When people first learn that Joseph Smith practiced plural marriage, many jump to the conclusion that this is another example of someone who used religion for power and sex. In this podcast interview with Dr. Brian Hales, author of Joseph Smith’s Polygamy, Dr. Greg Smith asks Dr. Hales some of the most difficult questions that are ever posed regarding polygamy. Smith asks, what do we know about why plural marriage was instituted? What did Emma know, and when did she know it?
What was her reaction to plural marriage? How can we begin to understand polyandry, or instances in which Joseph married women who were married to other men? Is it possible that polyandrous marriages were not consummated? Even though there’s no good evidence for consummation of polyandrous relationships, what do we know about sexuality in the other marriages to single women? How can we begin to understand why Joseph married several women who were under the age of eighteen, including two brides that were likely 14 years old? Did Joseph send men on missions to “steal their wives” or marry them? Did Joseph threaten or manipulate women into being married to him? Could and did women refuse him? What were the consequences of doing so?