I should not be leaving the female audience out of this debate. How do you think the women felt about this? Their husbands were away on missions, and Joseph, a "Prophet of God", desired to marry them and have them for himself. What would your response be to this?
The question has now been asked of you, "Would you give your wife to Joseph Smith or any Prophet?" What is your response?
If you said, "Yes", then you share the same answer that some men gave to Joseph.
In this article we are going to be dealing with a couple of issues. There are going to be a lot of people that have no idea what I am talking about, so I have provided a lot of my documentation in this article.
The first hint that led me to believe that Joseph Smith married the wives of other men was in a speech given by Jedidiah Grant on February 19, 1854. (See Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, pg. 14)
Imagine yourself listening to a sermon by the second counselor of the Prophet:
"I would ask you if Jehovah has not in all ages tried His people by the power of Lucifer and his associates; and on the other hand, has He not tried them and proved them by His Prophets? Did the Lord actually want Abraham to kill Isaac? Did the Prophet Joseph want every man's wife he asked for? He did not, but in that thing was the grand thread of the Priesthood developed. The grand object in view was to try the people of God, to see what was in them. If such a man of God should come to me and say, "I want your gold and silver, or your wives," I should say, "Here they are, I wish I had more to give you, take all I have got."
There are a couple of ways that you could interpret this sermon. First, you could say that Joseph Smith never asked such things, but this has been verified by reliable accounts, including one of Heber C.Kimball (Stanley Kimball, "Mormon Patriarch and Pioneer", University of Illinois Press, 1981, pg.93). The second foreseeable argument is that this was only a "test".
In this lengthy article I will attempt to show that Joseph Smith not only asked for the wives of married men, but that he actually married them both for "time" and "eternity". Some may then argue that Joseph never consummated the relationships. This may be difficult for me to prove, but I will make an effort at it.
Going back to Jeridiah's speech. He alluded to the story of Isaac and Abraham when Abraham was going to sacrifice his son (Genesis 22).
Think about it - "Would there have been a threat to Isaac if Abraham did not have a knife to slay his son? Would Isaac have been in jeopardy if his father had not bound him?" In my opinion, there would have been no test if there wasn't the possibility that Isaac could have been killed.
Now I pose a similar question "How could Joseph be testing men if there was not the knowledge that he had already married other men's wives?" In my opinion, the threat of Joseph marring another man's wife was real -- Joseph had married the wives of other men! This I intend to show to you beyond any reasonable doubt.
In my attempt to show that Joseph married other men's wives I will use some "anti" Mormon sources. But, because I realize that my Mormon audience will likely ignore these sources I will keep them to a minimum.
It's very interesting to note that it was the apostates and non- Mormons that showed that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy during the early years of the church. At this time, the LDS Church and Joseph Smith denied the practice, yet now, almost everyone knows that Joseph had plural wives. At that time there was truth to the apostate's statements and there is truth to their statements today.
Joseph Smith likely married Lucinda in 1838 when she was staying at the Harris home in Far West (History of the Church, vol. 3, pg. 9). This is supported by a statement made by Mrs. Sarah Pratt, "Mrs. Harris was a married lady, a very great friend of mine. When Joseph had made his dastardly attempt on me [in 1842], I went to Mrs. Harris to unbosom my grief to her. To my utter astonishment, she said, laughing heartily: 'How foolish you are! Why, I am his mistress since four years'." (Mormon Portraits, 1886, pg. 60, "anti")
The Utah Church historian, Andrew Jensen provides the date of the marriage to Joseph on December 11, 1841. Prescindia's brother performed the ceremony. In 1846 Prescindia left Norman and later married Heber C. Kimball. (No Man Knows My History, Fawn Brodie, pg. 462, "anti").
Some may argue that Joseph never consummated his relationship with Prescindia. However, Oliver her son may have been Joseph's son. Oliver was looked upon by the Huntington family as the Prophet's son by sealing Oliver to Joseph. The diary entry for November 14, 1884 for Oliver Huntington says, "Then I stood Proxy for the Prophet Joseph Smith in having sealed or adopted to him a child of my sister Prescenda, had while living with Norman Buell."
At this point I am probably not doing to well in proving my point to my Mormon audience. There are likely two strikes against me for using the "anti" Mormon references. I will try to make a better case for Nancy Marinda Hyde.
Nancy was likely taught polygamy by Joseph when Orson Hyde was on his mission to Palestine. In 1841, Nancy was given a direct revelation through Joseph to "hearken to the counsel of my servant Joseph in all things whatsoever he shall teach unto her" (History of the Church, vol. 4, pg. 467).
Two of Nancy's children may have been the Prophet's. I researched the birthdays of both of the children and only with Frank Henry is there any substantial credence to this claim. Frank Henry was born on January 23, 1845. Orson Hyde had left on a mission to Washington on April 4, 1844 "immediately" after a meeting with Joseph Smith (History of the Church, pg. 286). The gestation period for a human is on average 266 days (not 9 months). Of course 266 is an average date and the figures vary. To give you an idea of the range, only four percent of pregnancies are actually carried two weeks or more beyond the average time (Guttmacher, 1983).
Frank Henry was born on January 23, 1845. Orson Hyde left for Washington April 4, 1844. The difference in these two dates is 294 days! That is almost a month longer than expected and is basically physiologically impossible, especially considering that Orson Hyde had not returned to Nauvoo until August 6, 1844 (Andrew Jenson, Church Chronology, August 6, 1844).
Joseph Smith was married to Zina shortly after her marriage to Henry Jacobs. Zina has been recorded as saying, "I wish to bear my testimony to the principle of celestial marriage, that it is true ......I became [Joseph's] wife at this time in Nauvoo and I never in my life had a rebellious thought against that principle, for which I thank the Lord." (Collected Discourses, vol. 5, Joseph F. Smith, December 23, 1894)
Statements written by apostates strengthen this evidence. For instance, John D. Lee wrote that "I then took a tour down through Illinois [winter 1842]. H.B. Jacobs accompanied me as a fellow companion on the way. Jacobs was bragging about his wife, what a true, virtuous, lovely woman she was. He almost worshipped her. Little did he think that in his absence she was sealed to Prophet Joseph" (Mormonism Unveiled, p 132, "anti"). William Hall's statement in his book supported this statement further: " A Mr. Henry Jacobs had his wife seduced by Joe Smith, in his time, during a mission to England." (The Abominations of Mormonism Exposed, pg. 43-44, "anti").
Zina had not left Jacobs until 1846 which means that Joseph Smith married a woman that was already married.
For a look at more evidence read "All Things Move in Order in the City": The Nauvoo Diary of Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs, Edited by Maureen Ursenbach Beecher, BYU Studies, Vol. 19, No. 3, p.285. at http://www.california.com/~rpcman/ZINA.HTM
Mary admitted her marriage to Joseph Smith in a public address. She said in part, "I am the first being that the revelation was given to him for and I was one thousand miles away in Missouri, for we went up to Jackson County in 1841 ..... I went forward and was sealed to him. Brigham young performed the sealing, and Heber C. Kimball the blessing. I know he had six wives and I have known some of them from childhood up. I knew he had three children. They told me. I think two are living today, but they are not known as his children as they go by other names." (Mary Lightner,1905 Address, typescript, BYU, Pg. 2-3)
In another statement Mary Lightner said, "Joseph said I was his before I came here and he said all the Devils in Hell should never get me from him. I was sealed to him in the Masonic Hall, over the old brick store by Brigham Young in February 1842 and then again in the Nauvoo Temple by Heber C. Kimball." (Original sworn affidavit owned by Mrs. Nell Osborne of Salt Lake City, February 8, 1902).
Patty Sessions was sealed to Joseph Smith on March 9, 1842 as indicated by her personal journal entry, "I was sealed to Joseph Smith by Willard Richards March 9, 1842, in Newel K. Whitney's chamber, Nauvoo, for time and all eternity ...."
Brigham Young reported the marriage of his sister to Joseph Smith in the Journal of Discourse: "As far as this pertains to our natural lives here, there are some who say it is very hard. They say, 'This is rather a hard business; I don't like my husband to take a plurality of wives in the flesh.' Just a few words upon this. We would believe this doctrine entirely different from what it is presented to us, if we could do so. If we could make every man upon the earth get him a wife, live righteously and serve God, we would not be under necessity, perhaps, of taking more than one wife. But they will not do this; the people of God, therefore, have been commanded to take more wives. The women are entitled to salvation if they live according to the word that is given to them .... I recollect a sister conversing with Joseph Smith on this subject.... Joseph said, 'Sister, you talk very foolishly, you do not know what you will want.' He then said to me [B.Y.]: 'Here, brother Brigham you seal this lady to me.' I sealed her to him. This was my own sister according to the flesh." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 16, pg. 166-167).
The marriage ceremony occurred on November 2, 1843 according to Andrew Jenson, LDS Church Historian. (No Man Knows My History, Fawn Brodie, pg. 484, "anti").
Polygamy was against the law in Illinois. An Illinois state law was enacted February 12, 1833:
The first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants (1835) included a section on LDS Marriages:
Another source which may be helpful is Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, vol. 29, No. 2 "A Trajectory of Plurality: An Overview of Joseph Smith's Thirty-three Plural Wives".
Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, vol. 27, No.l, Spring 1994 "Nauvoo Roots of Mormon Polygamy, 1841-46: A Preliminary Demographic Report" by George D. Smith. pp.1-72.