Concubines and Marriage

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Concubines and Marriage

I thought I'd move this subject to this location so it could be more easily referenced and to place it under the proper subject classification.

The subject includes 'what is a concubine and how does it relate to Christian marriage and Polygamy'

Literally, concubine means to ‘lie or sleep together' (L).

I’ve taken a glance at the subject through the internet and a few books of mine.
It appears that concubines were of a different class than wives . The concubine is subservient socially, and in the family.
The concubine had the right to sex with the man as well as rights of food, shelter, physical care and clothing. No other rights applied. In most ancient examples, the concubine was subservient to the wife. In other words, she had no AUTHORITY. The concubine does not have equal status with the wives.
Most concubines anciently were purchased in a manner akin to being a slave, but not in the modern sense of the word . In comparision, during this time, wives were also usually purchased from her father .

One quoted source that paints the picture of the circumstance of some concubines:
Unmarried women in ancient times were completely dependent on their family members, such as their fathers, brothers, etc. If for some reason a woman had no family members or her husband had died or divorced her, she would be left with few options for survival. Most women in ancient times were uneducated and unskilled in a trade. Providing for themselves was very difficult, and they were vulnerable to those who would prey upon them. For many women in dire situations, becoming a concubine was a much more suitable option than prostitution, homelessness, or death. At least a concubine would be provided a home and afforded a certain amount of care.
The above quote is more or less what I had described in my earlier posts of what may happen if society as we know it, ends. Due to the typical subsistence that women today have of relying on the government, women will be displaced if times get difficult. The idea of simply ‘marrying’ a woman because ‘she needs you’ may not be reasonable if she is incompatible, due to her difficult nature, with the man’s wives and children. Many women today have been educated to be quite rebellious and dysfunctionally willful.
This approach of becoming a concubine would be reasonable because it teaches the woman humility rather than automatically giving her authority to contend with the wives as an 'equal'.
I realize that this brief treatise will not be well received by most because it appears to ‘disrespect’ women. This automatic response by most is due to being incorrectly educated on subjects of character, human nature, and the concept of what harmony and a functional household really are.
Of course, those that proclaim to be Christians generally ignore their own doctrine taught in the New Testament on the position of a woman in the family unit because it personally offends them. They would rather affix themselves to the education they receive from the perverted media and television.
The doctrine of a woman being silent and submissive to her husband as taught in scripture is repulsive to just about all women today and 50% of men as well.
I have included the foregoing few paragraphs concerning the role of a wife to make the illustration of the true purpose of marriage and concubines. Marriage is a learning institution, and most don’t like that institution because it involves humility, true leadership, and functional organization

any comments? :)

on concubines


i created this new topic to move it here and now adding this comment so it will show up under 'recent comments'.


excellent move





I appreciate the research and effort you took,  Rock, to bring this subject to its own thread.  You have also done an excellent job of articulating some of the issues.

I actually DON'T know everything, yet, and this is a help to me in gathering my own thoughts and reviewing the topics here.

You make a strong statement of the "traditional" view of oh maybe a few thousand years ago, as we often perceive it from the preserved texts, written mostly by men of course.  Reminds me of my brother sorta snidely stating that "religion is for women" as a means of control.

I am myself uncomfortable with the whole nest of beliefs we have in our culture, both old and "new".  I suspect women have always had significant respect in good marriages, and have always been of service in rendering appropriate advice and counsel.   Of course, having a family business like a herd of cattle and a flock of sheep does sorta bring people together with the common goal of getting everything done, and I'm sure there was literally no "ideal" of that kind of family that was not modified according to need.

A lot of Mormons talk about how our US Constitution was "divinely inspired" without dealing with the obvious conflicts of the values inherent in human liberty accorded to all humans,  described as "equal", whereas the Bible accords respect to different stations in life, with different rights to match.  Women did not originally have the "recognised right" to vote, but having inherent or inalienable rights for all including women and differeing races sorta won out, and I think it's a good thing.

This is of course, overtly contrary to the New Testament and Old testament doctrinal statements of former times.

I look to Boaz for courage to do the right thing, standing in my right as a father to make the necessary decisions, even while most men of this day just as in that day, could not if their wife just scowled a bit, apparently.

Early Mormons did not recognize any second-class wifery, except perhaps to stipulate that the first wife must give her assent to a subsequent wife.... which is also unbiblical actually.   The endowment of the temple for women is exactly the same for all.

I believe Emma Smith really didn't ever wholly approve of Joseph's other wives, but Joseph could "talk her into going along" with concepts like the covenant being for the spiritual world and such.  The apostate Mormons of the Nauvoo Expositor, according to some historians, got information from Emma for their publication.  The story goes, Emma was "tired of all the women" in Joseph's life.  This account accords well with Hyrum Smith's attempt to talk Emma into agreeing with Plural Marriage by taking the first copy of D&C 132 to her.  He said..... and this is the Church Patriarch who actually held the sealing keys speaking..... that she laughed at it and threw it into the fire with contempt.  That is why there is scant account of any of Joseph's wives ever sharing a bed with him. 

And, as a side note, when the Nauvoo Expositor was busted up, and Joseph fled from the gathering mob, Emma wrote him a scathing letter about "how could you leave me in a time like this", and... when he got it, Joseph said "If my life is of no value to my friends, it is of no value to me" and "went like a lamb to the slaughter" at Carthage, rather than heading for the Rockies.  So, yeah, modern women being what they are, cost Joseph his life and his chance to have other children, and this from the man who wrote the 132nd where it says "if any man shall teach his wife this principle" and she should reject it, that she "shall be destroyed".... emphatically stating that no woman actually has the right to say "no".

It was an ordinance, a sealing, but not a "marriage", for Joseph.  The one exception I have heard of was late in the history, involving the sister of Benjamin F. Johnson.  At any rate, Emma did not follow with the Mormons after Nauvoo, and encouraged her son to act on his patriarchal promise that he would be the successor to his father, and that is why there is a "Reorganized Church". 

There is the story of Brigham Young talking of how Joseph said he would "go to Hell to get Emma", and Brigham said that's exactly where he would have to go to find her.

At any rate, personally, I don't think I can count on a modern woman to just be happy to be much like what you seem to think is right.  And I find that human liberty has benefits beyond compare in terms of results over reliance on "authority" whether biblical or legal.

Not so sure I'm not in a sort of Hell myself sometimes, though....../

A little laughter now and then does the heart good....


good commentary


thanks for the commentary on JS and Emma. When i returned from my mission, i was obsessed with the history of Joseph Smith , The Man. I wondered, what was he REALLY like?

I think i read everything available to the public as far as the 'actual words' that Joseph spoke. I was , as i said before, obsessed. I wanted to hear his words, not what others thought of him .

He was a very 'veril' man. He loved women. He had sex with ALOT of women. His wife was very jealous and selfish. I would say, that with his strength, he will no doubt go after her and retrieve her.

As far as your comments on concubines and marriage: In many mormon households, the first wife was given authority over the other wives and was given recognition of that.

i had hoped that you would address the reasoning of 'why' concubines were chosen and the reasoning behind it.


agree to disagree?





imo, after reading every word in existance of Joseph Smith's speaking or writing, however "viril" he may have been, he was not having much sex, probably not even with Emma.  How do I judge that?  Maybe just as you do, by making comparisons among things I think I know, and examples of others I think I know. 

As usual, people think what they want about anything.

The first time Joseph came across the subject was when he was translating the Book of Mormon from the gold plates.   His account of translating the words of Jacob in regard to men having more wives gave him pause to wonder why patriarchs in the Old Testament could be approved in doing what Jacob preached against.

Well, long story short, Solomon and others were condemned even the Bible, and according to Jacob God would only give a command to marry more wives under special circumstances.   The Law of Moses in Leviticus commanded the nearest kinsman of a widow, usually a brother, to take the widow as a wife and care for her, and raise up children in the name of the deceased first husband.

Abraham and Isaac would not have been compliant with Jacob's directions in the Book of Mormon, however, because there was no claim of divine direction, but at least Abraham had two children and at least the wives of Isaac quarrelled over giving him children as a sort of contest for his appreciation.....   No mention of any "eternal" marriage concept in any of it.  No mention of God actually directing these people.

Overall, I take the account of Joseph dealing with that question and going to God in prayer as consistent with fact that he was actually translating the words of Jacob, and his conduct suggests to me he was deeply invested in Puritan morals.

I am aware of some accounts and some old customs that prevailed among the Mormons after their arrival in Utah and their going public with the Principle, that first wives were supposed to have a necessary approval of subsequent wives.   It was probably not at the level of "veto power" but more like the LDS are required to sustain church authorities today.  I don't think it is biblical nor in accord with D&C 132, but again a practical accommodation towards early American Puritan values...... and the ideas of people having actual legal rights in marriage......  pretty much coming from the philosophies of Locke and others in the Reformation or Rennaisance....

And, again, "concubines" are a distinctly alien concept to Mormon plural marriage under the Everlasting Covenant as well as nowhere approved withing the text of the Bible.  Just sayin'....

About the closest the Bible comes to that is in Isaiah 4:1, which if you read the whole chapter with understanding, amounts to a curse on Israel both men and women for forsaking the Lord, resulting in a scarcity of men of huge proportions, and a stinging rebuke to the "haughty Daugters of Zion" who really have shamed themselves by disregarding male leadership to that point.




due to the fact that your viewpoint of concubines and Joseph Smith's history must pass through the 'official' modern mormon filter of 'what is true'....

we will disagree.

The contrast of what Joseph Smiths concept of what the church was to be and what it has evolved into is like comparing pearl white to flat black. Anyone that has studied his words and history without the official modern filter have come to the same conclusion which is why many of the official church historians have left the church or have been disfellowshipped or excommunicated.

Their leaving was not because the foundation of the church is not true, but because they found clear evidence that false ideas are being taught.

Joseph Smith didn't spend the last three years of his life under the tutelage of a Jewish Cabalist without reason.

Opening the mind can be dangerous, but it is necessary in the long run.

enjoying the points you are both sharing....


keep it going.    Adon, if you see this what might you have to share?  

Denver Snuffer


was pretty smart too.  Looked to me like more of a "Rigdonite" Mormon, who considered most of those last three years of Joseph Smith teachings "off the rails" or not holding on the "iron rod".  My point is that I know you will have your own point of view regardless of anything I could say.

Why would Joseph Smith need to take tutelage from a Jewish Cabalist if he had such liberal converse with angels like Moroni or Elijah.   Dissing my heretical notions as something colored by the standard LDS filters disregards the specifics of why some information is believed and other extant information is not believed.

It just seems apparent to me that Joseph Smith was an amiable or sociable character who would learn what he could from anyone..... maybe not believing it but listening to understand others.  It also seems apparent to me that he was reluctant to live plural marriage in view of his story about the angel commanding him, and then threatening to destroy him if he didn't..... besides all his public denials couched in legalistic distinctions between "Church" and "Priesthood" or other organizations besides the Church.....

A lot of people will fall for anyone who makes attractive reasons or claims about being somehow in the right in comparison to other, competitor, charlatans.   What causes me to hold on to some of Joseph Smith's teachings is my perception of his character.  Yes the LDS mainstream Church carefully prepares their teachings to avoid if possible whatever problems or controversies they can.  Pretty sure you do the same, as would most people, in polishing up your stand.   The fact is that I as much as the LDS Church am disposed to put more emphasis on the more positive things about him.

I do believe it is necessary to believe in the "Restored Gospel"  or "The Dispensation of the Fullness of Times" as having intrinsically the claim of being better than all the previous dispensations, and to include things that were never given out before.  I mean, if you believe in anything Joseph Smith said,  that has got to be the most critical issue.   So whatever Abraham or Moses did, or even Jesus in the Bible, the claim of Mormonism is that this is a step up.

I do look to the character of Jesus to validate my belief in Him.  Not much different than I do from Joseph.

Far from the examples of the modern LDS offshoot polygamist cults, he taught the people should study a wide variety of topics from all good books, whatever is uplifting and wholesome.  He never made a huge deal about "blind obedience" though he warned some people of the dangers of their course,  citing reasons.  He taught that compulsion or dominion over others was evil and subscribed to the notion that along with whatever truth could be stated, all righteous Priesthood influence must be based of pure love.

Pretty much he wouldn't have discussed reasons to make a caste system among women based on some notion of management or control.  

Pretty much that was the way Jesus was, too.  Look at the example of Lazarus's sisters, Mary and Martha, who were both his wives.  He didn't pit them against one another because Mary just wanted to sit and listen, even though Martha was sweating over the kitchenware and stove, preparing the food.  He was long-suffering, compassionate, and caring for them both, according to their own mind and priorities.  Two wives at two different points in their minds at the moment didn't require regulation to make everyone the same. 

But he did love them and that was the whole basis of his marriages.




I really enjoyed that post.

I am not familiar with Denver Snuffer except that a few people around here have said his name. If he speaks on the subject of Joseph and the Cabalist, I am not aware of it. I learned of it from my own studies.

As far as 'why would Joseph seek tutelage from a man'...that is simple to answer. Because angels, Christ, and God gave him a very small portion of the gospel. As is mentioned, the fullness was never revealed, only the basics. I think the reference for that is in DC section 1.

He was curious. He was a man in search of a better understanding. He did not 'lose track'...he was just beginning to find it. I realize that we differ greatly on that subject...but that will be as it is.

As far as Mary and Martha being Christ's wives, I've found nothing in writing that both of them were his wives. Where did you come across that? You speak of details of how Christ interacted with both of these women, etc as if your words are a proven fact, not just your opinion. Where is this interaction recounted?

I posed the concubine subject not because I thought it was 'right or wrong' but to create a solution for those types of women that simply can not be trusted yet are in dire need of support. They do exist. Just as most men cannot be trusted.

Its just a practical solution. Not a matter of force, and in fact , quite the opposite. it would be by their REQUEST.

thanks again for the response, well thought out.


Christ the polygamist




The early historian Josephus, contemporary with Jesus, said one reason the Jewish oligarchy hated Him was all his women.....  There have been more recent scholars going over things in the Catholic vaults in Rome who have similarly noted documentary evidence that Jesus had several wives, plus some other contemporary sources like the writings of James (his brother) which was not canonized.

You can review the story of how Jesus acted when he heard of Lazarus' illness when Mary and Martha sent word for him to come.  He delayed three days of fasting and prayer, and thanked his Father for hearing his prayers.    When he arrived in Bethany,  Mary and Martha scolded him, lamenting that if he had come sooner, Lazarus would not have died.  Jesus went into the tomb and raised Lazarus from the dead.

How many "friends" or "followers" would blame a stranger for not coming to heal their sick brother, saying "If you'd come sooner, he wouldn't have died."  Yah, they believed in his power to heal, but there is hardly a mortal wife on earth who wouldn't blame a husband for not immediately doing what she asked on a case like this.  They spoke from the moral authority of any wife.

Same thing with the story of Martha's complaining about not having kitchen and household chore help while Mary just lounged around listening to Jesus.    If Jesus had not had husbandly authority, Martha would have directly ordered Mary to come help, rather than complain to a household guest.....

Other points in your interest I'll just have to defer to some other time..... sorry....


interesting tid bits


well, i've read those excerpts 'indicating' such things, with the best source of his being married to Mary was not cited which was found in the Nag Hammadi Scrolls, book of Mary. 'and he kissed her on the mouth'.

you certainly can create the most flowery , verbose locution with added interpolated nuance around even the most vague of speculation.

you have a gift! gold star for you.