The episode where Ben and Shiloh have Brian and Laura Hales from JosephSmithsPolygamy.org on to discuss the early theology, doctrine, practice, and controversies surrounding the practice of plural marriage during the early days of the Church. Plural marriage is an incredibly complex piece of Church history that many members both intentionally and unintentionally shun away from, don’t feel confident in their knowledge of, or feel uncomfortable talking about. In this episode, we begin by talking with Brian and Laura why this topic is so emotional and controversial, as the Hales help us understand some of the nuances and history that help us make sense of this early practice.

As stated in this episode, the Hales have provided us a brief bio of their background into the early practice of plural marriage, and they have also offered suggestions for further reading for those who would be interested in learning more. If time is limited, we highly suggest taking a look at the Hales’ website — JosephSmithsPolygamy.org — for reading materials and for audio articles that you can listen to while at home or in the car. The audiocasts are fantastic and very concise, and they are definitely worth your time to check out.

Biography

Brian and Laura Harris Hales are both active members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They have written and spoken widely on the early practice of polygamy.

Brian C. Hales is the author of seven books dealing with Mormon polygamy—most notably the three-volume, Joseph Smith’s Polygamy: History and Theology (Greg Kofford Books, 2013). He has presented at numerous meetings and symposia and published articles in the Journal of Mormon HistoryMormon Historical StudiesDialogue, as well as contributing chapters to The Persistence of Polygamy series.

He served a mission to Venezuela for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and sang with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for fourteen years. He is currently president of the John Whitmer Historical Association.

Brian works as an anesthesiologist and has served as the president of both the Utah Medical Association and the Medical Staff at the Davis Hospital and Medical Center in Layton, Utah.

He has an almost insatiable appetite for both learning and movie theater popcorn. He is also an avid runner and enjoys running half-marathons with his four children and their spouses.

Laura Harris Hales earned a BA in international studies from BYU and an MA in professional writing from New England College. Currently she is the copy editor of Mormon Historical Studies. In 2015, Laura and Brian co-authored Joseph Smith’s Polygamy: Toward a Better Understanding (Kofford Books, 2015).

Recently she compiled an anthology addressing seventeen controversial topics regarding LDS history and doctrine. Chapters are written by leading LDS scholars and are directed toward members of the LDS Church curious about controversial issues (Laura Harris Hales, ed., A Reason for Faith: Navigation LDS Doctrine and History (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2016).

Further Reading

Short biography of Ruth Vose Sayers (eternity-only plural wife of Joseph Smith)

A Woman’s View: Helen Mar Whitney’s Reminiscences of Early Church History (written by Helen Mar Kimball, youngest plural wife of Joseph Smith)

Autobiography of Mary E. Lightner (sealed for eternity to Joseph Smith)

John C. Bennett’s Spiritual Wifery

MormonPolygamyDocuments.org (free database of primary documents)

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