The July visiting teaching message, “Strengthening Families and Homes” quotes Joseph Smith telling Relief Society sisters, “When you go home, never give a cross or unkind word to your husbands, but let kindness, charity and love crown your works henceforward.”
Now, I’m not too fond of advice like that even from a prophet—and if George said something like that to me, I’d go ballistic. Can you imagine what Emma’s life must have been like? Every time she disagreed with Joseph—and she had plenty to disagree about—he could receive a revelation to put her in her place.
Of course, I wouldn’t have objected to George bringing abandoned women home to help with the housework—unless he proposed to marry them. Then no revelation would have saved him.
Had Emma left Joseph during the Nauvoo years when he was teaching, practicing, and denying plural marriage, the Church likely would have foundered. But Emma stayed—although her parents would have taken her and the children in.
And what was Emma’s reward for standing by Joseph through persecution, poverty, and polygamy? She was widowed and left to run a boarding house to support herself, their children, and her mother-in-law, Lucy Mack Smith. She remarried and her second husband philandered and brought her an illegitimate child to raise. Emma’s reward for being a faithful, dutiful wife makes me wonder what the punishment would have been had her devotion to Joseph faltered.