12. The story of an angel with a sword telling Joseph he must
practice plural marriage.
As reported here, it is
easy to create false memories without even realizing that you are
doing it. Notice how all the reports of the angel coming to command
Joseph to start plural marriage are many years later and how the
stories change even with the same person.
Lawrence Foster has said:
Accounts of the "angel with a drawn sword" story are
widespread, although manuscript evidence for such a story
apparently does not exist from the period when Joseph Smith was
alive. (Dialogue 9.4 (Winter 1974) p. 32)
Notice that Eliza R. Snow is the only person to mention that it was
a flaming sword and in that account he is not even threatened with
his life or the loss of his priesthood. Also notice that it is only
the latest accounts that start to be specific about when the angel
first appeared to Joseph, with Mary Rollins even making it into a
visit by an angel three times.
One of the foundation principles of heaven is the principle of
agency. Agency is very important to God the Father. He does not
force us to do anything, but gives us
according to our wills. It is the Adversary that uses force
and even suggested force as a useful method for this life.
Also God has outlined the principles of priesthood governance and
God isn't going to violate those same principles.
1 And I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That Satan, whom
thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same
which was from the beginning, and he came before me,
saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will
redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I
will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.
2 But, behold, my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen
from the beginning, said unto me—Father, thy will be done, and the
glory be thine forever.
3 Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought
to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given
him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own
power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should
be cast down;
An author recorded Joseph Smith's recent comments on this subject in
Temporal Dispensations p. 205-218. He also commented in a
41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue
of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by
gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
The Adversary will visit people as an angel of light.
This occurred to Joseph Smith when he was commanded to practice
polygamy or he would be destroyed. This second hand account is
often used to show that Joseph was reluctant, but obedient. In
fact, he cast out the dark spirit in the name of the Lord. . . . A
true messenger doesn’t threaten you in the name of God. Their
light is pale in comparison to an angel from the Throne. Their
words are not uplifting or point to Christ, but often speak to our
comfort, pride, and carnal desires. . . . The account with
the “flaming sword” did occur, but it was a dark angel and Joseph
cast him out. Much different than the narrative that was shared in
church history. PR