used in the body of section 63, v. 60.

In section 19 it opens the revelation, "I am Alpha and Omega, Christ the Lord, yea even I am He, the beginning and the end, the Redeemer of the world" (v. 1). "Behold, and hearken unto the voice of Him who has all power, who is from everlasting to everlasting, even Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end" (section 61, v. 1).

Other revelations close in the same impressive manner and with the somewhat equivalent expressions in English, instead of the use of the Greek terms, Alpha and Omega. Thus section 18 closes: "Behold, I Jesus Christ, your Lord and your God and your Redeemer by the Power of my spirit have spoken it" (v. 47). Section 1 ends, "For behold and lo, the Lord is God and the Spirit beareth record, and the record is true, and the truth abideth forever and ever. Amen" (v. 39).

The same occurs in section 75 and 14; but whether the phrase occurs in the opening of the revelation or the middle of it, or in the closing paragraph, it occurs with sufficient frequency to be noted as a peculiarity of the Prophet's phraseology, and aids in the identification of his inspired style.

The term "forgiveness of sin" occurs in the revelation on marriage as follows: "Behold, I have seen your sacrifices [Joseph's], and will forgive all your sins." This is both a principle and phraseology frequent in the revelations, as an example, section 64: "There are those who have sought occasion against him (Joseph) without cause; nevertheless he has sinned, but verily I say unto you, I, the Lord, forgive sins unto those who confess their sins before me" (v. 7). Let the spirit of this be compared with the following from the revelation on marriage: "Let no one, therefore, set on my servant Joseph, for I will justify him, for he shall do the sacrifices which I require at his hands for his transgressions, saith the Lord your God" (v. 60). "Again, verily I say, let mine handmaid forgive my servant Joseph his trespasses, and then shall she be forgiven her trespasses wherein she has trespassed against me" (v. 56).

In the revelation on marriage occurs the following phraseology: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, that whatsoever you seal on earth, shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever you bind on earth, in my name, and by my word, saith the Lord, it shall be eternally bound in the heavens" (v. 46). The same phraseology is used in section 124 in speaking of Hyrum Smith, who was appointed to hold the keys of the patriarchal blessings upon the heads of God's people; namely, "Whosoever he blesses shall be blessed, and whosoever he curses shall be cursed; and whatsoever he shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever he shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (v. 93). In section 128 the same phraseology is used in describing the power of the priesthood (v. 8). And again in v. 10, quoting it from the New Testament (Matt. 16:18, 19).

In verse 26 on the revelation on marriage, this phraseology is found: "They shall be destroyed in the flesh and shall be delivered unto the buffetings of Satan, unto the day of redemption, saith the Lord God." The same phraseology occurs in section 82. "The soul that sins * * * shall be delivered over to the buffeting of Satan until the day of redemption" (v. 21). The same phraseology occurs in section 78, v. 12; section 104, v. 9, 10. In the revelation on marriage this passage occurs: "I give unto my servant Joseph, that he shall be made ruler many things, for he hath been faithful over a few things." Section 117 practically the some phraseology occurs with reference to William Marks, "Let my servant, William Marks, be faithful over a few things, and he shall be a ruler over many."

Again it is said: "and if they commit no murder, wherein they shed innocent blood—yet they shall come forth in the first resurrection and enter into their exaltation; but they shall be destroyed in the flesh, and shall be delivered unto the buffetings of Satan unto the day of redemption, saith the Lord God (v. 26). "The blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, which shall not be forgiven in the world, nor out of the world is in that ye commit murder, wherein ye shed innocent blood, and assent unto my death after ye have received my new and everlasting covenant (v. 27). That is to say, the doctrine is here set forth that the murderer hath not eternal life abiding in him (1 Jno. 1:15). There is no forgiveness for him in this world or in the world to come. The same idea is to be found in other revelations of Joseph Smith. Notably in section 42: "Behold, I speak unto the Church. Thou shalt not kill; and he that kills shall not have forgiveness in this world nor in the world to come" (v. 18); "if any persons among you shall kill, they shall be delivered up and dealt with according to the law of the land; for remember, that he hath no forgiveness" (v. 79); then again and in connection with breaking covenant, note the following expression: "And this is all according to the oath and covenant of the priesthood. * * * But whoso breaketh this covenant, after he hath received it, and altogether turned therefrom, shall not have forgiveness in this world or in the world to come (v. 39-40).

The expression "new and everlasting covenant" (v. 4) occurs several times in the revelation on marriage: "as pertaining to the new and everlasting covenant it was instituted," etc. (v. 6); "if a man marry a wife * * * * * by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed, etc. (v. 19). The phrase occurs a number of other times in the revelation, viz., in verses 26, 27, 41 and 42. It occurs also in many other revelations by Joseph Smith: In section 1—"That mine everlasting covenant might be established" (v. 22); "this is a new and ever lasting covenant" (Sec. 22:1); "I have sent mine everlasting covenant into the world" (Sec. 45: 9); same in Sec. 49, 9; 66, 2; 76, 101; 78:11, and in at least a score of other sections

5. The Evidence of Recurrence of Principles in the Revelation on Marriage That are Found in Other Revelations Through Joseph Smith.

Principles that appear in previous revelations reappear in this revelation on marriage: for example, it is said in Sec. 130: "There is a law irrevocably decreed in heaven, before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated; and when we obtain any blessing from God it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated." In Sec. 88, occurs the following: "All kingdoms have a law given: and there are many kingdoms; and unto every kingdom is given a law; and unto every law there are certain bounds also and conditions. All beings who abide not in those conditions are not justified," verse 36 to 38. In the revelation on marriage this doctrine is set forth in the following passage: "No one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory; for all who will have a blessing at my hands shall abide the law which was appointed for that blessing, and the conditions thereof, as were instituted from before the foundation of the world. * * * * * * * * * And will I appoint unto you, saith the Lord, except it be by law, even as I and my Father ordained unto you, before the world was! * * * * * * * * * * * I am the Lord thy God, and will give unto thee the law of my Holy Priesthood, as was ordained by me, and my Father, before the world was," verses 4, 5, 11, 28. The identity of the principle is complete, and tends to establish identity of authorship.

6. The Evidence of the Particularization of Ideas.

In the revelation on marriage there is a singularity of expression, which, for want of a better term, I will call a particularization of ideas, that is decidedly peculiar to the Prophet, for example: "And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made, and entered into, and sealed, by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power, (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth, at a time, on whom this power and the keys of this Priesthood are conferred,) are of no efficacy, virtue or force, in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end, have an end when men are dead. * * * * And everything that is in the world, whether it be ordained of men, by thrones, or principalities, or powers, or things of name, whatsoever they may be, that are not by me, or by my word, saith the Lord, shall be thrown down, and shall not remain after men are dead, neither in nor after the resurrection, saith the Lord your God!" (verses 7, 13).

A similar particularization of things is found in verses 15, 18, 19, 26, 30, 59, 61, of the revelation on marriage.

With the above quoted passage compare the following: "Whoso receiveth you receiveth me, and the same will feed you, and clothe you and give you money. And he who feeds you, or clothes you or gives you money, shall in no wise loose his reward: And he that doeth not these things is not my disciple; by this you may know my disciples. He that receiveth you not, go away from him alone by yourselves, and cleanse your feet even with water, pure water, whether in heat or in cold, and bear testimony of it unto your Father which is in heaven, and return not again unto that man. And in whatsoever village or city ye enter, do likewise. Nevertheless, search diligently and spare not; and wo unto that house, or that village or city that rejecteth you, or your" words, or your testimony concerning me. Wo, I say again, unto that house, or that village or city that rejecteth you, or your words, or your testimony of me." Sec. 84:89-95. Similar passages of particularization frequently occur in other revelations. The following is a notable example:

"All thrones and dominions, principalities and powers, shall be revealed and set forth upon all who have endured valiantly for the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and also if there be bounds set to the heavens or to the seas; or to the dry land, or to the sun, moon, or stars; all the times of their revolutions; all the appointed days, months and years, and all the days of their months and years, and all their glories, laws and set times, shall be revealed in the days of the dispensation of the fullness of times, according to that which was ordained in the midst of the council of the eternal God of all other Gods, before the world was" (Doc. and Cov., Sec. 121:29-31).

7. The Evidences of Identity in Grandeur of Style.

One other peculiarity in the inspired style of the Prophet is seen in a certain growing grandeur in statement, by means of repetitions—repetitions, too, that make a paragraph fairly scintillate with prismatic hues as well as giving to it a crescendo of emphasis: for example, in speaking of the glory that shall come to those who keep covenant with the Lord, it is written in this revelation on marriage:

"And they shall pass by the angels, and the Gods which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fullness and a continuation of the seeds for ever and ever.

Then shall they be Gods, because they have no end;

Therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue;

Then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them.

Then shall they be Gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them" (verses 19-21).

With this compare the following:

"The power and authority of the Higher or Melchisedek, Priesthood, is to hold the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the Church—to have the privilege of receiving the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven—to have the heavens opened unto them—to commune with the general assembly and church of the first born, and to enjoy the communion and presence of God the Father, and Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant" (Sec. 107:18, 19). Also this:

"And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. The Son of Man hath descended below them all; art thou greater than he?"

And as covering both the two last peculiarities—particularization of things and a growing grandeur in statement by repetition, consider the following passage:

"I the Almighty have laid my hands upon the nations, to scourge them for their wickedness: and plagues shall go forth, and they shall not be taken from the earth until I have completed my work which shall be cut short in righteousness, until all shall know me, who remain, even from the least unto the greatest, and shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, and shall see eye to eye, and shall lift up their voice, and with the voice together sing this new song, saying—

The Lord hath brought again Zion; The Lord hath redeemed His people, Israel, According to the election of grace, Which was brought to pass by the faith And covenant of their fathers. The Lord hath redeemed His people, And Satan is bound and time is no longer: The Lord hath gathered all things in one: The Lord hath brought down Zion from above. The Lord hath brought up Zion from beneath. The earth hath travailed and brought forth her strength: And truth is established in her bowels: And the heavens have smiled upon her: And she is clothed with the glory of her God: For He stands in the midst of His people: Glory, and honor, and power, and might, Be ascribed to our God; for He is full of mercy, Justice, grace and truth, and peace, For ever and ever. Amen.

It should be remarked, in conclusion, that these peculiarities of scope, structure, phraseology, re-appearance of principles, texture of composition and the like, which identify this revelation on marriage as the composition of Joseph Smith (under the inspiration of the Lord, of course) are not forced into the revelation. Its composition gives no evidence of being a conglomerate of Joseph Smith's thought-gems held together by some one else's clay. It is all of one piece, it is not patch work. Unity above all things is characteristic of it. Words, phrases, sentences, ideas all blend together, preserving strict unity of style and that style Joseph Smith's. No one else could have written it. The literary peculiarities of that revelation as readily proclaim it to be Joseph Smith's composition to those familiar with his literary style, as the contour of his face, the form of his features, the color of his hair and eyes, the tint of his complexion, the intonation of his voice, together with his form and bearing would reveal his physical personality to those who familiarly knew him in life. There will be no doubt whatever as to Joseph Smith being the author of it in the minds of those who will give it literary analysis. Whatever has come of it, or whatever may come of it in the future, Joseph Smith is the author of that revelation, and is responsible before God and the world for the introduction of that marriage law into the Church—the law that contemplates marriage as an eternal union, and the rightfulness of a plurality of wives under certain conditions and divine sanctions, when permissible under the laws of the land and the law of the Church.

Hyrum M. Smith and Janne M. Sjodahl (1919)

The Doctrine and Covenants containing revelations given to Joseph Smith, Jr., The Prophet with an introduction and Historical and Exegetical Notes by Hyrum M. Smith of the Council of the Twelve Apostles and Janne M. Sjodahl. Revised edition 1962 (1951; 1st published 1919) [1919, 1923, 1927, 1945, 1951, 1960, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1978; Kindle versions recently made available] [gospelink uses 1923 edition]

Section 132.

[1919 edition]

Revelation on the Eternity of the Marriage Covenant, including Plurality of Wives. Given through Joseph, the Seer, in Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois, July 12th, 1843.

[Note on first page of text] This Revelation is dated the 12th of July, 1843. William Clayton, who was Temple Recorder and private clerk of the Prophet Joseph at that time, relates the following:

"On the morning of the 12th of July, 1843, Joseph and Hyrum Smith came into the office of the upper story of the 'Brick-store,' on the bank of the Mississippi River. They were talking of the subject of plural marriage, [and] Hyrum said to Joseph, 'If you will write the Revelation on celestial marriage, I will take and read it to Emma, and I believe I can convince her of its truth, and you will hereafter have peace.' Joseph smiled and remarked, 'You do not know Emma as well as I do.' Hyrum repeated his opinion, and further remarked, 'The doctrine is so plain, I can convince any reasonable man or woman of its truth, purity, and heavenly origin,' or words to that effect. * * * Joseph and Hyrum then sat down, and Joseph commenced to dictate the Revelation on Celestial Marriage, and I wrote it, sentence by sentence, as he dictated. After the whole was written, Joseph asked me to read it through slowly and carefully, which I did, and he pronounced it correct"(Hist. Rec. pp. 225-6).

This was not the first mention of the subject among the Saints. Sarah Ann Kimball and many others knew of it in 1842, and Joseph B. Noble heard of it in the fall of 1840. Orson Pratt says that the Prophet Joseph, in the forepart of 1832, while he was living at the house of Father Johnson at Hiram, Ohio, told Church members that he had enquired of the Lord concerning this doctrine, and received the answer that it was true, but that the time to practice it had not come (Discourse by Orson Pratt, Salt Lake City, October 7th, 1869). Consequently, the Law of the Church remained as stated in Doctrine and Covenants 42:22, and as it is to-day, "Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shall cleave unto her and none else." The Revelation is divided into two parts. The first, comprising vv. 3-33, deals mainly with the principle of celestial marriage, or marriage for time and all eternity; the second, comprising the remaining verses, deals with plural marriage. The doctrine of celestial marriage remains in force; the practice of plural marriage was abandoned by the acceptancy by the Church, in Conference assembled October 6th, 1890, of the Manifesto of President Woodruff.

Section 132 contains (1) an introductory statement (1-2); (2) a reminder to the Prophet that knowledge demands obedience (3-6); (3) a definition of the celestial law (7-14), and (4) how the law applies to marriage covenants (15-20); (5) a demand for obedience (21-7); (6) the Law of the Priesthood (28-33); (7) the doctrine of plural marriage (34-40); (8) a declaration that plurality of wives is not adultery (41-9); (9) that it is a sacrifice (50-7); (10) that it is a law of the Priesthood (58-66).

1. Introductory Statement.

1-2. From this introductory statement it is evident that the Prophet had made the question of marriage a subject of earnest prayer, as he did with matters concerning which he was perplexed and desired to know the truth. He did not understand how the Patriarchs, and David and Solomon could find favor with the Lord, while living in a manner contrary to certain modern moral standards, and he asked the Lord for light. Elder B. H. Roberts (Hist. of the Church, Vol. V., Intr., p. 29) suggests that it was in the year 1831, when the Prophet was studying the lives of the Patriarchs in the Old Testament, in the course of his Bible revision, that he was led to offer the prayer referred to in the first verse, and received the answer contained in this Section, though it was not then committed to writing. ….

7. Plural Marriage.

34-40. In the preceding sections, this Revelation deals with celestial marriage—marriage for eternity. In this section and those following, plural marriage is the subject; and it is first shown that some of the greatest characters in the Old Testament had wives and concubines.

34. Because this was the law] Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham in accordance with law. It is known now that, according to the Code of Hammurabi, which, in many respects, resembles the later Mosaic law. if a man's wife was childless, he was allowed to take a concubine and bring her into his house, though he was not to place her upon an equal footing with his first wife, or the first wife might give her husband a maid-servant. This was the law in the country from which Abraham came. A concubine was a wife of inferior social rank.

37. Isaac also] There is no other record of any plural marriage of this Patriarch, but, aside from this Revelation, the probability is that he followed the custom of his age. How is it, on any other supposition, to be explained that Jacob accepted Laban's arrangement without protest? Where, if not in his home, had he learned that plural marriage was not at that time unlawful?

"It is not to be supposed that, in a time when polygamy was usual, the young sheyk remained celibate till forty. The marriage to one of the kin, Rebekah, was the political marriage for the clan, to set up a fresh chieftainess after Sarah was dead." (W. M. Flinders Petrie, Egypt and Israel, p. 24.)

8. Plural Marriage Is Not Adultery.

41-9. The Prophet, in his prayer on this subject, had asked the Lord for information concerning the ground on which the Patriarchs were justified in their domestic relations, and the answer was the definition of adultery here given. Plural marriage, the Revelation says, in substance, is not adultery, but to violate the marriage covenant is to commit that sin, the penalty being destruction (vv. 41, 52); but God Himself will execute that judgment (v. 54).

9. Plural Marriage a Sacrifice (50-7)

A very common impression in the world is this that plural marriage was instigated for the gratification of carnal lusts. Nothing is further form the truth. To Joseph Smith obedience was a ‘sacrifice’ (v. 50), and it was no less a trial to others. Brigham tells us his feelings, in these words:

‘Some of these my brethren know what my feelings were at the time Joseph revealed the doctrine; I was not desirous of shrinking form any duty, nor of failing in the least to do as i was commanded, but it was the first time in my life that i have desired the grave, and i could hardly get over it for a long time. And when I saw a funeral, I felt to envy the corpse, its situation, and to regret that I was not in the coffin, knowing the toil and labor that my body would have to undergo; and I have to examine myself, from that day to this, and watch my faith, and carefully meditate, lest I should be found desiring the grave more than I ought to do’ (Journal of Discourses 3. 266)

Brigham Young also says: ‘I did not ask Him [God] for the Revelation upon this subject. When that Revelation was first read to me by Joseph Smith, I plainly saw the great trials and the abuse of it that would be made by many of the Elders, and the trouble and the persecution that it would bring upon this whole people. But the Lord revealed it, and it was my business to accept it’ (Journal of Discourses 11. 268)

Heber C. Kimball’s experience was very remarkable. He and his wife had been sealed to each other for time and eternity, before the Prophet told him that the Lord required him to take another wife, an English lady, named Sarah Noon. Helen Mar Kimball Whitney tells the story. She says her father, after having received this command, would walk the floor till nearly morning, and sometimes the agony of his mind was so terrible that he would wring his hands and weep like a child, and beseech the Lord to be merciful and reveal the principle to his wife. This prayer was heard. Mrs. Kimball had a vision, and ‘with a countenance beaming with joy, for she was filled with the Spirit of God, she returned to my father, saying, ‘Heber, what you kept from me, the Lord has shown me’’ (Orson F. Whitney’s Life of Heber C. Kimball, pp. 335-8)

Benjamin F. Johnson testifies that the Prophet Joseph, on the 1st of April, 1843, came to his house, at Ramus, Ill., and revealed to him the doctrine, and then asked him for his sister. Johnson says: ‘’I looked him calmly in the face and told him that I believed him to be a good man and wished to believe it still and would try to; and that I would take for him a message to my sister, and if the doctrine was true, all would be well, but if I should afterwards learn that it was offered to insult or prostitute my sister, I would take his life.’ With a smile he replied, ‘Benjamin, you will never see that day, but you shall live to know that it is true and rejoice in it’’ (Jenson, Historical Record, p. 221).

These quotations show how the doctrine at first was received by Joseph’s most intimate friends. To them obedience was a sacrifice, as it was to the Prophet. For they were good men, who loved their wives with pure and undivided affection. It was no doctrine for libertines, who hate the restraints and responsibilities of a law-protected marriage and care only for the gratification of their desires. Some libertines have joined the Church under the mistaken impression that ‘Mormonism’ was a religion adapted to a carnal state, but they quickly discovered that plural marriage multiplied both their responsibilities and their burdens, and thus placed the strongest possible restrictions on licentiousness, and they became bitter opponents for that very reason.

Special instructions are given to Mrs. Emma Smith (vv. 51-6). She did never accept the doctrine with the full understanding of it that some of the other sisters—Eliza R. Snow and Vilate Kimball, for instance—had. A few days after the Revelation had been read to her, she coaxed her husband to give her the written copy, and, as another identical copy had been made, there was no objection to granting the request. Emma destroyed the document handed to her. Afterwards she repented and even went so far as to consent to the marriage of the Partridge girls to Joseph. But, finally, if a statement by her son, Joseph, can be accepted as true, she denied that the Prophet ever taught or practiced plural marriage (See Andrew Jenson, Historical Record, pp. 219-34; also History of the Church, Introduction to Volume V). It is evident that the failure of Emma to give heed to this Revelation caused her to lose the Spirit of the gospel.

General Notes

As has been stated in the introductory notes, the doctrine of plural marriage was made known to the Prophet in 1831, or 1832, although the Revelation on the subject was not committed to writing until the year 1843. It should be noted that even then it was not given to the Church. This step was taken on the 29th of August, 1852, when the Revelation was read to a General Conference in the "Old Tabernacle," Salt Lake City, and accepted by the assembly as a revelation from God and part of the law of the Church. In voting for the Revelation, the Saints firmly believed that they were only exercising their legal right as American citizens. They believed that, as a majority, they had the indisputable constitutional right to regulate their domestic affairs, within the boundaries of their own territory, and that the Supreme Court of the United States would uphold this view, even if Congress should be of a different opinion. And they were strengthened in their position by the fact that not until ten years after the action taken by the Church in 1852 was any effort made by Congress to stamp plural marriage as illegal.

The first Congressional enactment against plural marriage, passed in 1862, remained a dead letter for twenty years. By that time. the anti-Mormons had evidence that the Supreme Court would uphold legislation of that kind, and laws more drastic than the first were passed by Congress. The Church leaders appealed to the Supreme Court, as was their prerogative. For years there was a legal conflict. At last, when the Supreme Court had declared the anti-polygamy laws constitutional and there was no prospect that there would be a reversal of this decision, the Church loyally and gracefully accepted it. President Wilford Woodruff issued his Manifesto against the practice of plural marriage, and this was accepted by a unanimous vote of the General Conference assembled in Salt Lake City, Oct. 6th, 1890. This was done by divine revelation to President Wilford Woodruff.

This is the full text of the Manifesto:

"Press dispatches having been sent for political purposes, from Salt Lake City, which have been widely published, to the effect that the Utah Commission, in their recent report to the Secretary of the Interior, allege, that plural marriages are still being solemnized and that forty or more such marriages have been contracted in Utah since last June or during the past year, also that in public discourses the leaders of the Church have taught, encouraged and urged the continuance of the practice of polygamy, "I, therefore, as President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, do hereby, in the most solemn manner, declare that these charges are false. We are not teaching polygamy or plural marriage nor permitting any person to enter into its practice, and I deny that either forty or any other number of plural marriages have during that period been solemnized in our temples or in any other place in the Territory. "One case has been reported, in which the parties allege that the marriage was performed in the Endowment House, in Salt Lake City, in the spring of 1889, but I have not been able to learn who performed the ceremony; whatever was done in this matter was without my knowledge. In consequence of this alleged occurrence the Endowment House was, by my instructions, taken down without delay. "Inasmuch as laws have been enacted by Congress forbidding plural marriages, which laws have been pronounced constitutional by the court of last resort, I hereby declare my intention to submit to those laws, and to use my influence with the members of the Church over which I preside to have them do likewise. "There is nothing in my teachings to the Church or in those of my associates, during the time specified, which can be reasonably construed to inculcate or encourage polygamy, and when any Elder of the Church has used language which appeared to convey any such teaching, he has been promptly reproved. And I now publicly declare that my advice to the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land. WILFORD WOODRUFF, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

After the Manifesto had been read to the Conference, President Lorenzo Snow offered the following:

"I move, that, recognizing Wilford Woodruff as the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the only man on the earth at the present time who holds the keys of the sealing ordinances, we consider him fully authorized by virtue of his position to issue the manifesto which has been read in our hearing and which is dated Sept. 24th, 1890, and that as a Church in General Conference assembled, we accept his declaration concerning plural marriages as authoritative and binding."

The vote to sustain the foregoing motion was unanimous.

By this action the Church voted to conform to the laws of the land as interpreted by the highest tribunal, and to leave the issue with God. Since that conference, and, in fact, for some time previous to the acceptance of the Manifesto, no plural marriage has been performed anywhere with the sanction of the Church, or the approbation of the First Presidency, or anyone representing them, as was fully proved during the so-called Smoot investigation in the United States Senate, which commenced January 16, 1904.

"I want to say to this congregation, and to the world, that never at any tune since my presidency in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have 1 authorized any man to perform plural marriage, and never since my presidency of the Church has any plural marriage been performed with my sanction or knowledge, or with the consent of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; and therefore such unions as have been formed unlawfully, contrary to the order of the Church, are null and void in the sight of God, and are not marriages" (President Joseph F. Smith, at the General Conference of the Church, Oct. 4th, 1918).

Joseph Fielding Smith (1922)

Joseph Fielding Smith, Essentials in Church History (Deseret 1922) proclaims that Joseph was taught the principle as early as the summer of 1831, but hesitated for as long as he could, due to "his own prejudices" as well as the traditions of those converting to LDS.

"However, the Lord had commanded him and he must act." He revealed it to some in Nauvoo and married some of the leading brethren. (1950: 341; 1st 1922; 4 editions in English by 1930, also one in German by that date).

It was announced publicly in 1852 (480-1). [1974 edition = 27th edition: 394 contains data on public announcement]

The Manifesto was discussed 606-609). The second manifesto of 1904 was discussed page 630; as was the case of Taylor and Cowley being excommunicated for continuing it (630).

1950: 341; 1st 1922; 4 editions in English by 1930, also one in German by that date

Franklin S. Harris and Newbern Isaac Butt (1925)

Franklin S. Harris, and Newbern Isaac Butt, The Fruits of Mormonism (New York: The Macmillan Company 1925).

“The Mormon philosophy of marriage has been the subject of relentless attack, probably in large measure because it has not been thoroughly understood. The belief concerning marriage is closely tied up with the doctrines of resurrection and salvation which have just been discussed. It is held that the family relation continues in the hereafter and that one of the elements in celestial joy is the proper marital condition. Just as a worthy family here is one of the greatest sources of happiness, it is believed that one’s posterity will throughout all eternity be one of the important elements in contentment. Plural marriage, which was at one time practiced to a limited extent in the Mormon church, found its justification in the possibility it afforded for a large posterity which would contribute to eternal joy.” (8-9)

“In any scientific study of Mormonism the question of chastity must be given consideration. In the early days of the Church when there was a limited practice of polygamy, opponents of this system based their excuse for persecution largely on the question of morality. To many of them polygamy was synonymous with unchastity. This was doubtless based on an ignorance of the intimate life of those who practiced this principle, since it is claimed by those who made the most through observations [citing Remy and Brenchley, Phil Robinson, Carlton, etc] that rarely ahs any large body of people been found in which personal chastity has been held in high regard, and in which irregular sexual relations have been more vigorously condemned, than among the Mormons” (116).

Susa Young Gates (1930)

Life Story of Brigham Young Susa Young Gates (New York: The Macmillan Company 1930) Also (London: Jarrolds Publishers Limited 1930) © 1930 Deseret Book Company

III GROWTH IN THE CHURCH [23-35]

Mission to England—Emigration of British Converts to the New Zion—The Doctrine of Baptism for the Dead—Celestial Marriages—Man's Pre-existence—Plural Marriages—Not Established by Brigham Young—Consent of First Wife—A Religious Versus Civil Practice—Church To-day Opposed to Plural Marriages.

On his return from a brief eastern trip on Church business in July, 1843, Brigham Young attended a council meeting held at the Prophet's home where Elders Young, Kimball, and George A. Smith were present, when the doctrine of celestial marriage as revealed to the Prophet was expounded to them. The marriage ceremony in the Christian world is bounded only by time—"till death do ye part." Nor is it solemnised by one holding the authority from God to "seal on earth and it shall be sealed in Heaven, to loose on earth and it shall be loosed in heaven."

The revelation rests upon the glorious principle of the eternity of the marriage covenant. The union of man and woman, when solemnised by one holding the authority to seal for time and the endless ages of eternity, is of eternal binding force. Children born of that union will remain in the patriarchal family group for ever, unless individuals forfeit the blessings through breaking the laws of chastity, of loyalty, or are guilty of the crime of murder.

The fundamental truth of the Gospel rests upon the eternal nature of man, and concerns itself with the eternity of the family relationship. The heavenly family, our Father, our Mother, the Divine Son, together with all the brothers and sisters of Jesus, from Adam and Eve to the last child born on earth, constitute the past, present and future glory of God. As with the heavenly family so with the earthly family. In the resurrection, husbands and wives with their children will, where worthy of exaltation, preserve and enlarge their united relations for ever and ever.

The Prophet taught that life did not, could not originate or be created on this earth. The life of plant and animal, as that of man himself, is eternal. Each spirit, clothed as it may be in an earthly tabernacle, is co-existent with God, our Father. The earth-life is our second estate, and we pass on from experience to experience, from glory to glory throughout the countless ages of eternity—if we will to progress rather than to retrograde. Our priceless possession is our free agency, and we may use it as we will. The whole purpose and concern of God and His Son Jesus Christ, is to help His children to know truth and obey law; to progress throughout eternity.

The glory of God is to bring to pass the salvation and exaltation of His children. If His happiness centres in His children, so much more does that of His earthly children who bear and rear their children revolve around the family altar. "His course is one eternal round." All men should be privileged to become husbands and fathers in righteousness. All women should be blessed with wifehood and motherhood.

Understanding the eternal nature of man, and that his progression is from sphere to sphere, from life existence to life existence, then the right to be born on earth and partake of a mortal tabernacle becomes a priceless privilege of the spirits yet unborn. For they cannot partake of the next "glory" of the world beyond this until they have become possessed of a mortal tabernacle. Therefore, does man become a solemn partner with his Maker in providing tabernacles for the waiting spirits—spiritual children of our Heavenly Father. Parenthood is, therefore, akin to Godhood, in so far as it is righteous in inception and development. "Children are an heritage of the Lord" taught both ancient and modern prophets. The Prophet's mind was enlightened to understand these great truths and these he taught to his followers.

The privilege of having more than one woman sealed to the same husband is not by any means a corollary of the sealing law. Indeed, all couples married in the Temples are and always have been sealed for time and for eternity.

Plurality of wives is entirely Biblical and was permitted by our Heavenly Father in this dispensation solely for the purpose of giving mortal tabernacles through a worthy lineage to spirits who are waiting on the Other Side for that glorious privilege and who cannot advance until they are possessed of mortal tabernacles. Thus parenthood becomes a solemn privilege and thus that order of marriage was held as a religious sacrament to all those who lived it in righteousness. If undertaken merely for unworthy physical reasons it would and did destroy those who practised it.

William Clayton, a clerk in the Prophet's employ, who wrote the revelation concerning plural marriage at the Prophet's dictation, made the following statement some years later in Salt Lake City: "One day in the month of February, 1843, the Prophet invited me to walk with him. . . . This was the first time he talked with me on the subject of plural marriage. He informed me that the doctrine and principle was right in the sight of our Heavenly Father, and that it was a doctrine which pertained to Celestial order and glory." In the following July Brother Clayton wrote out the revelation at the Prophet's dictation which was read by several of the authorities of the Church.

It is generally believed in the outside world that Brigham Young introduced the principle of plural marriage into the Church after the martyrdom of the Prophet. This is untrue. The grandnephew of the Prophet, Joseph Fielding Smith, son of the late Pres. Joseph F. Smith, writes in his recently published history of the Church: "The doctrine of Plural Marriage was made known to the Prophet as early as the summer of 1831, and by him was taught to a few others, but it was not practised until the Lord commanded it. Secrecy was imposed until such time as He saw fit for its introduction. When the Prophet was commanded to practise this principle, he hesitated and deferred taking action for some time. To do so was one of the greatest trials of his life. He knew the doctrine was in conflict with the traditions and teachings of the world and would arouse increased persecution; moreover, his own prejudices were in opposition to the doctrine. However, the Lord had commanded Him and he must act." No matter what people may think to the contrary the matter was viewed with profound dread and dismay by the men and women who first received and practised it.

Brigham Young as one of the great defenders of the Prophet would naturally be one of the first to whom this revealed truth would be made known. He could not deny that the practice was entirely Biblical and he could not deny that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God. To accept one truth was to accept all. However, his natural Puritanic chastity of mind and spirit revolted at this principle; yet once accepted, it must enter into his life's experience.

A few of the leading men and women accepted the principle and following the example and counsel of the Prophet, entered into the Patriarchal Order of Marriage with the full approval of their first wives, taking their other wives into their homes or arranging separate homes where possible.

Some of his associates waited not for counsel or permission. They set themselves up as arbiters of their own destiny and corrupted women under pretence of following the Prophet's example. These apostates from the Church would not and could not accept nor comprehend the difference between unbridled licence and that Order which is inspired and accepted as an eternal contract between two or more parties binding them to rear families and to support and sustain virtue, sobriety and unselfish justice. The man who elects to become a law unto himself puts himself without the pale of earthly and divine government. Of such were Joseph's enemies.

In this as in every vital truth of the revealed word of God, Brigham Young was not slow to make action follow upon the heels of belief in the teachings of the modern Prophet. He married Miriam Works first in 1824. Left a widower in 1832 he married Mary Ann Angell as this narrative has shown. He was sealed by the Prophet, and with full approval of "Mother" Mary Ann, to Lucy Wheeler Decker, on June 15, 1842. Harriet Cook Campbell was also sealed to him by the Prophet, June, 1843, and Clara Decker, sister of Lucy Decker, was sealed to him on May 8, 1844.

The associates of the Prophet, especially the men nearest him in council, accepted, as did Brigham Young, the principle of Celestial and of Plural Marriage, as of divine origin. Some, indeed, there may have been, whose motives, human complexes that they were, savoured quite as much of physical as of spiritual reactions. Any such soon discovered that marriage solemnly entered into with attendant family burden-bearing definitely assumed, involved vast mental resources of self-control and self-denial, varied with occasional emotional tempests. Yankee-bred women were "individuals" and there were no age-old Oriental backgrounds of traditions and domestic regulatory usage in that day.

Any man who fancied that the women of his household would have the heavy end of the trouble-balance while he soared into easy indulgence was due for a rude awakening. Mormon women were persons, not a sex-group. The man soon found that his particular life-job was that of domestic moderator. What he most wanted was a mere bagatelle compared to the insistently declared desires of two or more wives. Any man who then or thereafter made what might be termed "a success" of Plural Marriage had an instinctive well-poised character, a keen sense of human values, and an abiding trust in the divinity of the revelation with an accompanying trust in God. The women who accepted it rightly were noble in spirit, unselfish and ready to forget and forgive. They reasoned: better a part of a pure and a devoted man's love, than all of a corrupt or even a selfish, sordid man's companionship.

Our Father in heaven may not be the Avenger of the broken commandments which He has committed to His earthly children; but He knows all law, is governed by law and cannot in the nature of law act independently of law and its fulfilment. Men and women who keep righteous law reap the blessings. Those who break God's law, which is the enunciation of divine, eternal principle, suffer the consequences. The Prophet taught all these truths in their plainness and simplicity. His associate Elders knew, according to their intelligent capacities, that the vital principle of marital relations could be assumed and maintained righteously only on the principle of justice and rigid virtue in both parties. Few men, comparatively speaking, chose to assume the domestic burdens involved in this marital order; never more than four per cent. Those who did were as a rule of the best type of citizens. Their lives, their families and descendants, even to the sixth and seventh generations, are the best existing testimony of the nobility and purity of their motives and of their parenthood.

If it required courage, self-control and faith on the part of the men who entered that Order of Marriage; what of the women? They, whose age-long traditions, fierce maternal jealousies and emotional reactions rendered them at once a prey to their own suspicious watchfulness and sex-selfishness? Only faith could sustain them in this modern domestic innovation. Reason was invoked only at the call of prayer; tolerance was possible alone when faith held the anchor. That these brave women succeeded in establishing individual friendly contacts with the other wives; nay, at times actually achieved lasting, close friendships with one another and the children of the household, is a monument to them, while it also constitutes the best argument in support of the sacred character of that one-time Marital Order. There were heroines in those days!

Very few of all these plural wives in the Church ever invoked public condemnation of that Order through press or on platform; while the percentage of divorces, always very easy to obtain, was so small as to be negligible. There was as little domestic unhappiness in that Order, nay less, strange as that may sound, than in the monogamic form of marriage. Yet these women were intelligent, alert to truth, wide of vision and progressive American citizens.

It was expected, nay required, that the consent and approval of the first wife to the entrance of another wife in the home be obtained. As a rule this was done; where men failed, disaster and confusion resulted, unless the first wife was bigger-minded, nobler-hearted than her unwise husband. Not a few happy plural families owed much of their peace and harmony to the generous and saintly character of the "first wife." But there was no discrimination as to the order of entrance into the family. The last wife had as many privileges as the first. They were equal in all matters in the home and before the law.

The home life in Nauvoo flowed calmly and steadily about the hurrying, harassed feet of the men who planted and sowed, hammered and forged, travelled and preached. This toil of mind and strain of body dropped away when tired husband and father stepped over the threshold of those homes, where peace and faith kept the hearth fire bright and the altar-flame constant. Those wives, mothers and restless-bodied children knew the joy of true home-building and pure soul expansion. Struggle, toil, trouble, sickness, death, persecution, scorn, all these reactionary wave forces might swirl and beat about the outer walls of their homes, but were never allowed to enter within the sacred portals which guarded the love and confidence of hearts united for earthly and heavenly existence. The women baked and churned, scrubbed and spun, coloured and wove with their little ones about their knees and all sharing, according to size and strength the family burdens. They were happy and busy.

The foregoing statement of authenticated fact is in no sense an advocacy of present-day plural marriage. For to-day sees the Mormon Church as faithfully committed to the monogamic form of marriage, as it was to another form in past years.

It is a long page of Church history which covers the efforts of the American Government to compel the Mormon Church to abandon that form of marriage. The Church claimed that plural marriage was a vital part of their religion, while the Government insisted that it was a civil practice only. That is the very rock upon which marriage is splitting into fragments in the Christian world to-day. Congress ignored petitions, listened to no appeals. The Edmunds law of 1882 made the contracting of plural marriage and living in that order, punishable by law. Contested again and again, the Supreme Court finally declared the law constitutional. Meanwhile prosecution, persecution and imprisonment occurred, and Church property was escheated and the leaders imprisoned.

The practice of plural marriage was accepted as a sacrament, however, and God knew the people were honest and true. But the laws of the land must be obeyed. No community can exist without just laws which all must obey; and the saints had always held the law in respect. It is a cardinal principle of their religion to honour and obey all the laws of the land in which they live.

Then came a revelation to President Wilford Woodruff in 1890 that the people were no more required to enter into that order of marriage. The Church in solemn assembly accepted President Woodruff's Manifesto in 1890, prohibiting plural marriages, and the members who wish to retain standing and fellowship in the Church are bound to accept and abide by that action.

There were a few members of the Church—which is built on man's use of his own free agency—who refused to give assent to the termination of that order of marriage. However, the Church had ruled and the people voted to sustain the new revelation. Those who since that time have refused to abide by that law are not only out of harmony with the Church but are excommunicated from its membership. It must be remembered that never more than a small minority of the people ever practised this order of marriage.

As might be surmised, marriage in a Church that seals husband and wife together for all eternity is a very solemn affair. Young people have always been taught that marriage is a holy sacrament and a necessary part of mortal experience as well as a glorious privilege and a source of incomparable earthly and heavenly joy when lived righteously.

Without love, men and women cannot serve each other and certainly may not serve God. Yet if any man or woman wishes freedom from Church or family ties within the fold of Christ, let them but announce that desire, and every door is opened. The sealing power given to Peter and to Joseph Smith has the key to "bind on earth and it shall be bound in heaven; to loose on earth and it shall be loosed in heaven."

Brigham Young used to say that the cause for divorce, was a bitter estrangement of the heart, brought about in practically all cases through the selfishness, drunkenness, adultery or cruelty of the husband. But it is readily granted also that women, being human, may and do give vent to their selfish desires and through wilful inefficiency give cause for permanent estrangement of affection. Therefore, separations are possible for unworthiness or deep-seated incompatibility. A man who might complain was first reprimanded and taught to remove the cause of his own conduct. So with the woman.

For just cause, men and women under all circumstances are given divorce, but they are taught that it must be a last resort, granted after all means of prevention have failed. Contrary to the customs of some communities, the women here are not the sole sufferers under such circumstances; for no possible disgrace is attached to the divorced wife, unless her own acts have disgraced her. She and her children are almost invariably sheltered in some other good man's home, through a second honourable and congenial marriage.

XXVII HIS HOME LIFE [320- 333]

Description by His Daughter—Cherished Memories—Plural Marriage and Brigham Young's Hesitancy—Builds Homes for His Family—The Lion House—Colonial Dwelling of Many Rooms—Domestic Conveniences—Separate Rooms for Wives—A Home Well Furnished—Children Welcomed—Doctoring Childish Ailments—Food and Meal Times—Fifty at one Sitting—Simple but Ample Fare—The Leader's Diet.

THERE is a natural curiosity to hear of the intimate life and characteristics of great men; and this questioning becomes doubly insistent and interesting when the family relations of such men present anything out of the ordinary. When you transplant to modern American soil a fragment of the ancient patriarchal form of martial relations, with other particular and peculiar religious beliefs and practices, the curiosity assumes abnormal proportions, and vague surmises as to such people sprouting horns instead of hair are actually considered by otherwise sensible people.

It is idle and foolish to approach the study of deep religious or sociological problems with ridicule and levity. The sacrifice and death, the mobbings and drivings of a whole people cannot be sneered away nor scorned into silence.

The Pilgrim Fathers set up their religious homes in the New World in 1620, dedicating the land as a free religious republic. The second genuine, original American religious civilisation was established by a maligned people who were driven into the isolation of the heart of the Rocky Mountains.

The centuries are the only historians! Men do not enter a Chinese joss house nor a Moslem mosque to ridicule and despise, but to inform the eye with the outer symbols of worship and to acquaint the mind with the deep significance which permeates every temple where a Supreme Being is worshipped!

Therefore I plead for a respectful consideration of the matters I am about to disclose regarding my father and his intimate home life. My childhood's home was as beautiful to me as love and happiness could make it. The other noble women who were my father's wives are as sacredly enshrined in my heart as is the memory of my own dear mother. My brothers and sisters are all as dear and precious to me, as I am to each one of them, wherever they may be.

Like other proud beings, we shrink from lifting the veil which enfolds the sanctity of our home life. However, when the motive prompting inquiry is one of deep interest, I can put aside the feelings of nature, and for the sake of truth and to vindicate the memory of my idolised father and mother, I am glad to set down here some facts and items. And let me speak as the daughter and not as the historian! For the things about which I am to write are the priceless memory of a carefree childhood, a happy joyous youth and a long life of deep satisfaction.

The principle of plural marriage was adopted by my father as it was taught him by the Prophet Joseph Smith, after great inner struggle and earnest prayer, as has been told in a former chapter. His strict puritanical training ill-fitted him to accept such a doctrine. He foresaw—as who would not—the storm of abuse and opposition which such action would arouse. And it was as death to him.

He told my mother once that he brooded and sorrowed for months, unreconciled in reason, yet converted in his spirit to its truth. And when he saw a funeral procession pass his door, he cried out in the bitterness of his soul: "O, that I could exchange places with the one who lies in that quiet coffin!"

Finally converted to the principle, he did not doubt the future, himself, nor God. But the fact remains that the men and women who entered into that relationship in early days, did so from purely religious motives. It was a high and sacred undertaking with them, involving much suffering and sacrifice on the part of both men and women. We say this, we who ought to know; we who were born under its influence and who owe our lives to the parents who lived and practised this principle in righteousness. That all men in those days did not live it in righteousness does not alter its being held as a sacrament. Are all monogamous marriages rightly lived and wholly successful? The majority of the relatively few who practised this order of marriage did so with righteous motives. Of that fact I can bear witness.

Some of my father's wives were married to him in Nauvoo, Illinois, by the Prophet himself, as I have heard him testify and as the Nauvoo records prove. After the Prophet's death others were married to him in Winter Quarters, where the saints were resting after being driven from Nauvoo. On the arrival in the Valley, my father, after the necessary interval in log houses, built good homes for his loved wives. The "White House" sufficed for "Mother" Young and her large family. The Bee Hive House was used as his official residence from the first. There he had his private office, entertained callers, and carried on his public affairs that were not prosecuted in the Church offices which were built next to the Bee Hive House.

My father had been so impressed with the economic advantages of the communal family experiment so far developed in 1852-55, that in the fall of 1855 he began to build what was called the Lion House, as a home for most of his family. "Mother" Young was in the White House and Aunt Lucy Decker Young in the Bee Hive House, the others were to be housed in the large, many-roomed, economically-planned Lion House of New England atmosphere, built and dedicated in 1856.

The Lion House, so called because of the crouching lion on top of the front portico, was built of native adobe with very thick walls. It had many windows, good chimneys, stone flagged cellars, connected by long-outstretching halls. There were kitchens, store rooms, a large dining-room, a weave room, a wash-room, and a temporary schoolroom in the lower or basement floor.

The wash-room was fitted with two built-in great copper boilers heated by a brick fireplace beneath. The wooden tubs were supplemented by a huge "pounding" barrel in the corner, with its large wooden hammer or pestle, wherein clothes were placed for the "second wash." This hammer was manipulated by one of the hired men, our good old friend, Jimmie Works, who also carried the water for all culinary purposes from the pump in the central court of the home. The wives had regular days and hours of washing and Jimmy Works was always there to pound the steaming clothes in the barrel, lift the wooden tubs and carry the heavy baskets out to the clothes lines across the yard.

There was an efficient system of drainage and the kitchen garbage was carried away daily and used to feed the farm animals, though we did not keep pigs. Father taught us that pork was not healthful, and he set the example in his own family.

All the store rooms were stone flagged. In one were shelves where milk was kept and cheese piled; stored fruit was in another; vegetables in stone bins in another. In the weave room, cloth was spun and woven, until the local woollen mills put the hand-loom out of use. Then this room was used for various household purposes. The daughters gathered here in the summer time to look over strawberries and green peas for the large family table. Outside in the central courts was the stone receptacle for ashes, lest live coals start fires.

In the basement, on the north-west side of the house, was a long hall which we called the schoolroom because the children were taught here until the school-house was built six years later. The basement hall was then, in 1862, used as a gathering room for the young people and fitted up with a "stepstove" on which they popped corn and made molasses candy. Between the windows were marble-topped tables and above them two large silver hooks on which the candy was "pulled." We all had a great deal of fun in this room. The boys would pop the corn and the girls would cook the candy and twist it into fancy patterns.

This room served occasionally as a little private theatre. Here my sister Dora produced her original play "Love and Prejudice." Costumes were borrowed from the Salt Lake City Theatre and the play was produced entirely by us children. Father came with the manager of the theatre, Hyrum B. Clawson, and no doubt they found as much humour in the crudity of the production as they ever found when professionals produced laboured farces.

In that home, built in a far desert land in 1856 every room was well ventilated, and had good windows. All but a few of the upper bedrooms had fireplaces. Father knew that fresh air was vitally necessary in homes and public assemblies. Chimneys and open windows provided good outlets and inlets. All the family were taught hygienic principles and rules of simple living and high thinking.

On the main floor were the sitting-rooms of the wives who had children and a large front parlour which was used as a prayer-room and as a gathering place for the family. The upper floor held twenty rooms, a few of which were used as sitting-rooms by some of my father's childless wives and as bedrooms for the older children. Each sitting-room was fitted with a roomy clothes closet, and there were plenty of windows for light and ventilation and a big fireplace, although in later years some open Franklin stoves were used to make the larger rooms perfectly comfortable in mid-winter.

The stairs had wide short treads and graceful banisters, while the halls were divided by glass partitions. Hallways on the first and second floors led out to the small courtyard where stood the pump from which water was drawn by the hired man, for all culinary purposes. The court was roomy enough to give light to the buildings which surrounded the square on three sides—the Bee Hive House on the east, the Church offices on the south, and the Lion House on the west.

The lion on the front portico, over the entrance, is the famous stone lion by the English artist, William Ward, who had made the stone font in the Nauvoo Temple, which was supported on the backs of twelve oxen. Father was fond of symbols, especially when the representations were artistic and had meaning. The Lion of the Tribe of Judah was well known to this Bible student. The Bee Hive was the state symbol of Utah, and the wide pinioned eagle carved over the gate was the symbol of American freedom, and a frequent air denizen of these mountain heights.

A long porch was added by father to the west side of the Lion House in the early 'sixties to serve as a home gymnasium, where we all took our regular exercises. In the summer this was used as a sleeping porch for the younger members of the family.

The workmanship of this building, as well as that of the Bee Hive House built two years previously, was of superior honest quality for my father superintended every detail of it. The wood, native yellow pine, was beautifully painted and so skilfully done that to-day over seventy years after its erection, no door has ever sagged, the paint has never peeled off and the whole house is a study in colonial form.

The furnishings of those early homes were all hand-made and of the finest colonial types, for Brigham Young's skill as a cabinet-maker was well utilised here—tables with claw legs, sofas of perfect line, four-poster beds with canopies, light stands and chairs. The latter were made to fit exactly the backs and shoulders of women and children. Father used to say that men could sit comfortably on chairs four and six inches higher than women should use. He took mother and the other wives up to the cabinet-maker to have them try out patterns of chairs so that they should be comfortable.

The lace curtains which hung in graceful folds above the window line probably came from Nottingham. The floor coverings in the sitting and bedrooms were rag carpets woven by the skilled hands of the wives in the weave room. The parlour had from the first a real "store" carpet of ingrainwool.

Everywhere there were closets with handy hooks and shelves, built-in cupboards in the parlour and all sitting-rooms which father planned to provide his family with every convenience possible. The simple, colonial patterns of all these is to-day a joy to an artistic eye. In one of the parlour cupboards were many books filled with exquisite steel engravings which came out Sundays and evenings for our delight and cultural education. The central cupboard held some lovely South Sea shells and corals with other choice rarities. On the walls of the sitting-rooms hung some rare and often beautiful engravings framed by our cabinet-maker.

The Lion House was the loved home of as healthy and happy a family of mothers and children as ever dwelt beneath a roof. On this I speak with knowledge in this intimate revelation of Brigham Young's home life, for I was the first child born under its unique roof. The wives moved in as fast as rooms were finished, my own mother moving into her sitting-room suite as the boards were being nailed on the floors and just in time for my own birth (March 18, 1856) to synchronise with the emergence of the house into livable reality.

The entrance of a spirit from the Higher World into an earthly tabernacle was a sacred event in our happy home life. Many were so born, and all were lovingly welcomed. There was always joy and gladness attaching to such an event for we were always taught that "children are 'an heritage of the Lord."

Dear, great-hearted Aunt Zina was the gentle priestess who presided over most of the beds of birth and death, sickness and pain. She, together with Aunt Clara, my own mother (Lucy Bigelow) and splendid Aunt Eliza R. Snow, were the various nurses and authorities on all the ills humanity is heir to. Aunt Zina had her hands full always for she had been given excellent training as a midwife and nurse by Dr. Willard Richards and other pioneer physicians.

Although Aunt Zina and Aunt Eliza were frequently the nurses in the household, each mother was herself self-reliant and skilled in the uses of herbs and ointments. But these two tender souls added the gift of powerful faith and there was healing power in their ministering hands. All the infantile diseases went the rounds—measles, whooping cough, mumps and chicken-pox. We never suffered from diphtheria and typhoid fever; our rigid sanitary arrangements prevented that. The cows and their milkers were made the subject of local soap ablutions before the milking process began, a most advanced step for those days. Consumption was practically unknown, although father's first wife died of that disease in New York State, just after he joined the Church.

We wore the usual asafetida bag in times of measles, were kept shut up with sulphured sheets over the doorways if a contagious disease was suspected, and were carefully nursed with herbs and "consecrated oil" and blessed frequently according to the faith or otherwise of our particular mothers. It may be explained that the power of faith in healing has been recognised by the Church from the beginning; and that administration, following the practices of the early Christian Church, is to anoint the patient with pure olive oil blessed for that purpose, and then to pray for him.

Wise old Dr. Sprague sometimes looked at our protruded tongues and put us through a course of odious steam baths over a tub of hot water and gave us an occasional gargle or a lobelia emetic as he or nature seemed to require.

If there were any heavy hearts, except when sore sickness or death invaded the home, we children knew nothing of it. It is singular, but true, that in all those years the shadow of death hung over the Lion House only four times, and that was for Aunt Clara Chase and for three children in their very early years.

Our marriages were performed in the Temple of House of the Lord. There was a quiet supper given, but never great social affairs with guests and presents and cards of invitation. Again, the New England customs formed the basis of our traditions and habits. Luxury was unknown, fashion riots were deplored, and we were married in all simplicity, with a deeply sacred atmosphere pervading the event rather than any hilarious or unseemly display. The great majority of my brothers and sisters were well and happily married. There were a few marital disasters; only enough to punctuate the rule. All were married, none remained single. Father himself, when able, performed the ceremony over the sacred altar, sealing husband to wife and wife to husband for the endless ages of eternity, unless sinning broke the covenant and released the innocent party. He gave homes to his daughters, as to his sons.

Food and meal-times in the Lion House were necessarily exact as to time and measured as to servings. Plenty of milk, vegetables, and fruit, but careful helpings of meat and desserts. Simple as it was, the food was of the very best quality, and the cooking could not have been excelled by any foreign chef. All father's wives were excellent cooks.

One of the very best cooks and managers was "Aunt Twiss," and she was in charge of the kitchen staff in the Lion House. She had no children and she loved her work. System was her second name. She had two hired cooks and two dish washers and she needed them. At first the bread was "salt risen" (no yeast but raised with "sponge") and it was baked in the brick oven in the kitchen, but when Henry Golightly established a bakery in the city, father had the bread brought from there. He was ever eager to minimise labour for women as well as for men; that is why he wanted to establish community living.

When fifty or more people are fed three times a day some system must be observed. Breakfast was always ready at 8 o'clock in the summer and 8.30 in the winter. The bell rang five minutes before that time and I can assure you that every child was waiting for the sound of the bell for if they were not there on time they failed to get their meals. The meal hours struck regularly in our hungry interiors, strange as that may seem. Nothing was allowed between meals (except apples or other fruit) unless unavoidable circumstances made us late for meals when served. Father was keenly sensible as to the conservation of time and strength in order to achieve comfort with the least possible friction in human operations.

Breakfast consisted of eggs and toast with milk and fruits or with "warmed over" potatoes, a little baked squash or other vegetables in the winter; these with tomatoes, always milk gravy, and fruit, varied the breakfast monotony. Buckwheat cakes appeared occasionally in winter with real maple syrup. Father never lost his Vermont taste for maple syrup and used to send to Vermont for the sugar, and the cooks made it into syrup.

At dinner time there was plenty of good bread, the flour not too well rolled and therefore not robbed of its life-giving properties; potatoes usually cooked in their skins and other vegetables all "in the season thereof" and plenty of them. Beef or mutton was served sparingly, with chicken on Sunday and occasionally mountain trout in summer time. Turkey always came on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas and New Year. Sunday's roast or stewed chicken was sometimes varied with venison, bear steak, or wild fowl. The best of pie, cakes or pudding was served for a simple dessert.

The pie was cut into six pieces and noses were counted. Never was it cut into four pieces or eight pieces, always six. In my childhood days this measured amount of pie seemed a great affliction. But there was no restriction on the quantity of the other items, only the desserts and "sweets." Many a time I have traded off my piece of pie to some of the girls or have "swapped" my seat in the theatre (the family all had seats in the theatre) to one of the cooks for an extra piece of pie. The filling of dried apples, squash, native black currants, gooseberry, plum, or custard and reasonably rich, flaky crust made it always the acme of culinary perfection.

The day's work for father did not begin till after 9 o'clock in the morning, for he rarely arose before 8 o'clock, as he held his most important council meetings in the evening or went to other meetings. These meetings were interspersed occasionally with his few recreations—the theatre, or an occasional dancing party—so he seldom retired before mid-night. Yet he slept soundly when he did get to bed. He said that he had trained himself to "shut up his thinker" when he went to bed and to go to sleep at once. The rule of eight hours' sleep, eight hours' work, and eight hours' recreation was a plan he himself carried out fairly well.

His breakfast was a simple meal of bread, milk, a boiled egg, and fruit; eaten always in the Bee Hive House where his private apartments were for a number of years; it was quiet there. Aunt Lucy Decker Young who presided there, was also an exquisite housekeeper and knew how to smooth over the rough exteriors of life's hardest burdens for her adored husband.

Father ate no luncheon, or dinner as we called it then. The day's work for him was continuous, sometimes broken by meetings or business, by funeral calls, by trips here and there or by visits to inspect waterways or roadways, public works on the Temple or other public buildings. Every strenuous moment was filled, yet never with exhausting hurry or worry. Either was impossible where he was concerned.

Supper was ready at 5 o'clock. Father had his "cooked meal" at that hour. Aunt Eliza R. Snow always sat at his right and Aunt Twiss usually sat on his left, where she could serve the meal as necessary. No wife was ever jealous of the seat of honour accorded to Aunt Eliza. Her superior gifts and tender spiritual sympathy endeared her to the wives and children as well as making her a womanly counsellor for father. We all loved and honoured her. The rest of the family had mush and milk (corn meal mush or hominy usually) with plenty of good milk and cheese, bread, fresh fruit, or baked apples or stewed fruits in the season.

Supper-time was a time to listen to good and jovial conversation, yet there was never anything approaching boisterous laughter or unseemly mirth. It was just a happy carefree release from the day's study or burden when the father and his adoring family would join in congenial intercourse.

Father oftentimes brought visitors. Especially was he fond of the young and handsome representative of the Prophet's family, Joseph F. Smith, son of the martyred Patriarch, Hyrum Smith. Often there would be out-of-town visitors and occasional strangers who were deserving of some unusual attention.

On Sundays and holidays, only two meals were served. At 9.30 came breakfast so that we could go to the meeting or Sunday School in the morning, and supper was at 4.30 after the afternoon meeting. In this new country, when each man was a pioneer, we ate, "dinner and supper" rather than "luncheon and dinner."

Cold water or buttermilk was father's only drink. If he was chilled he sometimes had a cup of "composition" or "peppermint tea." His preferred diet, when he could regulate it without offence to his own family or to his many hosts while travelling, was buttermilk and Johnny cake, the New England fare upon which he was reared.

"When we go on a trip to the settlements," he said, "and stop at the brethren's houses it is 'Brother Brigham, let us manifest our feelings toward you and your company.' I tell them to do so, but to give me a piece of Johnny cake; I would rather have it than their pies and tarts and sweetmeats. Let me have something that will sustain nature and leave my stomach and whole system clear to receive the Spirit of the Lord and be free from headache and pains of every description."

Fruit he always enjoyed, especially apples. His favourite occasional sweet was molasses cake or candy, and honey or maple syrup. He carried a peppermint drop or a few raisins always in his pocket—not for himself, but for little children, his own and others, who loved him dearly because of his kindness and attention.

In his later years he was troubled with rheumatism, which is now known to be a nutritional disease. It may have been partly due to the rich foods which he felt he must accept or give offence when visiting friends or on his many trips. But he was ever a moderate eater though not abstemious and always believed in eating wholesome nourishing foods.

His habits in life were regular and exceedingly simple. The last twenty-five years of his life were spent in mental rather than physical toil and he himself complained that his diet was chosen for him rather than by him. Because of his involuntary lack of exercise (there was no golf in those days) he became rather portly as he grew older.

XXVIII HOME MORALE [333-345]

A Strict Observer of the "Word of Wisdom"—Gives up Tobacco Chewing—Denounces the Liquor Traffic—Evening Prayers at the Lion House—Family Gatherings—A Juvenile Court—Sleeping Habits—Strict Observance of the Sabbath—Pastimes—Love of Music—Leader's Daily Routine—Office Work—Days of Council-Taking—Meeting Stopped Because of Sick Child—No Class Distinction in the House-hold—Servants as Members of the Family—Pervasive Influence—Courtesy to His Wives—Neither Feeble-Minded nor Saints—Domestic Harmony Assured by Their Sacrificial Sprit—The Farm House—A Place of Entertainments and Picnics.

BRIGHAM YOUNG was a strict observer of the "Word of Wisdom" as revealed by the Prophet in 1833 which prohibits the use of all stimulants and tobacco. His wives may not always have been as rigid as he was concerning the use of tea and coffee, but the family was certainly taught that its careful observance was the way of health.

As a young man my father chewed tobacco. In after years he told the story of that conquered appetite. "I carried a half plug of tobacco in my pocket for a long time," he said. "When the gnawing for it seemed unbearable I would take it out, look at it, and say 'Are you, or is Brigham going to be master?' Then it went back untouched into my pocket." He denounced the liquor traffic and all drunkenness; "If I had the influence the world gives me credit for," he once said, "I would not have a single drunkard, thief, or liar in this society. I do not profess to have that influence, but I can raise my voice against these evils."

The custom of evening prayer-time in the Lion House was as fixed as the stars. About seven o'clock the rhythmic sound of the prayer-bell was heard as father's hand lifted it in regular light-stroke counts, and the flying feet of children, the quiet coming of his lady wives (for they were "ladies" every one of them) filled the halls with clatter and soon every chair was taken while the patriarch and his goodly family sat beside the centre-table and waited till the last child came in.

A hymn or two was joyously sung, for we were a happy lot of singers. Then came the quiet prayer of gratitude and adoration; of appeal for each loved one and for all the world; for the work of the Lord in the various priestly functionings and for protection from evil and accident. Then the family arose after the generous responses of "Amen," while the younger children flitted off to bed, perhaps, and older ones hurried to study or to prepare for theatre or ball if it was winter or holiday time, or for quiet reading and chatting in the various sitting-rooms of the several mothers. Father often remained to talk over the events of the day with such of his wives as cared to remain, and some of the older children. Around that evening counsel table golden words of wisdom and guidance were uttered, and out of those councils have come many of the splendid opportunities for woman's advancement and her mission within and without the home.

After the prayers were over father would often turn to us and say: "Come, girls, let's have some music," for they were all musicians of sorts those Young boys and girls, and father loved to hear us sing and play. We would gather round the piano and sing his favorite "Hard Times Come Again No More," or "Auld Lang Syne," or, in the later years, "Silver Threads Among the Gold." Hymns were sung Sunday evenings, for he did not allow us to play dance music on the Sabbath.

After prayer-time also there were family councils held about forthcoming family policies, picnic parties, and sometimes there were juvenile troubles to settle, with father as judge of the Juvenile Court. One such event had its humorous side as so many of our family episodes had.

It happened that some of the boys were playing at the pump, squirting water upon each other, from hands pressed at the nozzle mouth. All were wet after this performance and then Ernest took the occasion to indulge in the strictly forbidden prank of stone-throwing, delivering a smashing blow on Hydie's head. The injured boy went howling to his mother, and later of course a Juvenile Court was convened at prayer-time.

"Ernest," asked father after hearing several tearful charges and counter-charges, "did you throw the stone that hit Hydie on the head?"

"Well it was like this, father," he answered. "What goes up must come down, on your head or on the ground. And the rock came down, and Hydie didn't get out of the way and so he got hit."

"Well," said father, judicially, while struggling with laughter inside, "did you see this take place?" and on his replying in the affirmative he was instructed to tell exactly how it all happened. He did so honestly and frankly in great minuteness of detail. Then father said:

"What did you do, Ernest?"

"I just looked on."

Court adjourned amid peals of laughter.

There were occasional childish quarrels, for we were a healthy vigorous lot and exceedingly human. Boys were often rough and little girls were easily teased. However, there was nearly always an elder brother or sister to take the part of little ones and to fight childish battles for the weaker ones.

I recall a youthful tragedy. Mother had clothed me in the splendour of starched pink cambric and ruffled pantalettes to go to some festival. I slipped out and ran across the road to the font where many children were splashing and swimming.

"Oh," I said, "I wish I was in there!"

"Then go!" cried one of my brothers as he pushed me headlong into the pool. At mother's rebuke for the soiled finery I sobbed: "I should think you'd be glad I didn't get drownded!" There was something to do every minute, plenty of places for play in play hours, and certainly no chance for loneliness.

We were extremely regular in our sleeping habits as well as in our eating habits. The outer gates of the high stone wall around the Lion House were always locked at 10 o'clock at night. When we were at the theatre or a party we had to come in through the office door and be scrutinised there by the watchman. He noted if you had come home with desirable or undesirable company. Under these circumstances one did not linger on the corner gossiping with the girls or sparking one's "Best Beau" more than a quarter of an hour after the close of the theatre or one might get reported to father.

Lights were pretty generally out at 10 o'clock, and we were all up by seven or half-past seven in the morning. In the summer time, the boys slept on the lower porch, and the girls, on the upper porch, in the happiest and gayest of child companionship, innocent and unafraid. Straw beds and feather beds spread on canvas with a good quilt for cover, and an uplifted prayer of praise gave us a sense of nearness to the stars that compensated for the shudder with which little girls sometimes heard the coyotes howling in the near-by hills. All sorts of ghost stories and jokes passed from bed to bed on those lovely summer evenings. When we slept indoors, mother insisted on opening our windows even in winter, for father was quite "set" upon having ample ventilation in both winter and summer.

The fireplaces and later the stoves, in all the sitting-rooms were somewhat of a care, for father was extremely cautious of fires. Each night, when the family had retired, he came with his candle in each of the sitting-rooms to see that there were no live coals on the hearth.

The Sabbath was strictly observed. No play, no secular reading or music, or roaming the hills. Little bodies might grow restless, nerves frazzled and eyes sleepy during the Sunday School and afternoon meetings, but they were Puritan descendants and the spirit of modern "jazz" was an unknown human problem in those days. Visitors to the young people were welcomed Sunday evenings, but they must attend prayers and gaiety must be measurably subdued.

Card playing was never allowed. We could play checkers and chess on week-days, but not on Sundays. Father was ever averse to games of chance that encouraged or suggested gambling in any form. But we were never dull. Far from it. Our music helped us and then we played other interesting games for there were thirty or forty of us. Father was a natural musician and knew the value of music and the important part it plays in the life of a great people. He fostered and encouraged the study and practice of music, not only in his own family, but among the people. We had three organs and two pianos. One of the latter was brought across the plains in 1848 and is still in existence in our Church Museum.

Father's habits were regular and well ordered. The office force were all at work when he entered his own private office between 9 and 10 o'clock, and no ripple or flurry ever marked his coming or going. One knew instantly when he was in the room, but his penetrating influence had been there all the time, resting peacefully over everything and everybody so that no one was surprised to see him enter. His presence was like light and sunshine and "benediction after prayer."

Clerks brought in correspondence, officials and people came for counsel or help. The stream of visitors poured steadily through the outer office and trickled in orderly sequence into his own office, hour after hour. No one was ever denied admittance. His two counsellors, various members of the Twelve who were at home, sat with him and gave opinions or help in the various matters presented for the Leader's decision.

He was exceedingly quick at reaching the core of any matter brought to his attention, and was sometimes impatient with the circumlocution or hesitancy of his callers, especially so if guile were used in leading up to the point of issue. At such times he would interrupt a caller or a council meeting, would state the issue and answer yes or no, quietly and decisively. He was never ambiguous or involved in answer or statement, nor did he waste time or words. The kindly tone, the sympathetic glance, softened the rigour of the denial, added joy to the affirmative yes. He used to say that he knew when men wanted him to say yes and he usually gratified that desire. Again he advised men and women not to ask for counsel when they were sure they were not going to take it. And that was the day of counsel-taking and counsel-receiving. It was a day when the building of houses, planting of farms and gardens, cities and mills, roads and canyon-logging—all was in process of swift evolution and adjustment. Bishops and Apostles could answer the great mass of detailed questions, but they often lacked the larger vision and the relative values of men and measures.

And the people sought their leader. Many of them felt that their own single problems could be solved by him as by no other. The orphaned child, the struggling emigrant who came out of former professional life and therefore had difficulty of adjustment to pioneer conditions; the widow, the oppressed wife, the man with the new project, these and thousands more like them knocked at that freely opened door to be received by "Brother Brigham" and helped as they needed help, one and all.

Father loved all the people, and the people returned that affection in full measure. He loved his family with a deep and tender concern which expressed itself not only in providing them all with good homes, opportunities for education, healthful recreation, but he also surrounded his household with a spirit of courtesy and consideration which became a part of the inheritance of every child. Mothers differ greatly in temperament and looks, yet each child bore upon face and form, in mind and spirit, so deep an impress of the father himself, that looks and characteristics of the Youngs passed into a social proverb. It is given to few men so to impress history that names live on while cities crumble and die. It is given to few men so to etch their lives and spirits into the character of their descendants that even to the fifth and sixth generation strangers find the impress of the ancestor indelibly fixed upon the physical and mental traits of all who bear his name.

This great leader was so just, so true, so genuine in his domestic relations that those who came into the household to assist, either within the confines of the house itself or without, as helpers in all the many-sided domestic, farm and field activities which marked his wide circle of home life, felt that each "belonged" to him and his family. Each man, each woman became a very part of Brigham Young's life and were interwoven into the domestic fabric for ever. Two of his daughters married his business manager, another married the telegraph clerk in his office, another his teamster, while still another married a salesman in the shop.

There was no possible class distinction in the household. If an emigrant was brought in by a sympathetic mother or child, the whole household hastened to welcome the traveller and supply all wants both social and physical. If a girl worked in the kitchen she was welcomed in the social circle and married off to relatives of the family or friends in exactly the same way that daughters were remembered. Indeed, we were all "one in Christ Jesus."

Since mature vision has provided me with mental balancing scales, I have compared this community family life with the drab institutional life of "homes" and "retreats." We were all as happy, mothers and children, as we could have been anywhere or under any other circumstances. Incredible as this sounds, the law of compensation, and the spirit or genius of the Lion House makes it true. Work and the mean pressure of grinding poverty was minimised and shared willingly by all. Above the whole of life bent an azure sky of divine conviction and conversion, lit by twinkling stars of human love, child to child, mother to mother, each conscious that God and our adored earthly father approved of us and shared our every joy and sorrow. His influence actually pervaded every corner of that Lion House and its vast surroundings. His love, we all knew, was as deep as that of our mothers, as understanding as was that of a bosom companion, and as surrounding as warmth and sunlight.

On one occasion when he learned that one of his children was very ill and calling for him he stopped a council meeting declaring to the assembly that the meeting could wait, but his sick child could not.

Father was great in his handling of large affairs, in his infinite power to mould men and measures; but if he had failed, as he himself once said, in his duties as husband and father, "he would have waked up in the morning of the First Resurrection to find that he had failed in everything." He was so eminently successful in his home that no one ever related to him, or who benefited by his friendship, ever failed to return in full the measure he gave of love, heaped and running over.

His beautiful courtesy was never more in evidence than when he approached any one of his wives whom he loved and who loved him. Especially was that so when in the company of Mother Young, whose health was rather poor and who had borne the heat and burden of the day for him and with him. To her he paid exquisite attention, quiet, composed but sincere. His attitude of consideration towards her was reflected in that of every other wife and child he had.

The wives of Brigham Young lived together without outer friction or violent disagreement so far as any of us children knew. That they were all equally congenial could not be expected for they were not weaklings and all "had minds of their own." But their differences, if and when they existed, were their own affairs and were settled amongst themselves without disturbing in the slightest degree the serene tranquility of our family life. They were ladies, and lived their lives as such. The children were never aware of any quarrels and indeed they could not have been serious or the children must have been aware of them.

Such a condition can only be explained in one of two ways: either these women were feeble-minded, or they were consecrated saints, who accepted the psychology of their situation as a necessary part of the revealed Gospel. They had themselves drawn from the lessons of family adjustments, learned around their own early home hearths, the truth that personal desire, of necessity, gave way to parental discipline; as well as the associated fact that peace and family progress can proceed only along more or less self-denying lines. These women were all converts to the new and violently unpopular religion.

The joy, the happiness of their lives came through the delightful upspringing growth in spiritual beauty, in the confidence and friendship of each other, and in the reverence and love manifested by their intelligent God-fearing husband, Brigham Young, who knew the difficult upward path they each were treading because of the strain which justice and mercy put upon him in the adjustments and readjustments necessary for himself.

Not all these good women were sweet-tempered or unselfish—not by any means. They were just mortals. But there were enough of them who radiated love and comradeship in ever-widening circles to humanise the group. If all wanted to be happy, each must share in unselfish contribution to family harmony; at least they all tried, and all succeeded, so far as my brothers and sisters or I can remember.

What was true of Brigham Young's family is true also in the case of most of those other great and good men who entered into this patriarchal order of marriage. There may have been exceptions—there must have been, because men and women in those days were only human as they are to-day. But there were truly many successful happy patriarchal families.

The "ups and downs" of the founding and living of this order of marriage may only be guessed at by the thoughtful reader. That such conditions exist even in the most rigid monogamous relationship no one may deny. And so long as people are human there will remain the inevitable crossing of human wills and the undeniable right to change one's mind.

Such right was claimed by only one of father's many wives, one of the Bigelow sisters whom he married in Winter Quarters, Aunt Mary Jane, the sister of my own dear mother. Because of conditions, neither of the sisters was wife in fact either at Winter Quarters or during the journey. After arrival in the Valley, Aunt Mary Jane decided that it would be impossible for her to be happy as the plural wife of any man, even a Prophet of the Lord. So she went to father, explained her feelings, and asked to be released from her vows.

Her wish was readily granted with no bad feeling on either side, for Brigham Young believed that in all respects and in marriage especially women should exercise their complete free agency. She was the only wife to voluntarily leave father's home and protection, except Ann Eliza who "loving not wisely but too well," yielded to the temptation of filthy lucre to show her revenge. All others remained loyal and true throughout their lives.

Around the Lion House father planted noble gardens of trees, shrubs and flowers, to gladden the eye and beautify the surroundings as well as to give wholesome food to the family. Here were grown the choicest of apples, pears and plums, as well as many kinds of fruits, such as grapes, currants, raspberries and gooseberries. Beyond the corrals was a peach orchard with its shed, put up by father, where we girls were allowed to dry all the peaches we desired and to sell them for pin money. There was a good market for them in the stores.

That was a glorious week during the peach-drying season. We often invited friends to come in and help us, and the boys would spread the peaches on the benches outside, or come and gather them all in out of the threatening showers. On the last evening of the drying season we had a feast and a dance in the school-house. In the lower garden there was an apple cellar. Here all kinds of apples were deposited on shelves and every Saturday we used to repair to the cellar with our baskets and bring away our regular portion of apples for the week's use.

After settling in the Valley a few years Brigham Young decided that a farm in the outskirts of the city was necessary for his large family and their various needs. A farm house of adobe was built, with a milk and cheese house a few feet away, the two connected by a closed porchway. Here one of his wives, Aunt Susan Snively, lived, cooking for the men who attended to the farm, and directing the making of the cheese and butter with the care of the poultry also. Others of his wives were here at times for a year or more. My mother, Lucy Bigelow Young, lived in the old farm house for a year with her two little girls about 1861. A year or so later the modest dwelling was replaced by a modern cottage of generous proportions and was known as "The Farm House."

It was the centre of a generous tract of land with meadows, great waving fields of grain, potato and corn-fields, and in two sections of it were growing forests of mulberry and black locust trees. The object of the mulberry trees was to establish sericulture in the State and the locust trees were to be used for making domestic furniture.

The farm house, which was four miles out of the city, became a favourite place for entertainments and picnics. Sometimes father would have a party for us all when we stayed the night, making beds on the floor, girls sleeping with mothers and the boys up in the hay loft.

The farm was occasionally the scene of festivities on a most generous scale. For a number of years New Year's Day was celebrated by father and his numerous family with a few of his closest associates in house parties at the farm house. It was here that upon two occasions he brought the famous actress, Julia Dean Hayne, as a guest for these gay festivities. It was in her honour that the sleigh was named—the mammoth long sleigh with its high driver's seat, its green painted sides outspringing in graceful curves and holding in its capacious hay - and buffalo-robe-filled box a bevy of nearly fifty children of various ages all cuddled down under the buffalo robes on hay and all bubbling with laughter and excitement over the expected festivities of the holiday season. Drawn by six spirited horses all jingling and jangling with the most musical of sleigh bells, the driver's long whip used skilfully and delicately on the glossy sides of the prancing teams, the brilliant stars overhead saw no merrier sight than this sleigh full of unalloyed happiness just behind the Leader's cutter, and followed by the more dignified sleighs holding the mothers of these children on their way for a gala house party at the farm.

Entering the front door we were at once in the dining-room with its odorous breath from bake-ovens of mince-pies and roast-beef with the more delicate aroma of stewing chickens and squash pies. The hungry children were crowded through the dining-room into the great central sitting-room and then raced upstairs to remove neck comforters and cloaks, with the heavy outer woollen stockings, which served as both leggings and overshoes, that they might race the faster back into the long dancing hall which spread across the south end of the house. In the sitting room was the wonderful music-box whose exquisite selections from "Il Trovatore" and "The Swiss Echo Song" trilled and pealed along its curved and pin-pointed rollers in the most mysterious and uncanny fashion. Here, too, were the winged rocking chairs of home manufacture, rush bottomed, feather cushioned and antimacassared in the latest pioneer fashion.

The usual band of musicians sat in the end of the hall and sometimes even the music-box was sufficient for eager couples to "Chasse to the right," "Balance on the corner," and "All promenade." Jim Currie was the popular "caller" of the day and the leader's son-in-law, Hyrum B. Clawson, was a past grand master at floor managing, and, indeed, as the master of ceremonies, on all such occasions.

Here the "Ten Big Girls," came with their crowd of beaux, usually brought down in individual cutters, or at most in double sleighs beneath the warm shelter of soft buffalo robes. Here also came the First Presidency as invited guests. It was a big, happy, jovial house party. There were the occasional resting places in the festivities when a good story teller was brought out, singers heard in ballad or choral music, these intermissions being rounded off with stirring patriotic and apt remarks from the leader or his associate brethren applicable to the time and place.

The farm house served an even greater purpose than the special one for which it was designed, for it embodied the realisation of a domestic ideal which carried its message, through example, into every hamlet and house in the Church. No need to urge the Elders of Israel to "live with the children," to "get back to Nature," to "find God through flowers and fields and clouds." The old farm house was a beacon light and shining example to all Israel and to the world itself during the years of its active existence.

XXIX HOME PRACTICES [346-356]

Leader Builds a School for His Children—Specially Equipped and Furnished—Recess Hours and Vacations—Boys who Preferred Work to School—One Son Enters the Army—All Wives Good Housekeepers—Summer Picnics—Home-Made Gymnasium—Dancing Lessons—Ann Eliza Webb Pleads for Marriage—Only Wife that Turned against Brigham Young—Home as Woman's Right—Leader's Impartiality—Finances of the Lion House—Justice to Wives and Children—Testimony of His Living Children.

THE Lion House was finished in 1856 and six years later father built a large school-house, as his children had long outgrown the school room in the Lion House. The windows were built comparatively high as father declared that the light should not fall directly on the pupils' eyes. The benches and desks were unique. We sat on benches or wooden chairs with desks in front of us, the little ones in the front row. Both benches and desks exactly fitted to our backs and legs so that we suffered no discomfort by having to hang our feet or to stoop over the desk. Each child had a separate desk with sloping lid and place for ink bottles in the corner. I preserved my desk which I have recently placed in the Museum.

School opened at 9 o'clock and was dismissed at 4 p.m. with a dinner interval from 12 to 1.30. In the morning there was a recess of an hour and another half hour diversion in the afternoon. How delightful were those breaks! In the summer the near-by hills furnished romping space if we did not go too far. The grassy surroundings of the school-house permitted all sorts of games and plays. In the winter we could go "coasting" down the many hills, and the pond was not far away where we could skate—weather permitting. Roller skates were all right for summer, but oh, the joy of skimming the ice with sharp-shod skates under one.

The long three months summer vacation was spent by us out on the hills and canyon back of our house; the little girls flower-and sego-hunting and the small boys playing games. The big girls had to weave, colour, spin, sew and knit. The big boys helped out on the farm, hauling wood, and doing other useful labour. The girls were early trained in all the domestic arts of knitting, spinning, weaving, sewing, embroidering, cooking and cleaning. A little pin money was most desirable, and if we wanted extra ribbons or finery we had to earn it. The boys had various ways of earning money also: ushering in the theatre, chores for others, etc.

Father believed in work as well as play. He saw to it that his boys, eager for fun and action, had a chance to translate their superabundant vitality into productive action. One of my brothers, Willard, tells a story about this. He with another brother, Ernest, tried father out on the "work question."

They appealed to him one day when they were about thirteen years of age to let them go to work and leave school. Father told them they must go back and talk it over with their mothers and older sisters and then come to him. They returned with the desired consent and then father told them that he wanted them to stay by their decision; they could work a while and then go to school a while. He was quite willing that they should work for one or more years and then they would perhaps be willing to go to school and work hard at that. They went to work on the farm in teaming and wood-hauling. After a year they were eager enough to get back to school.

Father gave opportunity for any of his children to go East to become proficient in any chosen profession. Some of the children accepted his offer. But at that time in pioneer history and in most places in the United States there were few colleges open to women and it was not "the thing" for girls to get a college education as it is to-day. So most girls married young. Then, too, the problem of pioneer progress pressed so heavily upon young as well as old that most young men were forced into the field of active life before many years of schooling could be enjoyed.

But Willard early decided that he was going into the army. When his decision was made and arrangements completed for him to go to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, father gave him a special blessing to "gain this useful knowledge and through the light of truth make it subservient for the building up of the Kingdom of God." In one of his letters home Willard spoke of his attending the Protestant Episcopal Church to which father replied: "I have no objections whatever; on the contrary I would like to have you attend and see what they can teach you about God and Godliness more than you have already been taught." After a long and useful military career, Willard is now a retired colonel in the United States army.

Many of the children and grandchildren have received advanced education and made honoured names for themselves and the Church to which they belong.

All of our mothers, or "aunts" as we called them, were good housekeepers and they divided up the home tasks so that there was both system and lack of friction in the labours. The care of the parlours, the halls, attic, and each one's sitting-room, with the laundry, sewing, weaving in the earlier years, with baby-tending and Relief Society work, kept our mothers and ourselves busy all day. My mother's task was the care of the Lion House parlour. And if there was ever a spot of dust on the chairs or mouldings, a stain on the curtains or a chair awry I cannot recall such a tragedy! However, all was not monotonous toil. Mothers and father also took children on trips here and there; and had picnics and fun generally.

The greatest fun of all was enjoyed in the "Front." Father had built a small water pool, with canyon cold water running in and out constantly, and there we would take our daily plunge; the girls at one time and the boys at another. Separate dressing rooms, permitted us to be secluded, and on each side of the font were two big wooden doors, which protected the girls from the gaze of curious and mischievous brothers and boy friends. Cold as the water was, running down from the snowclad hills, the sun would warm it by recess or noon; then it was delightful.

Then there was the joy of the Great Salt Lake in which bathing and swimming were welcome diversions to the usual Saturday picnic or canyon excursion.

Another delightful excursion was to the Hot Springs, discovered by the pioneers on their entrance into the Valley. These springs furnished a winter swimming pool with hot baths for all. A dancing hall was built here and our bathing was often followed by feasting and dancing.

We had a home-made gymnasium which was generally pure enjoyment, unless we wanted sometimes to go to the font or off into the hills after school. Then it was a bit of a bore; but we had to take exercises whether we liked it or not.

One of father's sons-in-law and his business manager, Hyrum B. Clawson, was a Yankee genius, genial, sympathetic and always courteous. Yet he knew how to exact respect and obedience both from hired men and all the children. He not only seconded all father's advanced ideas on health and hygiene, but added a few of his own. While on an eastern trip in 1862 he ran into the new craze for Dio Lewis's "gymnastics," and brought back with him both plans and specifications for the simple apparatus.

It was on his return that father had a big porch added to the west side of the Lion House where we had our "gymnastics" daily, winter and summer, as I have said. This he fitted up with wooden steps, or stools, trapezes, vaulting and climbing poles, wands, hoops, back boards and jumping ropes. Here we did our "daily dozen," and those back boards and the accompanying exercises gave us all as straight backs as I have seen in a family of women and men anywhere. I have my back board still. We had bloomers of linsey to the ankles, wrists and necks, and the boys had overalls and shirts. The era of semi-nudity had not reached the so-called "civilisation" at that day!

Some of the girls took dancing lessons. Two of the littlest of the eight-year-olds, my sister Louise and I, were noted as "Fairy Dancers." We, together with Tottie Clive and Sarah Alexander, the charming and graceful teacher, danced in many a "fairy extravaganza" on the stage of the Salt Lake City Theatre. The dancing master put all of the children through their paces and the art of "left foot," "right foot," "forward," "backward" was accomplished daily with more or less agility and grace.

For ten or fifteen years all the family practically lived in the Bee Hive and Lion House. But as the children multiplied and grew up, father built or bought separate homes for most of his wives.

Mother Young had charge while in the Bee Hive House, not only of her own family but of the official duties of the home. She lived there for a short time only. The work was very heavy as all of the hired men ate there, and frequent emigrants and visitors crowded the spacious dining-room. So she moved back to the White House on the hill, and Aunt Lucy Decker Young moved into the Bee Hive House, where she lived for many happy and useful years.

It was at the close of father's life that he decided to build an official residence, as the Bee Hive House was itself now crowded with Aunt Lucy Decker Young's large and growing family. He needed a home where he could entertain strangers who came from afar to see him, as well as his many friends and official callers. It was understood that Aunt Amelia, his last wife, would live there—everybody was quite willing to have her assume these large social responsibilities. However, the house, still unfinished at father's death, was completed by President John Taylor, and named the Gardo House. It was never occupied by any member of father's family.

Father bought a fine house on upper Main Street, built by his deceased friend and Counsellor, Jedediah M. Grant, where he moved Aunt Emmeline with her large and growing family. He moved sainted Aunt Emily with her family into a smaller house on upper State Street; later building her a comfortable two-story home on 3d East Street. Aunt Zina had her cozy home on 3d South Street. Aunt Clara chose to have hers next door to the Social Hall on State Street. And what hospitality over-flowed those peaceful dwellings. Like Aunt Zina's home, Aunt Clara's was a refuge for all the troubled hearts of married or unmarried sons and daughters.

Father bought a charming old colonial house in Provo, where he moved Aunt Eliza Burgess-Young with her son Alfales. Here father had commissioned his tried and trusted friend, Abram O. Smoot, to preside over the newly organized Utah Stake of Zion. And here in 1869 father established the Provo Co-operative Woolen Mfg. Co. with himself as President and A. O. Smoot as Vice-President. A year or two later when he decided to found a Church School, he consulted with Bro. Smoot concerning this project and appointed him as business manager or President of the Board of Trustees for the Brigham Young Academy to be located in Provo. Together they selected Bro. Karl G. Maeser, a cultured Professor—formerly of the Dresden University of Germany—to act as the President of this Brigham Young University. Father always regarded Bro. Maeser as Zion's noblest and greatest educator. Here Prof. Maeser opened the school, inviting later two of father's daughters into the faculty: one to organize a Musical Department; the other, my sister Zina, to establish a Domestic Art Department, and to act as Matron.

Father often visited Provo, for he was deeply interested in the school there. He had talked over with President Smoot and Prof. Maeser the idea, which was originally suggested to him by his wise and far-sighted First Counsellor, George Q. Cannon, of building and endowing two other Church Schools, one in Logan, and the other in Salt Lake City. The Provo Institution was to be the parent Institution, for there lived Prof. Maeser and Pres. Smoot. Above all, Provo was more or less isolated from the distractions of a large city.

In 1870, father moved my mother to St. George, where he bought a good house, surrounded by a semi-tropical garden of grapes, almonds, peaches and other luscious fruits. Here he spent the last seven winters of his life, in this Dixie-land. Here lived his associate state-founder, great leader and Apostle, Erastus Snow, with his own large family; together with that other stalwart pioneer, Jacob Gates, who was one of the seven Presidents of the Seventies.

At first, father brought his friends and Aunt Amelia, as well, to spend the winter at mother's home, who rejoiced in these social contacts. But when Gen. Thomas L. Kane brought his family down to St. George in the winter of 1873, father had to ask Uncle Erastus Snow to entertain the distinguished visitors at his own spacious home, the Big House, presided over by kind Aunt Libbie Snow. Mother's home was always over-crowded. So then father built a two-story adobe house, surrounded by porches, and here, during his last two winters, Aunt Amelia or Aunt Eliza B—welcomed father's guests.

Aunt Harriet B—Young was located in a good home opposite the south Temple Gate. Just close by was the home of father's last beautiful wife, Mary Van Cott-Young.

It is a fact not unworthy of note that only one of his wives ever turned against father or her religion. Not one of his wives married again after his death though some were comparatively young women. My own mother was but little past forty-seven and Aunt Amelia was but thirty-nine years of age. Mother's love of father—her lavish devotion to him in life and to his memory after his death amounted almost to worship! That all the others felt as did my mother is proved in part by the way in which they cherished his memory and respected their widowhood.

By the years 1875-77 all the mothers with large families had moved out of the Lion House into homes of their own, and all of the older boys and girls were married.

I think that father settled his wives into homes of their own in his later years to correct what he esteemed to be a mistake of his early judgment. For when he gave me the deed to my first home in the city, in 1876, he told me that he had made a mistake. If he had his life to live over again, he said, he would give every wife a home of her own and give her the deed to it; for that was every wife's right, and nothing more than justice. He cautioned me not to deed nor give away my home, not to anyone; but to remember that a home was a woman's first possession. He brought out and showed to me at that time, the plot of the big tract of land called the Upper Garden, east and north of the Lion House, where he had marked sites for homes for all his children. Especially was he solicitous over his daughters.

The story of the finances of these homes is most interesting. "Mother Young," the first wife who lived in the Bee Hive House, also had placed in her care at first all the family supplies and material which father had gathered and purchased for domestic uses in his family.

Some of the other wives went to father one day and objected to the necessary humiliation of appealing to Mother Young for material required for clothing themselves and their children. To say that the husband and father was surprised at the unusual action states the case mildly. At once, however, he saw the point involved and he realised that neither his first wife nor the other one quite grasped the fundamental principle of that order of marriage; so he decided in his usual simple manner to illustrate the matter to them.

He invited Mother Young into their counsel. Then he held up a ring asking: "Do you see any head or tail to this ring?"

"Why, no," Mother Young replied.

"Then this," said Brigham Young, "illustrates my thought. I sit in the centre of my family, the children in a circle around their mothers, and so on and on, and each is independent, yet dependent on the others. Now these wives of mine are bearing children and when they want any supplies or material I will see that such is furnished to them."

Directly after this a storehouse was erected wherein were kept groceries, clothing, implements and necessary equipment for farming, blacksmith and carpenter supplies and all domestic necessities. John Haslam, a faithful and devoted friend, was placed in charge of this store. A monthly credit was issued to each wife, in proportion to the number of her children and her own needs.

After that, when purchases were made of dress goods, hats or shoes, the quality and price were equalised, but each one might choose for herself colours or styles. Thus were obviated opportunities for friction on financial matters, and any wife knows justice in domestic financial propositions is quite as important to happiness as justice in social and moral relations.

It is generally understood that my father had nineteen wives; but of that number some were widows and wives in name only, to whom father gave a home. Of his wives, sixteen bore him children, six of them having but one child. The rest of them had children varying from two to ten. He had fifty-six living children, ten of them dying in infancy. There were twenty-six sons and thirty daughters; twenty-one sons and twenty-five daughters lived to maturity.

It is fitting that the author should add this testimony. I was born and reared in the Lion House. In all my life in that beloved home I never heard my father speak an unkind or irritable word to one of his wives. I never heard a quarrel between my father's wives. All of them possessed the innate training of restraint mingled with religious impulse which was so much a part of the Puritan inheritance.

I never heard one of my father's wives chastise or correct another wife's children. I have heard the children quarrel, naturally, but very little of that indeed, for we were not a contentious family. Much less did I ever hear or see anything but the utmost courtesy and kindliness between my father and his wives. Correct his children he did, but each with that dignity and deliberation that neither humiliated the child nor lowered his own self-respect. He met the situation man to man, woman to man.

I saw him pick up a noisy baby girl, who was running about and squealing with laughter out of reach of her mother's anxious arms during the solemn hour of prayer when the whole family were bowed in devotion! Father stopped his prayer, got up deliberately, caught the baby, spanked her lightly, laid her down sobbing in her mother's waiting arms, returned to his own chair where he knelt and quietly concluded his family orisons. Brutal he could not be, firm he always was. But the corrected child, inheriting his own poise, subconsciously admitted the justice of the rebuke and was first to fly for forgiveness to his fatherly bosom.

The family life was as ideal as human relations could ever be. There may have been tragedies of death, of suffering and of toil, yes, but we had little sickness and few deaths or funerals. All these sorrows flowed about us, never in between us. To-day, always in the past, and please the Lord, for ever on the Other Side, we Youngs shall be with each other with father, mothers and with God!

In this statement all of my father's living children coincide. Another point on which they all agree is that no other fact of father's life was so profound a proof of his true nobility and greatness as his life at home and the influence which he radiated there. He was ever present in spirit, and we were not surprised, certainly never alarmed, to see him at any unexpected moment or place.

The world knows Brigham Young as a statesman and coloniser; but to his children he was aforen ideal father. Kind to a fault, tender, thoughtful, just and firm. He spoke but once, and none were so daring as to disobey. But that his memory is almost worshipped by all who bear his name is an eloquent tribute to his character. None of us feared him; all of us adored him. If the measure of a man's greatness is truly given by Carlyle, as bounded by the number of those who love him and who were loved by him; then few men are as great as was my father, Brigham Young. What his life and love meant to his family only their subsequent lives may testify. What he did as state-founder, commonwealth builder, only the pages of history may imperfectly recall.

John Henry Evans (1933)

John Henry Evans, Joseph Smith an American Prophet (1933 (Macmillan); 1940 (Macmillan); 1960 (Macmillan) 1961 (Amy W. Evans); 1961 (Deseret Book [not sure if this is same as previous by Amy Evans]) 1989 Classics in Mormon Literature Series (Deseret Book): 264-74. Deseret Book 2010 [gospelink.com 1946 Deseret Book] [Offered for sale, Improvement Era 48. 1 (January 1945): 5; April 1945]

Preface to Classics edition, by Larry C. Porter (1989): xi [regarding the 1933 publication, Porter writes] “Calling it an impartial biography of the founder of Mormonism, a Deseret News review of the book suggested that "probably no more complimentary description of the life and attainments of Joseph Smith, the 'Mormon' prophet, has ever been published by the non-Mormon press for the consumption of non-members of the Church." (Deseret News, 8Apr. 1933.)

56. Mormon Polygamy

On a certain starlit night in 1843 two men and a woman might have been seen walking out of Mulholland Street in Nauvoo toward the river bank. They were Joseph Smith, the prophet, Dimmick Huntington, and Prescindia Huntington, Dimmick's sister, who was thirty-three years old. When they had reached the water's edge, they sat down on a log.

Now, the purpose of this meeting was extraordinary, to say the least. Joseph Smith, a married man according to the law of the land, there and then proposed marriage to Prescindia Huntington, a single woman.

What else he said to her on this occasion, we do not know—except that he asked her to "think it over" and, after she had made up her mind, to let him know her decision. At a second meeting a few nights later, on the same spot and under the same conditions, Prescindia accepted the Mormon leader as her husband, and her brother, who had previously been given the necessary authority by the Prophet, thereupon performed the ceremony that made them husband and wife under "the law of the Lord."

After the death of Joseph Smith, Prescindia Huntington-Smith was married under the same law to Heber C. Kimball, by whom she had a son.

"Mother," asked this son, when he became a full-grown man and his mother was in her last illness, "if you had your life to live over again, would you do as you have done—I mean live in polygamy?"

"I would that," she answered promptly and emphatically, and added: "The principle of plural marriage is true, and, if properly lived, would redeem woman from slavery and put her on a higher plane than she has ever occupied before. There would be no prostitution in the world, and every normal woman would have a husband and children."

That is almost the whole story of Mormon polygamy, as it was practiced in Nauvoo and Utah. There are some interesting details, however.

It was undoubtedly a social reason primarily that gave rise to polygamy among the Mormon people. One cannot read the sermons and writings on the subject by church leaders, from Joseph Smith down, and come to any other conclusion. And these clear-sighted and earnest men attacked the social problem with a courage and boldness that did credit both to their hearts and to their heads.

"If all the inhabitants of the earth at the present time," said Orson Pratt in 1869, "were righteous before God, keeping his commandments, and if, further, the numbers of the sexes were exactly equal, there would be no necessity for any such institution as polygamy. Every righteous man could have his wife, and there would be no surplus of females." That was an enormous concession.

But the professor-apostle went on to say that "the numbers of the sexes of marriageable age" were by no means "exactly equal." And he gave figures in proof. "If you go to the published statistics, you will find, almost without exception, that in every State a greater number of males die in the first year of their existence than females. The same holds good from one year to five years, from five years to ten, from ten to fifteen, and from fifteen to twenty." Thus in Pennsylvania there were more than seventeen thousand females between the ages of twenty and thirty in excess of males of the same age; in Massachusetts, more than thirty-three thousand; and in New York, more than forty-five thousand. These figures were quoted from the United States census reports for 1860. In 1930 the excess of females between the ages of twenty and thirty in the entire country was one hundred thirty-five thousand eight hundred eighty-five.

"What is to be done with this surplus of females?" inquired the noted philosopher. "I will tell you what Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New York say. They say, virtually: 'We will pass a law so strict that, if these females undertake to marry a man who has another wife, both they and the men they marry shall be subject to a term of imprisonment in the penitentiary.' Indeed! Then what are you going to do with these thousands of females of a marriageable age? 'We are going to make them either old maids or prostitutes, and we would a little rather have them prostitutes; then we men would have no need to marry.'

"This is the conclusion many of these marriageable males between twenty and thirty years of age have come to. They will not marry because the laws of the land have a tendency to make prostitutes, and they can purchase all the animal gratification they desire without being bound to any woman."

These laws, incidentally, were not Christian laws at all. They were heathen laws. "Since old pagan Rome and Greece—worshippers of idols—passed a law confining a man to one wife, there has been a great surplus of females, who have had no possible chance of getting married." The nation from which present-day Christianity, for the most part, was derived, was a polygamous nation. But when the Reformers of the sixteenth century undertook to change certain aspects of the faith, they overlooked this greater aspect of marriage. And now all the so-called Christian peoples had the notion, in spite of the widespread and deep-rooted blight of prostitution, that they had made a notable advance in culture by adopting the monogamic system of marriage, in place of the polygamic.

That, as we said, was in 1869. Even before this, however, another Pratt, the mathematician's brother Parley, had expounded what may be termed the "limitation" theory, of which the "surplus" argument by Orson was the supplement.

"A wise legislation, or the law of God," said the poet-apostle, in a remarkable little book called A Key to the Science of Theology, first published in 1855, "would punish, with just severity, the crimes of adultery and fornication, and would not suffer an idiot, the confirmed, irreclaimable drunkard, or the man of hereditary disease or vicious habits, to possess or retain a wife; while, at the same time, it would provide for a good and capable man to honorably receive and maintain more wives than one. Indeed, it should be the privilege of every virtuous female who has the requisite capacity and qualifications for matrimony, to demand, either of individuals or government, the privilege of becoming an honored and legal wife and mother, even if it were necessary for her to be married to a man who has several wives."

[Photo page 267, caption reads] Five Plural Wives of Joseph Smith - Left to right, top to bottom: Zina Huntington-Smith, Prescindia Huntington-Smith, Eliza Snow-Smith, Helen Kimball-Smith, Emily Partridge-Smith

It remained for the apostle George Q. Cannon, a highly intelligent and widely read and traveled man to set forth a third reason for polygamy. This found its cogency in the leveling of the whole female sex.

"The practice of the world," said this alert statesman, also in 1869, "is to select a few of the sex and elevate them. There is no country in the world, probably, where women are idolized to the extent they are in the United States. But is the entire sex in the United States thus honored and respected? No; it is not. Any person who will travel, and observe while he is traveling, will find that thousands of women are degraded, and treated as something vile, and are terribly debased in consequence of the practice of men towards them.

"But the gospel of Jesus and the revelations which God has given to us concerning patriarchal marriage, have a tendency to elevate the entire sex, and give to all the privilege of being honored matrons and respected wives. There are no refuse among us—no class to be cast out, scorned, and condemned; but every woman who chooses can be an honored wife, and move in society in the enjoyment of every right which woman should enjoy to make her the equal of man, as far as she can be equal."

To the "surplus" theory of Orson Pratt, the "limitation" theory of Parley P. Pratt, and the "equalizing" theory of George Q. Cannon, must be added another, which, although it cannot be ascribed to any particular individual, somehow filtered through into the general mind of the Mormon commonwealth. It is the "character" theory. According to this idea the polygamous family, partly because it is large, is more conducive to the development of the personality than the monogamous family.

It will be remembered that the underlying principle in the religion of Joseph Smith is the preciousness of the soul—not a few souls merely but all souls. That is why the Mormon leaders, including the founder of the faith, were so deeply stirred over the problem of the underworld, and led them to reach out for a solution of it by removing the cause. Individual growth was the ultimate goal of Mormonism—a process rather than an end.

But personal development was impossible in a state of isolation. It was possible only in the group. Character was chiseled out through attrition, through human contacts, through the method of give and take. "I am like a huge, rough stone rolling down from a high mountain," the Prophet said once in Nauvoo, "and the only polishing I get is when some corner gets rubbed off by coming in contact with something else, striking with accelerated force against religious bigotry, priestcraft, lawyer-craft, doctor-craft, lying editors, suborned judges and jurors, and the authority of perjured executives, backed by mobs, blasphemers, licentious and corrupt men and women—all hell knocking off a corner here and a corner there. Thus I will become a smooth and polished shaft in the quiver of the Almighty, who will give me dominion over all and every one of them, when their refuge of lies shall fail, and their hiding place shall be destroyed." It was this knocking off of corners that brought character to perfection.

The primitive group, the family, contributed more to this "smoothing and polishing" process than any other of the social groups. This was especially so in the polygamous family.

Here the children enlarged the scope of their natural associations and made greater and more numerous contacts than in the average monogamous family—which helped them to fit themselves into the mosaic of the larger group, the community. This was true whether the families lived together or in different homes. The wife and mother, in addition to increasing the number of objects of her affection, made at least an attempt to subject her petty irritations, jealousies, what not, to the larger ends of life. And the husband and father, besides having to adjust himself to a new set of conditions, would be called upon to fight a stiff battle for an ideal of justice, fair-dealing, and suspended judgment, in the home; and this ideal, of necessity, would carry over into other and larger social contacts. No one realized better than the polygamous husband, if he tried at all to "live the principle," what Professor Foerster meant when he said: "Only people whose thoughts are entirely removed from the realities of life can fail to realize that the small and intimate circle of the family must afford to the human personality a much richer and more secure development than the best public educational institution."

Polygamy or, as the Mormons prefer to call it, "plural marriage," was first introduced among the Saints in Nauvoo, in 1841—although the Prophet had had the idea in mind ever since 1831.

Bold and courageous as Joseph Smith undoubtedly was, yet he shrank for years from venturing upon a revelation of his secret. He had been reared under the monogamic ideal; his disciples likewise; and they had been taught, and believed, that any deviation from the moral law was not only a wrong in the eyes of the law and of society, but a grave sin in the sight of God. How, then, was he to break the news to his first lieutenants and later to others of the faithful? Lorenzo Snow tells of an all-night conversation with the Prophet on the river bank (a favorite spot, it seems), concerning this very topic, and of the great anxiety of the leader as to its effects on the community. He was under no illusion as to the consequences himself—that it might eventuate in his death. It required, one gathers, more than Joseph Smith's sex-urge, however great that may have been, to fly in the teeth of the age-old convention of monogamy, especially under the circumstances.

Already he had had an inkling of the commotion, even upheaval, such a doctrine as he had in mind would stir up. At intervals, during those ten years, the charge of polygamy was often hurled at the Mormons. Most of them did not know what it was all about. The fact is that Joseph Smith had confided his secret to some intimate friends—one of the Johnsons; and the secret had become known to others, who could not keep it. There is no doubt that polygamy had a good deal to do in bringing about the Prophet's death.

In April, 1841, however, the Mormon leader launched his sensational craft, by taking to himself another wife. The woman was not Prescindia Huntington. There were several before Prescindia Huntington, and several after her—some twenty-seven in all, not counting Emma. One of these was Eliza Snow, sister of Lorenzo Snow, an intelligent woman of poetic ability. Having thus set the example, the Prophet required that the apostles enter the order—which they did after a mental struggle, we are told, and holding out on grounds of fear. By the time of the martyrdom of the Smiths it was an open secret, in Nauvoo and in Hancock county generally, that the Mormons were practicing polygamy.

More or less confusion followed. Once it became known that the principle was practiced, such men as John C. Bennett took advantage of the situation to play fast and loose erotically, without forming the ties that the Prophet had intended. They thus ignored all moral bonds. And when the head of the church publicly rebuked them for their immoralities, they fell upon him in fury.

For, as a matter of fact, the Prophet drew a very sharp distinction between a sexual relation within polygamy, as within monogamy, and a sexual act outside the polygamous bond. Plural marriage was a marriage, just as a single marriage was a marriage. The only difference was that the second had the sanction of the state, while the first had the sanction of the church only. But they were equally binding on the conscience; both proscribed sexual relations outside these ties. In neither case could any moral excursions be tolerated.

This lack of discrimination on the part of both men and women created difficulty among disciples and outsiders. Also it laid the Prophet open to misinterpretation and misunderstanding.

In 1852, after the Mormons had found a home in the West, Brigham Young made a public acknowledgment of the doctrine, and urged its practice. Doubtless among the reasons for this public announcement were: That it explained the marital relations of those who had already embarked on the practice, that it would head off prostitution, and that it would increase the Mormon population. Utah therefore presents an advanced phase of polygamy.

Here are the conditions, in general, under which the doctrine was put into effect:

To begin with, not every married man might take another wife. He had first to secure the permission of the president of the church. For only he, or some one delegated by him, could perform a plural marriage ceremony. Otherwise it was a case of adultery, and thus punishable by excommunication. Presumably the candidate for a second wife had the necessary qualifications—physical, mental, moral, spiritual, and financial. That was the theory. Polygamy was therefore limited to those who were "fit."

And then, whoever wished to marry in polygamy had next to obtain the "consent" of the wife he already had. If, however, that consent was denied, he was free to do as he pleased in the situation. Usually approval was granted—for reasons the wife probably kept to herself. Indeed, quite often the wife not only chose the second helpmeet, but carried on the preliminary negotiations. In some cases two women were taken to the altar at the same time, although of course one of them had to be "first."

As for the manner of living, sometimes there was but one home, sometimes there were as many different homes as there were wives. The separate home system was found to be more satisfactory on the whole. Staying at each home for a day or a week at a time, the husband endeavored to show as little partiality as possible—although doubtless in his heart he may have had a "favorite," as Brigham Young is said to have had.

Always, moreover, there was equality as between the wives and as between the children. No distinction was made between the first wife and the second or the fifth, nor between the children of the legal and those of the plural wife. And, as George Q. Cannon asserted, there was no class of women to be cast out on account of their station. No prostitution existed in Utah till the non-mormon took it there; and few, if any, old maids.

Polygamy died hard among the Mormons. But it is now as dead as the proverbial door nail. When Congress, in answer to a popular demand by men and women all over the United States, passed anti-polygamy laws, the Saints refused to give up their doctrine, till after the highest court had rendered a decision on their constitutionality.

For this apparent disloyalty there were two principal reasons. One was that they did not believe any law could legislate out of existence a religious belief, such as polygamy was in their view. And then the law would require the polygamists to disown women with whom they had lived and by whom they had borne children, and to bastardize the offspring of their plural wives. And this they would not do. They preferred to go to jail—as hundreds of them did. In those days the "co-hab," as he came to be called, who "promised to obey the law" against polygamy was looked upon by his own people as a renegade.

The practice of polygamy among the Mormons, however, was not effected without some opposition from the women. Emma Smith was particularly recalcitrant. William Clayton, secretary to the Prophet in 1843, and the apostle Orson Pratt, give us glimpses of her mind in the matter.

One morning, says Clayton, Joseph and Hyrum came into the office together. They were talking about plural marriage. Hyrum wanted his brother to reduce his ideas on the subject to writing, so that he might convert Mrs. Smith. After that Joseph would have "peace." Any woman, he added, could easily be convinced that the principle was true. "You don't know Emma as well as I do," Joseph commented, but sat down and dictated to his secretary. Hyrum then took the document away with him.

When he returned, Joseph asked him how he had fared. Hyrum answered, "I have never had such a talking to in my life. Emma was very resentful."

The fact is that, later, Mrs. Smith burned the original document, which she had coaxed away from her husband for the purpose. Fortunately Bishop Whitney had made a copy of it.

Emma, Pratt tells us, was "embittered against Joseph, and at times fought against him with all her heart; then again she would break down in her feelings, and humble herself, and would lead forth ladies and place their hands in the hands of her husband, and they were married to him, according to the law of God."

On the whole, however, the Mormon women accepted the principle of plural marriage in the same spirit as the men, especially those who had been taught to look at it in the larger way.

We have already seen what Prescindia Smith-Kimball thought on the subject. Helen Mar Whitney, daughter-in-law of Bishop Whitney, after she had been "a spectator and a participator in this order of matrimony for over thirty years," declared that "the system tends to preserve social purity" and that "it alone can remedy the great social evils of the present day," adding that "when lived up to as the Lord intended, it will exalt the human family." And one of Orson Pratt's eight wives says that all the twenty-five children of her husband were "endeared to her by mutual affection," and their mothers "by mutual and long-continued exercises of toil, patience, and sisterly kindness," notwithstanding they were conscious of "imperfections in this life." Eliza R. Snow-Smith, plural wife of the Prophet, says this: "Virtue is the foundation of the prosperity of any nation; and this principle of plural marriage tends to virtue, purity, and holiness."

As a matter of fact, the Mormon women of Utah were as reluctant as the men to abandon the practice of polygamy—at least those who had been inducted into the principle during the first generation. When anti-polygamy laws were about to be passed, fifteen hundred women met in Salt Lake City "to protest against the misrepresentation of the ladies engaged in anti-polygamy crusades, and to declare their sentiments on the subject." One of these sentiments was thus expressed by Mrs. Snow-Smith:

I am proud to state before this large and honorable assembly that I believe in the principle of plural marriage just as sacredly as I believe in any other institution which God has revealed. I believe it to be necessary for the redemption of the human family from the low state of corruption into which it has fallen. And I truly believe that a Congress composed of polygamic men who are true to their wives would confer a far higher honor upon a nation, and would perform better service to this country than a Congress composed of monogamic unreliable husbands.

William E. Berrett (1936)

The restored church ; a brief history of the origin, growth and doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day saints. William E. Berrett (William Edwin) Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Department of Education. Salt Lake City : Department of education of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day saints 1936 Available at TC Wilson Library General Collection (298 B458 )

William E. Berrett. The Restored Church. A Brief History of the Growth and Doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [gospelink.com 1958 edition] 1936; 1947; 1958; 1961; 1964; 1965; 1969; 1973 Deseret Book) (Deseret Book. 1964; 12th edition; 10th edition, revised and Enlarged 1961): 181-3, 185; [1947 edition: 260-4]

Third: Differences in Religious Beliefs.[1964: 181-5; 1947: 260-4]

…. One of these doctrines was especially responsible for bringing persecution upon the Church. That was the doctrine of plural marriage by divine sanction. As early as 1831, Joseph Smith claimed a revelation upon the subject and spoke of it to a few close associates. It was not, however, placed in writing, practiced or generally made known at that time. In 1840, the doctrine was taught to a few leading brethren who, with the Prophet, secretly married additional wives in the following year. This secrecy could not be long kept, yet the doctrine was not openly discussed. This state of affairs gave rise to serious slander outside the Church. On July 12, 1843, the Prophet caused the revelation on the "Eternity of the Marriage Covenant and Plural Marriage" to be set down in writing and read to the High Council at Nauvoo. Perhaps no doctrine of the early Church so caused dissension within and without the organization. It is well that we pause for a moment and contemplate the way in which the doctrine was received. For years after learning of the doctrine, through revelation from God, Joseph could not bring himself to practice it or to teach others to do so. The whole Anglo-Saxon training of the Church was opposed to Plural Marriage, although it had never been forbidden by either the State or Federal Constitution. Even after settling in Nauvoo, when the Prophet says he was commanded of the Lord to put the Law of Plural Marriage into operation, he hesitated to do so. Night after night he paced the banks of the Mississippi, at times accompanied by his brother, Hyrum, wrestling with the problem. He was convinced that the practice of the doctrine would bring bitter persecution upon the Church and eventually cause him to lose his life. No greater mistake could be made than to suppose that Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, or any of the Church leaders hailed the Doctrine of Plural Marriage with delight or introduced it through lustful desires. Brigham Young later said: "If any man had asked me what was my choice when Joseph Smith revealed that doctrine (Plurality of Wives) provided that it would not diminish my glory, I would have said, 'Let me have but one wife. * * * I was not desirous of shrinking from any duty, nor of failing in the least to do as I was commanded, but it was the first time in my life that I had desired the grave and I could hardly get over it for a long time. [Discourse at Provo, July 14, 1855] John Taylor, who became the third president of the Church adds: "I had always entertained strict ideas of virtue, and I felt as a married man that this was to me, outside of this principle, an appalling thing to do. The idea of going and asking a young lady to be married to me when I already had a wife! It was a thing calculated to stir up feelings from the innermost depths of the human soul. I had always entertained the strictest of chastity. * * * With the feeling I had entertained nothing but a knowledge of God, and the revelations of God, and the truth of them, could have induced me to embrace such a principle as this." [BH Roberts, The Life of John Taylor, page 100] To Heber C. Kimball and his wife, Vilate, the commandment of the Prophet that Heber take another wife was an unusually severe trial. This commandment was kept from Heber's wife for a time. Vilate noticed that Heber was greatly perplexed. She claimed that in answer to her prayer, concerning what [182] it was that was causing her husband such concern, she received a vision of the eternal world. Just what she witnessed is not known, but at any event, thereafter she became a staunch advocate of the doctrine of plural marriage. If the doctrine caused such a struggle on the part of the staunchest men of the Church, it is little wonder that large numbers would not receive it. Only the secrecy surrounding its practice prevented a wholesale apostasy from the Church in 1844. When the doctrine was publicly announced in the mission fields, opposition to the Church greatly increased and mob violence was often resorted to. The secrecy which surrounded the introduction of the practice led to gross misrepresentations and charges of adultery. This was a most important factor in embittering both Mormon and non-Mormon against the Prophet. None of the teachings of the Church clashed so directly with the social order of the day or aroused such bitter resentment.

The Philosophy of Mormonism and the Circumstances of the Time led to the Introduction of Plural Marriage. It must be constantly borne in mind that the doctrine of marriage for time and eternity, contained in Section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants, with all the blessings promised therein, does not necessarily involve plural marriage. The doctrine that marriage may be eternal when that ordinance is performed by the Priesthood of God is one of the unique contributions to religious thought, and gives definite meaning to Mormon philosophy. The fundamental principles of the philosophy Joseph Smith introduced must be kept before us. First, the primary purpose of existence is to develop human personality to its greatest capacity for happiness. Secondly, this development of God-like attributes can be best accomplished when individuals pass through the experience of fatherhood or motherhood and share the responsibilities of a home. This marriage relationship is obtained for life and eternity when sanctioned by God, through his Priesthood. Joseph Smith taught that those who were married for time and eternity might, after gaining their exaltation, continue to propagate spirit children, and eventually become as Gods to those children. Naturally under such a plan the greatest development for the race would be accomplished where every man and every woman, fit mentally and physically for marriage, would enter into the marriage relationship and become parents. As the sexes are approximately equal in number under normal conditions, a system of monogamous marriage, one man and one woman, would normally prevail. Such a law was given by the Lord to the Nephites, "For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none." 5 If, when the sexes are equal, a system of plural marriage should prevail, many men physically and mentally fit would be deprived of an opportunity for marriage and the subsequent development of personality. In the early period of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints an unusual condition prevailed. More women than men joined the Church. This was true of the period at Nauvoo and for a number of years after the arrival of the Saints in Utah. It [183] remained true so long as converts made up the mass of Church membership. The Saints were as isolated a people as if they had been on an island of the sea. Marriage outside the Church was discouraged. There were not enough men to go around. Many women must live and die singly, deprived of the opportunity for development which marriage and a home brings. The alternative was plural marriage. It was not to stop prostitution that plural marriage was introduced. It was not to satisfy the lusts of himself or his followers that Joseph Smith taught and practiced the doctrine. The men and women who entered into plural marriage were among the most moral people this world has ever known. It is true that among the early Mormons prostitution was unknown, but that would have been true with such a people if plural marriage had never been practiced. Plural marriage was never at any time a general law for the entire Church, and was never at any time practiced by over two percent of the adult male population. The President held the keys to its practice, and only those supposedly able to live the law in righteousness were permitted to enter into such relationships. That the surplus women of the Church were absorbed into family life is an undeniable fact. That some of the finest people of the Church and of the world came from such plural households is equally undeniable. It is a sad fact that some few abused the law and the trust which was placed in them and gave grounds for slander and ridicule against the Church. Despite the social reasons which may be advanced in justification of plural marriage, it must be admitted that it was directly contrary to the traditions of the people both in and out of the Church. The very secrecy involved prevented any explanations to these people. The vaguest of rumors were multiplied and enlarged by the tongue of gossip.

Supplementary Readings [include the following]

1. History of the Church 6. 46a [on plural marriage] 2. John Henry Evans, Joseph Smith an American Prophet (1933 (Macmillan); 1961 (Amy W. Evans); 1989 (Deseret Book) [266-75: social theories of polygamy from Mormon leaders: ‘surplus theory’ of Orson Pratt; ‘limitation’ theory of Parley P. Pratt; ‘equalizing’ theory of George Q. Cannon.] 3. Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball (331-339) [“Interesting experiences involving Joseph Smith, Heber C. Kimball, and Vilate Kimball, his wife, and their daughter, Helen Kimball, gathering around the Prophet’s revelation and teaching on plural marriage”] 4. Joseph Fielding Smith, Essentials in Church History: 337-342 [plural marriage]; 606-9 [Woodruff manifesto]; 5. Eliza R. Snow, Biography of Lorenzo Snow, 69 [Joseph Smith teaches plural marriage to Lorenzo Snow]

Plural Marriage. (316-9) [1947 edition: 462-8]

At a special conference held in Salt Lake City, August 28 and 29, 1852, the doctrine of "plural marriage" was first publicly declared. The revelation to Joseph Smith upon the subject was read, and Orson Pratt gave a discourse from the standpoint of the Bible. The bounds and restrictions of the law as laid down by modern revelation were clarified. As previously discussed, a number of the leading brethren were already practicing the doctrine. Following this conference, others received the sanction of President Young, who held the keys of this order of marriage, to enter into its practice. In certain instances the President urged Church leaders to marry and provide a home for worthy women of the community, who had been denied the opportunity for the development of personality which comes from married life. The philosophical reasons for the doctrine of plural marriage have been previously discussed (see topic 71). At the end of the first year's migration to Utah the number of women exceeded the number of men. That excess of women continued for half a century. Under the Mormon practice of "plural marriage" these women were absorbed into family life in the several communities. The practice was necessarily limited, only about two per cent of the men eligible for marriage having more than one wife. Nor was the law applicable to the general population of the territory or even to the general membership of the Church. Only those men who obtained the sanction of the President, who kept in mind the character and fitness of the individual, could marry a second wife, and then only with the consent of the first wife. In the operation of such a social law there developed irregularities and abuses. The practice of the doctrine required a degree of self-sacrifice and an unselfish devotion to principle beyond the power of most people. The practice of plural marriage, or as it was erroneously called, "polygamy," created a considerable stir in the press and became the center of attack against the Church by its enemies. As Utah was a territory of the United States and as the laws for territories are passed by Congress, the discussion of "polygamy" was carried to that body and became the chief argument against the admission of Utah as a State. So bitter did the attacks against the Church become that Congress, under the influence of lobbyists and of the press, passed an "anti-bigamy law" in 1862, aimed at the suppression of "polygamy" among the Mormons. The bill was signed by President Lincoln, July 8, 1862, and made the contracting of a plural marriage punishable by a fine of $500 or imprisonment for a term of five years, or both. In the main the President and members of Congress were not hostile to the Mormon people, but they were opposed to the practice of polygamy. They appear to have been conscientious and genuine in their feeling that polygamy was a bad social practice and should not be tolerated upon those grounds. The political platform upon which Lincoln was elected, contained a plank condemning the practice of polygamy. Out of friendship for the Mormons, with whom he had become acquainted in Illinois, President Lincoln neglected to appoint officers to enforce the anti-bigamy law. The enemies of the Church, who were seeking its destruction, were not content with letting the issue drop. The law contained a provision forbidding a religious body in a territory to hold real estate in value to exceed $50,000. This was aimed directly at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. An effort made by Governor Harding of Utah in 1863 to have Brigham Young punished under this law failed, the constitutionality of the whole law being questioned. The agitation against polygamy grew more bitter as the years progressed, but it was not until 1874 that the constitutionality of the "anti-bigamy law" was tried and an attempt made to enforce it. The Mormon people were confident that the law was unconstitutional and that if a trial case was carried to the higher courts it would be so declared and the uncertain state of affairs cleared up. Accordingly, George Reynolds, the private secretary of Brigham Young, volunteered to test the law. The Federal officers of the territory seemed equally desirous of clarifying the matter by a friendly suit. Accordingly, Reynolds was indicted. He voluntarily appeared in court and furnished the evidence of the facts whereby he had violated the law. He was convicted, sentenced to one year's imprisonment, and ordered to pay a fine of $500. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court of the territory, where it was dismissed on the grounds that the grand jury which found the indictment against Reynolds was an illegal jury. The constitutionality of the law still being undecided, a second trial was held in 1875, before Alexander White, Chief Justice of Utah. The friendly nature of the previous trial was entirely lacking, the prosecution becoming bitter toward the accused, and the accused in his turn refusing to furnish the evidence to prove a violation of the law. A conviction was obtained, however, and Reynolds received the severe sentence of $500 fine and two years in the penitentiary at hard labor. The Supreme Court of Utah confirmed the decree, and the case was appealed to the United States Supreme Court, which upheld the constitutionality of the law, to the surprise of the Church and many constitutional lawyers. It was a stunning blow to the Church and the forerunner of a period of intense persecution. The decision was not given, however, until January 6, 1879. In the meantime Brigham Young had died, and the quorum of the Twelve Apostles became the presiding authority of the Church. An attempt to have the trial of George Reynolds reopened, and a petition to have him pardoned, met with failure. He was committed to prison, June 16, 1879. In October, 1880, the first presidency was again organized with John Taylor as President of the Church. Upon his administration fell the brunt of the "anti-bigamy" campaign. Following the death of Brigham Young and especially after the decision of the Supreme Court on the Reynold's case, an effort was made by bitter enemies to bring about the end of polygamy and to crush the Church. Their agitation and false representations through the press resulted in the passage of new legislation aimed at the suppression of polygamous practices. In March, 1882, Congress passed the "Edmund's Bill," amending the "anti-bigamy law" of 1862. This measure added to the punishable offense of plural marriages, "polygamous living," which was defined as "unlawful cohabitation." The law deprived all who lived the polygamous relationship of the right to vote, or to hold public office. Further it abrogated the right of the traditional jury trial in that a mere belief in the doctrine of plural marriage was sufficient to bar an individual from jury service. This law further declared all registration and election offices vacant in the territory and provided for Federal appointees in their place. The Edmunds law virtually deprived Utah of those rights of self-government which had become a definite factor in the government of territories. The law was made retroactive in regard to the franchise. No individual who had ever lived the law of plural marriage was allowed to vote, regardless of whether he was then living that law or not. A campaign of bitter persecution began against those men who had entered into plural marriage before or after the passage of the law. This campaign lasted throughout the entire administration of President Taylor. Hundreds of homes were broken up, the fathers and husbands being sent to the penitentiary. Women were sent to prison for "contempt of court," because they refused to testify against their husbands. Following the severe sentence given Rudger Clawson in October, 1884, there developed what was termed the "segregation ruling." This was a ruling of the courts that separate indictments might be found against a man for every day he was found guilty of living with a plural wife. This ruling of the courts was responsible for driving the leaders of the Church into exile, for it amounted to an announcement that a man who practiced polygamy, or even attempted to provide for his several wives, might by an accumulation of separate charges, be sent to prison for life. This "segregation policy" was condemned by the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Lorenzo Snow, which came before it in February, 1887. In March of 1887, Congress passed a still more rigid measure to suppress polygamy, known as the "Edmunds-Tucker Law." This law provided for the disincorporation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which taught the doctrine, and of the Perpetual Emigration Fund Company. The property of these corporations was to escheat to the Federal Government to be used for the benefit of schools in the territory. Buildings and grounds used exclusively for religious services, and burial grounds, were alone exempted from the law. This infamous law was denounced in Congress by many notable non-Mormons, but the popular clamor against polygamy secured its passage. The United States Marshal Dye took charge of the real and personal property of the Church. In order to retain the use of the tithing offices, and historian's office, the Church was forced to pay the government an annual rental of $2,400. Four hundred fifty dollars a month was paid to retain the use of the Guardo house, and the use of the temple block was retained by paying a high rental. During this period the Church was under heavy financial stress. It could not borrow a dollar. Only the faithful payment of tithes enabled it to weather the storm. From hiding places, generally called the "underground," the exiled First Presidency conducted the affairs of the Church. John Taylor died in exile July 27, 1887, at Kaysville, Utah. After the death of John Taylor, the crusade against polygamy continued, but with considerable tolerance on the part of the officers. President Grover Cleveland pardoned a number of men who had been given extraordinarily severe sentences, among them Charles Livingston, Rudger Clawson and Joseph H. Evans. In Idaho and Arizona the feeling against polygamy became intense. In 1885, the Idaho Legislature passed a law which disfranchised all members of the Church which taught such a doctrine as this, deprived all Mormons of the right to vote or hold office, regardless of whether or not they practiced polygamy themselves. The constitutionality of the law was questioned. It was upheld by the United States Supreme Court in a decision of February 3, 1890. Such a bill was introduced in Congress for the Territory of Utah, called the "Stubble Bill," but even prominent non-Mormons of Utah opposed it, and it was defeated. In the midst of these trying difficulties, Wilford Woodruff, who had been sustained President of the Church, April 7, 1889, appealed to the Lord in prayer. In answer he received a revelation, suspending "plural marriage." The anti-polygamy laws had placed the members of the Church on the horns of a dilemma. They must disobey the laws of God or the laws of the land. The revelation brought them relief. On September 25, 1890, President Woodruff issued his famous "Manifesto" which declared an end to the contracting of plural marriages in the Church and called upon the members to obey the law of the land. In the October conference the "Manifesto" was sustained and thus became binding upon the Church. In that conference President Woodruff said: "I want to say to all Israel that the step which I have taken in issuing this manifesto has not been done without earnest prayer before the Lord. * * * I am not ignorant of the feelings that have been engendered through the course I have pursued. * * * The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as the President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the program. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that the Lord would move me out of my place." The results of the manifesto was a noticeable change in attitude toward the Church. President Harrison issued a proclamation of amnesty on January 4, 1893, to those who had entered into "polygamous marriages" prior to November 1, 1890. The restrictions against voters were removed, and in 1893 the personal property of the Church was returned to its rightful owners. Three years later, when Utah achieved Statehood, the real estate which had been confiscated was likewise returned to the Church.

Supplementary Readings

1. BH Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church, volume 2: 92-110; volume 5: 287-94; 295-301; 471-2; 472-4 (Notes 29, 30); 541-545 (Notes 7, 8); volume 6: 226, 228, 229. 2. Memoirs of John R. Young. 242-263 [comments and incidents about polygamy, and his relations with his four wives…]; 305-317 [Crusade]   1. John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations. Aids to Faith in a Modern Day 2nd edition (Bookcraft 1943) 2. John A. Widtsoe, Gospel Interpretations. Aids to Faith in a Modern Day. Being a Companion Volume to Evidences and Reconciliations (Bookcraft 1947) 3. John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations volume 3 (1951) 4. [John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations 3 Volumes. Arranged by G. Homer Durham Bookcraft (1960). This 3 in 1 was reprinted at least in 1976 [8th printing], 2009, and 2011. Probably other reprints as well.

John A. Widtsoe (1943)

John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations. Aids to Faith in a Modern Day 2nd edition (Bookcraft 1943)

https://archive.org/stream/improvementera4311unse#page/n33/mode/2up Improvement Era January 1940 Was the "Manifesto" Based On Revelation? [85-89; in 1960 3 in 1 volume: 103-6] The October, 1890, General Conference of the Church was history-making. On Monday, October 6, 1890, Wilford Woodruff, President of the Church, presented for the action of the people an "Official Declaration" discontinuing the practice of plural marriage. Upon the motion of Lorenzo Snow then the president of the Twelve Apostles, and by vote of the conference the official declaration "concerning plural marriage" became "authoritative and binding" and therefore the law and order of the Church. This official declaration has since been known, in common speech, as the "Manifesto." The practice of plural marriage had subjected the Church, from the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith to continuous opposition and severe persecution. Nevertheless, the Saints -- only about two percent of whom had practiced plural marriage, as reported by the Utah Commission -- continued to teach and defend the principle which had come to them through revelation. At length, acts of the Congress of the United States (1862, 1882, and 1887) made plural marriage an unlawful and punishable offense. The Church, believing these laws to be unconstitutional because they abrogated the right of religious freedom, sought protection from the courts of the land. During this period furious persecution followed those who had entered into this order of marriage. Under a righteous enforcement of the laws in question, many were fitted and given penitentiary sentences, the property of the Church has confiscated, and the cessation of many of the activities of the Church was threatened. At length, in May, 1890, the Supreme Court of the land, with three members dissenting, ruled that the acts prohibiting plural marriage and confiscating Church property were constitutional.

Now the Lord had expressly declared that His people should be obedient to any constitutional government under which they might live. (D. & C. 98:5, 6) Further, the revelations of the Lord declare that if such a government should prevent the practice of any command given to the Church, the people and the Church would be held guiltless. Verily, verily, I say unto you, that when I give a commandment to any of the sons of men to do a work unto my name, and those sons of men go with all their might and with all they have to perform that work, and cease not their diligence, and their enemies come upon them and hinder them from performing that work, behold, it behooveth me to require that work no more at the hands of those sons of men, but to accept of their offerings. (D. & C. 124:49)

After the Supreme Court had spoken, there was no further opportunity for appeal. All lawful means had been used. The action proposed by President Woodruff was therefore wholly in keeping with authoritative Church procedure.

Nevertheless, it must be kept in mind that this Church founded by revelation, is ever guided by revelation. It may be held with certainty that when the President of the Church presents a momentous matter, such as the "Manifesto," to the people it is by the spirit of revelation from God. It is not the product of man's thinking or desire. It must also be remembered that the power which has the right to command, also has the right and power to revoke. The principle of plural marriage was revealed through Joseph Smith, the Prophet, and the "Manifesto" came through Wilford Woodruff, who held the same keys of authority as were possessed by Joseph Smith.

With this in view, Yes, is the unhesitating answer to the question as to whether the "Manifesto" was based upon revelation.

Fortunately, however, there is direct evidence that the "Manifesto" was the product of revelation.

President Woodruff himself declared at the said conference that "to have taken a stand in anything which is not pleasing in the sight of God, or before the heavens, I would rather have gone out and been shot."

The Church had courageously supported what they believed to be a command of God. Any change would have to come from a revelation from God. President Woodruff had prayed about the matter, and had besought God repeatedly what to do. On September 24, 1890, "the spirit came upon him" and the "Manifesto" was the result. This was publicly stated at the time of the conference of October, 1890. In his journal of September 25, 1890, President Woodruff writes: . . . after praying to the Lord and feeling inspired I have issued the following declaration [the 'Manifesto'] which is sustained by my counselors and the Twelve Apostles."

On December 19, 1891, in a Church petition for general amnesty, signed by the Presidency and the whole Council of the Twelve, occurs the following statement:

According to our faith the head of the Church receives from time to time, revelations for the religious guidance of his people. In September, 1890, the present head of the Church, in anguish and prayer, cried to God for help for his flock, and received the permission to advise the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that the law commanding polygamy was henceforth suspended. Even with these statements, the nature of the "Manifesto" became a subject of discussion among the people. The question that captions this chapter was asked by many. When these controversies reached the ears of President Woodruff be proceeded to answer them in public. This was done in unmistakable words, notably on one occasion, on Sunday, November 1, 1891, in Logan, reported in the Deseret Weekly News, of November 7, 1891 (Vol. 43, pp. 659, 660)

The report of this sermon, by Elder Arthur Winter, was published in President Woodruff's lifetime, and therefore subject to his correction, if inaccurate.

In Logan he said among other things:

. . . This Church has never been a day except by revelation. And He will never leave it. It matters not who lives or who dies, or who is called to lead this Church, they have got to lead it by the inspiration of Almighty God. If they do not do it that way, they cannot do it at all. . . .

I do not want the Latter-day Saints to understand that the Lord is not with us, and that He is not giving revelation to us; for He is giving us revelation, and will give us revelation until this scene is wound up. I have had some revelations of late, and very important ones to me, and I will tell you what the Lord has said to me. Let me bring your minds to what is termed the Manifesto. The Lord has told me by revelation that there are many members of the Church throughout Zion who are sorely tried in their hearts because of that Manifesto. . . . The Lord showed me by vision and revelation exactly what would take place if we did not stop this practice. If we had not stopped it you would have had no use for . . . any of the men in this temple at Logan; for all ordinances would be stopped throughout the land of Zion. Confusion would reign throughout Israel, and many men would be made prisoners. This trouble would have come upon the whole Church, and we should have been compelled to stop the practice. Now, the question is, whether it should be stopped in this manner, or in the way the Lord has manifested to us, and leave our Prophets and Apostles and fathers free men, and the temples in the hands of the people, so that the dead may be redeemed. . . .

. . . The Lord . . . has told me exactly what to do, and what the result would be if we did not do it. . . . But I want to say this: I should have let all the temples go out of our hands; I should have gone to prison myself, and let every other man go there, had not the God of Heaven commanded me to do what I did do; and when the hour came that I was commanded to do that, it was clear to me. I went before the Lord, and I wrote what the Lord told me to write. . . .[complete sermon Collected Discourses 2. 284-9]

At the same meeting in Logan, President George Q. Cannon said:

We have striven to the utmost extent of our ability to convince this nation that this is a true principle of religion. I myself have testified before Presidents of the United States, before Cabinet officers, before the judges of the Supreme Court, before members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives, and before committees of Congress, that I knew that doctrine was from God. I told them I felt that if I had not obeyed it I would have been damned, because the Lord gave to me a direct command to obey that principle. . . .

Over a thousand have gone to prison to show our sincerity. A prominent official of this Territory said to a gentleman the other day: "They say to me that these people are not sincere." "Why," says he, "I know they are sincere. I went myself to the penitentiary and I labored with all the power I had to convince Lorenzo Snow that he should express his willingness to obey the law; but notwithstanding all my persuasions, and notwithstanding he had a year and a half sentence upon him, I could not move him. I believe he would have gone out and been shot rather than to have said he would get out of prison on such terms. . . ."

God gave the command and it required the command of God to cause us to change our attitude. President Woodruff holds the same authority that the man did through whom the revelation came to the Church. It required that same authority to say to us, "It is enough. God has accepted your sacrifice. He has looked down upon you and seen what you have passed through, and how determined you have been to keep His commandments, and now He says. It is enough." It is the same authority that gave us the principle. It is not the word of man. (Deseret Weekly News, November 21, 1891, Vol. 43, p. 689) [cf Coll Dis 2. 290-6]

Certainly, the "Manifesto" was based on revelation. It has the full effect of a commandment of God. Those who ignore it are breakers of the law of the Church. And, it must be kept in mind that, under divine procedure, whenever the Church of God is established on earth, no legitimate Priesthood power operates outside of the Church.

John A. Widtsoe (1943)

John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations. Aids to Faith in a Modern Day 2nd edition (Bookcraft 1943) https://archive.org/stream/improvementera4603unse#page/n33/mode/2up Improvement Era (March 1943): 161, 191. Why Did the Church Practice Plural Marriage In Earlier Days? 306-310 [1960 edition: 390-393] Plural marriage was practiced by between two and four percent of the Church membership from 1843 to 1890 (according to the Utah Commission appointed by Congress) . In the latter year the Supreme Court of the United States affirmed the constitutionality of the congressional laws against the practice. Obedience to constitutional law is a fundamental tenet of the Church. (D. & C. 98:5, 6) Therefore, after Wilford Woodruff had sought guidance from the Lord, the Church suspended the practice. However, it had been declared, long before, that the Church would cease the practice if constitutional laws against it were enacted. For example, "Would it be right for the Latter-day Saints to marry a plurality of wives in any of the states or territories, or nations, where such practices are prohibited by the laws of man? We answer `No, it would not be right'; for we are commanded to be subject to the powers that be . . . unless their laws are unrighteous." (Orson Pratt, The Seer, p. 111, June, 1853) Today any Church member who enters into plural marriage or who teaches its propriety in these days is promptly excommunicated. Plural marriage has been a subject of wide and frequent comment. Members of the Church unfamiliar with its history, and many non-members, have set up fallacious reasons for the origin of this system of marriage among the Latter-day Saints. The most common of these conjectures is that the Church, through plural marriage, sought to provide husbands for its large surplus of female members. The implied assumption in this theory, that there have been more female than male members in the Church, is not supported by existing evidence. On the contrary, there seem always to have been more males than females in the Church. Families -- father, mother, and children -- have most commonly joined the Church. Of course, many single women have become converts, but also many single men. The United States census records from 1850 to 1940, and all available Church records, uniformly show a preponderance of males in Utah, and in the Church. Indeed, the excess in Utah has usually been larger than for the whole United States, as would be expected in a pioneer state. The births within the Church obey the usual population law -- a slight excess of males. Orson Pratt, writing in 1853 from direct knowledge of Utah conditions, when the excess of females was supposedly the highest, declares against the opinion that females outnumbered the males in Utah. (The Seer, p. 110) The theory that plural marriage was a consequence of a surplus of female Church members fails from lack of evidence. Another theory holds that plural marriage resulted from licentiousness of the Church leaders. This is refuted by the evidence at hand. The founders and early leaders of the Church were reared under the strictly monogamic system of New England. Plural marriage seemed to them an unholy and repellent practice. Joseph Smith has told that he hesitated to enter the system until he was warned of his destruction if he did not obey. (Jenson, Historical Record 5:222) Brigham Young said that he felt, when the doctrine was revealed to him, that he would rather die than take plural wives. (Life Story of Brigham Young, Gates and Widtsoe, p. 242) Others of the early Church leaders to whom the principle was first taught have related their feeling of resistance to the practice. Undoubtedly the women felt much the same about the practice. However, numerous plural wives have testified to the high moral tone of their relationship with their husbands. Not only was every wife equal in property rights, but also treated with equal deference, and all children were educated and recognized equally. Mormon plural marriage bore no resemblance to the lewd life of the man to whom woman is but a subject for his lusts. Women were not forced into plural marriage. They entered it voluntarily, with open eyes. The men and women, with very few exceptions, who lived in plural marriage, were clean and high-minded. Their descendants, tens of thousands of whom are living, worthy citizens of the land, are proud of their heritage. The story of the Latter-day Saints, fully available, when read by honest men and women, decries the theory that plural marriage was a product of licentiousness or sensuality. There is a friendlier, but equally untenable view relative to the origin of plural marriage. It is contended that on the frontier, where the Church spent its earlier years, men were often unlettered, rough in talk and walk, unattractive to refined women. Female converts to the Church, coming into the pioneer wilderness, dreaded the possible life-long association with such men and the rearing of their children under the example and influence of an uncouth father. They would much prefer to share a finer type of man with another woman. To permit this, it is suggested that plural marriage was instituted. The ready answer is that the great majority of men who joined the Church were superior, spiritually inclined seekers after truth and all the better things of life. Only such men would be led to investigate the restored gospel and to face the sacrifices that membership in the Church would require. Under such conditions, since, as has been stated, there was no surplus of women in Mormon pioneer communities, there was no need of mating with the rough element, which admittedly existed outside of the Church. Another conjecture is that the people were few in number and that the Church, desiring greater numbers, permitted the practice so that a phenomenal increase in population could be attained. This is not defensible, since there was no surplus of women. The simple truth and the only acceptable explanation, is that the principle of plural marriage came as a revelation from the Lord to the Prophet Joseph Smith for the Church. It was one of many principles so communicated to the Prophet. It was not man-made. It was early submitted to several of his associates, and later, when safety permitted, to the Church as a whole. The members of the Church had personal testimonies of the divine calling of the Prophet Joseph Smith. They had individually accepted the gospel as restored through the Prophet. When he announced a doctrine as revelation coming from above, the people, being already convinced of the reality of Joseph's prophetic calling and power, accepted the new doctrine and attempted to put it into practice. Members of the Church who were permitted to take plural wives, did so because they believed that they were obeying a commandment of God. That faith gave them strength to meet the many problems arising from plurality, and to resist the encroachments of enemies upon their sacred right of freedom of religious belief and practice. We do not understand why the Lord commanded the practice of plural marriage. Some have suggested that it was a means of trying and refining the people through the persecution that followed. Certainly, one must have had faith in the divine origin of the Church to enter it. Another suggested explanation is based upon the doctrine of pre-existence. In the spirit world are countless numbers of spirits waiting for their descent into mortality, to secure earth bodies as a means of further progress. These unborn spirits desired the best possible parentage. Those assuming plural marriage almost invariably were the finest types in the community Only men who were most worthy in their lives were permitted to take plural wives; and usually only women of great faith and pure lives were willing to become members of a plural household. (It should be remembered that permission to enter the system was granted only by the President of the Church, and after careful examination of the candidate.) However, this is but another attempted explanation by man of a divine action. It may be mentioned that eugenic studies have shown the children of polygamous parents to be above the average, physically and mentally. And the percentage of happy plural households was higher than that of monogamous families. The principle of plural marriage came by revelation from the Lord. That is the reason why the Church practiced it. It ceased when the Lord so directed through the then living Prophet. The Church lives, moves, and has its being in revelation.

John A. Widtsoe (1947)

“Did Joseph Smith Introduce Plural Marriage”, John A. Widtsoe, Gospel Interpretations. Aids to Faith in a Modern Day. Being a Companion Volume to Evidences and Reconciliations (Bookcraft 1947): 147-152. [1960: 340-344] [cannot find it in online archives]

Moral purity is required of all Latter-day Saints. Men must be as clean as women, and both must be free from any violation of the moral law. That is the basis of all marriages performed under the authority of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Church solemnizes two kinds of marriages. First, those that unite husband or wife for the duration of mortal life. These marriages end with death. Second, those that continue the family relationship after death, in the hereafter. This is often known as eternal or celestial marriage. Faithful members of the Church seek to enjoy both of these kinds of marriages. They wish to be wedded for time and eternity, that is, to continue their associations forever. To be able to do this is one of the happiest privileges of Church membership. Such marriages, usually called sealings, must be performed in the temples, whenever they exist. Several approaches to eternal marriage may be made: Two living person may be sealed to each other for time and eternity. A living man may be sealed for eternity to a dead woman; or a living woman to a dead man. Two dead persons may be sealed to each other. It is also possible though the Church does not now permit it, to seal two living people for eternity only, with no association on earth. Further, under a divine command to the Prophet Joseph Smith, it was possible for one man to be sealed to more than one woman for time and for eternity. Thus came plural marriage among the Latter-day Saints. By another divine command, to Wilford Woodruff, a successor to Joseph Smith, this order of marriage was withdrawn in 1890. Since that time the Church has not sanctioned plural marriages. Anyone who enters into them now is married unlawfully, and is excommunicated from the Church. That Joseph Smith actually was the person who introduced plural marriage into the Church and that he practiced it himself are amply proved by existing facts. 1. The revelation known as section one hundred thirty-two in the Doctrine and Covenants, which contains the doctrine of celestial marriage and also the practice of plural marriage, was dictated to his scribe, William Clayton, by Joseph Smith on July 12, 1843, a year before the martyrdom of the Prophet. It had been received by the Prophet some years before, and taught to many, but was not reduced to writing until 1843. William Clayton lived as an honorable citizen, of the highest character until December 4, 1879, thirty-six years after the revelation was written. He never wavered in his simple declaration that the revelation as now found in the Doctrine and Covenants was dictated to him, sentence by sentence. He adds that "after the whole was written, Joseph asked me to read it through, slowly and carefully, which I did, and he pronounced it correct." (Andrew Jenson, Historical Record, Volume VI, pp. 225, 226) On the day the revelation was written, or the day after, Joseph C. Kingsbury was asked to make a copy of it. This copy was carefully compared with the original by Bishop Newell K. Whitney, and preserved by him. Elder Kingsbury, of unblemished character and reputation lived fifty-five years after this event (dying October 5, 1898), and always bore solemn testimony to the written origin of the revelation in 1843, through the lips of the Prophet. In further corroboration of the claim that the revelation came from the lips of the Prophet, are the statements of numerous men and women, then living, who either saw the revelation or heard it read. In fact, the document was read to the high council in Nauvoo. 2. A number of men, who in their lives showed themselves honest, have testified that they actually performed the ceremonies that united Joseph Smith to plural wives. Among these were Joseph B. Noble, Hyrum Smith, James Adams, Newell K. Whitney, Willard Richards, and others. Several of these men lived long after the Prophet's death and always declared that they officiated in marrying the Prophet to a plural wife, giving place, date, and the witnesses present. 3. Many of the women who were thus sealed to Joseph Smith lived long after his death. They declared that they lived with the Prophet as husband and wives. These women were of unblemished character, gentle and lovely in their lives who spoke with loving respect of their martyr husband. They substantiated in detail the statements of those who performed the ceremonies. 4. Many of the elders in Nauvoo entered into plural marriage, under the authority of Joseph Smith who was yet living, as certified to by the men and their wives. Among these were William Clayton, Orson Hyde, Hyrum Smith John Smith, Erastus Snow, Lyman Wight, James J. Strang, Gladden Bishop, William Smith, Heber C. Kimball, and Brigham Young. These men and their wives who survived the Prophet, made affidavits of their marriages in Joseph's day in answer to the charge by enemies of the Church that plural marriage was not instituted nor practiced, neither authorized by the Prophet. These men and women were good citizens, so well-known over such long periods of time that their concordant declarations cannot be gainsaid. 5. The Nauvoo Temple records, which are in the possession of the Church likewise furnish evidence that Joseph Smith practiced plural marriage. Before the completion of the temple, marriage sealings were usually performed in rooms in the home of the Prophet. When the temple was dedicated in 1846 for such ceremonies, the plural marriages of Joseph were given temple sanction, and where the marriages were for time only, they were often made to continue through eternity. This was done within a year and a half of the assassination of the Prophet. Many received plural wives in the Nauvoo Temple. It is utterly improbable, if not impossible, that such a new doctrine could have been conceived and carried out by the men who succeeded the Prophet. There would have been a serious resentment among those who entered the temple, if the teachings of the Prophet had been violated. Such criticism would have overflowed to the outside. 6. After the death of the Prophet, women applied for the privilege of being sealed to him for eternity. They felt no doubt that in the eternal ages they would then share the companionship of the Prophet. They wanted to enjoy eternity with the man whom they revered as one chosen of God to open the last dispensation of the gospel on earth. To these requests, assent was often given. Such action by women who lived in the days of the Prophet implies a belief in plural marriage. These women, who were not in any sense earthly wives of the Prophet, have been counted by uninformed or antagonistic writers as wives of the Prophet. Women no longer living, whether in Joseph's day or later have also been sealed to the Prophet for eternity. The request for such unions has usually come from relatives or friends who would have their loved one share eternity with the Prophet, rather than with anyone else. Unscrupulous and unreliable writers have even added such marriages to the list of Joseph's wives. 7. Another kind of celestial marriage seems to have been practiced in the early days of plural marriage. It has not been practiced since Nauvoo days, for it is under Church prohibition. Zealous women, married or unmarried, loving the cause of the restored gospel, considered their condition in the hereafter. Some of them asked that they might be sealed to the Prophet for eternity. They were not to be his wives on earth, in mortality, but only after death in the eternities. This came often to be spoken of as celestial marriage. Such marriages led to misunderstandings by those not of the Church, and unfamiliar with its doctrines. To them marriage meant only association on earth. Therefore any ceremony uniting a married woman, for example, to Joseph Smith for eternity seemed adulterous to such people. Yet in any day, in our day, there may be women who prefer to spend eternity with another than their husband on earth. Such cases, if any, and they must have been few in number, gave enemies of the Church occasion to fan the flaming hatred against the Latter-day Saints. The full truth was not told. Enemies made the most of the truth. They found it difficult to believe that the Church rests on truth and virtue. The literature and existing documents dealing with plural marriage in Nauvoo in the day of Joseph Smith are very numerous. Hundreds of affidavits on the subject are in the Church Historian's office in Salt Lake City. Most of the books and newspaper and magazine articles on the subject are found there also. (For a fairly condensed but complete discussion consult Andrew Jenson, Historical Record, Vol. VI, pp. 219-236; Joseph Fielding Smith, Blood Atonement and the Origin of Plural Marriage, pp. 67-94; Woman's Exponent, Vol. III and IV; The Deseret News, especially in 1886) [Andrew Jenson account https://archive.org/stream/historicalrecord06jens#page/218/mode/2up ] The careful study of all available information leads to but one conclusion. Joseph Smith received the revelation in question, and practiced plural marriage. The issue is not one of doctrine hut of history. No honest student can declare the host of witnesses, hundreds of them, from Nauvoo days, Mormon and non-Mormon of various residence, pursuits and temperaments to have united in lying about the matter. The evidence is confirmed by those who place the introduction of plural marriage on others, for they seek feeble, unworthy shelter in the statement that Joseph Smith did practice plural marriage, but later repented of it. (The Saints Herald, Vol. 1, pp. 9, 26, 27) That is throwing dust in the eyes of seekers after truth. The case is clear. Authentic history says that plural marriage originated with Joseph Smith the Prophet. And so it did. The apparent denials by Church leaders in Nauvoo days that the Church practiced plural marriage were correct. At that time the Church members as a whole had not heard the revelation, nor had they been given an opportunity to accept it. But many of the leaders knew of it and were polygamists. The chaotic conditions of the years immediately following the Prophet's death, delayed the formal presentation of the revelation. Soon after the Church was established in the Great Salt Lake region, at the conference in 1852, the doctrine of celestial and plural marriage was accepted by the Church as a whole. During the intervening years, however, it was taught and practiced.

Principles of the Gospel (for those in military service) (1943)

Principles of the Gospel [for service men and women]

A Brief Statement of Principles of the Gospel Based Largely Upon the Compendium (Richards-Little) with Excerpts From other Writings. Including also Church Chronology, Priesthood Ordinances, Selected Hymns (Published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1943)

“Chronology’ “Manifesto, prohibiting plural marriages, accepted by the Church”, October 6, 1890 (page 299)

Preston Nibley (1944)

Preston Nibley. Joseph Smith the Prophet (Deseret News Press 1944; 1946; 1947)

“On Wednesday, July 2th, 1843, Joseph dictated to his secretary, William Clayton, the revelation known as section 132 in the Doctrine and Covenants on ‘the eternity of the marriage covenant, including the plurality of wives.’ This revelation led to the practice of ‘plural marriage’ by the Mormon people until October Conference in 1890, when the members of the Church were advised by President Wilford Woodruff, ‘to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land.’ Certain descendants of the Prophet Joseph Smith have endeavored to maintain that he was not the author of the above named revelation and that he did not institute the practice of ‘plural marriage.’ Such a view is contrary to the facts which are well known to the historians of the Church; but we do not have space nor time to go into this matter here” (470)

Orson F. Whitney (1888, 1945, 1967)

Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball (1888 1945 1967: Chapter 46: 321-328)

[“Interesting experiences involving Joseph Smith, Heber C. Kimball, and Vilate Kimball, his wife, and their daughter, Helen Kimball, gathering around the Prophet’s revelation and teaching on plural marriage”]

Chapter 46

A startling innovation, a test designed to try, as never before, the faith and integrity of God's people now came upon them. Not in the shape of fire and sword, nor toilsome pilgrimage, nor pestilence, nor wealth, nor poverty. Ah! no; something far different from these, and far more difficult to bear.

A grand and glorious principle had been revealed, and for years had slumbered in the breast of God's Prophet, awaiting the time when, with safety to himself and the Church, it might be confided to the sacred keeping of a chosen few. That time had now come. An angel with a flaming sword descended from the courts of glory and, confronting the Prophet, commanded him in the name of the Lord to establish the principle so long concealed from the knowledge of the Saints and of the world—that of plural marriage.

Well knew the youthful Prophet the danger of his task. Well knew he the peril and penalty of disobedience. Fearing God, not man, he bowed to the inevitable, and laid his life—aye, was it not so?—upon the altar of duty and devotion.

Among those to whom Joseph confided this great secret, even before it was committed to writing, was his bosom friend, Heber C. Kimball. Well knowing the integrity of his heart, so many times tested and found true, he felt that he ran no risk in opening to Heber's eyes the treasured mysteries of his mighty soul.

But why careful, among so many friends, to select only a few as the recipients of such a favor? Would not the Saints have died to a man in defense of their Prophet—God's seer and revelator? Alas, none knew so well as Joseph the frailty of man, the inherent weakness and wickedness of the human heart.

"Many men," said he, "will say, 'I will never forsake you, but will stand by you at all times.' But the moment you teach them some of the mysteries of the kingdom of God that are retained in the heavens, and are to be revealed to the children of men when they are prepared for them, they will be the first to stone you and put you to death.

"It was this same principle that crucified the Lord Jesus Christ, and will cause the people to kill the prophets in this generation."

What! would even the Saints have so done? Did not some of those who were Saints then, so do?

Had not Joseph said many times—are not men now living who heard him say: "Would to God, brethren, I could tell you who I am! Would to God I could tell you what I know! But you would call it blasphemy, and there are men upon this stand who would want to take my life."

"If the Church," said he, "knew all the commandments, one-half they would reject through prejudice and ignorance."

No wonder, then, that he should choose his confidants, for their sakes no less than his own. For these also are Joseph's words:

"When God offers a blessing, or knowledge to a man, and he refuses to receive it, he will be damned."

Revelation is ever the iconoclast of tradition, and such is the bigotry of man, his natural hatred of the new and strange, as opposed to his personal interests or private views, that the very lives of those whose mission is to introduce and establish new doctrines, though designed as a blessing to humanity, are ever in danger from those whose traditions would thus be uprooted and destroyed.

Joseph was not a coward. It was he who said that a coward could not be saved in the kingdom of God. But neither was he lacking in caution, especially when warned of the Lord of the necessity for its exercise. Therefore, was he now revealing, to a chosen few, whom God had prepared to receive what he should tell them, one of the grand principles of the everlasting Gospel, "unlawful to be uttered" to the multitude, yet one day to be thundered from the house-tops in the ears of all living, with many other mighty truths locked in the treasure house of future time, of which eternity still holds the key.

Before he would trust even Heber with the full secret, however, he put him to a test which few men would have been able to bear.

It was no less than a requirement for him to surrender his wife, his beloved Vilate, and give her to Joseph in marriage!

The astounding revelation well-nigh paralyzed him. He could hardly believe he had heard aright. Yet Joseph was solemnly in earnest. His next impulse was to spurn the proposition, and perhaps at that terrible moment a vague suspicion of the Prophet's motive and the divinity of the revelation, shot like a poisoned arrow through his soul.

But only for a moment, if at all, was such a thought, such a suspicion entertained. He knew Joseph too well, as a man, a friend, a brother, a servant of God, to doubt his truth or the divine origin of the behest he had made. No, Joseph was God's Prophet, His mouthpiece and oracle, and so long as he was so, his words were as the words of the Eternal One to Heber C. Kimball. His heart-strings might be torn, his feelings crucified and sawn asunder, but so long as his faith in God and the Priesthood remained, heaven helping him, he would try and do as he was told. Such, now, was his superhuman resolve.

Three days he fasted and wept and prayed. Then, with a broken and a bleeding heart, but with soul selfmastered for the sacrifice, he led his darling wife to the Prophet's house and presented her to Joseph.

It was enough—the heavens accepted the sacrifice. The will for the deed was taken, and "accounted unto him for righteousness." Joseph wept at this proof of devotion, and embracing Heber, told him that was all that the Lord required. He had proved him, as a child of Abraham, that he would "do the works of Abraham," holding back nothing, but laying all upon the altar for God's glory.

The Prophet joined the hands of the heroic and devoted pair, and then and there, by virtue of the sealing power and authority of the Holy Priesthood, Heber and Vilate Kimball were made husband and wife for all eternity.

Heber's crucial test was in part over. Vilate's trial was yet to come. The principle of celestial marriage was now known to them, so far as their own eternal covenant was concerned, but the doctrine of plurality of wives which it involves, was yet to be revealed. How Heber and Vilate received and embraced this feature of the principle is thus tenderly told by their daughter Helen:

"My mother often told me that she could not doubt the plural order of marriage was of God, for the Lord had revealed it to her in answer to prayer.

"In Nauvoo, shortly after his return from England, my father, among others of his brethren, was taught the plural wife doctrine, and was told by Joseph, the Prophet, three times, to go and take a certain woman as his wife; but not till he commanded him in the name of the Lord did he obey. At the same time Joseph told him not to divulge this secret, not even to my mother, for fear that she would not receive it; for his life was in constant jeopardy, not only from outside influences and enemies, who were seeking some plea to take him back to Missouri, but from false brethren who had crept like snakes into his bosom and then betrayed him.

"My father realized the situation fully, and the love and reverence he bore for the Prophet were so great that he would sooner have laid down his life than have betrayed him. This was one of the greatest tests of his faith he had ever experienced. The thought of deceiving the kind and faithful wife of his youth, whom he loved with all his heart, and who with him had borne so patiently their separations, and all the trials and sacrifices they had been called to endure, was more than he felt able to bear.

"He realized not only the addition of trouble and perpiexity that such a step must bring upon him, but his sorrow and misery were increased by the thought of my mother hearing of it from some other source, which would no doubt separate them, and he shrank from the thought of such a thing, or of causing her any unhappiness. Finally he was so tried that he went to Joseph and told him how he felt—that he was fearful if he took such a step he could not stand, but would be overcome. The Prophet, full of sympathy for him, went and inquired of the Lord. His answer was, 'Tell him to go and do as he has been commanded, and if I see that there is any danger of his apostatizing, I will take him to myself.'

"The fact that he had to be commanded three times to do this thing shows that the trial must have been extra-ordinary, for he was a man who, from the first, had yielded implicit obedience to every requirement of the Prophet. 326"When first hearing the principle taught, believing that he would be called upon to enter into it, he had thought of two elderly ladies named Pitkin, great friends of my mother's who, he believed, would cause her little, if any, unhappiness. But the woman he was commanded to take was an English lady named Sarah Noon, nearer my mother's age, who came over with the company of Saints in the same ship in which father and Brother Brigham returned from Europe. She had been married and was the mother of two little girls, but left her husband on account of his drunken and dissolute habits. Father was told to take her as his wife and provide for her and her children, and he did so.

"My mother had noticed a change in his manner and appearance, and when she inquired the cause, he tried to evade her questions. At last he promised he would tell her after a while, if she would only wait. This trouble so worked upon his mind that his anxious and haggard looks betrayed him daily and hourly, and finally his misery became so unbearable that it was impossible to control his feelings. He became sick in body, but his mental wretchedness was too great to allow of his retiring, and he would walk the floor till nearly morning, and sometimes the agony of his mind was so terrible that he would wring his hands and weep like a child, and beseech the Lord to be merciful and reveal to her this principle, for he himself could not break his vow of secrecy.

"The anguish of their hearts was indescribable, and when she found it was useless to beseech him longer, she retired to her room and bowed before the Lord and poured out her soul in prayer to Him who hath said: 'If any lack wisdom let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not.' My father's heart was raised at the same time in supplication. While pleading as one would plead for life, the vision of her mind was opened, and, as darkness flees before the morning sun, so did her sorrow and the groveling things of earth vanish away.

"Before her was illustrated the order of celestial marriage, in all its beauty and glory, together with the great exaltation and honor it would confer upon her in that immortal and celestial sphere, if she would accept it and stand in her place by her husband's side. She also saw the woman he had taken to wife, and contemplated with joy the vast and boundless love and union which this order would bring about as well as the increase of her husband's kingdoms, and the power and glory extending throughout the eternities, worlds without end.

"With a countenance beaming with joy, for she was filled with the Spirit of God, she returned to my father, saying: 'Heber, what you kept from me the Lord has shown me.' She told me she never saw so happy a man as father was when she described the vision and told him she was satisfied and knew it was from God.

"She covenanted to stand by him and honor the principle, which covenant she faithfully kept, and though her trials were often heavy and grevious to bear, she knew that father was also being tried, and her integrity was unflinching to the end. She gave my father many wives, and they always found in my mother a faithful friend."

Helen also refers in her narrative to the sensation caused in Nauvoo, one Sabbath morning, prior to the return of the Twelve from England, by a sermon of the Prophet's on "the restoration of all things," in which it was hinted that the patriarchal or plural order of marriage, as practiced by the ancients, would some day again be established. The excitement created by the bare suggestion was such that Joseph deemed it wisdom, in the afternoon, to modify his statement by saying that possibly the Spirit had made the time seem nearer than it really was, when such things would be restored.

These facts serve to show something of the nature and extent of the sacrifice made by the Saints, in accepting this principle, and likewise the pure, lofty, religious motives actuating both men and women who could thus heroically embrace a doctrine against which—as is generally the case with the gospel's higher principles—their traditions and preconceived notions instinctively rebelled.

Soon after the revelation was given a golden link was forged whereby the houses of Heber and Joseph were indissolubly and forever joined. Helen Mar, the eldest daughter of Heber Chase and Vilate Murray Kimball, was given to the Prophet in the holy bonds of celestial marriage.

Chapter 47 (329 ff) Without doubt, the revelation of the great principle of plural marriage was a prime cause of the troubles which now arose, culminating in the Prophet's martyrdom and the exodus of the Church into the wilderness. True, the old causes remained, sectarian hatred and political jealousies, and these were the immediate reasons for such results. But back of all was the eternal warfare of truth and error, battling each for the world's supremacy, and the mailed hand of Omnipotence pushing the chosen people along the thorn-strewn, blood-sprinkled path of a glorious destiny.

Leah D. Widtsoe (1947)

Leah D. Widtsoe, Brigham Young. The Man of the Hour (Bookcraft 1947)

“The home life of this large family is of especial interest. Indeed it must have been unique where many mothers and children grew up in love and harmony that is seldom achieved in family relationships. And while the families did not always live together, yet the great majority f them lived in or near the Bee Hive and Lion Houses and on frequent occasions throughout the year the entire family was together. That the unusual life in this family with many mothers may be understood, let one of the members of that family (my own dear mother, Susa Young Gates, who was the first child born in the Lion House) tell the story of this interesting home [Gates, Life Story of Brigham Young (New York and London 1930)]:

Plurality of wives is entirely Biblical and was permitted by our Heavenly Father in this dispensation solely for the purpose of giving mortal tabernacles through a worthy lineage to spirits who are waiting on the Other Side for that glorious privilege and who cannot advance until they are possessed of mortal tabernacles. Thus parenthood becomes a solemn privilege and thus that order of marriage was held as a religious sacrament to all those who lived it in righteousness. If undertaken merely for unworthy physical reasons it would and did destroy those who practised it. (Gates, 28)

We were all as happy, mothers and children, as we could have been anywhere or under any other circumstances. Incredible as this sounds, the law of compensation, and the spirit or genius of the Lion House makes it true. Work and the mean pressure of grinding poverty was minimised and shared willingly by all. Above the whole of life bent an azure sky of divine conviction and conversion, lit by twinkling stars of human love, child to child, mother to mother, each conscious that God and our adored earthly father approved of us and shared our every joy and sorrow. His influence actually pervaded every corner of that Lion House and its vast surroundings. His love, we all knew, was as deep as that of our mothers, as understanding as was that of a bosom companion, and as surrounding as warmth and sunlight. On one occasion when he learned that one of his children was very ill and calling for him he stopped a council meeting declaring to the assembly that the meeting could wait, but his sick child could not. [Gates 339-40]

His beautiful courtesy was never more in evidence than when he approached any one of his wives whom he loved and who loved him. Especially was that so when in the company of Mother Young, whose health was rather poor and who had borne the heat and burden of the day for him and with him. To her he paid exquisite attention, quiet, composed but sincere. His attitude of consideration towards her was reflected in that of every other wife and child he had. [Gates 340]

The wives of Brigham Young lived together without outer friction or violent disagreement so far as any of us children knew. That they were all equally congenial could not be expected for they were not weaklings and all "had minds of their own." But their differences, if and when they existed, were their own affairs and were settled amongst themselves without disturbing in the slightest degree the serene tranquility of our family life. They were ladies, and lived their lives as such. The children were never aware of any quarrels and indeed they could not have been serious or the children must have been aware of them. [340-1]

The joy, the happiness of their lives came through the delightful upspringing growth in spiritual beauty, in the confidence and friendship of each other, and in the reverence and love manifested by their intelligent God-fearing husband, Brigham Young, who knew the difficult upward path they each were treading because of the strain which justice and mercy put upon him in the adjustments and readjustments necessary for himself. [Gates 341]

The world knows Brigham Young as a statesman and coloniser; but to his children he was an ideal father. Kind to a fault, tender, thoughtful, just and firm. He spoke but once, and none were so daring as to disobey. But that his memory is almost worshipped by all who bear his name is an eloquent tribute to his character. None of us feared him; all of us adored him. If the measure of a man's greatness is truly given by Carlyle, as bounded by the number of those who love him and who were loved by him; then few men are as great as was my father, Brigham Young. What his life and love meant to his family only their subsequent lives may testify. What he did as state-founder, commonwealth builder, only the pages of history may imperfectly recall. [Gates 356]

The foregoing statement of authenticated fact is in no sense an advocacy of present-day plural marriage. For to-day sees the Mormon Church as faithfully committed to the monogamic form of marriage, as it was to another form in past years. [33] (Widtsoe, 139-141)

John A. Widtsoe (1951)

John A. Widtsoe, Joseph Smith; Seeker after Truth, Prophet of God (Bookcraft 1951; Collector’s edition 1991; Second Collectors edition 1993; Deseret News Press 1952; 1957; 1993; Kindle 2009) Chapter 38 Plural Marriage: 234-242.

Moral purity is required of all Latter-day Saints. Men must be as clean as women, and both must be free from any violation of the moral law. That is the requirement of all marriages performed under the authority of the restored gospel in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The Church solemnizes two kinds of marriages: first, those that unite husband and wife for the duration of mortal life; second, those that continue the family relationship after death, in the hereafter. The latter are known as eternal or celestial sealings or marriages.

Faithful members of the Church hope to enjoy celestial marriage. They wish to be wedded for time and eternity, that is, to continue their wedded associations forever. To be able to do this is one of the happiest privileges of Church membership. Such marriages, properly called sealings, must be performed in the temples, whenever they exist.

Several approaches to eternal marriage may be made. Two living persons may be sealed to each other for time and eternity. A living man may be sealed for eternity to a dead woman or a living woman to a dead man. Two dead persons may be sealed to each other for eternity. It is also possible, though the Church does not now permit it, to seal two living persons for eternity only, with no association on earth.

Further, under a divine command to the Prophet Joseph Smith, it was possible for one man to be sealed to more than one woman for time and for eternity.[6] This sealing of husbands and wives is one of the important rituals of temple service. It is an earth ordinance since there is no marriage or giving in marriage in heaven.

The remarkable and soul-stirring doctrine of eternal or celestial marriage came as the result of a question presented to the Lord, as to how the early patriarch, Abraham, was justified in having more than one wife. In the revealed answer came also the principle of plural marriage among the Latter-day Saints. By another divine command to Wilford Woodruff, a successor to Joseph Smith, this order of marriage was withdrawn in 1890. Since that time the Church has not sanctioned plural marriages. Anyone who enters into it now is married unlawfully by persons who have no authority, and is excommunicated from the Church.

Nevertheless, almost the first question asked by strangers to the Church is about the practice of plural marriage in the early days of the Church. The young people of the Church likewise ask why the Lord authorized his Church to practise a principle obnoxious to many in the world.

In the absence of the revealed answer to the question, it may be suggested that the philosophy of the Church implies an answer.

Those who live faithfully to the Lord's commandments may receive the sealing blessings of the gospel. They are then wedded for time and for all eternity. They and their children are then the ones who in the eternal ages will constitute eternal families, and will increase in the eternal years toward the very likeness of God. It becomes therefore a priceless privilege to be born into such a family, sealed for eternal existence in the holy temples of God. The waiting spirits destined to come on earth, and understanding the vast meaning of the gospel, perhaps asked, perhaps pleaded to come through such a worthy lineage, even if the man, the coming father, had to assume the responsibility of a plural household. Perhaps in that manner came the practice on earth of plural marriage. Moreover, the practice is Biblical. It is in line with the fundamental gospel doctrine of eternal progression, and provides for the use of man's free agency. Thus the practice of plural marriage takes its place with the spiritual gifts of the gospel.

Looked upon in this light it becomes a glorious privilege of begetting bodies for the waiting spirits.

It is granted that this or any other explanation carries along with it many unanswerable questions. Certainly, however, plural marriage did not come because of economic or social reasons as some have suggested.

The principle and the practice came to the Prophet through revelation from the Lord. Its practice was always permissive. Plural wives could be taken only under severe restrictions and upon the recommendation of bishops, stake presidents, General Authorities, and finally by the President of the Church. The man who entered plural marriage must be fitted in every way for this holy privilege.

The divine purpose of plural marriage, since the Lord has not explained it, is but dimly understood by man.

That Joseph Smith actually was the person who introduced plural marriage into the Church and that he practised it himself are amply proved by existing facts.

The revelation known as D&C 132 in the Doctrine and Covenants, which contains the doctrine of celestial marriage and also the permission to practice plural marriage, was dictated to his scribe, William Clayton, by Joseph Smith on July 12, 1843, a year before the martyrdom of the Prophet. It had been received by the Prophet some years before and taught to many, but was not reduced to writing until 1843.[7]

The evidence seems clear that the revelation on plural marriage was received by the Prophet as early as 1831. A sermon delivered by Joseph F. Smith, then a counselor in the First Presidency, later the President of the Church, was reported as follows:

Here the speaker said, perhaps for the first time in public, that the women who entered into plural marriage with the Prophet Joseph Smith were shown to him and named to him as early as 1831, and some of them were given in marriage to him as early as that date, although it was not then prudent, under the circumstances, to make these facts public. And when the Lord showed those women to Joseph some of them were not even acquainted with the Church much less him. God knew their hearts, as is proved by the fact that they have been true and faithful through all the trying vicissitudes through which they have passed, and that too in the face of a frowning world; they have endured it all, and are today examples of womanhood and purity.[8]

It seems that Fannie Alger was one of Joseph's first plural wives. She lived many years after the Prophet's death and never denied her relationship to him.[9] There were other noble, pure women who gave like testimonies.

William Clayton lived as an honorable citizen of the highest character. On December 4, 1879, thirty-six years after the revelation was written he died. He never wavered in his simple declaration that the revelation as now found in the Doctrine and Covenants was dictated to him, sentence by sentence, by the Prophet. He adds that "after the whole was written, Joseph asked me to read it through, slowly and carefully, which I did, and he pronounced it correct."[10]

On the day the revelation was written, or the day after, Joseph C. Kingsbury was asked to make a copy of it. This copy was carefully compared with the original by Bishop Newel K. Whitney and preserved by him. Elder Kingsbury, of unblemished character and reputation, lived fifty-five years after this event (he died October 5, 1898), and always bore solemn testimony to the written origin of the revelation in 1843 through the lips of the Prophet. In further corroboration of the claim that the revelation came from the lips of the Prophet are the statements of numerous men and women, then living, who either saw the revelation or heard it read. In fact, the document was read to the high council and presidency of the stake of Nauvoo[11] on August 12, 1843, a month after it had been reduced to written form on July 12, 1843.[12] Many of the council members testified that the revelation was read at that time.[13]

In 1886, President Smith of the Reorganized Church attempted to secure from Leonard Soby, estranged from the Church, but a member in 1843 of the Nauvoo high council, a statement to the effect that the revelation was not read at the said high council meeting. This Soby refused to do, but volunteered to testify that the revelation was actually read at that meeting in his hearing.[14]

A number of men, who in their lives proved themselves honest, have testified that they actually performed the ceremonies that united Joseph Smith to plural wives. Among these were Joseph B. Noble, Hyrum Smith, James Adams, Newel K. Whitney, Willard Richards, and others.[15] Several of these men lived long after the Prophet's death and always declared that they officiated in marrying the Prophet to a plural wife, giving place, date, and the witnesses present.

Many of the women who were thus sealed to Joseph Smith lived long after his death. They declared that they lived with the Prophet as his wives.[16] These women were of unblemished character, gentle and lovely in their lives, who understood this to be a righteous principle as revealed to their Prophet-husband. They always spoke with loving respect of their martyr-husband and they substantiated in detail the statements of those who performed the ceremonies.

Many of the elders in Nauvoo entered into plural marriage under the authority of Joseph Smith while he was living, as certified to by the men and their wives. Among these were William Clayton, Orson Hyde, Hyrum Smith, John Smith, Erastus Snow, Lyman Wight, James J. Strang, Gladden Bishop, William Smith, Heber C. Kimball, and Brigham Young.[17] These men and their wives who survived the Prophet made affidavits of their marriages in Joseph's day in answer to the charge by enemies of the Church that plural marriage was not instituted nor practised, neither authorized by the Prophet. These men and women who assisted in the sealings or were sealed to plural wives, were good citizens, so well-known over such long periods of time that their concordant declarations cannot be gainsaid.

The Nauvoo Temple records, which are in the possession of the Church, likewise furnish evidence that Joseph Smith practised plural marriage. Before the completion of the temple, sealings were usually performed in dedicated rooms in the home of the Prophet. When the temple was dedicated in 1846 for such ceremonies, the plural marriages of Joseph were given temple sanction, and where the original marriages were for time only, they were often later performed as sealings made to continue through eternity.[18]

This was done within a year and a half of the assassination of the Prophet. Later, many more received plural wives in the Nauvoo Temple. It is utterly improbable, if not impossible, that such a new doctrine could have been conceived and carried out immediately by the men who succeeded the Prophet. There would have been a serious resentment among those who entered the temple if the teachings of the Prophet had been violated. Such criticism would have overflowed to the outside.

After the death of the Prophet, women applied for the privilege of being sealed to him for eternity. They felt no doubt that in the eternal ages they would share the companionship of the Prophet. They wanted to share eternity with the man whom they revered as one chosen of God to open the last dispensation of the gospel on earth. To these requests, assent was often given. Such action by women who lived in the days of the Prophet implies a belief in plural marriage. These women, who were not in any sense earthly wives of the Prophet, have been counted by uninformed or antagonistic writers as wives of the Prophet.[19]

Women no longer living, whether in Joseph's day or later, have also been sealed to the Prophet for eternity. The request for such unions has usually come from relatives or friends who would have their loved ones share eternity with the Prophet rather than with anyone else. Unscrupulous and unreliable writers have even added such marriages to the list of Joseph's wives.

Another kind of celestial marriage seems to have been practised in the early days of plural marriage. It has not been practised since Nauvoo days, for it is under Church prohibition. Zealous women, some of them married as well as unmarried, loving the cause of the restored gospel, considered their condition in the hereafter and asked that they might be sealed to the Prophet for eternity. They were not to be his wives on earth, in mortality, but only after death, in the eternities. Such marriages led to much misunderstanding by those not of the Church and unfamiliar with its doctrines and practices. To them marriage meant only association on earth. Therefore any ceremony uniting a married woman, for example, to Joseph Smith for eternity seemed adulterous to such people. Yet in any day, in our day, there may be women who prefer to spend eternity with another than their husband on earth.

Such cases, if any, and they must have been few in number, gave enemies of the Church occasion to fan the flaming hatred against the Latter-day Saints. The full truth was not told. Enemies made the most of untruth. They found it difficult to believe that the Church rests on truth and virtue.

The existing literature dealing with plural marriage in Nauvoo in the day of Joseph Smith is voluminous. Many affidavits on the subject are in the Church Historian's Office in Salt Lake City. Many of the books and newspaper and magazine articles on the subject are found there also.[20]

A clinching proof that the Prophet had taught plural marriage is found in his journal under date of October 5, 1843. He writes:

Gave instructions to try those persons who were preaching, teaching, or practicing, the doctrine of plurality of wives; for, according to the law, I hold the keys of this power in the last days; for there is never but one on earth at a time on whom the power and its keys are conferred; and I have constantly said no man shall have but one wife at a time, unless the Lord directs otherwise.[21]

The careful study of all available information leads to but one conclusion. Joseph Smith received the revelation in question and practised plural marriage. This issue is not one of doctrine but of history. No honest student can declare the host of witnesses, hundreds of them, from Nauvoo days, Mormon and non-Mormon of various residence, pursuit, and temperament to have united in lying about the matter. The evidence is confirmed by those who place the introduction of plural marriage on others, for they seek feeble, unworthy shelter in the statement that Joseph Smith did practise plural marriage but later repented of it.[22] That is throwing dust in the eyes of seekers after truth.

The case is clear. Authentic history says that plural marriage originated with Joseph Smith, the Prophet. So it did. The apparent denials by Church leaders in early Nauvoo days that the Church practised plural marriage were correct. At that time, the Church members as a whole had not heard the revelation nor had they been given an opportunity to accept it. But many of the leaders knew of it and were polygamists under Joseph's authority.

The chaotic conditions of the years immediately following the Prophet's death delayed the formal presentation of the revelation to the whole Church. That explains the statement of 1838 in answer to a question whether the Mormons believed in having more than one wife. The principle of plural marriage had not at that time been presented to the Church.[23] Soon after the Church was established in the Great Salt Lake region, at the conference in 1852, the doctrine of celestial and plural marriage was accepted by the Church as a whole. During the intervening years, however, it was taught and practised.

John A. Widtsoe (1961)

Discourses of Brigham Young. Second President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Selected and Arranged by John A. Widtsoe. Edition of 1961 (Deseret Book 1961. Second edition preface dated February 15, 1926; 1st ?1925 [Flake 10,060, 10,061]; additional editions published in 1941, 1954; 1961; 1976; 1992]

“This is the reason why the doctrine of plurality of wives was revealed, that the noble spirits which are waiting for tabernacles might be brought forth", ( 197) Journal of Discourses 4. 56

See however the following two articles, appearing in Improvement Era about fifteen months apart https://archive.org/stream/improvementera4407unse#page/n21/mode/2up “Letter from Brigham Young to his wife Mary Ann Angell”, Improvement Era 44. 7 (July 1941): 405, 422 Letter dated June 12, 1844

https://archive.org/stream/improvementera4509unse#page/n21/mode/2up Improvement Era 45. 9 (September 1942): “Excerpts from Letters of Brigham Young to his wife Harriet Cook”, 564- [three letters, all dated to 1846] [fourth wife; third plural wife, first wife having died shortly after joining church]

LeGrand Richards (1950)

LeGrand Richards, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder (Deseret Book 1950): 421-4 [other editions 1954 (sixth printing); 1958, 1963]

Persecution Because of Plural Marriage There may be some who feel that the reason for the unfavorable attitude of the world toward The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is due to its belief [422] in and practice of plural marriage in the early days of the Church. This, however, cannot be true, since Joseph Smith was subjected to persecutions from the time he was a boy of fourteen, when he related to some of the ministers, whom he regarded as his dearest friends, the vision he received when the Father and the Son appeared to him. From that time on he was ridiculed and reviled; he was imprisoned time and time again, without cause; he was tarred and feathered. He and those who believed his story were driven from Ohio, then from Missouri, and finally from Nauvoo, Illinois. All of these trials and persecutions took place before the revelation from the Lord on the subject of plural marriage was made known, even to the members of the Church. The Church was organized April 6, 1830; the Prophet Joseph Smith recorded the revelation received by him from the Lord on the subject of the eternity of the marriage covenant and the plurality of wives (D&C 132) at Nauvoo, Illinois, July 12, 1843, less than a year before his martyrdom on June 27, 1844. The attitude of the Church, therefore, toward this principle was scarcely known publicly until after the Saints were driven from Nauvoo, Illinois, and settled in the Rocky Mountains.

What will the people of the world say when all things are known in their true light and relationship to the Lord and his great work, and when they learn it was the Lord who taught the Prophet Joseph Smith this principle, and that it had a sacred and religious aspect and purpose, rather than having been adopted for the gratification of the lusts of men? Only a few of the members of the Church ever lived the principle of plural marriage—never over three percent. There must have been something of outstanding worth and conviction to hold 97 percent of the Church membership true to their [423] testimonies of the divinity of the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, even when they saw some of the members living this principle. It was apparent to them that those who practiced it were among the finest people in the community, and their children were in every way equal to the children of monogamous marriages. Members of the Church most familiar with the fruits of this principle were the least offended by its practice.

Under the inspired leadership of Wilford Woodruff, fourth president of the Church, "The Manifesto," dated September 24, 1890, was issued, advising Latter-day Saints "to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land." At a general conference of the Church, October 6, 1890, President Lorenzo Snow offered the following motion:

I move that, recognizing Wilford Woodruff as the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the only man on the earth at the present lime who holds the keys of the sealing ordinances, we consider him fully authorized by virtue of his position to issue the manifesto which has been read in our hearing and which is dated September 24th, 1890, and that as a Church in General Conference assembled, we accept his declaration concerning plural marriages as authoritative and binding. (The Deseret Weekly, October 11, 1890.)

The vote to sustain the motion was unanimous. The following year, President Woodruff, addressing the Saints in Logan, Utah, November 1, 1891, spoke of the vision and revelation which led him to issue the official declaration known as "The Manifesto":

The Lord showed me by vision and revelation exactly what would take place if we did not stop this practice. . . .

I know there are a good many men, and probably some leading men, in this Church who have been tried and felt as though President Woodruff had lost the Spirit of God [424] and was about to apostatize. Now, I want you to understand that he has not lost the Spirit, nor is he about to apostatize. The Lord is with him, and with this people. He has told me exactly what to do, and what the result would be if we did not do it. . . . I want to say this: I should have let all the temples go out of our hands; I should have gone to prison myself, and let every other man go there, had not the God of heaven commanded me to do what I did do; and when the hour came that I was commanded to do that, it was all clear to me. (The Deseret Weekly, November 14, 1891.)

Since the date of the Manifesto and its acceptance by the vote of the Saints, the Church has taken a definite stand against the practice of plural marriage, even excommunicating from membership those who are guilty of violating these instructions.

Joseph Fielding Smith (1956)

Doctrines of Salvation. Sermons and Writings of Joseph Fielding Smith. Compiled by Bruce R. McConkie. Volume III (Bookcraft 1956). 17th printing 1976

WHY ARTICLE ON MARRIAGE WAS DELETED. In the days of Nauvoo, the Lord gave Joseph Smith a revelation on marriage; that revelation appears under date of July 12, 1843. That is not the date that the revelation was given, but the date when the revelation was recorded.

That revelation on marriage was not placed in the Doctrine and Covenants until 1876. In the year 1876, the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants published in the west was published by David O. Calder of the Deseret News.

Orson Pratt, under the direction of the Presidency of the Church, had added to the body of revelations a great many others as we have them now in the Doctrine and Covenants, that were not in these earlier editions, and this section known as section 132, was among those so added. It would not have been consistent to have allowed that article on marriage to stay in when it contradicted the revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith, so they took it out, and very properly. That is a matter of history that we ought to be, familiar with.

FALSE TEACHINGS OF ARTICLE ON MARRIAGE. I want to read from this article on marriage to show you that it is not a revelation and could not be: "According to the custom of all civilized nations, marriage is regulated by laws and ceremonies; therefore, we believe that all marriages in this Church of Christ of Latter-day Saints should be solemnized in a public meeting or feast prepared for that purpose,"-(I do not believe that at all. We solemnize marriages in the temple of the Lord, at an altar. We do not have a crowd, and it is not a feast.)-"And that the solemnization should be performed by a presiding high priest, high priest, bishop, elder, or priest, not even prohibiting those persons who are desirous to get married, of being married by other authority."

I do not believe that. I believe every marriage in this Church should be performed by a high priest who is appointed by the one who holds the keys to perform that ceremony for time and eternity, at the altar in the house of the Lord, and it ought not to be performed anywhere else. Of course they had no temples and no understanding of the ceremonies for time and eternity in the year 1835, so we will have to excuse Oliver Cowdery for that. However this article is not the doctrine of the Church, and cannot be; you can see that.

"We believe that it is not right to prohibit members of this Church from marrying out of the Church, if it be their determination so to do; but such persons will be considered weak in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Of course we do not believe that we should prohibit people from marrying outside of the Church; we cannot go to that extent and prohibit them from doing it, but we should counsel against it, and teach against it, and try to persuade them not to do that sort of thing.

"Inasmuch as this Church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication and polygamy, we declare that we believe that one man should have one wife, and one woman but one husband, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again." [Joseph Smith, History of the Church, ed. B. H. Roberts 2. 246-7]

FIRST REVELATION OF PLURAL MARRIAGE. Of course there was no doctrine of plural marriage in the Church in 1835, but Orson Pratt said (I get this from my father who was his missionary companion) that the Lord did reveal to Joseph Smith, before 1835, and before 1834, and as early as 1832, the doctrine of plural marriage. The Prophet revealed that to some few of the brethren, and Orson Pratt was one of them. He said the Prophet told him that, but it was revealed as a law or principle that was not at that time to be revealed to the Church, or made public or practiced, but something that would yet come, that was future. I have the confidence that Orson Pratt spoke the truth.

So it would be inconsistent, I say, to keep that article in here, when the revelation known as section 132 came to the Prophet Joseph Smith and was added to the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants. (195-7) [part of an article first published Relief Society Magazine 21: 22-28]

LeGrand Richards (1961)

Legrand Richards, “Just to Illustrate” (Bookcraft 1961; 2nd printing, 1961)

[missionary in Holland 1905-1908]

“Millions of people accept the Bible as the word of God, but how many believe it and are willing to follow it? When we called at the home of one investigator [in Rotterdam], his friend was there. I asked him if he would be willing to read some of our literature. He agreed that he would….While they were investigating our message and attending our meetings, President Joseph F. Smith and Bishop Charles W. Nibley visited Rotterdam and spoke in our meeting. Upon their return to the United States, President Smith was arrested for the birth of his last child, from a plural wife. This was announced by the Associated Press and carried in the newspapers over the world. It also appeared in the Rotterdam Newspaper, where this investigator read it….. [The investigator asked if the report was true]. I answered, ‘Yes, I guess it is [true]’. He turned pale, and I reached in my pocket for my Bible…. When we had finished [dinner], I asked him to get his Bible and I discussed the principle of plural marriage from the Bible. Then I asked, ‘How much of your Bible do you believe, and how much are you willing to accept? If only a portion, what good is it as a guide anyway?’….

I heard a Missionary tell about being asked by an investigator about the principle of Polygamy, and his reply was that he was proud to be the product of polygamy on both his father’s and mother’s side. “ (32)

Ron W. Doxy (1965)

Roy W. Doxey, Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants , vol. 4 (Deseret Book 1965): 415-458.

Orson Pratt (Joseph F. Smith): Introduction [Elder Pratt, in company with President Joseph F. Smith, spoke at a meeting of the so-called Reorganized Church in 1878.] He explained the circumstances connected with the coming forth of the revelation on plural marriage. Refuted the statement and belief of those present that Brigham Young was the author of that revelation; showed that Joseph Smith the Prophet had not only commenced the practice himself, and taught it to others, before President Young and Twelve had returned from their mission in Europe, in 1841, but that Joseph actually received revelations upon that principle as early as 1831. (HC 5:xxxi, "Introduction," 1878.)

George A. Smith: Introduction In [July 12] 1843, the law on celestial marriage was written [at Nauvoo, Illinois] , but not published, and was known only to perhaps one or two hundred persons. It was written from the dictation of Joseph Smith, by Elder William Clayton, his private secretary, who is now in this city. [Salt Lake City, Utah.] This revelation was published in 1852, read to a general conference, and accepted as a portion of the faith of the Church. Elder Orson Pratt went to Washington and there published a work called the Seer, in which this revelation was printed, and a series of articles showing forth the law of God in relation to marriage. (JD, August 13, 1871, 14:213-14.)

Joseph F. Smith: 1 Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you my servant Joseph He [President Lorenzo Snow] lived to bear his testimony to the world that Joseph Smith, the Prophet, taught him the doctrine of celestial marriage. He lived to declare to the world that he knew positively that Joseph Smith did receive it by revelation and that that doctrine was true and of God. And if he had done no more than this he would have accomplished a great work, because he was a living witness, an eye-witness and an ear-witness, and he knew whereof he spoke. You and I will have to meet his testimony, and so will the people of the world; and when we go to give an account of that which we have heard and known in the world, we cannot dodge this, but will be held to an account for it, just as sure as the Lord lives and that President Snow did his duty. (CR, October 1902, p. 87.)

Joseph Fielding Smith: 4 I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant Each ordinance of the Gospel is a covenant which is new and everlasting. It is new and everlasting because it is divine truth and never grows old. . . . This was said of baptism, and the Lord calls it "a new and an everlasting covenant, even that which was from the beginning." (Sec. 22:1.) It is so with all the covenants and obligations in the Gospel which pertain to salvation and exaltation of man. . . . President Brigham Young has said, that "All Latter-day Saints enter the new and everlasting covenant when they enter the Church. . . ." (Discourses of Brigham Young, pp. 247-248.) There are some members of the Church who seem to think that the new and everlasting covenant is the covenant of celestial marriage, or marriage for eternity, but this is not so. Marriage for eternity is an everlasting covenant, and like the Lord said of baptism, we may say of marriage, it is a new as well as an everlasting covenant because it was from the beginning. It will be, if properly performed according to the law of the Lord, eternal. In the opening verses of Section 132, the Lord draws a distinction between a new and everlasting covenant and the new and everlasting covenant. While the definition is given in the negative form, it is plainly discernible that the new and everlasting covenant is the fulness of the Gospel. In the words of the Lord, [Sec. 132:7, quoted] . (CHMR, 1948, 2:157-58.)

Orson Pratt: 39

David's wives

There was a man in ancient times, named David, and because he was a man after God's own heart, the Lord chose him to be king over Israel. . . . But after Saul had been cut off and David had been elevated to the throne of Israel, the Lord also gave him all the wives of Saul his master. So says Nathan the Prophet, and he was sent to reprove David. [2 Sam. 12:1-14.] What had he done to need reproof? Why he had taken his neighbor's wife, a person he had no claim upon, and he not only committed adultery by thus taking the wife of another, but by his order her lawful husband was placed in front of the battle that he might be destroyed, and he was destroyed, hence, though he himself did not thrust a dagger to his heart, he became a murderer in the sight of heaven by having this man placed where his blood would be shed. [Ibid., 11:2-27.] After all his goodness, and after all the light and knowledge which God had given to this man, he committed these two great crimes. Nathan the Prophet was sent to reprove him. . . . With what kind of punishment was this man punished? Amongst them was that of suffering in the eternal worlds. How long? I cannot say exactly, but a good many centuries, a thousand years at least; this man, once righteous, now wicked, had to suffer the penalty of that crime. Did he repent? He did. Did he cry unto the Lord? He did. Was he sorely troubled? He was, and he was perhaps as repentant as any one could be; but the decree had gone forth, and hence that man had to endure the penalty of his crime. Peter, when referring to this subject on the day of Pentecost, as recorded in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, quotes from the Psalms of David, and says, "Thou hast not left my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption." [Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:27, 31.] It seems that after all, though David's repentance could not wipe away his sin, yet he had a hope, and he looked forward to the time when he would be liberated from hell; when that time arrived he would come forth and receive some kind of a glory, how much I do not know, for it is not revealed; but suffice it to say, he sinned against great light and knowledge and because of his sin he fell from a very high position. (JD, January 19, 1873, 15:316-17.)

Harold B. Lee: 50 The Lord gave to Moses, because of the "hardness of heart" among the Israelites, a code of laws called the "carnal commandments" or the Mosaic Law, and certain of the rights of the higher priesthood were withdrawn from among the people. Does anyone question the right of Moses as God's prophet to take away these rights if the Lord inspired him to do so? (D&C 84:24-26.) In the light of our experience today, I imagine that some in the day of Moses rebelled when their former rights were taken away. What happened to those who continued to attempt to exercise those rights without the authority of the Lord through Moses? The history is complete. They were cut off from among the people and were denied the blessings of the Lord. This same principle has been applied to the doctrine of plural marriage. In the days of Abraham, Jacob and David, by divine commandment through the Lord's mouthpiece, certain leaders were permitted to have more than one wife. At another period on this continent through his prophet, Jacob, son of Lehi, the Lord prohibited the practice of the principle and commanded the Nephites, "For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife and concubines he shall have none." (Jacob 2:27.) Still later in our own dispensation, the Lord through his prophet, Joseph Smith, in 1843 reestablished the practice of plurality of wives by a worthy few who were especially chosen. This practice was commanded as a principle of sacrifice which the Lord compared as similar to that he had commanded at the hands of Abraham, who was told to offer up his own son Isaac. (D&C 132:50.) (Youth and the Church, 1955, p. 109.)

Wilford Woodruff: 52 And let mine handmaid, Emma Smith Emma Smith, the widow of the Prophet, is said to have maintained to her dying moments that her husband had nothing to do with the patriarchal order of marriage, but that it was Brigham Young that got that up. I bear record before God, angels and men that Joseph Smith received that revelation, and I bear record that Emma Smith gave her husband in marriage to several women while he was living, some of whom are to-day living in this city, and some may be present in this congregation, and who, if called upon, would confirm my words. But lo and behold, we hear of publication after publication now-a-days, declaring that Joseph Smith had nothing to do with these things. Joseph Smith himself organized every endowment in our Church and revealed the same to the Church, and he lived to receive every key of the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods from the hands of the men who held them while in the flesh, and who hold them in eternity. (JD, May 14, 1882, 23:131.)

First Presidency (Heber J. Grant, Anthony W. Ivins, J. Reuben Clark, Jr.): Plural Marriage The First Presidency have recently received letters making inquiry concerning the position of the Church regarding the contracting of polygamous or plural marriages. It is evident from these letters, as well as from certain published material—some of it distributed during our last General Conference—that a secret and, according to reputation, an oath-bound organization of misguided individuals is seeking to lead the people to adopt adulterous relations under the guise of a pretended and false polygamous or plural marriage ceremony. While the position of the Church since 1893 has been repeatedly set forth, namely, that polygamous or plural marriages are not and cannot now be performed, yet in order that there may be no excuse for any Church member to be misled by the false representations or the corrupt, adulterous practices of the members of this secret, and (by reputation) oath-bound organization (of which the history of the Nephites and Lamanites show so many counterparts), it is deemed wise again to set out the position of the Church on this matter, at the same time tracing the outlines of the historical facts lying behind the Church's position, of which many young Church members may not be fully aware. . . . At this period in the history of the Church [1831-1832] the doctrine of the eternity of the marriage covenant and plural marriage had not been revealed. It is obvious that the Church at that time recognized the monogamic system of marriage which prevailed among Christian people of the world. [D&C 42:22-23; 49:15-17.] Twelve years after the foregoing revelations—that is, on July 12th, 1843—the revelation on the eternity of the marriage covenant, including plurality of wives, was announced, one year before the martyrdom of the Prophet and of the Patriarch of the Church. . . . Any ceremony pretending to bind man and woman together beyond the period of mortal life, which is not solemnized by one who has been commissioned and authorized by the man who holds the keys of authority to bind upon earth with a covenant which will be binding in heaven, is of no efficacy or force when people are out of the world. [Sec. 132:7.] There is but one person on the earth at a time upon whom the keys of this sealing ordinance are conferred. That man is the Presiding High Priest, the President of the Church. He is the bearer of this authority, which he may exercise personally or he may commission others to exercise it under his jurisdiction, for such time, long or short, up to the end of his life, as he may desire. It was after the revelation of July, 1843, which provided that under certain conditions, which are clearly defined, a man may receive more than one woman to be his wife, that plural marriage became a recognized doctrine of the Church. Under this system family ties were established and relationships entered into which were held sacred and binding, not alone by those who accepted and entered into the order of plural marriage, but by all those who had become members of the Church. While the practice of plural marriage was severely criticized by the ministers of various religious denominations and others, it was not until 1874 that the Congress of the United States took definite steps looking to the suppression of the practice. A member of the Church who had entered into the order of plural marriage was arrested, tried before a jury, found guilty, and sentenced to pay a fine of five hundred dollars, and be incarcerated for two years at hard labor. An appeal was taken to the Supreme Court of the Territory, which confirmed the decree of the lower court. The case was then carried to the Supreme Court of the United States, which ruled that the law prohibiting the practice of plural marriage was constitutional and enforceable. From August, 1877, the date of the death of President Brigham Young, until October, 1880, the Council of the Twelve, with John Taylor at their head, directed the affairs of the Church. At the October Conference, 1880, the First Presidency was reorganized, John Taylor was sustained as President, with George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith as his first and second counselors. During the entire period of the presidency of John Taylor, 1880 to 1887, relentless prosecution of men who had entered into the relationship of plural marriage was intensified. Under the provisions of the Edmunds-Tucker law The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was disincorporated, the Perpetual Emigration Fund company was dissolved, and all property belonging to the Church, with the exception of buildings used exclusively for religious worship, was escheated to the government. Hundreds of men who had contracted plural marriages were heavily fined, and imprisoned. All persons who could not subscribe to a test oath which was provided especially for those who practiced or believed in the practice of plural marriage, were disfranchised. It became obvious that no human power could prevent the disintegration of the Church, except upon a pledge by its members to obey the laws which had been enacted prohibiting the practice of polygamy. It was under these circumstances that Wilford Woodruff was sustained as President of the Church in April, 1889. September 24th, 1890, President Woodruff promulgated his official Declaration to the Church and to the people of the United States, commonly referred to as The Manifesto. On the day that The Manifesto was issued President Woodruff wrote in his journal: "I have arrived at a point in the history of my life as the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where I am under the necessity of acting for the temporal salvation of the Church, and after praying to the Lord, and feeling inspired, I have issued the following proclamation, which is sustained by my counselors and the Twelve Apostles." After reviewing the enactment of the law prohibiting the practice of plural marriage, and the effect of its enforcement, President Woodruff, in his declaration, says: "Inasmuch as laws have been enacted by Congress forbidding plural marriages, which laws have been pronounced constitutional by the court of last resort, I hereby declare my intention to submit to those laws, and to use my influence with the members of the Church over which I preside to have them do likewise. . . . And I now publicly declare that my advice to the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land." The Manifesto was signed by President Woodruff as President of the Church. After the vote approving the Manifesto had been recorded (October 6, 1890) President Woodruff, addressing the Conference congregation said: "I want to say to all Israel that the step which I have taken in issuing this Manifesto has not been done without earnest prayer before the Lord. I am not ignorant of the feelings that have been engendered through the course I have pursued, but I have done my duty." The Official Declaration by President Woodruff and its approval by the members of the Church in General Conference assembled, was accepted by the government as evidence that the practice of plural marriage would be discontinued. Prosecutions under the Edmunds-Tucker bill ceased and a spirit of neighborly good-will was established between members and non-members of the Church. In December, 1891, one year after the announcement of the Official Declaration of President Woodruff, a petition signed by the Presidency of the Church and Council of the Twelve was prepared and forwarded to the President of the United States, asking that amnesty be granted to all violators of the Federal law which prohibited the practice of plural marriage. This petition was also signed by Governor Arthur L. Thomas, Judge Charles S. Zane, and many other non-members of the Church. The petition was approved and the prayer of the signers granted by President Benjamin Harrison, on January 4th, 1893. The prayer of the petitioners was granted with the definite understanding that the practice of plural marriage was to be discontinued. September 6th, 1893, the Enabling Act, granting the people of Utah permission to meet in convention and frame a constitution under which Statehood might be granted, was presented by Joseph L. Rawlins, Representative in Congress, was passed by the Congress, and approved by the President. The Enabling Act provided (Section 3—First): "That perfect toleration of religious sentiment shall be secured, and that no inhabitant of said State shall ever be molested in person or property on account of his or her mode of religious worship: Provided, that polygamous or plural marriages are forever prohibited." The Convention met March 4th, 1895, an acceptable Constitution was framed, and by proclamation of President Grover Cleveland, Utah was admitted to the Union as a sovereign State. Article III, of the State Constitution provides as follows: "The following ordinance shall be irrevocable without the consent of the United States, and the people of this State." Religious Toleration—Polygamy Forbidden 4"First: Perfect toleration of religious sentiment is guaranteed. No inhabitant of this State shall ever be molested in person or property on account of his or her mode of religious worship, but polygamous or plural marriages are forever prohibited." March 28th, 1896, President Grover Cleveland, in response to a memorial which had been presented to and approved by Congress, restored to the Church the property which had been escheated to the Government in 1887. This petition was signed by Wilford Woodruff, George Q. Cannon, and Joseph F. Smith, who then constituted the Presidency of the Church, and by the Council of the Twelve. It was also endorsed by Arthur L. Thomas, Governor, and Charles S. Zane, Chief Justice of the Territory. From the foregoing it will be seen by any person of normal intelligence that it was the practice of polygamous or plural marriage which led up to the enactment of the Edmunds-Tucker law and later the enforcement of the law by representatives of the government. It is also obvious that every available means in defense of the contention that polygamous or plural marriage was a religious rite, and therefore could not be attached under the Constitution of the United States, had been exhausted; that thereafter the Church pledge itself, by its Presidency, by its members in General Conference assembled, and by its support of the State Constitution, to discontinue the practice of polygamous or plural marriage. Thus our people sacredly covenanted with the Government of the United States that they would obey the civil law. That the Lord requires from his people no more than that they shall exhaust all human means to obey the law is shown in the following quotations, which are from revelations given to the Church, the first on September 22-23, 1832, and the latter January 19, 1841, nine years later. Revelation, September 22-23, 1832 "A revelation of Jesus Christ unto his servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and six Elders, as they united their hearts and lifted their voices on high. "Yea, the word of the Lord concerning his Church, established in the last days for the restoration of his people, as he has spoken by the mouth of his prophets, and for the gathering of his saints to stand upon Mount Zion, which shall be the city of New Jerusalem. "Which city shall be built, beginning at the temple lot, which is appointed by the finger of the Lord, in the western boundaries of the State of Missouri, and dedicated by the hand of Joseph Smith, Jun., and others with whom the Lord was well pleased. "Verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation. "For verily this generation shall not all pass away until an house shall be built unto the Lord, and a cloud shall rest upon it which cloud shall be even the glory of the Lord, which shall fill the house." (D&C 84:1-5.) In this revelation the Lord definitely declares that a city and temple are to be built at Independence, Missouri, and that this was to be accomplished during the existing generation. Because of wicked persecutions the Church was obliged to leave the State of Missouri, which had been designated as the gathering place of the saints. Under orders signed by Lilburn W. Boggs, Governor of Missouri, twelve thousand members of the Church were compelled to abandon their homes and flee to the State of Illinois, where they established the city of Nauvoo. As stated above, on January 19th, 1841, a revelation was given to the Church at Nauvoo, from which the following was copied: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, that when I give a commandment to any of the sons of men to do a work unto my name, and those sons of men go with all their might and with all they have to perform that work, and cease not their diligence and their enemies come upon them and hinder them from performing that work, behold, it behooveth me to require that work no more at the hands of those sons of men, but to accept of their offerings. "And the iniquity and transgression of my holy laws and commandments I will visit upon the heads of those who hindered my work, unto the third and fourth generation, so long as they repent not, and hate me, saith the Lord God. "Therefore, for this cause have I accepted the offerings of those whom I commanded to build up a city and a house unto my name, in Jackson County, Missouri, and were hindered by their enemies, saith the Lord your God. . . . "And this I make an example unto you, for your consolation concerning all those who have been commanded to do a work, and have been hindered by the hands of their enemies, and by oppression, saith the Lord your God." (D&C 124:49-53.) At the October Conference of the Church (1890) following the publication of the Manifesto issued by President Woodruff, the document was read before the assembled congregation, after which Lorenzo Snow, at the time President of the Council of the Twelve, arose and made the following motion: "I move that, recognizing Wilford Woodruff as the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the only man on earth at the present time who holds the keys of the sealing ordinances, we consider min fully authorizzed, by virtue of his position, to issue the Manifesto which has been read in our hearing, and which is dated September 24th, 1890, and that as a Church in General Conference assembled, we accept his declaration concerning plural marriages as authoritative and binding." This motion was unanimously sustained. Notwithstanding this covenant, a few misguided members of the Church, some of whom had been signers of the petition praying for amnesty, and beneficiaries of its provisions, secretly associated themselves together for the avowed purpose of perpetuating the practices of polygamous or plural marriage in defiance of the pledge made to the government, of the terms of the Enabling Act, and of the provisions of the State Constitution to which they had sworn allegiance. Sworn to secrecy, these people promulgated their lawless propaganda, the result being that reports reached the Presidency indicating that certain professed members of the Church were teaching and in some instances entering into polygamous or plural marriage. At the General Conference of the Church, April, 1904, President Joseph F. Smith, who had succeeded President Lorenzo Snow as President of the Church, made the following statement to the assembled congregation: "Inasmuch as there are numerous reports in circulation that plural marriages have been entered into contrary to the official declaration of President Wilford Woodruff of September 24th, 1890, commonly called the Manifesto, which was issued by President Woodruff and adopted by the Church at its General Conference, October 6, 1890, which forbade any marriage violative of the law of the land, I, Joseph F. Smith, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, do hereby affirm and declare that no such marriages have been solemnized with the sanction, consent, or knowledge of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "And I hereby announce that all such marriages are prohibited, and if any officer or member of the Church shall assume to solemnize or enter into any such marriage he will be deemed in transgression against the Church, and will be liable to be dealt with according to the rules and regulations thereof, and excommunicated therefrom." The following resolution was presented to the congregation, and unanimously adopted: "Resolved, that we, the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in General Conference assembled, hereby approve and endorse the statement and declaration of President Joseph F. Smith, just made to this conference, concerning plural marriages, and will support the courts of the Church in the enforcement thereof." October 5th, 1910, Joseph F. Smith, Anthon H. Lund, and John Henry Smith, the First Presidency of the Church at the time, addressed a letter to the President of each of the Stakes of the Church, which contained the full text of the statement made by President Joseph F. Smith, at the General Conference, April, 1904. In this letter the Presidents of Stakes were definitely instructed to notify the members of the Church in the Stakes over which they presided, to report any case in which a person had entered into a pretended marriage violative of the civil law, or taught others to do so, and to take action against such persons and excommunicate them from the Church. Notwithstanding all that had been said and done upon this question it became necessary again to call attention of the Presidents of Stakes to it in 1914, as follows: "To Presidents of Stakes and Counselors, "Dear Brethren: "Having reason to believe that some members of the Church are secretly engaged advising and encouraging others to enter into unauthorized and unlawful marriages, we have deemed it advisable to call your attention to the communication we addressed to you on this subject on the 5th of October, 1910, a copy of which is herewith appended. "And believing, as we do, that these people are at the bottom of all the violations referred to in our communication, we direct your special attention to them, with a request that any information received by you from time to time relating to cases of this character, be followed up and investigated with a view to having this class of offenders placed on trial for their fellowship in the Church, as we regard them equally culpable with actual offenders. Please make the same request of your bishops. "Your brethren, JOSEPH F. SMITH, ANTON H. LUND CHARLES W. PENROSE, First Presidency." From the attitude of the Church, the statements of its authorized Priesthood, and the revealed will of the Lord, as shown in the revelations quoted, it is made plain that the discontinuance of polygamous or plural marriage was obligatory and justifiable. In the revelation given September 22-23, 1832, Jackson County, Missouri, was designated as the gathering place of the members of the Church, the spot where a city was to be established, and a temple built. This work was to be accomplished by the people of the present generation. Because of an order issued by its Governor in which the removal of the people from the State or their extermination was ordered, the Church was obliged to leave the State of Missouri. In the revelation given January 19th, 1841, nine years later, the Lord absolved the Church from responsibility, and told them that he required that work no more at their hands, and makes this an example in all things where the people are commanded to do a work, and are prevented by their enemies. This principle applies to plural marriage as it does to all other commandments. The members of the Church are reminded that the practice of polygamous or plural marriage is not the only law whose suspension has been authorized by the Lord and adopted by the people. The law of animal sacrifice, in force in ancient Israel, has been suspended, but the Prophet Joseph asserted it would be again restored, and such is the effect of the statement made by John the Baptist when restoring the Aaronic Priesthood. [Sec. 13.] The law of the United Order has likewise been suspended, to be reestablished in the due time of the Lord. [Sec. 105:34.] Other laws might be mentioned. . . . At President John Taylor's death, the keys of the sealing ordinances, with their powers and limitations, passed by regular devolution, in the way and manner prescribed by the Lord and in accordance with the custom of the Church, to President Wilford Woodruff. At the latter's death they similarly passed to President Lorenzo Snow; and upon his death, they similarly passed to President Joseph F. Smith; and at his death the same keys passed in the same way to President Heber J. Grant. There has been no change in the law of succession of the Priesthood and of the keys appertaining thereto, nor in the regular order of its descent. The keys of the sealing ordinances rest today solely in President Heber J. Grant, having so passed to him by the ordination prescribed by the Lord, at the hands of those having the authority to pass them, and whose authority has never been taken away by the Lord, nor suspended, nor interfered with by the Church. President Grant is the only man on the earth at this time who possesses these keys. He has never authorized any one to perform polygamous or plural marriages; he is not performing such marriages himself; he has not on his part violated nor is he violating the pledge he made to the Church, to the world, and to our government at the time of the Manifesto. Anyone making statements contrary to the foregoing is innocently or maliciously telling that which is not true. Anyone representing himself as authorized to perform such marriages is making a false representation. Any such ceremony performed by any person so making such representation is a false and mock ceremony. Those living as husband and wife under and pursuant to the ceremonies prescribed by President Smith or the ceremonies performed by any person whatsoever since that proscription, are living in adultery and are subject to the attaching penalties. We reaffirm as true today and as being true ever since it was made in 1904, the statement of President Smith which was endorsed by a General Conference of the Church "that no such marriages have been solemnized with the sanction, consent, or knowledge of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." Finally, we are in honor bound to the government and people of the United States, upon a consideration we have fully received—Statehood—to discontinue the practice of polygamous or plural marriage, and Latter-day Saints will not violate their plighted faith. The Church reaffirms its adherence to the declarations of Wilford Woodruff, Lorenzo Snow, and Joseph F. Smith. It adheres to the pledges made to the government of the United States, and to Constitutional law of the State of Utah. We confirm and renew the instructions given to Church officers by President Joseph F. Smith in 1904, in 1910, and in 1914, and direct the officers who administer the affairs of the Church diligently to investigate reported violations of the adopted rule, and if persons are found who have violated President Smith's ruling (adopted by the Church) or who are entering into or teaching, encouraging, or conspiring with others to enter into so-called polygamous or plural marriages, we instruct such officers to take action against such persons, and, finding them guilty, to excommunicate them from the Church in accord with the directions given by President Smith. We shall hold Church officers responsible for the proper performance of this duty. (DNCS, June 17, 1933, pp. 3-21.)

“Elder Martin Dalebout, who was President of a Branch in Amsterdam Holland, had contacted a group of people who had withdrawn from their church because they did not feel that their church had the truth…. As near as I can recall, we baptized over thirty form this group within about six weeks time. We told them all about tithing and polygamy—everything that we felt might make them want to leave us after baptism….” (71).

“While my companion was explaining the importance of our message, this man, having stood it as long as he could said, ‘What about polygamy?’ My companion[‘s reply was, ‘That is a good question—if you hadn’t asked us, we would have told you all about it, but, if you were building a house, a you would not attempt to put the roof on before you had laid the foundation, would you?

 He agreed to this.  Then my companion said, ‘Get your little memorandum book and write ‘polygamy’ in it so we will not overlook it.  We will promise to answer your question later.’  The minute he wrote ‘polygamy in his memorandum book it was just like signing a contract: ‘I hereby agree to let you keep coming to my home until you tell me all about polygamy’” (153).

Bruce R. McConkie (1966)

McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966)

PLURAL MARRIAGE (577-9) See ADULTERY, ARTICLE ON MARRIAGE, CELESTIAL MARRIAGE, CHASTITY, CONCUBINES, KEYS OF THE KINGDOM, MANIFESTO, PRIESTHOOD, SEALING POWER. According to the Lord's law of marriage, it is lawful that a man have only one wife at a time, unless by revelation the Lord commands plurality of wives in the new and everlasting covenant. (D. & C. 49:15-17.) Speaking of "the doctrine of plurality of wives," the Prophet said: "I hold the keys of this power in the last days; for there is never but one on earth at a time on whom the power and its keys are conferred; and I have constantly said no man shall have but one wife at a time, unless the Lord directs otherwise." (Teachings, p. 324.) The Lord, by the mouth of his Prophet Jacob, gave similar direction to the Nephites: "For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none; For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts. Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes. For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things." (Jacob 2:27-30.) From such fragmentary scriptural records as are now available, we learn that the Lord did command some of his ancient saints to practice plural marriage. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob — among others (D. & C. 132) — conformed to this ennobling and exalting principle; the whole history of ancient Israel was one in which plurality of wives was a divinely accepted and approved order of matrimony. Those who entered this order at the Lord's command, and who kept the laws and conditions appertaining to it, have gained for themselves eternal exaltation in the highest heaven of the celestial world. In the early days of this dispensation, as part of the promised restitution of all things, the Lord revealed the principle of plural marriage to the Prophet. Later the Prophet and leading brethren were commanded to enter into the practice, which they did in all virtue and purity of heart despite the consequent animosity and prejudices of worldly people. After Brigham Young led the saints to the Salt Lake Valley, plural marriage was openly taught and practiced until the year 1890. At that time conditions were such that the Lord by revelation withdrew the command to continue the practice, and President Wilford Woodruff issued the Manifesto directing that it cease. (Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, pp. 213-218.) Obviously the holy practice will commence again after the Second Coming of the Son of Man and the ushering in of the millennium. (Isa. 4.) Plural marriage is not essential to salvation or exaltation. Nephi and his people were denied the power to have more than one wife and yet they could gain every blessing in eternity that the Lord ever offered to any people. In our day, the Lord summarized by revelation the whole doctrine of exaltation and predicated it upon the marriage of one man to one woman. (D. & C. 132:1-28.) Thereafter he added the principles relative to plurality of wives with the express stipulation that any such marriages would be valid only if authorized by the President of the Church. (D. & C. 132:7, 29-66.) All who pretend or assume to engage in plural marriage in this day, when the one holding the keys has withdrawn the power by which they are performed, are guilty of gross wickedness.

ARTICLE ON MARRIAGE (52-3) See CELESTIAL MARRIAGE, DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS, MANIFESTO, PLURAL MARRIAGE, SCRIPTURE. As early as 1832 the Lord revealed to the Prophet the doctrine of celestial marriage, including also the principle of plurality of wives. This was before the restoration of the sealing keys, and so the Lord did not command either the practice of eternal marriage or the practice of the added order of plurality of wives at that time. Monogamy and civil marriage remained and were, at that time, the order of the Church. The revelation setting forth the higher law of temple marriage was not recorded; the doctrine was not taught except in private to some of the leading brethren of the Church; and it was not practiced. In 1835, in connection with the approval of the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants for publication, and in the absence of the Prophet, Oliver Cowdery wrote an article on marriage. The article, dealing with civil and monogamous marriage that is, with the then accepted marriage discipline of the Church — though not particularly a wise and proper presentation of the Church's views even on matters pertaining to civil marriage, was accepted by the people and approved for publication in the same book with the revelations. It was clearly understood by all concerned, however, that the article on marriage was not a revelation, that it contained Oliver Cowdery's views and not necessarily those of the Prophet, and that it was merely a statement of policy bearing on the system of civil marriage then prevailing in the Church and in the world. When the Prophet returned and learned of the action taken relative to the publication of the article on marriage, he was greatly troubled. However, knowing that up to that date the new and everlasting covenant of marriage had only been revealed in principle, that there was as yet no command to practice it, and that the power and keys had not been restored whereby marriages could be solemnized so they would endure for eternity, he let the action stand. The higher order was to come later. Then in 1836 Elijah came and restored the sealing power, the power to bind on earth and have it sealed eternally in the heavens. (D. & C. 110:13-16; 132:45-47.) At a still later date, temple endowments and other ordinances were revealed — all of which are a necessary prelude to the performance of an eternal marriage, a marriage between one man and one woman, or between one man and more than one women, as the case may be. After these things the practice of celestial marriage, including plurality of wives, was commanded. In 1843 the previously revealed doctrine of celestial marriage (including plurality of wives) was recorded for the first time; added truths were also stated in the revelation as finally recorded, as for instance a reference to the fact that the keys of sealing now had been given and also special instruction to Emma Smith relative to plural marriage. (D. & C. 132:45-47, 51-55.) There was, of course, no opportunity to add the revelation on marriage to a new edition of the Doctrine and Covenants until after the saints came west. Temple endowments, celestial marriage, and plural marriage had all been practiced in Nauvoo, but being higher, sacred ordinances their practice had not as yet been announced to the world. After the saints came west the restored order of marriage discipline was taught publicly, and in due course the revelation on marriage was published. Obviously it was good sense to delete from the Doctrine and Covenants the article on marriage because it had application to a lesser order, an order that prevailed before the full law had been restored. The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has tried to make it appear that the article on marriage was the only approved order of the Church and that the revelation on marriage was a spurious one authored by Brigham Young. The facts, of course, destroy their specious claims. An understanding of the historical sequences involved and of the doctrinal principles relative to the sealing power make the truth very clear. (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 3, pp. 195-198.)

CELESTIAL MARRIAGE (117-8) See ARTICLE ON MARRIAGE, CALLING AND ELECTION SURE, CELESTIAL KINGDOM, CHURCH OF THE FIRSTBORN, CIVIL MARRIAGE, DAUGHTERS OF GOD, ETERNAL LIFE, ETERNAL LIVES, EXALTATION, FULNESS OF THE FATHER, GODHOOD, JOINT-HEIRS WITH CHRIST, PLURAL MARRIAGE, SALVATION, SALVATION FOR THE DEAD, SEALING POWER, SONS OF GOD.

CONCUBINES (154-55) See CELESTIAL MARRIAGE, PLURAL MARRIAGE. In modern times a concubine is a woman who cohabits with a man without being his wife. But "from the beginning of creation," all down through the history of God's dealings with his people, including those with the house of Israel, concubines were legal wives married to their husbands in the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. (D. & C. 132:1, 37-39, 65.) Anciently they were considered to be secondary wives, that is, wives who did not have the same standing in the caste system then prevailing as did those wives who were not called concubines. There were no concubines connected with the practice of plural marriage in this dispensation, because the caste system which caused some wives to be so designated did not exist.

MANIFESTO (466) See CELESTIAL MARRIAGE, DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS, KEYS OF THE KINGDOM, PLURAL MARRIAGE. President Wilford Woodruff issued an official declaration on October 6, 1890, known as the Manifesto which withdrew from the saints the privilege of "contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land." (D. & C. pp. 256-257.) According to the Lord's law the priesthood cannot be used for any purpose without the authorization and approval of the one holding the keys of the kingdom of God on earth. Since these keys are vested in the President of the Church, no person can use that priesthood to seal a plural wife to another person without the approval of the President. (D. & C. 132:7; Teachings, p. 324.) This Manifesto is published in the Doctrine and Covenants. It is a revelation in the sense that the Lord both commanded President Woodruff to write it and told him what to write. It is not, however, the same type of revelation found in most of the sections of the Doctrine and Covenants in that the language, though inspired, is not that of the Lord speaking in the first person. "The Lord showed me by vision and revelation exactly what would take place if we did not stop this practice," President Woodruff said. "He has told me exactly what to do. . . . I saw exactly what would come to pass if there was not something done. I have had this spirit upon me for a long time. But I want to say this: I should have let all the temples go out of our hands; I should have gone to prison myself and let every other man go there, had not the God of heaven commanded me to do what I did do; and when the hour came that I was commanded to do that, it was all clear to me. I went before the Lord, and I wrote what the Lord told me to write." (Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, pp. 208-218.)

Bruce R. McConkie (1973)

Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, vol. 3 Bruce R. McConkie 1973 Deseret Book Company [tenth printing 1977]

I Timothy 3. 2 (81) 2. Husband of one wife] From the day of Adam to the present, and from this hour to the end of the peopling of the world, the law of God has been, is, and shall be that man should have one wife at a time and one wife only, except when God by revelation specifically directs otherwise. Thus in March of 1831, the Lord said to Joseph Smith: "It is lawful that he should have one wife, and they twain shall be one flesh, and all this that the earth might answer the end of its creation; And that it might be filled with the measure of man, according to his creation before the world was made." (D. & C. 49:16-17.) Thus also "the word of the Lord" in the day of Nephi was: "There shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none; For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts . . . For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things." (Jac. 2:27-30.) At proper and appointed times the Lord has, of course, given the revelation and issued the command directing certain persons to enter plural marriage in the new and everlasting covenant. (D. & C. 132.)

Hyrum Andrus (1973)

Hyrum Andrus, Doctrines of the Kingdom (Bookcraft 1973): 450-459.

Joseph B. Noble, whose wife was a sister to Louisa, testified that the latter was "a woman of irreproachable morality, who entered into the plural marriage relation on a deep-seated conviction that the doctrine was from God."

George Q. Cannon said: “When I had taken one wife, after I had returned from one of my missions, a spirit rested upon me that I could not resist; I felt that I should be damned if I refused or neglected to obey that law of God. It was not prompted by any improper feeling; it was not prompted by a feeling of lust, or a desire for women; but it was an overpowering anxiety to obey the commandments of God. . . . I have done that which I conscientiously believe to be the will of God; and I believe the majority of my brethren and sisters have done the same, have obeyed the principle in the same way.”(J.D. 13:278-279)

Hyrum Smith confided to a friend that he fought that "principle until the Lord showed him it was true." (Johnson to Gibbs, pg. 13)

Vilate Kimball wrote to her husband, Heber, in a letter from Nauvoo, Illinois: "Sister Pratt told me that she had been railing against these things until a few days past; she said the Lord had shown her that it was all right, and wants Parley to go ahead." ( Letter dated June 27, 1843, in Helen Mar Whitney, "Scenes and Incidents in Nauvoo," Woman's Exponent, (September 15, 1882), p. 58.)

In the month of April, 1843, I returned from my European mission. A few days after my arrival at Nauvoo, when at President Joseph Smith’s house, he said he wished to have some private talk with me, and requested me to walk out with him. It was toward evening. We walked a little distance and sat down on a large log that lay near the bank of the river. He there and then explained to me the doctrine of plurality of wives; he said that the Lord had revealed it unto him, and commanded him to have women sealed to him as wives; that he foresaw the trouble that would follow, and sought to turn away from the commandment; that an angel from heaven then appeared before him with a drawn sword, threatening him with destruction unless he went forward and obeyed the commandment. He further said that my sister Eliza R. Snow had been sealed to him as his wife for time and eternity. He told me that the Lord would open the way, and I should have women sealed to me as wives. This conversation was prolonged, I think one hour or more, m which he told me many important things. I solemnly declare before God and holy angels, and as I hope to come forth in the morning of the resurrection, that the above statement is true. Lorenzo Snow. Territory of Utah, Box Elder County. } ss. Personally came before me J. C. Wright, Clerk of the County and Probate Courts in and for the County and Territory aforesaid, Lorenzo Snow, and who being duly sworn deposeth and says that the foregoing statement by him subscribed is true of his own certain knowledge. Witness my hand and seal of Court, at my office in Brigham City, Box Elder County, Utah Territory, this 28th day of August, A. D. 1869. [Seal.] J. C. Wright, Clerk.

Lucy Walker Smith Kimball being first duly sworn, says: I was a plural wife of the Prophet Joseph Smith and was married for time and eternity in Nauvoo, State of Illinois, on the first day of May, 1843, by Elder William Clayton. The Prophet was then living with his first wife, Emma Smith, and I know that she gave her consent to the marriage of at least four women to her husband as plural wives, and she was well aware that he associated and cohabited with them as wives. The names of these women are E1iza and Emily Partridge, and Maria and Sarah Lawrence, all of whom knew that I too was his wife. When the Prophet Joseph Smith mentioned the principle of plural marriage to me I felt indignant, and so expressed myself to him, because my feelings and education were averse to anything of that nature. But he assured me that this doctrine had been revealed to him of the Lord, and that I was entitled to receive a testimony of its divine origin for myself. He counseled me to pray to the Lord, which I did; and thereupon received from Him a powerful and irresistible testimony of the truthfulness and divinity of plural marriage, which testimony has abided with me ever since. On the 8th day of February, 1845, I was married for time to President Heber C. Kimball, and bore to him nine children. And in this connection allow me to say to his everlasting credit that during the whole of my married life with him he never failed to regard me as the wife for eternity of his devoted friend, the Prophet Joseph Smith. Lucy Walker Smith Kimball. Subscribed and sworn to before me, this 17th day of December, 1902. [Seal.] James Jack, Notary Public.

George M. McCune (1974)

George M. McCune. The Blessings of Temple Marriage in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Hawkes Publishing, 1974; 1980)

“Some of these [apostate] groups advocated the doctrine of polygamy which was terminated as a practiced principle by the Lord through his Prophet Wilford Woodruff in 1890” (49)

“Polygamy among the Latter-day Saints was abolished as a practice in 1890” (159).

Dean C. Jessee (1974)

Dean C. Jessee, Letters of Brigham Young to His Sons (Deseret Book 1974)

Appendix B. Brigham Young’s Family Lists 16 wives by whom he had children (357-8)

Francis M. Gibbons (1977)

Francis M. Gibbons. Joseph Smith. Martyr. Prophet of God (Deseret Book 1977): 285-9; 302-10. [additional editions 2009;

Chapter 28: The Twelve Return: New Directions and Problems

“In April 1841 the Prophet had married his first plural wife! This step was not taken precipitously nor was it taken in ignorance of the consequences. He was intelligent enough and wise enough in the ways of the world to know that while a large segment of the public might tolerate adultery and fornication, which had been part of human conduct for so long, they would be incensed at the thought of a man having more than one wife, merely because the practice was novel and strange….It was for these reasons, and others equally compelling, that he had suppressed a revelation he received as early as 1831 (HC 5. Xxix). Like many other revelations he received, the one on the eternity of the marriage covenant and the plurality of wives came because of an earnest question he put to the Lord in prayer. While he and Sidney Rigdon were engaged in revising the Bible at Kirtland, Ohio, in the early 1830s, Joseph had begun to wonder about the propriety of the ancient patriarchs having more than one wife…. The revelation he received was not reduced to writing until July 12, 1843, almost twelve years later. The circumstances under which it was recorded on that date are described by William Clayton, who took it in shorthand as the Prophet dictated…. In the discussion that followed, Hyrum persuaded Joseph to reduce the revelation to writing….[HC 4. Xxxii-xxx8iii] …. So widespread were the rumors by 1835 that at a special conference held in August, which Joseph did not attend, the following statement was presented by W. W. Phelps and accepted by the conference: ‘Inasmuch as this Church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication and polygamy, we declare that we believe that one man should have one wife, and one woman but one husband, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again’ [HC 2. 247] Heber C. Kimball was among the first of the Twelve whom Joseph taught the principles of the eternity of the marriage covenant and the plurality of wives…. [John Taylor, BHR The Life of John Taylor, p. 100 ff.]

[302-10 deal with Emma’s reaction to polygamy]

Edward L. Kimball (1977)

Edward L. Kimball, Andrew E. Kimball, Jr. Spencer W. Kimball. Twelfth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Bookcraft (1977; 14th printing 1979)

“In the summer of 1847 Heber [C. Kimball] was one of an advance company which scouted a trail to the Salt Lake Valley…. Heber left Nauvoo with about twenty of his wives. Two decades later at the funeral of his first, Vilate, he would point at her coffin and say, ‘There lies a woman who has given me forty-four wives.’ She had consented after a personal manifestation persuaded her that the principle of plural marriage had divine sanction. The pressure of this great family bore down on him so heavily that he would often say that plural marriage, with its multiplied cares and perplexities, had cost him ‘bushels of tears.’

Two of his wives were sisters he married in Nauvoo…. Two months after Joseph’s assassination in 1844 the older sister, Ann Alice [Gheen] a delicate intensely spiritual woman, became Heber’s seventh wife…. There in [Salt Lake City] in 1858 Ann Alice bore twins. One of them was a boy, Heber’s thirty-fifth son… Andrew. (11)

“Through the 1880s the Church practice of plural marriage brought mounting federal persecution. The issue became critical during Andrew’s mission in Indian Territory. President John Taylor wrote him that the country was ‘quickly becoming what the prophets of modern times have declared it would become, a nation ruled by mobs.’ He regarded those attacking the Church’s plural marriage system as warring against God. In 1885 nearly all of the Church leaders went ‘underground’ to escape federal prosecution. President Taylor died in 1887. Shortly thereafter the Edmunds-Tucker Act was used to seize all the Church’s property in a direct effort to destroy the temporal power of the Church. Without property, enmeshed in litigation, bereft of much of its leadership, the Church wallowed in heavy seas.

With Mormon polygamists disenfranchised by court order, the anti-Mormon element was close to ruling Utah government. In this chaos Andrew saw his duty in political work. He won the post of election judge in 1889, signing a certificate that he did not aid or abet polygamy, nor associate with ‘polygamously acting persons.’ As mission president he had continual contact with polygamous Church leaders, but he did not have close personal associations with them. He did not himself have plural wives, but he did with Olive’s consent seriously consider taking other wives. The subject was an open matter between them.” (18)

“At October Conference 1890 President Woodruff’s Manifesto received approval. The Manifesto marked the end of open plural marriage in the United States, but ‘the Principle’ was considered by many to be no less binding than before. Mexico and Canada offered haven for men and women willing to make such sacrifice. Many prominent Church leaders had families outside the United States. Andrew consulted his brother-in-law, Joseph F. Smith, and received the advice that he should give up the idea of plural marriage, for its time had passed. For both Andrew and Olive the willingness to obey the Principle would have to serve for the deed” (18)

Richard O. Cowan (1978)

Doctrine and Covenants, Our Modern Scripture Richard O. Cowan BYU 1978 1984 Deseret Book Company [Gospelink CD and online]

D&C 132 and Celestial Marriage (199-202) The teachings in this revelation were received as early as the fall of 1831, when Joseph Smith was preparing his inspired revision of the Bible. He had asked if the ancient patriarchs committed adultery by having more than one wife (see verses 1 and 41). The superscription's statement that this revelation was "recorded" rather than "given" on July 12, 1843, suggests that it was received at some earlier time. Over the years, most nonmembers have thought that the Latter-day Saint doctrine of celestial marriage meant plural marriage. This revelation, however, teaches that celestial marriage means eternal marriage.

Celestial or Eternal Marriage (199-201)

Plural Marriage (201-2)

Polygamy vs. Adultery. If adultery be defined as illicit relationships (verses 41-3), then plural marriages cannot be adultery because the husband receives his wives by recognized authority (see verses 61-62). It was in this light that the Lord justified the ancient patriarchs in their plural marriage relationships. For example, the Lord said that he had given to David and Solomon their many wives and concubines and that they sinned only when they took that which was not given them by the Lord (See verse 38).

Some have questioned this last passage about David and Solomon in the light of Book of Mormon teachings. According to Jacob, chapter 2, the Nephites were excusing themselves in immorality because they did not fully understand the scriptural accounts of David’s and Solomon’s having many wives and concubines—considered an abomination before the Lord (see Jacob 2. 23-24; also I Kings 1. 1-3) These two verses should be read as conveying one thought, because both composed a single sentence in the earliest edition of the Book of Mormon, before it was divided into verses. In this light, the abomination could refer either to the people’s committing whoredoms or to David’s and Solomon’s many wives and concubines. D&C 132. 38 eliminates the latter alternative, and Jacob specifically identifies whoredoms as the abomination (See Jacob 2. 28). There can be no doubt but that the Nephites were commanded to live in monogamy (verse 27); nevertheless, the Lord suggested the possibility that this commandment might be changed at some future time (see Jacob 2. 30).

[202] Purposes of Polygamy. The faithful Latter-day Saints who entered this ‘difficult’ marriage relationship did so because of their faith that it was a divinely appointed institution. The Lord revealed it perhaps for many of the same reasons which led him to give the law of consecration—it was an essential part of the restoration of all things (verse 45) and a preparation for possible things to come. The Lord further explained that he instituted plural marriage so that his people could ‘multiply and replenish the earth…. That they may bear the souls of men’ (verse 63). (For a consideration of the subsequent history of plural marriage in the Church, see the discuyssoin of the Official Declaration, p. 207)” (202)

Official Declaration 1 or "Manifesto" (207, 209-210; Photo of Wilford Woodruff, 208) Joseph Smith first received revelation concerning the principle of plural marriage during the 1830s (see the discussion of plural marriage under D&C 132 herein) but was not permitted to teach it at that time. It was not until 1841, after the Saints had settled in Nauvoo, that this principle was taught and practiced secretly by the Church. In 1852 the doctrine was announced publicly for the first time.

It is impossible to state exactly how many were involved in the practice of plural marriage. Reliable estimates vary from 2 to 3 percent if only married men are counted, or about 10 to 15 percent if men, women, and children are included. Church leaders enforced strict standards in connection with authorizing plural marriages. Even though there were some abuses which attracted publicity, most plural families enjoyed rich spiritual blessings and a variety of other advantages if they were willing to put forth the requisite effort to live in this system of marriage. Congress passed the first anti-bigamy law in 1862, but concern over the Civil War and Reconstruction delayed enforcement. In 1882 the Edmunds Law made it a crime to marry a plural wife (new plural marriage) or to live with one (polygamist cohabitation). The decade of the 1880s was a period of very bitter anti-Mormon agitation, resulting in the passage of the Edmunds-Tucker Law in 1887 under which Church property was confiscated and many Latter-day Saints were prevented from voting and holding office. By May 1890 the Supreme Court had upheld the Constitutionality of this law, and members of Congress were consid