You are here

Warren Jeffs & Joseph Smith – Polygamy Parallels

Printer-friendly version

Warren Jeffs & Joseph Smith – Polygamy Parallels

Joel B. Groat

Warren Jeff’s deviant sexual behavior has been graphically documented in the media and provoked the expected general societal response of abhorrence and disgust.  Understandably, virtually no one accepts his claims to be a divinely inspired prophet of God.  Less well known is that Joseph Smith’s polygamy both inspired and parallels Warren Jeffs’ polygamous practices.

Warren Jeffs and Joseph Smith both:

  • Used “Prophet” status to justify multiple marriages
  • Attributed multiple marriages to God’s command
  • Used examples of Old Testament polygamy to condone their behavior (even though OT polygamy was at best permitted or overlooked by God, but certainly never commanded)
  • Ignored and disregarded the later New Testament scriptures that explicitly teach strict monogamy, especially for religious leaders (1 Timothy 3:2, 12; Titus 1:6).
  • Took young girls as wives
  • Cloaked behavior in secrecy and denial
  • Used pressure and coercion to get women to comply
    • Taught their wives that their obedience and compliance was necessary for their salvation
    • Pressured women by saying their compliance would please God and bring about spiritual benefits

Richard Bushman, a Mormon historian and biographer of Joseph Smith, commented on Joseph Smith’s coercive tactics.

Joseph Smith begins seriously to take plural wives, in rapid order, maybe 30 wives in total, 10 of them married to other men. There was pressure put on these women. They were told that this was the Lord’s will and he was the Lord’s prophet, and that if they were to please God, they had to comply. Joseph tended to couch it in terms of the blessings that would come not only to them, but to their whole family, that they would all be blessed by being sealed together in this relationship with the prophet. It led to all sorts of problems for him. It tried the souls of even the faithful members. And of course, it led to grave alienation of his own wife, Emma. ( “The Mormons,” 2007, two-part PBS television special, official transcript.)

It is well documented that Joseph Smith’s polygamy both inspired and parallels Warren Jeffs’ polygamous practices.  Members of the LDS Church react with revulsion to Jeffs’ teachings and behavior, as well we all should. Yet they don’t seem bothered by the fact their church continues to both promote Smith as a prophet while either covering up or justifying his actions.  It seems inconsistent for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to both claim to be Christian and at the same time defend the immoral, unbiblical and certainly unchristian actions and teachings of its founding leader (and decades of subsequent leaders). Jesus warned: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits.”  Matthew 7:15-16. The fruit of Joseph Smith’s polygamy has come to maturity in Warren Jeffs.  Jesus was right, it’s time to beware.