Joseph Smith’s Polygamy — 2 Comments

  1. Great posts Steve. You’ve clearly done more research than me, so when I challenge a point, I want to say up front that you are probably right and I am probably wrong. Your statement: ‘I believe he thought he was a prophet’ I don’t accept this for two reasons:

    1. Criminal Past
    He was convicted of illegal banking, and charged with banking fraud (but fled to avoid the trial). To me, this means JS was a cheater and liar. It’s hard to say what JS actually thought, but I think his fraudulent past shows a lack of character and morality. Here’s a Wikipedia article about his criminal past:

    2. His revelations are clearly self serving. It’s so clear that he just wanted to have sex with as many women (and young girls) as possible, so he made up rules that made it seem OK. It’s not me doing this, it’s god. This is the simplest explanation.

    • Joe, thanks for reading. I agree that fleeing the banking scandals and the self serving revelations are big problems, as are marrying lots of women only because he says God told him to. But I still think his motivation was he thought God was telling him to do everything. Take the banking scandal. He thought God would provide a way for the bank to be successful without having to follow good financial practices, but obviously that doesn’t work. Of course that doesn’t make it right what he did, but it speaks to his motivation. I didn’t think this way until I read Fawn Brodie’s “No Man Knows My History”. I had heard her book was considered anti-Mormon by people in the church, and she definitely didn’t think he was a prophet, but she thought that he thought he was. It was a take I hadn’t considered until I read it, but she makes a good case. Surprisingly I was more sympathetic to him after I read it. Another historian, Dan Vogel, makes similar arguments here: We’ll never really know, but I find it fascinating to learn about.

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