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Does Polygamy in D&C 132 Conflict with JST Genesis?

We continue are discussion with Dr. Brian Hales.  (Part 1 is here.)  He has written a comprehensive history of Joseph Smith’s Polygamy (Volume 1, Volume 2, and Volume 3.)  In this episode, I’ll ask him about Dr. Mark Staker’s claim that Black Pete may have been responsible for introducing polygamy into the Kirtland period.

Joseph knew the Old Testament, he knew Abraham had more than one wife and Jacob, so why would we need to think that it was Black Pete that was introducing this in a very real way, especially when Joseph wasn’t supportive of so much that was going on when he first arrived down there, and the types of spiritual experiences that they were expressing in their church meetings and things like that.  So I’m a little dubious on that, but I just applaud Mark.  I say go forward and let us know.

He also makes an interesting statement about the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible.

I believe all of these principles came to Joseph line upon line, precept upon precept.  Some of the exciting things that are happening down at BYU, Tom Wayment and others are looking at the Joseph Smith Translation very carefully and discovering that it really shouldn’t be thought of as actual scripture in and of itself, that it was a chance for Joseph to expand upon the text to make the Bible text correspond with the theology that he was receiving through revelation, or through communications that he portrayed to be from God.

I asked Brian about differences in biblical polygamy and Doctrine & Covenants 132.

GT:  Well so I guess my question is as far as 132 and Genesis, does it seem to you that there’s a difference among those two scriptures as far as whether God commanded Hagar to be a plural wife or whether Sarah was totally responsible?

Brian acknowledges the accounts are different, but it doesn’t bother him.

Brian:  So for me to see the JST Genesis and that it doesn’t necessarily say what comes in 1843 doesn’t surprise me because of the line upon line, precept upon precept process.

What do you think about these different accounts about Hagar’s marriage to Abraham?  Does it bother you that these two accounts seem to differ in whether God commanded the marriage, or Sarah suggested it?

Check out our conversation…

Does Polygamy in D&C 132 Conflict with JST Genesis?



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Canadian Polygamy – Should it be Legal?

I’m excited to publish this interview with Dr. Brian Hales, the premier expert on Joseph Smith’s polygamy.  He has written a three volume set called Joseph Smith’s Polygamy (you can get Volume 1, Volume 2, and Volume 3 here.)  In this first episode, I was surprised to learn that Brian recently was deposed in a Canadian court.

Brian:  I just got back last week, it was a week ago today from Cranbrook, [British Columbia,] Canada.  That is where they are holding a trial right now for two leading polygamists:  Winston Blackmore and James Oler.  The Canadian government has kind of a different system than we have here in the United States in that they have a law against polygamy.  It’s been on the books since 1899 or before.  They haven’t prosecuted anybody in the last 100 plus years, but what they are able to do in Canada that we don’t do in the U.S. is they can petition their Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of a particular law.  In 2012 they did this to the state, well it would be the province, British Columbia did a provincial court saying, is this polygamy law constitutional?  They ruled that it was.

They are now prosecuting the two leading polygamists because there’s a group of hundreds, not thousands, but hundreds located about an hour, hour and a half away from Cranbrook where the court’s being held.  So the prosecution, the attorneys called me up and said, would you come up and be an expert?  They said, we don’t want you to testify for or against, and I told them that isn’t what I’m interested in doing.  They wanted somebody to give an accurate history which is something that I had studied.

I can even give you a copy of a chart that I’ve updated and you can put it the show notes or however you do online if people are interested.  It’s available at, but they asked me to come up and start with Joseph Smith and go right through on authority to the 1890 and 1904 manifestos, the period between that and the fundamentalist groups coming together at the end of the 1920s, and then the branches and the breakoffs and I put together a nice little chart that talks about the different groups and of course the fundamentalists up there.

Many have wondered if Brian is in favor of polygamy.  In the interview, he said

…personally I don’t think that we should allow polygamy either in Canada or the United States, but my reason might be a little surprising to you, because in a country or government that allows same-sex marriage, and again I’m not speaking for or against that, but if we allow same-sex marriage and we allow polygamy, you could have networks of people, hundreds of people all married to each other in a variety of ways.

If the government privileged marriage, in other words if a married man and a married woman, whatever kind of marriage it is, if they have a privilege a single person doesn’t have, then everybody’s going to want to be married in some way.  I think it would force the government to basically get out of the marrying business and leave it as a social construct or a religious agreement.  But in doing that it would also take away any privilege for marriage which I think could harm the family.  So that’s my reasoning for saying I don’t think we should have legal polygamy.  I think a society can absorb polygamy on a small scale. It obviously can’t be practiced widely because of the differences in people, male and female, the gendered differences of being born, but I don’t think a society can absorb both of the expansions or marriage at the same time.  I mean you can do same-sex marriage, or you can do polygamy.  I don’t think it’s good for the family to do both.

Don’t forget to check out my conversation with Dr. Mark Staker on early Kirtland Polygamy.

Do you think polygamy should be legalized?  What do you think of Brian’s rationale with legalizing gay marriage being bad for the family?

Check out the video, or get a transcript!


Canadian Polygamy – Should it be Legal?


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Hofmann Bombings Effect on Mormon History

The Hofmann bombings and forgeries have had a lasting impact on Church history.  In the 1970s Leonard Arrington was a trained historian and became Church Historian.  He opened the Archives to many researchers and people interested in Mormon History.  However, General Authorities were concerned about some of the controversial aspects that were being uncovered.  Of course Mark Hofmann had a lot to do with some of those controversial documents.  How big of an impact did he play in shutting down access to church records in the Church History Library?

He certainly made the church change its entire approach to security, and protecting its holdings.  It severely restricted access.

I think there was a long period of time when they were trying to determine what they had in their own holdings that were genuine and weren’t genuine.  Yeah he definitely had an impact on how things are done at the Church History Library.  I know it was a lot harder for me to do business with the church after that.  Before things were more—I don’t know what the right word is, but it was easier to do business. It was more informal.  It became very formal.  There were processes you had to go through and committees had to make decisions on acquisitions and things like that rather than just being left to an individual.

Curt Bench will tell us about Mark Hofmann’s impact.  But have things improved?

I really think we are in a new era, and I can only hope that it will get even better.  The Joseph Smith Papers Project is one of the biggest evidences of that whole new attitude and openness.  I mean those scholars are not given a list of restrictions as to what they can research and what they can write about and publish.  Talk about throwing the books open, they’re doing it.  They’re making our history available and accessible.  There’s some very impressive scholarship that’s gone into that project, for example.  That’s had spinoffs.

We see a lot of other research and writing and publishing that’s being done as a result of that whole attitude.  Rick [Turley] is no longer Assistant Church Historian. He’s over Public Affairs now.  I think he’s one of the unsung heroes in my opinion.  He has helped us get to the point we are now, and those others that I mentioned and many that we can’t take the time to name.

Check out our conversation…

(Don’t forget to check out (parts 1, 2, 34, 5 and 6!)

Hofmann Bombings Effect on Mormon History