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PENNYSUE - i have just recently been visited by sever morman elders. they have brought a women with them to our meetings. there are things i am embracing easily, and find comforting. however there are others i can not! i find it so very difficult to accept plural marriage, and how the church denied it for so long. "tho shalt not lie" what exactly was Emma's feelings about it? did joseph keep many of hs marriages from her? thus telling a lie? did joseph tell her she had to accept this practice or be excummicated from the church? i am seeking these answers for my own personal growth only.

JOEL - First of all you might want to stay away from those anti-Mormon websites (notice how I spelled Mormon). Many of them have the knack to take some things that are true and right and twist them into looking like a really bad thing.

God explained to Joseph in our scriptures that he wanted him to practice plural marriage the same as the prophets of old did:

"Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you my servant Joseph, that inasmuch as you have inquired of my hand to know and understand wherein I, the Lord, justified my servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as also Moses, David and Solomon, my servants, as touching the principle and doctrine of their having many wives and concubines— "(Doctrine and Covenants 132: 1)

He then goes on to tell Joseph to live this law.

If God validated and supported the taking of many wives by his prophets in the Bible, why would he not allow it now? Here are a few Bible scriptures that refer to prophets having multiple wives:
Abraham - Gen. 25:1-6
Jacob - Gen. 29 and 30
David - 2 Samuel 12:7-9, 2 Samuel 5:13; 1 Sam.18:27, 2 Sam. 3:2-3, 1 Samuel 25:43, 1 Chronicles 3:1-9 Solomon - 1 Kings 11:3, D&C 132:38-39
Gideon - Judges 8:30
Jehoiada the priest - 2 Chronicles 24:2-3
Moses - Ex. 2:16-21 and Num. 12:1

Fortunately the reason for reinstating plural marriage back in the 1800's no longer exists and therefore since 1890 we are no longer commanded to practice the doctrine today. I'm glad because I don't know if I would have enough faith to practice it myself.

The church has never denied the practice of plural marriage. As I described above the doctrine is commanded by God in our Doctrine and Covenants scriptures in section 132 which was written shorty after the Church was organized (1843). It was one of the reasons why the church was persecuted so much in the early years. People have made fun of the church about it for decades and still do, even though the practice was discontinued back in 1890. At the time the doctrine was announced to the membership of the church in 1852, Orson Pratt explained,

"the constitution gives the privilege to all the inhabitants of this country, of the free exercise of their religious notions, and the freedom of their faith, and the practice of it."

In their opinion this included the practice of plural marriage, and an Illinois state law, prohibiting multiple marriages, was in their opinion in direct conflict with the Constitution. After the saints moved to Utah, this is the reason why some continued to practice the principle secretly, hoping the government would agree with their position on the constitutionality of the practice. There were many who moved their families to Mexico or Canada to avoid arrest.

Emma was not happy about the doctrine of plural marriage, which I suppose is how most any woman would feel about it. Generally speaking Joseph was not getting married to other women behind Emma's back. She definately knew he was being sealed to other women and even helped choose them on occaisions. There may have been a few specific instances in which she found out after the fact, but still accepted them. Here's a few quotes from historians I found on the subject:

"Emma also gave permission for Joseph to marry Emily and Eliza Partridge and permitted them to live in the Smith home. While this instance was an after-the-fact approval, she not only selected them but lived with them. There is still no secret. When the Partridge sisters moved out at Emma's request, the Lawrence sisters, whose marriages to Joseph were approved by Emma, continued to live in the Smith home." (Todd M. Compton, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1997), 743-744; see Anderson and Faulring, "Compton: In Sacred Loneliness," 88-90.)

"Lucy Walker, seeing the challenges that Emma faced in accepting plural marriage, chose to remain silent about her marriage to Joseph, but she noted a number of other marriages that Emma was well aware of and consented to, saying that Emma "was well aware that [Joseph] associated with them as wives... This is proven by the fact that [Emma] herself, on several occasions, kept guard at the door to prevent disinterested persons from intruding, when these ladies were in the house." (Linda Newell and Valeen Avery, Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith (Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Company, 1984), 144-145.)

These "marraiges" of Joseph Smith were meant to be regarded as "sealings" for eternity. There's no proof that he even had any sexual relations with these women (no offspring from the other women), although many assume that he did.

With regards to Emma the Lord talks to her in a reveltion abut the sealings Joseph had with other women:

"And let mine handmaid, Emma Smith, receive all those (wives) that have been given unto my servant Joseph, and who are virtuous and pure before me; and those who are not pure, and have said they were pure, shall be destroyed, saith the Lord God. (D&C 132: 52)

Emma was never told that she would be excommunicated if she did not allow this; she was only told by God that she should accept it and that she was not to take plural husbands to herself. (D&C 132: 54) Even though she had a hard time accepting the doctrine she remained true and loyal to Joseph and supported him in his leadership of the restored church.

There is a good explanation of this issue at the LDS.org website

I have studied many other religions and none come as close to following the gospel of Jesus Christ as does this church with the added advantage of having living prophets today who can tell us the will of God relating to the issues of the world today. You are embracing most things easily and find them comforting because the Holy Ghost is testifying the truthfulness of them to you as He has to me. I hope things go well for you with your continued discussions with the missionaries.

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