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Gospel Topics Chapter 7 Bergera Part 4

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
May 18, 2021 9:39 pm

Gospel Topics Chapter 7 Bergera Part 4

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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May 18, 2021 9:39 pm

We continue our series by looking at a chapter on polygamy written by Gary Bergera, responding to the Signature book published in 2020 on the Gospel Topics Essays. For more on the Gospel Topics Essays, see https://www.mrm.org/gospel-topics-essays.

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A common occurrence in 19th century America. Welcome to this addition of viewpoint on Mormonism. I'm your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director Mormonism research ministry and with me today is Eric Johnson. My colleague at MRM.

We're looking at the book the LDS gospel topics series a scholarly engagement and we are discussing the subject of plural marriage were looking at chapter 7 titled through a glass darkly, Joseph Smith, and plural marriage written by Gary James Berger and yesterday show.

We were discussing this idea that, as Mr. Berger cites the essay word implies that marriages to teenagers is certainly not something that is appropriate by today's standards, but the essay assumes that back in the 19th century. That was not all that uncommon that we didn't give you any statistics and yesterday show and I wanted to continue that thought and give you some if you were to do your own research on the subject. Here are some of the numbers that you were probably going to come across.

The average age for females being married in the 19th century was 24 and as we mentioned yesterday, this essay admits that Joseph Smith married a 14-year-old young girl by the name of Helen Moore Kimball.

The essay actually said that he married her several months before her 15th birthday as if using the number 15 makes you feel all that much better. Another point that I want to bring out is that 3 to 4% married as teens 3 to 4% .04% married at 14 or 15 and this would be the age group in which Helen Moore Kimball can be found .04% married at 14 or 15, but as I brought out yesterday. Let's not forget that number probably is far less than 04% when you consider that Joseph Smith is not only 38 years old at the time, but he's also married to another woman that would drive that percentage probably down to zero. I would imagine so this is not normal it at least certainly not as normal as the gospel topics essay is trying to imply that the bottom of page 200 Berger goes on to say the essay next speculates about Smith's plural marriages to already civilly married women which the essay implies is the most problematic aspect of Smith's practice continues. Perhaps that's marriages function to link entire families together in social chains of eternal duration or possibly such marriages. If understood to be eternity only ceilings were Smith's way of obeying the letter of the command that he practice plural marriage quote without requiring him to have normal sexual marriage relationships." This in turn saving his own civil wife, Emma Smith, the sorrow it would otherwise bring to her, or perhaps the marriages were sought after. If not actually instigated by the already married women themselves who may have believed in eternal see in the Joseph Smith would give them blessings they might not otherwise receive the next life, particularly those women in unhappy marriages and/or married to non-Mormons.

Berger says each of these explanations ostensibly doles the sting of adultery and/or stresses that Smith tried hard not to practice plural marriage in its full sexual sense when you think the essay had to include some of those possibly or perhaps why do you think you had to say that could be because the author or authors knew that this is probably going to upset a lot of people. So let's try to make some excuses for Joseph Smith. The let's throw in some scenarios that we can't really prove but hopefully it would give some Latter Day Saints a bit of comfort knowing that maybe he wasn't the one instigating this in the first place.

When you read those words or possibly or perhaps it doesn't sound like they have evidence to back that up.

Otherwise you wouldn't use words like that but I think Mr. Berger is right when he says that each of these explanations ostensibly doles the sting of adultery.

And isn't that really what the essay is trying to do to the reader steer you away from what most people would see in these kind of relationships and make you feel like it's not really as bad as it appears, but of course it is as bad as it appears this is a married man going after other married women going after teenage girls that should bother anybody who has a New Testament conscience. You might say.

And as we talked about yesterday.

This idea that Joseph Smith may not have had sexual relations with all the women has been debunked by a number of scholars that are not just one or two about a number have said that that was the main purpose of what Joseph Smith was doing so, we have to ask the question is that supported by the Bible know is that supported by the book of Mormon. We talked about earlier this week.

Jacob 230 no.

The only reason would be to raise that seed to have children.

Well, we don't have any indications that Joseph Smith ever had children, then we should talk about that because that is often the excuse will then issue puts the mortar between a rock and a hard place. The Latter Day Saints does not want to believe that Joseph Smith had sex with these women that that somehow makes it okay. This is why we throw in the turmoil that was just for eternity.

Therefore were going to assume there was no sex involved.

But at the same time. The only reason in order to practice polygamy in the first place. If you want to believe the book of Mormon is for the purpose of having sex that ultimately leads to having children. Now the argument is is that Smith probably did have children but they were with these women, who were already married. Therefore, if those women got pregnant and had children.

It would be easy to say that her first husband is the father of that child.

It would be somewhat easy to conceal less. Of course the child really looks like Joseph Smith that would be a little bit harder but even though there's one woman and that's Sylvia Lyons session who does have a child. She names Josephine we know now after a DNA test that Josephine was not Joseph Smith's daughter even though Sylvia thought she was well if you think that this child is Joseph Smith's child that is pretty much an admission that you're having sex with a guy so I think it kind of puts the Mormon member as well as the church and this really awkward situation here. You have the reason for polygamy. Raise up seed but Joseph Smith didn't raise up seed so did he try to raise up seed well Sylvia session seems to think so. So it becomes not only very confusing. It tends to be contradictory in many areas.

What is a member supposed to do with all this, but Berger goes on to say, the essay adopts a much less judgmental tone towards Emma Smith then. Past discussions, especially those originating among 19th-century LDS church members that painted the Mormon leaders, polygamy, loathing wife as a traitor to her husband's attempts to obey God's command. I think this is an example of what Gary Berger is talking about earlier when he mentions this idea of a present test understanding of the past. In other words, judging the past by what is believed. Presently, the reason why they can take a much less judgmental tone towards Emma is because a lot of time has taken place since that era in today's era and I think what Berger is trying to get across here is that in the early years in the 19th century when when this was all pretty fresh and they knew about Emma's reluctance to sanction polygamy and for her fighting against it. You could see back then that Mormon women would see Emma Smith as a traitor to her husband because she wouldn't go along with plural marriage, which of course she didn't, so this could be one of those examples listen to the rest of that paragraph where you stop bill on page 2 of wine and it says the essay admits that Smith deliberately kept the majority of his plural marriage a secret from Emma, including his supposed eternity. Only marriages.

It further concedes that quote many aspects of their story remain known only to the two of them."

Importantly, however, the essay adds that Smith 1843 revelation provided Smith a way out of having to inform Emma of his plural marriages since once she rejected the teaching he was thereafter exempted from having to gain her consent, implying that Smith's clan to sign behavior was heaven approved now. Bill you have said before in the show a number of times that a man who is willing to lie to his wife will probably lie to anybody, and I really believe that with Joseph Smith if he can lie to Emma about these plural marriage relationships. Why wouldn't he lie in other areas of his life. This paragraph that you just read is speaking of the law of Sarah. That phrase is actually mentioned in the essay it says I'm quoting from the essay now. The Revelation on marriage required that a wife give her consent before her husband could enter into plural marriage. Nevertheless, toward the end of the revelation. The Lord said that if the first wife receive not this law. The command to practice plural marriage, the husband would be exempt from the law of Sarah. Presumably, the requirement that the husband gain the consent of the first wife before marrying additional women. So what's the point of law. Sarah okay I have to get the consent of the first wife in order to take on this plural wife, but if she doesn't give me her consent. Who cares, I'm going to marry the plural wife anyway so what's the point of loss there of course, this goes back to Genesis 16 talking about Sarah and Abraham, but in that case, it was Sarah who actually suggest that Hagar be given to Abraham so I don't know what this law. Sarah is really all about.

It just sounds silly to me because it really has no teeth for enforcement of anything if the wife doesn't like it too bad a medical marry her anyway. And that's exactly what Joseph Smith did. If he wasn't upfront about a plural wife he would lie about them and unfortunately that's the kind of man that Joseph Smith was. Thank you for listening you would like more information when guarding this research ministry. We encourage you to visit our website www.mrm.org you can request a free newsletter Mormonism research. We hope you join us again as we look at another viewpoint is


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