This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
» "Although the Lord commanded the adoption and later the cessation of plural marriage in the latter days, he did not give exact instructions on how to obey the commandment. Significant social and cultural changes often include misunderstandings and difficulties."
» "During the era in which plural marriage was practiced, Latter-day Saints distinguished between sealings for time and eternity and sealings for eternity only. Sealings for time and eternity included commitments and relationships during this life, generally including the possibility of sexual relations. Eternity-only sealings indicated relationships in the next life alone. Evidence indicates that Joseph Smith participated in both types of sealings. The exact number of women to whom he was sealed in his lifetime is unknown because the evidence is fragmentary. Some of the women who were sealed to Joseph Smith later testified that their marriages were for time and eternity, while others indicated that their relationships were for eternity alone. Most of those sealed to Joseph Smith were between 20 and 40 years of age at the time of their sealing to him. The oldest, Fanny Young, was 56 years old. The youngest was Helen Mar Kimball, daughter of Joseph's close friends Heber C. and Vilate Murray Kimball, who was sealed to Joseph several months before her 15th birthday."
» "Following his marriage to Louisa Beaman and before he married other single women, Joseph Smith was sealed to a number of women who were already married. Neither these women nor Joseph explained much about these sealings, though several women said they were for eternity alone. Other women left no records, making it unknown whether their sealings were for time and eternity or were for eternity alone."
» "Plural marriage was difficult for all involved. For Joseph Smith's wife Emma, it was an excruciating ordeal. ... Emma approved, at least for a time, of four of Joseph Smith's plural marriages in Nauvoo, and she accepted all four of those wives into her household. She may have approved of other marriages as well. But Emma likely did not know about all of Joseph's sealings. She vacillated in her view of plural marriage, at some points supporting it and at other times denouncing it."
» "Consistent with Joseph Smith's teachings, the church permits a man whose wife has died to be sealed [for eternity] to another woman when he remarries. Moreover, members are permitted to perform ordinances on behalf of deceased men and women who married more than once on Earth, sealing them to all of the spouses to whom they were legally married. The precise nature of these relationships in the next life is not known, and many family relationships will be sorted out in the life to come."
Source: LDS Church's essay "Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo"