Did Joseph Practice Sexual Polyandry?

Polyandry: Of those 34 women, 11 of them were married women of other living men.


CES Letter, Page 52

Sexual Polyandry - Lack of Evidence For

Critics provide half-truths to create the appearance that Joseph Smith practiced sexual polyandry. Looking at all available evidence, he did not practice it and would not have permitted others to do so.

Available evidence supports that most of Joseph’s sealings to legally married wives were non-sexual eternity-only sealings. Lucy Walker, who became a plural wife of Joseph Smith on May 1, 1843, recalled his counsel: “A woman would have her choice, this was a privilege that could not be denied her.” Perhaps three of the sealings were time-and-eternity to women who were no longer experiencing conjugal relations with their legal husbands in the equivalence of a Church divorce. 

The new and everlasting covenant of marriage causes all “old covenants … to be done away” (D&C 22:1), so a woman with a legal marriage and an eternal sealing would not thereafter have two genuine husbands in the eyes of God. The sealing would supersede the civil union and constitute the only valid marital vow.

Polyandry is more controversial than a plurality of wives, yet none of the “polyandrous” wives complained. Their legal husbands left no grievances against the Prophet. Officiators and witnesses made no protest. Even apostates in Nauvoo did not exploit these relationships in their anti-Mormon literature. It appears no one mentioned it as a possibility until the anti-Mormon claims were voice in the 1850s.

Dan Vogel acknowledged: “There is no solid evidence of polyandrous sexuality in any of Joseph Smith’s plural marriages.” Also, Mike Quinn agreed that there is no unambiguous evidence supporting it (see endnote 267 on page 118).Chart-polyandryVSpolygyny1

Celestial marriage requires everyone to be sealed to a spouse in order to be eligible for exaltation. Non-sexual eternity-only sealings facilitated this in Joseph Smith’s day but they are not permitted today.

Michael Quinn explained: “Despite my decades-long expectation for those specific words to be in the written records of sealing, Brian Hales has recently persuaded me that Joseph Smith was sealed during his lifetime to one already-married woman in a ceremony that she, her non-Mormon husband, and the Prophet all regarded as applying only to the eternities after mortal life. This was Ruth Vose Sayers.”

Proponents of the position that Joseph Smith practiced sexual polyandry need to answer the question whether the alleged behavior was in accordance with his teachings or in contradiction to them. If it was in accordance, then where are those teachings? If it is in contradiction, then where are the complaints of hypocrisy and adultery?

Every known statement from early leaders including Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and others condemns sexual polyandry as adultery.

Charges that Joseph Smith practiced sexual polyandry depict unreality.


See:

Joseph Smith and Polyandry

FairMormon: Joseph Smith and Polyandry

Joseph Smith’s Sexual Polyandry and the Emperor’s New Clothes: On Closer Inspection, What Do We Find? By Brian C. Hales

“The Joseph Smith – Sylvia Sessions Plural Sealings: Polyandry or Polygyny,” Mormon Historical Studies vol. 9, no. 1, Spring 2008, 19-28.

Additional Resources:

12 Myths Regarding Joseph Smith’s Polygamy

“Plural Marriage in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” LDS.org Essay

“Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo” LDS.org Essay

“Plural Marriage and Families in Early Utah” LDS.org Essay

“The Manifesto and the End of Plural Marriage” LDS.org Essay

Like Two Crazy Aunts in the Attic: Latter-day Saints and Popular Polygamy Stereotypes” (2010 FAIR Conference) by Craig L. Foster

“Mercy Thompson and the Revelation on Marriage: D&C 132″ by Jed Woodworth

“Joseph Smith’s Plural Wives after the Martyrdom,” Mormon Historical Studies, vol. 13, no. 2. Fall 2012, 255-69.

“A Subject That Can Bear Investigation”: Anguish, Faith, and Joseph Smith’s Youngest Plural Wife” by J. Spencer Fluhman

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Plural Marriage* (*but were afraid to ask)” (2009 FAIR Conference) by Gregory L. Smith

Joseph Smith DNA Revealed: New Clues from the Prophet’s Genes” (2008 FAIR Conference) by Ugo Perego

A Reconciliation of Polygamy by Valerie Hudson

Joseph Smith’s Sexual Polyandry and the Emperor’s New Clothes: On Closer Inspection, What Do We Find?” (2012 FAIR Conference) by Brian C. Hales

“O that my voice could reach the ears of those uninformed and misinformed” by Suzanne Armitage

“‘Mormon” Women’s Protest: An Appeal for Freedom, Justice and Equal Rights,” The Ladies of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints protest against the tyranny and indecency of Federal Officials in Utah, and against their own disfranchisement without cause. Full Account of Proceedings at the Great Mass Meeting, held in the Theatre, SALT LAKE CITY UTAH. Saturday, March 6, 1886

Ask the Apologist: Contradiction between Jacob and DC 132

Polygamy, Prophets, and Prevarication: Frequently and Rarely Asked Questions about the Initiation, Practice, and Cessation of Plural Marriage in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” by Gregory L. Smith

The Fallacy of Fundamentalist Assumptions” (2005 FAIR Conference) by Blake T. Ostler

Zina and Her Men: An Examination of the Changing Marital State of Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs Smith Young” (2006 FAIR Conference) by Allen Wyatt

A Response to Grant Palmer’s ‘Sexual Allegations against Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Polygamy in Nauvoo’” by Brian C. Hales and Gregory L. Smith

Separated but not Divorced: The LDS Church’s Uncomfortable Relationship with its Polygamous Past” by Craig L. Foster

Hagar in LDS Scripture and Thought” by Andrew C. Smith

Stretching to Find the Negative: Gary Bergera’s Review of Joseph Smith’s Polygamy: History and Theology” byBrian C. Hales  

Does God Have a Wife? –  by Alyson Skabelund Von Feldt

Plural Marriage and the Half-Empty-Glass School of Historiography –  by Allen L. Wyatt

Prologue to the Study of Joseph Smith’s Marital Theology –  by Danel W. Bachman

The Prophet Joseph Smith and His Plural Wives –  by Richard Lloyd Anderson, Scott H. Faulring

Articles of Faith 3: Craig L. Foster on Polygamy and its relationship to the LDS Church, Craig L Foster, 0:33:04

Best of Fair 12: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Plural Marriage* (*but were afraid to ask), Dr. Greg Smith, 1:02:38

Articles of Faith 1: Brian C. Hales Interview – Articles of Faith Show, Brian C Hales, 0:25:27

FairMormon Frameworks 4: Brian Hales Polygamy, Brian Hales, 1:08:58

Mormon FAIR-Cast 85: Foundations of fundamentalist polygamy, Martin Tanner, 0:19:55

Mormon FAIR-Cast 187: Polygamy Roundtable, Gregory L. Smith, 1:25:20

RiseUp Podcast: Polygamy and Joseph Smith, Dr. Greg L. Smith, 0:21:42

Polygamy and Joseph Smith with Greg Smith

FAIR Examination 9: Polygamy as an Abrahamic Sacrifice–Dr. Valerie Hudson, Dr. Valerie Hudson, 1:00:07

Polygamy and its relationship to the LDS Church- Craig Foster

Mormon FAIR-Cast 85: Foundations of fundamentalist polygamy

Joseph Smith’s Polygamy –Dr. Brian Hales– Fair Mormon Podcast

Polygamy as an Abrahamic Sacrifice–Dr. Valerie Hudson– Fair Mormon Podcast

Plural Marriage and Maintaining Faith- Dr. Gregory Smith- Fair Mormon Podcast

The Naturalistic vs. Faithful View of Joseph Smith’s Polygamy by Brian Hales

12 Myths Regarding Joseph Smith’s Polygamy by Brian Hales 

pt 1 “Zina and her Men” 2006 FAIR conference address by Allen Wyatt

pt 2 “Zina and her men” 2006 FAIR Conference address by Allen Wyatt

pt 3 “Zina and her men” 2006 FAIR Conference address by Allen Wyatt

pt 4 “Zina and her men” 2006 FAIR Conference address by Allen Wyatt

pt 5 “Zina and her men” 2006 FAIR Conference address by Allen Wyatt

Pt 1, “Joseph Smith’s DNA Revealed: New Clues from the Prophets Genes” by Ugo Perego

Pt 2, “Joseph Smith’s DNA Revealed: New Clues from the Prophets Genes

Pt 3, “Joseph Smith’s DNA Revealed: New Clues from the Prophets Genes

Pt 4, “Joseph Smith’s DNA Revealed: New Clues from the Prophets Genes

Pt 5, “”Joseph Smith’s DNA Revealed: New Clues from the Prophets Genes

Pt 6, Joseph Smith’s DNA Revealed: New Clues from the Prophets Genes

Reconciling Belief with Polygamy” by Brian Hales

Testimony of Early Polygamous Wives: Mary Elizabeth Rollins

Testimony of Early LDS Polygamous Wives: Margaret Cooper West

Testimony of Early LDS Polygamous Wives: Elizabeth Whitney

Testimony of Early LDS Polygamous Wives: Phoebe Carter Woodruff

Testimony of Early LDS Polygamous Wives: Vilate Kimball

The Wives of Joseph Smith and Their Testimony- Zina Huntington

The Wives of Joseph Smith and Their Testimony–Lucy Walker

Did Joseph Smith Marry Young Women? Fair Mormon Answers

LDS and Popular Polygamy Stereotypes by Craig Foster

Are Mormons Polygamists

Zina and Her Men: An Examination of the Changing Marital Status of Zina Huntington

Joseph Smith’s DNA revealed: New Clues to the Prophet’s Genes” by Dr. Ugo Perego

Controversies of Joseph Smith’s Polygamy” by Brian Hales

Joseph Smith DNA Revealed: New Clues from the Prophet’s Genes

A Refutation of Grant Palmer’s Treatment of Sexual Allegations Against Joseph Smith” by Brian Hales