Joseph Smith/Polygamy/Sealing brother and sister together

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Plural marriage
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  • In a discussion of plural marriage, critics announce that Joseph "sealed" brothers and sisters together, perhaps hoping that readers will conclude that brothers and sisters were thus married and engaging in incestuous relationships.

See also: Source(s) of the criticism


This is a classic example of a dishonest use of a source. The relevant diary entry reads:

The following named deceased persons were sealed to me (John M. Bernhisel) on Oct[ober] 26th 1843, by President Joseph Smith: Maria Bernhisel, sister; Brother Samuel's wife, Catherine Kremer; Mary Shatto, (Aunt); Madalena Lupferd, (distant relative); Catherine Bernhisel, Aunt; Hannah Bower, Aunt; Elizabeth Sheively, Aunt; Hannah Bower, cousin; Maria Lawrence, (intimate friend); Sarah Crosby, intimate friend, /died May 11[th] 1839/; Mary Ann Bloom, cousin.[1]

The authors do nothing to explain this practice. They want it to appear bizarre or repulsive.

Joseph seems to have used some early plural marriages in the same way that modern members think about "sealing" families together for eternity. Thus, a "marriage" did not always necessarily imply a sexual or marital relationship.

The authors hide the fact that a long list of living and deceased persons are part of the sealing. This is not a marriage, but a sealing of family and friends together into eternal relationships.


  1. [note]  Joseph Smith, An American Prophet's Record:The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith, edited by Scott Faulring, Significant Mormon Diaries Series No. 1, (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books in association with Smith Research Associates, 1989), 424. Entry in handwriting of Robert L. Campbell, signed by Bernhisel, and entered on 29 July 1868 for the date 26 October 1843.

Further Reading

FAIR wiki articles

Plural marriage wiki articles

Scriptural and doctrinal issues

Joseph Smith


Other Nauvoo period

Utah period

Brigham Young and plural marriage FAIR wiki articles

Cessation of plural marriage

Reviews and theories

Lying about polygamy?

FAIR web site

Plural marriage FAIR links
  • FAIR Topical Guide: Polyandry FAIR link
  • FAIR Topical Guide: Polygamy FAIR link
  • Suzanne Armitage, "O that my voice could reach the ears of those uninformed and misinformed." FAIR link
  • Claudia Bushman, "Lives of Mormon Women," FAIR presentation transcript, 2006. FAIR link
  • Michael W. Fordham, 'Ask the Apologist'—Plural Marriage in the Book of Mormon and D&C" FAIR link
  • Gregory L. Smith, "Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Plural Marriage (*But Were Afraid to Ask)," FAIR Conference presentation (7 August 2009). FAIR link
  • Gregory L. Smith, "Polygamy, Prophets, and Prevarication: Frequently and Rarely Asked Questions about the Initiation, Practice, and Cessation of Plural Marriage in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." FAIR link PDF link
  • Allen Wyatt, "Zina and Her Men: An Examination of the Changing Marital State of Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs Smith Young," FAIR presentation transcript, 2006. FAIR link

External links

Plural marriage on-line articles
  • James B. Allen, "Line upon Line," Ensign (July 1979), 32–40. off-site
  • Edwin B. Firmage, "The Judicial Campaign against Polygamy and the Enduring Legal Questions," Brigham Young University Studies 27 no. 3 (Summer 1987), 91–113. PDF link
  • Danel Bachman, Ronald K. Esplin, "Plural Marriage," in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow, (New York, Macmillan Publishing, 1992), 3:1091–1095. off-site off-site off-site
  • Stephen R. Gibson, "Does the Book of Mormon Forbid Polygamy," off-site
  • Gordon Irving, "The Law of Adoption: One Phase of the Development of the Mormon Concept of Salvation, 1830–1900," Brigham Young University Studies 14 no. 3 (Spring 1974), 291–314. PDF link
  • Stephen E. Robinson, Are Mormons Christians? (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1993),90–96. off-site FAIR link
  • Gilbert W. Scharffs, The Truth About “The Godmakers”: A Response to an Inaccurate Portrayal of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Publishers Press, 1986). FAIR link
  • Gregory L. Smith, "George D. Smith's Nauvoo Polygamy," FARMS Review 20/2 (2008): 37–123. off-site PDF link wiki
  • W. John Walsh, "Is Plural Marriage Necessary for Exaltation?" off-site
  • Robert B. White, "A Review of teh Dust Jacket and the First Two Pages [review of Nauvoo Polygamy]," FARMS Review 20/2 (2008): 125–129. off-site [None PDF link] wiki
  • off-site

Printed material

Plural marriage printed references
  • Danel W. Bachman, “A Study of the Mormon Practice of Polygamy Before the Death of Joseph Smith,” (1975) (unpublished M.A. thesis, Purdue University).
  • Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1997), 1. ( Index of claims )
  • Reviews of In Sacred Loneliness:
    • Richard Lloyd Anderson and Scott H. Faulring, "The Prophet Joseph Smith and His Plural Wives (Review of In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith)," FARMS Review of Books 10/2 (1998): 67–104. off-site PDF link
    • Alma G. Allred, “Variations on a Theme,” Presentation to Mormon History Association, 1999, updated on-line version of 6 December 1999. PDF link
    • Danel W. Bachman, “’Let No One…Set On My Servant Joseph’: Religious Historians Missing the Lessons of Religious History,” Presentation to Mormon History Association, 22 May 1999. PDF link
    • Danel W. Bachman, "Prologue to the Study of Joseph Smith's Marital Theology (Review of In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith)," FARMS Review of Books 10/2 (1998): 105–137. off-site PDF link
    • Kathryn Daynes, “Review of In Sacred Loneliness,” Pacific Historical Review 68 (August 1999): 466–468.
    • Todd Compton's response to Anderson, Faulring and Bachman Reviews in FARMS Review of In Sacred Loneliness off-site
    • Todd Compton's response to Jerald and Sandra Tanners' Review of In Sacred Loneliness off-site
  • Kathryn M. Daynes, More Wives than One: Transformation of the Mormon Marriage System, 1840–1910 (Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 2001), 1. ISBN 0252026810.
  • Stephen R. Gibson, One-Minute Answers to Anti-Mormon Questions (Bountiful, Utah: Horizon Publishers, 1995).
  • Jeni Broberg Holzapfel and Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, eds., A Woman's View: Helen Mar Whitney's Reminiscences of Early Church History (Provo: Religious Studies Center, BYU, 1997). ISBN 1570083576. ISBN 978-1570083570. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  • Joseph Fielding McConkie, Answers: Straightforward Answers to Tough Gospel Questions (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1998), 27–28. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  • Ugo A. Perego, Natalie M. Myres, and Scott R. Woodward, 'Reconstructing the Y-Chromosome of Joseph Smith: Genealogical Applications," Journal of Mormon History 31/3 (Fall 2005): 42-60. (Discusses how DNA shows that the parentage of Moroni Pratt, Zebulon Jacobs, and Orrison Smith is not through Joseph Smith).
  • John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations: Aids to Faith in a Modern Day, arranged by G. Homer Durham (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1960), 340–344. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  • John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations: Aids to Faith in a Modern Day, arranged by G. Homer Durham (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1960), 390–393. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)

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