The LDS Church Acknowledges Facts About Joseph Smith and Polygamy

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As we’ve noted in our Facebook and Twitter feeds, on October 22, 2014 the LDS Church added an essay to its website that—when combined with an earlier essay—gives a more complete picture of polygamy in early Mormonism (particularly as practiced by Joseph Smith) than the Church would previously publicly acknowledge.

Mormon blogger Jana Riess lists five things the LDS Church has acknowledged in its essays:

  1. Joseph Smith was sealed to women who were already married.
  2. While some of these relationships were for “eternity only,” others may have been sexual.
  3. Joseph Smith’s first plural marriage took place as early as the mid-1830s.
  4. Many of Joseph Smith’s plural marriages occurred without the consent—or even the knowledge—of his first wife, Emma.
  5. Most of Joseph Smith’s plural marriages were to women between the ages of 20-40, but others were to teenagers—including a fourteen year-old.

These acknowledgements are significant because, as Riess says in the summary for her article, “Some used to consider it ‘apostate’ to say that Joseph Smith married women who were already married to other men. Now the LDS Church has acknowledged it openly.”

Over the years Watchman Fellowship has published many articles about Mormon polygamy, one of the most notable of which is on our website. In “The Pain of Polygamy,” Jill Martin Rische looks at the practice of polygamy in the early LDS Church, the continuing practice among Mormon splinter groups, and a biblical response to the practice.

We also have two books in our resource center on the subject (each is available for a donation of $20 dollars):

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