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Is Polygamy a Ticket to Heaven?

Some Protestants, such as Born-Again Christians, believe that one can be saved in heaven—assured salvation.  Did early Mormons believe in something similar?  Was polygamy a ticket to heaven, not just for the man, but for his wives and children as well?  Dr. Bill Smith will talk about this in our next conversation.

Bill:  The idea is that the elite Mormon men, those with—maybe I should use the word assured salvation, like Joseph Smith, it was a great thing to be a child of somebody like that theoretically.  It was a great thing to be their child because as Joseph says, “On the other side of the veil, I will claim what I seal.”  In other words, anybody he is sealed to is guaranteed to go into heaven with him.  Because he is guaranteed in the revelation in fact that he’ll be going to heaven. So, this is important.  It’s an important story for important people.

That sounds doubly bad I guess in the present day.  It sounds sexist.  It sounds elitist, but in fact that’s the way it worked out.  A lot of people engaged in polygamy, a lot of women engaged in polygamy, not as many men of course, but it was really a story in terms of descendants, a story of elite Mormon men, because they are the ones that had 30 wives, or 15 wives, or 25 wives, or more.  Most of those men had children with most of those wives.

Dr. Smith talks about how the theology of assured salvation has changed over the years.  We will also talk about one of the major justifications of polygamy: raising seed.  If that was so important, why didn’t Joseph have children with wives other than Emma?

Bill:  I can’t really answer that except to say that the record on the ground seems to suggest that at least with some women, other than his wife, he was having sex. But I think it is impossible to argue beyond reminiscent accounts and that sort of thing, whether or not that was really going on.  I think it’s probably a sure thing that it did happen, but with who and how often?  That’s really hard to say.

Check out our conversation, along with our previous conversations about Emma Smith and Oliver Cowdery…..

 

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Was Oliver Cowdery a Polygamist?

Oliver Cowdery has been accused of practicing polygamy before he was authorized to do so.  In our next conversation with Dr. Bill Smith we’ll address these rumors.  Are they true?

Bill:  That I think is wrong.  I think it developed out of a story that happened because before Oliver left on his Lamanite mission to the borders of the Lamanites in Missouri, he was with Parley Pratt and a couple of other guys going to be missionaries out there to the Lamanites.  They get commissioned by revelation to do this.

Before he leaves, he has asked Elizabeth Whitmer to marry him, so he is engaged to her.  On the way through Ohio he meets another woman there, falls madly in love with her, asks her to marry him.  That’s the extent of any Cowdery polygamy.  That was a pretty big issue for a number of early Mormons.  Some of his mission companions talk about this later.  That was a big issue.  He has a high council session about this thing.  He repents.  “I’m really going to marry Elizabeth.” This other woman was just a flight of fancy or something.  But that’s the extent of it.

We will talk about Oliver’s accusation of Joseph’s dirty, nasty, filthy affair with Fanny Alger.

Bill:  There is no evidence as far as I know of that.  I think that Oliver and some other people were aware of the Alger affair…

Don’t forget to listen to our conversation about Emma!  Check out our conversation…..

Oliver Cowdery

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Emma’s Up and Down Relationship with Polygamy

Emma Smith often vacillated between accepting and rejecting polygamy.  In our next conversation with Dr. Bill Smith we will talk about how she vacillated between these two extremes.

Bill:  Like I said, she was up and down about it.  At some point apparently in May 1843 she had accepted the idea at least in a limited way.  Then later she becomes very negative about it.  During this period when the revelation is given in July 12, 1843, she has become very, very negative about the idea.

We don’t know everything that happened with her, what she heard.  She was in Relief Society, and you know how in small towns, Nauvoo was a relatively small town we would think of it so today.  In that day it was a fairly large place, so you knew practically everybody and people talked about what they saw, who was doing what.  So, the kind of knowledgebase that Emma had, we don’t know for sure but she probably had her finger on what was going on in the female population and the male population of Nauvoo.

Don’t forget to check out our previous conversations with Bill on the origins of polygamy and LDS literacy of biblical polygamy.  Check out our conversation…..