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Mormon Polyandry: More than One Husband

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.

Brian:  Correct.

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 15 of our conversations with Brian.  Check out our conversation…

Our New Contest!

Don’t forget to sign up for a contest to win a free book!  You can sign up here!  It is the Parallel Doctrine & Covenants that contains the 1832, 1833, and 1835 Doctrine & Covenants side by side so you can see the changes.  When it was originally published, it was about $50, but the book is now out of print.  Curt Bench was actually the one who wrote the introduction to this book.  It’s a fairly recent book, but if you find it on Amazon now, check this out.  It’s $175.  On Abebooks it’s even higher–$260!  This book is a valuable book and has become a collector’s item, especially for historians or those seriously interested in Mormon history.

Here’s what you need to do for a chance to win.  Just go to https://GospelTangents.com/newsletter .  In there, enter your email address and your name, and we will simply put you in a contest for a drawing on Pioneer Day, July 24th, 2017.

 

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1st Plural Wife Fanny Alger: Time or Eternity Polygamy?

We’re here to talk about Joseph’s first plural wife. Dr. Brian Hales noted that this marriage likely occurred prior to the sealing power being restored. Was this a time, or eternity sealing?

Brian:  If it wasn’t a sealing, then what authority was used?  The state wasn’t going to allow Joseph to marry a second wife, so the only authority that it could have been would be priesthood authority and Joseph was already using that authority to marry people just for time there in Kirtland.  So one interpretation is Joseph gave that authority to Levi and this would have been strictly a priesthood marriage that Joseph would have argued God recognized and so if he recognized it and Fanny and her family apparently recognized it as did others who were involved, but not Oliver [Cowdery] and not Emma.

What do you think?  Was this an adulterous relationship, or was it a true marriage?  Was it a sealing, or just a polyamist marriage for time?  What do you think of polygamy?

Check out parts 1, 2, and 3, as well as Mark Staker’s interview on Kirtland polygamy!  See the video here:

1st Plural Wife Fanny Alger: Time or Eternity Polygamy?

 

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Kirtland Era Polygamy

This is not your typical polygamy conversation.  How did polygamy get started in the LDS Church?  Dr. Mark Staker has a very interesting theory:  he thinks it was started by a former slave, Black Pete, who joined the Mormon community in 1830.  I talked about Black Pete in Part 1 and Part 2 of my discussion with Staker, an LDS Anthropologist, and Staker also makes the case that Oliver Cowdery, not Joseph Smith, wrote the Declaration on Marriage that was replaced by D&C 132 in the Doctrine & Covenants.  With the LDS Church’s stance on monogamy being God’s standard, does Staker believe that this de-canonized revelation could be re-canonized?  Check out the audio above, video below, or transcript (also on Amazon) to find out!  You’ll learn a lot about polygamy the foundations of polygamy in this episode!

Here’s a few interesting quotes from the podcast:

GT:  So wait a minute.  You’re telling me that Black Pete may have been responsible for introducing polygamy into the Kirtland community?

Mark:  I believe so, and I believe that’s why often we say well Joseph Smith was translating the Bible and he wants to know about Abraham and his wives, Isaac and Jacob and their wives and so he asks that.

Who authored the Declaration on Marriage?

Brigham Young believed it was all Oliver Cowdery.  Did he know all the details?  Scholars have disputed that but some of them have accepted his declaration.  I tend to believe that Brigham Young did know enough about those details that he was right that Oliver Cowdery had played the principal if not the sole role in getting that material included.

What are your thoughts?

https://youtu.be/z2CP5VsJyps