If one wants to get a sense in retrospect of what Joseph Smith did and why he did it, one need only look at the FLDS Prophet Warren Jeffs.
No need to postulate an angel with a flaming sword. No need to wonder what you (as a male) would do in Joseph Smith's situation. The swcenrrio plays out perfectly well without a god or angels.
Pretty much every functioning heterosexual male over the age of 20 or so has faced the same "decisions" that Joseph Smith and Warren Jeffs faced, with the same biological drives, motivations, and potential consequences. Luckily for humankind only a relative handful of these men in modern times have behaved in the way that Smith and Jeffs behaved.
With few variations, the story of Warren Jeffs is the story of Joseph Smith - plain and simple.
I disagree. Joseph Smith was not nearly as depraved and sick as Warren Jeffs. Warren Jeffs encouraged, and held "group instruction" for group sex with his wives, which included 12 year olds..(according to the accounts we have, the youngest wife Joseph took was 14, and we are unclear on whether or not he had sex with her). Warren Jeffs recorded sessions of having sex with his new wives in the temple, in front of other wives, in a ritualistic rape fashion. If Joseph Smith ever did such an act, we have no record of it.
If you have read my posts regarding polygamy, you know that I am the last person to defend Joseph Smith on this one. I absolutely think that section 132's segment on plural marriage, and his counsel to Emma, in particular, were, at worst, made up simply to cover his tracks in having an affair with Fanny Alger, and, at best, a gross misinterpretation of the Lord's instructions and intent.
However, in either case, I don't think that the comparison between Jeffs and Smith is a fair one.
Jeffs is definitely where he belongs....getting raped in prison for eternity.