Mormon founder Joseph Smith had up to 40 wives, LDS church says

Mormon founder Joseph Smith had as many as 40 wives, including a 14-year-old girl, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has admitted.

The church’s teachings had previously portrayed Smith has having been happily married to one woman only.

The revelations of Smith’s polygamy came in an essay posted on the LDS church’s website, The Telegraph reported.

This followed speculation on the Internet concerning Smith’s marital history.

Addressing Smith’s wife count, the essay notes that “careful estimates put the number between 30 and 40”.

Some of these women were already married to others, while one wife was just short of her 15th birthday.

The church also notes that Smith’s multiple marriages caused great pain to his first wife Emma.

“Plural marriage was difficult for all involved.

“For Joseph Smith’s wife Emma, it was an excruciating ordeal,” the essay stated.

The LDS church disavowed plural marriage in 1890 under pressure from the US government.

Their home territory of Utah was granted statehood as part of the deal, though some breakaway Mormon cults have continued the practice.

According to the essay, Smith was a reluctant polygamist but relented under the threats of an angel which ordered him to obey “the commandment fully”.

Smith regarded his fledgling church as a restoration of the “ancient principles” of Biblical prophets such as Abraham, who practised plural marriage.

He also authorised other Mormons to practice plural marriage, it said.

The Church notes that Smith would not have consummated all the marriages as some were “eternity only sealings” – relationships to be taken up in the afterlife.

Smith’ marriage to his 14-year-old bride was in this category, the church added, implying that it had never been consummated.

The essay also noted polygamy rapidly increased the Mormon population at a time when the church faced religious persecution and economic hardship.


Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , , , , ,