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When we talk about Mormon polygamy, we usually mean polygyny—where a man has more than 1 wife. The opposite of that is polyandry, where a woman can have more than 1 husband. Did you know that Joseph was sealed to women who were already married? In this episode, Dr. Brian Hales talks about several of these instances. We’ll talk in detail about one of these women, Sylvia Session Lyon. She gave birth to a girl named daughter, Josephine, and Josephine’s mother said she was the child of Joseph. They did a DNA test to see if Josephine was the daughter of Joseph or Windsor.
I theorized that the marriage between Joseph Smith and Sylvia Sessions Lyon did include sexual relations in that plural marriage, and I had some theories as how that might have unfolded. When the DNA evidence came back—and part of the theory was that Joseph was the father of Josephine [daughter of Sylvia Sessions Lyon.] That’s an important point. But when the DNA evidence came back that Windsor Lyon was the father, it required me to re-write things. I’ll be honest with you. It wasn’t what I expected, but it was what I had hoped.
Brian now believes that there were no sexual relations between Joseph and any of these 11-14 polyandrous marriages.
Brian: Why the women chose Joseph over their legal husbands, sometimes these men were active Latter-day Saints, we don’t know. It seems odd. But it’s not as odd as them practicing actual sexual polyandry without anybody ever talking about it or finding that to be controversial.
GT: Ok, so your opinion is of all the eleven polyandrous marriages, where a woman could have two husbands essentially, none of them involved sexual relations.
GT: That’s your opinion. Ok. So let’s talk a little bit about…
Brian: Rick, let me interrupt though. If people go to my books, they’re going to be confused because I used the word eleven. The twelfth polyandrous marriage on the chart is Sarah Ann Whitney to Joseph C. Kingsbury, which was a front marriage. Everybody involved with that realized that she was sealed to Joseph but apparently there was some legal issues going on, so Joseph asked Kingsbury to have a legal marriage but not consummate the marriage. Everybody agrees that was the relationship. That’s number twelve.
Number thirteen is Lucinda Pendleton who we just know nothing about, and the fourteenth one is to Mary Herron who we have one attestation that connects her to Joseph sexually but we don’t know any of the details. If somebody goes to my chart, there’s actually fourteen women on that but eleven of them we believe were eternity-only, two are undocumented so just take your guess, and then we have this pretend marriage with Sarah Ann, so fourteen in total.
He theorizes that this was Joseph’s attempt to satisfy the angel with a flaming sword. Joseph was completing these sealings in order to fulfill the angel’s command and also placate Emma. We also address the rumor that Joseph sent men on missions so he could marry their wives.
Brian nods: The problem is we have two sealing dates for Joseph and Marinda. The other date is from an affidavit Marinda signed that is well after Orson Hyde returning from Palestine. Even the one that appears to be a case where Joseph might have sent him on a mission, then he waits a year—it doesn’t make sense. A year later we have Joseph being sealed to Marinda, but again we have a second date. The second date is a signed affidavit which we probably would consider to be more reliable than something that was just scrawled on a page in Joseph’s journal, not in his handwriting but in I think Thomas Bullock’s [handwriting.] Again that story is false, yet it’s a sound bite. It’s all over the internet. We’ve got to kill it. It’s wrong. It’s false. Joseph did not send men on missions and so he could marry their wives according to any reliable documentation.
Why do you think that Joseph was sealed to other men’s wives? Were you aware that most of these men were ok with Joseph being sealed to their wives? Do you think that made it easier for them to consent because there were no sexual relations (no sexual polyandry)? Why would God command Joseph to do this?
Don’t forget to check out our previous episode on Fanny Alger, as well as parts 1–5 of our conversations with Brian. Check out our conversation…
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