Did Joseph Smith’s Polygamy Include Women Who Were Already Married?

“Joseph Smith was married to at least 34 women.
Polyandry: Of those 34 women, 11 of them were married women of other living men.”
 (CES Letter)

Not Polyandry – Women were to strictly have only one husband, according to D&C 132:63:

“But if one or either of the ten virgins, after she is espoused, shall be with another man, she has committed adultery.”

Why was Joseph Smith sealed to women who were already married? Because civil marriage and sealings were totally different things. One could be sealed “for eternity” to one person and married “for time” to another, because a sealing for 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.”

If the marriage is an “eternal sealing” that does not include a civil union “for time,” then it does not involve a physical relationship/ earthly married relationship. It was literally a matter of Joseph Smith and the woman speaking some words in a ceremony and then rarely seeing each other again, until the afterlife.

That is not polyandry by any stretch of the definition. Two totally different institutions.

Were All Plural Marriages For Eternity Only? – All of the sealings with married women were for eternity only. But there were also reportedly unmarried women that Joseph Smith married for time and eternity. So the salacious gossipers beg to know: did Joseph Smith have physical relations with those women he was married to for both time and eternity?

Maybe, but probably not.

Joseph Smith’s plural wife Emily Partridge explained that a strict separation was made between marriages for time and eternity, so as to avoid adultery:

Lawyer Then you were sealed to Joseph Smith at the same time that you were married to Brigham Young, were you now?
Partridge Yes sir, I was sealed to him on that day….
Lawyer For eternity?
Partridge Yes sir.
Lawyer Well how were you married to Brigham Young? Were you sealed to him also?
Partridge Yes sir, but I was sealed to him for time.
Lawyer You were not sealed to him then for both time and eternity?
Partridge No sir. Of course I was not sealed to Joseph Smith then for he was dead when I married Brigham Young, but I had been sealed to him before that….
Lawyer That you were sealed to Brigham Young during your natural life that day?
Partridge Yes sir.
Lawyer And eternity you were to be the wife of Joseph Smith?
Partridge Yes sir.
Lawyer But you never had any children by Joseph Smith?
Partridge No sir…. I know that I was sealed to him for time and eternity.

This is especially interesting coming from Emily Partridge, because she was the only wife to ever give a specific allegation of “carnal relations” with Joseph Smith. But there are contradictions in her allegation of carnal relations:

  • She says Emma did not allow plural wives to live with Joseph Smith. “Emma knew that we were married to him, but she never allowed us to live with him.” Several other wives say they did live with Joseph, yet none of these other wives makes allegation of “carnal relations.”
  • Emily claimed she only slept with Joseph Smith one time, yet she didn’t know how many nights she had carnal intercourse. “I could not tell you.” How could she not know how many times they had intercourse if they only cohabited once?
  • DNA tests show Joseph Smith did not have children with any plural wife. Yet he was plenty fertile, having five children with Emma.

But if it turns out that Joseph Smith did have physical relations with the women he was married to for time and eternity, such as Emily Partridge… so what? What’s the big deal? He was married to them, after all. The issue is whether he he relations with the women who were married to other men for time rather than to him, and that clearly never happened. They made sure to keep a strict separation.

Divorce Was Different – Another thing to consider is people rarely got divorced in those days. This was before feminists had passed no-fault divorce, and it was common for a couple to simply split up and go their separate ways. It appears likely that some women who were married for time to other men, if not all, were for all intents and purposes “divorced.”

CES Letter Logical Fallacies

Falsehoods It is not correct to call this polyandry, as Joseph Smith did not have sex with women who were married. The “new and everlasting covenant,” or eternal sealing was different than civil marriage and did not involve physical relations.

CES Letter‘s claim that “The Church now admits the polyandry” is false. Their claim, “Church historian Elder Marlin K. Jensen and unofficial apologists like FairMormon do not dispute the polyandry” is false.

Strawman Argument For 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.
Shifting Goalpostst CES Letter said Lehi couldn’t possibly be an ancestor of Native Americans because no Hebrew DNA has been found. But now CES Letter ignores DNA proof that Joseph Smith did not have sexual relations with the wives. In one case, DNA evidence for Lehi in ancient America is a needle in a haystack, but in the other case it is easy to track down descendants of all of the women and test their DNA.
Emotional Language CES Letter says, “One of the things that really disturbed me in my research was discovering the real origins of polygamy.” This implies the other things he discovered are on an equal level of disturbingness, I guess. I’m sure any Mormon would be absolutely shocked to learn early Mormons practiced polygamy. So shocking!
Argument From
 Ignorance
CES Letter claims Joseph Smith Orson Hyde “was sent on his mission to dedicate Israel when Joseph secretly married his wife, Marinda Hyde.” Historians dispute when Joseph Smith was sealed to Marinda Hyde. There are two dates. But the more reliable date, a signed affidavit by Miranda, dates to after Orson returning from his mission. So this accusation by CES Letter is likely false, as well as making false equivalence of civil marriage and eternal sealing.

Historians dispute how many women Joseph Smith was sealed to. Some allegations are more reliable than others, but it is certain none of the sealings included “for time” if the women had existing husbands “for time.”

Argument From
 Repetition
CES Letter repeats the false accusation of polyandry, marrying women already married, another 15 times. Rather than provide any evidence, they simply repeat the premise of this argument over, and over, and over.
Etymological Fallacy The LDS semantics are unusual, and it is easy for CES Letter to just lump everything together as “marriage.”
Big LieCES Letter uses the same big lie tactic that they used against the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham. This lie, this assumption that marriage for time and for eternity are the same, compounds and leads to other lies as CES Letter continues 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 other men’s wives?

CES Letter can get away with this Big Lie claim because it is the consensus among so many people that Joseph Smith had carnal relations with many women, 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 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 was “married” to multiple women as we understand the definition of marriage today, which involves sexual relations.

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.

Contradiction Strategy – In this introduction, CES Letter immediately uses the big lie to portray a glaring contradiction. D&C 132 forbids women from having multiple sexual relationships, yet isn’t that what Joseph Smith did?

With the Book of Mormon, CES Letter cherry-picked evidence leading to the big lie that there is no evidence for its claims. This is how CES Letter works. They give 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 by marrying women who were already married? Because a sealing is totally different! 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.

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 the polyandry.” 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

Appeal To Emotion – I find it interesting that CES Letter starts with intellectual attacks on the Book of Mormon first, then emotional attacks on Joseph Smith’s polygamy. You would think it would be more effective to portray the prophet as a crazy creep and then move on to the scriptures, but I think the appeal to intellect and their addressing the Book of Mormon first is more effective. Once you have been intellectually drained trying to defend the scriptures, as CES Letter moves back and forth between “too much contradiction” and “too much similarities,” then you are more open to emotional attacks.

They used the big lie tactic to intellectually attack the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham, but this tactic is really most effective when it appeals to emotion. We can see this in Adolf Hitler’s rhetoric against Jews, the whipping up of emotions against people. The purpose of these polygamy attacks is to make Joseph Smith look creepy and to elicit emotions of disgust, and to further attack the masculinity and patriarchy of Mormon church members today.

Total Hypocrisy From Anti-Mormons – Were some women oppressed? Who knows? In the church, we try to keep our testimonies of the church members separate from our testimonies of the gospel, as people are imperfect and will always let us down. Even prophets make mistakes. Still, it is vital to honor and sustain priesthood leaders, as without the priesthood the church hopelessly falls and we find our individual selves straying from God. We have to be forgiving.

Polyamorous relationships are great–marriage equals love–unless anti-Mormons are talking about Mormon polygamy. Ohhh, then it’s bad! The same Leftist anti-Mormons who champion LGBTQ “rights” and the freedom to love whoever you want in consensual relationships are also the same Leftists who despise Mormons for unorthodox marriage relationships.

Isn’t it interesting that the most uptight members of the church accept polygamy as a historical reality while the most sexually “liberated” anti-Mormons scream bloody murder about it? One minute, the anti-Mormons scream about polygamy and the next minute they are watching degrading polygamous porn in their mother’s basement. It’s clear by now that those who complain the loudest, who protest the most, are projecting their own perversion and sexual inadequacies onto others.

So why do anti-Mormons champion perversion while attacking polygamy? From what I have seen, progressives tend to want relationships to become a Marxist institution, to make it conform into Marxist societal rules of class. This was essentially the justification the federal government used to crush Mormon polygamy in the 1800’s and force everyone for the first time to register their marriages with the federal government.

Anti-Mormons are never going to get over sexual inadequacies by complaining about something someone did in the 1800’s. This will only stall their progress. This is why Satan compels his followers to be degenerates who blame all of their problems on the righteous. It keeps them bound to their vices and under Satan’s thumb. It also prevents them from honoring and respecting good women and good priesthood holders who would otherwise be great influences in their lives.