The recent article about Joseph Smith confirms that he had about 30 to 40 wives, and some of them were already married. The age of his harem ranges from as young as 14 to as old as 56. I guess any younger would be quite awkward and any older would be rather backward.
I also discovered that you can’t really blame Joseph Smith for the polygamous union. It appears that he was under divine duress. Apparently, the angel made him an offer that he couldn't possibly refuse.
The article mentioned that “an angel appeared to (Smith) three times between 1834 and 1842 and commanded him to proceed with plural marriage when he hesitated to move forward.” It was at the third try by the disgruntled angel, most likely in desperation, that Smith finally succumbed. But this was not before the angel threatened to kill him if he still defied the divine edict. The report puts it this way, “On the angel's last visit, the church said, "the angel came with a drawn sword, threatening Joseph with destruction unless he went forward and obeyed the commandment fully.”” Well I guess a life of guilty pleasures is far better than the prospect of being wipe off from the face of this earth.
So, my sympathies are with the founder of Mormonism. He sacrificed monogamy for the monotony of extramarital autonomy. He must have had an agonizing time struggling with the decision to take in more wives when he was already married to his first namely Emma in January 1827. I can imagine Emma’s shock when Joseph told him that he had to do what an angel wanted him to do unless she wanted a dead husband. She must also have thought about all the in-laws that she had to deal with.
Further, what was she going to do with all the children of his many wives. Coming up with their names was the least of her problems. Admittedly, there was just too much managing and organizing to do and the magnitude of the sibling rivalries would be astronomical. In fact, it was recorded that Emma “was very bitter and full of resentment and anger” over her husband’s marriages to other women.
I guess the only gossamer of a consolation for Emma was that her husband did not have sex with all his wives. Thankfully, he exercised some sexual restraint because some of his wives were “sealed” to him only for the next life. Whatever that meant, Joseph claimed to have never deflowered them as he wanted to keep them after his demise. They are like spares for the afterlife.
Of course, Emma must have been the most confused and unsettled first wife of the elected prophet. You see, even if her beloved had practised selective and limited consummation, Emma’s marital torture would indefinitely ensue from this life to the next. Imagine the demise of all the relevant spousal parties and then discovering to her continued despondency that her god-fearing hubby can now start deflowering those whom he had once kept undefiled on earth. I guess the consolation is more a matter of postponement than one of enduring comfort.
Indeed the god of Mormonism works in the most mysterious ways. If the situation had been reversed, I wonder what would poor Joseph do. That is, what if the angel had appeared to Emma and told her in no uncertain terms that she was to take in more than one husband? Would she have folded? Would she have readily agreed to it? You must understand that it was the same angel who appeared to Joseph and you can expect the same irresistible offer: "Commit polyandry Emma or I’ll kill you!" What would poor Emma do then? Will Joseph agree to it? Imagine Emma having 20 to 40 unwitting hubbies and all Joseph could do was to suck it all in and resign to the fate of being a perpetually pissed-off cuckold.
Alas, Joseph’s god had preempted that. In a somewhat twist of sexist's fortune, the reverse scenario for Emma would never come to pass; not if the prophet's divine benefactor has his way. At Revelation’s fifty-fourth verse, Joseph's seemingly misogynistic god warns with these words, “And I command mine handmaid, Emma Smith, to abide and cleave unto my servant Joseph, and to none else. But if she will not abide this commandments she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord; for I am the Lord thy God, and will destroy her if she abide not in my law.” So, I guess that self-serving scripture just shut Emma's door tight to a world of plural marriages. And you can't say that the Mormon god was not specific enough...her name was literally spelt out in the self-styled book of revelation!
At this juncture, you really have to understand the heartrending dilemma inherent in this so-called cosmic gambit between Mr. and Mrs. Smith and the mafia-like angel. It really makes the whole thing sounds like a horrible joke. Of course, Joseph might have appeared hesitant at first and needed to be phallus-wrestled into multiple conjugal partnerships. But somewhere in his eagerness to obey the commandment to plural marriages, he went on a sexual overdrive. He even took his members’ wives, which must have at least provoked a little squirm in the angel’s face. It is also reported that Emma did not know exactly how many wives her husband had taken in. It is further rumored that the descendants of Joseph Smith numbered about 2000. Wow, talk about bursting at the promiscuous loins!
I guess Joseph’s god must have been pleased with his voracious appetite to obey the commandment and the three occasions of angelic persuasion were definitely worth every effort expended and mortal threat issued. He would even be more pleased with this declaration made by the president, prophet and seer of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on 4 January 1880: “We believe in honesty, morality, and purity; but when they enact tyrannical laws, forbidding us the free exercise of our religion, we cannot submit. God is greater than the United States, and when the Government conflicts with heaven, we will be ranged under the banner of heaven and against the Government…Polygamy is a divine institution. It has been handed down direct from God. The United States cannot abolish it. No nation on earth can prevent it, nor all the nations of the earth combined…I defy the United States; I will obey God.”
I guess if polygamy was a divine institution for the Mormons, then it would naturally be a male-dominated one with the women playing their role as the eternally understanding, patient and tolerant spouse amongst the many others, each dutifully satisfying the godly sexual appetites of her husband.
On a personal note, I can only stand in awe concerning the strength of the delusion and the thoroughness of the deception of this truly phenomenal movement, which claims to have close to 15 million members worldwide. And I shall take my cue from the master Bard of Avon and the greatest wordsmith of all times as I close.
“But then I sigh and, with a piece of scripture,
Tell them that God bids us do good for evil;
And thus I clothe my naked villainy
With odd old ends stol’n forth of Holy Writ,
And seem a saint when most I play the devil.”