Tomorrow I will be presenting a paper at the American Academy of Religion’s Mid-Atlantic regional meeting. The topic is Mormonism’s unique theology of gender. In my paper, I offer up a perspective on Joseph Smith’s teachings regarding exaltation and sexuality which may seem foreign to some “modern” Latter-day Saints.
Essentially, I argue that Joseph Smith’s teachings — both public and private — as well as his own practice of plural marriage show no indication of celestial procreation. In my view, Smith’s teachings and practices make much more sense when viewed within the context of individuals becoming part of the larger Abrahamic covenant. My argument’s strengths are that it relies on contemporary sources and gives them primacy over later recollections of Smith’s teaching.
The biggest challenge to my line of reasoning is the Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt. Pratt claims that in 1840, Smith explained that celestial offspring was the purpose of plural marriage. I am skeptical of Pratt’s account for reasons given in the endnotes of my paper.
In any case, if you would like to read the paper in its entirety, you can find it here:
As Latter-day Saints we are consistently reminded that the Prophet, or President of the Church will not be allowed to lead the Church astray. Some LDS leaders have even suggested that if the Prophet were to lead the Church astray, he would be “removed” by the Lord. Given these statements and the circumstances surrounding Joseph Smith’s murder, is it possible that Joseph Smith was “removed” from his office by the Lord as a result of some of his Nauvoo-period theological innovations?