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RFM: 284: The Mormon Polygamy Controversy!

One of the key components in the controversy over whether Joseph Smith or Brigham Young instituted plural marriage is the dating of Section 132.

Some proponents of the idea Brigham Young started plural marriage in the Church argue Section 132 was written by Brigham Young or someone at his direction AFTER Joseph Smith died, but was falsely attributed to Joseph Smith by Brigham Young when it was first published in the 1876 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants.

RFM presents a textual analysis of three affidavits published June 7, 1844 in the Nauvoo Expositor which conclusively demonstrates the text of Section 132 existed in all material respects during Joseph Smith’s lifetime. 

This means Section 132 was not created by Brigham Young or anyone else after Joseph Smith’s death.


9 thoughts on “RFM: 284: The Mormon Polygamy Controversy!”

  1. You’re completely discounting that Marty and Doc Brown could easily have taken section 132 back to 1844 and given it to William Law at the behest of Brigham Young.

  2. Hi RFM. Great episode and research, as usual. While you have successfully put to rest any reasonable debate about WHETHER Joseph was the one to define and initiate polygamy, I still see Snufferites and even Denver himself sticking to a claim that you may not have addressed regarding his INTENT. Before I go on, I want to be clear that 1) polygamy is not just about sex and progeny even though Denver might want it to be, and 2) I am not a follower of Denver Snuffer or the LDS church or affiliated movements. I personally believe JS did in fact consummate some of these marriages and intent is somewhat irrelevant due to the power dynamics involved.

    Now, the claim which I think Snuffer might still cling to is this and is one he makes here ( to Joseph, polygamy was all about dynastic sealings, not sex or offspring.

    I may have missed it, but I don’t think any of the claims made by the affiants would refute Denver’s claim. Especially in the absence of verified progeny.

    Again, I do not think Denver’s argument carries any weight whatsoever and I abhor the treatment of women and girls that were subjected to polygamy. I do worry that Snuffer and others will still cling to the claim that the INTENT of instituting polygamy changed from Joseph to Brigham.

    What do you and the other commenters here think? Is there a way to “snuff” out this idea given the research you presented (or anything else)?

  3. What if:
    (1) The affidavits were written using a “fake” document that William Law, etc., created, and…
    (2) Brigham Young used their ideas to create section 132?
    In other words, the consistency between these affidavits and section 132 isn’t because the affidavits relied on section 132, but rather because section 132 relied on the affidavits?
    There’s some conspiracy theory 3D chess for you!

  4. I love that in this episode RFM reinforces the LDS church’s position (that BY accurately attributed D&C 132 to Joseph Smith) by citing the Nauvoo Expositor of all things. 🤣

  5. The reorganized church didn’t in the 1980s concede that Joseph practiced polygamy. They said that Joseph’s revelations about the sealing ordinances, which implied eternal polygamy, may have formed the doctrinal basis that BY then used to justify earthly polygamy. That is to say, Joseph was at least indirectly responsible for the church’s practice of polygamy. I got this info from a great academic paper, and I’m happy to email it to you.

    But you’re right: the people who wrote Joseph Fought Polygamy lost their minds over this academic paper. To them, this was tantamount to saying that Joseph practiced polygamy. Their 3-volume work is a testament to outraged thoroughness, if nothing else.

    Myself, I’m taking in evidence. Your podcast made some really interesting points, but I didn’t find it persuasive.

  6. Hey, I wondered what your thoughts are on the miraculous healings that occurred in early church history. Many accounts of healings performed by Joseph Smith appear in the early church. Why wouldn’t these healings be evidence that Joseph Smith did indeed have the power and authority of god?

  7. Good research. Would it not be possible for BY (or whoever) to use the affidavits as the source for a post-JS document? It would lend credibility to the document, as you have so thoroughly demonstrated.

  8. Joseph Smith started it! Didn’t you read what his mother Lucy Mack Smith did when Smith told her about it? She threw up her arms and said “what did you do, get another ‘revelation?”

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