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Were Joseph Smith's Wives Forced to Marry Him?

Todd Noall

Todd Noall

Source Expert

Todd Noall is an author and religious scholar at Mormonism Explained with a focus on the history and theology of religion.

Fact Checked by Kevin Prince

Kevin Prince

Source Expert

Kevin Prince serves as the Source Authority at Mormonism Explained. Mr. Prince is a religious scholar as well as a technology industry CEO and entrepreneur.

Updated July 3, 2024

Many of Joseph Smith’s plural wives were skeptical of the practice of polygamy when Smith approached them about the practice. However, there are several accounts of these women praying about the practice and reporting that God confirmed that Smith was implementing polygamy with God’s authorization. Although not all of Smith’s wives recorded their experiences, many of Joseph Smith’s wives recount spiritual confirmation of polygamy, even angelic visitations that confirmed polygamy.

Lucy Walker, who was sealed to Smith in 1843, prayed to know if polygamy was right for her. She recorded that she received “a powerful and irresistible testimony of the truthfulness and divinity of plural marriage.” Emily Partridge, Eliza R. Snow, and Sarah Ann Whitney also described going to the Lord in prayer about their concerns with polygamy. After praying, they all accepted polygamy and married Smith.

Another woman who became one of Joseph Smith’s plural wives was Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner. When Smith told her about the practice, she was skeptical of Joseph Smith polygamy. Later in life, she reported that she and Smith talked about the practice of plural marriage for a long time and she questioned Smith’s witness of the practice. However, she concluded that she would never marry Smith unless she received her own witness from God. After praying consistently, she reported that an angel visited her. She and Smith were married shortly after her angelic experience.