Joseph’s Wives: Emma Hale

From December 2013 to August 2014 I wrote a series of posts on a Faithful Joseph, tracing a plausible history in which Joseph Smith didn’t keep his wife Emma in the dark, and rarely, if ever, engaged in sexual activity with the women he would covenant with.

This is the first post in the series Joseph’s Wives, describing each of the women believed to have been Joseph’s wife based on information from reliable contemporary witnesses. Of these, the first and most important to understand is Emma Hale. I have identified several “tells” which I plan to assess for each wife:

  • Are there substantiating details that contemporaries considered the woman a wife?
  • Are details of the alleged marriage during Joseph’s lifetime known?
  • Is there an indication that the marriage was sexually consummated?
  • Is it reported one or more children was engendered by Joseph Smith with the wife?
  • Is there a record that the wife was sealed to Joseph after his death?
  • Did the reported wife embrace Joseph’s teachings regarding covenant marriage after his death?
  • Was the marriage a subject of prophecy?
  • Did the marriage serve to “bind” Joseph to important families, so-called dynastic marriages?

The result will be a visual summary which can be used to assess the nature of Joseph’s marriages over the period of his lifetime. This visual summary and links to the posts describing the individual women will be posted separately.

Any discussion of Joseph’s wives must include Emma Hale, Joseph’s only legal wife, the only wife Joseph publicly acknowledged during his lifetime. Continue reading


In The Art of War, Sun Tzu offers some very relevant advice on retreating.

Paraphrased, he states that when attacking an enemy, you should leave them a way to retreat.  This has two advantages – if planned right, you can set up an ambush on the retreat path.  However, if you can’t do that, it’s best to allow them some means of escape, lest the enemy, knowing they must either fight or die, rise to heroic actions and do serious damage.

Similarly, if your army is hemmed in with no mean of retreat, let your soldiers know this, so that they might rise to heroic actions and perhaps even pull off a win.

It seems to me these principles have relevance to several current battles in the “culture wars.”

The Economist discusses young women, missions and education

The Economist magazine has a very interesting article on another side of the surge of young women going on missions. It turns out that as more young women go on missions, fewer are going to college, and the Economist says some people in Utah are concerned about this trend:

KAITLYN BOURNE, a 21-year-old student from Salt Lake City, Utah, recently returned from 18 months as a Mormon missionary in Atlanta, Georgia. Before going on her mission, she was studying a pre-medicine undergraduate degree at the University of Utah with a full scholarship. But when the Mormon church lowered the age at which young women can go on missions from 21 to 19 at the end of 2012, the idea of going consumed her. “It was a huge commitment, a really hard decision,” she says. “But after months of prayer and thinking about it, I realised I had to do it.”

Ms Bourne’s decision was hard—she had to give up her scholarship. Since returning, she has made plans to go back to university, but instead of resuming her pre-medicine course, she plans to study music at the Hawaii branch of Brigham Young, a Mormon university. Such decisions concern many Utahns. In seeking to expand spiritual opportunities for women, they fear that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may be inadvertently reducing academic ones.

I think this article in the Economist, while thought-provoking, has a fatal flaw: it ignores the biggest crisis in higher education right now, which is that going to a four-year university for a BA degree is increasingly worthless.

Continue reading

Review: Joseph Smith’s Polygamy – Toward a Better Understanding

JSP_LauraAnd now for the review that matters this month, the delightfully concise book about Joseph Smith’s Polygamy written by Brian C. Hales with the support of his bride, Laura Harris [Hales].

The main text of this book captures the heart of the point Brian C. Hales made in his three volume, 1500+ page master work titled Joseph Smith’s Polygamy. Some of these points are:

  1. Joseph was not the skank he is so often portrayed to be.
  2. Polygamy in our day is not required. The New and Everlasting Covenant itself does not require polygamy.
  3. Bennett was there, but he does not appear to have actually been instructed regarding the New and Everlasting Covenant. Thus his accusations and actions should not be presumed to accurately reflect Joseph’s teachings.

Continue reading

What Mormon Women Want

YW themeThe world always clamors for our attention. As covenant women, we have to be diligent with how we spend our time and the things we work for and involve ourselves in. In order to stir up contention and to divide us, individuals, the media, and social groups engage in divisiveness and the politics of destruction to get Latter-day Saint women to contend with each other. So I asked over 100 friends and acquaintances what Mormon women want. Is it material things, or mostly things of a deeper nature? Although, I will not argue with my friend who said she’d like a nap and someone else to pick up the house once in a while, most of my friends indicated that they want spiritually lasting things over the things of this world.

So how do we do this? How do we obtain those spiritual, long lasting, eternal wants? And most importantly, what will we do about it?

The first idea, and the one that was most expressed by my friends, was the desire to be better at building Zion. Several said they felt like this could be accomplished if we ministered to each other better without excuses. I remember a few years ago our ward’s Relief Society President gave a presentation during class about turning Visiting Teaching into an opportunity to minister to each other, as Christ ministered to others. It was so revolutionary to me to think of Visiting Teaching in this way. Because the Lord establishes patterns for us to follow, learning to recognize and follow the pattern of Christlike ministering is something that everyone should strive for.

How did Christ minister to people? First, he saw them as they really were. He was and is able to do that, because he knew us before we were born. He knows us by name as we are here on earth, and he suffered and atoned for us in Gethsemane. Do you believe the words of Alma when he said, “…and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities” (see Alma 7: 11-12). We succor people as we try to see them as they truly are – as Christ sees them. Yes, some people have very rough edges, but sometimes those are the people that need us the most.

Read more at Mormon Women Stand