Did Joseph Smith’s Polygamy Include Teenage Girls?

“Out of the 34 women, 7 of them were teenage girls as young as 14-years-old. Joseph was 37-years-old when he married 14-year-old Helen Mar Kimball, twenty-three years his junior.” (CES Letter)

Not Sexual Relationships – Helen Mar Kimball and the other young women sealed to Joseph Smith were sealed for “eternity only,” which meant that it did not involve sexual or earthly relations. The sealing in the “new and everlasting covenant” took effect for the afterlife. The women did not live with Joseph Smith as a married relationship and did not have sexual relations with him. It was literally a matter of Joseph Smith and the woman speaking some words in a ceremony and then hardly ever seeing each other again.

Early Mormons carefully distinguished between marriage “for time” and celestial sealing “for eternity.” A sealing for eternity was the promise that two people would be married in the afterlife. But this did not mean they had to be married for earth-life.

Helen described her marriage as “celestial marriage” and “for eternity alone.”
 (Helen Mar Whitney, Autobiography, p. 2)

Not Uncommon Marrying Age – The average marrying age for women at that time was 21 years old. The 1850’s census shows 36% of married women were teenagers compared to only 2% of married men. It was common for there to be an age gap, as 13% of women married men 10 years or older than them.

Considering it was all just a sealing ceremony for the afterlife and did not involve earthly relations, people were not very scandalized by this. I haven’t seen anyone express outrage about the women’s ages until many years later.

Civil marriage and eternal sealings were totally different things. One could be sealed “for eternity” and effectively not have a marriage relationship because the sealing involved eternal cohabitation in the afterlife did not involve sexual or earthly relations. The “new and everlasting covenant” of eternal marriage would nullify civil marriage in the afterlife: “All old covenants have I caused to be done away.”

Modern DNA testing proves this.

CES Letter Logical Fallacies

Anachronism CES Letter judges something that happened almost 200 years ago by modern standards.
Repetition CES Letter picks words that emphasize the girls’ young age of the girls:

“7 of them were teenage girls as young as 14-years-old. Joseph was 37-years-old when he married 14-year-old Helen Mar Kimball, twenty-three years his junior. Even by 19th century standards, this was shocking.”

CES Letter uses a number rather than a word for how many girls were teenagers: 7. By repeating the age of Helen Kimball also with a number rather than a word, 14, this subtly suggests a connection between these two numbers, 7 and 14.

Note also that the dedication page of CES Letter reads “To my beautiful young children.” This argument repeats the word “young” in association with children, subtly making the accusation more personal. Now you worry about your young children being victimized.

CES Letter repeats their claim 4 times, without ever providing evidence that these were “marriages” with physical relations. Each repetition is framed with greater emotional hysteria.

  • “Unions with teenagers as young as 14-years-old.”
  • “Marriages to young girls living in Joseph’s home”
  • “marry underage and teenage girls.”
  • “perverted license to secretly marry other living men’s wives and teenage girls barely out of puberty
Argument From
Joseph Smith did not have sexual relations with Helen Mar Kimball or the other young women, as he was sealed for “eternity only.” He likely did not have sexual relations with any plural wife. The “new and everlasting covenant” of sealing was different from civil marriage, as it was for the afterlife and did not involve earthly relations by itself. Only those sealed “for time and eternity” could have involved sexual relationships. There is no evidence of sexual relationships between Joseph Smith and any of his polygamous wives.
Falsehood CES Letter incorrectly claims “The Church now admits that Joseph Smith married Helen Mar Kimball.” They never admit this. They say she was “sealed to Joseph,” not married, an important difference of words which CES Letter does not want us to know about.
Strawman Argument For all their vast research into “the real origins of polygamy and how Joseph Smith really practiced it,” CES Letter totally misunderstands what happened. It is easy to tell salacious tales of sordid affairs with married women, but CES Letter provides zero evidence that the sealing to those women was the same thing as marriage.
Emotional Language CES Letter says “by 19th century standards” the plural marriage “was shocking.”
 Not really.
Big LieCES Letter uses the same big lie tactic that they used against the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham. This lie, that marriage for time and for eternity are the same, compounds and leads to other lies to attack Joseph Smith’s character.

This lie is easier for the reader to accept after all those earlier arguments that attached the same kind of narrative about the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham. If Joseph Smith made up all these books of scripture haphazardly, isn’t it reasonable that he made up revelations about marriage in order to steal underage girls?

CES Letter can get away with this Big Lie because it is the consensus among so many people that Joseph Smith had carnal relations with girls, and because it takes so long to actually investigate the evidence. People are too lazy to actually look through all the historical documents. Even mainstream church apologists are beaten down by all of the accusations and have give way to the big lie. They are too tired defending against it. They let CESLetter get away with the big lie that Jospeh Smith “married” underage girls, as we understand the definition of marriage today which involves sexual relations. Even if you don’t believe the allegations, just the association frames Joseph Smith as a creep.

For the Book of Abraham, the big lie was that the book was “translated” from a recovered fragment of papyrus that we now know is the Book of Breathing. They repeat it over and over. With polygamy, the big lie likewise will be used by CES Letter to make all sorts of implications to attack Joseph Smith’s character.

Use Opponent As Authority Tactic – This is a popular Marxist tactic that anti-Mormons use. They use Mormonism’s own authorities to discredit the faith. “The Church now admits that Joseph Smith married Helen Mar Kimball.” Uh, no, not true. CES Letter pretends like the church hasn’t given any official answers about anything, which is totally false, and then they point to official evidence as evidence that they are ‘conceding’.

What makes this tactic powerful is that it:

  • Deceptively discredits the vast research that has been done on Moron history and complicated circumstances of the time.
  • Gives more focus to a phony binary frame that attacks the Mormon church.
  • Divides the ranks of the church.
  • Equates eternal marriage with civil unions and attacks Mormon marriage as an institution

Contradiction StrategyCES Letter gives a few bits of incorrect leading evidence; the reader connects to dots in their mind; and CES Letter pushes it to a sweeping generalization. If Joseph Smith was a prophet, why did he commit adultery with girls who were not old enough to consent? People are much more likely to believe CES Letter‘s string of illogic because they connected the dots out on their own, subconsciously. They are also more likely to believe the evidences for that deduction, which in this case are falsehoods.

We could see the intellectual tricks and sophistry CES Letter used to portray Joseph Smith as a fraud, in their arguments about the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham. Well, even if that were all true and he were a fraud, so what? Aren’t Mormons still nice people who make the world a better place? The powerful thing with these polygamy arguments is that CES Letter tells you why Mormonism is still evil: it victimizes young girls. It matters because Joseph Smith was a creep who preyed on girls. This is easy rhetoric for them to push, as the internet is filled with all kinds of false rumors about Mormon polygamy. It is easy to just repeat the claim over and over, not give any evidence, and make the issue personal through manipulative repetition.

This frame of ‘predator versus victim’ leads us to a Marxist ideology. Marxism is all about protecting victims from the predators. Marxists think the biggest miracle about mankind is that we evolved to the top of the food chain without ever becoming predators of other animals. Economically, Marxists protect working classes from a predator class. Marxism is all about protecting the vulnerable from those seeking unequal advantage–and all about keeping people weak in order to keep them reliant on a benevolent dictator for safety.

A major part of Marxism is the deconstruction of masculinity. They seek to pick positive masculine traits that propagate the ideology, such as the gusto to fight for the cause, and eliminate “toxic masculine” traits such as the desire to marry and have children in a traditional family. They think traditional families are evil because men contribute labor to the economy while women are “subjugated” as mothers and do not perform labor. The ideal for Marxists is a state where men and women are completely equal working bees and children are grown and raised by the benevolent dictator state. Nobody is preying on anybody.

Total Hypocrisy From Anti-Mormons – Yet, in the Soviet Union the minimum age of marriage was 16! And age 15 was considered old enough and were quite common. By age 25 Russian girls were considered “old maids.” So Marxists really have no reason to complain about Joseph Smith! According to Marxist law, he didn’t do anything wrong–even if they were earthly marriages, which they weren’t.

Therefore, any Socialist-leaning anti-Mormon is a total hypocrite when he complains about Joseph Smith’s polygamy. They are only pushing the rhetoric to attack the Mormon traditional family and smear Joseph Smith’s character.

Meanwhile, the “marriage equality” crowd pushes children to make ‘choices’ about their gender and applauds drag parties for 10 year old boys. The age of consent completely flies out the window when it comes to influences pushed onto children in the name of Socialist “equality.”