Rapist? Yes. Paedophile? No.

My post on Rape Apology and Joseph Smith keeps generating really interesting discussion. It’s nice to see so many people using their brains on this subject, because it’s incredibly tricky and will require investigation for some time.

I received a comment from Jack Steele that asked for a response too lengthy for comments, so here we are once again. You can read the whole thing in its original context if you like, but the summary is: “Many of Joseph Smith’s wives were young — probably young enough that they had not reached menarche. Does this make him a paedophile?” Jack’s sources for data regarding average age of marriage (20-24), eligibility (19) and onset of menses (16.5) for Joseph Smith’s time are reliable. Age of menarche is tied to nutrition. Modern girls have been experiencing earlier ages of menarche over time, topping out at around 12-14 years of age, because their bodies aren’t stressed and nutrient-deprived the way they were in preindustrial societies. Women didn’t marry young, because a man looking for a good, fecund wife would have been crazy to take a woman who hadn’t proved that she could bear a child. However, Joseph Smith not only “married” girls too young for marriage, but there is strong evidence that he had sex with them as well.

The very, very short answer to “was he a paedophile?” is no, at least not in the way we think of paedophilia in the modern day. Keep in mind that this is before child psychology, child development, and the study of the mind. The earliest beginnings of the study of mental illness would not come for at least fifty years. We take the risk of being merely sensationalistic if we just slap that label on him with no caveats. If that’s all you were looking for, stop here. For more details, read on.

We’re safe calling Joseph Smith a rapist, because both in the present day and in Joseph Smith’s time coercive sex is considered to be rape. Refusing sex, these girls were told, meant damnation for the girl and her family, or the responsibility for The Prophet’s death when an angel murdered him for not shagging comely coed parishioners. That’s rape, deflowerment, or whatever Victorian euphemism you would like to use. Sex with a young unmarried woman rendered her damaged goods and almost unmarriageable. Non-virgins had a poor to zero chance of finding a good husband. Even if the sex were the result of seduction and not coercion, Smith would have known all too well how irresponsible his behaviour was.

It’s impossible to know for sure exactly why Smith chose prepubescent girls to “marry” and have sex with. It’s possible that it was a strategic decision, made to avoid getting caught. The overwhelming majority of his first dozen or so wives were married to and living with other men. Any pregnancy resulting from his action could have been easily disguised. (Incidentally, kings generally favoured married mistresses for exactly this reason if their situation did not accommodate a maîtresse en titre.) Smith then moved into a stretch of women who were both too old and too young to give birth. Elizabeth Davis Durfee was 50; Sarah Kingsley Cleveland was 53; Delcena Johnson was 37; Eliza R. Snow was 38. In 1840 it was very possible that women of nearly 40 were no longer menstruating, and this was definitely the case with those over 50.

It wasn’t until he’d gotten away with two dozen or so serial marriages that Smith began his wedding bonanza of 1843, grabbing any woman he could get his hands on and bedding her after a proper courtship of threats of hell and bloodshed. He even nabbed two pairs of sisters, which makes sense as he’d already collected a mother and a daughter. Lots of his wives were young and most likely virgins. Many of them were too young for sex from medical and social viewpoints. But I still have to hold off on calling him a paedophile.

The term paedophilia didn’t exist until 1886. Does that mean Smith wasn’t a paedophile? Not necessarily, but we can’t apply a modern term willy-nilly to a person from a far-off land in the ancient days before psychoanalysis. We also need to add to this that a person is not considered to be a paedophile unless they are attracted to a person with the body of a child and not an adult.

It’s extremely likely that the two fourteen-year-old girls Smith bedded were not fully developed. But it’s also pretty likely that they were somewhat developed, meaning growth of breasts and hips. Although neither would expect the onset of menses for at least two more years, they probably would have begun the process of looking like an adult woman. It’s a gray area, but I must consider that he was generally regarded as being good with children and there is not one allegation of child rape in any document I’ve heard of, not even in the hysterical exposés written by the most ardent enemies of Mormonism. I believe his attraction to the girls was that of a raging narcissist, who seized any impressionable vagina that walked by, whether society would have deemed that woman inappropriately young or inappropriately old for his interest. My gut instinct is that he really just wanted to get laid, and that bedding dozens of women bolstered his need to feel powerful and godlike, with total control over his followers.

My conclusion on Joseph Smith: Rapist? Definitely. Raging megalomaniac? Absolutely. Schizotypal, antisocial, narcissistic and histrionic personality disorders? Yes. Paedophile? Possibly. But in the absence of a sexual relationship with a girl of unquestionably child-like form, I’ll have to lean toward no.

55 thoughts on “Rapist? Yes. Paedophile? No.

  1. Thank you so much for your response! I struggle with the term “pedophile” in this case, because it seems he obviously was not only, if even primarily, attracted to underage (prepubescent) girls. I don’t know what the word for someone who would have sex with a child (prepubescent human?) even though they’re attracted to postpubescent humans, but pedophile seemed too… all-encompassing. Thanks again for your response!!

  2. Thank you for the interesting question! You’re right; terminology can be difficult to work out. The problem gets even more difficult the farther we drift from a different time period, as we have to do much more leg work to be sure we’re fair in the value judgments we make.

  3. The correct term is, I believe, ephebophile. Ephebophilia describes sexual preference for adolescents. According to the DSM-IV, “generally ages 15–19”. This term becomes very interesting when applied to the circumstances of Smith’s day.

      • They wouldn’t have thought of being a “teenager” as we would. In Joseph Smith’s day, there were three phases: childhood, a sort of provisional adulthood after being “out” but unmarried, and full membership in society as a married person or respectable old bachelor/spinster. Girls wore braids until they were “out” in society and pronounced eligible. After gaining the status of “out” women began to wear their hair up, and after they were married it was still common for women to cover their hair to some degree. Boys wore short breeches until they were considered old enough for long trousers, but there was a less formal line between provisional and full adulthood. Settling into a profession of some kind and having a house of one’s own were generally considered required before a woman’s parents would consider a man to be a decent match. A bloke who lived with his parents would not.

        You’ve now made me wonder if there are any photographs or other documentation from this period that could indicate whether the girls Smith had sex with were still wearing their hair down, or if any of them had been introduced to society. It’s possible that we could determine that Smith pursued women who were absolutely off-limits as far as society was concerned, still bearing the status of children.

      • Joseph Smith also “spiritually” married other men’s wives, as well as a few younger women. I believe there were 34 in all, and my analysis of him, after studying this, is that he was a sex addict.

      • Sandra Tanner runs Utah Lighthouse Ministry, which she started with her husband Jerald (before he died). She is a descendant of Brigham Young, and when she first met her husband, it was at a kind of Mormon renewal meeting, where they talked about getting back to the basics of the original Mormonism. She is the author of Mormonism: Shadow or Reality? and The Changing World of Mormonism (the latter is a condensed version of the former), which present an in-depth and fully documented history of Mormonism’s doctrines, practices, etc. and how they have changed over time. She’s an incredibly intelligent and level-headed woman. After leaving Mormonism, she became an Evangelical Christian and now runs her ministry through a newsletter and http://www.utlm.org

        More info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerald_and_Sandra_Tanner

        • Ah, that’s Sandra Tanner. I didn’t know what she looked like although I’m familiar with her work. Her Achilles heel can be to get a bit sensational, although that previous video was extremely fair in its criticism. Videos like the second one you’ve posted here tend to rub me the wrong way because it seems manipulative to me to try to knock down one religion in order to gobble them up in a new sect. I don’t think it’s fair to try to impose another faith system on someone who needs to deconstruct their previous system. But then, I am atheist. Believers wouldn’t see it the same, and I understand that.

        • haha I admit I judged you little bit for not knowing who she was. 😀 I would definitely have been taken aback – I was under the impression all Mormons were educated in the Most Hated Apostates list, with Sandra pretty near the top. She’s one of the few ex-Mormon Ev. Christians I can stand to listen to/watch, because she’s so fact-oriented and funny. Too many seem to have zero sense of humor.

        • No, in reality most practising, believing Mormons have no idea who she was. I could be wrong, but I think probably only Utahns and apostates will have really heard of her. She does seem friendly and engaging.

        • The Tanners are known by name to people who study Mormonism, and to professional antagonists of the Church. Not so much otherwise. Perhaps there’s a bit more awareness in SLC itself since that’s where her organization is headquartered.

  4. Well done. Teens got married in those days, for all the conservative whining the actual trend internationally has been to move the age of consent upward, not downward. Joseph’s wives are scandalous by modern standards, by the standards of his time, well, they’re also scandalous, but differently than by modern. 🙂 Just thought I’d mention, it’s commonly rumored that Eliza Snow miscarried a child fathered by Joseph (perhaps helped by Emma pushing her down a flight of stairs…)

      • Oh hell, you would ask for references when I’m not near anything. I read an article not too long ago, perhaps in Dialogue, which discussed it briefly. Given the number of women with whom Joseph had relations, it’s rather remarkable that his descendants don’t number like grains of sand as was promised Abraham. There has been some effort to find blood descendants from the non official line, and many families have traditions that such and such ancestor was really biologically Joseph’s, but thus far the DNA has shown otherwise.

        There is a Snow family tradition that suggests Eliza miscarried Joseph’s child, actual history provides some circumstantial evidence in support. IMO it’s a reasonable conclusion but probably not enough to support the claim in a court of law. Of course, these days we’d just test the DNA…

    • Arthur,

      This is what I found when I looked into the age of eligibility. Do you have a link that supports the claim? I’d always heard that as well, and was shocked to find that it wasn’t the case.

      “There is no documentation to support the idea that marriage at fourteen was “approaching eligibility.” Actually, marriages even two years later, at the age of sixteen, occurred occasionally but infrequently in Helen Mar’s culture. Thus, girls marrying at fourteen, even fifteen, were very much out of the ordinary. Sixteen was comparatively rare, but not unheard of. American women began to marry in their late teens; around different parts of the United States the average age of marriage varied from nineteen to twenty-three….For example, Laura Ingalls Wilder, from Little House on the Prairie fame, was born in 1867, which puts her later than Joseph Smith but still in the 1800s. She tells of hearing of the marriage of a 13-year-old girl, and being shocked. She also notes that the girl’s mother ‘takes in laundry,’ and is sloppy and unkempt–implying that “nice” people don’t marry off their teenaged daughters. Laura, herself, became engaged at 17–but her parents asked her to wait until she was 18 to marry….In fact, look up the marriage ages in the Smith family before polygamy. You’ll find that one of the Smith girls was 19. The rest of them, and their sisters-in-law, were in their early 20s when they married. The Smith boys’ first wives were in their 20s. The same pattern was true for the various branches of my family and the rest of American society at the time. On the extremely rare occasions women younger than 17 married, it was to men close to their same age, not 15 to 20 years older. The case is even true in pioneer Utah among first marriages. Mormon men in their twenties started out marrying someone their own age. Then later these older men married girls under twenty to be their plural wives. But the first wives were the age of the husband and married over the age of twenty.”

      Coale and Zelnik assume a mean age of marriage for white women of 20 (1963: 37). Sanderson’s assumptions are consistent with a mean of 19.8 years (Sanderson 1979: 343). The Massachusetts family reconstitutions revealed somewhat higher mean ages. For Hingham, Smith reports an age at first marriage of 23.7 at the end of the eighteenth century (1972: Table 3, p. 177). For Sturbridge, the age for a comparable group was 22.46 years (Osterud and Fulton 1976: Table 2, p. 484), and in Franklin County it was 23.3 years (Temkin-Greener, H., and A.C. Swedlund. 1978. Fertility Transition in the Connecticut Valley:1740-1850. Population Studies 32 (March 1978):27-41.: Table 6, p. 34).

      • I think you’re confusing the point here. US legal tradition, except for Louisiana (which is no prize) comes from English common law and historically legal marriages have been recorded with participants as young as ten or twelve. That’s not the say that was the norm or preferred. That’s where we get a legal structure that permits things like Loretta Lynn and Jerry Lee Lewis’ marriages last century or the case about ten years ago where a pregnant 12 year old was taken across state lines between Nebraska and Kansas to marry her baby daddy. Over time, state by state, the limits have been changed and today you’d be looking in most cases at 16 or more commonly 18 without parental permission.

        We aren’t talking about what was commonly done or what was viewed as generally acceptable, just the legal and social boundaries Molly is addressing in her post.

        • I was addressing this part of your comment:

          Teens got married in those days, for all the conservative whining the actual trend internationally has been to move the age of consent upward, not downward. Joseph’s wives are scandalous by modern standards, by the standards of his time, well, they’re also scandalous, but differently than by modern.

  5. Over the past 500 years, the average age for a first marriage actually hasn’t changed that much. This image of twelve year olds being married off, while limitedly based in fact (e.g. the Merovingian dynasty), mostly comes from romantic fiction. During the high middle ages, the average age for a first marriage was 16; in Germany, it was 18; in Italy, it was 17 (figures courtesy of David Herlihy, Harvard University). “Child brides” were, almost always, casualties of dynastic ambitions. Often, their so-called “marriages” weren’t consummated for years after their actual weddings. Non-noble women (thus, most women) married significantly later. Taking out those figures supplied by politically motivated marriages among the elite, the average age rises dramatically–to 22. The medieval home was a working unit, and nobody wanted to marry a woman who had no talents, skills, or ability. Interestingly, matchmakers’ notes provide some insight into the medieval mind: requests for wives with good accounting skills, etc. aren’t uncommon.

    These days, according to Wikipedia, anyway, the average American woman gets married at 25.

    So, really, applying this all to Joseph Smith, I feel like, perhaps, we’re romanticizing his time unnecessarily. It’s tempting to say, “things were different then”, and they were–but how different were they, really?

    • Correct, her point is the legal and social boundaries, not what was commonly done. Even centuries ago weddings between what we today would consider children were typically political weddings and were not the norm. I wouldn’t say it’s romanticizing, just recognizing that events that today would be viewed as statutory rape wouldn’t necessarily have been handled as such at the time.

      • The difference really isn’t in whether statutory rape laws existed (they did) but in their evolving purpose. Traditionally, they applied only to women, and were enforceable by the woman’s father or other male legal guardian. Women weren’t viewed as individuals, in the legal sense, until the Married Women’s Property Act of 1980. Historically, under British common law, if a woman had a claim, her father, husband, etc. had to bring it for her.

        Moreover, the outrage might’ve been equivalent, but the response was different. Rather than prison–although that did happen–the solution was often marriage. As much as these women may or may not have been victims of Smith’s, they were, in my opinion, greater victims of a society in which they functionally had no say over their future. If a man “deflowered” you, even if you weren’t exactly a willing party, many viewed you as “ruined” for marriage–and marriage was most women’s sole means of support, apart from living with their parents.

      • Moreover, Arthur, I understand her point–I’m merely disagreeing that the basic premise, “things were different then” actually covers as much ground as we’d like to think it does. It’s easy to say, “well, Smith’s actions are reprehensible by modern standards, but were much more acceptable back then”–but historical context doesn’t necessarily bear this statement out. It sounds to me a little bit like a conclusion borne by an emotional desire to exonerate Smith. The fact is, whether you accept him as a prophet or not, he wasn’t perfect–and, like many prophets, and supposed prophets, he led a pretty strange lifestyle.

        I also find it odd how many Mormons, even ex-Mormons, seem reluctant to draw direct connections between Smith’s persecution and his actions. If his actions were so normal, and accepted, then how come so many of his contemporaries found him repugnant? His behavior–personal and professional–was certainly subject to criticism during his own lifetime. Yes, I’m sure, to some extent, that criticism was biased, but the existence of bias doesn’t necessarily render an opinion irrelevant or incorrect.

        • “It’s easy to say, “well, Smith’s actions are reprehensible by modern standards, but were much more acceptable back then”–but historical context doesn’t necessarily bear this statement out.”

          Especially because Smith’s actions were reprehensible by his own day’s standards, as well as ours. Arthur, it’s an invalid argument to say that because some teens got married in the 1840’s, Smith’s actions weren’t inappropriate. Teens didn’t marry men in their late thirties. Women coerced into sex were thought of as being violated. The issue at hand is not a legal, consensual monogamous marriage of teenagers, of which there were plenty. The issue at hand is an older man in a position of power coercing illegal sex out of young girls.

        • In all of my various states of belief, I never understood the urge to deify Smith. Prophet or no, he’s still indisputably a human being. The prophets of the Bible certainly weren’t any great shakes in the personal department–I don’t see a lot of Episcopalians disputing that Moses was a polygamist.

  6. Molly, another thought:

    You talked about the possibility of the younger girls being somewhat developed, but I wonder how likely it would be that, with the lack of nutrition and hormones needed to develop a body that looks enough like an adult to be attractive to a fellow adult, any, if even the majority, could have been that developed.

  7. Not any naming of all of his wives, now was there. And a pre-pubescent girl, or, pubescent girl, does not eliminate pedophilia. And since we have fairly correct numbers from Todd Compton’s research, it’s a pretty sure thing that whatever he saw that he liked, he took, all under the guise of celestial salvation. I think you missed the boat here, and played a JS apologist.

  8. -“Keep in mind that this is before child psychology, child development, and the study of the mind.”-

    Was it in any way normal at that time for prominent men to marry and have sex with girls under 16 at the time. If so name some please.

    Also were there any known punishments for underage marriage at that time.

  9. There are Schools around the country that have changed their names lately, because of politically incorrect names or symbols. I would like the same to happen to byu. T-shirts like BYU named after the worlds most famous polygamous. I think if more people knew the true history (this part in particular) of the mormons they would have much less tolerance for them for the same reason they don’t tolerate Warren Jeffs.

    If not shouldn’t we be much more tolerant of Jeffs, he is just following his prophet’s (joseph smith) teachings to the letter.

  10. Another point, joseph smith and brigham young could have had pretty much any woman in their flock, did they desire the young ones or did God tell them to marry the young ones? and If God told them to marry at all, how would there be unhappiness or divorce?

  11. Just thought about it for a moment, why didn’t they wait for the girls to get older, two or four years at least, more mature if they did not desire youth?
    They used their position to exploit women and young girls just like modern day warren jeffs.

  12. There is a weird trisome disorder that has shown up in decendants of polygamy, as 6 generations later many people in Utah who are related via polygamy are marrying. Has anyone here read Todd Compton’s book on polygamy, “In Sacred Loneliness, The Plural Wives Of Joseph Smith?” It’s really a must to get an in depth view of the situation, and the best historical account we have to date. I think Brigham took it to another level, but were we to see pictures of many of the wives of these men, we’d see that all were not taken because of beauty or physical desire. And rightly or wrongly, it was common in those days for young teens to marry early. We can see that clear up to the days of my grandparents.

  13. “We can see that clear up to the days of my grandparents.”
    Days of your grandparents? <site sources please: what kind of comment is that
    Are you of mormon ansestery? from Utah?
    My grandparents did not marry that young.

  14. I don’t see much evidence for lots of marriages that young, however that young mixed with their old ages. Their first wives were closer to their ages. And it’s kind of sick that they could not at least wait for them to mature a couple of years (did god say they couldn’t wait?)

  15. A question was posed to me as to any LDS ancestry. My parents were converts to the mormon church. My history with early marriage has to do with my family, which were considered poor white trash in those days. Both grandmothers married extremely young, and were not discouraged by their parents. But they weren’t the only ones. There were many in their generation that married very young, frequently realizing that by doing this it would take economic burden off of their parents. My own mother was 18 when she married, which was considerably better than her own mother and grandmother. Much pressure was put onto me to marry and begin having children, and I remember my own grandmother asking my why no one was interested in me. I married at 22, and had my first child at 23. The marriage was a bust, but I’ve never regretted having my children in my twenties. I had good health, was energetic, parented as best as I knew, and by my mid forties had my own life to live, sans small children running around while I fought off hot flashes.

  16. “extremely young” very scientific. “better than her own mother and grandmother” You never mention their ages.
    Come on now, this is not a subject that can be easily defined by your or my limited family history. I want to know if many other prominent men, in U.S. and territories, that at an older age told on child brides (14-16 say).

    On the side, happy to hear your family is well.

  17. Also why, if it was so common, is it that neither JS’s or BY’s first wives were so young (22 and 18)?

    typed told meant took.

  18. I never considered myself a JS apologist. It’s offensive to my sensibilities, but if someone here feels that way then I must have come across that way. A more simple minded way might be that in earlier generations girls married much younger because our bodies become ready for childbirth early, at the onset of our menses. We can look at it through our eyes now, in 2011, feministic, and assume that all in past decades were dirty old men. And I think if they were old men, they were prone to pedophilia. But many young girls married young men, and worked the family farms, so to speak. You said I didn’t mention ages in my family. Both grandmothers were 16, and were also ill prepared for marriage.

  19. “Was it in any way normal at that time for prominent men to marry and have sex with girls under 16 at the time? If so name some please.”
    Question from above that seems relevant here.

  20. I have a question for you as I ask it of others now. I once believed as the common heard of lemmings do, that Smith married 30+ females and was having intercourse for some dozen years prior to his death with them all and Emma.
    Well I now understand from further research that Smith was actually legally married to only his first wife Emma. That all other wives were by marriages he mostly preformed himself, sometimes by another elder.
    So any way, I began to wonder how many hundreds and hundreds of off spring should be living in our time as his relations. To my dismay, I learn that the only verified descendents by DNA of Smith were through Emma! But I had heard all my life that Smith was having sex with 30+ females and who knows how many more!
    So I did some more searching and found out a scientist that is also a Mormon and specializes in DNA research wanted to know the same thing. After a few decades of taking DNA samples from most all claiming with weak to strong evidence of being Smith’s descendent, he has confirmed not a single individual as a descendent of Smith and any wife other then Emma.
    Wow! I like to believe I’m unbiased and open to information and I check on things I believe to see if they are true and or correct or rumors. To my amazement I found out I had been a lemming of rumors.
    So do I still think Smith had sex with over 30+ wives and who knows how many other females? No. I find the scientific odds are highly against Smith having all the sex people claim he was having with 30+ females, for at least a dozen years prior to his death and only fathers children by one of those 30+ females.
    Molly, you stated yourself, “This number is on the low side of the thirty-odd women commonly accepted by Mormon historians. But even if you take twenty-four as a low number that is two dozen women that he bagged and shagged in the course of a decade and a half. Hugh Hefner never had it so good.” You, as most believe Smith was shagging all these wives but you nor them have no biological evidence. You only support what “She said he said they said” reports and statements by the wives themselves. Do you have factual evidence to prove your belief?
    What I found very interesting in further researching the lives of these wives after Smith died, is many went on to marry again and suddenly by some miracle of nature, they began having a few to several or more births.
    So what do you think eh?

    • Lack of offspring is not proof that no sexual activity took place. His 11 very young wives had most likely not experienced the onset of their menstrual cycle. Girls today commonly start menstruating at 13 or even younger. In Smith’s day the average age was closer to 19. Lots of sex could have been going on

      Secondly, there is ample eyewitness testimony of sexual activity from people who lived in a culture where alleging sexual impropriety was the largest, most socially dangerous scandal a woman could be involved in. The most solid testimony comes from Eliza Snow, who when questioned by Smith’s son in his futile effort to disprove his father’s polygamy, said under oath, “I thought you knew Joseph Smith better than that.”

      Also, birth control was not unknown. It was unreliable, but methods of avoiding conception were known. Add to this the fact that five of Emma Smith’s nine pregnancies resulted in children who were malformed, stillborn, or in such frail health that they died young, and it’s possible that chromosomal abnormalities existed.

      Last of all, tracing Smith descendants through his legitimate offspring is easy; his four surviving children were male, and following Y chromosome descent is quite simple. Smith’s suspected illegitimate offspring are female, and with no female-line descendants of Smith in the first generation, it’s much more difficult to get a solid lock.

      • Thank you for your reply.
        I was curious about the age of menarche you stated and after searching for some “possible” credible link(s) I came across the following…http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22091717
        From this other link they state…http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/118/5/2245.full
        “Menarche typically occurs within 2 to 3 years after thelarche (breast budding), at Tanner stage IV breast development, and is rare before Tanner stage III development.10 Menarche correlates with age at onset of puberty and breast development. In girls with early onset of breast development, the interval to menarche is longer (3 years or more) than in girls with later onset.11–13 By 15 years of age, 98% of females will have had menarche.3, 14”
        So I am not sure of where you got your figure of about age 19?
        Of these eleven “very young wives”, you realize that only seven of them (aged 14 to 17) would fit that category of “very young” by even our standards? That the next three were aged nineteen and that makes ten in total of “teenage years”. His next ten youngest wives were all aged from twenty to twenty-nine. My source is http://www.wivesofjosephsmith.org/home.htm.
        As for eye witness accounts of Smith being caught “in the act of having actual sex” with a female, nothing credible exists. Nothing.
        I am not saying Smith didn’t have sex with one or more of these “wives” outside of Emma. My point from further research is that there is no actual “proof” for all these allegations of sexual misconduct.
        Consider all the allegations that ran wild of Smith having living children not of Emma from just after his death till the DNA testing was done. Books and articles etc had been written for over 100 years of the overwhelming factual evidence that smith had several/many descendants living from several wives. Testimonies of the wives and family members, people claiming to have seen/heard of Smith having had sex with that wife were listed as factual proof for over 100 years. Then a guy of modern science comes along and proves nearly all were lies. Nothing of a single truth. All the purported living descendants had non matching DNA with Smith.
        That means people got so caught up in the rumors and allegations for so long that they couldn’t discern fact from fiction and fiction became fact that was proved a lie.
        I don’t agree or understand Smith marrying girls so young or for most of them their willingness to marry him. I don’t understand those young marriages any more than the other purported 20 + more marriages to females aged 20 to 50+. But I have jumped off the ship of rumors that so many blindly step onto without asking any educated questions.
        That’s for discussing these things.

        • Wikipedia, as usual, provides a good springboard for the well-documented data on menarche being at a much older age in the 1830’s and 1840’s than it was today:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menarche#Changes_in_time_of_average_age

          Average age of first marriages in Joseph Smith’s day were also in the early 20’s, largely due to the common medical knowledge that conceiving too soon after menarche is hazardous to a woman’s health. These two bits of data support my theory that, by his own cultural standards, Smith was most definitely a rapist and certainly into women of all ages, including jail bait.

        • I guess for you it’s nice to be judge and jury of Smith by basing your opinion on rumors and speculation and hearsay statements and statement made 20 to 40 years after his death. You leave out the fact that not a single wife spoke ill of Smith. Not a single wife called him a rapist either. Those are your judgements. Just as it was others judgements that they knew for facts that Smith had several offspring living in our time era. They were wrong. They were all wrong.
          Now we have those same haters of Smith and a whole new generation of Smith haters concentrating on his “supposed” sexual conquests, because they can’t run with the living descendents any more theory and depend on the near very same hearsay and statements used to prove he had living descendents to claim he was out raping any girl he could rape.
          You continue to claim menarche for girls in 1830 was 20 years of age on average. Do you know how ludicrous that statement is? your wiki link doesn’t even state that. I read the whole page.
          Did you read the page or scan over it? You stated… ” In Smith’s day the average age (for menarche) was closer to 19.” Your page stated the medical condition for a female starting her menarche at an older age. “When menarche has failed to occur for more than 3 years after thelarche, or beyond 16 years of age, the delay is referred to as primary amenorrhea.”
          That means according to your belief, most girls were suffering from a medical condition causing them not to have menarche till they hit 19 as you stated. The problem is I could find no such medical information of such a rampant medical disease taking place in the 1830s to 1840s. And what the heck menarche has to do with Smith is beyond my understanding.
          Also, a teenage girl that has not had her menarche and is having sex be she 14 or 19, she can still conceive. Ask a doctor. So if Smith was sacking these young jailbaits as a refreshment to his normal age group of females he sacked for sex as you believe, for a long five year period, day in and day out as the raping sex hound dog you proclaim him to be, there should have been plenty of babies being born from these ten young jailbaits you claim he was sacking on a regular bases as his wives during that 5 year period prior to his death.
          And if he was sacking the other 20+ females during that five year period day in and day out as you want people to believe, there should have been Smith babies coming out of the woodwork like nothing before or since.
          Listen, you seem to have a good head on your shoulders. I like discussing this with you. But you are where I was in most of my beliefs about Smith. I don’t claim Smith wasn’t having sex but neither will I claim he was having sex. I don’t approve/understand his marrying ten girls aged 14 to 19. I don’t understand the willingness of most of these “wives” being okay in marrying him. I don’t understand most all of them after his death making sure they were sealed to him. I don’t understand if he was such a raping hound dog, a disrespecter of women, using them just for sex as you and others claim, why didn’t a single wife describe him as such? I don’t understand how many of these wives he was supposedly having so much sex with had no children that we know of. Yet after his death, many of these women suddenly began to have children with other husbands.
          There is more to this story then judging Smith a rapist on the basis of rumors and statements made years to decades after his death in many cases. You seem very intelligent.
          You should study this out a bit more without your present bias, just saying 🙂

        • I can never quite understand if someone who writes a lengthy, angry comment accusing me of ignorance, lying, and irredeemable bias and then concludes with a happy face is writing a parody comment or just suffers from passive-aggression.

        • Angry? No. Feeling irritated that you lied/stretch actual data of which little accurate data exists, yes. And you did it for effect. You’re a blogger with lots of followers. Seems you’d like to speak as close to what is the truth if it exists, not rumors. But I don’t see you doing that.
          There is no medical data that shows between 1835 to 1845 girls were experiencing menarche at age 19 “on average”. I showed actual medical data that conflicted with your data. To have menarche at age 19 is an actual medical condition. The fact that you ignore that data to stick with your “average age of 19 for menarche” for girls in the mid 1850s shows your unwillingness to change any of your biased opinions.
          You and others want so badly to believe that Smith was a horn dog, for a period of about five straight years to his death, raping ten little girls as you refer to them and pretty much raping the other 20 plus women by coercion so he could have sex day in and day out for five straight years. Yet the fact stands that we don’t have a single child from just the ten little girls he was raping 365 days a year for five straight years. On top of that we have 20 plus other women he was raping in that same five year period, for 365 days a year for those five same years for which we have no evidence of children. And none of that matters to you. That not a single child has been verified to have been born of Smith by any of those 30 plus females he was supposedly raping for a five year period.
          And it doesn’t matter to you that after his death, many of these females you claim he was raping and having sex with, remarried after his death, began to have more sex with a second husband and low and behold began to have children that they didn’t have with Smith.
          You have a smear campaign happening for Smith. You’re not trying to actually understand what happened or what didn’t happen between Smith and all these women he did a “self-marriage” to in a short five year period. I see no curiosity from you for why he suddenly began to marry so many females of so many varying ages in such a short time for with there are no children from that we know of.
          So that information provokes a different question. Was there another motive for Smith doing “self-marriages” to 30+ females in such a short time period, where actual evidence of sexual activity is greatly lacking? Have you ever addressed that question?

        • I think the quest for power is sufficient motive for the many, many powerful men in history who have gathered a harem. It is possible that Smith believed he was linking families together in a very early iteration of current temple beliefs about sealing families. Smith’s multifaceted megalomania is highly evident. He ran for president. He declared himself mayor and general and prophet. With an ego like that I find his interest in acquiring lots of females to be just one element of his narcissism run wild. I refuse to engage you on the other points because you haven’t presented hard data or an alternative theory. I won’t continue to provide more hairs for splitting.

          I’ll ask you to dial the histrionics down a notch. I do not go to other people’s websites and petulantly whine that they will not instantly change to match my viewpoint, then hurl accusations that clearly my opponent lacks the mental wherewithal to consider all possibilities before coming to a conclusion. It’s really quite boring to read comments like this, to be honest.

  21. Early menses can also be attributed in some cases to the amount of hormones we eat, say, if we purchase eggs that were hatched from hens who were hormone fed. And the meat people eat has been hormone fed as well.

  22. Conception right after an early menarche can cause health hazards, even death, yet I’ve gotten in trouble for espousing “choice” when a 12 year old is pregnant. Back in the 70’s, working the nursery, two 12 year olds came in to give birth. It blows me away that none of us thought to wonder if their fathers impregnated them, or, if rape was an issue. They were absolutely scared to death, and never said a work to us, which, looking back, was very weird. One mother told the doctor not to medicate her daughter for pain so that she’d learn her lesson. I still can’t believe I was part of all of that, even though I wasn’t in a position to change any of it. The other mother refused to allow the girl to put the baby up for adoption, even though she could legally, but she was so young, so influenced by her mother, she did what she was told, and on the day of her scheduled release, the mother picked up the baby too. A twelve year old mother! Talk about screwing up someone’s life.

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