A House of God

Joseph and Hyrum as Husbands and Fathers

David C. Dollahite and E. Jeffrey Hill

David C. Dollahite and E. Jeffrey Hill, “A House of God: Joseph and Hyrum as Husbands and Fathers,” in Joseph and Hyrum—Leading as One, ed. Mark E. Mendenhall, Hal B Gregersen, Jeffrey S. O’Driscoll, Heidi S. Swinton, and Breck England (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2010), 145–64.

Joseph and EmmaJoseph had a profound sense of abiding friendship with Emma. Both worked together to establish and reinforce family values. Righteous Latter-day Saint parents should exert greater efforts to answer the plea of their children to ""lead me, guide me, walk beside me, help me find the way." (A Father's Gift, by Liz Lemon Swindle, courtesy of Foundation Arts, © 1998.)

In 1833 Joseph Smith established the School of the Prophets, which met in the Newel K. Whitney store in Kirtland. As was common at that time, the brethren smoked pipes and chewed tobacco during their meetings. Though a spittoon was in the room, dark saliva would often stain the floor. It was Emma’s responsibility to clean up this mess. When she complained to Joseph, he prayed about the matter and received a revelation: “Tobacco is not for the body, neither for the belly, and is not good for man, but is an herb for bruises and all sick cattle, to be used with judgment and skill” (D&C 89:8). Joseph’s revelation, later known as the Word of Wisdom, also discouraged the use of alcohol and hot drinks.

Because Emma and Joseph counseled together, their family as well as generations of Church members have benefited from the Word of Wisdom. Current research shows that active Latter-day Saints live eight to eleven years longer than others and suffer only 50 percent of the cancer rate of the general population. [1] Additionally, most domestic violence in the world (about 80 percent of wife-beating and 65 percent of child abuse) is done by family members under the influence of alcohol. [2] In a way, the health- and family-saving benefits of the Word of Wisdom are a legacy of Joseph’s and Emma’s practice of shared leadership in the home.

It is noteworthy that in nineteenth-century America, when women held little public power or influence—especially in religious institutions—the leader of the new Church was open to the influence of his wife concerning the behavior of men in a religious setting. In his high calling to lead the new dispensation of the gospel, Joseph Smith nevertheless shared his leadership responsibilities with family members and other trusted counselors, especially with Emma and his devoted brother Hyrum. And Hyrum practiced shared leadership in his home with his wife, Jerusha, and after Jerusha’s death, with Mary Fielding.

Indeed, Joseph’s leadership style was to share power, authority, influence, and decision making as broadly as possible with both men and women, in both public and family settings. From the beginning of the Restoration, Joseph and Emma worked together to build the kingdom of God. Emma drove with Joseph to retrieve the gold plates, served as a key scribe during their translation, moved with him many times to escape persecution and gather with the Saints, and carried out major responsibilities in the Church, including compiling the first Latter-day Saint hymnbook and serving as the first president of the Relief Society.

So that we might learn from their examples, this chapter shows how Joseph, Hyrum, and their wives practiced principles of shared leadership at home. Although fathers are to preside in the home, both husbands and wives are called to lead the family together. “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” [3] teaches that husbands and wives are “equal partners.” The lives of the Smiths are extraordinary illustrations of this grand vision of equal partnership and shared leadership. Although accounts of Hyrum’s home life are rare, we will examine stories about and doctrines taught by both brothers, as well as teachings from other prophets and apostles.

Successful shared leadership in the home means living by these principles:

1. Become of “one heart” through unfeigned love and friendship.

2. Put the marriage and family first.

3. Counsel together to envision and plan.

4. Work together to accomplish a family vision.

5. Celebrate differences by valuing each other’s gifts.

6. Make all important decisions together in humility.

7. Support each other in the varied tasks of life.

1. Become of “One Heart” through Unfeigned Love and Friendship

In 1839, Mary Fielding Smith, who was very ill, accompanied Emma Smith on the arduous journey from Far West to Liberty, Missouri, to visit and minister to their husbands, Hyrum and Joseph, then imprisoned in Liberty Jail. In a letter written from the jail after this visit, Hyrum said to Mary:

Bonds and imprisonments and persecutions are no disgrace to the Saints. It is that that is common in all ages of the world since the day of Adam. . . . The same things produce the same effect in every age of the world. We only want the same patience, the same carefulness, the same guide, the same grace, the same faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. . . . And without this we cannot be saved in the Celestial glory. . . .

Pray for me, my companion. I will pray for you unceasingly as much as I can. I do realize your sufferings. Try to remember your earthly friend. I am your friend. May God have mercy on us. [4]

Like Hyrum, Joseph had a profound sense of abiding friendship with his wife Emma. In a postscript to a letter to Emma from Liberty Jail, Joseph asked Emma, Do you think that my “being cast into prison by the mob of renders [me] less worthy of [your] friendship.” [5] Three years later, when Joseph was facing severe persecution in Nauvoo, he wrote to Emma, “Tongue can not express the gratitude of my heart, for the warm and true-hearted friendship you have manifested in these things toward me.” [6] And a little later he wrote in his journal about meeting Emma while in hiding from the mobs: “Oh! what a co-mingling of thought filled my mind for the moment, again she is here, even in the seventh trouble, undaunted, firm and unwavering, unchangeable, affectionate Emma.” [7]

This “co-mingling” of hearts typifies the kind of oneness spoken of in the scriptures: “The Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and of one mind” (Moses 7:18). Likewise, the friendship between the Smith brothers was legendary. They invited the Saints to call them Brother Joseph and Brother Hyrum, symbolizing a sense of a family oneness within the Church. Both Smith couples opened their homes to family, friends, Saints, and strangers. The constant stream of boarders Joseph experienced moved him to build the Mansion House in Nauvoo to lodge them. Of Hyrum, Jeffrey O’Driscoll observed, “Many who were not related by blood would nevertheless call Hyrum’s residence home and his circle of loved ones family.” [8] Selfless friendship was the cornerstone of their philosophy of leadership.

Effective parents lead their families with one heart and one mind. Sometimes children resist parents’ leadership; if husband and wife are best friends, they are more likely to counsel with each other and support each other at such times. Ideally, parents share leadership responsibilities and develop deep friendships with their children as well as with each other. In the premortal life, our children were equals with us, and in the eternal worlds they will have their own spouses. We are eternal equals, brothers, sisters, and friends with our children, parents, siblings, and so forth. Although we should not turn into “buddies” who fail to discipline our children, as parents we should work toward an eternal friendship with them.

In leading families righteously, Latter-day Saint couples should continually strive to be “equally yoked” in their efforts (2 Corinthians 6:14). In an age when temptations abound, righteous husbands follow the Lord’s commandment to “love thy wife with all thy heart” and “cleave unto her and none else” (D&C 42:22). Righteous husbands and wives resist worldly models of marriage where one spouse dominates the other—or the opposite, where spouses fail to see the difference between the sacred responsibilities of husband and wife.

In summary, shared leadership in the home is more effective if husband and wife are best friends and offer each other emotional support. Even better, a husband and wife who are best friends will reach out and embrace others in the bond of friendship. The relationships of Joseph and Hyrum and their wives illustrate this principle.

2. Put the Marriage and Family First

In 1833 the Prophet was extremely busy gathering, organizing, and leading the infant Church. During this eventful year he received significant revelations: the prophecy on war, the Olive Leaf, [9] and the Word of Wisdom (see D&C 87–89). He organized the First Presidency and prepared an inspired translation of the Old Testament (see D&C 90–92).

Under these pressures, Joseph might have felt justified in setting his family leadership responsibilities on the “back burner” for a time. Still, the Lord expected Joseph to put his family duties at the top of his priority list; indeed, the only time the Lord used the word “rebuke” to chasten the Prophet was when, during this period, he failed to lead in his home and teach his children (see D&C 93:47–48). [10] If the head of the dispensation of the fulness of times was expected to put his family first, surely no less is expected of us.

The Lord taught Joseph that no other responsibilities should get in the way of leading his family. Joseph must have taken this counsel to heart. Although incredibly busy and burdened with leading the Church, Joseph recorded in his journal many days spent with his family or caring for his sick wife, father, or mother. [11] He clearly believed that marriage and family concerns were paramount—even when other important matters pressed on him.

Hyrum also put family first. Mary Ann Stearns, who lived for a time in Hyrum’s home, remembered, “He was very kind in his family . . . but very firm in the principles of his belief.” [12] According to O’Driscoll, Hyrum’s youngest daughter, Martha Ann, described her father as “a loving, kind, and affectionate father who indulged his children almost to a fault.” [13] Even from the distance and distress of his confinement in Liberty Jail, Hyrum focused on his family. He encouraged a daughter in a letter: “Lovina, my child, you must be a good girl and be kind to your mother and to your little brothers and sisters. Be steady and read your book. You may have my small Book of Mormon. You must try to read it through. Pray for your father that the Lord may help him to come home.” [14]

In addition to being of “one heart,” shared leadership means being of “one mind” in leading a family (see Moses 7:18). The best way to be of one mind is to have a common vision of what is most important. In opposing this common vision, Satan is becoming increasingly successful at tempting men, women, and children to place other interests above home and family relationships. Satan will dwell in eternity as an unembodied and unmarried being; the very last thing he wants is more sealed couples with resurrected, perfected bodies creating eternal families.

Thus righteous Latter-day Saint parents should exert even greater efforts to answer the plea of their children to “lead me, guide me, walk beside me, Help me find the way.” As husbands and wives covenant with each other and with the Father and the Son to put family first in their lives—and help children to do the same—children will learn all they need to know to “live with him someday.” [15] Such families grow together and qualify for the transcendent family blessings promised through the Prophet Joseph, even “crowns of eternal lives in the eternal worlds” (D&C 132:55).

To obtain these blessings, the husband and wife need to share the vision of family life portrayed in Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness. After loving and serving God, marriage and family matter most and take precedence over everything else.

3. Counsel Together to Envision and Plan

Joseph and Hyrum Smith saw their parents counsel together about important decisions. After the Smith family moved from Vermont to New York, Joseph Sr. and Lucy held a family council to discuss their future. [16] The brothers followed their parents’ example. For instance, when Hyrum was in charge of raising funds to build the Nauvoo Temple, his wife, Mary, and her sister Mercy came to him with a proposal for the sisters of the Church to donate to the temple fund. When the plan was approved, Mary and Mercy wrote notices for Church periodicals and stored the donations in a box. [17]

Later Church leaders also taught that spouses should counsel together on important issues. President Marion G. Romney taught that husbands and wives “should be one in harmony, respect, and mutual consideration. Neither should plan or follow an independent course of action. They should consult, pray, and decide together. In the management of their homes and families, husbands and wives should counsel with each other in kindness, love, patience, and understanding.” [18]

President Howard W. Hunter stated, “The Lord intended that the wife be . . . [a] companion equal and necessary in full partnership.” [19] About the proper relationship between husbands and wives, President Harold B. Lee said: “I fear some husbands have interpreted erroneously the statement that the husband is to be the head of the house and that his wife is to obey the law of her husband. Brigham Young’s instruction to husbands was this: ‘Let the husband and father learn to bend his will to the will of his God, and then instruct his [wife] and children in this lesson of self-government by his example as well as by precept.’” [20]

God’s plan is about uniting people together eternally, which leads to their greatest joys. Therefore, leadership in God’s plan is to help others grow closer to God and to each other. According to this plan, no one carries the full weight of leadership alone.

The couple council is the presiding council in a family; husband and wife share the burdens of leading the family to God. [21] An eternal family begins as husband and wife face each other holding hands in a sacred place. Ideally, they continue to see eye to eye and join hands in leading their family through life. Although sometimes it cannot be avoided, it is not good for a man or woman to be alone in family leadership.

In the Lord’s plan, many important acts are done in companionships or as groups—marriage, missionary work, home and visiting teaching, blessing the sacrament, anointing the sick, and temple work. There are always at least two witnesses to sacred ordinances. It is the same in family life. Latter-day Saint husbands and wives are by each other’s side in leading the family as equal partners. While the father presides as patriarch of the family, both mother and father are present, involved, active, and attentive in leading family scripture study, family prayer, family home evening, and other family activities. [22] The mother presides if there is no father in the home.

Interestingly, Lehi taught, “Men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25; emphasis added), not “man is, that he might have joy.” In other words, God’s plan is a family, group, community, or relational plan. By contrast, Satan’s plan is that man might be miserable—to leave people single, individual, and alone that he might “lead their souls to destruction” (D&C 10:22) and lead them “carefully down to hell” (2 Nephi 28:21). He delights in dividing and conquering family members so he can have power over them. Wicked leadership divides men from men, men from women, women from women, husbands from wives, and parents from children. On the other hand, righteous leadership bridges the gaps between people, helping them to create Zion in their homes and communities.

4. Work Together to Accomplish a Family Vision

Jesse Crosby, an early Latter-day Saint, observed this about Joseph Smith: “Some of the home habits of the Prophet—such as building kitchen fires, carrying out ashes, carrying in wood and water, assisting in the care of children, etc.—were not in accord with my idea of a great man’s self-respect.” So Brother Crosby gave Joseph what he called “corrective advice,” telling him that such work was “too terrible a humiliation, for you are the head, and you should not do it.” Joseph responded, “If there be humiliation in a man’s house, who but the head of that house should or could bear that humiliation?” [23] About Joseph’s humble ways at home, Edward Tullidge said, “His expansive mind grasped the great plan of salvation, and solved the mystic problem of man’s destiny; he was in possession of keys that unlocked the past and the future, with its successions of eternities; yet in his devotions he was as humble as a little child. Three times a day he had family worship; and these precious seasons of sacred household service truly seemed a foretaste of celestial happiness.” [24]

In keeping with the Prophet’s example, President Boyd K. Packer taught, “There is no task, however menial, connected with the care of babies, the nurturing of children, or with the maintenance of the home that is not [a husband’s] equal obligation.” [25] And President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “Marriage, in its truest sense, is a partnership of equals, with neither exercising dominion over the other, but, rather, with each encouraging and assisting the other in whatever responsibilities and aspirations he or she might have.” [26]

As Joseph’s example shows, some of the best opportunities for developing family relationships come from working together at routine chores. As parents and children follow Joseph’s example and work together at everyday tasks—cleaning, cooking, yard work—family members grow closer to one another. In this time and space created by working together, the sacred purposes of life are fulfilled as eternal family relationships mature. [27]

5. Celebrate Differences by Valuing Each Other’s Gifts

Expressing his loving admiration for Joseph Smith, an early Church member named John Needham added of Joseph’s brother, “Hyr[u]m is a much milder man in his manners, more precise, a man of God, and has the confidence of the faithful.” [28] Another observer, Rachel Grant, said that Joseph “was always cheerful and happy whenever he would come out. He was different in that respect from Brother Hyrum, who was more sedate, more serious. I thought at the time Hyrum seemed more like a Prophet than Joseph did. . . . You see there was a great deal of sectarianism about me.” [29]

Joseph and Hyrum were alike in their loyalty to the restored gospel and their love of the Saints, but they differed in many ways. Joseph was a prophet; prophets have visions and point people to God. Hyrum was a patriarch; patriarchs bless people with knowledge of God’s specific plans for them. A prophet brings revelations to guide the people of God; a patriarch brings divine guidance to the heart and mind of an individual. Where Joseph was visionary, Hyrum was more of an implementer. He was a key instrument in putting his brother’s revelations into practice and building the Church. Both roles were important.

In sharing leadership, father and mother should celebrate each other’s differences. Each has individual gifts. Each complements the other. Like Joseph and Hyrum, one parent might be competent at envisioning, while the other more gifted at implementing. Ideally, both parents respect the other’s gifts or skills and learn to capitalize on the strengths of the other. While united in their vision and in their principles, each parent leads out in his or her own way.

6. Make All Important Decisions Together in Humility

In stark contrast to the elder brothers of Joseph of Egypt and to Nephi’s older brothers, Laman and Lemuel, who rejected their younger visionary brothers, Hyrum believed in his younger brother’s visions and humbly supported Joseph in his ministry. [30] Through twenty-four years of persecution and trials, from the First Vision in 1820 to their joint martyrdom in 1844, Hyrum and Joseph were united in the ministry. Even though Hyrum was older and may have been more wise, humble, and mature, he honored Joseph as called of God to lead the Church. Indeed, in some ways Hyrum was a mortal type of our Elder Brother Jesus Christ in his unfailing support and encouragement of his younger brother. Furthermore, unlike many fathers and sons in scripture who were at odds with each other, Joseph and Hyrum maintained close ties with their father.

The scriptures show that pride-based conflict between brothers and between fathers and sons has marred the family relationships of God’s covenant people in many dispensations. Lucifer’s rebellion against the decisions of the premortal council resulted in an eternal estrangement between Lucifer and his brother Jehovah and others who accepted the Father’s plan. Since that time, “the accuser of our brethren” (Revelation 12:10) has sown division among God’s children,—especially his male children. Under Lucifer’s influence, Cain killed his brother Abel; Jacob and Esau endured decades of distance; Joseph’s brothers sought to kill him and then sold him; and Laman and Lemuel sought Nephi’s life.

President Howard W. Hunter wrote, “Presiding in righteousness necessitates a shared responsibility between husband and wife; together you act with knowledge and participation in all family matters.” [31] Shared family leadership means deciding all important matters together in humility. Decisions are made in a humble spirit of honoring agency, facilitating growth, bridging conflicts, forgiving, and healing.

Humility is the essential attribute of those who would successfully practice shared leadership in the home. To be a good leader, one must know how to be a humble follower. Likewise, to be a good parent, one strives to be a humble child—of God and of one’s own parents.

President Packer taught, “In the Church, there is a distinct line of authority. We serve where called by those who preside over us. In the home it is a partnership with husband and wife equally yoked together, sharing in decisions, always working together.” [32] Leadership in the family is different from leadership in other institutions. We cannot simply take leadership concepts from corporate models and apply them in the home. Unfortunately, too often we try to overlay on the family the principles of leadership practiced in business, church, or other settings. However, these leadership models do not always fit well in the family.

The righteous family is the great, original paradigmatic leadership model. The Eternal Father uses a council approach to leadership. The Grand Council of Heaven was a family council presided over by our Eternal Father; in the same way, our Church council system is based on an eternal family model—not the other way around. We must learn from our Eternal Father how he leads his family and then apply those principles in leading our own families.

Joseph and HyrumJoseph and Hyrum were given a number of sacred leadership roles. In all of these varied roles they supported each other. (Joseph and Hyrum Smith, about 1842, reproduction based on an early David Rogers image, Church History Library.)

7. Support Each Other in the Varied Tasks of Life

Joseph and Hyrum were given a number of sacred leadership roles. Both were prophets, seers, and revelators; both held the priesthood; both were temple builders; and both were martyrs for the faith. Joseph was President and Hyrum was Assistant President of the Church. Joseph was a translator and Hyrum was a patriarch. In all of these varied roles they supported one another. In many ways, parents have similar leadership roles at home.

Prophet. A prophet teaches profound truths of the gospel revealed by the Lord. Parents teach their children these principles and support each other in their efforts to do so.

Seer. Joseph the Seer gave the Saints a view of what was to come in the last days. Based on their knowledge and testimony of the prophets and the scriptures, parents open up to their children their own glorious future if they receive sacred ordinances and covenants and serve the Lord throughout their lives.

Revelator. Joseph in revelations and Hyrum in patriarchal blessings revealed the instructions of God to the Saints. Parents lead their children together in obeying the commandments of God that will lead to their eternal happiness.

Priest. Joseph and Hyrum used the holy priesthood to build up the kingdom of God. A holder of the priesthood represents God in administering saving ordinances to others. Likewise, parents represent God to their children. Fathers bless their children by virtue of the priesthood, and both parents work together to ensure that children receive the saving ordinances available to them.

Patriarch. Hyrum followed his father, Joseph Smith Sr., as Patriarch of the Church, thus blessing the Saints with knowledge of their lineages, their gifts, and their destinies. Likewise, parents lead their children to a knowledge of their heritage and a vision of their glorious futures. They ensure that children receive patriarchal blessings. They help children understand their family history and develop a desire to do saving ordinance work for their ancestors.

President. Joseph was President of the Church and Hyrum was Assistant President. They sustained and supported each other in these sacred responsibilities, together ensuring that the Church was well organized to achieve its purposes. Effective parents together lead “a house of order” (D&C 88:119) that is well organized to fulfill its sacred, eternal mission. Fathers preside in their families, and mothers preside when the father is not in the home. Both work together to establish and reinforce family rules in keeping with righteous principles.

Translator. Joseph translated ancient scripture for the benefit of God’s children. Hyrum supported and assisted in this work and helped to publish the Book of Mormon. Children need help to understand what the scriptures mean for them; parents can “translate” important ideas and stories from the scriptures for the benefit of their children. Parents lead their children to a proper understanding of scripture by teaching them in their own language and in ways appropriate to age, personality, and interests.

Temple builder. Joseph and Hyrum devoted great time and resources to temple building. Parents can together build a “house of God” in their homes—a house of prayer, fasting, faith, learning, glory, order—“a house of God” (D&C 88:119). Parents lead out in attending the temple, taking their children to the temple, and building their lives around temple truths and covenants.

Record keeper. The Lord commanded Joseph to keep sacred records (see D&C 20:81–83), including Church and family histories. Parents lead by example in the creation of personal and family records. They help their children learn the joys of writing a personal history and teach them how to record their spiritual experiences.

Martyr. Both Joseph and Hyrum were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice and die for their work and for God. Hyrum remained faithful and loyal through the darkest trials Joseph faced. Although Joseph urged Hyrum to save himself by not going with him to Carthage Jail, Hyrum refused to leave his brother, even though he knew he would die with him. [33] Parents cheerfully sacrifice their own time, energy, convenience, comfort, well-being, and even safety in leading and protecting their children and spouses.

As parents together lead and serve their children in the ways Joseph and Hyrum led and served the Saints, their children will be blessed eternally.

Living the Vision of Shared Leadership in the Home

Clearly, the first families of the last dispensation enjoyed extraordinarily strong relationships among parents, children, siblings, and spouses. Although Joseph and Hyrum and their wives endured unrelenting persecution, stress, dislocations, poverty, death of children, and many other challenges, they remained firmly devoted to each other. The Lord gave us great models of shared leadership in the Smith families. The Joseph Smith Sr. family held model family councils. Joseph, Hyrum, and their wives provide model examples of shared leadership in the home. Joseph and Hyrum were models of shared leadership in the Church. Much can be learned by careful study of these relationships.

Satan’s attacks on marriage and the family as the fundamental unit of earthly society and eternal exaltation will only increase. Lucifer’s efforts to divide parents from children, brothers from brothers, and husbands from wives will continue unabated until the Savior returns. In the same way that Satan successfully divided the hosts of heaven, he seems now to have turned his attention to dividing men and women, husbands and wives from each other. The so-called “battle of the sexes” has led to the ever-growing problems of increased sex before marriage, unwillingness to marry, serial cohabitation, and divorce, as well as rape, prostitution, sexual slavery, and domestic violence.

Eternal leadership is family leadership. We came from Heavenly Father’s family and will live as families in eternity if we put marriage and family ahead of all earthly things. The prophets are here to teach us how to lead our families in the face of Satan’s distractions. The Church is here to help us learn how to become like our Eternal Father, who leads his children to exaltation and eternal life; and like the Savior, who said, “I am the same that leadeth men to all good” (Ether 4:12). Many of us will be leaders in the Church, in business, or in the community—ideally, even in those roles we will put the family first and help those we work with to do the same. In this way we will facilitate eternal life in the families of those we work and serve with, thus fulfilling the promise that the Abrahamic covenant would be a blessing to all the families of the earth (see Genesis 12:3).

The Prophet Joseph Smith practiced shared leadership to the very end of his life and ministry. When the time came to decide to go to Carthage, Joseph sought counsel from Emma and from Hyrum as he had done so many times before. After receiving word that Emma thought he should go, he turned to Hyrum: “‘Brother Hyrum, you are the oldest, what shall we do?’ Hyrum replied: ‘Let us go back and give ourselves up, and see the thing out.’ After deep reflection, the Prophet declared: ‘If you go back I will go with you, but we shall be butchered.’ Hyrum closed the solemn council by saying: ‘If we live or die, we will be reconciled to our fate.’” [34]

Joseph knew he would not return from Carthage; he said, “I am going like a lamb to the slaughter” (D&C 135:4). However, he also knew his life was in the hands of the Lord (see D&C 122:9), and he was willing to die if that was God’s will. It is a model for all Latter-day Saints that, even under the most challenging and stressful circumstances, Joseph sought counsel from family members closest to him.

The deep loyalty of Hyrum for Joseph was never manifest more profoundly than at this time. He was willing to die with Joseph. If husbands and wives showed this same type of loyalty to their spouses (see Ephesians 5:25), there would be no infidelity in marriage and far fewer divorces. If parents showed this kind of loyalty to their children, there would be no children neglected or abandoned by parents. If children showed this kind of loyalty to their mothers and fathers, there would be far fewer heartbroken parents and lonely grandparents. By following the example of the two noble brothers the Lord called to lead this final dispensation of the gospel, we will be better able to keep the sacred covenants revealed through them.


[1] James E. Enstrom, “Cancer and Total Mortality among Active Mormons,” Cancer 42, no. 4 (1978): 1943–51.

[2] See Merrill Youkeles and William R. Burger, Human Services in Contemporary America (New York: Wadsworth, 2003), 262.

[3] “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, November 1995, 102.

[4] Hyrum Smith to Mary Fielding Smith, Quincy, Illinois, ca. 1839, Church History Library, quoted in Jeffrey S. O’Driscoll, Hyrum Smith: A Life of Integrity (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2003), 193.

[5] Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, ed. and comp. Dean C. Jessee, rev. ed. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2002), 449.

[6] Joseph Smith to Emma Smith, August 16, 1842, in The Papers of Joseph Smith, ed. Dean C. Jessee (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1992), 2:429.

[7] Joseph Smith, journal, August 16, 1842, in Papers of Joseph Smith, 2:416.

[8] O’Driscoll, Hyrum Smith, 29.

[9] Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ed. B. H. Roberts, 2nd ed. rev. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1980), 1:316.

[10] See Boyd K. Packer, “Parents in Zion,” Ensign, November 1998, 22. It is worth noting that each member of the First Presidency was similarly chastened (see D&C 93:41–46), indicating the prevalence of the problem and the uniformity of the Lord’s counsel to his leaders.

[11] Smith, History of the Church. The specific references are with his wife and children (2:45, 297–98, 345; 5:92, 182, 265, 290, 307, 360; 6:170, 326), with his sick wife (5:166–69, 182), with his sick father (2:288–89, 290), and with his sick mother (5:290, 298; 6:65).

[12] Mary Ann Stearns. Winters, reminiscences, 2–3, Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, quoted in O’Driscoll, Hyrum Smith, 149.

[13] O’Driscoll, Hyrum Smith, 315.

[14] Hyrum Smith to Sister Brinnals, March 16, 1839, Brigham Young University Special Collections, Provo, Utah, quoted in O’Driscoll, Hyrum Smith, 198–99.

[15] Naomi W. Randall, “I Am a Child of God,” Hymns (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1985), no. 301; emphasis added.

[16] O’Driscoll, Hyrum Smith, 13–14.

[17] O’Driscoll, Hyrum Smith, 311–12.

[18] Marion G. Romney, “In the Image of God.” Ensign, March 1978, 2.

[19] Howard W. Hunter, “Being a Righteous Husband and Father,” Ensign, November 1994, 51.

[20] The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996), 250.

[21] M. Russell Ballard, Counseling with our Councils: Learning to Minister Together in the Church and in the Family (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2003), 147–60.

[22] For further discussion see E. Jeffrey Hill and David C. Dollahite, “Faithful Fathering,” in Helping and Healing Our Families: Principles and Practices Inspired by “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” ed. Craig H. Hart, Lloyd D. Newell, Elaine Walton, and David C. Dollahite, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2005), 167–71.

[23] Cited in Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, They Knew the Prophet: Personal Accounts from over 100 People Who Knew Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1999), 145.

[24] Edward W. Tullidge, The Women of Mormondom (New York: Tullidge & Crandall, 1877), 66.

[25] Boyd K. Packer, “A Tribute to Women,” Ensign, July 1989, 75.

[26] Gordon B. Hinckley, “I Believe,” Ensign, August 1992, 6.

[27] See Shirley R. Klein and E. Jeffrey Hill, eds., Creating Home As a Sacred Center: Principles for Everyday Living (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 2005).

[28] “Letter from Nauvoo,” Latter-day Saint Millennial Star, October 1843, 88, quoted in O’Driscoll, Hyrum Smith, 15.

[29] Rachel Grant, “Joseph Smith, the Prophet,” Young Woman’s Journal, December 1905, 548–58, quoted in O’Driscoll, Hyrum Smith, 15.

[30] O’Driscoll, Hyrum Smith, 19–20.

[31] Hunter, “Being a Righteous Husband and Father,” 51.

[32] Boyd K. Packer, “The Relief Society,” Ensign, May 1998, 73.

[33] O’Driscoll, Hyrum Smith, 346.

[34] E. Cecil McGavin, Nauvoo the Beautiful (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1972), 119.