I’m so sick of the degree to which anybody and everybody takes whatever accusations someone put out against Joseph Smith and calls it truth. While the existence of a topics article on the church website is not how we decide truth, even the article on Joseph Smith’s polygamy uses phrases like “fragmentary evidence suggests” all over the place.
Not that I am saying Joseph Smith didn’t have multiple wives. He did, and there is nothing wrong with that. I make no objections to that. I don’t even care if one or more of them was quite young. It was acceptable in the day. I have a female ancestor from that time who was married at age 15, and another one (not a church member) who was married at age 16. As I recall, the 16 year old was married to a man who was not a youngster. In Shakespeare’s play “Romeo and Juliette”, the girl Juliette is 13 (she had “not yet seen her fourteenth year”) and Romeo is 16. In the days of that play, those were acceptable ages for marriage. In the days of the new testament, it is likely each of Christ’s apostles married a girl that was no older than 15. In that day and place, boys usually married around 19 and girls usually married younger than 16. Therefore it is very likely that Mary, the mother of Christ, was younger than 16 when she was planning to marry Joseph.
Honestly, I think there is a very different mindset, completely foreign to us, about marriageable ages that settles in among those growing up in times where a long life is unusual, and dying in ones teens or twenties is more likely than dying in ones fifties or sixties. And there is nothing wrong with that.
But now to the main point.
The basic claims most church members who just want to keep on going about this are really making about Joseph Smith is not that he is a polygamist. We have plenty of polygamist prophets. They are trying to establish that he was involved in serious moral transgressions. The main claim being made these members is that Joseph Smith was both a prophet and involved in adultery and other moral sins.
And they make those claims because they, like the Zoramites, want to set Joseph Smith up as a Corianton. They want to make him into someone that excuses them to side against the church on moral issues.
But Joseph Smith was every inch a prophet of God. I’m sorry we read so little of his writings now that we have lost touch with our good friend.
Christ, by submitting his will completely to the will of his father, was able to bring to pass the mighty atonement. Do we think that Joseph Smith, by misbehavior and immorality could have brought about such works as these:
D&C 135: 3 Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. In the short space of twenty years, he has brought forth the Book of Mormon, which he translated by the gift and power of God, and has been the means of publishing it on two continents; has sent the fulness of the everlasting gospel, which it contained, to the four quarters of the earth; has brought forth the revelations and commandments which compose this book of Doctrine and Covenants, and many other wise documents and instructions for the benefit of the children of men; gathered many thousands of the Latter-day Saints, founded a great city, and left a fame and name that cannot be slain. He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood; and so has his brother Hyrum. In life they were not divided, and in death they were not separated!
Do we accept these words as scripture? As the mind and will of the Lord? Can’t we know the prophet by his fruits? Do we believe he lived great and he died great in the eyes of God? Or do we reject that? Can the scriptures say a man lived great and died great in the eyes of God if he was living hypocritically? No, they cannot.