Light increases and darkness decreases beginning a day ago. Today is Joseph Smith’s birthdate. The date is no accident. It symbolizes the reason for his life.

Many people who once held Joseph in high regard now believe he was a pretender and a fraud. His life history has been smothered by lies. In September 1823 an angel explained to him, as Joseph recorded: “He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me and that his name was Nephi, that God had a work for me to do, and that my name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people.” Even the critics spreading lies about his life fulfill the prophecy.

Joseph did not lie to conceal his sins. He did not betray his wife. He respected her, and the correspondence between Emma and Joseph show their devotion to each other. Both of them denied Joseph had other wives. But after his murder many adulterous witnesses who practiced polygamy claimed otherwise. Someone is lying. Either the adulterers lied or Joseph and Emma did. Jeremiah suggests some sins are related: ” they commit adultery, and walk in lies.” Jer. 8:18. Lying and adultery go together.

The life he lived and sacrificed ought to be regarded with a little more sympathy and trust. He earned it. You can download the paper I wrote and listen to the talk I gave on Plural Marriage from this website. And the paper on problems with Mormon History is also available to read. I have considered carefully the subject, and researched it for decades. Joseph Smith was not an adulterer, despite all the poorly supported claims by open adulterers to the contrary.

The inspired prayer offered to repent and return to the Lord included these words about the unrepentant Nauvoo gentiles who never knew Joseph:

The wickedness of the gentile saints dismayed the people of Illinois who had welcomed them, and provoked the anger of their indignant neighbors, who then implemented your judgments against the rebellious saints. The former gentile saints were driven into the wilderness, and relocated into a desolate land, where they suffered hunger, cold, and sickness. In that isolation the gentile leaders were emboldened to openly practice abominations and wrongly teach the people to call them sacraments, as they reigned with blood and horror over the people. Secret murders, open defiance, and the slaughter of over 200 men, women, and children fixed the anger and opposition of the entire United States, who were moved by your will to curtail the barbarism of the gentile saints. Even today the gentile saints justify lying to others as part of their religion, believing you will vindicate them in their dishonesty. They seek deep to hide their counsel from others, and now deny your judgments against their ancestors, claiming you have never rejected them. They have, as you foretold, spoken both good and evil of your prophet Joseph. They ascribe many of their wicked practices to Joseph, who correctly told their ancestors that they never knew him — for indeed, the gentile saints have grown distant from you because of their willful rebellion, pride, foolishness, and blindness. We acknowledge that we must distinguish ourselves from them, admit the errors of the past, and in the depths of humility, seek to be reclaimed as yours. T&C 156:6-7.

As I think on Joseph Smith’s birthdate I think of honor, virtue, sacrifice, humility, fidelity to God, struggles, and martyrdom. It leaves me grateful for his life. I want to speak only good of him, just as the angel Nephi said would happen.