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originally posted by: LowTechRedneck
a reply to: Hefficide
Teenage brides were extremely common back then, in large part due to life expectancy. In fact, it's really only been the last 50-80 years that this practice has been frowned upon.
The information we have on Joseph Smith's plural marriages is sketchy, simply because there were few official records kept at the time because of the fear of misunderstanding and persecution. What we do know is culled from journals and reminiscences of those who were involved. The most conservative estimates indicate that Joseph entered into plural marriages with 29–33 women, 7 of whom were under the age of 18. The youngest was Helen Mar Kimball, daughter of LDS apostle Heber C. Kimball, who was 14. The rest were 16 (two) or 17 (three). One wife (Maria Winchester) about which virtually nothing is known, was either 14 or 15. Helen Mar Kimball Some people have concluded that Helen did have sexual relations with Joseph, which would have been proper considering that they were married with her consent and the consent of her parents. However, historian Todd Compton does not hold this view; he criticized the anti-Mormons Jerald and Sandra Tanner for using his book to argue for sexual relations, and wrote: The Tanners made great mileage out of Joseph Smith's marriage to his youngest wife, Helen Mar Kimball. However, they failed to mention that I wrote that there is absolutely no evidence that there was any sexuality in the marriage, and I suggest that, following later practice in Utah, there may have been no sexuality. (p. 638) All the evidence points to this marriage as a primarily dynastic marriage.  In other words, polygamous marriages often had other purposes than procreation—one such purpose was likely to tie faithful families together, and this seems to have been a purpose of Joseph's marriage to the daughter of a faithful Apostle. (See: Law of Adoption.) Critics who assume plural marriage "is all about sex" may be basing their opinion on their own cultural biases and assumptions, rather than upon the actual motives of Church members who participated in the practice.
These are some of the conclusions in a new Mormon essay, "Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo," added Wednesday morning to one already posted about polygamy in Utah on the website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
It is one of several articles aimed at helping devout members, skeptical outsiders and even committed critics better understand the sometimes-sticky theological and historical issues surrounding Mormonism. The scholarly postings appear on the LDS Church’s website under the heading "Gospel Topics."
originally posted by: Hefficide
I've had two people, now, tell me that this has been common knowledge for a very long time - which leaves me, again, questioning why the Church, itself, is choosing now to discuss it externally. In fact several of the articles I have read made it clear that Church members were previously taught to deny such claims.
1. The Age of Joseph's Wives Even LDS authors are not immune from presentist fallacies: Todd Compton, convinced that plural marriage was a tragic mistake, "strongly disapprove[s] of polygamous marriages involving teenage women."  This would include, presumably, those marriages which Joseph insisted were commanded by God. Compton notes, with some disapproval, that a third of Joseph's wives were under twenty years of age. The modern reader may be shocked. We must beware, however, of presentism—is it that unusual that a third of Joseph's wives would have been teenagers? When we study others in Joseph's environment, we find that it was not. A sample of 201 Nauvoo-era civil marriages found that 33.3% were under twenty, with one bride as young as twelve.  Another sample of 127 Kirtland marriages found that nearly half (49.6%) were under twenty.  And, a computer-aided study of LDS marriages found that from 1835–1845, 42.3% of women were married before age twenty.  The only surprising thing about Joseph's one third is that more of his marriage partners were not younger. Furthermore, this pattern does not seem to be confined to the Mormons (see Chart 12 1). A 1% sample from the 1850 U.S. census found 989 men and 962 who had been married in the last year. Teens made up 36.0% of married women, and only 2.3% of men; the average age of marriage was 22.5 for women and 27.8 for men.  Even when the men in Joseph's age range (34–38 years) in the U.S. Census are extracted, Joseph still has a lower percentage of younger wives and more older wives than non-members half a decade later.  Chart 12-1 Chart 12-1.png I suspect that Compton goes out of his way to inflate the number of young wives, since he lumps everyone between "14 to 20 years old" together.  It is not clear why this age range should be chosen—women eighteen or older are adults even by modern standards.
President Uchtdorf urges Mormons toward “transparency and openness” in their history
Yesterday, Dieter F. Uchtdorf, a member of the LDS First Presidency, told Mormons that “learning about the real struggles and real successes of early Church leaders and members is a very faith-promoting process” for him.
As the Salt Lake Tribune reported, Uchtdorf said that Mormons should navigate a middle road: we shouldn’t shy away from our history out of fear of what we might find, but we also shouldn’t automatically assume that any inconsistencies or human foibles we discover cancel out the truths of the gospel’s message:
We always need to remember that transparency and openness keep us clear of the negative side effects of secrecy or the cliché of faith-promoting rumors. Jesus taught the Jews, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Truth and transparency complement each other.
originally posted by: Hefficide
Hello again ATS!
Surfing the web I came across this article that took me aback to a degree. Well, to be honest, not that aback. No revelations about organized religion leading to graft or sin really shocks me any longer. There is something about religious power that, in my earnest opinion, tends to make even rational people turn into their own little demigods.
However, I am sure that the state of Utah is blushing at the moment - or at least segments of that population. It turns out their founder, a very active polygamist, who took the wifes of other men to be his own - but he was also a possible pedophile.
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Mormon church acknowledges in a new essay that founder Joseph Smith had a teenage bride and was married to other men's wives during the faith's early polygamous days, a recognition of an unflattering part of its roots that historians have chronicled for years.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says most of Sm
"As a collection, these are remarkably revealing articles, continuing the new open and transparent philosophy of historical writing," said Armand Mauss, a retired professor of sociology and religious studies at Washington State University.
The information will be surprising to many Latter-day Saints who either didn't know or were encouraged to dismiss speculation as anti-Mormon propaganda, Mauss said.
Little is known about Smith's marriages to the already-married women, the article says. They also might have been the type of unions that didn't involve sex.
Hrm "sexless marriage". Could such an animal truly exist? Did the founder of The Church of Latter Day Saints practice sexless marriage with some or all of his brides?
Even if sexless - does marriage to a child in puberty not violate the very spirit that religion is supposed to foster?
I leave it in your worthy hands, ATS, to work out the quirks and kinks in the concepts here. I, myself, find no excuse for any grown man to marry a girl barely in her teens. To me it seems inexcusable.