403: Brian Hales Pt. 2 – 12 Myths Regarding Joseph Smith’s Polygamy

Hales_JSP1In this episode Dr. Brian C. Hales discusses 12 myths regarding Joseph Smith’s practice of polygamy.

  1. Joseph Smith had a reputation as a womanizer.
  2. The Joseph Smith – Fanny Alger relationship was not a plural marriage.
  3. Joseph Smith’s polygamy was all about sex, in other words, “multiply and replenish the earth.”
  4. Joseph Smith had no children by his plural wives.
  5. Joseph Smith had sexual relations with 14 year olds.
  6. John C. Bennett was a polygamy insider in Nauvoo.
  7. None of Joseph Smith’s plural marriages were non-sexual “eternity-only” sealings.
  8. Joseph Smith’s teachings allow sexual polyandry.
  9. Some of Joseph Smith’s marriages included sexual polyandry.
  10. Joseph sent men on missions so he could be sealed to their wives.
  11. Joseph Smith threatened to destroy the reputation of any woman that turned him down.
  12. Emma Smith never supported plural marriage.

  • Click here to obtain the PowerPoint presentation for this podcast.
  • Click here to purchase Brian’s new books entitled “Joseph Smith’s Polygamy Vols. 1-3″
  • Click here to check out Brian’s website called “MormonFundamentalism.com”
  • Click here to check out Brian’s website called “JosephSmithsPolygamy.com”

Also, Brian C.Hales will be speaking about his research and signing copies at Benchmark Books (3269 S Main St #250, Salt Lake City) on February 27th from 5:30 to 7:30 pm, and at Pioneer Book (858 S State St, Orem) on March 9th at 7:00 pm.



178 comments for “403: Brian Hales Pt. 2 – 12 Myths Regarding Joseph Smith’s Polygamy

  1. square peg
    February 21, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    I really am starting to understand why so many disaffected members become agnostics or atheists. It’s not because they necessarily want to-it’s the fact that it is ridiculously overwhelming to have to go to these ENDLESS lengths and depths to understand and live the mysteries of God! It can make your head feel like it’s going to explode in the process of trying to make heads or tails of it all. I thought it was said in the scriptures that God is a god of order. This is sheer chaos! In order for some to maintain sanity, I think at some point you have to stand back and realize that often times, the more we learn the less we know! For some, it just becomes too uncomfortable to have to constantly sort through theological and doctrinal piles to decide what is actually truth or not. Once the walls of all the evidence fall down around you – it feels almost impossible to figure out how to reassemble them all in a fashion that allows for any peace and order to remain. Some people don’t want to keep using the concept of “faith” as a way to cover all the cracks they can’t figure out how to reconcile. I have fought desperately to maintain faith, but for the life of me, I am just too tired to get my brain and spirit around so many nauseating inconsistencies. I would fill much more comfortable just letting everything go, than continuing to exhaust myself trying to pick and choose which things are in actuality true or not. I guess at some point along the path-you become disenchanted with the quest for truth and just have to determine what your own personality and temperament have the capacity to tolerate. Obviously, some of us have a much lower threshold of toleration for absurdity than others do.

    • Ben
      February 21, 2013 at 1:36 pm

      AHHHHH! I completely agree with your statement and you couldn’t have made your point any better. Trying to come to terms or explain this stuff makes me feel like I’m taking crazy pills! I tried for over a decade. After I simply let it all go my life has been filled with so much peace. Thanks for your comment!

    • m chandler
      February 21, 2013 at 2:49 pm

      Well said! If this is the Lord and his mysteries, he or she is without any sense of order. I always wonder about “revelations”. Why is revelation constantly given then taken.

      My only thoughts after my faith crisis is:

      1. God is a Rookie
      2. God is a Jerk
      3. God doesn’t exist.

      • Sneaky Jimmy
        March 1, 2013 at 10:38 am

        You left off “God is a comedian”

    • Rob
      February 21, 2013 at 6:54 pm

      I could not have written it any better how I felt after I finished listening. I will now just expand on this a bit.

      I was anxious to here this podcast to see if someone, anyone, could shed a defining light on the subject. I can honestly say the light is not shining. Still. Why is it we can defend Joseph Smith for the most extraordinary perversions known to mankind, yet our bishop’s office’s are packed with sinful saints getting their life whip lashed over teenage love or not doing their visiting teaching (yes, my wife was called in the bishop’s office for that and chastised for not getting it done each month)?

      I am sick to death of hearing that “back then, it was different, and if you just had a better understanding of how life was you would understand better.” Yea sure it was. Today we deal with much larger sins and transgressions like double pierced earrings and tattoos. In fact it’s such a problem we even dedicate Sunday School lessons to this horrid behavior. Heck, maybe even through in the ever so evil energy drink lesson. Now we are getting somewhere. Real meat here.

      And speaking of milk and meat . . . it’s good to know that we can just BS anyone we think isn’t ready for the meat. Can you imagine the adulterer that goes in to get his temple recommend and tells the bishop he of course is worthy to go to the temple? In his mind he knows the bishop isn’t ready for the “meat” part of his sinning ways so he just gives him the milk. That is a sick way of getting out of a bad situation. What is the alternative? Ummm, truth could work!

      We are so far off plum that no one even knows which end of the stick is up or down anymore. Case in point; Walk into any Deseret Book Store and look at the walls and walls of books. These are just current offerings, not all of them. Now, look at the small shelf of scriptures. All of these masses of books are in some way shape or form about the scriptures or some form of interpretation of them. We are doing the same thing to scriptures that we are doing with Joseph Smith. Write another book with another point of view all in the name of trying to help the dumb saints understand things better. Oh, and if it helps the bottom line, that’s cool too.

      Why? Here is the simple reason.

      If Joseph really did all these horrible things, (maybe we could debate this issue some more until we have worn out everyone)then he of course isn’t much of a role model, and we can’t have that now can we, especially from a guy that is next to Jesus, or better than Jesus from Joseph’s perspective? And quoting President Packer, this isn’t very “Faith Promoting”. Joseph Smith wouldn’t make it 10 minutes in today’s world of defending himself, on just about anything. So instead of truth, what do we have? We have faith . . . and loads of it, cuz there ain’t anything else to put your foot on.

    • Lilli
      February 21, 2013 at 8:12 pm

      Square Peg,

      I totally understand how you’re feeling. I agree that all this twisting of scripture to somehow justify the most abusive & vile of sins & the desperate desire to believe in gross unproven rumors & hearsay, is absolutely crazy making.

      Thankfully God only expects us to believe and have faith in things that make sense to us and things we really feel are right & good and most especially things we can prove are right. We are commanded to question & prove all things & persons before we put any faith in them. God never expects us to just believe whatever so-called prophets may say, or take it ‘on faith’, he gave us a brain and expects us to use our common sense & prove if what they say or do is true or not.

      God also sent his Son to earth to teach us some basic common sense ideas. And if you believe in the things Christ taught and his simple yet beautiful teachings, you can easily see there is no room for mind twisting philosophies of men like polygamy.

      We know that even Joseph must be considered innocent of polygamy until proven guilty of it, and since there is no proof of his ever preaching or practicing polygamy, only the vile hearsay by others, (usually from those who wanted to live polygamy), thus the common sense person cannot believe Joseph was guilty of polygamy. Not even a court of law could find the proof to accuse Joseph of polygamy, why would we?

      Especially since we have numerous published ‘proof’ by Joseph himself ‘during his lifetime when he could still speak for himself’, where he testified & taught over & over that he never believed in or lived polygamy, and nor did Christ, or the Book of Mormon prophets.

      How someone can totally ignore or brush off all those heavy testimonies from some of the greatest men who ever lived (which have far more weight than mere hearsay ever could) is beyond me.

      None of us would want our own testimony of our beliefs & actions to be ignored and someone else’s totally opposite testimony believed over our own. Why would we do that to Joseph, especially if we believe he is a true prophet, for we know that true prophets can’t or wouldn’t lie and deceive others like that.

      How could anyone ever ignore a prophet’s testimony or Christ’s testimony against polygamy and instead believe men who can’t even stay faithful to their wife and who would abuse women with polygamy?

      Anyone who has known a truly righteous man or husband, knows that ‘true’ prophets could never believe in or live polygamy, let alone lie about it.

      I don’t understand how Brian can just ignore such numerous constant and proven & published testimony from Joseph Smith and instead believe totally unproven hearsay, from people who usually had every reason to lie, and act like it’s a given that Joseph lived polygamy just because others said he did.

      I believe in Christ and that Joseph was a true prophets who told the absolute truth. Christ & Joseph clearly taught against a man marrying 2 living women, they said it was adultery, why would we ever believe anyone else who taught anti to Christ or Joseph?

      • Kessee
        March 3, 2013 at 2:13 pm

        Whew, it took a while, but I finally figured out it, your comment, was satire.

        Good show! Good show!

    • Paul Fixmer
      February 22, 2013 at 8:09 pm

      Square Peg,
      Ditto!!! I found the same nonsense in the Evangelical community after leaving Mormonism. I now believe in the church of Paul. No more intellectual gymnastics. I’m happy not knowing anything at all. Peace at last. Take care!

    • Paul Fixmer
      February 22, 2013 at 8:19 pm

      I can imagine my father reading my comment and saying, “why can’t you leave this alone if you are at peace with your decision”. Well, I can’t resist watching a good train wreck.

    • February 22, 2013 at 9:46 pm

      square peg wrote:

      > it is ridiculously overwhelming to have to go to these ENDLESS lengths…

      All credit to Brian Hales and his amazing dedication. It’s just so deflating to think of 3 volumes, 1600 pages, just for Joseph Smith’s polygamy. And in the end, you get other respected scholars saying “While I disagree with some of Hales’s conclusions, I admire his willingness to confront difficult topics and the depth of his research.”

      You can instead spend half the time reading Doris Kearns Goodwin’s biography of Lincoln that covers his whole presidency, and come away inspired and a better person.

    • February 23, 2013 at 8:15 pm

      I understand your frustration. All of the difficulty with church history and doctrine can be swallowed up when the Lord provides you with your own personalized Spiritual experiences.

      I speak from experience. I urge all those who feel as you do to call upon God until you have the kind of Spiritual experiences that make it impossible for you to deny the truth of Mormonism.

      • Brian
        February 24, 2013 at 5:51 pm

        I speak from experience also, Jared. Joseph Smith had such charisma that he could get people to believe things such as God told him that shaking hands with an angel will tell you just what type of angel he is. (Satan’s angels aren’t smart enough to know that they will be discovered in this scenario.) Hilarious. Paint whatever good moral, cultural picture you want about Mormonism. Just don’t call it reality.

      • Husky
        February 25, 2013 at 8:10 pm

        The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints members speak from experience and they urge all of those that feel as you do Jared to call upon God until you have the same kind of Spiritual experiences that make it impossible to deny that Warren Jeffs is a Prophet of God.

      • Jeremy
        February 27, 2013 at 1:53 pm

        I urge everyone to ask the question, “What if I’M not the problem?”

        Jared, I did exactly what you said for 8 YEARS! I made sure I was doing EVERYTHING my leaders told me, I lived the gospel is such a way to make sure that NO ONE could come to me and say, “Well, if you had just had more faith, or you should have prayed more, or if only you had done your visiting teaching, or you haven’t done X, Y, or Z”. I fasted a couple times a month for YEARS!!! I live 10 min. from a temple and did well over 100 sessions. I spent HOURS on my knees praying for these spiritual experiences that you speak of. I spent hours with my Bishop, with him insisting that I MUST have unresolved sin, and that’s my problem. Even my father couldn’t believe that I had been SO diligent in searching for answers. After that many years of faithfully living the LDS gospel, rules, and doctrine without EVER getting ANY answers, one day it hit me like a ton of bricks. “What if I’M not the problem?” That day my life changed.

        After more years of studying and reflection, I can definitively tell you that Mormonism is false. I deny it 100%. If there is a God, he wouldn’t be a god of confusion. And the more you look into mormon doctrine and history, the more confusing it gets.

        Relying on personal spiritual experiences is naive at best. You can have them all day long, I won’t deny it. But they don’t necessarily mean what you think they mean. Even LDS church leaders warned against mis-interpreting feelings for the spirit. And even then, if you want to rely on spiritual experiences, then what makes you any different from Muslims? They also receive confirmation that THEIR religion is the ONLY true religion and all others are false. And don’t give me the BS about them having only part of the truths and that’s why. They’re praying for direct revelation from their “god” that they are the 1 and ONLY, and yep, I’ve spoken to many who say they’ve had personal revelation confirming this. How arrogant mormons must be to think they’re the only ones to have this.

        Even in the Old Testament, when there were many false prophets around, it doesn’t say to simply pray about it and look for spiritual experiences. It says to test them out. Joseph gave SEVERAL false prophecies.

        My point…. don’t be intellectually dishonest. Not to others or yourself.

        • February 28, 2013 at 2:25 pm


          I hope you will read my words and understand some things that may have eluded you.

          Your experience is just that–your experience. If I would have had the same experience I would probably feel just as you do. But my experience is different. I don’t entirely understand why people vary so much in their experiences with the things of the Spirit, but they do.

          I’ve been active in the church for nearly fifty years (I’m nearly seventy years old). In those years I have experienced dreams, visions, ministering of angels (unseen, but heard) and various other manifestations of the Spirit. These kinds of experiences can’t be denied!

          We’re taught that there are two comforters: The first and second comforter. I have received the first comforter by fire and the Holy Ghost. I hope one day to experience the second comforter.

          In your comment you made it clear how you feel based on your experiences. I hope I’ve done the same. I believe you’re and honest man. I have nothing to gain by telling you something that isn’t true. Some of my prayers have been answer by an audible voice and the information I was given came about shortly thereafter. I hope what I’ve said will help you.

          Some church members are required to believe on the words of others. In turn, those who have experiences as I have are required to testify (D&C 46:13-14).

          There are too many church members telling your story to ignore them. There are others like myself, too many to ignore. A few even testify of receiving the second comforter.

          • Jay
            February 28, 2013 at 5:16 pm

            These claims of supernatural experiences are not unique to Mormonism. Evangelicals state that God speaks to them and directs them. My friend Abdullah claims that Allah speaks to his spirit in a supernatural way every time he reads the Quran. Muhammad claimed to have had an angelic visitation (not unlike Joseph). Christopher Nemelka claimed that God spoke audibly to him (not unlike yourself). I have heard people who have left religions make the claim of a supernatural presence. In a nutshell, you don’t have to check your brain at the door and accept the ridiculous claims Mormonism to have these experiences. Spiritual experiences can be had both in and out of Mormonism.

      • jg
        March 8, 2013 at 7:35 pm


        God told me that Mormonism is not true.

        All churches are an abomination in the eyes of God. They draw near to God with their lips, but their hearts are far from him.

        That said, it is possible that God was kidding the day he told me that–like the day he implemented polygamy with Joseph Smith.

  2. Derek P. Moore
    February 21, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    There is no such thing as “time-only” sealings. The word “only” does not occur in the ordinance, and after the death of the woman the sealing is made “for time and all eternity.” Just a minor correction to your understanding of the sealing ordinance.

  3. Derek P. Moore
    February 21, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    The Old Testament actually says you will be condemned for giving milk instead of meat.

  4. Mary Bassett
    February 21, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    What needs to be understood here, is human psychology and the cultural atmosphere. Remember, after abandoning Joseph and the church, Emma Smith vehemently denied her husband ever practiced polygamy. Women wouldn’t want to bring forth allegations because of how much it would hurt their own reputations. Having been involved in affairs would reflect poorly on them. This is due to the double standard. Men could be promiscuous and get away with it. But for a woman, it could be the end of her. Likewise men acted to protect the secrecy as well, seeing it as defending the woman’s honor. This is why vigilante justice often appeared to be their only recourse. It kept them from having to drag their beloved sisters, daughters, etc, through the mud.

    Also, Joseph was very charming, and the women perhaps were flattered, both by his attentions, his power, and his promises of heavenly blessings. If they did, in fact, believe it was of God, they would treasure it up as a sacred secret, not to be told.

    We see that Fanny herself would not speak of the details one way or the other: “That is all a matter of my own, and I have nothing to communicate.”

    Eliza R. Snow testifies that Fanny Alger was a plural wife. Plural marriage had brought Eliza great standing in the early church (being first a wife of one prophet and then another) and she would see the world through the lens that Fanny *must* have been a plural wife in order for her belief to be consistent.

    Even so, it isn’t hard to consider that a marriage might have happened after they were caught tussling in the barn to retcon her to be a wife and part of a newly created doctrine to cover Joseph’s mistake. What other recourse would Joseph have when there were multiple witnesses? This would fit with Mosiah’s account. As was said elsewhere, the High Council members were satisfied with Joseph Smith’s explanation of the “girl business.”

    I believe that if it weren’t for he multiple witnesses to the tussle with Fanny, the whole doctrine of polygamy never would’ve come about because it never would’ve been needed to protect Joseph. Not unless another future event was well enough documented to warrant it. (As may be the case, as Joseph did have relations with many women, and eventually this could not be reliably denied or suppressed any longer.) Certainly the secrecy from Emma and the claim in the D&C till so late a date of there being no polygamy point to this. It was about damage control. First, deny, deny, deny. When that didn’t work, tell them they angel-with-a-sword story and see if they buy it. If that didn’t work, threaten/blackmail them to secrecy or throw them out an malign their name. Eventually D&C 132 was necessary.

    God does not work in secret and in the dark. Certainly a secret tussle in the barn doesn’t look very godly, nor does all the denial of polygamy. D&C 101:4 remained in scripture until 18-frickin’-76:

    “Inasmuch as this Church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication and polygamy, we declare that we believe that one man should have one wife, and one woman but one husband, except in the case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again.”

    It is known that when a person has been beguiled into some sort of scam, they will often fight the evidence that proves their own foolishness rather than see that they have sacrificed time, money, or other resources to something utterly worthless. The human mind’s ability to rationalize is astounding. How much will someone fight the evidence for some people will depend on how much they’ve already paid or sacrificed for that scam. The pain of accepting the ramifications of such a loss can be unbearable.

    Here is a website about how scams work: http://www.scamwatch.gov.au/content/index.phtml/tag/HowScamsWork/

    Joseph was charming. He claimed authority. He would tell them that his was a limited time offer. There were times when he approached young girls who were away from their parents or wives away from their husbands.

    Considering how many members of the church are able to reconcile their faith after learning of polyandry, the Book of Abraham, and other such troubling stories, it is not hard to understand the early saints reconciling their faith. Belief in spiritual experiences is a powerful thing. Certainly many *did* leave over it. That some remained is not surprising at all. I certainly do not find it evidence of it being of God, any more than I find the following of other religious traditions in the face of evidence to the contrary to be evidence.

    As soon as a member became aware of Joseph having relations with someone other than Emma, they would be given the “angel with a sword” story. If they want to believe Joseph is a prophet for other reasons, they will accept this justification so that their belief can be consistent. When one has already sacrificed and suffered greatly for the church, it is more flattering to believe that the church is true and their place in heaven assured by their sacrifice than that their sacrifice was utterly in vain.

    Also, the testament of Levi Lewis concerning Eliza Winters is dismissed because he claims Joseph Smith showed the plates to no one. But this is not what the quote says. Here are the words of the quote: “With regard to the plates, Smith said God had deceived him–which was the reason he did not show them.” It says that he did not show it to them. Who is “them?” There were a whole heck-uv-a-lot more people Joseph didn’t show the plates to who asked to see them than those that he did show them to. And who is “him”? The specific person Joseph was not showing the plates to? So, say a specific person asked Joseph to see the plates and Joseph says to that person “God has deceived you so I can not show them to you.”

    Not seeing a problem here.

    Also, right before the statement about Harris not blaming Joseph for trying to seduce Eliza, Levi Lewis says that he’d heard both Joseph Smith and Martin Harris say that adultery is no crime. This puts the comment about Eliza into context and perspective. It is about rationalizing God’s laws to justify what is wanted, another thing the human mind excels at.

    • Daniel
      February 22, 2013 at 4:20 pm

      Precisely Mary.

      Also, how many of the 70 something wives of Warren Jeffs have written exposes? We have a modern example of people staying fiercely loyal even though clearly there’s a lot of womanizing and sexual immorality. I’m not saying this the case for Joseph Smith necessarily, but the lack of exposes or fist-hand allegations from the wives means nothing.

      • Tim Harper
        February 25, 2013 at 3:22 pm

        History is very hazy, and I’m not going to base my decisions on Joseph Smith’s personal life, maybe he was an angel. I’m most concerned with the fruits (Book of Mormon, D&C, Book of Abraham).

        This is my personal interpretation, and I could be misreading this wrong, but this part of the Doctrine and Covenants is disturbing to me:


        51 Verily, I say unto you: A commandment I give unto mine
        handmaid, Emma Smith, your wife, whom I have given unto you, that
        she stay herself and partake not of that which I commanded you to
        offer unto her; for I did it, saith the Lord, to prove you all, as
        I did Abraham, and that I might require an offering at your hand,
        by covenant and sacrifice.

        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.

        53 For I am the Lord thy God, and ye shall obey my voice; and I
        give unto my servant Joseph that he shall be made ruler over many
        things; for he hath been faithful over a few things, and from
        henceforth I will strengthen him.

        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

        When I think, who would have been more likely to write something like that? Warren Jeffs? Or Thomas S. Monson? To me, it sounds much more like something Warren Jeffs would have received by revelation. I really, really, REALLY, dislike this piece of LDS history. How to I read this and not see abhorrent, in-the-open spousal abuse?

        Is there any question that there is a clear gap between current LDS church leadership and Joseph Smith? In some regards, it’s almost like they are two entirely different churches, in much the same way that the Book of Mormon miracles seem to be so far-fetched and disconnected from reality that not only do they seem improbable to today, LDS missionaries to not expect miracles of that grandeur. I guess this means our generation is lacking faith, according to Moroni? Or does faith produce strong confirmation bias, to label chaotic-chance as a miracle when variables align, and to label it God’s will when they don’t?

        • Tim Harper
          February 25, 2013 at 3:25 pm

          Note to self: write, review, post, in that order.


          * To me, it sounds much more like something Warren Jeffs would have received by “revelation”

          * LDS missionaries ARE COUNSELED to not expect miracles

          • Kessee
            March 3, 2013 at 2:20 pm

            And if you look closely….what exactly did Josep..uh…God tell Emma to ‘stay herself’ from?

            Well, the answer would be…(brace yourself for this “House of Order” addition to the confused mess of polyandral chaose)…taking another HUSBAND! Ta da! She wanted in on it if Joseph was getting it too. But, in Joseph’s utmost magnanimity, he changed his mind. So God just went, “Oh..PSYCHE!” How convenient.

            Oh, but it was just a trial of Abraham, I’m sure.

        • Lost In Provo
          March 7, 2013 at 9:34 am


          Don’t worry, the Church will revise these problematic verses in a future edition. All in due time!

          D&C 131 has always troubled me. I often mentioned to my wife, would a loving God threaten to destroy Emma if she wasn’t onboard?! Of course not.

          • Scott Taylor
            March 7, 2013 at 11:05 am

            Exactly right. Most of these issue can be resolved when the true nature of God is understood. Would he destroy Emma? Would he destroy someone for looking at the Gold Plates without “authorization?” You can certainly find stories like this in the Old Testamant but the question has to be asked still, does this square with the God you know?

          • Steve Graham
            March 7, 2013 at 11:14 am

            What of the couple who lied to Peter about how much they were consecrating to God?

  5. Mary Bassett
    February 21, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    Also, the reason given why polygamy had to be practiced was for women to all have an opportunity to have a husband. Considering all the “sorting out” that already needs to happen, all the currently single young women who will supposedly will be denied no blessing, why did polygamy have to be lived in this life?

    Considering all the chaos, pain, and problems, it seems that the only answer is to cover the sins of the indiscretions of those high-up in the church.

    But again, according to scam psychology, because of the terrible pain and sacrifice of those plural wives who remained faithful, so many then held all the tighter to their beliefs to keep their sanity, and people today cling to their beliefs because their ancestors held through such terrible trials, and they feel they have to live up to that or not be “good enough.” They believe they will face their ancestors in heaven who will ask them why they didn’t hold faithful after all they themselves were asked to suffer.

  6. Robert Cope
    February 21, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    square peg, thank you. You have summed things up perfectly. As I listened I started to feel insane. What sort of God says “oh, this will really be worth all my creations’ time. I’ll have them dig through these absurdities for a couple hundred years.” I say walk away. I’ve got my own fantastic life to figure out. I don’t need to spend another minute thinking about Joseph’s. He had his turn. He doesn’t get to have mine as well.

    • Seasickyetstilldocked
      February 21, 2013 at 3:35 pm

      Well said Robert. I know square peg’s pain only too well. I tried for over a year……reading, praying ,temple, repeat…….trying to reconcile my testimony to this enlarged set of information and it was awful. You just got to let it go. The life I live now is way better than the one the church wanted me to live. Joseph did have his chance and by the looks of things he made stuff up as he went, changed his mind all the time and had quite a lot of, ahem, fun along the way. Why should I have to believe made up stuff is real, never be able to change my mind and live the same mind numbing church prescribed life script day after day?

      Life is too short.

  7. Bakirish
    February 21, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    I just finished reading “Fanny Alger and Joseph Smith’s Pre-Nauvoo Reputation.” I am a believer that Joseph Smith had sex with many women and he used his religious teachings to condone his actions. This article in no way changed my mind. I am also an active, card carrying, pragmatic, club member.

    I did appreciate some of your arguments. They seemed to make sense, but I keep coming back to the word “improbable” which is used several times in the article. Over and over again you suggest a given viewpoint because of improbabilities or because someone did not do something. We do not have record that X happened, so it is improbable that Y happened.

    Furthermore, the typical apologetic bias writing style abounds. Anyone presenting a quote against Mr. Smith is a “critic,” “skeptic,” an “improbable” witness, or a person with an “unsupported memory.” Events that the non-Mormon world would not believe are presented as fact. For example, I thought this one was cute, in the Marinda Johnson section the author declares, “Joseph had healed her mother of a disability that prevented her from using her arm.” Wait a minute… where is the “allegedly?” Anti-Mormons are dumb, mindless, ax grinders. Mormons are smart, witty, and anything they say, even if it is fifty years removed from the event, is acceptable in a court of law.

    Even if only one of these accusations is true, it ruins Joseph’s reputation. And it is very “improbable” that every one of them is a complete fabrication. You yourself admit that Mr. Smith had sex with Fanny Alger. That in my mind is adultery. I understand your rationalizations saying that Mr. Smith was “sealed” to Fanny so it was acceptable. But I come back to what is “probable.” It is much more probable that Joseph had an affair, got caught, and came up with a religious excuse, that he developed over time, to wiggle out of the situation. Polygamy has been, and still is, a disaster for the Church. There were many practical ways to care for early Saints. It is very “improbable” that a God would institute such a scourge into his Church.

    In my own family history I have relatives that experienced the same “stories” relative to polygamy that the early anti-Mormons told. And this history bolsters my testimony that the early anti-Mormon accounts of polygamy were factual. My gg-grandfather returned to England for medical reasons and while there he converted the widow of his brother. She was mid-thirties and came to Salt Lake with her two children. Her story parallels the story told about the Nauvoo proposal by Mr. Smith to Nancy Rigdon. She was approached by Brigham Young in a secluded basement room. She was told that she was already sealed to Brigham, that she was to be his wife, and that they could consummate their marriage right there on the spot. She refused and an argument ensued. Luckily, her son, who was working for Brigham to pay back their debt to the perpetual emigration fund, walked into the room and helped her out of the situation. Needless to say, she left Salt Lake City shortly thereafter and relocated to Wyoming where she raised her family outside of the Church. Her son swore for the rest of his life that if he ever got the chance he would kill Brigham Young.

    It still all boils down to what you want to believe. You make a very good argument that will appeal to the audience that wants to idolize Mr. Smith. However, most people will read the article and realize that nothing was proven or disproven.

    On a personal note, I have lived 50 years with a single wife without having a single accusation of sexual impropriety put against my name. I live the law of chastity. And yet, ironically, in my wonderful Utah County neighborhood I am scum because I voice my opinion about difficult historical issues. Mr. Smith, on the other hand, is idolized by my neighbors. They actually put his portrait up in their living room if you can believe that. And yet, when it comes to the big cultural commandments of the Church, Law of Chastity and the Word of Wisdom, I am a much “better” person than Mr. Smith ever was.

    • Lilli
      February 21, 2013 at 8:30 pm


      I am so glad to hear your GG relative learned what BY was really like (and saved in time from him) and wasn’t fooled into going along with polygamy like so many other women were. I believe your story sounds too true and just like something Brigham Young would do to a woman.

      And though I believe that Joseph Smith told the truth his whole life and thus never preached or practiced polygamy, that it was all BY’s & others who started it, I do believe that if Joseph really did fall for polygamy then it only further shows how even prophets can fall and commit whoredoms too and lose their standing before God, as so many other prophets & great men in the scriptures have fallen by polygamy.

      It seems most men throughout history have fallen for polygamy, either to live it or believe in it or desire it or allow it, instead of protecting their wife & women from just such things, as righteous men always do.

  8. Mary Bassett
    February 21, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    Section 132 is used as evidence that there can by no sexual polyandry. Section 101:4 demonstrates that the D&C can say one thing and Joseph Smith practicing something entirely different.

    And the whole “woman being destroyed” thing really doesn’t make this any more pleasant….

    Brian Hales claims that in the cases of polyandry, the marriages were eternity only, with no sexual relations. In the case of Sylvia Sessions Lyon, she continued to live with her husband (I assume they had sex) and it is uncertain if he knew of her marriage to Joseph. But she had a daughter to whom she confessed was the daughter of Joseph. Unless this is immaculate conception, it would appear that Brian Hales is mistaken. Hales weasles out of this by suggesting that she meant she wasn’t his literal offspring, only that she would belong to him in heaven. How convenient. :p

    Also, Brian Hales says that Joseph’s polygamy and John Bennett’s spiritual wifery were *entirely* different because Joseph never referred to his as “spiritual wifery.” But it is clear that the term “spiritual wife” was used freely. Joseph married a couple of older women, and asked them to help him proposition younger wives. They added an air of propriety to the whole thing (see the article above about scams and the “everyone is doing it” ploy). Elizabeth Durfee (52 years old, wife of Joseph) clearly uses the term “spiritual wife” when trying to convince Emily Partridge (19 years old) to marry Joseph.

    That John C. Bennett was more of a scallywag than Joseph does not redeem Joseph from being a more clever and charming scallywag, so charming, that long after his death, his polywives only thought most fondly of him. Of course, when someone dies, it is easy to remember them fondly. The air of tragedy and loss leads human nature to heap honor upon them.

    Of course, there is the whole creepy father-turned-husband vibe, both with Fanny Alger (adopted daughter to them) and Lucy Walker, one of my ancestors. Joseph arranged to have her stay with him away from her parents at a tender young age to be “received and treated as my own children….”

    My poor, dear ancestor spoke of her agony at being away from her parents and being blindsided by Joseph’s offer of marriage. He threatened her thusly: “It is a command of God to you. I will give you untill to-morrow to decide this matter. If you reject this message the gate will be closed forever against you.”

    Poor girl! What was she to do? To whom was she to turn? She says the following: I felt at this moment that I was called to place myself upon the altar a liveing Sacrafice, perhaps to brook the world in disgrace and incur the displeasure and contempt of my youthful companions; all my dreams of happiness blown to the four winds, this was too much, the thought was unbearable.”

    She says that by morning she received a powerful witness. But under such pressure, the mind does insane things. She continued to speak of it as a sacrifice and not a matter of love, not for her. Also, that Emma seemed to know nothing of it.

    I wonder if the older wives were for show for Emma, to keep her from feeling jealous, while the young wives were the real prizes for Joseph, to be kept secret and delectably savored. So indeed Brian Hales can claim that those older women were “eternity only”, as they were not sexually attractive to Joseph.

    In Brian Hale’s claims that Joseph was not promiscuous or had sex with married women who were having sex with their husbands, I wonder if he included the following from Ann Eliza Young, who had been married to Brigham Young:

    “Joseph not only paid his addresses to the young and unmarried women, but he sought ‘spiritual alliance’ with many married ladies… He taught them that all former marriages were null and void, and that they were at perfect liberty to make another choice of a husband. The marriage covenants were not binding, because they were ratified only by Gentile laws…. consequently all the women were free….

    “One woman said to me not very long since, while giving me some of her experiences in polygamy: ‘The greatest trial I ever endured in my life was living with my husband and deceiving him, by receiving Joseph’s attentions whenever he chose to come to me.’

    “This woman, and others, whose experience has been very similar, are among the very best women in the church; they are as pure-minded and virtuous women as any in the world. They were seduced under the guise of religion,…

    “Some of these women have since said they did not know who was the father of their children; this is not to be wondered at, for after Joseph’s declaration annulling all Gentile marriages, the greatest promiscuity was practiced; and, indeed, all sense of morality seemed to have been lost by a portion at least of the church.” (Wife No. 19, 1876, pages 70-71)

    • Derek P. Moore
      February 22, 2013 at 9:11 am

      Section 132 contains language supporting polyandry here:

      41 And as ye have asked concerning adultery, verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man receiveth a wife in the new and everlasting covenant, and if she be with another man, and I have not appointed unto her by the holy anointing, she hath committed adultery and shall be destroyed.

      Corollary: If she be with another man, and I have appointed unto her by the holy anointing, she hath not committed adulty.

      See how easy the natural consequences of sound logic are?

      • Ron
        March 8, 2013 at 1:46 pm

        So by your same logic… If JS takes the wife of another man who is not married to that wife under the covenenant she is commiting adultery with her first husband? I wonder if that was ever the case with any of JSs 11 wives. Were all 11 wives sealed to their first husbands as well?

  9. Troy Morrell
    February 21, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    I was a bit thunderstruck to hear Dr. Hales say that it is likely that Joseph produced a possible two children from his polygamous unions. I had always heard that DNA analysis had ruled out any possibility of descendants, but also heard rumblings about the methods used to conduct that DNA analysis. Glad to hear Dr. Hales fully disclose that the Josephine Lyons story is credible, and the DNA evidence is muddy, in contrast to the church’s public statements.


    I would like to hear Dr. Hales expand on his thoughts regarding why it is so important to church members that Joseph was a monogamist, at least sexually?

    Also, The dichotomy approach to polygamy (either/or God commanded polygamy or Joseph Smith was a sex fiend) needs to be called out right off the bat. Dr. Hales needs to apply that to every religious leader who practiced polygyny throughout history, including fundamentalist Mormons, leaders like David Koresh, Warren Jeffs, and Brian David Mitchell. We might as well apply the same logic to every other marriage, including mine, and yours. Is it possible that there is more to marriage, polygamous even, than just sex?

    I find the dichotomy of the church’s truth claims to be the reason that people leave so abruptly when they learn problematic history and doctrine. Given the fact that the church does not flesh out these issues, and the availability of information about these issues, there is going to be a lot more dissonance and apostasy.

    I’m sure you’ll get to that part of the discussion, but I would love to hear Dr. Hales thoughts regarding how he would reconcile the possibility that polygamy wasn’t actually commanded by God and Joseph still being an inspired prophet. (I think the fact that he wasn’t slain with a flaming sword when some of his advances failed is sufficient proof that God wasn’t going to have anyone killed.)

    • Mary Bassett
      February 21, 2013 at 5:40 pm

      Considering the likelihood that these women were having sex with both Joseph and their first husbands at the same time, as Ann Young says, these women didn’t have a clue *who* the father of their child was. That DNA evidence says it wasn’t Joseph’s has nothing to do with it. It just means that Joseph’s sperm didn’t win the race. 🙂

  10. Mary Bassett
    February 21, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    Hales claims that because of D&C 132, the women he married that already had husbands were either fully Joseph’s and no longer had sexual relations with their first husband *or* they were only to be Joseph’s in the next life and had no sex with Joseph in this life.

    First of all, the comment by Ann Eliza Young I quote above blows this out of the water. (Not to mention that of Sylvia Lyons which Brian Hales conveniently ignores as figurative only.) Second, if D&C 101:4 can say “Inasmuch as this Church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication and polygamy, we declare that we believe that one man should have one wife, and one woman but one husband, except in the case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again.” until 1876, then why should I believe D&C 132? If they can lie once, why not again?

    Brian Hales statement is so unscholarly as to be ridiculous. It is a statement of faith only, because his faith demands that Joseph be honest and upright because he is a prophet of God, not because that is what the evidence suggests!

    • Lilli
      February 21, 2013 at 9:01 pm


      Brian appears to believe that true prophets can lie and intentionally deceive a whole church for their entire life, and led the Saints astray (so many refused to believe in BY & polygamy later), as well teach men by his example to be extremely abusive to their wife & all women.

      How could God or Joseph Smith ever look down from heaven and expect anyone to believe in BY or polygamy after Joseph had warned them all their life that they would be damned if they ever fell for polygamy, even if a prophet or angel preached it to them?

      They couldn’t. God is not a God of confusion or lies. Joseph couldn’t have lied anymore than God could or would.

      Why is it so hard for people to believe Joseph told the truth, no matter if the whole world says otherwise, as they most likely will.

    • Derek P. Moore
      February 22, 2013 at 9:12 am

      Section 132 contains language supporting polyandry here:

      41 And as ye have asked concerning adultery, verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man receiveth a wife in the new and everlasting covenant, and if she be with another man, and I have not appointed unto her by the holy anointing, she hath committed adultery and shall be destroyed.

      Corollary: If she be with another man, and I have appointed unto her by the holy anointing, she hath not committed adulty.

      See how easy the natural consequences of sound logic are?

  11. Mary Bassett
    February 21, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    Brian Hales also claims that if Joseph was practicing sexual polyandry, he’d have included it in D&C 132. Now,I’ve already mentioned D&C 101:4 twice, which pretty much throws doubt on anything Joseph is gonna proclaim about polygamy. But in addition to this, in the light of the William Law issue, of Emma asking if he could be her special “spiritual husband”, (which Brian Hales hasn’t mentioned yet, but I imagine he will in future podcasts), I think it is likely that Joseph is trying to nip in the bud any further talk of spiritual husbandry from Emma. Once again, we have the double standard rearing its ugly head.

    Once again, Brian Hales is starting from the assumption that Joseph Smith is a trustworthy man and that all his revelations are from God. This, however, he fails to prove.

    As for the faithful members not complaining, well, all the ones who did left the church and faithful LDS then discount anything they have to say as being suspect. Again, how convenient! Those who stay, stay for their own very personal reasons. They have truly laid themselves down on the altar, willing to sacrifice all because they trust, they believe.

    • Lilli
      February 21, 2013 at 8:41 pm

      Brian appears to not be aware how Joseph said to judge ‘true’ revelation from ‘false’ revelation, especially from an angel.

      It’s clear that polygamy is completely contrary the the Book of Mormon, which I assume Brian believes is the most correct book we have, plus it goes against the original D&C, before BY took out the scriptures against polygamy and put in his pro-polygamy 132.

      Whatever Joseph did or didn’t do, Brigham Young and those leaders who followed him, including all the other Presidents of the Church who practiced polygamy, did enough to bring the Church into complete apostasy and condemnation just by their vile acts themselves, no matter what the truth about Joseph is.

      When you really study the truth about these church leaders it is absolutely disgusting, and even more astounding that anyone could believe they are true prophets. With true prophets like them who needs false prophets or devils?

    • Derek P. Moore
      February 22, 2013 at 9:12 am

      Section 132 contains language supporting polyandry here:

      41 And as ye have asked concerning adultery, verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man receiveth a wife in the new and everlasting covenant, and if she be with another man, and I have not appointed unto her by the holy anointing, she hath committed adultery and shall be destroyed.

      Corollary: If she be with another man, and I have appointed unto her by the holy anointing, she hath not committed adulty.

      See how easy the natural consequences of sound logic are?

      • Me
        February 22, 2013 at 11:54 am

        I love sound logic: so simple and easy. Makes my brain feel clear and my heart feel light. Thanks for clarifying DPM.

        What do you think of this logic:


        According to this verse in section 132, god to has the ability to “appoint” women to have sex with certain men, AND if god, also according to this verse, has the right to destroy women who have committed the crime of adultery by having sex with men to whom god has not given them permission to have sex

        And if…..

        jealous human males have a tendency to be possessive of women they’re sexually attracted to and to try to tell them who they may and may not be sexual with, AND if such human males have a tendency to attack women who do not adhere to their sexual restrictions (a couple observations from my own experience)


        God, in this verse, is speaking like a jealous human male, no?

        • Me
          February 22, 2013 at 12:04 pm

          Wait…. I forgot something…. the behaviors I’m associating with “jealous” human males are often also associated with “righteous” human males.

          Just like jealous human males can tell women who they can and cannot have sex with, righteous human males can tell women who they can and can’t have sex with. Just as jealous human males punish women for having sex with the wrong people, righteous human males punish women for having sex with the wrong people.

          So god isn’t acting like a jealous human male in this verse, he’s acting like a “righteous” human male.

          Is it possible that “righteous” human males are actually “jealous” human males in disguise?

          Just a bit of logic…..

          • Me
            February 22, 2013 at 12:11 pm

            If so, how do we discern between a “righteous” human male and a “jealous” human male? Is it possible?

  12. Mary Bassett
    February 21, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    Brian Hales claims that Orson Hyde forgave Joseph marrying his wife while he is away, because a few months later he was marrying plural wives of his own. Of course, this is the bait that Joseph was able to offer the men in his favor, that they could have as many women as they desired.

    He suggests that Marinda was pressing for the marriage and that is why she married Joseph before Orson got home from his mission! :laughs:

    Of course, in most of the polyandrous marriages, there is no evidence that the husbands even knew! If they can’t know, they can’t complain, can they?

    He says Lucky Walker claims women had their choice. Okay… but Joseph also said to her specifically that she had to accept it that day or the offer would be forever closed to her. He was creating a scarcity instead of threatening. Still a con-artist trick.

    Brian says that there is no threat, but in D&C 132 we read the following:

    64 And again, verily, verily, I say unto you, if any man have a wife, who holds the keys of this power, and he teaches unto her the law of my priesthood, as pertaining to these things, then shall she believe and administer unto him, or she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord your God; for I will destroy her; for I will magnify my name upon all those who receive and abide in my law.

    This is a blanket threat upon ALL women. All women who are taught polygamy by their husband who holds the keys of the power! This then applies to every woman Joseph propositions!

  13. Mary Bassett
    February 21, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    Pardon me, the above verse 64 does not actually apply to the propositioned wife, only to an existing wife on her acceptance of new wives. Still a pretty disturbing verse. 🙂 But alas, I can’t edit my above comment.

    But as for the women having a choice? I think that is stretching things when we consider Joseph telling women that they were given to him, meant to be his already. Mary Elizabeth Lightner says: “Joseph said I was his before I came here.” This sounds like the sort of thing that big-headed BYU priesthood holders pull on pretty young ladies they fancy.

  14. Mary Bassett
    February 21, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    From a Maxwell Institute article:

    “After some chapters, readers may wonder, “Did God inspire or lead Joseph to be sealed to women who were already married?” The most direct response is “Yes.” As believing Latter-day Saints and research historians, we interpret Joseph Smith’s involvement with the introduction of plural (celestial) marriage as being firmly grounded in both moral and inspired eternal principles. This conclusion is based on a consistent picture in early documents, including the faithful lives and personal revelations of the first participants, and their remarkable perseverance in overcoming obstacles to accepting and living this celestial principle of marriage.”


    The church has painted themselves into a corner. They can’t insinuate that Joseph is a fallen prophet or they lose the authority of the church. But they can’t deny what happened, the evidence is too solid.

    The fact that those faithful to the church sacrificed so much on the alter, suffered so terribly, only serves to strengthen the determination to hold to the ideal.

    From the same article:

    “Reliable evidence indicates that Joseph Smith fathered some children through his plural marriages with single women, but that evidence does not necessarily support intimacy with polyandrous wives. Compton’s own discussion of “Sexuality in Joseph Smith’s Plural Marriages” (pp. 12—15) is muddled. He generalizes without specifying which category (single, widowed, divorced, separated, married) of plural wives supposedly took part in this most private aspect of plural marriage. For example, Compton concludes this discussion: “Though it is possible that Joseph had some marriages in which there were no sexual relations, there is no explicit or convincing evidence for this. . . . And in a significant number of marriages, there is evidence for sexual relations” (p. 15). Which marriages?”

    There you go. Keep it muddy and confusing and hope that people don’t look too close. And pray they never find Ann Young’s comment about women not knowing who the father of their child was. Or Sylvia Lyon’s confession to her daughter that she was Joseph’s child, though Lyons lived with her other husband the whole time.

  15. Robert Rey Black
    February 21, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    Fortunately, we have Joseph’s reasoning in print by the Church. There is an essay in the Teachings of The Prophet Joseph Smith, called, I believe, an essay on happiness. Actually, it is an attempt to convince Nancy Rigdon to marry him. Read in that context, it becomes interesting.

    I have yet to see a defense of the Sarah Pratt, affair, or the Jane Law affair, or the Lydia Moon affair.

    But, to be transparent, I am a plyg. I have to have everything ever printed on polygamy. I will have to buy Hales collection, even if we have to starve. I continually have to convince myself that it is right. There is no doubt that it is a trial. It is a trial for both the man and the woman. Is it an Abrahamic test? Perhaps so. It was for me. Even worse, I am well read and I know of Joseph’s lies. His lies hurt me even across those 150 years. When I was a child, I was taught that it was wrong to lie. It would be easier for me if Joseph ran a whore house. As long as he did not lie. It is said that he was just clever about how he answered his questions. No, he lied. He had the intent to deceive others. That, folks, is lying. That jeapardizes all of the stories that he has ever told.

    Fortunately, I love the Book of Mormon and the Temple doctrine. I don’t care where they came from. I love it. IMHO, Joseph had to have had his blood spilled for his sins. And, I have to keep my nose clean and not lie.

    Remember, the most loved book of the Bible was written by David. And the Temple was built by Solomon. I stand in wonder at God’s uncomprehendable logic.

    • Troy Morrell
      February 23, 2013 at 6:55 am

      Robert, that is a telling post, and thank you for your candor. Your situation is painful to read about. I can’t imagine the strain and suffering in your life because of the (il)logical pathways that you have taken once you follow this crazy doctrine and practice. Your last sentence is a statement that the bible is the source that absolves you of thinking further.

      Maybe consider that the bible is problematic, even downright fictional, in the portrayal of historic characters and their actions? Maybe God didn’t have a hand in biblical polygamy, either?

  16. Alison
    February 21, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    This podcast was just hard to follow and listen to. It wasn’t easy to stay focused on what what being said – not sure if it was Brian’s style or what. I normally really enjoy listening to the podcasts but just couldn’t get through this one.

  17. Lilli
    February 21, 2013 at 9:31 pm

    I believe that if and when Joseph Smith returns to the earth, most of the LDS will not even accept him as a prophet, for he will preach the same things he did when he was alive, that polygamy is & always was a vile whoredom, etc. & he will preach Christ’s teachings, which most LDS members or leaders don’t even seem to believe in.

    The only way people can stay in the LDS Church is to believe that prophets lie & deceive the whole church & lead them astray about the most vital doctrines. Members must believe that Joseph Smith and all prophets can be extremely abusive husbands & still keep their Priesthood & authority & go to heaven, even if you don’t want to call them adulterous.

    The bottom line is, that Joseph & Brigham preached completely opposite doctrines & religions from one another. Most LDS probably would not even accept Joseph’s teachings if he returned, for they are so used to Brigham’s contrary teachings of polygamy, false temple ceremonies & numerous other evils, all of which that I believe Joseph never even heard of.

    Joseph believed in Christ & his teachings, while Brigham Young & those who have followed him up until today, do not appear to.

  18. Jef
    February 21, 2013 at 10:08 pm

    So let me just make sure i understand. I fall in love with a woman, she falls in love with me, we get married. Later, “prophet” of God comes along and says that she belongs with him because an angel showed up with a flaming sword to help him exercise his free agency and take my wife from me.

    ahh, now it all makes sense somehow… just not to me.

  19. Corazon
    February 22, 2013 at 4:07 am

    I don’t want to sound presumptuous or arrogant here but I think I have a unique perspective on this issue.

    I am currently employed as a cop and as such, I regularly have encounters with those members of society who are, shall we say, less-than-willing to abide by society’s laws. And in an effort to salve their guilty conscience, I have heard a plethora of both amazing and ridiculous justifications for their actions.

    For anyone who has studied anything about crimes of a sexual nature, the one thing you learn is that such crimes have nothing to do with sex. This may sound strange but it is true. Rape, molestation, etc. are crimes driven by the need for CONTROL and POWER, not sex. And dare I say that a craving/impulse for control and power was often a regular need for the Prophet. Is this not the same man who crowned himself “King of the Earth?”

    I’ve personally met and talked with HUNDEREDS of sexual deviants and to my ASTONISHMENT, not a one of them is EVER guilty of anything. There’s always a convenient excuse. There’s always a special exemption. There’s always a justification. I don’t know if God commanded J. Smith to practice polygamy, but what I do know is that I have to seriously question any god who would. It just seems so un-god-like. Either I need to lower my opinion of J. Smith or lower my opinion of God.

    With all due respect to Dr. Hales, I feel like much of his presentation comes off sounding less like history and more like a defense attorney trying to get his perverted client off the hook. Even if we assume for the sake of argument that Dr. Hales has completely destroyed all of Grant Palmer’s arguments, the simple fact remains that J. Smith had sex with young girls, married women, etc. How can we be ok with that? How can we call that the will of God? Why does J. Smith get a free pass? For me, this really does boil down to common sense, and as a result, I would have ZERO problem slapping the cuffs on him and hauling him to jail if he were alive today.

    We already know that J. Smith had scrapes with the legal system of his day. We

    • Aaron F
      February 23, 2013 at 1:39 pm

      I had a similar reaction to the interviews. Dr. Hales did a good job calling into question the reliability of *some* of Palmer’s evidence (certainly not all), but at the end of the day, you’re still left dealing with some very uncomfortable facts: Smith married, and had sex with, other men’s wives; Smith married underage girls; Smith didn’t practice polygamy according to his own rule book (D&C 132); and many others.

      There’s also the plain reality that the practice of polygamy nearly culminated in the absolute dissolution of the church. If that was the ultimate “fruit” of polygamy, then how does that figure into the whole “by their fruits ye shall know them” principle?

  20. Aaron T
    February 22, 2013 at 6:52 am

    The most disturbing part of this podcast was Dr. Hales’ insinuation/statement that if a person/community/news organization is deemed to need “milk”, it’s perfectly okay to dissimulate, obfuscate, misrepresent, or mislead. Hales seems to have determined that lying for The Lord is not only okay, but should be expected. Wild.

    • Derek P. Moore
      February 22, 2013 at 12:30 pm

      The Old Testament says not to give milk before meat to anyone not even kids or you will be condemned.

      • Aaron T.
        February 22, 2013 at 3:37 pm

        The Old Testament says a lot of things – mass killing is sometimes okay. That’s the problem….justifying bad behavior in the name of an Old Testament precedent does not make unethical conduct ethical, immoral acts moral, or lies somehow truth. I have a simple standard – anytime someone violates the golden rule or one of the 10 commandments in the name of religion – I run away.

    • Jared
      February 22, 2013 at 2:27 pm

      “throw the meat out there and it’s just gonna come back and bite tcha!” hales says at 0:34:37. indeed! indeed this freak-a-zoid meat bites back. hard. i hope anyone eating this meat is eating it sparingly. as for me, i’m going to stay vegetarian.

  21. Derek P. Moore
    February 22, 2013 at 9:05 am

    Section 132 *DOES* include language that allows polyandry. In order to see this language first you have to be able to read and understand English, and secondly you have to set aside your anti-polygamy brainwashing and investigate with a clear mind absent of emotional distraction.

    • Lilli
      February 22, 2013 at 8:55 pm

      Yes, D&C 132 does appear to talk about polyandry, but I don’t believe 132 is true scripture, nor do I believe Joseph wrote it. I believe Brigham Young wrote it to justify his whoredoms.

      If polygamy was a true principle, than of course God would allow women the very same opportunity to have ‘multiple husbands’, which I believe women need and are worthy of far more than men need or deserve multiple wives.

      But I don’t believe polygamy is righteous for anyone, because Christ, Joseph Smith and ancient prophets all taught that it is never right, but who listens to them, most people think they all lied, it’s easier that way, then you feel justified in living & dreaming of polygamy.

  22. Me
    February 22, 2013 at 10:42 am

    I like owning my own brain. It feels good to not have to twist it in so many directions anymore. The further I get away from brain twisting, the healthier I feel. Some day I’ll be so free from Mormonism that I’ll look back at my long gone brain-twisted-self and both sigh and laugh.


  23. Derek P. Moore
    February 22, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    Sexual polyandry is not rare or weird, unless you are a brainwashed toward anti-polygamy and cannot see or think clearly on the subject without contorting the evidence to suit your prejudice.

    See, e.g.: http://luptaanticapitalista.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/sex-at-dawn-the-prehistoric-origins-of-modern-sexuality.pdf

  24. Ryan H
    February 22, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    As someone who loves and values the church -is active and serves in the church- and as someone who has a lot to gain from being able to believe only the most positive interpretations about the documented events of his Joseph Smith’s life, my impression after listening to this interview is that this is the best interpretation that can be offered to defend Joseph, and it is not very reassuring.

    To be clear, I don’t mean that as jab at Brian Hales. I commend him and think he is entitled to his interpretations of the data. I am not angered by it at all, nor think less of him as a person.

    For me I am willing to see and enjoy the good of what Joseph as to offer, but I have no choice but to let it live along side evidence of the bad about Joseph.

    Furthermore, it was characterized as a myth that the threats of destruction were used as pressure tactics on the young women. It may be true that there is little or no documentation of this, however, I feel that it strains credibly to believe that “pressure tactics” of any kind were not a part of this affair. My understanding is that salvation was offered as a promised result of entering into these marriages for the women as well as the woman’s families. That means that these faithful believing women were left left with the prospect of accepting the proposition or being responsible for the potential that there family might NOT make it into heaven as a result of turning it down. It’s fine for an apologist to come up with a softer alternative interpretation of what “destruction” means, but none of that matters if the person involved thinks that “destruction” means “DESTRUCTION”, or that they actually believe that their choice to say no might result in one of their loved-ones not being assured salvation.

    • Ryan H
      February 22, 2013 at 1:32 pm

      Furthermore, consider this simple fact- a man who is the religious authority, believed to be the mouthpiece through which God’s people receive God’s word, is teaching select women that due to the fact that he is righteous, and their husbands are not, they will not likely make it to heaven by simply remaining married to their husbands as they were. To me this is a very basic abuse of power. This is a pressure tactic. Yes, on paper it appears that these women (and apparently men) are entering into these arrangements willing, and even at times joyfully, they are doing so because they believe that Joseph is speaking the direct will of God. Just because they believe that Joseph is speaking the direct will of God on this, does not mean that he is.

      • Lilli
        February 22, 2013 at 9:12 pm

        I agree that telling women they couldn’t have eternal marriages to their unbelieving husbands was a pressure tactic and an abusive lie, for I believe it is simply not true. I believe Joseph understood full well that a righteous wife can save her unrighteous husband and take him to the Celestial Kingdom (after he repents in hell) (or visa versa for a righteous husband).

        Even Brigham Young seemed to understand this, probably because Joseph taught it to him. Read 1 Cor. 7:14 and the many other quotes by early church leaders about righteous spouses saving unrighteous spouses.

        Also we now know it was a lie that women had to be sealed to a man in this life if she was ever going to make it to the Cel. Kingdom. We now know that women don’t have to marry at all in this life, and they can just wait to marry in the Millennium when there are plenty of men to choose from and have her own husband to herself.

        Brigham Young and those early leaders seemed to need something to pressure women into going along with polygamy, which they unfortunately fell for because they didn’t have the Spirit and they refused to listen to Christ’s & Joseph’s teachings against polygamy and the false prophets who would come preaching it.

        It is sad that so many women didn’t have the self-respect and self-worth to see through polygamy and those abusive church leaders pushing it, like BY. Joseph & Emma tried to teach the women of Nauvoo to have a little self-respect & not heed men who tried to get them to live or accept polygamy, but so many women then seemed as desperate as many LDS women today, who agree to almost anything just to have a man.

  25. Mary Bassett
    February 22, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    Also, has Brian Hales dealt with the birth of Frank Henry, who was born to Orson Hyde’s wife 294 days after Orson Hyde left for his mission? The average number of days between conception and birth are 266. She was “married” to Joseph Smith, and it is suspected that her son, Frank Henry, is his get.

    I also agree with the statements of Corazon who has worked with sex offenders. It isn’t about sex, it *is* about control. That was why Joseph asked so many men for their wives and then said he didn’t actually want them. He just wanted to know if they’d lay that much down on the altar for his sake. What a power high!

  26. Derek P. Moore
    February 22, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    There is no such thing as an “eternity-only” sealing, and there never has been, just like there has never been a “time-only” sealing (“only” is added to the language by people who are brainwashed and who cannot face plain & simple truths).

    There were two sealing ordinances taught by Joseph Smith, Jr.: one “for time” and one “for time and all eternity.” The “for time” sealing exists because, as taught by Joseph Smith, a woman can only have one “for time and all eternity” sealing while she lives.

    While a woman is alive and has already contracted a “for time and all eternity” sealing all of her additional sealings are “for time” until her death when she is re-sealed by her family “for time and all eternity” to all partners. This is the doctrine as taught by Joseph Smith, Jr., and as practiced by the church today; if you examine the historical record you will not be able to dispute this fact.

    • Lilli
      February 22, 2013 at 9:27 pm

      I believe that Joseph didn’t even teach of any ‘sealing’ at all. He taught that men & women were to be married in a public ceremony and that they their covenants would be forever.

      I don’t believe Joseph ever taught anything about sealings, for such is not necessary. Every couple on earth is married forever if they are righteous, or at least one spouse stays righteous enough to save the other, no matter what religion they are or no religion at all.

      True love is what makes a marriage eternal, not any sealing ceremony like BY made up, just so he could have an excuse to perform his secret marriages & collect teenager wives. God does not work in secret, but BY did.

      How sick & perverted does doctrine have to get before people will finally wake up and start questioning it, and require ‘proof’ that something is right, like God commanded us to do?

      Why are people so quick to follow & believe so blindly? Just because someone calls themself a prophet? Do we now remember that Christ and all true prophets have warned constantly of the ‘false’ prophets that would come among us teachings things like polygamy??? Why do we not believe the holy scriptures, yet instead believe perverse doctrines of men?

      Righteous men & women & especially prophets, are repulsed & outraged at the idea of polygamy, (just like Joseph said he was, but the wicked choose to believe he was lying) & they know instantly that it isn’t right or of God.

  27. February 22, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    We all have bias. What I would love to see here and in the previous episode is an acknowledgment/analysis Grant’s bias as compared with Brian’s bias. Brian is clearly biased as a believer, but to what extent did/does Grant’s bias impact his scholarship?

    • Zack T.
      February 22, 2013 at 7:03 pm

      Thank you John….I was thinking after reading the long list of comments that Bro Brian’s scholarship was surely more biased than Bro’s Grant’s….good call bringing the discussion back into focus with some balance.

    • William of Ockham Spinning in His Grave
      February 23, 2013 at 5:20 pm

      “We all have bias.”

      This is a false equivalence. Apologetics and science are not the same even though “everyone has bias.” Or should we all go on some tapir digs?

      “What I would love to see here and in the previous episode is an acknowledgment/analysis Grant’s bias”

      I think you’re setting up a false choice here. There’s a reason that Mormon apologetics has gotten so personal and nasty in the past–it’s built on attacking outsiders’ “bias,” which quickly turns into 100-page rants on the suspect character of “anti-Mormons” being published in “scholarly journals” at BYU.

      If there is a problem with something that Grant claims or believes, then let’s have that discussion as objectively as we can. The possibility that Grant is imperfect doesn’t justify apologetics as a legitimate approach to truth. That’s a dead end–and an ugly one.

      What we have here is the unfounded assumption that a group of marriages were completely unrelated to and disconnected from sex and an assertion that corroborating evidence of sex (which we should expect to be rare, and which shouldn’t really necessary in the first place, given the nature of marriage) isn’t “enough” to convince someone who came in with a strong desire to believe in unconsummated marriages.

      There’s only one rationale for apologetics: to believe despite reality. If you want to believe something unreasonable, accept that it is unreasonable–don’t try to co-opt reasonable discourse to make yourself feel better. That’s where dishonesty turns outward and hurts those around you.

    • Husky
      February 25, 2013 at 8:28 pm

      I don’t think that’s a fair statement John. When Grant started researching this evidence he was a very faithful member of the church. IMO Grant just followed the evidience to its logical conclusion rather than spinning it to suit a belief that was comfortable for him.

  28. Charlie Carnevale
    February 22, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    The link “Click here to obtain the PowerPoint presentation for this podcast” isn’t working today -Feb 22

    • John Dehlin
      February 22, 2013 at 7:19 pm

      Should work now. Let me know if it doesn’t.

      • Charlie Carnevale
        February 22, 2013 at 7:23 pm

        it goes to a

        Page Not Found
        The page you requested could not be found.

        Unless I’m doing something wrong? We suppose to download it?

        • February 22, 2013 at 8:10 pm

          Ok…try it now. Sorry!

          • Charlie Carnevale
            February 22, 2013 at 10:05 pm

            Works! cool

  29. Charlie Carnevale
    February 22, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    On Hinkleys comment “I don’t know that we teach it. I don’t know that we emphasize it … I understand the philosophical background behind it, but I don’t know a lot about it..”

    is 100% true! I don’t think Brian Hales’ reason is correct. It sounds more of an excuse. Fact is we just don’t teach that, that being the King Follet funeral speech, in sunday school or priesthood and we certainly don’t ’emphasize’ it anywhere. When have you last heard about reaching Godhood during Conference? Hinkleys remarks were in response to a question regarding the remarks given during the funeral services of King Follet which certainly is not church doctrine nor scripture.

    Full transcript is available online:

    Here is the relevant excerpt from President Hinckley’s interview.

    Q: Just another related question that comes up is the statements in the King Follet discourse by the Prophet.

    A: Yeah

    Q: … about that, God the Father was once a man as we were. This is something that Christian writers are always addressing. Is this the teaching of the church today, that God the Father was once a man like we are?

    A: I don’t know that we teach it. I don’t know that we emphasize it. I haven’t heard it discussed for a long time in public discourse. I don’t know. I don’t know all the circumstances under which that statement was made. I understand the philosophical background behind it. But I don’t know a lot about it and I don’t know that others know a lot about it.

    Hinkley was neither misleading nor untruthful because we just don’t teach the King Follet talk as doctrine nor do we teach that God was once a man idea anywhere really. Correlation got rid of that part. It’s on of those deeper mormon doctrines which only come up outside of sunday school or sacrament or even general conference.

    • Aaron T
      February 22, 2013 at 8:52 pm

      The quote that directly addresses polygamy was this one – it’s not doctrinal.

      Larry King: Now the big story raging in Utah — before we get back to morals and morals, is — the big story, if you don’t know it, is polygamy in Utah; there’s been major charges. The governor, Mike Leavitt, says that there are legal reasons why the state of Utah has not prosecuted alleged polygamists. Leavitt said plural marriage may be protected by the First Amendment. He is the great-great-grandson — is the governor — of a polygamist. First tell me about the church and polygamy. When it started it allowed it?

      Gordon B. Hinckley: When our people came west they permitted it on a restricted scale.

      Larry King: You could have a certain amount of…

      Gordon B. Hinckley: The figures I have are from — between two percent and five percent of our people were involved in it. It was a very limited practice; carefully safeguarded. In 1890, that practice was discontinued. The president of the church, the man who occupied the position which I occupy today, went before the people, said he had, oh, prayed about it, worked on it, and had received from the Lord a revelation that it was time to stop, to discontinue it then. That’s 118 years ago. It’s behind us.

      Larry King: But when the word is mentioned, when you hear the word, you think Mormon, right?

      Gordon B. Hinckley: You do it mistakenly. They have no connection with us whatever. They don’t belong to the church. There are actually no Mormon fundamentalists.

      Larry King: Are you surprised that there’s, apparently, a lot of polygamy in Utah?

      Gordon B. Hinckley: I have seen the thing grow somewhat. I don’t know how much it is. I don’t know how pervasive it is.

      Larry King: Should there be arrests?

      Gordon B. Hinckley: It’s matter of civil procedure. The church can’t do anything. We have no authority in this matter, none whatever.

      Larry King: Would you like to see the state to clamp down on it?

      Gordon B. Hinckley: I think I leave that entirely in the hands of the civil officers. It’s a civil offense. It’s in violation of the law. We have nothing to do with it. We’re totally distanced from it. And if the state chooses to move on it, that’s a responsibility of civil officers.

      Larry King: President Hinckley, when the press pays attention to it, it does affect you, certainly, in a public relations sense?

      Gordon B. Hinckley: It does, because people mistakenly assume that this church has something to do with it. It has nothing whatever to do with it. It has had nothing to do with it for a very long time. It’s outside the realm of our responsibility. These people are not members. Any man or woman who becomes involved in it is excommunicated from the church.

      Larry King: Prosecutors in Utah are quoted as saying — they told “The Salt Lake Tribune” — that it’s difficult to prosecute polygamists because of a lack of evidence; that ex-wives and daughters rarely complain about it. Do you see that as a problem?

      Gordon B. Hinckley: Well, it’s secretive. There’s a certain element of secretiveness about it. I suppose they have some difficulty — they say they do, in gathering evidence.

      Larry King: Should the church be more forceful in speaking out? I mean, you’re forceful here tonight, but maybe — they’ve been saying that it’s rather than just a state matter, encouraging the state to prosecute.

      Gordon B. Hinckley: I don’t know. We’ll consider it.

      Larry King: I’m giving you an idea.

      Gordon B. Hinckley: Yes.

      Larry King: Would you look better if you were…

      Gordon B. Hinckley: I don’t know that we would or not. As far as I’m concerned, I have nothing to do with it. It belongs to the civil officers of the state.

      Larry King: You condemn it.

      Gordon B. Hinckley: I condemn it, yes, as a practice, because I think it is not doctrinal. It is not legal. And this church takes the position that we will abide by the law. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, magistrates in honoring, obeying and sustaining the law.

      • Charlie Carnevale
        February 23, 2013 at 8:52 am

        Brrrr….wrong quote, wrong interview there Aaron. The quote everyone was upset about was “I don’t know that we teach it. I don’t know that we emphasize it…” which was during a Time magazine interview with Hinkley and a question on the King Follet talk, not on polygamy.

        By the way polygamy is our time isn’t doctrinal anyway.

        • Aaron T
          February 23, 2013 at 2:47 pm

          Charlie, give me a concise definition of “doctrine” and I’ll bite. Defining mormon “doctrine” is like nailing jello to the wall.

          BTW, I realize the quote everyone was upset about was the one you cite above, but I thought maybe the interviewer/interviewee confused the response to god was once a man, with what Hinckley said about polygamy cited above.

          • Charlie Carnevale
            February 26, 2013 at 9:47 pm

            Doctrine: codification of a belief system?

            For me its akin to the subject matter or issue in its correct manifestation. Can be summarized into simple terms or expanded into a PhD thesis. However there is correct doctrine and false doctrine imho….one can expand a doctrine and all its explanations and features into a logical and original contribution to knowledge but that doesn’t necessarily make it correct.

            I think people mix-up doctrine and ‘revelation’ though; revelations being the will, mind and word of the Lord.

            About Hinkley’s polyginy comment, he also stated somewhere that the doctrine had changed, as one would say the issue changed or the subject matter has now a different outcome. But the Lord can have a will, mind and word one year to command polygamy to occur and then have another will, mind and word to stop it down the road when it isn’t needed anymore. Its dynamic not static or never changing imho. Depends on the times and needs. After all the Lord created, changed then ended the Law of Moses did he not? The ‘doctrine’ there was done away with once it fulfilled its purpose.

    • Charlie Carnevale
      March 2, 2013 at 11:42 am

      Ooops … to correct myself, actually our next weeks priesthood lesson 03/10 is on that couplet, as God was man is etc. Seems the church now does want its members to know this openly.

      However when Hinckley answered that question to the Time’s reporter I don’t think the church taught it that frequently nor emphasised it, hence Hinckley is telling the full truth.

      • Jay
        March 2, 2013 at 3:17 pm

        I think you miss Aaron’s point. I don’t want to speak for him, but I would have to say that Mormon doctrine blows in the wind. What is doctrine today will not be doctrine tomorrow. Now I know what you are going to say, that is due to continuing revelation. The Jehovah’s Witnesses use this same type of statement to justify their changing doctrines. It is obvious to anyone from the outside looking in though that their “doctrine” has less to do with revelation and more to do with what is politically correct and acceptable at the time. Let me give you a prophecy and a revelation. Within the next 10 years homosexuality will be an acceptable lifestyle by the church. “Let it be written, let it be said.” You don’t have to be a prophet to tell the future of the LDS church. Does this not seem laughable to you?

        • charlie carnevale
          March 8, 2013 at 1:52 pm

          I think you missed my point there. The word doctrine does mean something and it is basically the codification of a belief system. As such doctrine can and does change over time. Not necessarily due to revelation though.

          But the accusation that our doctrine changes with time due to political correctness is just way off the mark. Think of the blacks and priesthood issue, it would have changed during the ’50 or ’60s if it was about political correctness. But it changed after the winds of political correctness ended, in the late ’70. But then think about equal amendment, or gay marriage, have they changed due to political correctness or what is acceptable at the time. To the contrary, we are going against the current on both issues.

          When you claim that homosexuality will be ok for us in 10 years and claim that is laughable, I’d say you are the one engaging in some prophesying here and it remains to be seem if your prophesy comes true.

          • Ron
            March 8, 2013 at 3:56 pm

            You are wrong – the 50s and 60s were the height of racism in America – why do you think racial issues were stirring at that time? Because people on both sides were fighting it, that’s why. The 70s and 80s are more in line with an easier time for a “revelation” on this matter as for general acceptance by the church body.

            One day the church will support gay marriage as well…mark my words. Just not now. Now we are in the 50s and 60s on that matter, as well as other things the church does not come forward on for fear of losing/offending its members. (evolution anyone?)

          • Tim
            March 8, 2013 at 4:04 pm

            Another hypothesis would say that to change a decade after the heat of the battle would save more face and create distance in which a claim could be made that it was a change made by divine revelation. 30 years later, the stance has shifted that it was never an official revelation to begin with, denying the blacks priesthood. As time shifts and people forget, it gives time to explore ways to spruce up the history in a more flattering light, and of course, space to do so.

      • Ron
        March 8, 2013 at 3:46 pm

        WOW – what one must do to cover a lie, especially when the liar is a “prophet”. Hinckley lied, no question, just as JS lied and deceived…they were both men before and above their position as Prophets. ALL Humans Lie. Prophets are humans. Sometimes they get caught in lies too…especially if they make a habit of it.

        People who must hold up another human being to an unobtainable standard in order to believe in them need to grow up a little…Christ made mistakes too…and alot of gymnastics are performed to cover those as well.

        • charlie carnevale
          March 11, 2013 at 6:56 pm


          The decline in lynchings by the clan and the drop in its membership from some 30k in the ’30 to some 10K by 1970 would show that you are wrong there Ron, even if you consider the KKK’s many evolutions. What you saw in the ’50 and ’60 was a growth in the number of pro-freedom and equality movement for all races in the US but even today there are groups that resist that change.

          Problem with gay marriage is that its about a definition or the meaning of the word. You think of it as just a loving relationship when we give it a more sacred connotation, that being the ability and right to create life within the marriage boundaries. The issue is completely different to the blacks and priesthood issue and I can promise you that the church will never accept it as church doctrine. You simply will not see gay couples in exaltation.

          About your issues with lying, I see what the real reason is for your objection here ie your claim that even Christ made mistakes. Well, no he didn’t make mistake because he was both perfect and above mistake making. He was a God on earth for only 33 years.

          • Ron
            March 13, 2013 at 11:52 pm

            Racial attitudes in America extended far past the members of the KKK…your data extends into the 70s after the civil rights act of 64 which is my point. The period following that can be shown to be when racism was on the decline. If you have the time/interest read this article published in 1973: https://www.dialoguejournal.com/2012/mormonisms-negro-doctrine-an-historical-overview/

            Gays can certainly create life (just ask my dad, he fathered 6 children within the bounds of a temple marriage all while a card carrying member), and life is created all the time outside of marriage…more today than ever unfortunately – no marriage needed to exercise that “right”. I see gay marriage as a force for good among the gay community reducing promiscuity and fostering the formation of committed relationships -Why wouldn’t we want that among any group of people?

            The real issue the LDS church currently has with gay marriage is how do they continue to forbid gay sex when it is peroformed within the bonds of marriage. Right now they allow gays full active membership within the church as long as they don’t act on their sexual impulses (like any single male member). What happens if/when they are allowed to be legally married?

            Jesus made mistakes and was human. If you choose to ignore that for need to believe in someone greater than Jesus was, fine, believe in SuperJesus…right along with your SuperProphets and infallible scriptures. I could show you quite a few instances scripturally where Jesus erred but that doesn’t fit your narrative, so never mind…viva la apocalypse!

  30. blake
    February 22, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    Wait, so why would God command Joseph to marry for time only? ie Fanny Alger. This makes no sense at all because they wouldn’t be married in the next life so whats the point? Is this to justify the sex that Joseph was having as not to be immoral? That sounds like the same logic teenagers would use to drive to Las Vegas get married, have sex, get divorced in the morning and its not immoral because they were technically married. It was just easier for Joseph because he didn’t have to drive all the way to vegas.

    • charlie carnevale
      March 11, 2013 at 7:01 pm

      “so why would God command Joseph to marry for time only? ie Fanny Alger”

      To be married. Then later when the full Temple ceremony was restored they would be sealed for eternity. Nothing odd about it.

  31. noel
    February 23, 2013 at 2:47 am

    I hope Michael Quinn is given a chance to respond to Hale.

  32. noel
    February 23, 2013 at 2:53 am

    Quinn quotes this

    For example, in requesting a nighttime rendezvous with his recently married, 17-year-old wife Sarah Ann Whitney, Joseph Smith’s letter to her parents and to her (“Brother and Sister, Whitney, and &c.”) in his own handwriting stated:
    “… my feelings are so strong for you since what has pased [sic] lately between us that the time of my absence from you seems so long and dreary, that it seems as if I could not live long in this way: and three would come and see me in this my lonely retreat, it would afford me great relief, of mind … I have a room intirely [sic] by myself, the whole matter can be attended to with most perfect safty [sic] … the only thing to be careful of; is to find out when Emma comes [here,] then you cannot be safe, but when she is not here, there is the most perfect safty [sic] … pardon me for my earnestness on when you consider how lonesome I must be … I think Emma wont [sic] come to night [–] ”

    I wonder what he told Emma about the reasons for his abcence.

  33. Rick
    February 23, 2013 at 6:56 am

    Gotta love the “milk before meat” apologia. Really? Pres. Hinckley told the world “I don’t know that we teach that…” because the world is not ready to hear the truth? Hales even goes to the next level and proclaims that if he gave the meat, he might be going against the scripture commanding to not give meat when they haven’t had milk.

    Scary, really. This justifies all “lying for the Lord” events…and totally allows anything “under the banner of heaven.” If a “prophet” has authority — no, a commandment — to not give meat before milk whenever he is inspired to do so (and of course it justifies so much of Joseph’s illegal and immoral behaviors), what can the church leaders not do if they claim inspiration?! Scary.

    Oh, and Dr. Hales “doesn’t know why God commanded Joseph to bring back polygamy?!” I guess that is how a devoted, invested defender thinks.

    The rest of us? If I were to catch a guy romping in the barn with a hot chick…saying God made him do it…I would be thinking this “God” was his “little head” thinking! It’s not that complicated….

  34. Rude Dog
    February 23, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    I enjoyed Corazon’s perspective. Ockham’s sharp razor seems to cut easily when one ceases to justify this subject through the religion/God glasses and view it through the objective/evidence lenses. History is replete with examples of men of influence and power. One of the most predictable traits of such men are the attending and various sexual license that are seemingly self given, self defined. Sex wielded as power is nothing new, even a yawner in regards to history involving the rich, famous and powerful, oh and self proclaimed prophets. Although I believe most of Joseph’s relationships were indeed sexual, I believe it involved power, position, and influence, and of course it involved simple sex. Sometimes though, I think Hales and those like him in the field of LDS apologia tend to make the sex act a main pivot point. I’ve never understood this as it always seemed counter, or opposite intuitive, say like the homosexual issue within our church, accepting what seems to me would be the hard part, that people could be born with a core basic homosexual fundamental, yet the church high centers on the minutia and small potatoes of that fundamental, the sex act. I think this attitude spills over into Hales approach, and I think pivoting on the sex act says more about Hales and his peers, and all things LDS than anything else.

    I want to back up and just look polygamy itself. Polygamy is one of the more terrible, immoral, and horrific religious/cultural practices in a long line of bad practices. Religious/generational polygamy is especially abusive for women and children. It may be a coincident, but most polygamous societies tend to “monogomize” as they modernize, probably because of the arithmetic of polygamy. I mean, has anyone or did anyone consider the math? With all things being equal (and in societal gender approximation, they are) any additional wives means of deficit of marital opportunities for another man. This not only can be devastating on a personal level, but a societal level as well, as we’ve not only seen in polygamous societies here close to us in the western U.S., but in other societies as well. Take for instance China and India, where sex selective abortions and even infanticide has produced a surplus of men. In this shortage, women will gravitate to those men with more skill, education and affluence, leaving a permant subclass of unmarried men, a subclass numbering 12-15% of the population, that will trend towards vice and violence and gang recruitment. Studies show that when sex ratios are around 120 men to 100 women, it introduces an instability to society as a whole. Closed societies like our Mormon societies would reach these instabilities quicker, and we see its consequences in terms of lost boys, lost generations, and lost potentials. Under such polygamous systems, marriage becomes a competition, and women are viewed as trophies, or possesions, and suddenly the have nots start to seek potential mates from the pools of younger age. I’ve not even touched on the biological consequences of close genetic mixing, or authoritarian societies practicing the antithesis of democracy, openess, egalitarianism, nor have I touched on children growing up mostly fatherless, and wives husbandless. How romantic to skip the courtship, the invaluable singularity of the human experience of falling in love, and go right to the flaming sword, then to the bedroom.

    This is the eternal principle, the New and Everlasting covenant that “no one can reject and be permitted to enter into my glory”, “Then shall they be gods, becasue they have no end…..except ye abide my law ye cannot attian this glory” covenant? From God? Given as commandment? To sneak behind Emma’s back? Women? A life of feminine misery for some 2nd class exalted sphere of eternal polygamy? And the chestnut that it was intended for a select few? Is God a respecter of persons with eternal principles for some, and not for others? This is Joseph Smith’s polygamy. Warren Jeff’s is Joseph Smith’s polygamy.

    I’m one of those (yawn) that lost my LDS faith and became those that belong to the no faith, the Atheist/Agnostic crowd. I love the fact that I don’t have to reconcile not only Joseph’s polygamy, but Abraham’s as well. I don’t have to, like square peg at the beginning of this thread articulated, get my brain and spirit around the nauseating inconsistencies. The turbulence stopped and smooth air prevailed when I stopped trying to reconcile, and the pure peace of a calm mind prevailed. Book of Mormon problems? Gone. Book of Abraham problems? Gone. Blacks and the Priesthood? Gone. Masonic Influences? It’s all gone. I once was blind, but with Ockham’s razor, now I see.

    • Aaron F
      February 23, 2013 at 1:32 pm

      Well said. I haven’t yet finished this podcast yet, but does Mr. Hales ever concede that his interpretation of the evidence is only plausible from a believer’s perspective? I see a lot of apologia prefaced with a disclaimer that a true testimony of the church/gospel/whatever only comes through faithful prayer and the Holy Ghost. To me, such a concession serves as an early signal that I can pretty much discount everything else the author says, because I do not find that particular type of epistemology to be valid.

  35. Mike
    February 23, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    John and Brian, I have a possible correction to your discussion. John brought up that in a 60 minutes interview Gordon B Hinckley said we don’t teach that we can become Gods. I haven’t been able to find that from that interview but I was able to find the following quote in the August 4, 1997 issue of Time magazine. You can read the same interview for free here at http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/SUNDAY-INTERVIEW-Musings-of-the-Main-Mormon-2846138.php#page-1

    Is this what you are referring to? If so, he doesn’t say we don’t teach that we can become gods, he says that we don’t teach that God was once a man. The difference is significant.
    Q: There are some significant differences in your beliefs. For instance, don’t Mormons believe that God was once a man?
    A: I wouldn’t say that. There was a little couplet coined, “As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become.” Now that’s more of a couplet than anything else. That gets into some pretty deep theology that we don’t know very much about.
    Q: So you’re saying the church is still struggling to understand this?
    A: Well, as God is, man may become. We believe in eternal progression. Very strongly. We believe that the glory of God is intelligence and whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the Resurrection. Knowledge, learning, is an eternal thing. And for that reason, we stress education. We’re trying to do all we can to make of our people the ablest, best, brightest people that we can.

  36. J
    February 23, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    Did Joseph smith ever lie about living polygamy or having more than one wife?

    • Rude Dog
      February 23, 2013 at 6:57 pm


      Joseph had secretly married the Partridge sisters unbeknownst to Emma. In fact, another ceremonial marriage was performed on Emma’s behalf, for Emma to witness for she knew not that these sisters, whom she loved as if they were her own daughters, had already been married to Joseph for quite some time. When Emma served in the first Relief Societies, she was unaware that as she herself denounced polygamy with fiery rhetoric, many of the women serving with her were married to Joseph. This gave me new pause at this image.


      Sarah Ann Whitney, daughter of Newell K Whitney received a letter from Joseph:

      On August 18th, several weeks after the marriage, Joseph Smith wrote a letter to his new bride and her parents. He was hiding from the law at a home on the outskirts of Nauvoo: “…my feelings are so strong for you since what has passed lately between us…it seems, as if I could not live long in this way; and if you three would come and see me…it would afford me great relief…I know it is the will of God that you should comfort me now in this time of affliction…the only thing to be careful of; is to find out when Emma comes then you cannot be safe, but when she is not here, there is the most perfect safty…burn this letter as soon as you read it; keep all locked up in your breasts…You will pardon me for my earnestness on this subject when you consider how lonesome I must be…I think emma wont come tonight if she dont dont fail to come tonight…”

      The best site for this subject is Mormonthink.com. It is fair and objective, but does come from a non believing perspective, although it is run by mostly participating Mormons. There is much resource.

      • Sharpwit
        February 27, 2013 at 1:05 pm

        J: A lot of folks have a lot invested in their positions at this point and it is hard to come by a real objective assessment of this issue. With respect to the Partridge sisters, Joseph was caught in a bind because Emma kept changing her mind. She consented, then reject, then consented to his polygamy. I can see why he was confused about where Emma stood.

        For the alleged letter to Sarah Ann Whitney (even on its terms of accepted as genuine was sent really to her parents and her) see here: http://www.defendingjoseph.com/2012/03/sarah-ann-whitney.html

  37. Mike
    February 23, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    I would like to add one 2 more reasons for polygamy that are found in D&C 132 that you seemed to have missed:
    1: It was given as a way to provide and take care of a woman married to a husband who has broken his vows. V 43-44
    2: It was given to be a reward for men who have been faithful to God in fulfillment of the common biblical promise that they will be made “ruler over many.” See the end of verse 44

  38. Al Pratt
    February 23, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    When the mainstream Mormon church says they have nothing to do with polygamy, they would be more honest if they added, “not any more” and “not at this time.” Mainstream Mormon doctrine defends its early polygamy as God-mandated, allows for multiple wives in the hereafter, suggests that God may be a polygamist, and reserves God’s right to reinstate polygamy if and should He so please. The book “It’s Not About the Sex My A**” by ex-polygamist wife Joanne Hanks does a good job explaining much of that. (Google the title, it’s an enjoyable read and easy to find.) Also read the Doctrine and Covenants (which the Mormons regard as scripture), Section 132; it is the original “revelation” to Mormon Church founder Joseph Smith wherein God states that taking multiple wives is a commandment.

    • Lilli
      February 23, 2013 at 6:05 pm

      The LDS Church still preaches, practices & promises polygamy, by sealing men to multiple living women after the death or divorce of his wife.

      And there appears to be no proof that D&C was ever written by Joseph Smith, the document that BY brought out years after Joseph’s death, was not in Joseph’s handwriting. And BY believed lying was ok, so anyone who followed him could have been totally lying about Joseph practicing polygamy.

      No one seems to want to talk about the huge elephant in the room, the numerous published testimony where Joseph testified he never believed in or preached or practiced polygamy and that all those who do will be damned. That is a huge possibility that few seem to want to consider, but the only one that makes total sense. Every other scenario has to be twisted every which way to be even half believable.

      • Lilli
        February 24, 2013 at 12:12 pm

        I mean’t to say in the post above, “there is no proof that Joseph ever wrote D&C ‘132’, we know he wrote or authorized most of the rest of the D&C, including the multiple scriptures teaching ‘against’ polygamy, which BY cast out and replaced with his teachings on polygamy, which Joseph taught us to reject for it goes against Christ’s & Joseph’s scriptures & revelations.

  39. Mike
    February 23, 2013 at 2:46 pm


    I really appreciate your research and I’m not trying to make you and offender for a word but I am curious as to what you meant when you discussed Bennett. You say that Bennett taught a time only spiritual wifery which couldn’t have come from Joseph Smith, because Joseph only taught eternal plural marriage. However, if I understand you correctly, in the other podcast where you refuted Grant Palmer, you said that Joseph’s first plural marriage was a time only marriage and that in 1831 he taught time only plural marriage openly when considering taking Indian wives. Is it not possible that this was still his private teaching about the practice and that this is what Bennett was running with?

  40. MM
    February 23, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    Regarding Joseph’s polyandrous sealings, the postmodifier “for eternity” is just a shorter way of saying “for time and all eternity”; i.e., “eternity” includes “time” and is used simply for brevity. There has never been any such thing as a sealing “for eternity only.” That is purely an invention of Brian Hales. To make the case that any of Joseph’s marriages were for eternity only (to take effect only at death) Brian must find at least one instance of “eternity only” appearing in the historical record.

    On a related note, if the New and Everlasting Covenant really did nullify all previous marriage covenants, then were the women who continued cohabitating with their first husbands living in sin?

  41. Lilli
    February 23, 2013 at 9:21 pm


    I think it would be most interesting & only fair, to have someone like Rock Waterman on with maybe some historian like Brian, and have them discuss all of the incredible & undeniable proof of Joseph’s testimony that he never believed in or preached or practiced polygamy.

    To look at Joseph from the angle that he is innocent of polygamy, as he always said he was, would only be the honorable thing to do for Joseph. No one who is righteous could accuse Joseph of evil because of hearsay, no matter how much, while ignoring or discounting his own testimony.

    To accuse Joseph Smith of being a constant liar, spouse abuser & deceiver & guilty of some of the vilest of evils, which he warned us so strongly against his whole life, is not only unfair, but will bring God’s condemnation down upon those who do if Joseph was really telling the truth.

    If Joseph was a true prophet we should expect there to have been countless people who wanted to frame him & make him look bad. True prophets always have incredible lies & rumors spread about them. That should be a given, but to see if we will fall for those lies & rumors is a test we all have to pass.

    If polygamy was really the vile evil so many prophets said it always is & was never authorized by God, like Joseph Smith said it wasn’t, then of course Brigham Young and those other leaders and followers who wanted to live polygamy would have definitely lied to try to justify their adulterous abusive actions.

    The other side of the story deserves at least equal time too.

    “Only those who are unafraid of the truth will find it.”

    • Seasickyetstilldocked
      February 23, 2013 at 10:53 pm

      “To accuse Joseph Smith of being a constant liar, spouse abuser & deceiver & guilty of some of the vilest of evils, which he warned us so strongly against his whole life, is not only unfair, but will bring God’s condemnation down upon those who do if Joseph was really telling the truth.”

      Wow. If God exists, I highly doubt He would care much about Joseph Smith or any of this preposterous nonsense. I suppose the only thing more superfluous than trying to excuse Joseph Smith’s polygamy would be to create some elaborate theory stating that he was innocent of polygamy.

      So ramp it up! Turn the volume up to 11! This is like watching the movie Dr. Strangelove and listening to General Jack Ripper explain his theory on fluoridation.

      • Lilli
        February 24, 2013 at 1:04 am

        If God exists??? If you aren’t sure of that than there is no use in discussing Joseph Smith or polygamy, for only God & Christ’s teachings & the Holy Spirit can help us come to the bottom of it all.

        You don’t seem familiar with Joseph Smith’s constant teachings & warnings against polygamy anyway, which is the other side of the story.

  42. Brad
    February 24, 2013 at 5:45 am

    After writing pages of notes with numerous questions, for me comes down to this…
    Would anyone help Joseph Smith cover up any scandalous incidents regarding polygamy? Or a cover story for themselves if they were involved?
    Answer: absolutely!
    Emma denied any polygamy occurred while married to Joseph. Anyone confronting Joseph with sexual improprieties were attacked. The Laws began their campaign against Joseph with a news paper. Smith ordered it distroyed. God, I think had enough but he did not send the angel with a sword to put an end to the madness. He sent a mob. And the adversary countered with Brigham Young. And so the battle continues…which side should I chose?

    • Lilli
      February 24, 2013 at 9:34 am

      Believe Joseph Smith & his testimony against polygamy & his innocence in it. He did not lie, he was on the Lord’s side, when almost all the members in Nauvoo were against him, especially most church leaders, and thus they worked to paint him guilty of polygamy.

      The Spirit can help you see the truth, through the thick pile of lies about Joseph.

      The Laws were very unrighteous and thus tried to paint Joseph guilty of polygamy, the same way Brigham Young & many others later did.

      Most people fall for the Adversary’s ploy to paint Joseph guilty of polygamy. Only those who have true Charity can see through it.

      • Jared
        March 1, 2013 at 4:58 pm

        Lilli, you’re really coming on strong here with the talk about the Spirit and lies and the Adversary and all that. I just have a couple of questions. Are you feeling okay? Tense at all?

    • Rude Dog
      February 24, 2013 at 10:53 am

      When a sculpter is working on a large piece, be it granite, clay, bronze or ice or the many other mediums, there are times when the artist is in close working on the details making sure the detail and workmanship is fine and excellent. Quite often the artist will step back a few steps to assess the overall, and to make sure the minute detail being painstakingly worked on is fitting in and contributing to the overall idea, the overall vision.

      Many of us are working out, at Paul’s behest, our respective salvations with fear and trembling, hoping our lives will be that body of work pleasing unto whomever we are trying to please, whether that be God, ourselves, our posterity and legacy, whatever. Most of us take these questions of God seriously, and even though we may disagree with each other here on occasion, I think there is a healthy dose of respect for others and their personal beliefs. I completely admire Brian Hales, his effort and scholarship, who’s got more smart in his pinky then I’ll ever have. His work on this subject is valuable and helpful.

      It must be said however that when I come across LDS apologetics, be it polygamy, or Book of Mormon historicity, or a new push on defending the indefensible Book of Abraham, it seems to me that LDS apologists never seem to step back from a particular point of detail to see if it’s flavor is fitting the entire perspective as a whole. Just a small example, as we weigh the evidence and controversies of the Book of Mormon, shouldn’t we consider Joseph’s early treasure seeking and use of folk magic as part of our evalutation? His mother spoke of Joseph’s vivid imagination and story telling ability. Can we consider this as we evaluate our approach conserning the Golden Plates and Book of Mormon DNA, geography, anachronisms? Does the problematic issues of the Book of Mormon contribute and shed light on the Book of Abraham? Does the dubious and problematic issues surrounding the Book of Abraham be considered when one thinks about polygamy? For me personally, I find it interesting that some of the most important issues our church has ever taught, having profound impact concerning human morality, namely polygamy and attitudes towards race and preisthood denial, both labeled prophetically as unchangeable truths, were later changed and abandoned, both of these eternal truths coming from the Book of Abraham, a book that has been shown at best a book of speculative writing, at worst, a complete fraud.

      There was a moment of clarity I had once on one of these podcasts, I can’t even remember which one it was, but it was articulated that maybe one could overlook some of the negative aspects concerning the controversial aspects, like say the masonic dynamic of the early church, one could overlook these controversies if everything else seemed up and up. The problem is there are major holes in the dyke, and you can put your finger in the preisthood denial hole, but then have to put your whole arm in the polygamy hole, meanwhile the BoM hole opens up, along with the Book of Abrahma hole. Adding to the mix the horseflies of Prop 8, Mountain Meadows and Matthew DeVisser are biting, making it impossible to take out my second earing and shave my beard. The whole picture is clear when you step back a few feet and stare at the entire work. LDS apologists will focus on one specific issue, like today’s focus on polygamy. But in my considerations, I stepped back and considered the larger issues, and how they flavor the detailed problems, problems like polygamy, and how again the details flavor the work as a whole. The flavor that is most likely, and the simplest most parsimonious way to get there is to conclude that Joseph Smith was probably like many in his day,a brilliant and charismatic leader that founded a religion, like many in his day. As his religion grew along with his stature, he fell prey to the same temptations that all men with power fall prey to, and that is the desire to keep and expand his power. Polygamy was a tool that he used to excercise and retain his power, and enjoy the fruit of being the leader.

      I love that we have a forum to come to to discuss such details as we are doing now concerning Joseph’s polygamy. I love how in depth we can take this, and thanks to talent like Brian Hales, we have more information and considerations. But at the end of the day, I stepped back and considered the whole, and it had form enough for me to draw profound conclusions.

  43. iamse7en
    February 24, 2013 at 6:26 am

    Brian Hales – I believe you mentioned that nobody complained about sexual polyandry until much later, but I see here Sidney Rigdon in 15 Feb 1845 issue of Messenger and Advocate, criticizing “Did the Lord ever tell any people that sleeping with their neighbor’s wives and daughters had anything to do with preparing the way of the Savior’s coming?”

    • Jannet
      February 24, 2013 at 8:16 am

      I’ll bet that if FaceBook had been in existance back in the day, we’d have a lot more answers…

    • Lilli
      February 24, 2013 at 9:41 am

      It’s great that Sidney seemed to be able to see that polygamy was indeed very wrong & evil, even if he may have fell for the vile rumors that Joseph was involved in it.

  44. brett bair
    February 24, 2013 at 9:51 am

    Thanks John for letting the conversation continue, even though it may not be faith promoting.

    Maybe we could take a step back. Jesus taught love. We are to love on another. Does, or did, this practice of taking more wives promote this teaching of our Savior? Would we be loving our wives, daughters, or any women in our lives by promoting or condoning such a practice?

    As fathers we are responsible for our children. They are in a vulnerable position and need us for all of their needs. We should never abuse this trust. The women back in Joseph Smith’s time we much more dependent on their husbands for their needs. Was this position of love and trust abused?

    There are many good men that would never think to hurt the ones they love and love them back……unless a religion was involved.

    • Lilli
      February 24, 2013 at 11:54 am

      Brett, You are right, righteous loving husbands & fathers would never support such abuse of women (polygamy). They are revolted and outraged by such practices. The scriptures & prophets clearly teach how evil polygamy is and how abusive it is to women & children in every case, even if women choose to go along with it.

      Righteous self-respecting women understand & honor their divine equality in marriage and would never go along with abuses like polygamy, they know God expects men/husbands to protect, respect & love them, not abuse, collect or control them.

      Righteous men have ‘exclusive’ unconditional true love for their 1st & only wife, they never seek any other woman their whole life, even if their wife dies or divorces them or abandons them & rejects them, just as Christ has stayed faithful to his adulterous abandoning wife.

  45. brett bair
    February 24, 2013 at 10:31 am

    Taking two steps back.
    1. Polygamy was promoted by Joseph insisting that an “angel with a flaming sword” was coercing Joseph to comply.

    2. The practice need to remain secrete for legal and discretionary reasons, hence the phase “lying for the Lord”.

    This begs the questions, Did the Lord know Joseph was lying for Him? and Did the flaming sword angel get the test used in determining where the angel came from, heaven or hell? D&C 129.

    Maybe this whole tragic polygamy experience could have been avoided with a good ‘angel check’?

    • Lilli
      February 24, 2013 at 12:05 pm

      Brett, First, we have no proof that Joseph ever told such a story about an angel with sword, others started that rumor, it was not published by Joseph during his lifetime.

      Even if such an angel did come to Joseph, it would be ridiculous to think Joseph would have ever fallen for such an angel preaching polygamy, for he knew & taught that if an angel came preaching or demanding something that was contrary to Christ or the scriptures or previous revelation, as polygamy was, then the angel proves himself false.

      So anyone who understands this knows that that story is completely false. So you are right, Joseph or any of us just has to apply the ‘angel test’ to see if it’s a bad angel or not.

      If such an angel had appeared to Joseph, like any righteous man, Joseph would have told the angel “No” and the angel would have just left him alone, for Joseph would have not been deceived to fall for a false angel preaching false doctrine which went totally contrary to everything Joseph had received thus far and all that Christ & BoM prophet’s had taught.

  46. LB
    February 24, 2013 at 11:51 am

    The information Hales gives about Helen Mar Kimball is not entirely accurate. JS married Helen Mar Kimball when she was 14 yrs. old because her father did not want JS to have his wife. JS promised her and her whole family eternal life if only she would marry him, which weighed heavily in her decision to relent because she felt her whole family’s salvation depended on her decision. I would count that kind of pressure by JS as him being heavily involved in getting this marriage done. Helen later told a friend that she thought it would just be a ceremony and she never would have married him if she had known it would be anything more. Now, Dr. Hales may not find her friend’s report reliable, but he acts as if it never happened.

    Dr. Hales is being just plain silly in this podcast. He does not even attempt any objectivity in his “historical” analysis. He begins with a firm belief that JS is a prophet and never did anything even questionable. For example, time and time again he argues that the absence of evidence for any particular proves the opposite must be true. Really? He searches and searches for some small fact, like where Bennett lived, that he can point to and then makes wild assumptions about what people knew, what they thought and then what they must have done! That is not historical analysis, that is searching for any plausible set of possible facts that fit his firm belief. One cannot trust such proportedly historical work. Perhaps those who firmly believe and do not care about the truth would find Dr. Hales’s work to be beneficial in quieting any doubts, otherwise it is nonsense for anyone who cares about the truth.

    John, you did a good job of trying to keep him more grounded in reality. Too bad he was having none of it!

    • Ron
      March 8, 2013 at 4:16 pm

      Good points LB – I believe the Helen Mar Kimball incident was more a case of JS testing them to see if they would go along before he revealed what he was really after. I doubt he ever wanted Kimball’s wife.

  47. Wyoming
    February 24, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    My wife’s ancestor, Sarah Leavitt, lived during the Nauvoo period. She wrote that she had heard rumors that some of the brethren were taking additional wives. She asked her husband whether she could receive a revelation for herself which he said that he believe she could.

    She woke her husband in a subsequent night and said 3 interesting things:

    1. That is was a doctrine of God but she would not have to share her husband. (He died and she never remarried.)
    2. That she had a vision of Heaven, its order and beauty.
    3. That polygamy would be the means of SAVING THOUSANDS and DAMNING THOUSANDS. It was too sacred of a principle to be handled by fools.

    • Lilli
      February 24, 2013 at 1:15 pm

      As Joseph Smith taught, when anyone receives revelations, visions, dreams, visitations, etc., in order to not be deceived they must 1st ‘test it’ against what the holy scriptures say.

      If what they received or were told is contrary to what Christ or the scriptures say then we know for sure that our or anyone else’s revelation or vision is false, no matter how true it may feel or seem.

      Joseph taught that our revelations, visions, etc. can come 1 of 3 sources, from God or our own mind or from the Adversary.

      Since that woman’s revelation was completely contrary to Christ’s teachings & the scriptures & the revelations from Joseph Smith, then it proves it was false, even if part of it seemed to come true.

      The Adversary is very clever in giving us ‘part truth & part falsehood’ to more easily deceive us.

      • Wyoming
        February 24, 2013 at 5:56 pm

        I am not sure how the personal revelation was contrary to the teachings of Christ, scriptures or Joseph Smith’s revelation. She never entered into the practice but understood it as a correct practice. To her decedents, it was a great blessing.

        • Lilli
          February 24, 2013 at 6:45 pm

          Her revelation was contrary to what Christ, Joseph Smith & ancient prophets because they all taught that polygamy was adultery and a vile evil. God has never ok’d polygamy.

          D&C 132 was added by Brigham Young, not Joseph Smith, and was completely contrary to Joseph’s teachings & scriptures, so it also proved itself completely false.

          To receive a revelation that says polygamy is ok would prove itself false, no matter if people thought it brought them blessings. I’m sure many people in the FLDS church believe polygamy is bringing them blessings too.

          I know many people in the LDS church who are committing adultery and none that I know think it’s adultery, they think they have been told by God it’s ok & they also think they are receiving great blessings from their adultery.

          People who commit adultery, usually never admit to themselves they are committing adultery, until they get to the repentance stage, whether it’s adultery by an affair, remarriage after divorce or polygamy.

          • Steve Graham
            March 7, 2013 at 8:38 am

            God has never okayed polygamy? Did he not give Saul’s wives to David by the hand of His prophet, Nathan? What about Solomon? I know they later erred, but did He not give them those wives? What about the law of Moses commandments for a brother to take a dead man’s wife unto himself to raise up seed for the deceased? How exactly could the Lord be the God of Jacob if Jacob sinned by taking more than 1 wife?

            I know about the verses in Jacob, but why did He speak unto them on the topic of polygamy: Because they were using David’s and Solomon’s polygamy to excuse their whoredoms.

            It seems to me that what you say does not square with what all of the scriptures say.

          • Scott Taylor
            March 7, 2013 at 10:59 am

            The Bible also says a woman should learn in silence and subject herself unto her husband in all things. Do you believe that? Scriptures are written by men and can lead to some crazy stuff if taken literally. Would a loving God ever authorize one to have dominion over another? I guess it all depends on what your definition and belief of what God is.

          • Steve Graham
            March 7, 2013 at 11:11 am


            I was simply saying to Lilli that God has instructed His people at times to take multiple wives. Or allowed it.


          • Scott Taylor
            March 7, 2013 at 11:15 am

            And I am simply say he did not 🙂

          • Derek P. Moore
            March 12, 2013 at 3:38 pm

            A man if free to have multiple wives if he wants and can, just like a woman is free to have multiple husbands if she wants and can.

          • Scott Taylor
            March 12, 2013 at 3:49 pm

            Couldn’t agree more. If they freely want to enter into that arrangement, and the laws allow it (or don’t allow, I don’t really care either way) more power to ’em! It’s when we get into the “God assigned me to you..” or “God commanded me/you to do this” wackjobery that things go south. I have no problem with people willfully and thoughtfully engaging in this practice. But my opinion is, this is not how it is typically done. They are in some sort of organization where the “revelation” or “command” comes down (early LDS church, current Fundamentalists, Warren Jeffs, etc). It doesn’t interest me but hey more power to you Derek.

    • Lilli
      February 24, 2013 at 1:19 pm

      It’s like many who are actively living polygamy today, like in the FLDS. Many of them believe they have received revelations & visions, etc. that they are to live polygamy right now, yet the LDS receive the opposite revelations & visions, etc.

      In every religion you can find people receiving revelation & visions that are totally contrary to the next person. That is why the Lord’s test for truth, the holy scriptures, is so vital, so we aren’t deceived & swayed by every wind of revelation.

  48. Aaron F
    February 24, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    One interesting part of this interview is when Dr. Hales confesses that he is at a loss for the reason “God” instituted polygamy in the first place. Shouldn’t that be the number one red flag for him? He does mental acrobatics akin to what you might see at a cirque du solei performance to get Smith out of all sorts of binds, but despite all that, he doesn’t have a workable theory for the point of the whole practice in the first place. He acknowledges that it caused huge problems for the church and resulted in fierce persecution and rampant apostasy. It nearly culminated in the destruction of the church in the late 19th century. He acknowledges all this but then can’t take the next simple step by conceding that the “doctrine” was man-made from the beginning because, of course, that concession could prove the unraveling of the validity of the church in its entirety.

    • Scott Taylor
      February 27, 2013 at 5:48 pm

      DEAD ON!

  49. Joel
    February 24, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    Thank you John and Dr. Hales, for this podcast. I appreciate the effort to treat this important subject in depth. These are my initial thoughts in response to the 12 Myths about Joseph’s Polygamy, per Brian Hales:

    1. Joseph Smith had a reputation as a womanizer.

    Joseph Smith had sex with between 12 and 56 women in his lifetime. His reputation as a womanizer is somewhat beside the point.

    2. The Joseph Smith – Fanny Alger relationship was not a plural marriage.

    The Joseph Smith – Fanny Alger relationship was either an affair or a plural marriage, the evidence is ambiguous. Regardless, Emma Smith was not informed of the relationship prior to the marriage/ adulterous act.

    3. Joseph Smith’s polygamy was all about sex, in other words, “multiply and replenish the earth.”

    Joseph Smith’s polygamy was in part about sex, in other words, “multiply and replenish the earth.” There seem to have been theological reasons for it as well. Less charitably, it also was a means for Joseph to exert power and control over his followers.

    4. Joseph Smith had no children by his plural wives.

    Brian makes a good case that Joseph Smith probably had children by his plural wives.

    5. Joseph Smith had sexual relations with 14 year olds.

    The evidence on whether Joseph Smith had sexual relations with 14 year olds is ambiguous. Usually a marriage is considered evidence of sexual relations absent contrary evidence. Should the default in this case be sexual relations or no sexual relations? Why or why not?

    6. John C. Bennett was a polygamy insider in Nauvoo.

    I was surprised to learn that he was not very involved in ecclesiastical matters. Hard to believe that he developed “spiritual wifery” simultaneously to Joseph Smith developing “plural marriage”, and wasn’t influenced by Smith.

    7. None of Joseph Smith’s plural marriages were non-sexual “eternity-only” sealings.

    Some of Joseph Smith’s plural marriages may have been non-sexual “eternity-only” sealings, but the evidence supporting this is conjectural.

    8. Joseph Smith’s teachings allow sexual polyandry.

    Joseph Smith’s sexual polyandry violated his teachings.

    9. Some of Joseph Smith’s marriages included sexual polyandry.

    I find Michael Quinn’s analysis more convincing that some of Joseph Smith’s marriages included sexual polyandry.

    10. Joseph sent men on missions so he could be sealed to their wives.

    Joseph sent men on missions and then was sealed to their wives while they were away.

    11. Joseph Smith threatened to destroy the reputation of any woman that turned him down.

    Joseph Smith and his supporters tried to destroy the reputation of women and men who exposed his practice of polygamy.

    12. Emma Smith never supported plural marriage.

    Emma Smith at one point agreed to plural marriage, but changed her mind upon finding out the degree of Joseph’s deception.

    On the whole, I enjoyed the podcast and think Brian Hales was very thorough and courageous to tackle such a tough topic for believing members. I’m most looking forward to the third book on the theology of plural marriage.

  50. Robert
    February 24, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    It blows my mind how anyone can “know” what really went on. We can only look at evidence to get a broad base view point, nothing more. If Joseph was having sex games, why would we think we have all this evidence showing the details? Sometimes it gets laughable at the assumptions and “evidence” we discuss. There is plenty of obvious “evidence” that Joseph smith did some heroneous activities. But to know what he was thinking, no one really knows. When evidence shows against Joseph then it’s questionable. If it supports or puts him in a good light, it’s doctrine. It’s good to be a believer, but not at the expense of your own integrity. How many sports heros in the last decade have been busted for enhancing drugs? But how many denied those accusations until the proof and evidence was too much and had to confess? The one thing apologists have going against them is when something seems factual and damning against the church, they throw confusion in the mix. I was always taught that confusion is of the devil.

  51. Paul Belfiglio
    February 24, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    “Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.” — Arthur Schopenhauer

    While reading these posts and listening to the podcast, the word ‘ambivalence’ came to mind (the existence of mutually conflicting feelings or thoughts such as love and hate together about some person, object or idea). I think most people would tend to agree that Joseph Smith has, or has had this effect on a great number of persons who have come to some knowledge about his supernormal ‘marital life’.

    In tandem with this, I also thought about an event when, as young boy, I was told by an older acquaintance that my father and mother do exactly what he was showing me–a cartoon sketch he had drawn showing a man and woman copulating with ‘humerous’ balloon captions of something or other the man and woman were saying to each other. However, when this boy didn’t get the reaction he was expecting, i.e., finding his graphic funny, he declared in a somewhat perturbed manner, “What’s the problem? Your mother and father do this all the time.” However still, when he saw a look of perplexity on my face he said in a more subdued voice, “You don’t know, do you? You really, don’t, know.” and then turned and walked away as if in disgust or incredulity. As I watched him going down the street I distinctly remember thinking, “Yeah, maybe your mother and father do that, but mine sure don’t. WE’RE MORMONS and my parents would never do anything like that.”

    What I am getting at is that if most of us are to have even a slight or circumspect hope of accepting the fact that Joseph Smith was acting with God-sanctioned propriety, then a lot of us need to make a major paradigm shift with regard to the ‘rules’ or ‘reality’ of ‘celestial’ (for the lack of better terms) sexuality and marriage mores even as they may apply to those still living in mortality. In other words, “What’s the problem? Your (prophet and others sanctioned by God) do this all the time ((or are permitted to)).” Nevertheless, perhaps for many of us, “(We) don’t know, do (we)? (We) really, don’t, know.”


    Another way of looking at the facts as we have them with regard to (paraphrasing from the podcast) ‘no one who was involved (or, more importantly, no one who didn’t cease to remain steadfastly involved) seemed to complain or object’, we need to realize that as in the military, generals and teams win wars, not individuals. Hence, within that modality of comportment and expectations, obedience is critical and is enforced by that culture that will do whatever is necessary and expected so as to not let the rest of the ‘team’ down. Further to this, there are a lot of people who want to believe in magic, secrets, arcane rites and knowledge, and membership in special ‘societies’ or inner circles. Thus follows the well know fact that there are other people who will satisfy those beliefs for money, power, or other self-serving gain or entitlements, which more often than not result in abuse and other types of deleterious effects. To quote a martial arts and law enforcement trainer, “Personal experience (and reason) would seem to be a no-brainer, but very, very few people will trust their own experience (or reasoning ability) against the word of either many people or a single ‘expert’.” He goes on to say, “Look at your beliefs and the source of those beliefs. Some of your beliefs came from early training or bad sources. Some of yours sources were chosen because you knew they supported your preexisting point of view. Look very deeply at those sources that you accept without question. ….. very little of what we know is based on experience, and very much is based word of mouth. It is, for many people, *entirely* assumption. ….. if the student isn’t careful or becomes enamoured of the system or instructor, he will ignore real experience (and reason) if it doesn’t match his assumption. ….. like many people, his assumptions override reality. ….. Some of our assumptions are so closely held that we will cling to them, even in the face of overwhelming evidence.”

    In a summation he states:
    “Many of your assumptions came from childhood. You are no longer a child.
    Many came from earlier in your training. You have grown and changed since then.
    Many came fgrom unreliable sources. You can make up your own mind.
    Do not let yourself be crippled by something that only exists in your mind (false assumptions based upon faulty or biased sources that you have labeled ‘truth’).”

    Enough said, and thank you, JD (and Brian Hales), for the podcast.

  52. Robert Rey Black
    February 24, 2013 at 11:25 pm


    It is good to have faith in one’s prophet. But, if you are as eager to defend the impossible, as you seem to be, there must be an equal ability to examine the evidence that is available. Just because Joseph said, is not a reasonable defence. The evidence is just too great to assume that BY wrote every journal entry that would 150 years to come to light. I admire your spunk and devotion. I know some people still believe that the world is flat. That man never went to the moon. And, that the sun revolves around the Earth. There are explanations. But, the evidence is hugh. Price was simply wrong. Read something more than Price. Unless, you just enjoy being lied to.

    • Lilli
      February 25, 2013 at 9:34 am


      Joseph being innocent is much more likely to be true than thinking a prophet can lie, abuse & be unfaithful to his wife & still remain a true prophet.

      Lets be reasonable, if Pres. Monson was doing such things today how many would support or still believe in him, I believe very few.

      What kind of people would ever follow such a man if he really did such things?

      You know that Christ & the BoM prophets taught that polygamy was adultery too, did they lie also?

      Believing it was all lies, and still believing that Joseph Smith was either a false or fallen prophet is even more absurd.

      How many people would join the church if the missionaries were up front with the truth? I believe very few.

      I can except the possibility that Joseph Smith fell to whoredoms, but I will never except that lies, whoredoms & abuse are righteousness.

      Christ, true prophets & the scriptures don’t lie or God could never expect us to believe anything. Common sense.

  53. jon
    February 25, 2013 at 7:11 am

    OK, if Joseph practiced polygamy without his wife’s knowledge/consent then, according to D&C 132:61, Joseph is an adulterer. Even without that scripture it seems obvious that he would be. A pilot that marries two different women “legally” in two different states we call him an adulterer.

    I appreciate brother Hales “faithful” viewpoint and his willingness to look at all the evidence, even the great work the Price’s have done, but really, it seems if you are going to have a faithful view of Joseph the Price’s viewpoint would be the only one that would lend to Joseph being innocent on this charge, of course, that leads to the logic that Brigham Young led the church down to hell.

  54. J
    February 25, 2013 at 10:39 am

    So you say smith did not live polygamy. Was BY a prophet in your opinion? Do you believe BY lived polygamy?

    I personally think your a little off the mark when you believe JS didn’t live polygamy. Especially when you say you get your answered from a spirit with out a body, the Holy Ghost.

    • Lilli
      February 25, 2013 at 7:44 pm


      While I believe Joseph was a true prophet who didn’t lie about polygamy & thus was innocent of it, I believe Brigham Young was not a true prophet and probably never was righteous. For it appears he had a long train of huge red flags, abusive attitudes towards women and adulteries way before he took over the Church or started living polygamy, which yes I believe he did, for we have proof of him living it for he publicly declared he did & published about it all, while we don’t have any proof that Joseph lived polygamy, only vile hearsay that never proves anything.

      But we do have tons of proof that Joseph taught have evil polygamy was and that all those, even Prophets, who preach or practice it will be damned. He was also including himself, so he was telling people to never believe him if he ever started preaching or practicing polygamy. So how do you explain that logic, if you think he was lying?

      Many of the apostles that Joseph called were either evil deceivers, like Bennett, or they fell later on, most because of immorality. Even Pres. Benson admitted that at least half of the apostles fell. It is not a stretch at all to think Brigham fell too like most of them did.

      Anyone who understands abuse can easily see how abusive he was, even from the pulpit.

      It appears that only a few apostles remained righteous, mostly those apostles who were Joseph’s brothers, none of which believed in polygamy or followed Brigham Young, that should be a huge clue for us.

    • Rude Dog
      February 25, 2013 at 9:26 pm

      J, I believe from what I read is that Lilli comes from an RLDS perspective. She adheres to the Richard and Pamela Price’s school of thought with their book “Joseph fought polygamy”. This book posits that Joseph is innocent of the evils of polygamy, that polygamy is a product of Brigham Young, thus supporting the RLDS claim that the LDS church was lead astray with Brigham Young, and that the rightful aire to the church was through Joseph’s son. I don’t know all the details, but for the RLDS to claim any authority, they are smart enough to embrace the fact that if Joseph did practice polygamy the way we have discussed it, this would definately present a problem.

      Lilli is as entitled to receiving a manifestation of the spirit as anyone else. I’m atheistic in my thinking and I think it all an amygdalian delusion anyway. I think people don’t engage Lilli because of her declarative, rather than discussionary nature, what do I know.

  55. Brad
    February 25, 2013 at 10:42 am

    Section 132
    Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Nauvoo, Illinois, recorded 12 July 1843, relating to the new and everlasting covenant, including the eternity of the marriage covenant, and also the plurality of wives (see History of the Church, 5:501–7). Although the revelation was recorded in 1843, it is evident from the historical records that the doctrines and principles involved in this revelation had been known by the Prophet since 1831.

    This copied from the preface for section 132 from the church web site. Joseph is the author of 132.

    John, I am very greatful for the time and effort you put into all your productions. Really I do understand why you stay. But for me, I can no longer read the scriptures the same or the Ensign. The last two publications and articles in the Ensign are so superficial in content that I am left hanging by the stories narrow narratives. Unfortunately my lack of edification is related to the lack of full disclosure. The ” Rest of the story” is always missing, left out, not discussed nor addressed. I feel like the editors want to direct my faith by a very narrow, scripted storyline.
    You allow both sides to reflect their points and let listener draw upon the information.

    The difficulty is that members have to wade through this information then ignore most of it because it is not correlated. So we are left with apologetics making their best stab at it without church sanctioned review. Ignored information does not disappear into the twilight zone. But that is where we have to live, somewhere between reality and current doctrine.

    This type of theology leaves me lacking faith in so many ways…so I stand at the path with other paths to follow…I will make that first step soon.

    • Lilli
      February 25, 2013 at 10:01 pm


      I think it’s rather humorous that you posted that pretext to D&C 132, as if it’s proof that Joseph really wrote it just because polygamists said he did and put it in the heading of 132. I myself don’t believe everything I read or hear.

      As Joseph Smith taught, it would take a lot more than that header, or a lot more evidence then the Church has, to actually ‘prove’ Joseph Smith wrote 132 or that it’s even truth.

      According to Joseph, it’s impossible for D&C 132 to be true, for it is completely contrary to Christ’s, Joseph’s & the BoM prophet’s teachings, which Joseph said ‘proves’ it’s completely false.

      Do you understand how Joseph said to judge & test so-called revelation to make sure it’s true or not? I would encourage you to study how he said to do that & then put D&C 132 to the real test.

      I personally don’t trust or respect those who believe in polygamy, men who would abuse women & women who would go along with it.

      And it’s not “evident” that D&C 132 was written by Joseph, to those who have ‘tested’ it, as Joseph Smith taught us to, nor did Joseph publicly publish or preach such ideas while he was alive. Anyone can say anything about a person or prophet once they are gone. The sources for 132 are all from sources that can’t be proven and from people who had every reason to lie & add false statements to journals & histories & to try to cover up their dark deeds.

      • Brad
        February 26, 2013 at 6:31 am

        Ummmm. Ok

      • February 26, 2013 at 11:23 am

        ^^ what the what?

      • Brad
        February 26, 2013 at 2:35 pm

        What is the name of the only true church upon the face of the earth?

  56. Brad
    February 26, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    What is the name of the only true church upon the face of the earth?

    • Lilli
      February 26, 2013 at 7:41 pm

      I don’t believe there is a true Church on the earth any more, they are all in apostasy, every one, just like Book of Mormon prophets foretold would happen.

      But as Joseph Smith taught, the Kingdom of God remains on the earth as long as at least 1 righteous man can receive personal revelation from God. He understood that though the Church would go into apostasy, individual members can still choose to live righteously and maintain the Spirit & the Priesthood & get their direction & revelation directly from God, as we all should be doing. We must live according to Christ’s teachings & do the best we can on our own, just as Alma did with a few friends & family after he left the church in his day because of it’s corruption.

      But I do believe there are at least a few prophets on the earth somewhere, but I don’t believe they are members of the current LDS Church or any Church.

  57. Sharpwit
    February 27, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    I appreciated the thorough and evidence-based way in which Hales has approached this matter. So many have so much investment in this issue that it is hard to come by anything really not wholly dictated by prior bias. I have studied this issue at great length and come to very different conclusions than Joel (I have also had the benefit of reading the books in question along with numerous others):

    1. Joseph Smith had a reputation as a womanizer.

    Hales shows convincingly that this is a myth that is used to slander Joseph Smith as a way of poisoning the well about the remainder of the discussion. It is important to know that the evidence does not support such a view before beginning the discussion on polygamy.

    2. The Joseph Smith – Fanny Alger relationship was not a plural marriage.

    The Joseph Smith – Fanny Alger relationship was neither an affair nor a celestial marriage. It is unclear whether his relation with Fanny was sexual in nature — I am persuaded that what Emma witnessed was likely the ceremony itself and not some sexual act between them. Fanny was likely married to Joseph as a means of providing support for her.

    3. Joseph Smith’s polygamy was all about sex, in other words, “multiply and replenish the earth.”

    Joseph Smith’s polygamy was about the firm belief that God had commanded it and a means of sealing up the participants, as they saw it themselves, to eternal lives. The practice was genuinely a result of devout faith.

    4. Joseph Smith had no children by his plural wives.

    Brian attempts to make a case that Joseph Smith probably had children by a few of his plural wives. I believe that the evidence points in the other direction. I am privy to the DNA evidence and studies of Ugo Perego who is the leading authority on this issue. The DNA evidence does not support the view that Joseph sired any children except with Emma. In addition, the statements that have been taken to support the view that Joseph sired children through other women have been shown to be false in several instances. Josephine Lyon may be, but the DNA provides a high probability that she is not Joseph’s. Statements made more than 50 years later to support the church’s court case appear to me to not be reliable on the issue of children sired by Joseph.

    5. Joseph Smith had sexual relations with 14 year olds.

    Marriage alone is not evidence of sexual relations — and that is especially true of the LDS practices of polygamy in Nauvoo. There is no solid evidence that Joseph had relations with 14 years olds (and certainly not with 12 year olds as claimed by a poster here). There is strong evidence in these marriages that the bride left with her parents to go home after the ceremony rather than stay with Joseph — and they did not later spend time with Joseph.

    6. John C. Bennett was a polygamy insider in Nauvoo.

    Hales supports well that this is a myth.

    7. None of Joseph Smith’s plural marriages were non-sexual “eternity-only” sealings.

    Some of Joseph Smith’s plural marriages may have been non-sexual “eternity-only” sealings, but the evidence for an eternity only sealing is ambiguous.

    8. Joseph Smith’s teachings allow sexual polyandry.

    Hales has made a convincing case that this is not at all clear for in my view.

    9. Some of Joseph Smith’s marriages included sexual polyandry.

    I don’t find Michael Quinn’s analysis even remotely convincing that some of Joseph Smith’s marriages included sexual polyandry. Hales carries this point quite well in my view.

    10. Joseph sent men on missions so he could be sealed to their wives.

    Joseph sent men on missions for reasons unrelated to sealing their wives to him.

    11. Joseph Smith threatened to destroy the reputation of any woman that turned him down.

    Hales shows this quite clearly.

    12. Emma Smith never supported plural marriage.

    Emma Smith at one point agreed to plural marriage, but changed her mind, then changed her mind again.

  58. Brad
    February 27, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    Greg smith lives in his own reality, based upon intellectual self-benevolence. Elevating his knowledge to a god like state and what knowledge needs to be given to the intellectually poor. In my opinion.

  59. Scott Taylor
    February 27, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    “Imagine if I gave you a 100 piece jigsaw puzzle, and told you that the image is of a beach in Hawaii. But after snapping 30 pieces together, you notice polar bears, snow capped mountains, and men covered in furs. Although there are still 70 missing pieces, you already have enough to KNOW that the image is NOT that of a beach in Hawaii. “

    I think this applies here as well as to the traditional church narrative and history.

    The “truth” is oftentimes found by only putting 30 pieces of the puzzle together. We don’t have to have ALL the puzzle pieces to figure out the puzzle isn’t what we were told…

    I think we have more than enough pieces of the puzzle to realize the traditional church narrative and history, especially Polygamy is not a beach in Hawaii. Anyone who says differently has the puzzle pieces in hand, but just has not taken the time to put any of them together. Or they have put part of the puzzle together and deny what they see. Therefore, those who have a partial picture of the “truth” are often villified for just putting part of the puzzle together and being honest about what they see.

  60. Michael
    February 27, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    I am sorry, but this guy isn’t even credible. He sounds like an amateur who is in way over his head.

  61. Michael
    February 27, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    This guy is offensive. His justifications for polygamy sound like the person telling a jury that because a rape victim gave in and didn’t up a fight, lest something worst happened, was a sign they really wanted it. Unbelievable.

  62. Bradinq
    February 28, 2013 at 5:55 am

    Posts are missing?

  63. SteveS
    February 28, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    This may have already been said, but my feeling is; if you can prove he slept with even 1 of the women, and then you have enough proof to assume he slept with them all. Why would you show restraint in some of the marriages if you have the “green light” in others. Helen Mar Kimball was distraught in her journal! She was sick, and afraid. She feared the physical aspect of the marriage; not the marriage itself, or the eternal joining of two souls. It was the disgust and fear of being with a much older man. If no sex was expected then why would the decision be so difficult and damaging to her? Especially when you consider what she was promised by Joseph Smith; as a believer the decision would be very easy if you take sexual relations out of the equation.

    • Jay
      February 28, 2013 at 9:28 pm


      You are absolutely correct. You truly have to be Naïve to think that Joseph did not have sex with these women. To hear Brian’s rationale is one of the most laughable things I have ever heard. I keep thinking how can anyone believe this stuff? To put it in perspective, the “prophet” Muhammad claimed to get a revelation from God that men should only marry four women at a time, and then he proceeded to marry twelve. His last wife Aisha (sp?) was only five years old when they married and then this horrible old man forced this little girl to consummate the marriage at nine (a fact that should sicken us all). How do the followers of Islam justify this behavior? The exact same way that Hales justifies the behavior of his “prophet”.

  64. Scott Taylor
    March 1, 2013 at 11:26 am

    If you listen to the podcast John did with Denver Snuffer(claims to have received the 2nd comforter)you will hear a very well read lawyer who is the most ardent JS supporter (as well as BOM literal history supporter) you will ever find. When John asked him if JS was immoral, he hedged a bit. He said according to our present day standards the answer would be yes but according to the standards of KINSHIP, the answer would be no. I think there are two very important takeaways here:
    1. Even he admits the obvious, that JS had sexual relations outside of his marriage to Emma. To deny so is ludicrous.
    2. It gives you an insight into the twisted thinking of many well intentioned, well-read individuals. That bloodlines, or appointed titles give you an inherent right to rule and reign over others. The justification is that it was given by “God”. What it does is elevate someone or something above another and “bestow” upon them rights that do not belong to them and turns God into a respector of persons.

    When we come to understand that God is pure love, and compassion and that we are a part of that, the pieces fall into place. Do we really think a loving God would destroy or kill someone for exercising their free will? Do we really think God would strike down someone for viewing the Golden Plates without “authorization”. Once this is understood, and we realize anything that elevates one individual over another only separates us and does not unite us, many of the tenets we have held onto so tightly all of our lives can now be let go. The liberation and abundance that brings to the soul cannot fully be described, it must be experienced…

  65. Scott Taylor
    March 1, 2013 at 11:46 am

    Sorry, that should be KINGSHIP with a ‘G’, not KINSHIP…

  66. Jeff Jensen
    March 4, 2013 at 9:07 am

    I have some questions about written accounts of sexual interactions during the years in which the church practiced polygamy (1830s- 1904).

    Are there contemporary accounts of sexual interactions during that period, not just among Mormons, but from other Americans?
    What would those look like, what would a scholar accept as factual if such contemporary account exists?
    My assumption is that there are no written accounts of Joseph and Emma having intercourse with one another. We would take as proof of intercourse a pregnancy produced as a result of the act. The same could be said for each prophet since then-I doubt they added to their journal such intimate experiences. Hales is requiring written proof of sexual relations to verify that they occurred, but other than pregnancies occurring, is there proof of relations during this time period? Hales also speaks of the secrecy of polygamy, where Joseph told only a few people. Is it fair to assume that the secrecy of polygamy would also follow to secrecy of consummation of the marriages?
    Did women of that time record or tell others of sexual interactions in which they participated?
    Other than being put on trial for adultery or fornication or whatever they’d try you for back in the day (or getting pregnant), where can we find accounts of sexual interactions, especially between people who viewed themselves as (or legally are) married, which did not result in public incident?

    • Jay
      March 7, 2013 at 7:54 pm

      That is a really great question Jeff, but the answer is yes there are written records of these marriages and implied consummation. Shortly after Joseph Smith III believed that God had called him to lead the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now the Community of Christ) many of his followers started missionary work in Utah claiming that they were the one true church and that Joseph Jr. never practiced polygamy. Brigham had to find a way to fight this, so he had the many wives of Joseph Smith sign affidavits that they were in fact plural wives of the “prophet”. It was very implicit at the time that these ladies fulfilled ALL of their wifely duties with Joseph. Now the church is running from this history as fast as it can. Is it not obvious to everyone that the church will say whatever it needs to whenever it needs to suit its current predicament? Does truth mean nothing to these people?

      • Jay
        March 7, 2013 at 7:55 pm

        That is a really great question Jeff, but the answer is yes there are written records of these marriages and implied consummation. Shortly after Joseph Smith III believed that God had called him to lead the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now the Community of Christ) many of his followers started missionary work in Utah claiming that they were the one true church and that Joseph Jr. never practiced polygamy. Brigham had to find a way to fight this, so he had the many wives of Joseph Smith sign affidavits that they were in fact plural wives of the “prophet”. It was very implicit at the time that these ladies fulfilled ALL of their wifely duties with the Joseph. Now the church is running from this history as fast as it can. Is it not obvious to everyone that the church will say whatever it needs to whenever it needs to suit its current predicament? Does the truth mean nothing to these leaders?

        • Lilli
          March 10, 2013 at 2:38 pm

          Just because those women signed affidavits that they had married Joseph doesn’t mean they really did. Brigham Young believed that lying was ok, so he could have asked those women to lie to help support the Church. Women back then were threatened into submitting to & obeying their husbands, and most of those women had husbands who were church leaders. If these women would go along with something as abusive & degrading as polygamy, they would certainly lie to justify it all if their husbands & leaders asked them to.

          This isn’t rocket science, these women had every reason to lie & say they married Joseph, even if they didn’t. Joseph wasn’t around anymore to defend himself.

          I can’t understand why anyone would just automatically assume these women or anyone were telling the truth & disregard everything Joseph ever said about it all, unless people hope to have multiple wives themselves one day.

          • Jeff Jensen
            March 12, 2013 at 9:26 am

            Yes, Brigham had some (not all, as Hales notes) of those women sign affidavits that they had sexual relations with Joseph, but as you point out, he did so in order to fight a claim that Joseph never practiced polygamy. Brigham obviously had a very strong stake in proving that Joseph practiced polygamy, and followers of Brigham would have supported such claims.

            Hales uses those affidavits as proof that eternal marriages were consummated, but then he claims that the “time only” marriages were not consummated. My assertion is merely that I do not find evidence of people (women in particular) writing of their sexual relations. I do not think that the affidavits alone serve as sufficient proof of sexual relationships during that time, especially making the logic-leap that those affidavits prove that those could be the only women with whom Joseph had sex.
            During the first podcast where Hales dismisses Palmer’s claims of sexual impropriety by Joseph, he claims that Palmer is wrong because there is not contemporary evidence to support these allegations. I am simply asking if there is any possibility of finding convincing evidence of sex during this era? Was anyone writing about their sexual experiences, and if there is not evidence of people having sex (outside of pregnancy or legal accusations), is it fair to assume that other sexual relations were not taking place? I cannot imagine a polyandrous wife of Joseph writing of sex with Joseph in her journal, and making the assumption that no sex occurred without such documents seems intellectually disingenuous.

            Several of Hales’s “myths” hinge on assumptions made through a lack evidence which does not seem to be possible to find (as my first post noted, no written accounts of Joseph and Emma having sex can be found, and the biographies of later prophets and leaders do not make mention of sex they have). The contrary assertion that he did have sex with these women also does not seem likely to find through contemporary accounts.

          • Derek P. Moore
            March 12, 2013 at 2:57 pm

            I see no reason to assume that Lilli isn’t constantly lying.

          • Jay
            March 12, 2013 at 7:58 pm


            I’m curious. What evidence do you have to support your belief that Joseph Smith did not practice polygamy? Is Your belief based soley on Joseph’s word?

  67. charlie carnevale
    March 8, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    Because the issue of the BoM and DNA come up somewhere in this podcast, can’t remember where, I’m hoping this link can stay up. It reports on some scientist calling DNA testing beyond about the fourth generation as genetic astrology amongst other things.


    • Tim
      March 8, 2013 at 3:14 pm

      Charlie, these are distinct issues. This article is calling out the difficulties of establishing ancestral relationships between two people using autosomal DNA, while the BoM DNA issue is establish links between groups of people via mitochondrial DNA.

      mtDNA is replicated asexually, so-to-speak, so the father does not contribute half of his DNA to the child as he does with autosomal DNA (and 100% of his Y or X chromosome, whichever the winning sperm happens to be carrying). There are unique mitochondrial mutations characteristic of population groups, and the point at which populations diverge can be estimated by following these markers and the rate at which additional mutational markers occur.

      Much of mtDNA is thought to be non-functional, or at least, most mutations may happen without modifying the behavior of the organelle in a way we can measure. This can increase the rate at which the DNA drifts because mutations are less likely to be selected against via natural selection. BUT, since it is passed directly from mother to daughter, the ancestral line is not diluted nearly as quickly as with autosomal DNA.

      You can learn about the 4 types of DNA here:


      • charlie carnevale
        March 12, 2013 at 6:05 pm

        Cool, got it ,


  68. Ron
    March 8, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    JS should have just clarified it all with the “Revelation of the Immaculate Penis” and saved himself a lot of trouble with all the gymnastics required by these other revelations…anything my penis touches is ordained and sanctified of god. Women cannot have immaculate vaginas, except for the virgin Mary, as she can have other children and still be considered a virgin. Case closed.

  69. Josh
    March 13, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    Brian Hales says he takes a skeptical approach to history – which is how we should approach any claim. Listening to the podcast, it seems he is very skeptical of various claims that put Joseph Smith in a bad light with regards to polygamy. But what is amazing is how he fails to take a skeptical view about Joseph’s claim that he received a revelation by God to practice polygamy. Hales even says that this is the one thing that he just can’t understand: why God would command Joseph to practice polygamy. Maybe he never did. Where is the evidence that Joseph was commanded to do such a thing? Nowhere. All we have is his word only. Hales discounts historical claims for lack of credible evidence, but accepts as given the “revelation” Joseph received to practice it. This shows a surprising lack of skepticism where it is most needed. If Hales uses skepticism to analyze historical claims, then he should be consistent and use it at all times. The fact is that there is absolutely no corroborating facts to support Joseph’s claim that God told him to practice polygamy. All we have is Joseph’s word only, and he (nor any other man) is very credible about what God tells them to do.

  70. DP
    March 15, 2013 at 10:47 pm

    Why do we assume there will be a finite number of people in the Celestial Kingdom? This seems to be an assumption we over look that leads some to conclude the polygamy will be necessary because everyone has to be married.

    Why do we feel okay with men having sexual relations with multiple women but not women having sexual relations with multiple men? Why does Brian Hales feel uncomfortable with the polyandrous marriages being conjugal but fine with Joseph having sex with multiple women?

    If there are more men in the CK than women, and there is a finite number of people there, then will we be okay with women having multiple husbands to help out those unlucky fellows to have a place where it matters the most?

    I thought God’s progress and posterity was eternal or infinite? Seems like there would be enough for monogamous relationships to happen forever and ever.

    I agree that the debunking of the “myths” certainly highlights one way we perform mental gymnastics to feel good about something we would otherwise abhor.

  71. Adam
    March 16, 2013 at 1:08 am

    Hales in this series makes more than a few assumptions about human motivation that gloss over much of where polygamy could have gone wrong. He wishes to believe that everything is either driven by libido or inspiration, but these are not taking into account other very real motivations like the drive for power. Many people are motivated by a need to control others. This can become especially dangerous if the individual actually feel emotion for their ‘victims’ because if one truly believes that they speak for God, they can justify many abuses for the sake of ‘saving’ others (all we have to do is look at assimilation policies practiced toward the American Indians to see this).

    Also, the discussion makes more than a few assumptions that women used by Smith would have wished to get even with him after he died, but the reality is that women who truly did feel taken advantage of during that era, may very well have been motivated by shame to keep quite, or an internal need to displace their bad treatment by claiming that Smith was a good person. After Joseph Stalin’s death, even his enemies, sent to the gulags, wept for him. A tyrant gets where they are by taking liberties that force ‘snaps’ in their follower’s minds about healthy relationships and respect.

    The simple fact is that even if Joseph was a prophet, he was also a product of a very authoritarian time where status seeking pecking-orders were everything and greed, lust and overbearance where what it was to be a man. Any degree that he actually loved these people would have simply increased his feelings of entitlement toward those around him and made his victims trust his unreasonable demands beyond what they would have from another man trying to get in their pants.

    The only really good aspect of Polygamy for the church was that it was its ‘Paris Hilton Sex Tape’ that separated it from the countless other sects and forever embedded it into the romantic/tawdry imaginations of Americans.

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