And he was content to let his polyandrous wives live with their first husbands, so he never bore the responsibility of providing for them, financially or emotionally, on a day-to-day basis. By Todd Compton. When she realized this wasn’t the case, she felt deceived. (For examples, see the life stories of Abraham, Jacob, David, and Solomon.). In Sacred Loneliness is incredibly researched.  Beginning in the 1830s, at least thirty-three women married Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism. Many struggled financially in their later years and worked hard to raise and support children and needy extended family members. Compton also talks about why the women of polygamy put up with this so easily. Reading this doesn’t shake my testimony which is built on Jesus Christ but it does make me wish there was far le. It appears that he was merely trying to give these lonely women a chance at eternal exaltation. Realistically he must have understood that thirty-three or more marriages could not be kept a secret forever, and that when they became known the gulf between his public statements and private practice would come back to haunt him. If one superimposes a chronological perspective, one sees that of Smith’s first twelve wives, nine were polyandrous. As Compton explains, “It is significant that the Alger parents felt it a spiritual honor to have their daughter married to Smith, just as the parents of Sarah Ann Whitney and Helen Mar Kimball did.” (33). It is a sensitive subject and one that is so easy to misunderstand. (This can even be news to those who already knew Smith was a polygamist.) My perception is that, while there may be some cases of success with this type of lifestyle, for the majority there is more angst than satisfaction in the relationship(s). Rather, it’s verified history. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. We hear all the time about Joseph Smith and the other leaders but you don't hear very often about the women who were leaders in the church like Eliza R. Snow who was the 2nd President of the relief society. Many had lifelong health problems and some dealt with mental illness. Reading these accounts made helped me understand the reality of the tests of faith endured by people associated with the practice. Writing about Eliza Partridge, he explains: But it is worth noting that the women who suffered so much under polygamy gave it their unqualified support in public rallies and wrote impassioned defenses of it. Once one had accepted him as a prophet, one had to comply or accept damnation. He never witnessed the toll practical polygamy would take on an Eliza Partridge...”. This is a book that I have been looking forward to reading. My sensibilities were painfully touched. I have copies of their journals. The more I learn, the more abhorrent I find it. They went through all the beginning years of the Mormon church and suffered the consequences. I thought that by reading it slowly and taking a while to consider each woman's life, I would be able to retain more. For several evenings I stood nearby and watched Latter-day Saints approach the girls and women. The real 'golden nugget' of this book is tale of thirty-one 19th century women, their stories, their journals and their life-struggles both inside and outside of Polygamy & Polyandry. I was hoping to see something inspired in the practice, something to point to this being from God, but it's just so heart breaking and completely unnecessary when you consider that the LDS church no longer teaches that Plural Marriage is essential for salvation. This 1872 letter from William McLellin to Joseph Smith III is quite telling, as quoted on page 35: In an 1872 letter to Joseph Smith III, William McLellin wrote: ‘Again I told her [Emma] I heard that one night she missed Joseph and Fanny Alger. Down deep, they appear to be bothered. The history of Joseph Smith as told by his wives and their journalized views. Yet while there are certainly many reputable sources, I believe that nobody has recorded such in depth histories for each of Smith’s wives as does Compton. He digs through countless libraries over the nation to find any scrap of information that might shed more light on the wives (his count is 33) of Joseph Smith and their lives. She certainly was already paying attention to Horace Whitney. Although some may claim otherwise, it is not a secret subject. Diverse, revealing and sympathetic, these real life tales of women show faith, strength and sorrow in some of life's most difficult circumstances. Besides sounding very abnormal, the ban found in scripture ought to be a sign that such marriages were off limits. Compton calls plural marriage "an institutionalized form of marital neglect". Let us know what’s wrong with this preview of, Published They too were devoted to the idea that their church was led by practically infallible, authoritative prophets, especially Joseph Smith. To those who may doubt the veracity of Smith’s polygamous past, this book–recipient of the “Best Book Award” by both the John Whitmer Historical Association and the Mormon History Association–is sure to cause plenty of consternation. Don't read this book if you want to keep your blinders on. My father had but one Ewe Lamb, but willingly laid her upon the altar; how cruel this seamed to the mother whose heartstrings were already stretched until they were ready to snap asunder, for he had taken Sarah Noon to wife & she thought she had made sufficient sacrifise but the Lord required more. It made me heartsick for the wives, their husbands & children—for the way they and their families were manipulated, taken advantage of and neglected. . Compton quotes from Helen’s 1881 written explanation of her relationship with Smith, describing how her father approached her in the early summer of 1843: Without any preliminaries [my father] asked me if I would believe him if he told me that it was right for married men to take other wives. Their devotion to Joseph the seer outweighed their experience of polygamy's impracticality and tragic consequences for women, which many men probably did not even recognize. To see what your friends thought of this book. Such a practice is no longer called “polygamy” (one man, multiple women) but “polyandry” (one women, multiple men). Todd Compton could not be criticized for his accurate sources from the time, from Joseph Smith's many wives, because he tells all sides and points out any questionable material but the over all story is compelling. Compton quotes from Helen’s 1881 written explanation of her relationship with Smith, describing how her father approached her in the early summer of 1843: “there is a great deal of evidence that Joseph Smith had sexual relations with his wives.” According to Compton, Smith did have children, though “some of his children apparently grew up under other names, as Mary Lightner suggested.” (13). In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith (Signature Books, 1997) An e-book: Truth, Honesty and Moderation in Mormon History: A Response to Anderson, Faulring and Bachman's Reviews of In Sacred Loneliness. “It is one of the great ironies of Mormon history that Smith, who set the polygamous movement in motion, never experienced it in practical terms. Compton calls plural marriage "an institutionalized form of marital neglect". Say what you want about polygamy, but such unions were certainly banned in the Pentateuch. I wonder how these women would feel about that. Even though he had several dozen wives as of May 26, 1843, Smith denied polygamy in a speech: “What a thing it is for a man to be accursed of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one.” It was not the only lie regarding polygamy that he told. . There are plenty of books written on the prophet Joseph Smith, but I wanted one that was fair and based on well researched truths. I can’t tell you how many times faithful Mormons became irritated, claiming that this was nothing more than an “anti-Mormon” set-up. . 33 (well-documented) wives (undoubtedly there were many more). As Compton points out, the more women a man marries, the greater the likelihood there is to have, serious problems in the family, for the husband’s time and resources became more and more divided. Exhaustively researched and written. If you are interested in early Mormon polygamy this is required reading. It made me heartsick for the wives, their husbands & children—for the way they and their families were manipulated, taken advantage of and neglected. Many of the women had heartbreaking, difficult lives, and it's interesting how the principle that many held so tightly to exacerbated their struggles. I liked this book for two reasons: the first was that it was a very well documented historical account. That said, it is quite moving to know about the lives of these women, many of whom have received no attention in other Mormon history.
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