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Why Denver Changed on Joseph’s Polygamy (Part 4 of 7)

In Denver Snuffer’s book, Passing the Heavenly Gift, he argued that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy.  Since that book was written, Denver has changed his mind and now believes Joseph was a monogamist.  How did he come to change his mind?

Denver:  The Fanny Alger stuff, and you’ve got all of these points to triangulate from. What do you make of it? I can tell you that story and make Joseph Smith an adulterer, and a plural marriage practitioner, or I can tell you that story, and I can make Joseph Smith absolutely chaste, and that what happened there was not by any stretch, a sexual liaison. Fanny Alger would have nine children from a husband.

Denver:  Joseph Smith fathered eight children through Emma Smith. They were both at the peak of their fertility when the two of them had something going on, and yet there was no progeny. There was no child. In fact, there’s no child born, that was fathered by Joseph Smith, other than the children that came through Emma Smith. So if you’re going to turn Joseph Smith into something that is akin to the narrative tour by the LDS Church, one of the questions that ought to enter into your balancing of what happened, is the absence of any progeny when you’ve got a fertile man, and you’ve got fertile women who bore children to other men, but never bore a child for Joseph Smith.  What effect ought that have on your thinking and interpretation of the historical events?

Denver: You consider nothing that got written down or got introduced after June 27, 1844. You are limited, absolutely, to the material that got its existence, put pen to paper before that date. Okay. What do you have? What do you have to support Joseph Smith practicing plural marriage with sexual relations with other women than Emma?

While I understand that Denver is a lawyer, it seems inapproprate to throw out all evidence after the death of Joseph Smith.  Do you agree or disagree?  Check out our conversation….

Denver Snuffer explains why he now believes Joseph didn’t practice polygamy.

Don’t miss our other conversations with Denver!

439: Denver’s Outreach to Hebrews/Native Americans

438: Is Trinity in Lectures on Faith/Book of Mormon?

437: New Scriptures in Remnant Movement

4 thoughts on “Why Denver Changed on Joseph’s Polygamy (Part 4 of 7)

  1. Denver Snuffer’s franksness regarding his flip-flop on JS and plural marriage is curious. Snuffer turns to reductionism, that is, reducing the question of whether JS practiced plural marriage to quotes from Emma Smith and observations of no known offspring. How much better it would be if Snuffer were a transparency-ist who sought documentary transparency regarding this topic. Looking at it transparently reveals hundreds of historical evidences supporting JS introduced plural marriage among the Latter-day Saints and practiced it himself. Anyone teaching otherwise is a false teacher. Let’s not fight transparency on this subject.

  2. Thanks for weighing in on this Brian! I just shake my head when people try to defend Joseph as a monogamist. It makes no sense to me.

  3. Denver has to make Joseph a monogamist because he doesn’t want to introduce polygamy into his movement, but his movement is built on the idea that the people need to return to what Joseph taught and get away from modifications introduced later by Brigham Young and others. That idea wasn’t as important when he wrote the book because he was still part of the main church and didn’t have a movement yet. It has the added benefit of making Brigham Young look more radical if it wasn’t originally Joseph’s idea. Denver is not the only one who’s made this case, but that’s his motivation and why he flip flopped. He (very understandably) has no desire to start teaching it so it solves a lot of problems if he just says Joseph was a monogamist.

  4. Brian, to accuse Denver of fighting transparency seems odd being that he has referenced your books on this topic (in other instances). Your books are very well documented and transparent. If he was fighting transparency, he wouldn’t mention your books! He applauds your work, and just disagrees with your conclusion.

    It takes a degree of humility to allow one’s views to evolve. It takes a degree of humility to suggest that the opposing point of view could be equally persuasive. Denver never suggests that his view is the only one that makes sense. He merely suggests that there is enough plausibility to allow Joseph not be considered a sexual fiend. He champions (in other talks/writings) Joseph as such a dispenser of heavenly truth that to his mind it makes more sense that the marriages/sealings/adoptions/whatever weren’t about sexual consummation.

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