The Apostles and Their Wives

[This post is part of a series on Joseph Smith's Polygamy. To read from the beginning or link to previously published posts, go to A Faithful Joseph.]

Vilate Murray [Kimball]
(Daughters of Utah Pioneers)

There are various stories recounting that Joseph told men to give their wives to him. Alternately, there are instances where a woman who was married to another man then entered into a covenant relationship with Joseph Smith.

For the moment we will deal with events that appear to have occurred prior to January 1843. In my prior post, The Angel, the Sword, and the Heron Seduction, I discussed Joseph covenanting with three women who were married to other men. These ladies were Zina Diantha Huntington [Jacobs], Presendia Huntington [Buell], and Mary Elizabeth Rollins [Lightner]. DNA analysis of descendants shows none of the children these women birthed 1 is actually related to Joseph Smith. Therefore it is reasonable to speculate that these “marriages” were ceremonial in nature. Joseph’s “marriage” to the Huntington sisters appears to have been partially based on the command from the angel with the sword and partially inspired by Dimick Huntington’s desire to link the Huntington family to Joseph Smith in eternity. Mary Elizabeth Rollins’ “marriage” to Joseph was based on the command from the angel with the sword and the urgency caused by Joseph’s early fears about the seductions taking place in Nauvoo.

In 1842, Joseph “marries” four additional women who are already married:

Sylvia Sessions [Lyon],
Patty Bartlett [Sessions],
Elizabeth Davis [Goldsmith Brackenbury Durfee], and
Sarah Maryetta Kingsley [Howe Cleveland].

As discussed in Wives of Sorrow, it appears these women acted as detectives during the hunt for the men seducing women in Nauvoo. These “marriages” then were a combination of Joseph teaching the correct doctrine and swearing these women to secrecy in pursuit of the men and women teaching or believing false doctrine about the nature of marriage and sexuality.

By summer 1842 Bennett had been exposed as ring-leader of the sexual predators. Bennett counter-attacked Joseph in the press, claiming Joseph was the one who had been propositioning women. As with all the most effective lies, there was a kernel of truth. Joseph had been talking with women about the New and Everlasting Covenant. However Joseph’s aim does not appear to have been the easy sex Bennett and his ring of Strikers had elicited from the hapless women of Nauvoo. This easy sex was the kind of sexual misconduct Bennett was accusing Joseph of seeking. Bennett supported his assertion by telling a story alleging Joseph had made improper advances to Sarah Pratt, wife of his apostle, Orson Pratt.

Bennett’s tale about Sarah Pratt would prove a double-edged sword for the apostles in Joseph’s church, as well as their wives. Continue reading


  1. Obviously DNA analyses are only possible for those children who lived long enough to have children themselves. However those wishing to imagine Joseph as a sexual partner to these women are left with no data to support their hypothesis.

Revising the Libertarian Understanding of Marriage

I think that many Latter-day Saint libertarians have fundamentally misunderstood marriage. As a libertarian this refers to me — I once thought of marriage as a civil contract, and I once supported the position that the government should remove itself completely from marriage. This is the way libertarians have often thought about the issue:

We should take all of the legal benefits and obligations of marriage (survivorship, duty to fidelity, duty of care and support, autonomy in family affairs, etc.) and unbundle them from the idea of “marriage.” Marriage would then be a solely religious commitment that has no legal consequences or implications whatsoever (any more than baptism does). Couples who marry could privately contract with each other (via a civil union) for the legal entitlements that marriage usually entails. Judges could not enforce any such obligations unless the partners explicitly consented to them by contract. Such civil unions or private contracts would be available to anyone who so wanted to commit themselves, be they man and woman, man and man, sisters, roommates, best friends, etc.

At least, that was the general idea. I bought into it for a long while. Not anymore. Continue reading

Ordain Women: thanks for nothing

This is a guest post by Kyleigh Ruth, who describes herself as “a mother of two girls, a Registered Nurse and wife. Born in Utah, she fell in love with the deserts of Arizona and now is proud to call it home.”

By Kyleigh Ruth

I will never join the Ordain Women movement. To unite myself with their cause is to admit that somehow I am less because I do not hold the priesthood.

Which I simply can not do. I refuse to adhere to a position that demands that I am inferior to a man in any way besides the genetic predisposition for upper body strength and the ability to father a child. Ordain Women would have me admit that I am inferior and then join the crusade to somehow fix this perceived inequality.

I am not less in the eyes of God or in the eyes of this Church because I am a woman and definitely not because I don’t have the priesthood. I have never felt this way and neither have the vast number of women that participate in Church activity. Lifted from the OW Facebook page “Women are powerless in matters of church governance and can make no autonomous decisions, even at the highest levels, Kelly said.”

There you have it. Women are powerless. We can make no autonomous decisions, according to the lovely Kate Kelly. Hold on, let me see if I feel powerless.


Let me see if I can make an autonomous decision.

I think I can… Yes, yes I can.

Why don’t I feel powerless? Perhaps it is because I come from a long line of women who are the leaders in the home. Women who love, respect and revere their husbands, but whose insight and reasoning guide the family.

Maybe it’s because on my mission, I made plenty of autonomous decisions about where to go, what to teach, what to do and how to do it. I was blessed to serve with sisters who were powerhouses, razing the land with nothing but righteousness in their wake. We, as sisters had our own leadership roles, Trainers, that would plan and execute training, solve problems, delegate responsibility and ensure the proper function of our Visitor’s Center. My wise mission president sought the Trainers’ insight about transfers and even recommendation of elders for mission leadership positions.
Continue reading

A View of Keys

[This is the first time I am adding a podcast of a post. To listen, click on the left side of the bar below, and the mp3 will load, then start to play. To pause, simply click the left side of the bar again. I think this isn't a very good skin, but it works...]


A Graphic of Elder Oaks' address on Keys

A Graphic of Elder Oaks’ address on Keys

I thought it might be useful to put up a graphic representing my understanding of Elder Oaks’ address at Priesthood Meeting. My apologies that this graphic isn’t beautiful.

Clearly I’ve adapted the traditional astrological symbols for Mars and Venus here. The little plus sign at the bottom of the circle derives from the distaff, the tool women traditionally used to support flax before it is woven – a symbol of the creation of products that has been a traditional role of women. Obviously women also perform the primary labor of producing children (gestation, birth, lactation). Plussing up the population of mankind, if you will. I made this symbol gold because it is wonderful.

The arrow in the traditional symbol points off to the side and represents a spear (vary male and phallic). In this graphic, however, the arrow is a sort of umbrella pointed towards God, representing both the umbrella under which all Church service is performed as well as the salvific ordinances that can reunite mankind with God. I made this blue. No reason. Continue reading