SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A new church essay says Mormon church founder Joseph Smith had a teenage bride and was married to other men's wives during the early days of the faith when polygamy was practiced. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says most of Smith's wives were adults, but one was a 14-year-old girl who was the daughter of Smith's close friends. Research shows the marriage might not have involved sex. It's the first time the church has officially acknowledged those facts, although it has not denied previous reports by historians.

Church officials note that while inappropriate by today's standards, marriage among teenage girls was legal and somewhat common during that time. The essay posted this week is part of a recent push by the Salt Lake City-based religion to explain or expand on sensitive issues within the faith, including its past ban on black men in the lay clergy.