Here’s a brief response to Dan’s second video on polyandry:
- There is nothing new here.
- Despite the 43 minute length, only three historical documents are introduced supporting polyandry that weren't in his first video
- All three are examined below and are very ambiguous.
- The first of these three supportive documents is not mentioned until minute 30:51. It appears that documentation is a lesser component in this video.
- The methodology employed in these videos combines ambiguous evidence plus a lot of words plus criticisms of apologists then the evidence is confidently declared to be not ambiguous.
- Strong evidence doesn't require a lot of explanatory rhetoric to be effective.
- Ambiguous evidences may be surrounded by a great deal of text to create the appearance of reliability and specificity that is not actually present.
- It appears that Brian Hales’ name is mentioned more than Joseph Smith’s or any of the plural wives.
- Dan’s first two videos seem overly focused on Brian Hales and his writings. It is possible this is a reaction to Hales’ criticism of Vogel’s notion that Joseph Smith used hypnosis to deceive the Three Witnesses of the Book of Mormon (see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNFfoP-m4iM starting at 10:32). Dan dismisses the testimonies of the Witnesses of the Book of Mormon through several theories (1) hypnosis, (2) religious frenzy, and (3) Marian apparitions. It could be argued that none of these explanations fits the historical evidences and are plainly inadequate.
Examining the three evidences presented by Dan Vogel:
Please note that the quotations below are apparently the best evidence that can be identified in the historical record for a practice that would have been far more controversial than a plurality of wives.
Historical evidence #1:
John Wight, “Evidence from Zina D. Huntington Young,” Interview with Zina, October 1, 1898, Saints Herald 52 (January 11, 1905): 29. To view the entire manuscript: CLICK HERE.
In the interview Zina referred several times to her sealing to Joseph Smith and reported conflicting information:
“when Brigham Young returned from England, he repeated the Ceremony for time and eternity . . .”
“I was sealed to Joseph Smith for eternity . . .”
“For eternity . . .”
“as his wife for time and eternity . . ." (Italics added.)
The interviewer was aware of the contradictions and asked Zina directly about it. She responded
“I meant for eternity.”
Despite discussing this interview for several minutes in the video, the undeniable conclusion is that the evidence is ambiguous with three references to “for eternity” and two to “time and eternity.”
Why might there be ambiguity? Zina was sealed to Joseph Smith by proxy for “time and eternity” in the Nauvoo temple. After 1846, Zina could truthfully report she was sealed to Joseph for “time and eternity” or “for eternity” and be accurate.
Historical Evidence #2:
Ann Eliza Webb Young, Wife Number 19, or, The Story of a Life in Bondage, Being a Complete Exposé of Mormonism, and Revealing Sorrows, Sacrifices and Sufferings of Women in Polygamy. Hartford: Dustin, Gilman, and Co., 1876, 71. For the entire page, CLICK HERE:
One woman said to me not very long since, while giving me some of her experiences in polygamy: "The greatest trial I ever endured in my life was living with my husband and deceiving him, by receiving Joseph's attentions whenever he chose to come to me."
There are several problems with this statement:
- Ann Eliza was born in 1844 and was sealed to Brigham Young in 1868. Her source of information is not disclosed.
- Ann Eliza doesn’t identify the woman, but her mother said it was Zina Huntington (see below).
- Ann Eliza did not join Brigham’s other wives in the Lion House where Zina Huntington lived, but she had her own dwelling.
- There is no credible evidence Zina ever spoke with Ann Eliza about sensitive issues.
- Zina later called Ann Eliza a prevaricator:
The trouble with Ann Eliza… was that she was not truthful. She was not grateful, and she was a very bad woman. She has convicted herself out of her own mouth… Ann Eliza knew she was misrepresenting the facts.
- Zina was interviewed in 1898 and told her interviewer that plural marriage “was something too sacred to be talked about; it was more to me than life or death. I never breathed it for years . . . you are speaking on the most sacred experiences of my life."
- Zina's alleged openness concerning such a delicate topic would have been tantamount to admitting adultery according to Church teachings in the 1870s. That she would have shared such comments, even if true (and I argue they were not), with Ann Eliza seems highly implausible.
- Wife Number 19 was a highly biased anti-Mormon publication. Its claims must be contextualized.
- Later on the same page in Wife Number 19, Ann Eliza alleged plain falsehoods: “Some of these women have since said they did not know who was the father of their children; this is not to be wondered at, for after Joseph's declaration annulling all Gentile marriages, the greatest promiscuity was practiced.” There is no credible evidence to support this, supporting earlier statements on the same page are just as dubious.
Historical Evidence #3:
Huntington Young, Zina D., Undated Biographical Sketch #1, in Zina Card Brown Family Collection, MS 4780, Box 2, Fd. 17 (on Reel 2)
When I heard that God had revealed the law of celestial marriag that we would have the privilige of associating in family relationship in the worlds to come I searched the scriptures & by humble prayer to my Heavenly Father I obtained a testimony for himself that god had required that order to be established in his church. I mad a greater sacrifise than to give my life for I never anticipated again to be look uppon as an honerable woman by those I dearly loved could I compremise concience lay aside the sure testimony of the spirit of God for the glory of this world […]
In this document, Zina Huntington voiced her concerns that obeying “the law of celestial marriage” made her look dishonorable in the eyes of those she dearly loved. Vogel alleges that she felt shame because her sealing was a polyandrous relationship. Several problems can be identified with this interpretation:
- A plurality of husbands has never been a part of “the law of celestial marriage,” as described in D&C 132. Polyandry is condemned as adultery in that revelation (D&C 132: 41, 61-63). If complying with this law caused Zina’s concerns, it could not have been participation in polyandry.
- The sealing was performed by Zina’s brother Dimick with Dimick’s wife Fanny as a witness. Weeks later on December 11, Zina’s sister Presendia was also sealed to Joseph Smith. These were Zina’s loved ones, but they freely participated. This seems less plausible if the ordinances brought dishonor to Zina or themselves.
- Another brother Oliver also learned of the sealing but described it as a nonsexual “for eternity” sealing: “Dimick [gave] our sisters Zina and Presendia to Joseph as wives for eternity.”
- Zina’s reflections in this statement may have arisen more from of her personal experience later as one of Brigham Young’s plural wives, rather than her specific sealing to Joseph.
- Zina was legally married to Henry Bailey Jacobs, on March 7, 1841. She became pregnant weeks later on approximately April 8. On October 27, when she was sealed to Joseph Smith, she would have been well into her third trimester, approximately twenty-nine weeks into the pregnancy. Her gravid condition could not have been concealed. To enter into a sealing with another man as her husband in eternity, when obviously pregnant with the baby of her legal spouse would likely have created some concerns. Accusations that the sealing was polyandrous and was soon consummated are less plausible. Traditions of the time disallowed sexual relations during pregnancy, especially the final months.
 “J.J.J.”, “Two Prophet’s Widows,” August 8, 1887, Globe Democrat
 Zina D. H. Young, Interviewed by John W. Wight, October 1, 1898, “Evidence from Zina D. Huntington-Young,” Saints’ Herald 52, no. 2, January 11, 1905): 29-30.
 Joseph Smith Affidavit Books, 1:5, 7, 19, CHL, MS 3423. Dimick Huntington would not marry polygamously during the Prophet’s lifetime.
 Oliver Huntington Journals, no.15, entry for February 18, 1883, HBLL, BYU. See also Wight interview, "Evidence from Zina D. Huntington Young," Saints Herald, January 11, 1905, 29.
 C. F. Taylor and J. J. Taylor, The Medical World, vol. IX, 1891, Philadelphia: The Medical World, 334.