JEREMY - My wife recently asked me about Joseph Smith and the 44 wives he had...I think she said 44. I guess she had attended a pageant in Manti Utah and there were some demonstrators portraying these wives....some indicating they were 14 when married to Joseph. I was somewhat caught off guard as I have never heard of anything like this, I always thought his only wife was Emma Smith, and I've been in the church my whole life. Can you shed some light on this.....was it really the case and some explanation of why it may have been done at with such young women.

JOEL - That's ridiculous; Joseph Smith was not married to 44 women....... it was only 34 women :-)
Actually, the exact number is not really known. To be more correct, he was sealed (not married in the earthly sense) to the other women as "Celestial" wives, although they did call them marriages.
These sealings were meant to only have effect in the next life, not this life. The only person to whom he was legally married was Emma. There is no solid evidence that Joseph had any kind of normal marital relations with these other "wives". There are no known offspring from any of the other women he was sealed to. In fact Emma helped choose some of the women he was sealed to. Some women were actually sealed to Joseph Smith after he died.
There were only a couple of the women who were in their teen years. The age ranged from 14 to 58 yrs old, averaging out to about 30 yrs. Aside from this it was very common in those days for the women to marry much younger, many in their teen years.
Some of the sealings to the younger ones were arranged by their parents. They wanted to make sure their daughter was sealed to someone who would make it to the Celestial Kingdom.
Joseph Smith beleived that he was commanded by God to live this principle and that it was a restoration of a doctrine that was instituted with the early prophets of the Old Testament. Of course the principle was further developed when Brigham Young became president and took 20 plural wives, 16 of whom bore him 57 children.
In order to discredit the church, critics like those demonstrators, like to only focus on the few young women he was sealed to in order to shock people into making them think Joseph came up with the idea of plural marriage so he could be with a lot of young women. Consider the source.

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