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Joseph Smith Practiced Polygamy; Mormon Founder Had 40 Wives

Image: Joseph Smith Practiced Polygamy; Mormon Founder Had 40 Wives
Joseph Smith. (Newhouse News Service/Landov)  

By    |   Tuesday, 11 Nov 2014 01:47 PM

Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church, practiced polygamy and had as many as 40 wives — one as young as 14 — according to a new essay about the religion.

The essay, "Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo," was added last month to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' website, and went into detail about polygamy in Utah. Polygamy is the most controversial subject within and outside of Mormonism, according to the essay, with its history equally as complicated.

"Many details about the early practice of plural marriage are unknown," the essay states. "Plural marriage was introduced among the early Saints incrementally, and participants were asked to keep their actions confidential. They did not discuss their experiences publicly or in writing until after the Latter-day Saints had moved to Utah and church leaders had publicly acknowledged the practice."

The essay stated that polygamy emerged from Smith's study of the Old Testament in 1831.

"The same revelation that taught of plural marriage was part of a larger revelation given to Joseph Smith, that marriage could last beyond death and that eternal marriage was essential to inheriting the fullness that God desires for his children."

Jana Riess, a blogger with the Religion News Service, said revelations made in the essay and a number of other recently released studies on Mormonism are not new to outsiders but will raise eyebrows to the faithful.

"These statements contained some bombshells about Mormonism's past that will not be news to most students of history but may indeed prove disturbing for some rank-and-file Latter-day Saints," she wrote.

Riess wrote that some Mormons may find surprising that Smith took wives who were already married to other men, and entered into those relationships either without his first wife's permission or without her knowledge. While most of the women he married were between 20 and 40, the youngest was 14.

The Deseret News wrote that church historian Steven E. Snow said last year that church leaders started providing the essays to help members understand the topic "with the best information available."

"I think in this day and age it's become apparent that we really do need to provide a series of answers that will help our members better understand these chapters of our history," Snow told the newspaper.

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Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church, practiced polygamy and had as many as 40 wives — one as young as 14 — according to a new essay about the religion.
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Tuesday, 11 Nov 2014 01:47 PM
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