“A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” (Matthew 7:18)
If Joseph Smith was given to sedition and seduction, how long do you think his religious fold would have lasted? If he was given to false and vain practices as some like to spitefully accuse him of, would not his religious organization have been toppled years ago? Would it not have faded into oblivion?
Joseph Smith’s revelations established counsel to minister to the poor, to send the missionaries to the four corners of the earth, and to introduce the ordinances of the House of God (temples) to prepare individuals to walk back into the presence of our Heavenly Father. He also clarified and restored correct doctrine concerning the family. All of these teachings were emphasized by the Savior, as he directed righteous prophets and patriarchs in both the Old and New Testaments. All of these teachings are taken seriously by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Joseph Smith never said this was his Church or his work. The name of the Church should be noted reflectively as an individual considers who Joseph Smith purported to be and what he presented to the world.
Joseph Smith was a modern prophet called to restore all things from past gospel dispensations—and he did so under the pattern that past gospel dispensations were ushered in—through the ministry of angels. Some of those past dispensations are to be better understood by a close reading of the scriptures.
I suppose there are a variety of reasons why people like to draw attention to Joseph Smith’s teachings concerning marriage, particularly, plural marriage. I find it quite interesting that a disobedient, sexually perverted world, in which greater numbers accept alternatives to God’s sanction of marriage, calls into question the virtue of Joseph Smith.
Joseph Smith did institute and practice plural marriage, but not in a 21st century mindset. If we are readers of the Bible and consider it the word of God, then the question ought to be asked sincerely: Why would the Lord command righteous men and women to obey the principle of plural marriage at certain times? (Such as those who lived in the days of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and those who lived in the days of the prophets—Samuel and Nathan.)
Joseph Smith’s teachings and practice regarding plural marriage occurred with a full understanding of the following truths: (1) Plural marriage is approved of the Lord only when He commands it. And the Lord has commanded it and revoked it as He deems necessary. Through a prophet it was restored and through a prophet it was revoked. (2) The commandment to live the law of plural marriage in the latter days was part of the restoration of all things. [See also Acts 3:20–21.] (3) Plural marriage can be authorized only through the priesthood keys given to the President of the Church. The charge was to not be taken nor treated lightly. For example, Nathan the prophet authorized David’s practice of plural marriage. But Nathan’s position also required him to rebuke David and take the wives of David from him [See 2 Samuel 12:1–13]; and (4) The Lord has at times instituted plural marriage to provide further opportunities for His people to raise up righteous children unto Him. [These truths are highlighted in the D&C Seminary Teacher Manual.] The plural marriage families who lived in the Great Basin between the 1850’s and 1890 have brought forth some choice individuals and large influential posterities.
These truths can easily be manipulated and abused by people. Unfortunately the modern day examples that television producers and news networks highlight don’t always help people understand these truths. Rather they titillate for viewership and perpetuate apostasy. They also portray polygamy in an entirely different tone than plural marriage instituted by the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Joseph Smith did claim to be a modern day prophet and seer, yet he reasoned: “Although I do wrong, I do not the wrongs that I am charged with doing: the wrong that I do is through the frailty of human nature, like other men. No man lives without fault. Do you think that even Jesus, if He were here, would be without fault in your eyes? His enemies said all manner of evil against Him—they all watched for iniquity in Him.”
Yesteryear and today people constantly “watch for iniquity” in Joseph Smith. Why can’t people leave Jesus Christ and Joseph Smith alone? Why the brutal and vilifying attacks hundreds of years later? “Because [the Savior] is the truth, and the truth will always be opposed….” And “Because [Joseph Smith] taught the truth, and the truth will always be opposed.” (Listen to Elder Corbridge’s discourse)
Joseph Smith’s teaching on marriage interrupted the traditions of his day. I find it interesting that many of his most vehement enemies that sought to kill him were themselves adulterers and ones given to prostitution and rape. Adultery is lustful behavior that rudely ignores the marriage covenant and the responsibility a man and woman are to share in union. In plural marriage the union is sacred. Nonetheless, the restoration of the biblical practice was “entirely foreign” to the Latter-day Saints. With great sacrifice Joseph instituted the practice. But again a perverse world can only assume Joseph Smith did what he did to fulfill the lust of the flesh.
Like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—Joseph Smith “did none other things than that which [he was] commanded” (See D&C 132:37). Neither he nor the church will ever have to apologize for the truths he restored to the earth in our gospel dispensation. Elder Neil L. Andersen expressed: “In our society beyond the veil of death, we will clearly understand the sacred calling and divine mission of the Prophet Joseph Smith.”
Joseph Smith was an honest and virtuous man.