TL;DR summary: The essay admits--
1) Joseph Smith married girls, one as young as 14-years-old.
2) Joseph married women who were already married to other living men (polyandry).
3) Joseph likely had sex with some (or many) of the women he married.
4) An angel with a drawn sword threatened Joseph into practicing polygamy.
5) Excuses Joseph by claiming that many (but not all) of the marriages were sexless (eternity-only).
6) Excuses Joseph by telling us not to use modern cultural standards to judge the appropriateness of his marriages.
7) Claims that much of polygamy isn't fully understood because of the secrecy behind it.
First of all, I want to give the LDS History Department kudos for this admission.
Admission: "Joseph told associates that an angel appeared to him three times between 1834 and 1842 and commanded him to proceed with plural marriage when he hesitated to move forward. During the third and final appearance, the angel came with a drawn sword, threatening Joseph with destruction unless he went forward and obeyed the commandment fully."
Because of rumors of Joseph Smith’s dalliances in the mid 1830s, the LDS church quickly adopted a “Chapter of Rules for Marriage among the Saints”, which declared, “Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with...polygamy; we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife...” This “Article on Marriage” was canonized and published in the Doctrine & Covenants from 1835 for about 40 years. (See Joseph Smith Papers, D&C 1835 edition.)
- marry only virgins
- the first wife (virgin) has to give consent
- women are not to be with other men
- multiple wives are given to a man to multiply and replenish the earth (by sex)
Truth: If we are to judge Joseph Smith as having a lesser ("inappropriate") standard of moral character than we expect in "today's standards" then I hereby declare the LDS prophets, apostles and seventy members can no longer preach that people of modern times are a more wicked generation, running head-long into evil end-of-days destruction.
No, Mr. Monson and Mr. Oaks, you can't have a double standard. Either Joseph gets a pass because today's standards know and view his inappropriateness and that means we are more righteous, or we're all evil and the Angel made us do it!