Conversations about the religious and spiritual life on the other side of fundamentalism
322: ‘It’s not a sin if it’s secret’:  Brigham, Joseph,  Wives, Sex and Priesthood:  Joe Geisner

322: ‘It’s not a sin if it’s secret’: Brigham, Joseph, Wives, Sex and Priesthood: Joe Geisner

Credit ‘Victory of Intellect’ by Hartwig HKD @Flickr

Let’s be fair.  Neither Joseph nor Brigham could be considered as good men in their care, affection, fidelity and love for their wives.  To the contrary, they were want to swap them, share them, manipulate them, ignore them, betray them and abandon them.   We might make much of Joseph’s affection for Emma, but he broke her heart over and over again.

These were two men for whom the idea of a good husband had entirely eluded them.  And there was a terrible price to pay for all of the women who had to endure what could only be considered a despicable mischief.  

Joe Geisner joins me to discuss wives, sex, priesthood, power in Joseph’s inner circle.


  1. thechair

    Gina, you remarked to Joe about lack of pregnancy amongst plural wives in Nauvoo. Laura Ulrich Thatcher addresses this on p. 95 of her book, A House Full of Females. Footnotes 48 and 49 on that page (Ch. 4) cite to Brian Hales’s work. Thatcher doesn’t offer definitive answers, but distills the likeliest possible explanations recognized by scholars. One of the factors, of course, likely was some form of birth control.

  2. David

    Are we speculating a bit way too much now?
    Now Joseph is all of the sudden not only prophet, seer, & revelator but a Con Artist & Porn star as well.

    I always thought the Joseph was more of a free spirit, but he was constrained by the culture and world view of his day. What type of person would have Joseph been had he been born in this day and age?

    JS the adulterer I suppose is better than JS the polygamist. It’s not very charitable. And yet the totally corrupted yet likable JS was able to deliver the sermon like the King Follet discourse.


    Is it possible to get in touch with Joe? I’d like to get a copy of the Sidney Rigdon letter explaining that the blessing of the young boy was ineffectual because the missionaries did not possess the higher priesthood or endowment. Thx!

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