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Tuesday, February 07, 2012

We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet

The good saints at Main Street Plaza, pointed me to a great site about the Prophet, Joseph Smith's, 34 wives. I haven't had time to read through all of the short biographical portraits, but the few I have read make me want to sing out the words of that old Mormon hymn, "We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet."

A couple, like the story 16 year old Fanny Alger, also cued up a second hymn, "Come Come Ye Saints" on my internal jukebox. "Gird up your loins," indeed:
At the time, Fanny was living in the Smith home, perhaps helping Emma with house work and the children. Ann Eliza Webb recalls, “Mrs. Smith had an adopted daughter, a very pretty, pleasing young girl, about seventeen years old. She was extremely fond of her; no mother could be more devoted, and their affection for each other was a constant object of remark, so absorbing and genuine did it seem”.

Joseph kept his marriage to Fanny out of the view of the public, and his wife Emma. Chauncey Webb recounts Emma’s later discovery of the relationship: “Emma was furious, and drove the girl, who was unable to conceal the consequences of her celestial relation with the prophet, out of her house”.
I feel very bad for Joseph's first wife, Emma. She was so obviously in Satan's grip, resisting "The Principle" as she did.

Of course, Joseph couldn't allow such behavior from one of his wives. He was a prophet, by jiminy, and he responded much like the prophets of old:
On August 22nd Clayton recorded: “President Joseph told me that he had difficulty with E[mma] yesterday. She rode up to Woodworths with him and called while he came to the Temple. When he returned she was demanding the gold watch of F[lora]. He reproved her for her evil treatment. On their return home she abused him much and also when he got home. He had to use harsh measures to put a stop to her abuse but finally succeeded.”
Some of the prophet's later wives also rejected The Principle. Fourteen year old Helen Mar Kimball, was one of them, at least initially:
In 1843 Apostle Heber C. Kimball had an important talk with his only daughter, fourteen-year-old Helen Mar. She wrote: “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...The first impulse was sensibilities were painfully touched. I felt such a sense of personal injury and displeasure; for to mention such a thing to me I thought altogether unworthy of my father, and as quick as he spoke, I replied to him, short and emphatically, ‘No I wouldn’t!’...This was the first time that I ever openly manifested anger towards him...Then he commenced talking seriously and reasoned and explained the principle, and why it was again to be established upon the earth. [This] had a similar effect to a sudden shock of a small earthquake.”
Helen's mother was also moved by Satan's whisperings:
The next morning Joseph visited the Kimball home. "[He explained] the principle of Celestial marrage...After which he said to me, ‘If you will take this step, it will ensure your eternal salvation & exaltation and that of your father’s household & all of your kindred.[‘] This promise was so great that I willingly gave myself to purchase so glorious a reward. None but God & his angels could see my mother’s bleeding heart-when Joseph asked her if she was willing...She had witnessed the sufferings of others, who were older & who better understood the step they were taking, & to see her child, who had scarcely seen her fifteenth summer, following in the same thorny path, in her mind she saw the misery which was as sure to come...; but it was all hidden from me.”
But Lucifer's work was for naught. Helen married the Prophet Joseph, and eventually grew to understand the importance of plural marriage:
I learned that plural marriage is a celestial principle, and saw... the necessity of obedience to those who hold the priesthood, and the danger of rebelling against or speaking lightly of the Lord’s annointed”

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