By mid-1843, Joseph Smith’s practice of polygamy was becoming one of Nauvoo’s worst kept secrets. One wonders how Emma Smith, his legal wife, could not have known what the rest of the community was whispering. We do know that by May 1843, she was definitely aware and temporarily supportive of their new marital dynamic. This support didn’t last long and their marriage was in crisis.
It was in this environment that the revelation on celestial marriage was dictated on July 12, 1843. While it promised many wonderful blessings to couples sealed in the new and everlasting covenant of marriage, it also provided for polygamy and censured Emma.