Secrecy & Denials

Joseph Smith & Nauvoo Polygamy Secrecy

The secrecy of the marriages and the private and public denials by Joseph Smith are not congruent with honest behavior. 

CES Letter, Page 57


Now, does the fact that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy and polyandry while denying and lying to Emma, the Saints, and the world over the course of 10+ years of his life prove that he was a false prophet? That the Church is false? No, it doesn’t.

What it does prove, however, is that Joseph Smith’s pattern of behavior or modus operandi for a period of at least 10 years of his adult life was to keep secrets, to be deceptive, and to be dishonest – both privately and publicly.

It’s when you take this snapshot of Joseph’s character and start looking into the Book of Abraham, the Kinderhook Plates, the Book of Mormon, the multiple First Vision accounts, Priesthood Restoration, and so on that you begin to see a very disturbing pattern and picture.

CES Letter, Pages 58-59

Claims in The CES Letter that a “pattern of behavior or modus operandi for a period of at least 10 years of his adult life was to keep secrets, be deceptive, and be dishonest –both privately and publicly” is inaccurate and is based upon assumptions, not documentation.

Joseph Smith had been instructed in 1830 to not give gospel meat to those who were not ready for it (D&C 19:22). Secrecy was involved when introducing plural marriage because those who rejected it might be eternally condemned (see D&C 132:52, 54, 64). Timing and presentation were important because it could be so easily misunderstood.

Joseph Smith expected the obedient would eventually understand and comply. He told Lucy Walker: “Although I cannot, under existing circumstances, acknowledge you as my wife, the time is near when we will go beyond the Rocky Mountains and then you will be acknowledged and honored as my wife." He also said, "This principle will yet be believed in and practiced by the righteous.” (Deposition, Temple Lot transcript, respondent’s testimony (part 3), page 467, questions 432, 435, 437, 446.)

The temple endowment was similarly introduced cautiously with secrecy, but accusations Joseph was deceptive in doing so have not been common. Secrecy helped Joseph discern who was spiritually prepared to receive higher teachings and more lofty commandments. Joseph’s pre-Nauvoo reputation did not include accusations of libertinism or being a womanizer. Click here.