One of the things I love about blogging is that it helps me learn, and better articulate my positions. I’m not sure why polygamy is such a hot topic lately, but it is. I enjoyed Kristine A’s post at Wheat and Tares this week: Joseph Smith’s Multiple Wives and Why I Care A Lot. It reminded me of one of my old posts, My Perspective on Polygamy. I’ve learned a lot about polygamy in the 6 years since I wrote that post, and I’m still learning things. (Back then I sounded much like Kristine does today.) I’m beginning to question whether the revelation in D&C 132 is a true revelation.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the New and Everlasting Covenant of marriage that is embedded in 132, but (1) there are some parts that most Mormons plainly ignore, (2) there are some things that Joseph Smith did that I think conflict with D&C 132, (3) there is a condemnation of Emma that I find to be highly manipulative, and (4) parts conflicts with established scripture. This really causes me to question whether 132 comes from God. Many of the points below were made in the discussion on Kristine’s post, but I want to add a few things as well. Maybe I’ll go in reverse order.
(4) D&C conflicts with the Book of Mormon
This was an interesting point that I hadn’t considered until Ken brought it up.
Jacob 2:24 “Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.”
But D&C 132:38,
“David also received many wives and concubines, and also Solomon and Moses my servants, as also many others of my servants, from the beginning of creation until this time; and in nothing did they sin save in those things which they received not of me.
39 David’s wives and concubines were given unto him of me, by the hand of Nathan, my servant, and others of the prophets who had the keys of this power; and in none of these things did he sin against me save in the case of Uriah and his wife;”
Why does D&C 132 conflict with Jacob 2? One of them must be wrong or uninspired, or God is the author of confusion.
Furthermore, God seemingly justifies these marriages to non-Jewish wives. Clearly D&C 132 says that the New and Everlasting covenant must be between believers, yet David and Solomon married non-Jewish wives who worshiped idols. These marriages were a means of consolidating the kingdom of Israel, and such marriages between kings an conquered peoples were common for political reasons. Clearly the theology of 132 does not permit any modern Mormon to marry a Hindu, Catholic, or Buddhist, but it is highly probable that David and Solomon married Hindus, Buddhists, Baal-worshipers, Asherah-worshipers and many other polytheistic brides, to say nothing of concubines. Certainly prophets like Jeremiah condemned marriages to idol worshipers, and it would have been better for Israel if David and Solomon had set a better example with regards to marriage to idol-worshiping women.
I do not deny that concubines (or polygamy) are in the Bible, but I do question whether God had a role in any of that. David and Solomon had concubines (women sex slaves as trophies of war). D&C 132 says God ordains this. ISIS does it and justifies this as God’s will and we find this despicable. God allows despicable things like genocide, rape, and polygamy in the Bible, and we even have regulations on these issues. However, I think polygamy slavery, and rape were despicable in David and Solomon’s day, and I find the justifications in 132 to be highly questionable as coming from God. At least today we don’t try to justify slavery and polygamy as God-inspired today, but some of us try to rationalize it. I won’t rationalize it any more. It IS wrong, and it WAS wrong, or God is not the same, yesterday, today, and forever, and is changeable. I believe all changes should be blamed on man and his poor understanding of God, rather than on God. I also believe man has a tendency to blame God for poor behavior (like genocide, concubines, polygamy, etc.) I think Blaming these issues on God is taking God’s name in vain.
(3) there is a condemnation of Emma that I find to be highly manipulative and (1) there are some parts that most Mormons plainly ignore
It’s really hard not to separate these issues. I am greatly bothered by verses 52 and 54 of D&C 132, and clearly modern Mormons ignore these scriptures.
52 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; and those who are not pure, and have said they were pure, shall be destroyed, saith the Lord God.
54 And I command mine handmaid, Emma Smith, to abide and cleave unto my servant Joseph, and to none else. But if she will not abide this commandment she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord; for I am the Lord thy God, and will destroy her if she abide not in my law.
It seems that it wasn’t Emma that was destroyed, it was Joseph. God’s admonition is exactly backwards. I think the Lord did destroy Joseph in Carthage, and his death is recorded in section 135.
(2) there are some things that Joseph Smith did that I think conflict with the revelation in 132
D&C 132 talks of marrying virgins. Verse 61:
if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else.
Brian Hales, a member of the Mormon Tabernacle choir, wrote a 3 volume set (vol 1, vol 2, vol 3) on Joseph Smith’s polygamy that is probably the modern-day standard on polygamy. In a recent talk to FAIR (Foundation of Apologetic Information and Research, a pro-Mormon group) Hales discusses an interesting story in which Joseph was sealed to a women still married to another man, and may have had a child with her. I encourage everyone to go read Brian Hales response about sexual relations between Joseph and women married to other men. Hales makes a very legalistic case that this was not adultery, but rather consecutive marriages. In short
1. Sylvia Sessions married Windsor Lyon on April 21, 1838 in a legal ceremony performed by Joseph Smith.
2. Sylvia conceives three children with Windsor.
3. Windsor was excommunicated in November of 1842.
4. Due to the excommunication, Windsor and Sylvia were separated. So they are legally married but they separate.
5. Then Joseph is sealed to Sylvia after the excommunication of Windsor.
6. Josephine, a daughter was born to Sylvia, and her mother said “that Josephine was actually Joseph Smith’s daughter.” Hales goes on to say “This daughter, I believe, is Joseph Smith’s actual daughter.” Furthermore, “there’s a whole Fisher family in Bountiful that descend from this marriage. I have been in contact with some of the descendants, and they are starting to say maybe we need to make a claim that we’re actually coming from Joseph and not from Windsor Lyon.”
7. Joseph Smith is killed in June 1844. Windsor is rebaptized and then Sylvia and Windsor come back together and the legal marriage is still intact, since it was never legally dissolved in the first place.
Here’s how Hales responds to these facts “Now, is this weird? Yeah, this is weird. Is it sexual polyandry? Is it immoral? Is it breaking the law of chastity that Joseph taught? No it isn’t.”
Hales’ website indicates that DNA testing has been done on descendants of Josephine Lyons but due to other family relations with the Smith family the results are inconclusive.
My question to you all. Since Sylvia was still legally married to Windsor but sealed to Joseph when she conceives Josephine, and then picks up her marriage with Windsor as if nothing has happened following the separation, (1) is this adultery, and (2) is this keeping the spirit of D&C 132:61?
Hopefully you’ve answered the poll questions before reading further, so I won’t influence you. If not, please answer before continuing to read my opinion.
Having told the story, Sylvia, as mother of 3 children with Windsor, can in no way be considered a virgin as specified in D&C 132:61. David at least knew he shouldn’t be marrying another man’s wife, so he hatched a plan to get Uriah killed. David knew this was against scripture, and didn’t need 132 to know that was wrong. I have a problem with this story, and I think this violates the spirit of D&C 132:61.
Regarding D&C 132, I read an interesting theory by Denver Snuffer that I blogged about back in October 2013. In brief, Snuffer believes that Brigham Young conflated plural marriage with the New and Everlasting Covenant. From page 80, Snuffer says
Plural marriage is one subject, the sealing power is another. Both topics are covered in section 132. But they remain two, distinct topics.
He believes D&C 132 is really 4 revelations, received at various times (as early as 1829), and written down in 1843 as a single revelation.
Section 132 is not a single revelation, but instead contains several revelations received at different times separated by years between them. Since none of them had previously been reduced to writing, when it was finally written in July 1843, all of them are set out as a single narrative. The first revelation included only the announcement of the possibility of an eternal marriage covenant, and an answer to the inquire about Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, and Solomon’s multiple wives. A subsequent revelation (vs. 45-50) approves Joseph’s “sacrifices,” [verse 50] confirms his “exaltation,” [verse 49], and confers the power to “seal on earth…and in the heavens.[verse 46]” …
This means Joseph received the revelation on eternal marriage, (verses 1-33) and plurality of wives (34-40 or 44) first. Then later Joseph was told by an angel “with a drawn sword” that he was commanded to practice this form of marriage. The time, place and language of that second revelation concerning plural wives was not recorded. Only after living it did he obtain the keys to be able to perform such marriages, marking the third revelation set out in verses 45-50.
Snuffer seems to get sidetracked here, not directly referencing the 4th revelation in D&C 132, but verses 51-57 seem to be a 4th revelation, directed squarely at Emma telling her to “receive all those that have been given unto my servant Joseph” and “forgive my servant Joseph his trespasses” or “she shall be bdestroyed, saith the Lord.” On page 157, Snuffer immediately tells about Emma’s reaction to this 4th revelation by quoting William Clayton journal entry for July 12, 1843.
she did not believe a word of it and appeared very rebellious. J[oseph] told me to Deed all unencumbered lots [Joseph’s remaining building lots in Nauvoo] to E[mma] & the children. He appears much troubled about E[mma].
Snuffer goes on to explain that Emma wanted the lots
“to prevent other women from claiming they could share in the property.”
The following day Joseph and Emma reached a division of property between them.”
Snuffer goes on to say that plural wives were only supposed to be for Joseph, but he did test some of the other church leader’s loyalty by an Abrahamic test. For example, Joseph asked for Heber C. Kimball’s wife. After 3 days of anguished prayer, Kimball finally agreed to give Joseph Heber’s wife. Passing this Abrahamic test, Joseph then sealed Heber and Vilate together. Snuffer says that plural wives were supposed to be reserved only for a small group of people, stating on page 160,
With the public unveiling of plural wives, it became the teaching of the church that plural wives and exaltation were synonymous:
Snuffer believes that eternal marriage and plural wives are not synonymous and that “proof of that cannot be established through Joseph’s actions.”
I’m sure that some of you take issue with what I’ve said, but Joseph’s actions are problematic. I’ve offered a dare to several people to tell me that they have testimony of the following issues.
1. Joseph was sealed to non-virgin women already married to other men. Please bear testimony of Joseph being sealed to other men’s wives.
2. David and Solomon had concubines (women sex slaves as trophies of war). D&C 132 says God ordains this. ISIS does it and justifies this as God’s will and we find this despicable. Please bear testimony of concubines, especially as this relates to non-Jewish wives and concubines being sealed to David and Solomon.
3. Joseph was sealed to teens Fanny Alger and Mary Rollins Lightner. Please bear testimony of teen brides and Joseph Smith.
4. D&C 132:51-57 condemns Emma for her resistance to polygamy. Please bear testimony of this condemnation.
I note that nobody so far has a testimony of these 4 issues.
Could these issues be grounds for decanonizing 132 since it conflicts with several previously revealed scriptures?