Sex and Prophetic Power : A Comparison of John Humphrey Noyes, Founder of the Oneida Community, with Joseph Smith Jr., the Mormon Prophet
Taysom, Stephen C.
Dimensions of Faith : A Mormon Studies Reader
Salt Lake City
"This essay compares the efforts of John Humphrey Noyes to introduce complex marriage during the late 1840s at Oneida, New York, with the efforts of the Mormon prophet-founder Joseph Smith, Jr., earlier that same decade, to introduce plural marriage in Nauvoo, Illinois. I shall begin with reflections on the relationship between religious and sexual impulses in new religious movements. Then I shall turn to the religious and sexual dynamics in the Oneida Community, presenting new information about the importance of Oneida's sexual system in maintaining group loyalty. Finally, I shall suggest how understanding the way Oneida's unusual sexual system worked may help us make sense of some Joseph Smith's most puzzling actions as he introduced polygamous belief and practice in Mormon Nauvoo." [From author's introduction]