The other night I and Mrs. Watcher had the opportunity to listen to a lecture by Michael Kennedy and his wife.
The lecture was entertaining and informative. Brother Kennedy has warmth and humor and passion when he speaks. We really enjoyed listening to him.
Mike is apparently the first descendant of Joseph Smith Jr. to convert to the church and receive what the church claims to be the Melchizedek Priesthood.
My suspicion is that Mike has also received what the church refers to as the second endowment or anointing at the hands of the president of the church or one of the brethren.
The reason I have this suspicion is because the church has given him a special lifetime calling to seek out and gather, or unify, the remnants of the posterity of Joseph Smith Jr. and to be somewhat of a special emissary of the church in that capacity.
Mike Kennedy has made the following statement:
It makes sense that a loving God would have a plan that would recover the family of Joseph and Emma, honor the sacrifices made, and fulfill Joseph’s petition that his family would come to “be converted and redeemed with Israel, and know that thou art God” (D&C 109:70). I did not know then that the Lord did have a plan, nor that I would be a big part of that effort.
As you can see, Mike Kennedy and the leaders of the church who have appointed him to help gather and unify the family of Joseph Smith Jr., believe that the time has come for Joseph’s family to finally be gathered and redeemed. They feel this effort is fulfilling prophecy.
It is a great honor for Brother Kennedy to be chosen to lead this effort.
By placing him in the spotlight and making him somewhat of an official emissary and spokesman on issues having to do with Joseph Smith Jr. as it relates to the history of Mormonism, the church indirectly presents him to be a credible authority on such issues.
Naturally the brethren take a huge risk in doing this should brother Kennedy ever become disaffected from the church or begin teaching false doctrine.
Keep in mind that brother Kennedy spends much of his time dealing with the posterity of Emma Smith, his cousins. Many of them believe in the restoration that Joseph Smith was involved with, and are very bitter towards the LDS church and the way that the LDS church has treated Emma and her offspring in the historical narrative that they have perpetuated.
Emma refused to go west with Brigham Young and the saints after the martyrdom and ensuing succession crisis in Nauvoo. Following that, harsh words and accusations about Emma were made by Brigham Young and other leaders of the Utah Mormons.
The brethren have put an enormous amount of trust in brother Kennedy, by virtue of the position they have placed him in, not because of anything he has accomplished or learned, but because of his birthright. Because of this, I suspect that the brethren have tested his loyalty and consecrated it with the higher religious endowment that usually takes selected members of the church to a higher level of loyalty.
Again, it is total speculation on my part that he has received the second endowment.
Mikes conversion story is quite fascinating and entertaining. It is well known to many and can be read here and here.
Although he has given many talks and fireside presentations, the talk he gave the other night seemed more controversial than what he has presented in the past.
It may be because he was addressing a fringe group of LDS preppers that thrive on controversial stuff or it may simply be a sign of the times.
In this post I am going to share some of the fascinating things that he talked about.
As always, there will not be even a hint of bias in the spin I put on his remarks.. LOL
The Posterity of Joseph Compared with the Posterity of Hyrum
One of the first things that caught my attention was the statistical comparison between the posterity of Joseph Smith and that of Hyrum Smith.
Mike had a genealogy chart showing the complete posterity of Joseph Smith.
Joseph Smith Jr. has about 2500 descendants that can be verified.
He noted that Hyrum has about 30,000 descendants !!!!!!!!
This is shocking given the fact that both men died at the same time and Hyrum had only a few polygamous wives while Joseph Smith is believed by many to have had upwards of 30.
Both men had nine biological children from non-polygamous wives although one of Joseph’s was still born and two died shortly after birth.
Hyrum had 16 biological grand children and Joseph had 23 biological grandchildren.
Hyrum had no biological children from his two plural wives and to date, DNA suggests that Joseph Smith Jr. did not have a single biological descendant from any of his alleged polygamous wives either!!!!
One would think the brother with 23 biological grandchildren might have an advantage over the brother with 16, in propagating a large posterity.
Not in this case.
Obviously the fact that Hyrum’s posterity followed Brigham Young to Utah and was no doubt involved at least to some extent in polygamy before it was discontinued, while Joseph’s offspring did not go west and was not involved in polygamy, had some bearing on the lopsided discrepancy.
However, it appears as though most of Hyrum’s grandchildren were female and very few of his male grandchildren were involved in polygamy, hence polygamy does not appear to be the only or even the primary factor to be considered.
The practice of polygamy was abolished by the Utah church by the time the offspring of Hyrum became middle aged.
Brother Kennedy pointed out numerous instances having to do with why Joseph’s posterity did not seem to flourish. These instances included three of Joseph’s children that died early, single females that did not marry and a son of Joseph’ that was committed to a mental institution.
If I am not mistaken, Joseph’s posterity of 2500 includes his adopted children from the murdocks. This would make his count of biological descendants even smaller than the 2,500 figure would indicate.
Interestingly Hyrum is the one designated in Section 124 as holding the office of PRIESTHOOD and PATRIARCH:
91 And again, verily I say unto you, let my servant William be appointed, ordained, and anointed, as counselor unto my servant Joseph, in the room of my servant Hyrum, that my servant Hyrum may take the office of Priesthood and Patriarch, which was appointed unto him by his father, by blessing and also by right;
92 That from henceforth he shall hold the keys of the patriarchal blessings upon the heads of all my people,
It seems somewhat fitting to me that the brother designated as the patriarch would produce such a vast posterity.
The Brigham Young Family Apologizes to the Emma Smith Family
Brother Kennedy mentioned that one of the challenges that he had in bringing all of the Smith relatives together and cultivating positive feelings towards each other had to do with how angry many of the Emma Smith descendants were about the mean things that Brigham Young and others had been said about Emma’s character and motivations at the time of the succession crisis.
Because of this Brother Kennedy felt that a public apology to the descendants of Emma Smith was appropriate and necessary in mending the hard feelings that still existed.
Brother Kennedy claims that his suggestion to the First Presidency was to get an official apology from the Brigham Young Family Organization, of which I am a member.
I suspect that Brother Kennedy’s original request was that the First Presidency issue the apology on behalf of the entire church and that the request was flatly turned down by the brethren as their policy is to never apologize for anything even when they are wrong.
Elder Oaks has stated that the church doesn’t “seek apologies,” “and we don’t give theM”.
Indeed, Elder Oaks has declared that members should never criticize the leaders of the church even when the criticism is true
At any rate, regardless of whether my speculation is accurate or not about the church refusing to apologize to the descendants of Emma Smith, Brother Kennedy was successful in getting the leaders of the church to encourage the leaders of the Brigham Young Family organization to issue a formal apology. Again, the apology was for the harsh things that have been said about Emma Smith by leaders and members of the church for the last four generations, beginning with the statements made by Brigham Young.
Brother Kennedy said that when members of both family organizations were gathered in a room to hear the Brighamite family leaders make the official apology, many of the angry descendants of Emma began weeping as they heard the apology. He felt this event went a long way in softening the hearts of many of the Emma Smith posterity.
Mrs Watcher and i were touched by this story.
As a descendant of Brigham Young I wanted to jump up and shout for joy when I heard about this apology. In fact, I wish i could have been the one to verbally make it.
As Brother Kennedy was diplomatically throwing Brigham Young under the bus, I envisioned myself driving it. I backed up several times so I could run over him again and again. LOL
DNA is on My Side!
Anyway, now for the really controversial part of Brother Kennedy’s presentation.
After pointing out that DNA testing has resulted in disqualifying every suspected polygamous descendant of Joseph Smith Jr. as being a true descendant, Brother Kennedy made the claim that Joseph Smith Jr. NEVER HAD SEXUAL INTERCOURSE WITH ANY OF HIS POLYGAMOUS WIVES!!!!
I just about fell of my chair when he made that claim.
I don’t remember him prefacing his remarks with “in my opinion…”
I only remember an authoritative declaration that Joseph Smith never had sex with any of his polygamous wives.
After the talk I cornered Brother Kennedy and informed him that what he was saying was not congruent with the conclusions that have been made by most LDS scholars on the topic. I then asked him if he had received any blow-back on his claims.
He said he had not gotten any blow-back on the claim that Joseph Smith never physically consummated any of his polygamous sealings. He then emphatically stated that “DNA is on my side on this issue”.
The Top LDS Apologist Begs to Differ
As soon as I got home from the meeting I sent an email to one of the top LDS scholars who has financed more research on this topic than anyone else and asked him is he agrees with the supposition being made by Brother Kennedy.
His response was as follows:
Hi Owiw, I haven’t heard from you for a while. Hope you are well. Bro. Kennedy is entitled to his opinion but the evidence supporting sexuality is very strong in several of the relationships. Here’s a link
Included in that article is the following chart
While I agree that the absence of verifiable offspring is compelling, it certainly is not conclusive.
The fact that a person does not have offspring from a wife or wives, does not categorically prove that they did not have sex with them.
I find the numerous testimonies of plural wives that they did have sex with Joseph to be just as compelling.
Perhaps more so.
I simply don’t think they all lied about it.
In addition to the testimonies of these women, countless men who knew Joseph Smith intimately also testified that he consummated his polygamous marriages.
Does God Intervene During Modern Times?
One of the most intriguing things about this issue to me is that to my knowledge, nobody has ever suggested the intervention of God in closing the wombs of Joseph’s polygamous wives from having children.
It is strange how we latter day saints have no problem accepting the fact that God miraculously closed and opened wombs from bearing children anciently, but it is beyond our faith and comprehension to consider the possibility that he might have done it in Joseph Smith’s day:
So Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they bare children. For the LORD had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham’s wife.
Indeed there are numerous other times in the Bible when God closed up wombs or opened them for his own purposes. He seems to have total dominion over the sending of spirit children to this earth.
Two Completely Different Types of Polygamy
The controversy in Mike Kennedy’s talk did not end with his claim that Joseph Smith never had intercourse with his plural wives.
He then made the pronouncement that Joseph Smith and Brigham Young practiced two completely different types of polygamy.
He claimed that Joseph was practicing a spiritual wife- celestial marriage type of polygamy that did not require sex in this world.
Conversely, he claimed that Brigham Young used polygamy for the purpose of “planting the roots deeply” when the saints got to Utah, by propagating the Lords people through a form of polygamy that did involve sexual intercourse.
As I sat there pondering the theological and historical ramifications of what was being suggested, I was flabbergasted.
I wondered if the brethren knew that he was publicly teaching this stuff. Do they endorse this new line of thinking?
I must admit that much of his talk and the sanitized history that he shared seemed scripted by the church until he got to some of his views on the polygamy issue.
On the positive side, the new paradign that he was presenting actually creates an innovative way to enable the conflicting factions on this issue to come together in agreement on a long disputed issue that has been very divisive.
Those historians and doctrinal scholars, primarily in the Brigham Young-Hyrum Smith family traditions, who are adamant that Joseph Smith did practice polygamy are still validated that he did, while those that have adamantly claimed that Joseph did not have physical relations with polygamous wives, primarily from the Emma Smith family tradition, are also validated.
It actually makes a lot of sense that such a theory would be presented by a man who has spent years trying to bring these two factions of the restoration together since this issue is one of the chief doctrinal and historical contentions that have separated them.
Frankly, the theory creates cognitive dissonance in my brain.
If indeed Joseph Smith intentionally abstained from sexual intercourse with the wives that he sealed to himself, it is difficult to believe that Brigham Young was justified in doing the opposite.
On the other hand, if Brigham Young was justified and correct in having sex with the women that were sealed to him, then why wouldn’t Joseph Smith have done the same thing since he is the prophet of the dispensation and the one to introduce the general doctrine?
Since Brigham Young repeatedly claimed that Joseph Smith had intercourse with his polygamous wives and that Brigham was simply perpetuating the doctrine of celestial marriage that had been taught to him by Joseph, Brother Kennedy was once again just diplomatically suggesting that Brigham got it wrong. He was once again throwing poor old Brigham Young under the bus.
I must confess, both those who claim that Joseph was a polygamist that had sex with his wives, and also those that claim that he never practiced polygamy, have compelling evidence to support their beliefs.
The Biblical Profile of Joseph Smith Provides the Answer
The ultimate conclusion that I have made regarding the polygamy issue comes largely from the Biblical profile of Joseph Smith which informs us that after the Davidic Servant restores the law and builds the temple, he would “commit iniquity” and be “chastened by the rod of men” (2 Sam 7) . More specifically, the prophetic profile informs us that the Davidic Servant “dealt treacherously” against the “wife of his youth” ( Mal 2)
Interestingly, although it outwardly appears as if the Davidic Servant becomes a fallen prophet after restoring the law and building the temple, Isaiah informs that the real reason that the Davidic Servant “errs in doctrine” (Isa) 28) is because his eyes are “covered” by the Lord. The Lord covers his eyes because the latter day saints “reject” the Lord’s servant and the law he brings forth. (Isa 29)
From the very beginning of the restoration movement, the Lord had warned the saints that if they hardened their hearts and did not repent, he would “deliver them up unto Satan” (BofC 4)
It is my belief that-
The Lord used his servant Joseph Smith to restore the law and build the temple.
The latter day saints rejected the law of the Lord that was restored by Joseph Smith.
Because the latter day saints rejected God’s Law and his Servant, the Lord covered the eyes of His Seer and allowed him to err in doctrine.
The Lord used his servant to deliver the saints up to Satan for a little season of chastisement and learning.
A final opportunity for the latter day saints to repent will take place when the “times of the gentiles comes in” again and “light shines forth” among those that sit in darkness. (D&C 45)