Joseph F. Smith denies the practice of "polygamy"; uses semantics to distinguish what Joseph practiced.

Jun 2, 1886
News (traditional)
Joseph F. Smith

Joseph F. Smith, "Joseph Smith and Celestial Marriage," Deseret News 35, no. 20 (June 2, 1886): 6

Deseret News
Hyrum Smith, Joseph Smith, Jr., Joseph F. Smith
Reading Public

. . . These opponents of plural marriage who deny that it was taught and practiced by the Prophet Joseph, in face of testimony enough to establish any fact beyond the possibility of rational contradiction, frequently refer to the utterances of the leaders of the Church in Nauvoo against the teachings of certain persons on polygamy; and also the denials and affidavits of several ladles concerning polygamy and spiritual wifeism. These statements are cited as evidence that Joseph and Hyrum Smith were opposed to plural marriage, and that it was denied by some of the ladles who afterwards avowed their own marriage to the Prophet or to his bis brother Hyrum.

But examination of the history and the facts all disclose that there is no real contradiction between the alleged conflicting statements, nor between the action of Joseph and Hyrum in regard to polygamy and the doctrines laid down in the revelation of July 12, 1843. Polygamy, in the ordinary and Asiatic sense of the term, never was and is not now a tenet of the Latter-day Saints. That which Joseph and Hyrum denounced and for preaching which without authority an Elder was cut off the Church in Nauvoo was altogether different to the order of celestial marriage including a plurality of wives, which forms the subject of the revelation.

So with that spiritual wife doctrine which lustful men attempted to promulgate at that period. Joseph the Prophet was just as much opposed to that false doctrine as any one could be. It was a counterfeit. The true and divine order is another thing. The errors which those ladies who signed the affidavits declared were not known to them as doctrines of the Church were not, are not, and never will be part of the creed of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They were conscientious in their statements. Joseph and Hyrum were consistent in their action against the false doctrines of polygamy and spiritual wifeism, instigated by the devil and advocated by men who did not comprehend sound doctrine nor the purity of the celestial marriage which God revealed for the holiest of purposes.

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