Joseph Smith's Plural Marriage

6 Episodes

Plural marriage, Joseph Smith’s term for polygamous Celestial marriage, is one of the most controversial aspects of Latter-day Saint history. In this series Scott and Casey dig into the origins of this practice, the rationale behind it, the blessings and challenges that came from living it, the reasons Latter-day Saints no longer practice it, and more.

Art Credit: Anthony Sweat


Episode 1

Why Did Plural Marriage Begin in the Church?​

Plural marriage, a form of religious polygamy, or polygyny to be technical, is one of the most controversial and faith-challenging aspects of the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was difficult when it was first introduced in the early church, and, although it was discontinued over 130 years ago, it is still a difficult issue to reckon with for many, both within and outside of the church. So why was it introduced …

42 Min

Episode 2

Joseph Smith’s Trial and Error Approach to Plural Marriage

Did you know that Joseph Smith’s first attempt to obey the Lord’s command to him to practice plural marriage ended quite badly and ended up straining his relationships both with his first wife Emma and with his close friend Oliver Cowdery? And have you ever heard that Joseph was sealed to several women who already had living husbands? Was this a scandalous practice, or was something else going on? And …

59 Min

Episode 3

Plural Marriage Troubles (part 1): John C. Bennett, Hyrum Smith, & Emma

As Joseph Smith quietly practiced plural marriage in Nauvoo in 1842 and 43, all was not well. Three people in particular complicated things for Joseph. The first was John C. Bennett, a highly gifted convert who’s meteoric rise to civic and church leadership in Nauvoo abruptly ended when he was exposed for his secret practice of “spiritual wifery,” which was nothing more or less than illicit serial adultery. Bennett’s …

48 Min

Episode 4

Plural Marriage Troubles (part 2): Emma’s Fury and Joseph’s Martyrdom

In June and July of 1843 tensions ran high in the marriage of Joseph and Emma Smith. After she had tried but failed to embrace the principle of plural marriage earlier that May, and after Hyrum Smith had tried but failed to convince her of the rightness of plural marriage even with a copy of Doctrine and Covenants 132 in hand, records indicate that Emma became for a time rebellious, bitter, resentful, and angry. In …

44 Min

Episode 5

The Rocky End to Plural Marriage in the Church​

In 1852, only eight years after Joseph Smith’s death, church leaders in Utah publicly announced to the astonished world what some had suspected: that Latter-day Saints did indeed practice the principle of plural marriage. But now that it was out there in the open, it could be openly challenged and attacked, and it was, relentlessly, for decades. In today’s episode of Church History Matters, we’ll walk through the history of how …


62 Min

Episode 6

Q&R! Tough Polygamy Questions with Dr. Brian Hales!

Did Joseph Smith have any regrets about plural marriage? Like, with full hindsight, if he could go back and change anything about the way he implemented plural marriage, what might he do differently? Also, more and more people are denying that Joseph Smith ever practiced polygamy or that he lied about doing so. Is there even a shred of truth to either of these claims? Did Joseph ever send men on missions and marry …

59 Min