082: Curtis Henderson – The Errant Nature of Polygamy, Fallible Prophets, and Seeking for Truth

Curtis hendersonCurtis Henderson was raised in Star Valley on the farm where his polygamist ancestor, Samuel Goforth Henderson, made his home. He has studied LDS Church history for years. He is a scholar of polygamy in his own right, having studied the subject exhaustively. He has written on the subject, and links to his papers can be found below.  He is a life-long member of the LDS Church and remains active to this day. He graduated from BYU in Sociology.

In this Episode Curtis Henderson explains how he came to understand that polygamy wasn’t ordained of God.  He speaks about his views on Joseph Smith’s prophetic mantle, accepting that he was a man capable of great works and great mistakes. Curtis speaks about his quest for knowledge and truth, and explains how he has held on to his faith in Mormonism despite it’s troubled history. He gets to the heart of personal responsibility and inspires us to follow our consciences and the evidence when addressing such a difficult topic like this.

Here is the info on each of his works:

INTERPRETING AND INTERRUPTING POLYGAMY

View online: http://goo.gl/1zZXCe

Download PDF: http://goo.gl/Ef98MN

SHOULD WE DEFEND OUR PAST POLYGAMY?

View online: http://goo.gl/kaKX6x

Download PDF: http://goo.gl/xSZ42t

THE ERRANT NATURE OF LDS POLYGAMY

View online: http://goo.gl/nAkD6T

Download PDF: http://goo.gl/dx2Mox

LDS POLYGAMY BROUGHT TO NAUGHT

View online: http://goo.gl/HKtKkC

Download PDF: http://goo.gl/jS0Z2r

BRIGHAM YOUNG’S CHRONOLOGICAL WANING FROM POLYGAMY

View online: http://goo.gl/sKhhkV

Download PDF: http://goo.gl/OBjPQX

ON THE ROAD WITH JOSEPH SMITH, BUSHMAN (QUOTES)

View online: http://goo.gl/Xbw3wg

Download PDF: http://goo.gl/j3uTLo

BENEFITED AND TROUBLED (A Book Review on the Brian C. Hales Trilogy)

View online: http://goo.gl/dl3HtD

Download PDF: http://goo.gl/GgdOjK

ANSWERING QUESTIONS ABOUT MY BOOK REVIEW ON HALE’S 3-VOLUME SET

View online: http://goo.gl/1oAv4p

Download PDF: http://goo.gl/S5P7lk

THE ANGEL-SWORD THAT FORCED LDS POLYGAMY: A CAUTION AGAINST DEFENDING

THE INDEFENSIBLE

View online: http://goo.gl/Whfsvk

Download PDF: http://goo.gl/hKzgXh

Comments

comments

28 comments for “082: Curtis Henderson – The Errant Nature of Polygamy, Fallible Prophets, and Seeking for Truth

  1. Deric
    November 21, 2014 at 10:36 pm

    Great job on this one! Really enjoyed it!

  2. DP
    November 22, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    This was one of the best discussions of late on Polygamy, “Following the Brethren”, and authentic faith/worship/religion I have heard.

    This will be one of those discussions I refer people to who begin struggling with the Church’s history.

    Thanks for sharing

  3. Joy
    November 23, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    Please, will someone give me a plausible explanation as to why there are no children from Joseph Smith’s polygamous marriages that can be confirmed? I have yet to see anyone address that issue with the attention it deserves. The excuse that he was just too busy avoiding the authorities or keeping the marriages secret does not hold water for me. Many of these women were very fertile as evidenced in the case of Louisa Beaman who bore four or five children to Brigham Young. It doesn’t take much to impregnate a woman. And even if there were a couple of children that may end up being Joseph’s, like Josephine Lyons, why weren’t there more?

    My suspicion is that when we solve that mystery, we will begin to understand plural marriage as it was practiced in the early days of the church.

    • AV
      December 12, 2014 at 10:43 am

      Sure, but you probably won’t believe the reason staring us in the face. For most people like to believe vile hearsay over truth.

      Joseph Smith probably didn’t ever live polygamy, nor ever preach it. He always strongly condemned it.

      But there is absolutely no proof that Joseph was involved with polygamy, only tons of vile hearsay usually by those who had every reason to lie and try to pin Joseph to it in order to help justify their whoredoms.

      It’s really sad that people would rather believe abusive evil men like Brigham Young then Joseph’s own testimony.

      Righteous honest people believe Joseph to be innocent of polygamy until he is proven guilty of it, which he never has been. If the Church had any proof they would have shown it long ago, they are just glad everyone buys all the horrible things they say about Joseph so they don’t have to face the truth.

      It appears Joseph was about the excommunicate many of the Apostles for adultery, but died before he could do it.

      It is sad that Bro. Henderson doesn’t believe Joseph’s own testimony, nor does he see that even in Pres. Mark’s statement, Joseph does not admit polygamy, or he would have to excommunicate himself by his order, but he actually only meant that he had been deceived by others who were living it secretly and been deceived to not take stronger actions against those living it.

      To think that Joseph allowed new members or polygamists to become members is ridiculous, Joseph understood that it was adultery and a whoredom and it would do no one any good to be baptized if they were living polygamy, for he would excommunicate them the next day.

      • anonymous
        December 13, 2014 at 2:24 pm

        Hahahahahahaha. Love trolls.

      • Joy
        December 23, 2014 at 6:17 pm

        I think your take on this subject bears scrutiny. Why do all scholars avoid it like the plague? I asked the same question of Brian Hales and he referred me to what he wrote about the alleged children of Joseph Smith. I found nothing in Brian’s writings that convinces me that Joseph had children by any plural wives. Brian cited Josephine Lyons and called her parentage documented. All that’s documented is that Josephine said her mother told her she was the child of Joseph Smith. That is not proof.

        • A
          February 19, 2015 at 10:01 am

          I believe that all or most scholars believe Joseph lived polygamy because few people really live by the Constitution, believing someone innocent until proven guilty and the natural man in everyone, especially men, makes them like the idea of polygamy, while righteous men are revolted by it and understand that it is totally against Christ’s teachings and the Golden Rule.

          Christ condemned polygamy and even Joseph understood that. Brian does not seem to understand Christ’s teachings against polygamy nor how deeply Joseph understood that it was an abomination.

          Joseph was also too smart to fall for even an angel who commanded polygamy, for Joseph said such angels just prove to be false for they teach contrary to the scriptures and Christ and thus Joseph wouldn’t have fallen for such an angel or used it as an excuse.

          One must understand Christ’s teachings to understand Joseph’s teachings against polygamy and how deeply Joseph was against it and considered it a whoredom in every case in history.

          No man who is righteous and a true disciple of Christ would be in a church that believes in polygamy or has leaders who lived it. For righteous people judge everything by Christ’s laws and Christ clearly and repeatedly condemned all polygamy in any age of time.

          So it’s just the natural man in people and historians, to want to believe in whoredoms like polygamy or to believe tons of hearsay (when there is no real proof) instead of standing for the truth and what’s right.

          Few historians are willing to stand alone in defending people like Joseph when most everyone else wants to believe him guilty. Not to mention few historians are righteous enough to even understand how Joseph is probably innocent, nor do they understand Christ’s teachings, or they wouldn’t even be in the Church or support an idea like polygamy, even if Joseph happened to live it.

          That Joseph could have fallen for polygamy as so many men & prophets throughout history have, is surely possible, but we have no proof or reason to believe he did. But even if he had he would only have proved himself a false prophet who didn’t keep Christ’s commandments, so why waste time on even talking about him if he was so evil.

          As we have seen throughout history, It is the nature of almost all men to want multiple wives or women (whether by free love, affairs, polygamy, divorce & remarriage, porn, etc.) or they go along with other men having that perk. So it is no surprise that most all historians support the idea that Joseph lived polygamy, for then it gives them a pass or promise that maybe they can too someday.

          Even a court of law said there is no proof that Joseph lived polygamy. So any righteous person would assume that stance until real proof is found. So it’s easy to see if an historian is righteous or not and supports the Constitution, let alone Christ’s teachings.

        • A
          February 19, 2015 at 10:41 am

          Joy,

          I believe that all or most scholars believe Joseph lived polygamy because few people really live by the Constitution, believing someone innocent until proven guilty and the natural man in everyone, especially men, makes them like the idea of polygamy, while righteous men are revolted by it and understand that it is totally against Christ’s teachings and the Golden Rule.

          Christ condemned polygamy and even Joseph understood that. Brian does not seem to understand Christ’s teachings against polygamy nor how deeply Joseph understood that it was an abomination.

          Joseph was also too smart to fall for even an angel who commanded polygamy, for Joseph said such angels just prove to be false for they teach contrary to the scriptures and Christ and thus Joseph wouldn’t have fallen for such an angel or used it as an excuse.

          One must understand Christ’s teachings to understand Joseph’s teachings against polygamy and how deeply Joseph was against it and considered it a whoredom in every case in history.

          No man who is righteous and a true disciple of Christ would be in a church that believes in polygamy or has leaders who lived it. For righteous people judge everything by Christ’s laws and Christ clearly and repeatedly condemned all polygamy in any age of time.

          So it’s just the natural man in people and historians, to want to believe in whoredoms like polygamy or to believe tons of hearsay (when there is no real proof) instead of standing for the truth and what’s right.

          Few historians are willing to stand alone in defending people like Joseph when most everyone else wants to believe him guilty. Not to mention few historians are righteous enough to even understand how Joseph is probably innocent, nor do they understand Christ’s teachings, or they wouldn’t even be in the Church or support an idea like polygamy, even if Joseph happened to live it.

          That Joseph could have fallen for polygamy as so many men & prophets throughout history have, is surely possible, but we have no proof or reason to believe he did. But even if he had he would only have proved himself a false prophet who didn’t keep Christ’s commandments, so why waste time on even talking about him if he was so evil.

          As we have seen throughout history, It is the nature of almost all men to want multiple wives or women (whether by free love, affairs, polygamy, divorce & remarriage, porn, etc.) or they go along with other men having that perk. So it is no surprise that most all historians support the idea that Joseph lived polygamy, for then it gives them a pass or promise that maybe they can too someday.

          Even a court of law said there is no proof that Joseph lived polygamy. So any righteous person would assume that stance until real proof is found. So it’s easy to see if an historian is righteous or not and supports the Constitution, let alone Christ’s teachings.

  4. Rachel
    November 24, 2014 at 9:48 am

    This was so incredibly freeing to listen to. I feel like my soul is more settled inside now that I have given myself permission to trust my deepest reaction to polygamy (that it is not God’s intention for us in any way).

    Thank you!!

  5. Lysa
    November 26, 2014 at 9:48 am

    Thank you for this discussion. I feel spiritually strengthened.

  6. Jay Griffith
    December 1, 2014 at 11:11 am

    Great interview Sarah. Very much enjoyed Curtis’s perspectives and historical knowledge. Thank you!

  7. J.E
    December 2, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    Awesome interview! One of the best ever from Mormonstories. Thank you.

  8. Greg
    December 4, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    I would be curious to hear what Curtis has to say with the exhaustive work that Brian C. Hales has done on polygamy.

  9. Greg
    December 4, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    Nevermind, I didn’t see that last link.

  10. Tamara Donithorne
    December 12, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    I am profoundly moved by listening to my eloquent, humble,deep minded uncle. I admire and appreciate all the personal time, study , effort to find truth and do it with such personal responsibilty, diligence and honesty, while at the same time not putting down the church and others to get his points across. It seems with all his efforts and hard work he has come to a place of peace while still acknowledging his uncertainty . I am blessed to know him. This helps me so much with my own struggle with polygamy and prophet admiration which often goes overboard in the LDS culture. He reminded me that doubts , struggles, wrestling with Lord is part of faith building and being spiritually self-reliant and that the quest is worth it!

    • Tammy Merrill Harmon
      March 6, 2015 at 9:17 pm

      LaVon and Leath Henderson and family lived around the corner from my family, Frank & Colleen Merrill, is Osmond. Curtis was my sister’s age; Anita my oldest brother’s age. Nick a yr older than me and Jade a yr younger. Loved Jeris (sp?). Great family. Pls tell Curtis hello from a former Osmond-ite

  11. Joy
    December 29, 2014 at 5:31 am

    I’m hoping Brother Henderson will read this comment. I tried to find a way to contact him directly. If you can give me that contact information privately, I would appreciate it.

    My question is: Has he examined the verses in Malachi 2 that speak of dealing treacherously with the wife of thy youth. I think these passages may help to substantiate Brother Henderson’s thesis on this subject. If you read this, Brother Henderson, I’d like to get your thoughts on this.

    And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand. 14Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. 15And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. 16For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.

    • Curtis Henderson
      January 31, 2015 at 3:02 pm

      Joy:
      Yes, I have examined Malachi 2, and now re-examine upon your reminder. I apparently did not more specifically discuss or reference it, but in my Interpreting and Interrupting Polygamy manuscript, page 93 (Appendix VI, written by Jade), he reminds:
      “Throughout Old Testament scripture, idolatry toward other gods occurred together and is likened with infidelity from a singular spouse.” In the next paragraph he, at superscript 18, further references a Church student manual including all 4 chapters of Malachi (note 18 on page 113).
      We, with our 90-year-old mother, have deep appreciations for Malachi 2 and especially note the emphasis of “wife” (singular), the word “one” carefully emphasized at least twice, the phrase “wife of thy youth” (used in other scriptures like Isa. 54:6; and repeated personally by Christ in 3 Ne. 22:6), the “putting away” or to “deal treacherously against the wife of thy youth,” and the declaration that “God…hateth putting away.”
      Scriptural use of “putting away” is far more express than “divorce” (see TG, Divorce), because it includes the many “treacherous” forms including but not limited to divorce–like Christ condemning adultery but including “whosoever looketh…” (Matt. 5:28). We easily “put away,” put down, set aside, divide our attention, emotions or attractions from our one spouse without necessarily using divorce, but still “deal treacherously” thereby. Polygamy, by its very nature, involves grave forms of “putting away” and dealing “treacherously against the wife of his youth” (“the wife of thy [actual and foremost] covenant”). Such words and phrases used in Malachi remind me of the scriptural use of the pristine word “twain.” Twain does not have multiple definitions; there is only one meaning. It allows for no dividing, no fractions, no multiples. It, like the word “one,” offers poignant warnings.
      I’m sorry I did not include a more extensive discussion of Malachi 2 in my writings, but it did and still does influence me, and it deserves very careful study. Thanks for the reminder.

      • AV
        February 19, 2015 at 10:34 am

        Curtis Henderson,

        I really believe you are correct in your deeper meaning of ‘putting away’, for Christ surely condemned all abusive unloving actions against a spouse, whether by the husband or the wife. That would include not only divorce but abandonment, polygamy, physical, emotional or mental adultery or abuse of any kind.

        Christ clearly taught that there was no such thing as divorce or remarriage for married people, and that if they tried to divorce their spouse and remarry then it’s always adultery, in every case, and that would include all polygamy too as adultery.

        It is sad today how most all churches, especially the LDS Church, support adultery and the abuse and abandonment of women, spouses and families, totally ignoring Christ’s teachings and allowing the opposite, instead of standing for what is right, though the Catholic & Baptist Churches at least still teach that divorce & remarriage is adultery.

        After Joseph died, Brigham Young began allowing divorce and abandonment and encouraging the extreme abuse of women and wives, since those things always accompany the abomination of polygamy, Thus it’s not surprising that the LDS Church is one of the most abusive to women/wives, over maybe all other so called Christian Churches (that clearly aren’t really Christian).

        The only exception Christ gave for divorce was for engaged couples who found their fiance to be ‘unfaithful’ (like Joseph thought Mary was), only they could divorce (which was the required custom at the time) because they hadn’t been really married yet.

        But once a couple is married by mutual consent there is no such thing as divorce or remarriage, ever, the rest of their life, no matter what, even if one abandons the other or dies. Of course Christ understood separation for safety reasons if one spouse was abusive, but actual divorce was not possible, they could only wait for their spouse to repent or til the next life when God helped solve their marriage problems by requiring the other to finally repent in hell.

        For Christ clearly showed when he returned to earth after his resurrection and appeared to Mary his wife, that marriage is forever and lasts into the next life also, so there is no option or reason to remarry but to just keep one’s lifelong vows as they promised to their one and only spouse.

        There is probably some form of abuse or adultery (if even just mental or emotional, which has the same eternal consequences as ‘physical’) in every marriage, whether couples realize it or not, to some degree or another, so everyone has to deal with it and work on eliminating it from their marriage.

        For it’s rare to find anyone who is truly righteous and who ever lived or lives Christ’s laws. It seems everyone, including churches, instead believes and goes along with whatever is popular with the masses in society, it doesn’t seem like anyone even knows what Christ really said on these issues, let alone really follows him.

        Even Christ’s apostles were astounded at his high law of marriage and that all divorce and remarriage is adultery, they then thought it might be better to never marry then to have to remain faithful to 1 women their whole life.

    • Curtis Henderson
      June 26, 2015 at 9:21 am

      6/22/2015

      My Interpreting and Interrupting Polygamy manuscript (posted at athoughtfulfaith.org, episode #082, with Google links) has been updated as a 2015 edition (as of 6/22/15). Opening that link now takes you to the new 2015 edition (http://goo.gl/1zZXCe).

      The changes in the small articles are just the referencing of those articles to athoughtfulfaith.org episode #082 (rather than to staylds.com, etc.).

      The most significant changes to the Interpreting and Interrupting Polygamy manuscript are as follows:

      1. The preface is now with superscripts and notes, which allowed for better information, especially note 19 which (like other places) gives new quotes and references.

      2. References to pages or notes/endnotes applicable to the old versions are now updated as needed.

      3. New references and quotes are added (like at chapter 2, Notes 20, 26 and 32; chapter 3, Note 16; chapter 4, Notes 1, 2 and 3; Brian C. Hales’ 3-volume work has been referenced, most notably at chapter 2, Note 32; chapter 6, Note 2; Appendix III, Note 3; Dan Vogel most notably at Appendix IV, Note 1.

      4. The Google links to all my articles (like the Angel-Sword article) have been added to notes and Index at the most applicable places.

      5. Additions have been made to the Index for more thorough finding and cross-referencing. For example, some of the new entries: Doubt, Experiment and experience, Fingerprints, Gullibility, Hales, Brian C., Malachi, Uchtdorf, Dieter F., etc.

      6. Jade Henderson’s Appendix VI has notable updates, like pages 88-90, and a new entry on Malachi (item 13).

      Curtis Henderson

    • Curtis Henderson
      May 31, 2017 at 3:23 pm

      I hope you have or will revisit the Online manuscript of Interpreting and Interrupting Polygamy. We added more about Malachi in the 2015 updated edition, and just made more significant updates for 2017. When you open the document, go to page i (the very first page after the cover) and it directs you to specific pages to see the updates for the 2015 and 2017 editions. Thanks for your recommendation, it led to our altering the manuscript.
      Curtis H.

  12. Louisa
    December 30, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    Ditto to everything said by DP and Tamara. Thank you very much for this podcast. My question is while the church is deciding how to bring these things out in the open and deal with them (beyond the essays and on to the curriculum), how do I teach Sunday School?? It’s a challenge.

  13. March 4, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    I would invite you to take another look at the LDS theology of plural marriage. I believe it is a principle that has everything to do with the eternal rights of women (and no, we are not advocating fundamentalism, but an understanding of its proper place in the eternal scheme of things). Please visit us at The Wonder Women if you’re interested in finding out why it is two women could EVER even entertain such ideas. In fact, we recently did a post about the connection between Jacob 2 and Malachi 2 that you might enjoy.
    https://thewonderwomen.squarespace.com/blog/2015/2/3/a-godly-seed-and-a-peculiar-people

  14. Curtis Henderson
    March 31, 2015 at 8:20 am

    A ninth article has been added to the previous eight (listed by title and links immediately above the comments and the audio play button of this podcast). This new brief article discusses seven serious problems with the folklore that an angel appeared and commanded polygamy to be part of the restitution. It is hoped that these offerings will help in the dialogue and search for truth and understanding on this sensitive topic.

  15. Mark
    October 12, 2015 at 10:48 am

    It was once said of Herman Melville that he could never believe, nor be comfortable in his unbelief. As an LDS member of 65 years, I have always believed, but never been comfortable in that belief of polygamy. It has just never seemed right, and I have read and thought about it a lot. But, like most LDS people, I stuck it away in a dark closet, waiting for new revelation.
    Now, what an invigorating and penetrating study Brother Henderson has made! Thank you so much! It has been like a breath of fresh air for me. So many answers and insights about this closeted subject. It reminds me of that old poem that Samuel Taylor often quoted about the haunted LDS issue of polygamy:
    Yesterday upon the stairs,
    I met a man who wasn’t there.
    He wasn’t there again to day,
    I wish that man would go away.
    Thank you, Curtis. I think that man has gone away.

  16. Ashley
    October 28, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    This was useful for me, thank you.

    The host sort of sounded drunk – slurring and raspy. It was a tad distracting.

    Good questions and anwers, though. I needed to hear this.

  17. Joy
    June 21, 2016 at 8:48 am

    I’m wondering if Curtis could speak to the evidence that the Jaredites practiced polygamy– many of the men mentioned had more children than one woman could have produced and this scripture, “and every man kept the hilt of his sword in his right hand, in the defence of his property and his own life and of his WIVES and children” (Ether 14:2).

  18. Curtis Henderson
    May 31, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    Please revisit the manuscript with the 2015 and 2017 updated editions/changes as delineated on page i (the very first page after the cover).

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