Thursday, October 6, 2011

Why blog about Joseph's Wives?

Most people know early Mormons practiced polygamy. For those who believe, this fact is accepted. For those who don't believe, the Mormon practice of polygamy is just weird. Mormon founder, Joseph Smith, who had more than thirty wives, is often considered little more than an opportunistic lech.

Here's the curious thing. Joseph lived in a time when birth control didn't exist. The Rhythm Method wouldn't even be developed for almost 100 years (1930, in the Netherlands). Yet our modern scientific tools have yet to validate any suspected descendants of Joseph Smith by women other than his legal wife, Emma Hales.

Emma Hales Smith Bidamon remained largely silent about polygamy after Joseph was killed. But at the end of her life, the famously-honest Emma affirmed that she was Joseph's only wife.

Meanwhile, Brigham Young and others were adamant that Joseph taught them plural marriage. Many women signed affidavits detailing their marriages to Joseph, along with the identities of contemporary witnesses.

I think Emma may have been telling the truth in a way: she may have been the only woman with whom Joseph was physically intimate.

The purpose of this blog is:
  • Explore the reasons a monogamous Joseph Smith might have for instituting the practice of polygamy
  • Explain why dozens of women would marry and defend a man who was husband only in name
  • Suggest alternate interpretations of the "proofs" that Joseph was a practicing polygamist
Here's the funny thing: many people would be thrilled to find out Joseph is their ancestor. The descendants of Josephine Lyons, for example, are actively hopeful science will prove they are Joseph's biological descendants, as Josephine believed herself to be. And if future data proves one of Joseph's plural marriages was consummated, the scientist in me will be thrilled.

Come with me. Let us explore possibilities neither friend nor foe has yet considered.

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