April 11th, 2008
08:43 PM ET

The Polygamist way of life

Editor's note: Joe X is a polygamist living in Utah. He has three wives and 22 children. We asked him about his way of life: 

I was born into a fundamentalist Mormon culture, meaning I grew up in a polygamous household. I had 4 mothers and 18 siblings. I did not grow up with an expectation that I would live that way.


Vicki, seen here, is one of Joe's three wives

I went to public school and was exposed to other points of view.  My first wife had grown up in a polygamous family as well and after a lot of personal reflection we decided it was a calling for us.

Our second wife showed interest in coming into our family.  She was working with my first wife and they developed a friendship.  You have to get your wife’s input and approval before a plural marriage happens.  It’s a family, and the family has to come first.  She wasn’t just marrying me she was marrying my wife and I.

My experience is very different from life in the polygamist Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints, or FLDS.  My wives have chosen to marry me, they were not forced into it.  The abuse that is alleged to be happening in Warren Jeffs’ polygamous sect is inexcusable and, if it’s true, is not representative of the lifestyle and principle I believe in. 

– Joe "X" 

Editor's note: Joe X has asked us to not identify his last name because polygamy is illegal.  His wives Vicki and Valerie will be on AC360 Friday night at 10p ET.

Filed under: Polygamy
soundoff (85 Responses)
  1. jonathon cureton

    Something is incredibly wrong with those people. The lady who gave the interview (Mrs. Jessop) She said her daughter who is 18 years old has a 10 month old child, and we know that it takes 9 months for gestation.THAT MAKES HER DAUGHTER 16 WHEN HAD SEX AND BECAME PREGNANT. PROBABLY BY A GROWN MAN AND POSSIBLY HER HUSBAND. ISNT THAT STATUTORY RAPE! Isnt stautory rape a crime in this country! your show has an obligation to turn this info over to the authorities. I guess her degree forgot to teach Mrs Jessup about following the law.

    Jon Cureton

    April 15, 2008 at 1:40 pm |
  2. dave

    Camille, Rebecca, Lynn, Kristen and Dr. Rex A. Richards,

    I can understand why you are unhappy about the LDS temple appearing in the background as it may give the LDS church a bad image. But how can you distance the LDS church from the controversy at hand when polygamy is still an integral part if its doctrine? Although polygamy is no longer allowed in the physical world, they do believe polygamous relationships will convene in the afterlife, when worthy members become gods in the Celestial Kingdom (i.e. Mormon heaven). This is key to their faith, along with other things like human sacrifice, white supremacy and the worship of Lucifer. The only reason the LDS church stopped practicing polygamy in the physical realm is because the U.S. govt. threatened to deny Utah official statehood if they continued this behavior. But unfortunately certain LDS leaders continued practicing polygamy AFTER the supposed “commandment” to banish the practice. I come from an LDS family and my grandma’s stepfather had two wives. The church did not punish him for this because he was a high-ranking member and knew the right people. We have a photo of him standing on the steps of the Salt Lake Temple. Does that offend you also? It certainly didn’t offend church authorities as he was never excommunicated. If you do some research you’ll see this is not an isolated incident. Another relevant fact is that the LDS church believes Jesus Christ had multiple wives. Does this bother you as much as Joe X does? And what about Brigham Young commanding his followers to inbreed with their own kin?

    April 15, 2008 at 6:53 am |
  3. Clint Nulle

    Do you think that the Pringle, SD compound be raided like other states??? I work for an ABC affiliate here in Rapid City and was wondering what the situation is like there. Have been there only once and very scarey place in that area, don't have cell phone service and have heard that they did have guns when Warren was in the area and wouldn't let utility people go in that area.

    April 15, 2008 at 2:24 am |
  4. Sally

    My post clearly express abhorence of what is coming out in the news and I find Joe X and his wives on TV and their story an insult to my intelligence. Maybe they believe their own lies, maybe they fool themselves but they do not fool me. Their is nothing normal about this . And it is not part of christian religion . If they want to say,hey we are a group of people who want to live together and have sex with each other ,the more the merrier .Okay ,thats what it is.But don't say it is a family .Don't say That it is a part of Christain religion because what they do is condemed by Jesus . He called it "Adultery" . And he called people who live lies "Hypocrites"

    April 15, 2008 at 1:41 am |
  5. Sally

    About the recent shows on 360, my question:

    I’m wondering where are the men in this group. What do they run and hide when the law or reporters come around. If what they are doing is honest ,good and decent why hide behind the skirts of women? Why are the women defending a way of life imposed on them by men? Why do they have to hide in a compound??? If they are living the true religion then why don’t they preach it like Jesus did, why do they hide under a rock in the desert? Because they have got a secret to hide . They oppress women and children. They are so ashamed they even hide the truth from themselves. They have put a holy name to a most unholy crime,they are “Sexual pretators” .

    April 15, 2008 at 1:28 am |
  6. enro

    Mike D of Utica NY
    Mike, before you spout off on a national blog, you might want to get the facts in better order. One really good way to do that is to talk with the LDS (nickname~Mormon) missionaries in your area. Check the phone book. You probably look like a reasonably intelligent guy, and then you open your mouth (or blog) and are exposed as ill informed. Sad to see. Polygamy has been outlawed since 1890~that's right~ 1890!! (right up there with button hooks and bustles!) and most people that are paying attention know that. Those that choose the life style do so illegally and need to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law as it exists. As far as the FLDS group in TX; marrying 13 year old girls to older men is also against the TX law, I'd suppose, and they are going to correctly arrest those found guilty. I believe young marriages for girls are prevalent in other parts of the country, though I can't site specific states. Appalachia?
    For the sake of the TX law enforcement, I surely hope, with all this TV coverage, they have their facts straight or they'll be paying Warren Jeffs and his group millions of bucks. Has the ear marks of an emotional and impassioned raid that may have been done in haste. It is rare indeed to separate children from their mothers.
    Many men world wide have a sexual obsession with children. My personal solution is to castrate the lot. A bit unpopular, I'm sure.
    The marriage laws are a mockery, there is no doubt about that. It's not uncommon to read~fact and even fiction~about a man who has kept two families, one in one part of the world, one in another, and the mess of sorting it all out falls to the survivors when he dies. Points to divorce courts that are overwhelmed with adulterous spouses causing pain and suffering to families as they romp through life unchecked.
    Thank you Rev Richards for requesting the press (as usual half informed) take the LDS Temple in Salt Lake City out of the backdrop. That is an insult of the first water to the LDS Church. What ridiculous reporting! Confirms my not taking papers, news magazines and rarely listening the news broadcasts. They just don't fully research the stories and usually get it wrong. Nice try, but no cigar. I have only stories with personal ramifications to judge, but just shake my head when I see the results. Reported for shock value~ period. When they are called on their mistakes, check page 6 in the small print!

    April 15, 2008 at 1:11 am |
  7. Bart

    How is polygamy any different than the average 35-year-old man sleeping with a 30-year-old woman, she becomes pregnant and He leaves the relationship(Breaking Up) only to impregnate another woman 5 months later, and this happens over and over again. The Man has had more than one woman bear his children, but does not continue the relationship with any of the impregnated women. Is this Not polygamy?
    This happens over and over again throughout the world, even in America.

    April 15, 2008 at 12:58 am |
  8. Mary B

    Track the children and their families with the paperwork trail from the welfare & foodstamps that we are paying for with our taxes! The mothers of these children have to give dates of birth to receive government aid – then you should be able to see how old these children are that are being forced to marry and have babies so the cycle can continue. Using religion to abuse women and children has gone on for centuries. But you can't say it is freedom of religion if you are locked in a compound & have no choice of who or when you marry. This is not religion – it is a cult and if justice is denied for these children due to a technicality, then we will all be responsible for their welfare and raising for generations to come!

    April 15, 2008 at 12:21 am |
  9. James D. Van Zandt

    Try as i might, all i see is everyone critisising the polygamist religeon!
    No one is looking at the constitution nor the bill of rights! It says we cannot discriminate against religeon! it does not say religeon must be acceptable to current society! It merely states we cannot discriminate on that basis! Fingers keep pointing to the religeon and the children, but not one organisation is looking at the rights! I am not a poligamist! But i respect their right to interprit their bible their way; and wonder how long it will be before i am discriminated against for having a saturday sabath???

    April 14, 2008 at 11:48 pm |
  10. Lou

    Polygamy is against the law. Therefore, it shouldn't take place. My understanding is that in these communities only one marriage is legal and multiple wives can claim aid to dependent children. If this is the case then all taxpayers are paying for the families to stay together. Doesn't seem fair.

    April 14, 2008 at 10:55 pm |
  11. Erica

    "How do you justify the fact that your husband’s taking more than one wife left some other man unable to find any?"

    How can you justify this statement which suggests that women are some kind of scarce good that needs to be rationed?

    April 14, 2008 at 10:29 pm |
  12. Erica

    This should be labeled more specifically as "polygyny." From what I understand, women aren't permitted to have multiple husbands. Calling it polygamy doesn't acknowledge this.

    In my opinion allowing polygyny isn't justified unless polyandry also is allowed.

    April 14, 2008 at 10:26 pm |
  13. Slater

    Wow, this is so unbelievable it is almost comical. Is this guy for real?

    I love the way some criminals rationalize committing crimes using religion as a shield.

    Clearly this goes on in this country because some women are still so riddled by low self esteem that they cannot help themselves.

    This sounds to me like something you would read about in Forum Magazine – a threesome with a license to get busy.

    April 14, 2008 at 4:15 pm |
  14. Allyson

    So I don't think it only takes a rocket scientist or someone who is equally as brilliant to understand that God is in favor of ONLY monogamous marital relationships. God is in favor of that in scripture regardless of the wording! Don't think that the Bible only has to say "a man can't marry more than one woman". For instance, Genesis 2:24 states" For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh." Explanation: God only permits monogamous marital relationships. Yes, polygamy was permitted in the times of the Old Testament . However, that was permitted in a specific historical context. That historical context is not equivalent with our current context in this nation.

    Not only does God not allow polygamy...think about the pathopsychological effects it has one the multiple wives and children...

    April 14, 2008 at 3:56 pm |
  15. Cheryl in Texas

    Please ask these people when they appear on the show how they are supporting their family of 25. I'm curious to know if they too are abusing welfare programs like other polygamist families.

    April 14, 2008 at 3:49 pm |
  16. John

    This is just a comment on how they (Texas) are handling the removal of women and kids. They should have left the woman and kids at the ranch and removed all the men. The cost to Texas must be staggering. I am sure that most of the women were running the ranch anyway, they would probably feel more comfortable being in their own environment. If I am not mistaken didn’t they have millions in the bank, give it to the women and kids. Then arrest all the men for being pedophiles.

    April 14, 2008 at 3:43 pm |
  17. Debi

    Why only two of your "happy and willing " Stepford wives ? Where are you hiding the other two? Probably giving birth to the next round of babies. I really want to know how much PUBLIC money all of you are collecting – there can't be too many job opportunities in your happy compound!

    April 14, 2008 at 1:53 pm |
  18. Taj

    Joe"X" you are a good man. Are you working & supporting 4 wives? Any of your wives work to support the family? Do they get jealous of each other any time? I do not know how you people manage many wives & so many kids. It is hard enough for me even to support one. May be their needs are minimal. What do you think about Polyandre.
    Polygamy & polyandre goes back 4000 years or more in all cultures. There was nothing wrong in those days. I do not know why people make a big deal of Polygamy, polyandre, gays & lesbians. These relationships well culivated are OK in God's eyes.

    April 14, 2008 at 1:48 pm |
  19. kitty

    Joe, I am curious that you or nobody else answered Judy's point about lost boys. How do you justify the fact that your husband's taking more than one wife left some other man unable to find any? This may not be a problem as long as there are very few families like yours but if a lot of people in a community were to follow your example, a lot of boys would have to leave their homes and search elsewhere.

    There are equal numbers of boys and girls born in the world. Actually, I think there is a slightly higher chance of a boy, but boys have higher mortality. Maybe in the old times when more kids died in infancy the ratio was different. Also, in old times a lot more men died in the wars. Some men were drafted into the army for many years, in some places – decades. This is not the case today.

    April 14, 2008 at 1:29 pm |
  20. Jamila. B

    SICK .. I'm sorry religion or no religion.... How can you take an innocent 13 year olds and make her marry and sleep with a 50 or 60 year old man.... THAT'S SICK.

    April 14, 2008 at 1:16 pm |
  21. Christine

    Many are questioning how he supports so many children. This is easy. Legally he is only married to one wife, all the others are (in the eyes of the law) single women with children. They are the true welfare queens. I hope they all don't forget to thank the taxpayers because it's really not the Lord who is supporting them.

    April 14, 2008 at 12:24 pm |
  22. Anthony Jones

    Dear X, sorry to inform u but all unrighteousness is sin and all sinners shall be cast down in the white throne judgment and u should know this since you are a christian and u believe in the bible. Ask yourself sometimes "did Jesus do this" andif he didn't chances are because it would of been wrong. Christians are christ like ppl we could never be the Christ but we should strive daily to be like him. He had no wife let alone wives.

    April 14, 2008 at 11:09 am |
  23. chio

    you know,we can decide to do with ourselves on this planet what we like.The history of humanity is that of man always trying do whatever pleases him. But no matter what we think,say or do, God's law does not change and it is written in our hearts.We can choose to ignore it, we often do anyway, but it doesn't change the fact that it is there. Whether u are against or for polygamy,gay,etc does not count.Man will always do what he likes. The real issue in this case is that this particular society does not recognise polygamy.I guess that is why iy is news.

    April 14, 2008 at 8:44 am |
  24. greg

    Well, as long as he says both women agreed and love the arraignment, then it must be so. Right?

    I mean, we're not talking about a culture where Women are kept in their place and Men are the "head" of the household or anything like that. It's not as though Women are being taught from birth that their decision is whatever the head of the household (Must be a man) decides. Right? I mean, look at how many Women are in leadership positions in the church. Oh yeah, they aren't allowed to lead anything but the kids in doing the chores.

    Some of you should really become more educated it this culture before you make judgments about it.

    April 14, 2008 at 5:33 am |
  25. Ben M

    I find it interesting that no one will even acknowledge the obvious question of why, if it's OK for a man to have numerous wives, it's not OK for a woman to have numerous husbands. The reason is because this lifestyle is about one thing: Domination and control of women, starting when they are still little girls. That's it. Of course, some women are happy being dominated and controlled. That doesn't make it right.

    April 14, 2008 at 2:24 am |
  26. mike d utica ny

    First of all the mormons use the teachings of the old testament to say it is ok to have multiple wives. But they also say they believe in Jesus. The fact is that Jesus said we are to be the husband of one wife. The teachings and life style of Joseph Smith have been a problem for women ever since he had his visit by the demon spirit that he said was an angel. The fact that the mormons like to quote scripture means nothing. They do not understand the truth of the bible for if they did they would know that the bible tells us not to listen to another teaching whether it comes from man or an angel for when we do we are cursed. I guess the proof of the curse fell on Joseph Smith when disobeyed the Godly laws the world had instituted about single marriage that the bible says we are to obey

    April 13, 2008 at 4:12 am |
  27. Al Dawson

    I wonder about Sentor Clinton's ability to answer that 3 AM call in the White House. When she can stand in front of a crowd of people on three different occasions and repeat the same lie, and when finally caught, she shurgge her shoulders and said I missed spoke, I was sleep deprived, and things like after all I am human.

    I would rather have a President of the United States of America that can make a mistake in the manner inwhich he spoke and come back and acknowledge the mistake and indicate that he had no intention to offend anyone than to lie about it over and over again.

    Even Sentor Clinton's husband, the former president of the United States came forth and lied about it. Now that is saying a lot about the Clinton family in the political arena.

    April 12, 2008 at 10:28 pm |
  28. Birgit

    Polygamy is a way of living together where no one is too involved in the life of the other one – not personally.

    The responsibility of each single person for a functioning relationship is almost ... zero because faults are not so harmful. Why? Because an other wife will compensate them.

    It's a little bit of a commune, a loose connection between people who want to achieve a common goal in the form of a job sharing.

    April 12, 2008 at 11:15 am |
  29. Nestor, Austin, TX


    The bible does not say that you can't marry more than one woman. There are plenty of examples throughout the bible of why you shouldn't. Abraham, David, Solomon, etc all had problems they wouldn't have had if they would have only had one wife. God's plan for marriage is one man, one woman. Paul gives further instruction as to anyone wishing to be an elder must have only one wife. But the bible does not say that you CAN'T have more than one wife.

    April 12, 2008 at 8:40 am |
  30. Dr. Rex A. Richards

    Please remove the Mormon temple from the backdrop of ValerieX, a story of Mormon apostates.

    April 12, 2008 at 6:26 am |
  31. Oleg

    In Joe's defense: polygamous lifestyle is NOT illegal. Otherwise Hugh Hefner and the girls next door would film their show from jail. You just can not register more than one marriage with the government. But that has nothing to do with what is going on between you and your god.

    Against Joe's position: If he and his wives consider themselves Christians, they probably condemn Hugh Hefner, gay marriages, polyandrous marriages, swingers and group families. If so, there is no reason for us to make an exception for their particular lifestyle.

    April 12, 2008 at 3:40 am |
  32. Sherine Orange County

    Joe, Vickie & Valerie,
    I am very happy that I got to see the sisters on CNN this whole scandel in Texas is a totally different situation. I'm glad you grew up happpy, educated and able to make choices. Obviously you have made the right choice for your lives. I can honestly say after 2 failed marriages I do understand. I must also say to the woman who wrote about "polyandry" you have a great point.
    And for all you poeple out there crying about illegal take a look around you look at our society look at corporate America, then ask yourselves. Is this really part of the problem? No. I am alos in agreement with the poor girl who was raped by her brother. It is time for our country to have "a conversation about multiple marriages" if it is to become legal it should be allowed for both men with multiple wives and vice versa. Good Luck to all

    April 12, 2008 at 3:26 am |
  33. Nicole

    I've been following the story of the FDLS raid. It has sparked my intrest, or curiosity rather, in the same way a car accident would, in that I don't want to look, but I can't look away. The whole ordeal creeps me out but at the same time, its fascinating. It was obvious that the polyg. couple, er couples featured on tonights show differed greatly from the polyg. compound in Eldorado. From what I understand these people are concenting adults, and abuse is never a factor in their 'marraige'. However a few questions remain...and maybe I missed it, but I'm wondering if the sexual relationship in these multipartner unions are just limited to the man and just one of the women at a time? Or, can it involve just the two (or more) wives with out the husband? Or, is it just one big free-for-all, meaning that all memebers of the polyg. union are entitled to have sexual relations with whomever they want within that particular relationship? Do polyg. relationships participate in threesomes, foursomes, etc.? On tonights show the couple consisted of one man and two women. Are there ever times where a polyg. relationship consists of one women and two (or more) men? How do they choose who is sleeping with who on any given night?
    I know that one of the woman on the segment said that sex is not the biggest, most important part of their union, but the issue of jealousy is bound to come up, right? How do they deal with the jealousy that is bound to occur when the husband is sleeping with the other woman that night?

    April 12, 2008 at 3:20 am |
  34. Judy

    It is interesting to me that this supposedly God inspired way of life means that many young boys are expelled from it. The logistics would never work. The God that I worship wants salvation for all HIs sons as well as daughters. Since there are about equal numbers of each born into this world, He most assuredly does not support polygamy. He wants His children to all be happy. He would never have "Lost Boys."

    April 12, 2008 at 3:10 am |
  35. Ruth

    To be fair to the person.If we were raised in a similar situation, how do we know that we wouldn't be doing the same thing?

    April 12, 2008 at 3:05 am |
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