Revealing Joseph Smith’s (Well-Known) Polygamy Doesn’t Address the LDS Church’s Bigger Problem

first_prez

News that the LDS Church has now publicly acknowledged founder Joseph Smith’s polygamous marriage to more than thirty women—one as young as fourteen years old—puts me in mind of a conversation I had one rainy September night with a bright and dedicated young Mormon woman at a feminist retreat in the woods of New Hampshire.

She was twenty-five years old, with a funky assymetrical haircut, a hipster plaid flannel shirt, and an aura of earnest intelligence and faithful dedication I could feel in my bones.

“I am the Relief Society president in my singles ward in Boston,” she told me, indicating her role as an appointed spiritual leader of a community of college-aged young women. “People are really struggling to make sense of all the problems in Mormon history and theology and to hang on in spite of them. What do I tell them?”

I wished in that moment—as I so often do—that these very real, very searching questions found greater support from the LDS Church leadership, instead of being left to independent historians, lay theologians, bloggers and podcasters, and the Facebook-zealous feminists, anti-racist activists, and LGBT allies of Mormonism’s progressive margins.

“Perhaps this is just the reality of who we are as twenty-first century Mormons,” I offered. “Perhaps being a twenty-first century Mormon means inheriting a tradition that is not exactly as we have been led to believe. What can it mean to be a people of broken stories? What can this teach us? And if we accept the brokenness of our faith, what can we continue to mean to each other?”

We stood together in the question, in the rainy dark, she and I. She nodded. We hugged. She disappeared into the evening.

How will the LDS Church’s new website on Joseph Smith’s polygamy—written by an unnamed and uncredited historian, released without announcement, invisible from the LDS Church’s landing page—help this devoted twenty-five year old Mormon woman guide and serve the people she is responsible for?

Her challenge, after all, is not that young Mormon people didn’t know that Joseph Smith was a polygamist. Of course, they already knew. Her problem is in helping young Mormon people come to terms with the way Joseph Smith was presented by Church curriculum as a virtually unflawed human being and the larger problem of how the LDS Church has tried to deny or manage our faith’s human problems and flaws.

The appearance of inerrancy

Of course, it’s not that Mormonism is the only religion to have such problems and flaws. It’s just the most recent, with the shortest elapsed time between its powerfully fabulous faith-commanding nineteenth-century origins and the critical examination of those original truth claims in light of competing historical and scientific evidences. Only Mormonism has had its human flaws captured so openly and thoroughly in the historical record.

This vulnerability has engendered avoidance and duplicity among LDS people who have felt obliged to defend the faith against debunking by outsiders.

In turn, this defensive posture found official support in the LDS Church’s twentieth-century implementation of “Priesthood Correlation,” a bureaucratic initiative that institutionalized Mormon history and theology in a predictable, consistent, and systematic way, giving it the appearance of essential coherence, timelessness, and inerrancy.

After correlation, there was virtually no room in institutional Mormonism to deal with the wrongness of historic and current Mormon teachings and practices—for example, the exclusion of men and women of Black African descent from priesthood ordination and full participation in LDS temple rites.

In the 1960s, LDS Church leaders threatened Mormon scholars, like the lay historian Lester Bush who painstakingly documented the roots of priesthood and temple segregation in the prejudices of individual LDS leaders like Brigham Young rather than in scripture or doctrine. Not until 2012—and then only after journalists focused on Romney’s campaign revealed the extent to which officially sanctioned racist theology persisted at Church-owned Brigham Young University—did the LDS Church issue an official acknowledgment that past or present racism was condemnable. To this day, even in a recently-released historical essay comparable to the Joseph Smith polygamy statement, the LDS Church has still not fully acknowledged that it was wrong to exclude faithful black men and women, nor has it apologized for its support of racial segregation.

Similarly, the new website on Joseph Smith’s polygamy does not say that Smith was wrong—not for marrying against the wishes of his first wife Emma, or marrying women already married to other men, or marrying girls as young as fourteen. It acknowledges that Smith’s polygamy demanded heartwrenching sacrifices of his first wife, but it sidesteps the crucial question of whether these sacrifices were founded in lasting principles of Mormon theology, or were they pains caused by the human excesses of our charismatic founder?

Is it the will of God that polygamy should persist in LDS Church theology and policies pertaining to LDS temple marriages, as it does to this day?

To this day, divorced or widowed men can marry a subsequent spouse “for eternity” in an LDS temple while divorced or widowed women cannot, a policy that suggests that in the eyes of the contemporary LDS Church polygamy is God’s intended order for the eternities. From the time I was a nine-year-old girl, I worried anxiously that I might be one of multiple wives in the eternities. The LDS Church has to this day given me and hundreds of thousands of other anxious Mormons no reason to believe otherwise. Not even in its new Joseph Smith website.

What if wrongness is holiness?

No, the problem for contemporary Mormons is not access to facts about the history of our faith. What’s missing is theological support for acknowledging that we have been wrong and that historical wrongs, flaws, and failures need rectification and reconciliation. Given its youth, Mormonism has a unique opportunity to explore powerful theological questions about the role of human error in the articulation of spiritual truth, the fallibility of religious leaders, and the responsibility of members to seek independent verification of truth and respectfully challenge untruth.

But it does not. Except in rare circumstances, it studiously avoids them. Continuing to avoid such questions and instead giving truth a carefully-managed bureaucratic roll-out, sustains a ground-level Mormon culture of rigidity and anxiety that will continue to make the faith difficult to inhabit for many Mormons. In its most extreme expressions, this rigidity and anxiety leads to contemptuous treatment of those who question and challenge in ways the bureaucracy cannot manage, as the June 2014 excommunication of women’s ordination advocate Kate Kelly reveals.

What does it mean that we have felt so powerfully about a faith that has sometimes been wrong? How do we understand the power, intimacy, majesty, pain, and disappointments of the lives we have lived as Mormons? What if wrongness is human, sanctifiable, and perhaps even a source of holiness? Is this not one of the most important stories Mormonism—or any faith that hopes to be relevant in the twenty-first century—can tell?

I hope the young Mormon feminist I met in the woods of New Hampshire on a rainy September night will be able to answer these questions in a way that the men in the bureaucratic LDS Church hierarchy seemingly cannot.

  • Josh

    Thanks for writing this, Joanna. I read your book as part of a class and was deeply touched by it, and this piece is in the same vein.

  • Jim Reed

    Maybe this would be time for a change of approach. No one can deny there were things wrong in Mormon history and theology. Maybe this is the time to concentrate on what is right. What is right in Mormonism?

  • TheMogabi

    “I hope the young Mormon feminist I met in the woods of New Hampshire on a rainy September night will be able to answer these questions in a way that the men in the bureaucratic LDS Church hierarchy seemingly cannot.”

    And even if she is able to do so, what will that mean? Beyond her small circle of influence, there is layer upon layer of Priesthood hierarchy that she has virtually no influence on and is allied, in many cases, against her answers to these questions.

  • Mark

    Jim, this would be a great question to get to, right after we address the question of what is wrong with it.

  • Mark

    Joanna, I admire you, your courage and your writing. This is a great piece. But I can’t help wondering: what about Mormonism do you find to be both true and unique? Beyond your connection to the community, is there something at its core that you find to be both divine and essential, or is this just another group of stumbling humans, one of many, trying to connect to God? You wrote, “What if wrongness is human, sanctifiable, and perhaps even a source of holiness?” Certainly to err is human, and taking accountability for past mistakes is honorable, but I can’t quite understand how, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, persisting in wrongness, or worse in deceit, manipulation, misogyny and bigotry, could be holy, or even admirable.
    I feel like step one is being held accountable for prior misdeeds, and step two is then discovering what sort of holiness can be derived from the detritus. But they haven’t even gotten through step one yet. Even as they air some dirty laundry, they’re still engaged in the parsing, shading and spinning. Speaking for myself, even once they confess that they never were that thing they told me they were, namely the only true church and my only pathway to salvation, then there will still remain no space in which to trust them, and fortunately no longer a need for me to do so.

  • Jim Reed

    This is not a matter of handing down special truths as much as it is a group that has been highly selected for people following the group. It would be hard to find another group in American history that are as united in being on message. A few mistakes along the way won;t do much to change that.

  • M Snert

    Are the bits that are “right” in Mormonism any different than those offered by Christianity at large?

  • Jim Reed

    I don’t know. What are they?

  • GQbd

    We may well want to denigrate people for lying about the past but why denigrate people for historical practices that have since been put aside. Polygamy is commonly practiced in many parts of the world even today. Droit de seigneur? Like Joseph Smith was the first leader grab the best goodies for himself. Read Genesis. Marrying 14 year-old girls? Jerry Lee Lewis still wonders what all the fuss is about. Can’t we grow in our theological/cultural understanding, acknowledging that good people once did things that today we would not find acceptable?

  • Mark

    Big difference: Jerry Lee Lewis didn’t say that an angel with a drawn sword made him do it, and didn’t found a world wide religion with millions of followers and 8 billion in annual tithing revenue that claims he was the 2nd greatest person to ever live, save Jesus Christ.

  • Jim Reed

    So is Romney going to run?

  • Craptacular

    “…why denigrate people for historical practices that have since been put aside….that good people once did things that today we would not find acceptable?” – GQbd

    Not to burst your bubble, but people didn’t find it acceptable in post-Industrial America, either. We are discussing a self-proclaimed mouthpiece of god and “restorer of jesus’ true church” in the United States, not Bronze Age goatherds or a hedonistic musician from the 1960’s. A church, by the way, that still exerts tremendous influence on our culture and laws. That’s why we are still talking about it and the conversation matters. We wouldn’t be having this discussion if he were simply “Joe Smith the philanderer and polygamist of Nauvoo, Illinois.”

  • Aladdin Sane

    You could teach a Master’s class in dissembling.

  • laineypc

    One of the writer’s points is that the practice has not been put aside. Mormon girls and women have been put in the position of being obligated to be culturally disgusted by polygamy- we don’t do THAT anymore, they must tell outsiders so that they understand Mormons are not so far outside the mainstream- but at the same time they are supposed to either ignore (we’ll understand once we are on the other side) or welcome the fact that eternal polygamy remains very much a part of the theology and they could very well end up eternally in plural marriages.

  • laineypc

    I really like this except for
    “Mormonism has a unique opportunity to explore powerful theological questions about the role of human error in the articulation of spiritual truth, the fallibility of religious leaders, and the responsibility of members to seek independent verification of truth and respectfully challenge untruth.”

    The role of human error in the articulation of spiritual truth? Say what now? This sounds like Orwellian doublespeak. So what spiritual truth has been illuminated by church errors, and given the amount of pain involved, do we have to say that God intended that people (Blacks, women) should be mistreated and excluded for a spiritual purpose?
    And how does the church not crumble if it concedes its leaders are fallible, when that is simply a foundational element of Mormon belief? Independent verification is for scientists, not believers.

  • ranaj

    A “few mistakes along the way”? Really? Mormonism has proven faulty from it’s foundation…most of the world’s inhabitants, who reject Mormonism as a quirky sect at best and a damaging cult at worst, would agree that the church has made (and is based on) a tad more than a just “few mistakes”.

  • James

    The inerrancy allegedly imputed to Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and other presidents of the Church by the Correlation and/or Curriculum Committee is a red herring. The real issue is that a large number of Mormons (feminists foremost among them) are simply unwilling to take a spiritually honest approach to abstruse doctrines like plural marriage. I.e., pride becomes a stumbling block to apprehending the mind of God.

    As I read this and Ms. Brooks’ other writings, I find that her primary (if not sole) criterion for diagnosing “problems” with contemporary Mormonism is its embrace of doctrines and/or practices—and/or failure to apologize for former practices—that offend feminist sensibilities. The consistency of practice with doctrine and the internal coherence of the theology seldom figure into her arguments.

    The fact of the matter is that the LDS canon—namely, D&C
    132, 1 Corinthians 11, and Ephesians 5—set forth the pattern of a celestial hierarchy in which God the Father presides over Christ, who in turn presides over men, who correspondingly preside over their wives.

    This pattern is consistent with the language of the temple sealing
    ordinances, in which wives covenant to give themselves to their husbands and
    husbands covenant to receive them. While both mortal parties covenant, it is clearly not a perfectly reciprocal arrangement.

    Priesthood is patriarchal. Mormon feminists can kick, scream, and resort to every form of cognitive dissonance that they want in an effort to mold the Church in their preferred image, but female ordination to priesthood office is never going to happen, and the doctrine of plural marriage is never going away.

    With respect to race and the priesthood, the Church has said
    in so many words, “we don’t know why this happened.” However, we do know that in the mid-20th century—well before the issue came to a boiling point— President McKay (who, importantly, strongly denounced racism and urged Church members to do everything possible to promote civil rights for all races) prayed for guidance and did not feel impressed to lift the ban.

    To serious Mormons, the canon, temple ordinances, and guidance
    of the living prophet form the basis of belief. Feminist Mormons, in contrast, will take these elements into consideration, but when any of these doctrinal sources offend their sensibilities, they are summarily tossed out the window.

    They call it a “refiner’s fire” for a reason. Feminist Mormons can humble themselves and comport with the Lord’s doctrine, or they can double down on their pride. The choice—and consequences—are theirs.

    https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/2-ne/9.28

  • Jim Reed

    Some of the wives were already married. Why was that acceptable?

  • Mark

    Exhibit A of why these half-hearted revisions aren’t enough: beliefs matter. Beliefs drive behavior. So when the LDS church fails to come completely clean, giving a white-washed version of its history while still purporting to have ultimate authority to reveal God’s will, then you get believers such as James here, who still has a pulpit to hide behind, justifying his misogyny on antiquated theological grounds.
    There is no man behind the curtain, James, and you have no privileged position from which to glimpse the mind of God. That’s delusion, and when extrapolated to a population, it’s dangerous. Everywhere you look, there are just people, men and women, and once you figure that out–especially if the church would help you by being honest–then you can make choices based on universal human values–equality, justice, love– rather than arbitrary theological ones.

  • steve25

    That reminds me of a quote I heard a while ago, something like:
    Mormonism is both unique and good. But the parts that are unique aren’t good. And the parts that are good aren’t unique.

  • James

    “During the era in which plural marriage was practiced, Latter-day
    Saints distinguished between sealings for time and eternity and sealings for eternity only. Sealings for time and eternity included commitments and relationships during this life, generally including the possibility of sexual relations. Eternity-only sealings indicated relationships in the next life alone.

    Evidence indicates that Joseph Smith participated in both types of
    sealings. The exact number of women to whom he was sealed in his
    lifetime is unknown because the evidence is fragmentary.
    Some of the women who were sealed to Joseph Smith later testified that their marriages were for time and eternity, while others indicated that their relationships were for eternity alone.”

    https://www.lds.org/topics/plural-marriage-in-kirtland-and-nauvoo?lang=eng

  • James

    I’m sorry to hear that you conflate Christian patriarchy with misogyny. No religion or philosophy elevates the status of women more than we do.

    Indeed, I have “no privileged position from which to glimpse the mind of God” beyond what He affords each of us–namely, to study the words of His spokesmen, solicit His will, and act accordingly when He responds.

    We can know God through this process of inductive learning, which is no more delusional a method for securing knowledge than is the scientific method. We invite everyone to learn for themselves. https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/alma/32?lang=eng

    If you read the Book of Mormon, you will find that justice, mercy, respect for human agency, and equality before God are the pillars upon which the entire LDS theology is constructed.

  • James

    Incidentally, unless one believes that Truth (as manifest through God) is a
    self-existent principle (as LDS scripture D&C 93 asserts), why should anyone believe that equality,
    justice, and love are anything other than social expedients? After all, self-interest and hedonism are also “universal values.”

  • eliza

    I wouldn’t worry about that so much–few faithful Mormon men would be willing to be eternally bound to feminist wives. They’d much prefer a telestial resurrection to that fate.

  • Eve

    For the record, I totally disagree that *everyone* knows about Joseph Smith’s polygamy. That is another reason why the church’s history is problematic–few active members know the whole story, and those who bring it up are censured (and in the past, excommunicated). Many, if not most, of those of my generation believe polygamy began with Brigham Young. I didn’t know Joseph Smith was a polygamist until after I served a mission.

  • tired

    “no philosophy elevates the status of women more than we do.” Spoken from a man. You THINK your faith elevates me. When the first time I attended the temple I was appalled at how I was treated and denigrated in there. I wept in pain for years every time I went. The discomfort of that smiling, silent nincompoop up on the screen who said little hurt me. You may tell yourself that makes you a wheat, and me a tare that I was shocked the basis of all I was taught to revere was not all what I believed about myself and my relationship with God and Jesus. But I was hurt that my faith thought so little of me that I was asked to make covenants with a husband, while he could make covenants with God. I do not feel elevated. I would suspect you believe that is because I am not as holy or not as close to the Spirit as I should be. I’d say you are missing perspective due to your privilege of being at the top of the hierarchy and patriarchy and I am “cherished” for whatever my uterus can come up with in this life and in the milienia to come.

  • Craptacular

    I am sorry to hear you conflate your misogyny with “elevating the status of women.” Tell me, was the prohibition of blacks holding the priesthood “elevating the status of African-Americans?”

  • James

    With respect to the different, but equally meritorious, roles of the members of the body of Christ, I’ll defer to the Apostle Paul:

    “But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.

    19 And if they were all one member, where were the body?

    20 But now are they many members, yet but one body.

    21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the ahead to the feet, I have no need of you.

    22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:

    23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.

    24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked:

    25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.”

    https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/1-cor/12

    “Equality” does not mean “sameness.” Similarly, “patriarchy” does not mean “misogyny.”

  • James

    With respect to the priesthood, universal male ordination has nearly always been the exception, rather than the rule: descendants of Ham (notably Pharaoh) and (virtually)
    all non-Levites in the Old World from 1500 B.C. until Christ’s ministry come
    foremost to mind. Did Christ love them any less? Absolutely not–everyone has always invited to come into the Covenant: https://www.lds.org/scriptures/ot/isa/56 https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/2-ne/26.33

  • James

    Does the promise of exaltation to rule and reign as a queen and a priestess unto your husband truly constitute diminution? And no, I”m not at the top of the patriarchy: God the Father is. Christ is below the Father, and I’m below Christ. Incidentally, Christ’s subordination to the Father doesn’t warrant His resentment. Why do you suppose that is?

  • UtahLegal

    Exactly. At some point the dam just can’t hold it all in.

  • UtahLegal

    James, has it occurred to you that citing LDS scriptures to support your argument about the truthfulness of the LDS church is completely circular? I for one do not believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that the scriptures he produced were man made. So those arguments carry no weight for me. Is that all you’ve got?

  • James

    My arguments merely serve to demonstrate the internal consistency of LDS theology, and are in nowise circular within that context. External ratification of the doctrine comes by the testimony of the Holy Spirit. It’s out there if you sincerely want to find it.

  • shawn

    So was it not acceptable for Jesus to refuse baptism to the gentile and seed of Cain? If you don’t think he did you need to read the bible. It wasn’t until after Christ’s death was Paul given the right to baptism gentiles.

  • J. Smith’s biggest sin isn’t all of his sexual transgressions.

    It’s denying the finished work of Christ on the Cross for sinners. People like himself.

    J. Smith made up the religion and it’s nothing other than you might expect when humans cook up a religion…it’s all self-focused and it make the self the driver…a little god unto the self.

    It’s all a huge lie from the pit of hell.

    Not to be mean spirited…but just to try and wake some people up so they might get out of it before it’s too late.

  • J. Smith’s biggest sin isn’t all of his sexual transgressions.

    It’s denying the finished work of Christ on the Cross for sinners. People like J. Smith himself.

    J. Smith made up the religion and it’s nothing other than you might expect when humans cook up a religion…it’s all self-focused and it make the self the driver…a little god unto the self.

    It’s all a huge lie from the pit of hell.

    Not to be mean spirited…but just to try and wake some people up so they might get out of it before it’s too late.

  • clhnsn

    It is a belief system and has perceivable flaws as any other (including non religious). I have always approached Mormonism as a way to express my belief in a God and an after life – not God and an after life as a result of my Mormonism. Some would say that this puts limitations on my faith and perhaps it does put limitations… on my commitment to Mormonism. In other words I would not do ANYTHING for the Mormon religion but I would do anything if I felt undoubtable divine inspiration. À long as those things align (Mormonism and what I feel inspired/compelled to do) I will be a Mormon.

  • Laurence Charles Ringo

    Sad but true.In many ways, Mormons (some Mormons anyway) remind me of some individual catholics I know,who hold their noses while turning themselves inside out attempting to defend some indefensible doctrine or dogma of their church’s teachings.It’s a painful yet fascinating exercise in futility.

  • Laurence Charles Ringo

    Seriously, dude?? That is the most incoherent nonsense I’ve read concerning any form of pseudo -“christian” doctrine to date! Since you read from the KJV to try to make your case, point to where in the KJV THAT particular point is made, keeping in mind that Jesus Himself declared that there is NO MARRIAGE in Heaven…

  • Laurence Charles Ringo

    What the what are you talking about?? That is incoherent drivel; sheer folly if I ever heard it before!!

  • Laurence Charles Ringo

    What, indeed?

  • Jim Reed

    Of course once they find the golden tablets all that changes.

  • James

    Jesus’ reference was to temporal marriages made in the absence of the sealing power of the Melchizedek priesthood.

    https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/132.16.15-17

  • JamesMMartin

    Let’s see, they refused to believe African-Americans are anything but slaves; they treat women like second class citizens, and they torture gays at Brigham Young University. What other problems could you be talking about. Mormomism is a cult. It’s also a Ponzi scheme.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    Funny that we’ve had secular moral philosophy, since the days of Socrates.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    How do you distinguish your “sincere findings,” which led you to LDS, from the “sincere findings” of the billion or so Indians whom were led to Hinduism?

    What makes your “sincere findings” more sincere than their “sincere findings?”

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    Because he doesn’t exist?

    That would be my guess.

  • Mark

    There is so much ignorance and pride in this article and in the comments it is difficult to see anything else. Everywhere I read I just see “me, me, me”. So many of you feel you have this inherent right to judge God and sit back and pontificate about his gospel, it is truly staggering.

    The comments here and the article clearly say to me that you lack a full understanding of gospel principles and instead have allowed yourself to be consumed by the present political and social correctness which plagues our society today. Your ethnocentrism towards the acceptability of practices in different times and places shows that for all your vaunted desire for “equality” you really only want to elevate yourself.

  • Gordon

    I don’t see how this article differs from the thousands of other articles that talk about the same thing I have read as a kid and while on my mission. For anti Mormons its the same thing over and over. I’ve known all these things since I was like fourteen. Yet I know what we do and what we believe in is true. You just have to ask God through prayer. But with real intent of heart, and her will answer through the Holy Ghost.

  • Luman Walters

    I love the work you do Joanna.
    The issue I have is this. Yeah, all churches have flawed leaders but not all churche’s claim to be the only one having the authority of god. It’s so maddening. Why can’t they just admit that they are wrong? Why can’t they just say…”look, sorry, we are no better than any other religious organizaiton. We don’t know any more than the rest of you. We’re all just grasping at straws.”.
    I really don’t think it would make a difference People don’t really join the church because they think it’s the only true church. They join because they want community or they want change in their lives. So you’ve still got that going.
    Please LDS leaders, just admit that you are not the only true church and maybe people will stop ragging on you so much.

  • Jim Reed

    That seems like a variation of reasoning in a circle. What the church tells you is true because it tells you it is true.

  • Jim Reed

    They might have reached a point where they can’t really back down.

  • Luman Walters

    but why “eternity only” sealings.Why should joseph get to be with somebody else’s wife in the afterlife?? The husband was around the whole time, the husband actually loves her. Joseph already has a few woman so why does this woman have to be seperated from her husband because she had the misfortune of being “eternity only” sealed to joseph?
    Nobody should have “claim” to a woman because she’s her own person but these “eternity only” sealings smack of unapologetic sexism because it’s as if woman were property.

  • Jim Reed

    People have to go through a change of mindset when they move from the church environment where things are controlled and they are preaching to the choir to a website like RD where anything can be questioned.

  • Luman Walters

    The arguement of “other people have done it and they are just humans” would only work if it was an organization claiming to be just another church trying to help peopel be better.
    You are right. They were men of their time. That’s it. MEN. Not holy, not prophets.

  • Jim Reed

    Faith.

  • Jim Reed

    From an outsider’s perspective that seems like vanity disguised as humility.

  • Luman Walters

    Are you sure that “people following” is a trait you want to have? I mean post-jim jones isn’t that a little freightening that a group can be so easiliy controlled?

  • clhnsn

    It’s actually not. I made a few points and shared my approach to Mormonism. Forgive me for not formatting my blog comments as I do my essays. Please allow me to clarify.

    Firstly- everyone has a belief system whether it be religious, non-religious, spiritual, non-spiritual etc. Why? Virtually everyone understands that humans are innately different then all other animals and so we seek an explanation. In the process we evaluate different types of evidence. Some examples of types of evidence would be spiritual experiences, scientific experiments, historical observation, and tradition. Some choose to focus more solely on one type of evidence then the others (often portrayed by the argument of science v. religion [this is somewhat of a misnomer because they are not distinct and sperate]). Others, like myself, use a broad range of evidence. We all place varying levels of significance on different types of evidence. A helpful analogy would be the physician who has a set list of medical protocols which have been determined through scientific studies to provide the best outcome. However they may also use other evidence in making their decisions on patient treatment: “hunches”, personal experience, “gut-feelings”, and in the past pharmaceutical promotions.

    Second- none of these belief systems are without flaws. Beliefs both scientific in nature and spiritual in nature are constantly being adjusted/corrected as new evidence is discovered. We used to think that the earth was flat but a scientific study was conducted that changed that theory (this type of thing still happens today). Many questions are left unanswered by all beliefs. Also all beliefs are subject to human error (ie the topic of this blog).

    In reality beliefs are just theories based on different types of evidence. Very few things are unequivocal.

    Lastly- My approach to Mormonism. I accept that there is evidence which is generally observable (in the form of historical evidence, experimentation etc) and specifically/personally observable (in the form of spiritual experiences etc). After observing the evidence which I consider to be significant I have accepted the theory that there is a God and there is an after-life. Mormonism is, for the most part, coherent with my theories and thus I accept it. As part of that acceptance there are beliefs within Mormonism which I also accept which were not originally my own (it’s a package deal). In reality there may be a time when the evidence which I choose to consider will no longer align with Mormonism and at that point I would discontinue my membership. Let me be clear – what I have been referring to as Mormonism is to mean the current principles which are the foundation of the Mormon religion. Not traditions, misconceptions, and historical errors.

  • Jim Reed

    That means you have grown beyond what the temple can teach you, and you are ready to take the next steps.

  • Guest

    Would you have let Joesph Smith marry your daughter?

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    The other people with sincere findings have “faith” too. Try another answer.

  • cranefly

    Will you rule and reign as a king and priest unto your wife, or unto God?

  • Jim Reed

    This is not just about those followers, it is also about those who set up the group and are in control.

  • AuntHo

    I think you’re missing the point. The important distinction is that Jerry Lee Lewis didn’t lie and perpetuate institutional lies about his activities afterward for 200 years. Mormonism does, about many problems in its history, from the pulpit and in homes.

    The individual problems themselves are many and disturbing, and anyone who joins or continues in the faith grapples with those as “things that happened in the past” that they’ll come to their own conclusions about. I assure you, “it was accepted at the time” is way up there on the rationalization list (though still untrue, as other comments have noted).

    The ongoing issue is the refusal of the leadership to address EVEN THE POSSIBILITY that their monolithic, immutable and unquestionable truth myth alienates thinking people of every testimony level. It’s boggling, heartwrenching, demonstrably false, and way beyond disgusting. And they keep blowing the opportunity to face their members honestly.

  • Jim Reed

    Or your wife?

  • T-Rachel

    We know that all prophets throughout history have been asked to do difficult things, and their followers are similarly tasked. We are all called to walk by faith, in spite of doubt and uncertainty.

    I may not understand how every historical fact fits in with either the will of God, cultural bias, or human error, but I do know that God has whispered to my heart that Joseph Smith was a prophet. I cannot ignore that.

  • cranefly

    Mormonism solves the Problem of Evil, and Euthyphro’s Dilemma, by believing in a limited God, who has no ability to define good and evil for the universe. So that’s two points?

  • cranefly

    Thankfully, you got this when you were fourteen, instead of an angel with a flaming sword forcing you to get married.

  • cranefly

    It was creepy and wrong when Jerry Lee Lewis did it. It was creepy and wrong when Joseph Smith did it. But unlike Lewis, Joseph Smith claimed that God gave him the divine right and obligation to posses numerous teenage girls (against their wishes), in this life and the next. The question is, do you believe him? If so, your religion is for psychopaths. If not, we might wonder why you believe anything else Joseph Smith said.

  • Jim Reed

    There isn’t any other.

  • cranefly

    The other is tribalism. But it’s easy to mistake them for each other; there’s overlap.

  • James

    The latter, as that is what He has decreed.

  • James

    Truth is not exclusive to any one faith. “For behold, the Lord doth grant unto all nations, of their own nation and tongue, to teach his word, yea, in wisdom, all
    that he seeth fit that they should have; therefore we see that the Lord
    doth counsel in wisdom, according to that which is just and true.”
    https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/alma/29.8?lang=eng#7

  • Jim Reed

    Sometimes faith in God is misplaced, and you are left with just faith in faith.

  • cranefly

    That’s a revealing comment. You’re comfortable saying Mormons only value equality, justice, or love when “socially expedient,” and may certainly expect God and his representatives to be unjust, unloving, and unequal towards humankind.

    I know too many decent Mormons (who would loudly protest) to believe you. Otherwise I would have to say that it doesn’t matter whether Mormonism is true or false. If it’s true, then God is evil and eternity with him should be avoided at all costs.

  • cranefly

    Men are kings unto God, and women are queens unto their husbands. They don’t have access to God except through a man, but the converse is not so. That is clear diminution. Whether you believe that God is the authority that subjugates certain people unto others or not, you believe in the subjugation of human beings unto other human beings. Of women unto men (and men unto God). That’s reprehensible.

  • James

    Plane geometry has been around since the Greeks as well, and that is likewise entirely dependent on axioms, i.e., [ostensibly] self-evident principles. You can’t prove them, which is precisely what makes them axiomatic. One can likewise build a system of ethics around “survival of the fittest” axiom.

  • James

    I said: “unless one believes that Truth (as manifest through God) is a self-existent principle (as LDS scripture D&C 93 asserts), why should anyone believe that equality,
    justice, and love are anything other than social expedients?”

    You then claimed that I’m “comfortable saying Mormons only value equality, justice, or love when “socially expedient.”

    Are you deliberately accosting a straw man, or is your reading comprehension really that deficient?

  • James

    The women consented to the sealings, so if there were any “injustices” being committed, they either didn’t perceive or didn’t mind it. Why would you be averse to women being able to choose their own eternal mate?

  • James

    There’s absolutely no reason to believe that women won’t enjoy direct communion with the Father.

    By your logic, each man’s relationship to God the Father is reprehensible because there exists an intermediary in the divine patriarchy in the form of Christ.

  • Cindy

    Just to set the record, divorced men AND woman cannot get resealed to another living person until their existing sealing is cancelled. I know many divorced men who have had to wait to have their previous sealing cancelled before they could take their new wife to the temple to be sealed. Yes, widowed men can be resealed again but not divorced men, if their wife is still living. I have a friend who recently was sealed to her husband. They had to wait a couple of years to have his sealing cancelled from his previous marriage. She was never marriage prior to the issue was entirely on his side.

  • Jim Reed

    Or it could have been the group influence of the church whispering to your heart. Sometimes the church tends to do lots of whispering.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    Yes, but that’s why this particular type of argument is just bogus.

  • cranefly

    I don’t consider Christ an intermediary between God and humanity. But if what you’re suggesting is actual Mormon theology, then men ought to be called “priests unto Christ.”

    There is a very clear reason to suppose that men have more direct communion with the Father than women in Mormon theology. They are priests unto God. Whereas women are only priestesses unto their husbands. If there’s no difference, why aren’t women called “priestesses unto God”?

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    So the Hindus are just fine, according to Mormonism? No need to convert?

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    Who are you talking to?

    Has it occurred to you that perhaps some of us belong to other religions?

  • Jim Reed

    I wasn’t trying to argue. I was just trying to explain, but I guess faith has no explanation.

    Try treating this thread as a Mormon style discussion instead of a Jewish style discussion.

  • Heather

    Same here–had my dad not told me as a teen that Joseph Smith had extra wives, I wouldn’t have known until a BYU religion professor brought it up in class discussion. I never heard it anywhere else–not in seminary (even D&C year) or Sunday instruction. I was the only one of my peers who knew.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    I teach moral philosophy at the university level for a living and have done so for over 20 years. Ethical theories do *not* require any basis in divine commands. Indeed, divine command ethics are among the least plausible, if only for the reasons pointed out in the Euthyphro.

  • allen

    haha i think your examination of the question was the point of her statement. and a church doesn’t crumble when it’s leaders are fallible. she says it is a unique opportunity because the origin of mormonism is so young that it has more documentation than other religions, which brings to light the fact that religious leader can be fallible, which you don’t usually think of when you read the bible and have 3 chapters on one prophet. there are volumes on joseph smith including journals and numerous secondary sources that all give different perspectives.

    and human error has to play a part. she is talking about the seeming controversies and how people understand them. unless you are still at base camp, you will have to come across bigger questions at some point. these are the ones she is talking about. how to reconcile all that. believers should do independent verification as well. followers should still be informed. it is a spectrum. what she’s writing about is a complex subject.

  • James

    Agreed that ethical theories do *not* require any basis
    in divine commands per se. However, they do require axioms, which are self-existent truths. As Christians use Truth interchangeably with God (per John’s Gospel), it’s syllogistic for us.

  • This article is interesting, but I find it so because it touches on the Mormon church’s need to control the message to justify its actions and continuation of its belief structures. It is exactly what was done when Moses helped codify Jewish Law, what Mohammad tried to do for Islam, but more obviously, it is exactly what Constantine and His Bishops did to Christianity. All three of these faiths continue to control the message, claiming it is all divine and for many people, the exact words of God. Yet all three had their works written down by men who had agendas that would encourage people to stay true to their faith or their perceptions of what that faith should be. Perhaps that is where the problem with religion, all religions, today lies – we have church leaders who are so invested in maintaining control of the congregations and the power that goes with that control, that any challenge to it leads to violence and discord. Now we are seeing this in the Mormon church, but yet no one in other faiths see this is just how churches evolve if they are going to continue to hold people under their control. How ironic.

    Rev. Devon J. Noll
    New Word Universal Fellowship Church
    Christmas Valley, OR
    http://www.newworduniversalfellowship.org

  • cranefly

    Maybe I was trying to make sense of your semi-comprehensible words. You justify inequality, injustice, and forced marriage by saying that God’s existence and the existence of “Truth” are the only reason to expect that equality, justice, and love should exist in the first place. Therefore, Mormons have no moral reasoning or consciences of their own. Mormons don’t know up from down, until God gives them revelation.

  • Seneca Falls

    “Her challenge, after all, is not that young Mormon people didn’t know
    that Joseph Smith was a polygamist. Of course, they already knew.”

    [End Quote]

    No, Joanna. Lots of young people didn’t know about Joseph Smith’s polygamy. This truth has been studiously avoided in church curricula, and all but denied by the leadership. The kind of woman who attends the Exponent conference where it seems you met this young person might be aware of finer points of Church history, but this is news to many.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/email/idUSTRE80T1CM20120131

  • TheProudDuck

    I think there is room for Mormons to be Mormons in the way Graham Greene was Catholic. The Church may not be exactly what it cracks itself up to be, but it’s what we’ve got. It’s ours. And it may be that the other outfits all have their own mix of marble and mud.

  • TheProudDuck

    Depends what kind of feminist you’re talking about. The equality kind, no problem. The theoretical “penises are weapons and all heterosexual sex is rape” lunatics — bring on the telestial, thanks.

  • James

    Regardless of whether one is a man or a human, Christ is unquestionably THE intercessor between God and the entirety of humanity in LDS theology.

    “But if what you’re suggesting is actual Mormon theology, then men ought to be called “priests unto Christ.”

    Yes, that’s what precisely John the Revelator taught: “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first
    begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.”

    https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/rev/1.5-6

    To a certain extent, there’s a semantic misunderstanding because Jesus is also “God,” i.e., “God the Son.”

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    The key characteristic of axioms is that they are universally intuitive to those in possession of reason. (Hence the same arithmetic here as in Japan or Bangladesh)

    No sectarian religious propositions have this characteristic. The chief propositions of Christianity are *not* intuitive to the majority of the world’s population.

  • jimmy

    Polygamy is not “wrong”. Never has been, never will be. There are some who would tear section 132 out of D&C and remove every Hymn from the Hymnal than mentions Israel (you know the guy with 4 wives). Not gonna happen. The house of Israel is a house of polygamy.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    Really? I come from a Jewish family and belong to a Jewish community. Not one polygamist in the lot.

  • Craptacular

    “So many of you feel you have this inherent right to judge god…” – Mark

    No, we have a right to judge a religion and its leaders that say they speak for god. A distinction your belief does not seem to allow you. So really, who do you think is the most impartial when judging a religion? Its adherents or those viewing it without the blinders of belief?

  • James

    My rhetoric was perfectly clear.

    I have not once justified inequality or injustice. Rather, I have pointed out that “different” does not mean “unequal.” The distinction is crucial.

    Neither Joseph nor his successors forced anyone to marry anyone else.

    If truth does not exist independent of human existence, then equality, justice, and love are nothing more than social constructs, which
    makes them ephemeral and ultimately meaningless. But as truth does exist, so those principles are of eternal significance.

  • Sherlock

    One day soon the while mormon thing will dissolve. Truth prevails and mormons are the furthest from the truth.

  • James

    So are we or are we not agreed that justice, mercy, love, and respect for human agency are intuitive ethical axioms?

  • jimmy

    Congratulations. You are a descendant of polygamists. You can reject or embrace your forefathers. Maybe you want nothing to do with Abraham Isaac and Jacob. Your choice.

  • allen

    if you are against mormonism for being “made up” you must count all christian churches as also having “made up” creeds since they all use the same book with different interpretations. unless you do not associate with any church and study the bible on your own without external influence/guidance from a leader of some sort, your comment is hypocrisy and you would do better to be an atheist. thank you.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    The largest denomination of Judaism in the US is Reform. Its practices and the attitudes of its Rabbis bear zero resemblance to your description here. The same is true of Conservative Judaism, my familiarity with which stems from having worked for years at the Jewish Theological Seminary.

    Judaism has a rich, interpretive tradition, from the Mishnah and Gemara to the medieval commentators, to contemporary scholarship. In the Talmud, the minority opinions are displayed as well as the dominant ones. None of this is consistent with the picture you paint above, which is obviously based on the disposition and behavior of evangelical Christian churches and their leadership.

    You should do some research before talking so generally about faiths you clearly know nothing about.

  • dansmith21

    I dunno, I think you guys either had bad seminary teachers for, e.g., the D&C 132 lesson, or weren’t paying attention, or have since forgotten the details.

    Here’s what the current seminary manual says:
    https://www.lds.org/manual/doctrine-and-covenants-and-church-history-seminary-teacher-manual-2014/section-6/lesson-140-doctrine-and-covenants-132-1-2-34-66?lang=eng

    I’ll agree that the current Sunday School curriculum is very lightweight on the topic, though it does mention Joseph Smith specifically:
    https://www.lds.org/manual/doctrine-and-covenants-and-church-history-gospel-doctrine-teachers-manual/lesson-31-sealed—for-time-and-for-all-eternity?lang=eng

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    I frankly could care less whether Iron Age Israelites were polygamists. And why should I?

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    If respect for human agency was an “intuitive ethical axiom,” Kant wouldn’t have had to go to such great labors to try and justify it in the Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals.

  • Jimmy

    Actually, the Church admitted not too long ago that the ban on blacks was wrong and the result of a racist culture. The real reason blacks got the priesthood was because church growth was booming in Brazil, and the brethren wanted to build a temple, but they quickly realized there would be no priesthood holders to run it because the majority of the members were black.

  • jimmy

    Do you worship the same god as the iron age Israelites? If not then stop reading here and go your way. If you do, you must answer the question why God’s “chosen people” and his prophets (even Moses) were polygamists. What made the people so special to God?

  • dansmith21

    “how does the church not crumble if it concedes its leaders are fallible”

    Well, it has made that concession many times, over many years. Here’s a recent example from President Uchtdorf (see “Mistakes of Imperfect People”):
    https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/come-join-with-us?lang=eng

    Note the reference he makes to the Book of Mormon title page: fallibility _is_ a basic doctrine of Mormonism. Although probably not nearly as well-understood among members as it should be.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    I don’t see any reason why I “must” answer your question. As for why polygamy was practiced by the ancient Hebrews, any real answer that your going to find is going to come from anthropology.

    Personally, the subject is of zero interest. If the Mormons want to be polygamists, bully for them.

  • jimmy

    You can’t condemn polygamy and accept the God of the Israelites at the same time. That’s why you couldn’t answer my question.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    I didn’t condemn polygamy.

  • Russ Dewey

    I don’t want to sound mean, but there is a sort of spiritual cowardice in clinging to a religion because it is comfortable and felt good (in some ways) when you were a child, even though (as an adult) you realize it is untenable and untrue. Truth should trump convenience and comfort.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    nothing more than social constructs, which
    makes them ephemeral and ultimately meaningless

    ————————

    Non sequitur.

    I can think of any number of things that are ephemeral and also of great significance and meaning.

  • Blue Flower

    Abuse of power for sexual gratification or social control is archaic and sends the wrong message to young people today. Cavemen may have done this. Ancient prophets and kings may have done this. But while it may have been tolerated then, it has never been right, fair, just or humane. As long as the LDS church avoids making this clear, intelligent and loving humans in this century would be wise to avoid this organization, no matter what good it may have to offer.

  • Jonathan

    Hero worship in general and of Joseph Smith in particular is a real problem among Latter-day Saints, but “2nd greatest person to ever live” are your words. You seem to be referring to John Taylor’s (3rd prophet of the faith) statement canonized as scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 135:3. If you want that verse to mean “2nd greatest person to ever live,” by all means, but that’s not the only way to interpret it and certainly not the way I do. It’s all about attribution. The list that John Taylor puts forward tells me something of what God did in spite of Joseph Smith, not because of him. Which I don’t say to disregard Joseph Smith entirely, only to say that any good that resulted from his life did nor originate with him. For me, all that is good is a manifestation of its divine source.

  • cranefly

    In a polygamous marriage, there is intrinsic inequality. When a husband has two wives, each wife has only half of her husband’s love, attention, and time at best. If you approve of polygamy, you profess that a man can deserve the full attention of two women, and a woman deserves only half of a man in return for her whole self. You profess that the worth of a woman is a fraction of the worth of a man.

    Telling someone (who sees you authority figure) that an angel with a flaming sword commanded a marriage to take place is coercive. If this happened to Joseph Smith, as the essay claims, then Joseph Smith was forced into marriage by an unjust God. If Joseph Smith said this to women, which historical sources indicate, then Joseph Smith coerced women to marry him. Agreeing to a marriage under threat of destruction is not valid consent, and the diaries of Joseph Smith’s wives indicate that several of them did not want to marry him, but felt that it was their duty. It’s very improbable that all of these 20+ women, many of whom were already married, were actually in love with him and desired this arrangement for themselves.

    ” ‘I made a greater sacrifice than to give my life,’ said Zina Huntington Jacobs.”

  • DJ in AZ

    Bizarre. Sorry, that’s just how I feel about this article.
    Either Joseph Smith was a prophet or he was not. He was, definitely, no doubt about it, end of story, period. He was called of God to be a prophet and help in the restoration of the gospel, and that included the practice of plural marriage. He did what God commanded him to do, and who are we to judge him? May I someday become as faithful to God and His commands as Joseph was…willing to do ALL things that the Lord commands me!

  • Benjamin Shaffer

    yes, gladly

  • Benjamin Shaffer

    yes, tearfully

  • DJ in AZ
  • Aravis Tarkheena

    Either Joseph Smith was a prophet or he was not. He was, definitely, no doubt about it, end of story, period.

    ———–

    No he wasn’t. Definitely, no doubt about it, end of story, period.

    Got an argument? Evidence? Non-question-begging reasons?

    I mean, really…did you seriously just say this?

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    Like…wow.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    Even if she was 14?

  • Today, I think it should wait until it is not a crime, ie I’d make them wait till she was 18. but in the 1840s, it probably wouldn’t have even occurred to anyone that this was an issue.

  • Falcon642

    I have three kids, so by your logic each of my kids only receives one third of my love?

    I’m not a polygamist, and would never want to be one, but it is fallacy to suggest that people can only deeply love one person at a time.

  • DJ in AZ

    Maybe. Maybe not. Who knows? And really, who cares, because that isn’t ever going to happen…it’s all hypothetical and speculative and pretty nonsensical, IMO. The real question is, do you have faith to follow God and obey the counsel given through His servant, a prophet. Answer that question first, and the rest will fall into place.

  • Blue Flower

    What if she didn’t want to?

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    Oh boy…

  • Blue Flower

    Women. Trade them like slaves or baseball cards, I guess. Ho hum.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    Not just women. Young girls as well.

    It’s amazing the things people will say, without embarrassment or any sense of irony.

  • DJ in AZ

    Yeah, I did just say that. If you don’t have that testimony of the restored gospel yet, I encourage you to get started and find it for yourself.

  • It is her choice! To quote “The Princess Bride” “If you didn’t say it you didn’t do it” consent is marriage, marriage is consent. If she “didn’t want to” how could we even be discussing it? if she didn’t want to why would I be asked if I would let her?

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    Um…I am Jewish and we have our own scriptures, the Book of Mormon not being one of them.

    So, thanks for your encouragement, but no thanks. I am very satisfied with my own religious tradition.

    Your categorical insistence, however, absent any reasons other than your own scripture, isn’t going to be persuasive to people of other faiths. You do realize that, right?

    So who are you talking to, when you say stuff like this? Yourself?

  • Hey at least he would be an interesting “brother-Husband” in our polyandrous marriage! Besides the real decider here would be my wife.

  • Blue Flower

    Something like no means yes? Unbelievable. And sorry, but appalling. If you represent the average Mormon male, I am staying far away and warning all of my friends to do the same.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    Are you really *volunteering* to be cuckolded?

    It’s like some bizarro porn or something.

  • Ammon

    It has made the concession that it’s leaders are fallible … but it’s best to excommunicate anyone who mentions any specifics on how they got things so wrong.

    The Church will eventually address their mistakes but you’ll have to wait a century after the leader is dead before they might produce a “faith promoting” whitewashed piece that gives nothing but half-truths.

  • Roosterdad

    It’s “heartrending” not “heart wrenching.” Gut wrenching works.

  • I think we are approaching this question from an entirely different set of assumptions. I am assuming that the question is asking that as a potential father of the bride would I be willing to give my daughter my “blessing” in her choice of spouse, or would I be so against Joseph Smith as a son in law that I would estrange myself from my daughter by opposing the marriage. I’m simply saying that I would give her my blessing. Incidentally I would not run the risk of estranging my own daughter no matter her choice in a spouse, be that gay marriage, polygamy, or polyandry! I simply trust my daughters to make their own decisions! That is all I’m saying! I have raised them to make their own decisions and be strong independent women. If in this hypothetical they chose to marry Joseph Smith, or someone like him, I would support them in that lifestyle choice the same way I would support them in any other.
    On the other hand it appears that you are approaching this question as though I would have any say in forcing some poor girl into something she doesn’t want. Or that I would do such an evil thing even if I could. What do you think polygamy is? some kind of slavery? No! it is a lifestyle choice just like homosexuality is, or any other form of “marriage” or whatever.

  • DJ in AZ

    I’m saying it to LDS members in particular, both those who have faith and those who are doubting and questioning their faith.

    But to you as a non-believer, I encourage you to read the Book of Mormon. Either Joseph Smith translated that book as he said he did, or he didn’t and he’s a liar. There are no other options. It can’t be sort of true. It is from God, or it is not. And I’ve read it, and studied it, and prayed about it, and thought about it, and prayed some more. And, my friend, I can tell you that the Book of Mormon is exactly what it says it is, which is a record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the American continent. Those people knew of God the Father and Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. I know that book is truly from God. And if that book is true, then Joseph Smith was truly a prophet. And if Joseph was truly called as a prophet, then the revelations that he received were also from God, and the LDS church truly is the restored church of Jesus Christ.

    So…read the Book of Mormon…find out for yourself, just as I have and millions of others have found out. And then, when things like this article appear, your faith will be firm and unshaken in the things that are really true.

  • James

    You should read more carefully before you claim non sequiturs, professor. I never claimed that all ephemera was meaningless. In your sloppy attempt to charge me with a non sequitur, you have set up a straw man. What kind of logic are you teaching these helpless kids?

    What I actually claimed was that if equality, justice, and love are nothing more than social constructs, then they are ephemeral and ultimately meaningless.

    A value (i.e., equality, justice, and love) that is ephemeral is ultimately meaningless.

  • James

    And contemporary liberals would show respect, rather than contempt, for the principle. Agreed, it’s less intuitive. But it’s not any less important.

  • seriously have you never even heard of polyamory before? there are probably as many polyamorists in the world as mormons.

  • Blue Flower

    1. Homosexuality is not a choice and not a lifestyle.
    2. Joseph Smith did use force by abusing his power and telling his potential brides that it was necessary for their salvation.
    3. Please read In Sacred Loneliness to learn more about how very much like slavery polygamy is in practice. Brigham Young’s wives were basically unpaid domestic workers.

    Polygamy reduces the potential quantity of monogamous relationships in a society, pollutes the gene pool, leaves women feeling anxious and depressed, and works well for only a small group of elite males at the top of the hierarchy. You can ignore these issues in order to protect the reputation of Mormonism’s founder if you like. That in fact is a choice.

  • Phil

    Perhaps one should finally admit that Mormonism is at best, nothing more than man’s descent into utter absurdity. I personally struggle with Americans who are, for the most part, educated and financially secure, subscribing to such nonsense. Religious communities have many benefits, but there is no excuse for remaining Mormon in light of it’s ridiculous “history.”

  • DJ in AZ

    “Spoken from a man.”
    Your reply is spoken from a bitter heart. I hope your heart heals.

  • Ken M

    “Please LDS leaders, just admit that you are not the only true church and maybe people will stop ragging on you so much.”

    I think that was the same argument used against Jesus. “Please Jesus, just admit that you are not the Son of God and maybe people will stop ragging on you so much.” If it is true, He must say so. They rode him all the way to the cross because he would not deny who he was. If the LDS church leaders and members believe they are part of the only true church, they must say that. If God really did found the LDS church, what other course is there? All the sophistry of naysayers, all the imperfections of its members and leaders do not change the truthfulness of a church or its doctrines. Either God lives or he does not. Either Joseph Smith was chosen by God as his prophet, or he was not. Either the Book of Mormon is from God or it is not. The church founded by Smith is God’s true church or it is not.

    All you can do is choose to find out for yourself whether Joseph was called of God (or if there is a God to begin with). The pattern is simple. Humble yourself before God, ask him in faith if he is there, then allow him to answer through His spirit to yours. Better to follow the still small voice, than the screaming of the world.

    God lives. Jesus Christ is God’s Son and is our savior and redeemer from death and sin. Joseph Smith is his prophet. The Bible and the Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ, are true. I have prayerfully studied and tested these things for a lifetime– I know they are true. Thousands of times I have felt these things confirmed to my soul. I know them independent of any other being or thing. All the rest of the doctrine and practices follow. Simple enough for anyone.

    You don’t have to like it or agree, but what I know– I know. Same with the leaders of the church.

  • James

    “You profess that the worth of a woman is a fraction of the worth of a man” is a fallacious inference. Did you ever stop to consider that polygamy is an expedient to female autonomy and spirituality? Or that the impetus is creating progeny and trying faith?

    So anytime God tells someone to do something with a
    concurrent statement of consequence, He is being unjust? By that measure, every parent who punishes
    their child is unjust.

    You are conflating “want” with “loss of agency.” Do you think that Abraham was particularly fond of taking Isaac up to Mount Moriah to sacrifice him? Or that Moses wanted to deal with the incessant murmuring of Israel? Or that Elijah wanted to be on the lamb from Jezebel?
    Or that Jeremiah wanted to tell Jerusalem to repent or be
    destroyed?

    Sorry to report, but doing the right thing frequently
    involves doing that which we’re not inclined to do. Either way, we all still have a choice. Plaudits to the women who did enter into the plural marriage covenant. As Vilate
    Kimball saw in vision, it will confer “great exaltation and honor” upon them.

  • JJ

    This is an interesting article. I’m not sure what to think about it.

    First, I wonder if admitting their mistakes and wrongs in the past would really help anything. Some people really need the “warts and all” approach to a religion or group in order for the group to feel real to them. It’s kind of cynical approach, but if that is what they need, then good for them. Others really can’t handle that approach, they need the “pedestal” approach because they struggle to, or choose not to, approach things in a nuanced way. And a lot of people look at a church or political movement or any idealogy as having to be all good or all bad. And both approaches have advantages and disadvantages.

    So “coming clean” about it’s past, the church might gain some supporters, but would likely also lose others. It’s hard to say with group is larger or which group would help the church the most. One group would probably articulate the idealogy more clearly, where as the other group would likely be more loyal. And being all-inclusive often comes with a lot of tension and conflict. Really, no group can be inclusive of everyone. Religions, like nations, are partially defined by who they let in and who they keep out.

    I’ve actually spent some time working with Mormon Fundamentalist. I’m not a big fan as to how those groups practices polygamy, but legally, we can’t assume there is abuse going on even though we suspect there is. Yes, many polygamous relationships are abusive, but to say all are abusive is kind of prejudiced and simpleminded. What constitutes abuse is often in the eye of the beholder unless you can gather some hard physical evidence. There is a lot of variation in how polygamy gets practiced in the thousands of cultures that have accepted it throughout human history and there’s a wide variety of reasons it is accepted or rejected. It’s why anti-polygamy laws are getting overturned in the courts. But most people don’t want to look at polygamy in a nuanced way.

    I find it curious that no descendants have been confirmed as coming from Joseph Smith’s polygamous relationships. Most men that practice polygamy, even for a little while, usually have children from those second and third wives fairly quickly. Which makes me wonder how active Joseph Smith practiced polygamy. Not that I would be surprised if there are descendants from his polygamous wives, but they seem to be extremely difficult to find. So I wonder if what Joseph Smith practiced was different somehow from what Brigham Young practiced. There a lot we still don’t know, so I usually say it’s best to not assume.

    So if the church admits to be wrong, what exactly are they admitting to be wrong to? That what they did back then offends us now? That we’ve jumped to conclusions about what happened?

  • Jim Reed

    There was also a South Park episode a few years ago that explains it very well.

  • A. Pratt

    The Church now shares information it used to excommunicate members for sharing. When my ex-Mormon, ex-plyg friend Joanne Hanks wrote her memoir “It’s Not About the Sex My A**”, Mormons accused her of inventing the historical information about Joseph Smith. Now that the church has verified it, those same Mormons shrug and say, “So?”

  • Like….wow

    This all sounds bizarre, but I wonder if Abraham posted in here that God asked him to kill his son if these remarks would be similar. We truly are looking at things through our present cultural lens.

  • cranefly

    “Did you ever stop to consider that polygamy is an expedient to female
    autonomy and spirituality?”

    Would sharing your wife with 20 other men help you grow spiritually?

    “Or that the impetus is creating progeny and
    trying faith?”

    It doesn’t create progeny. Women have the same number of pregnancies per year whether they’re all married to same man or different men. Did you not read the essay? Joseph took women from married men. He also took women “for eternity only.” In eternity, one woman is sufficient for an infinite number of children.

    “So anytime God tells someone to do something with a concurrent statement of consequence, He is being unjust? By that measure, every parent who punishes their child is unjust.”

    Whenever God forces someone into marriage, God is being unjust. Whenever a parent forces a child into marriage, the parent is being unjust. You said
    you weren’t justifying forced marriage. Clearly, you are.

    “Do you think that Abraham was particularly fond of taking Isaac up to Mount Moriah to sacrifice him?”

    A God who demands child sacrifice is unjust. But most Old Testament scholars I know of see the Abraham story as a parable with the point that the Jewish God did NOT require child sacrifice.

  • Jim Reed

    The current lens shows there was no actual Abraham. This is because archaeology shows us there was no 40 years of wandering by the nation of Israel in the Sinai desert a few thousand years ago. If there was, it would have left lots of evidence that is not there. Since there was no actual wandering in the desert, there was no Exodus and no actual Moses, and with no actual Moses all of the previous Bible characters were also just made up. This is real progress because it is a chance for science to clear up issues of if the Bible is true.

  • Jim Reed

    What happens to the boys in communities that are polygamous? Don’t you end up with lots of extra boys at the end of the day who have no girls to marry? Do they just leave their family and community and move to NYC?

  • Dave

    I also learned that Joseph Smith was a polygamist while on my mission, and even then I didn’t believe it until I had finished my 2 two years and heard it mentioned on campus at BYU-Idaho. Until just this weekend I didn’t know the extent of it (Fanny Alger and the other documented women). I haven’t been to church in months, but this knowledge has made me finally ready to separate ties completely.

  • GarenG

    I taught early morning seminary for 6 years. Several time during the church history year, we were instructed to not spend more than 5 mins on Polygamy. Testify that JS was a prophet.
    If I remember right, the lesson material spend 1 day on sec 132. With zero on the 2nd half of that chapter.
    This it not about good/bad seminary teachers, and you are kinda offensive to try and sluff the blame off to them.
    Teachers are told “Teach the material and don’t teach anything but the material”. The material is NOT the scriptures, but the lesson materials themselves.

  • Dave

    The church will never be able to admit all the wrongs that occurred in the history of the church, ESPECIALLY wrongs committed by Joseph Smith. Countless times i’ve heard that the legitimacy of the church relies on the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and the first Prophet of the Restoration. If the Church admits that Joseph Smith was not the godly man we’ve believed him to be, then they are basically admitting the church has no foundation to stand on, and it suddenly becomes just another organization that teaches a few nice principles such as having good family relations.

  • theenlightenedskeptic

    More or fewer than other “quirky sects?”

  • theenlightenedskeptic

    Great point to keep in mind, Like….wow

  • DJ in AZ

    OK. But I think any serious seeker of truth would (and should) read the BOM, think and ponder about it, and pray to God about it.

  • SeaboardLitProf

    I found it perfectly coherent — you really couldn’t follow it?

  • theenlightenedskeptic

    Is it really that simple though?

    Particularly if you understand that that prophet is fallible? What do you do when you get a different answer?

  • James

    “Would sharing your wife with 20 other men help you grow spiritually?”

    If the Lord commanded it, undoubtedly. I’ve already covenanted to donate all of my time, talents, and possessions to the Church, if needs be.

    “It doesn’t create progeny. Women have the same number of pregnancies per year whether they’re all married to same man or different men.”

    There’s a difference between “raising up seed” and “raising up seed unto the Lord.” When mandated by divinity, plural marriage assuredly does the latter—both on earth and in the eternities. https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/jacob/2.27-30

    Again, no one was forced into anything. Consequences for behavior are the natural order of the universe; this in
    no way destroys human agency.

    “A God who demands child sacrifice is unjust.” God tested Abraham, but did not ultimately require him to sacrifice his child. Your point is moot.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    If you think that liberals have less respect for human agency than conservatives, you are seriously confused.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    That’s still a non sequitur. Nothing about something’s being finite renders it meaningless.

    As for my “helpless” kids, they do quite well, after graduation. I’ll let them know you were concerned for them.

  • DJ in AZ

    17 Pray without ceasing.

    18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

    19 Quench not the Spirit.

    20 Despise not prophesyings.

    21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:17-21)

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    I’ve read the Book of Mormon. It is an embarrassment and an obvious fraud to anyone who knows the ancient languages of the region. Indeed, even the language it was allegedly written in — Reformed Egyptian — is a fake that not a single, credible Egyptologist will confirm.

    ———————————-

    Mainstream scholarly view of reformed Egyptian

    Standard language reference works contain no reference to “reformed Egyptian”.[3]

    No non-Mormon scholars acknowledge the existence of either a “reformed
    Egyptian” language or a “reformed Egyptian” script as it has been
    described in Mormon belief. For instance, in 1966, John A. Wilson,
    professor of Egyptology at the University of Chicago,
    wrote, “From time to time there are allegations that picture writing
    has been found in America… In no case has a professional Egyptologist
    been able to recognize these characters as Egyptian hieroglyphs. From
    our standpoint there is no such language as ‘reformed Egyptian’.”[10]
    Klaus Baer, another Egyptologist at the University of Chicago, called
    the characters of the “Caractors” document nothing but “doodlings”.[11] An early-twentieth-century scholar said that the “Caractors” document looked more like “deformed English.”[12] Anthropologist Michael D. Coe of Yale University, an expert in pre-Columbian Mesoamerican studies, has written, “Of all the peoples of the pre-Columbian New World, only the ancient Maya had a complete script.”[13]

    —————————–

    So…yeah…I’ll stick with being Jewish.

  • James

    I have said nothing whatsoever about contemporary conservatism. But as the very essence of contemporary liberalism is the ideology of “equality” achieved via state coercion, I’d love to hear you present your case.

  • Jim Reed

    The BOM was written in 19th century America, and written in King James English. It just doesn’t seem like something that would be worth spending all that time on. New Christianities in 19th century American were popular, but they all just seem so fake now.

  • theenlightenedskeptic

    non-responsive.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    Both liberals and conservatives are inclined to be coercive — and thus, fail to respect individual agency — but with respect to different things. Similarly, their Supreme Court Justices are equally inclined to “judicial activism,” just with regard to different things.

  • Jim Reed

    So now that we have all the Mormon questions back out on the table, and mostly answered, is Romney going to run again?

  • GP

    Jim, what “mistakes” are you referring to? Nearly all of the church history problems have nothing to do with mistakes. For example, the recent polygamy essay from the church clearly states that God commanded Joseph to “marry” teenagers and other men’s wives. Nowhere in that essay does it refer to Joseph as making a mistake. If you are a believer, then you need to own up to this as a commandment of God and not a mistake.

  • GP

    Dan, we’re not talking about mistakes here. The LDS church considers Joseph Smith’s polygamy and polyandry to be a commandment of God, not a mistake. The same goes for the other issues like BoM/BoA translation, multiple first vision accounts, etc. If you are a believer, then you need to own these as commandments, not mistakes.

  • DJ in AZ

    OK, suit yourself. You and I and everyone else are free to do as we choose. I’m just saying, if a person really wants to know, he or she will do the work necessary to find out.

  • DJ in AZ

    If a person is merely curious about what the BOM is and what is written in it, the I suppose watching South Park will do. Like anything else in life, you get what you pay for.

  • GP

    Let me put it to you this way… if you are going to kill someone in the name of God, then you had better be sure that it’s really God talking to you. So… how do you KNOW that Joseph Smith and all other LDS prophets up until now are actually speaking for God? We know that the historical record does not support this. You will invariably reach for the confirmation of the “spirit” in the form of a feeling. The same feeling that devout members of other faiths also feel – there is nothing special about your own “feeling” other than it’s personal to you. So, would you kill because of a feeling? I should hope not.

  • DJ in AZ

    Personally, I don’t think you will get a different answer. But if you do, definitely follow God and go by the answer you get. And, continue to pray, seek for the spirit, and hold fast to that which is good, as the scriptures counsel us to do.

  • GP

    I doubt that you’ll actually do this… but if you are serious, then you need to watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycUvC9s4VYA

  • GP

    Well said Mark… James is just using circular reasoning.

  • DJ in AZ

    Wait a sec. How do you KNOW that the historical record does not support that Joseph Smith and all other LDS prophets up until now are not speaking for God? That’s just your opinion, not a fact.

  • Jim Reed

    It was a mistake to believe in “Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints”. The Bible when properly understood shows us there was no Jesus and the gospels were inventions of later decades.

  • GP

    I think we’re arguing a similar thing here… I was mostly trying to point out to others that the “mistake” excuse does not apply for trying to justify the behaviors of Joseph Smith.

  • Jim Reed

    That episode showed the Mormon family as better people than any of the people from South Park, especially the Mormon boy who was the same age as the regulars on the show.

  • GP

    Surely you jest. I know because of emperical evidence – you know, things like science, original source material, etc. And common sense. Look up “Occam’s Razor”. Look DJ, I used to be in your shoes. I’m cool if you want to believe in whatever you want to believe in. But please, don’t try to pass it off as scientifically or historically provable without providing the evidence. Check out http://mormonthink.com… it’s tough to deal with this… trust me, I’ve gone through it. But at least you’ll be a peace with knowing the truth. And for goodness sake, please don’t kill anyone in the name of God!

  • Jim Reed

    That is the way they hook you. Check for yourself, then the peer pressure guides what you see. We try to always keep things even handed here on RD.

  • Jim Reed

    We’re not arguing. We’re just using posts to make more posts.

  • GP

    I feel for you Dave… I’m in the same boat. Best wishes to you.

  • GP

    Dan, it’s not only lightweight, but it’s NEW (as in within the last year). Even the PH/RS manual on Joseph Smith a few years back does not speak to this at all. How can you identify a seminary teacher as being “bad” if it wasn’t in the material? Furthermore, if a person brought up these topics, they end up getting in trouble with church discipline. That’s what happened to John Dehlin – listen to his story. Sorry, but you need more than a brand new oblique reference to Joseph Smith practicing polygamy in order to make your case. We’ve had curriculum silence on this for over 100 years. Please consider this before you attach labels to people who aren’t given the right tools to do their job.

  • anubis

    This is exceptionally ironic. In your comment, all I see is “me, me, me” from your “you, you, you.” Let me illustrate:
    “So many of you feel you have this inherent right to judge God and sit back and pontificate about his gospel…” Read: I do not judge God. I am better than you.
    “…you lack a full understanding of gospel principles…” Read: I have a full understanding of gospel principles. You do not. I am better than you.
    “…[you] have allowed yourself to be consumed by the present political and social correctness which plagues our society today.” Read: I am not consumed by political and social correctness; you are; I am better than you. Also, I like to denigrate people who, for all I know, are trying to be considerate and welcoming and sensitive by slapping the pointless conservative anathema of “political and social correctness” on them. I have the right to make value judgments of people and their innermost motives; I am better than you are.
    “Your ethnocentrism towards the acceptability of practices in different times and places shows that for all your vaunted desire for “equality” you really only want to elevate yourself.” Read: I am so much better than you, you ethnocentric, weak-testimonied, sinful slug. Also, I like to use sarcastic scare quotes.

  • tommy

    I enjoy this read. Sentences like:” the LDS Church has
    still not fully acknowledged that it was wrong to exclude faithful black men
    and women, nor has it apologized for its support of racial segregation.”
    tells me you lack understanding.

    1. How do you know it was wrong to exclude Africans? (Not
    blacks, as other black groups had full access.) Who told you? from what well does your profound truth spring? I’ll tell you where- our current socio-political beliefs, plain and simple. That’s why you think they were wrong. Unless of course, you have access to some greater truth than the rest of us? including the First Presidency? But you don’t- You’re just
    a judger, which I am pretty sure Christ vehemently condemns. You judge the past
    with what you assume to be ruby red 20/20 glasses. But judging historical
    events with current understandings is not only against God’s commandments, but
    it is also a serious intellectual error. Hindsight is rarely 20/20, especially when we simply don’t have all the information. One of my favorite life lessons comes from a Jewish Rabbi who survived the holocaust. Essentially he stated, it was not his role to judge what had happened, but rather to try and understand why it happened.

    2. You do realize that scripturally speaking- God is a sexist and a racist right? (That is- based on our current socio-political beliefs, your beliefs.) Yet somehow you still cling to some greater concept of faith, while ignoring those scriptural/historical details. “Is it the will of God that
    polygamy should persist in LDS Church theology and policies pertaining to LDS temple marriages, as it does to this day?” I don’t know? How do you know? Again- do you have some other font of truth whereby the LDS church should be guided? How is it that you know better? Tell me, did the spirit testify to you that your beliefs are correct? That same spirit which has erroneously compelled the leaders of the church to be racists and sexists- is that the same spirit which tells you they were wrong?

  • DJ in AZ

    Lol…If I get the urge to smite someone in the name of religion, I’ll be sure to let you and the local authorities know first, lol!

  • GP

    🙂

  • cranefly

    You’re a zombie with no conscience, then, and you clearly have not read the essay on LDS.org. READ. I’m not making things up. It acknowledges the angel with the sword, forcing people into marriage. If ANYTHING is made clear in that essay, it is that your church believes that Joseph Smith was not given a choice as to whether he would take additional wives. Have you read D&C 132? Have you read the part where Emma Smith was threatened with destruction if she failed to comply? If your daughter had sex with a gun pointed at her head, would you not call it rape? That’s what this is.

    Mormons who I respect often talk about the emphasis in Mormonism on humans as literal gods in embryo, being raised by Heavenly Parents. They often don’t have testimonies of polygamy. Because good parents don’t behave like this, trafficking their children as sex slaves for “raising up seed,” destroying them for disobedience. You don’t learn godlike wisdom or responsibility by blindly following, even to the point of committing atrocities in the name of obedience.

  • laineypc

    You wouldn’t be Eileen Smith’s son by chance?

    Why do you think that is? That members don’t understand?

  • laineypc

    I read it. I get it. A church might not crumble, but I was trying to highlight in my question how the LDS church predicates belief on a hierarchical organizational structure where the authorities are not questioned. I understand what she is saying, she is pointing a way to reconciliation, and that is great, but really how is a Mormon who is taught that the Prophet will never lead the church astray that they must not question doctrine in public and made to feel that if they do have questions maybe their testimony isn’t strong enough and they should doubt their doubts…it’s a huge chasm. I wish the writer had acknowledged how un-Mormon and foreign her reconciliation proposal is.

  • Andre M

    Hush, the adults are trying to have a conversation here.

  • laineypc

    So even god follows the cultural whims of the time.

  • allen

    yeah, what you are saying makes sense. i just think personally that most of the world is not black and white. many anti mormons rail on about how absolutism and strict rules couples with a complicated history (like leaders making mistakes) leads to cognitive dissonance.

    i submit that you will experience those types of feelings in any religion, and that half the battle of life is being able to process contradictory concepts without your brain exploding. this article gets to the point of asking questions that might make someone’s head explode haha

    she is definitely as far as you can go into into the critical thinking sphere without denying the institution itself. idk.

    what i was trying to point out is that she isn’t saying that human error is needed or not in “articulation of spiritual truth” but that it should at least be included in the conversation.

    her piece seems more against than for the church which is what you meant: “I wish the writer had acknowledged how un-Mormon and foreign her reconciliation proposal is.”

    i agree lainey. thanks for the insight.

  • laineypc

    I imagine it can be quite jarring.

  • David Tiffany

    Yours is the most honest article I have read about Mormonism. How do you hang on to what you have (friends, family and support) and also question what you are discovering is one cover up after another.

    I don’t have the answer to that. Jesus said in Matthew 10:34-39, ““Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn
    “ ‘a man against his father,
    a daughter against her mother,
    a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
    a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

    “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”

    You have to make a choice: Will you continue to hang on to what is untrue, or will you in fact look honestly at the misinformation, turn from it, and then follow the truth.

    There is a lot being exposed about Mormonism and its origins. It was once condemnable to not practice and condone polygamy. Now it’s the opposite. Bringham Young once said when blacks were invited into the priesthood it would be the end of Mormonism. Now they are invited in. Meridian Magazine, an LDS publication, recently published an article saying Joseph Smith rarely referred to the golden plates to write the Book of Mormon, although Joseph Smith said he translated the Book of Mormon from the hieroglyphics on the golden plates. The ancient Egyptian papyrus used to write the Book of Abraham was in reality a funerary text, although Joseph Smith said, “much to our joy [we] found that one of the rolls contained the writings of
    Abraham.” So with the very foundation of Mormon doctrine found to be based on deception, then the claim that Joseph Smith was commissioned by God to restore the Gospel is also based on deception. The truth is that the Gospel as presented in the Bible is correct. Salvation from judgement is by grace through faith in Jesus alone. Salvation is free. Eternal life is free.

    http://downtownministries.blogspot.com/2014/06/deceived.html

  • cranefly

    Good lord, really? I would say “apples and oranges,” but it apples and oranges are far too similar. Maybe you neglect your children, and it makes no difference how many you have. But most people with six kids spend less time with each one than they could if they only had three.

    If your wife had another husband, would you get as much support and attention as you do now? If she slept in another man’s bed every other night, would you see as much of her? What kind of equal partner would you be if you were one of five or ten husbands?

    I’ll accept the romantic notion that you’re capable of giving each of three kids the same amount of love that one would get, if she were an only child. But isn’t their mother capable of the same math? Or is it a male thing, to have the boundless love to satisfy the hearts of 10 or 20 women, while a woman only has enough for one man (max)? Either way, Mormon polygamy is still intrinsically unequal. Either it suppresses the boundless love of women, denying them the expression that men are allowed, or it teaches that men are ontologically more loving. There’s no way to make 1= 2, without being sexist.

  • Anachron

    Victim shaming, dansmith21. No bueno.

  • laineypc

    OK so Mormons and Hindus have an equal chance at salvation (that is, if Hindus believed in salvation) Mormons do not profess to be the one true church, or it wouldn’t make sense for them to if they said they didn’t have exclusive access to the truth. But I joke, of course. Of course the Mormons claim they have the only path to ultimate salvation, they are the one true church. So the question of Aravis Tarkheena be begged.

  • laineypc

    Everyone has access to the truth, but Mormon truth is truthier. And the ability of Mormons to perceive truth is also perceivier.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    I actually think that the religion that most resembles Mormonism is not Christianity, but rather, Scientology. There is a similar secrecy; a similar practice of persecuting and abusing apostates; a similar bizarre, science-fiction like cosmology; a similar financial angle, amongst those on the top. Both are very cult-like in their behavior and practices.

  • laineypc

    The LDS church holds women responsible for men controlling their sex drive. If women dress provocatively, it is their fault for stirring lustful desires in men. I suppose your answer to this, James, is “see? women are the superior gender! Look how you can command men.”

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    I’m not sure what this advice means.

  • Abe

    Thanks for the awesome post, Joanna. My dad has expressed a certain degree of fear to my mother about polygamy possibly being reinstated which suggests that he thinks he might refuse the practice should it be required of him at some point. But isn’t this an eternal thing? Isn’t polygamy a higher law pertaining to the Celestial Kingdom? I agree with you that the Church leaders should address this issue specifically. Then again the Kirtland essay indicates they have no idea. The last sentence reads:

    “The precise nature of these relationships in the next life is not known, and many family relationships will be sorted out in the life to come.”

    I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds this information entirely unhelpful.

    http://doubtyourdoubts.blogspot.com/2014/10/polygamy-empty-explanations.html

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    Yeah, he’s being disingenuous. If Mormons believed that “truth is not exclusive to any one faith” they wouldn’t be constantly sending out missionaries.

  • laineypc

    “We can know God through this process of inductive learning, which is no more delusional a method for securing knowledge than is the scientific method.”
    Please explain your thinking on this.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    I would like to hear how God’s existence can be proven inductively. Even better, I’d like to hear the inductive proof for *your* particular god.

  • laineypc

    Cranefly, in the gospel according to James (commenter James) that’s not reprehensible, that’s good inductive learning, right on par with scientific methods, epistemologically speaking. It’s all internally consistent and once you make the leap to accepting the authority of god’s spokesMen, (how you make that leap and why it’s a truthier leap to that than to Catholicism or Judaism: still a mystery) you can pretty much stop with all the questions. You have arrived at Truth. Don’t worry about your subjugation and your social expediency. That’s just cultural baggage. Nothing to do with God, really.
    That’s me. I want nothing to do with James’ god.

  • Abe

    I would like to hear just how exactly polygamy is a divine principle. I’m not seeing it.

    http://doubtyourdoubts.blogspot.com/2014/10/why-god-requires-polygamy.html

  • laineypc

    Apologizing for Jim…he seems to assume you have insider experience with Mormon culture. I was inside, and I’m not sure what he is talking about either. Nutshell (I think): Mormon discussion: can’t/won’t acknowledge another POV when presenting arguments. Can only argue from your own POV. There is only one possible truth One-word answers. Seeks to come to a Conclusive Truth, usually a Testimony of Faith. Jewish discussion: can address arguments from another vantage point. Will discuss many arcane ideas, on the one hand this, but on the other hand that… can sound wishy washy, doesn’t necessarily need to end in some kind of conclusive and agreed upon Truth. Enjoys the process.

  • Jim Reed

    Check out this weeks South Park. That should explain.

  • Jim Reed

    Unless you are Mormon. They can usually see past anything.

  • cranefly

    Truthiness is hard to quantify, but I don’t give Catholicism (my native religion) a pass. I don’t want anything to do with gods who place people as rulers over other people, who subjugate their people to (self-)appointed mouthpieces and are otherwise silent, or who rank their children by race, class, gender, ideology, or any other privilege.

  • Abe

    Thanks for posting this. Everyone should watch it.

  • JJ

    Some polygamous communities end up with a lot of unmarried men, but not all. Mostly, men end up marrying women much later in polygamous communities and the standards to be able to marry are often strict, such as needing enough wealth, or approval from a leader in the community. A man’s first wife might actually be the third or fourth wife of another man who died. In the past, the population of men in polygamous communities were often controlled through war. And most polygamous communities don’t allow all men to practice plural marriage. Most only are permitted to have one wife with a few deemed wealthy enough or worthy enough to have multiple wives. There is no equal practice of plural marriage in polygamist communities. When Mormons practiced polygamy, perhaps a third of the population was actually involved in a plural marriage. That is rather high compared to other groups (where it’s usually between five and ten percent). This stills shows that the majority in polygamous cultures don’t actually practice polygamy.

  • laineypc

    James the hoops the Mormon god wants us to jump through, without making sense in this temporal plane, that don’t comport with the way I experience fulfillment and joy and meaning in this life (some do, some don’t). He and his Servants just don’t make a good enough case for me. Polygamy is one of those things. Why having a trial of faith is somehow an important part of life that leads to spiritual growth- the kinds of trials of faith where you don’t get to figure it out til after you die- I have stopped trying to figure that one out.
    You are an awesome uber-Mormon. I do believe that you are keeping true to the faith, you will not back down from the theology of Joseph and Brigham, and you understand how it all fits together and to many of us, your vision, your clarity is just reinforcing – yup, leaving was definitely the right way to go. To be a TBM,Mormon, you pretty much have to embrace eternal plural marriage.

  • Jim Reed

    In a Jewish discussion, Jews argue with other Jews over the answers to the big questions, and they have a lot of questions that need answers. In a Mormon discussion, Mormons are a united front to argue with the world over what questions are valid to ask, and there are a lot of questions that need to be skipped over.

  • Jim Reed

    In a Jewish discussion, Jews argue with other Jews over the answers to the big questions, and they have a lot of questions that need answers. In a Mormon discussion, Mormons are a united front to argue with the rest of the world over what questions are valid to ask, and there are a lot of questions that need to be skipped over.

  • GP

    James, you are quoting the church’s essay… which sidesteps a direct answer. The church knows the truth and is not telling the whole story. Go take a look at http://wivesofjosephsmith.org/ then go back and read the essay. You’ll start to see how carefully worded the essay was written to hide the evidence. Don’t believe the internet? Go do some research. Grab a copy of “In Sacred Loneliness”. I was in your shoes once… and I went to the original sources to make sure I wasn’t being led astray by the devil. What I found was eye opening. You owe it to yourself to at least be educated on this beyond the church’s essay. It’s a lifelong commitment… you don’t want to be making a mistake. Best of luck to you brother… I only speak with to you with love as someone who has walked in your shoes.

  • GP

    Yes – thank you! The current requirement of having members bear testimony against something so demonstrably wrong and false makes attending church maddening for those who know the real history.

  • GP

    Ken, you are making a hasty generalization. I could use your logic to justify just about anything. You don’t “know” in the literal sense of knowing. You “believe” that the church is true because you have received a personal witness (feeling) that tells you it is true – the same feeling that other devout members of other faiths feel. You use this feeling to dismiss solid evidence against the church being true. I’m cool with you believing in whatever you want. But don’t use your personal feelings to discount science and history.

  • GP

    DJ – other members of other faiths have the same feeling (“spirit”) and conviction as you do. Who gets to say which is the “right” spirit and which is the “wrong” spirit? If you have good feelings in Mormonism, then stay. If others have their own witness for their beliefs, then great. But I encourage you to open up your mind to understanding that there is nothing unique or special about your witness beyond what others feel. You cannot argue that without circular reasoning my friend. Best wishes to you and your journey.

  • superdoo

    As time passes and things like the Joseph Smith ‘announcement’ are revealed helps me to realize perhaps how unique my LDS upbringing actually was. We were fully aware of Joseph Smith’s wives, and Brigham Young’s and even my own ancestor who fled the authorities with his youngest wife to Mexico leaving the older wives to fend for themselves.

    More so, we were taught that all of our leaders, even Joseph Smith were very fallible human beings. Interestingly when each of my family read Richard Bushman’s “Rough Stone Rolling” unbeknownst to each other, as we discovered we had each read it all of our comments were the same: We loved the humanity of Joseph Smith that came out in that. We loved to learn of his flaws, his shortcomings, his temper, his arrogance, hubris and more. It wasn’t necessarily new, but it was known and not disturbing. In fact for those of us believing we acknowledged that learning of those flaws in many ways affirmed our faith further. Why?

    1. It showed that through flawed vessels the Lord could do his work, which makes the church and gospel we love seem that much more miraculous.

    2. It showed that the Lord would work through flawed vessels just like you or me, that there is hope for all of us.

    3. It is and was okay to make mistakes.

    4. There are many things that we don’t understand, and things that are troubling, and things that are edifying, but because of it we need to work things out on our own. I know of no other way to phrase this than to make it sound like a massive cop-out, which absolutely isn’t my intent, but what would our faith be like if it was obtained to easily?

    That being said, not only were mistakes made by church founders, mistakes continue to be made to this very moment and beyond. That should mean something when a Bishop offends or makes the wrong choice, or a neighbor puts on a show at church and lives differently in real life.

    In many ways you can see the continued humanity even in things like correlation. Ideas that have flaws which sometimes demonstrate a earnest desire to make the very best something they love.

    Maybe it is just my need to cling to the little dark spot in everyone, but to me these sort of things are affirming. The question is can you be a ‘Godly Man’ and still make mistakes? I sure hope so.

    Now I’ll brace myself for the inevitable panning of these opinions…

  • GP

    DJ – please explain this to me http://wordtreefoundation.github.io/thelatewar/. How in the world did all of that 19th century work make it into the BoM?

  • Jim Reed

    So it is pretty much the same as other species of mammals that practice plural marriage. Each species tries to find ways to minimize any violence, or make it not too deadly.

  • DJ in AZ

    What’s your explanation? That JS copied it, or was influenced by it, or something along those lines? No, I don’t believe that at all. The BOM is exactly what is purports to be, which is a second witness to the world that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and the Savior and Redeemer of the world. That is something I know.

  • GP

    DJ, how did the Nephites get a copy of The Late War? As for how the BoM was translated, I’m going to go off of what the church admitted to in a recent essay: Joseph Smith used a rock in his hat. An early church member coined the word “Urim and Thummim” in 1833 – several years after the BoM was translated. Before that, it was just a “seer stone”. Joseph found this stone while digging a well for Josiah Stowell and used that same stone to try and find buried treasure. That same chocolate colored egg shaped stone was used to find the golden plates and then translate them – even when they weren’t in the same room. Joseph Smith found the GOLDEN plates in the middle of his treasure quests for buried treasure. Think about it – hopefully you can make the connection. Don’t believe me? Read the church’s own website on it (https://www.lds.org/topics/book-of-mormon-translation). Do more research to find more details on your own… I suggest reading D. Michael Quinn’s “Early Mormonism and the Magic Worldview”. Good luck my friend.

  • Jo

    “What can it mean to be a people of broken stories? . . .What if wrongness is human, sanctifiable, and perhaps even a source of holiness? . . .”

    Very thought provoking questions. Especially so, in the context of this life as a project, as an opportunity to learn, to grow, to overcome, as an opportunity to, as I was taught from childhood, be tested. Without “wrongness” would there be any opportunity or neccessity for forgiveness, for repentance, for humility, for growth, for grace, for charity, for learning, even for learning, —or for any of those projects I’ve been told we were sent here for doing?
    “Wrongness…a source of holiness?” Hmmmm, I do think maybe so, —in that context.
    Thank you to Johanna Brooks for yet another morning of reflection and thought.

  • dansmith21

    Sorry for coming across that way. What I mean is just that I find these comments surprising, and they don’t reflect what I expect to have been the typical experience for most people growing up in the church.

  • DJ in AZ

    I suggest you put down the anti-LDS literature and get back to reading the scriptures, the Ensign, and the gospel principles manual. We read the same things from the church and get totally different views. Why? Because you see things through the eyes of a skeptic who doesn’t want to believe, and I see things through the eyes of a believer who wants to come closer to Christ. Thus, our different views.

  • dansmith21

    It’s possible the Seminary curriculum has changed; I’d love to see a link to an older manual, if anybody has one. Based on my (fuzzy) recollection of Seminary in the 90s, I would expect to see some lessons about polygamy and Joseph Smith in those manuals.

  • Esteban

    You don’t know how, why or under what circumstances Joseph Smith’s plural marriages took place but you are certain that they were human excesses. It seems that you have a lot riding on the church being “wrong” without having complete knowledge. If Joseph Smith was wrong, then the whole restored gospel is wrong. I know it is true because I live it daily and it has proven to be a perfect guide in my life. If it had not, I would not be a member. I know who Joseph Smith was because I know his works. You cannot separate one from the other. Therefore I am confident that his plural marriages also took place for a purpose that was neither worldly or indecent. I do not doubt that he was a prophet.

  • Laurence Charles Ringo

    Seriously, GP? You actually expect any sane person to believe that Smith was commanded to be an adulterer and a child molester? Really?

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    You’re just one, big walking logical fallacy aren’t you.

    This time, it’s the fallacy of False Dilemma.

  • Laurence Charles Ringo

    Yeah, Jim Reed…YOUR”bible”, whatever its origin, may teach YOU that, but that old, tiresome,overworked”no-Jesus”canard is just that. Far better actual scholars than you’ll ever be have affirmed the existence of Jesus the Christ, so…get over it.Your unbelief changes nothing.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    Uh…the story is allegorical.

  • Laurence Charles Ringo

    Yeah…No.Once again, SHOW ME your claims in Scripture, the KJV, if you prefer, but I’m not obligated to believe Latter Saint dogma not attached to a concrete Scriptural foundation. It’s just that simple. No Scripture, no truth.

  • GP

    Laurence, you have made my point exactly (thank you). I DO NOT believe that it was a commandment of God. You are right – it isn’t sane. The point that I’m making is that people try to say that Joseph Smith was just making a mistake… and to leave him alone. But the LDS church doesn’t consider Joseph Smith’s actions as mistakes, but commandments of God. Thus the burden lies upon the LDS church and its followers to justify this so-called “commandment”.

  • TheProudDuck

    As between those two poles (should I include a trigger warning with that last word?), I prefer the former type of feminist to the latter. (Do you deny they exist, in their insane little hothouse corners of academic departments ending with “-studies”?)

    In fact, once you move very far beyond the feminism that consists simply of “People should not be subjected to artificial restraints because of their sex,” you pretty much lose me.

    In my experience, once you go beyond that, it’s pretty much demanding that women be celebrated for acting like men who are behaving badly — but in their case, it’s good, because uteruses and oppression and patriarchy.

    Great username, though.

  • GP

    DJ, what have I stated that is not true? I mean, I just pointed you to lds.org. Is lds.org anti-LDS? I was a devout believer at one time. However, the historical and scientific evidence against the church’s claims was just too overwhelming. I’m going to now link you to a newsroom press release yesterday from the church. This covers many of the “problem” areas. This is your church speaking. What is your answer to all of this? http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/church-provides-context-gospel-topics-pages

  • TheProudDuck

    Marrying other men’s wives has been a no-no in pretty much every time and place you can think of. And certainly in the context of early nineteenth-century America

    Judging Joseph Smith’s conduct in that regard by the standards of his own time and place, he comes out looking just as bad then as he does now.

    Of course, if God really did command him with a flaming sword, that’s a horse of a different color.

  • TheProudDuck

    I could never quite figure out why there ought to be a blanket rule against “victim shaming.”

    Some victims of some misfortunes do contribute to their own misfortune, and it is in everyone’s best interest for that contributory behavior to be identified, so others can avoid it and harm.

    I mean, the victim of a one-car drunk-driving accident is the drunk who wrapped his car around a tree. Is it “blaming the victim” to note he could’ve avoided being victimized by not getting drunk?

  • Murray

    The question is Jim, if he does run, would you vote for him?

  • Murray

    Not true. I got a clearance to be sealed to my current wife after my first wife (who is no longer a member) wrote a letter to the Bishop/Stake Pres/FIrst Pres.

  • Jim Reed

    Once you see the Bible contains contradictions you can look past just accepting every word as words from God, and start to see why it was written to say what it does, and how the timing of that fits into the entire picture of the Bible. In the middle of the first century we find a lot of Christian writings from Paul. They show a heavenly Christ that Christianity was finding in old testament scriptures, plus they were having visions back then. There was no record of Jesus the man from Nazareth in Paul. Nothing about any of Jesus’ teachings or miracles as found decades later in the gospels. In the last third of the century the gospels were written, each one adding more to the story. The final gospel, John, has the most impressive Jesus miracle, raising Lazarus from the dead after three days in the grave. Even though this was Jesus’ greatest miracle, it was unknown in the earlier gospels, and unknown in all the writings of Paul, but then everything from all of the gospels was unknown when Paul was writing. This is a picture of the Jesus story being invented over sevaral decades, all of them well after the time when Jesus was supposed to be living, and the best stuff was only in the last writings.

  • Jim Reed

    I guess we would have to discuss that here.

  • embarrassed

    Lol does your last name start with a P and end with a k? I’m pretty sure I know you.

    Anyway, the only way I want to “elevate” myself is by leaving a religion I am ashamed to have been baptised in at the age of 8 having been taught NONE of the historical facts of the church. I am humiliated having tried to convert anybody to such a sexist ,racist, hateful organization. I understand the appaling gospel pretty well. I just can’t do it anymore. God is missing from these leaders.

  • mkriley39

    Joanna, it’s not that the men in the LDS church hierarchy cannot answer these hard questions. They know the truth and are struggling just like you to reconcile their faith with historical fact. Answering the questions truthfully is a burden they are unwilling to bear the result of, either individually or collectively. The problem then becomes not an inability to answer, but an unwillingness. This is why the ‘faithful narrative’ was created and perpetuated in the first place. And the emperor will continue to hide behind his own lie until the majority call out “you have no clothes!” When the evidence is so overwhelming that the majority of believers demand the truth, the church will capitulate as it did with the Negro/priesthood fallacy and the brethren will have no option but to pick up the pieces and go forward with real, indisputable and historically correct truth.

  • JC

    Polygamy was a crime. So yes, she was committing a crime and she was being coerced to do it by a man 2 1/2 times her age and a man in a position of authority over her. But again as you said, you would let your daughter choose. Just curious, what other crimes would you let your daughter choose to participate in?

  • Michael

    Joanna, I wish you would use your gifts to build the kingdom rather than endeavor to undermine it. What good comes from grumbling and fault-finding? As Abraham Lincoln is reported to gave observed, “If you look for the bad in mankind, you will surely find it.” You’re right-Church leaders made and continue to make mistakes. Christ forgave Peter his trespasses. If we are to follow him, we must also forgive. I encourage you to move on, move forward in serving others, studying the scriptures, and praying-holding to the rod, the word of God. Beware of the tendency to let pride rule your heart. To be learned is good, if you hearken to the counsels of God.

  • Shans

    Wrong. Look how many people have left because of those “few mistakes”

  • Thomas Palmieri

    The problem with your thesis, Jim, is that Paul himself tells us that even after his mystical revelations with respect to the Christ, he went to confer first with Peter and James (Gal 1:18-19), and then again later with Peter, James and John, to confirm that the gospel which he preached was the true gospel, lest he had “run in vain” (Gal 2:1-9). Your statement that “everything from all of the gospels was unknown when Paul was writing” is false, because Paul acknowledges that Peter, James and John were apostles of Christ, and this is stated also in the gospels (Mt 4:18-22; Mk 1:16-19). Furthermore, Paul relates that one of the disciples, James, was the “brother (adelphos) of the Lord” (Gal 1:19), signifying that he had met one who was brother or cousin to Jesus in the flesh. Again, in another of his writings Paul indicates that disciples had once known Christ in the flesh (2 Cor 5:16). And yet again, Paul tells us that Jesus forbade divorce (1 Cor 7:10), which teaching appears in the Gospel of Matthew (Mt 19:10). So also Paul cites the words of institution at the Eucharistic sacrifice which are spoken by Christ himself in the gospel accounts (e.g. Mt 26:26-28; Mk 14:22-24; Lk 22:17-20). Obviously, then, St. Paul had received instruction in the faith from men who had known Jesus personally. All of these examples show us that Paul had met with men who knew Jesus personally, and believed him to be the Messiah. He himself tells us that it was he who learned from the apostles, and not vice versa. Another error is your statement that only the final gospel, that of St. John, presents Christ as performing what you take to be the greatest miracle of all, that of raising Lazarus from the dead. If you will recall, in Mark’s Gospel, which is believed by scholars to have been composed (A.D. 66) only a few years after Paul’s later writings (A.D. ca. 58-63), Jesus is presented as having raised up the 12 year old girl from the dead (Mk 5:35-43). This modern attempt by skeptics, which you are following, to disparage the truth of the gospel through resort to casuistry fails the test of close examination. Wishing Jesus away will not make it so. Why don’t you just be honest about your feelings and say ‘I reject Jesus Christ and his apostles’ rather than concocting insincere arguments in an attempt to prove that you are wiser than men and women of faith.

  • kabbee

    “Telestial ressurection”?

    Thank you for that one-liner, Eliza (after Ann Eliza, I presume and not the poetess).

    Here’s the image for those who couldn’t visualize it as well as an explanation of nuanced Mormon beliefs that they’re not sure they teach anymore.

    Proud being stands up in a moment of glory and triumph in a victory over death, grateful that his faith was proven correct, and then suddenly looks down to his groin area…

    “Hey! What happened to my johnson?”

  • GP

    Are you braced? 🙂

    When I found out about the details behind Joseph Smith’s polygamy, it was difficult for me to handle. One of the angles that I tried to take was what you outlined above. The problem lies within the theme of the polygamy essay itself – which is, Joseph Smith was commanded of God to marry several dozen women including teenagers and the wives of other men. And yes, Joseph did have sexual relations with them (as I presume you are aware given your prior knowledge on this topic). My point is this – the essay is clear that the church does NOT consider these to be mistakes. Yet your argument above tries to dismiss Joseph’s actions as mistakes. With that said, are you able to justify Joseph’s actions as a commandment of God and not a mistake?

  • Jim Reed

    That approach probably wouldn’t work too well here on RD.

  • Jim Reed

    Some of the questioners will fall away, an we will be left with a slightly smaller group that is less inclined to question.

  • Jim Reed

    This might be the influence that the group has on each other. People see some of the questions, but a system of rewards and punishments has evolved to handle that, so all people have to do is continue the weekly meetings and the group will hold them up.

  • Brendon Shipley

    Contrary to public belief, and even to many members of the church, polygamy is a core tenant of the religion. Mormons would be practicing polygamy to this day if the United States government had not outlawed it. It should not be shocking to ANYONE that Joseph Smith had multiple wives like Brigham Young did if they first realize that polygamy is one of the pillars of the faith just as much as the Book of Mormon is.

  • Jim Reed

    There is a fundamental difference between scientific style information and religious information. The scientific process is composed of scientists trying their best to disprove theories of ofher scientists, and the results are a base of knowledge that has been cleared of errors, as best the science of that day can manage. It keeps advancing. Religious knowledge is backed up by apologists trying their best to come up with explanations of why they (and sometimes others) should continue to believe things that are often obviously contradictory, and therefore wrong. Religious style learning has the advantage of thousands of years of development, so its concepts can often be very difficult to shake, in spite of the best efforts of modern scientific reasoning. I guess this means when someone has religious reasons for beliefs, we should be skeptical because we know the track record of religion.

  • mkriley39

    Those who will follow without questioning are becoming a diminishing minority. The old guard, the blind faith genertion of the past. Today’s rising generation wants answers and this is why the issues are garnering so much attention, and why the church is trying to carefully respond. IMHO the ffuture of the church as a credible organization is at stake and the best (and only) way to secure it is to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I believe members will forgive the misdeeds of past leaders. What is harder to reconcile with is the continuing cover-up. That causes distrust and suspicion and is a sure fire recipe to attrition.

  • MormonMominDavis

    To lie to your wife and others, to destroy property to continue the lie, and to hurt children is never acceptable. That you can condone it is interesting, but mostly it is sad.

  • Luman Walters

    dan, where in that lesson plan does it mention specifically that joseph had more than one wife? It’s nowhere in that lesson you posted. IS that the right link?
    If this stuff is ever mentioned it’s crammed into a footnote or it’s obscured by vague language.

  • Luman Walters

    but why? What are you going off of? You have nothing concrete to prove that it was in the seminary manuals in the 90s.
    You can’t blame seminary teahers though. Maybe they didn’t even know it.

  • Luman Walters

    so why is it so arbitrary then? Why should you get to know all this stuff and be innoculated against it but I don’t find out about it till my mid 20s?

  • Luman Walters

    what’s wrong with that though? They already are that. What’s wrong wtih admitting that you are just another organization that teaches a few nice principles?

  • Luman Walters

    it’s not judging god. It’s pointing out that there is no holiness in this gosepl. It’s just a bunch of crazy guys grasping in the dark just like everybody else.
    Your god is not worthy of worship or respect.

  • Luman Walters

    Abraham should have been put in prison for nearly killing his son. What a phsycopath. What about the woman in houston 10 years ago who drowned her FIVE children because god told her to huh?

  • Luman Walters

    no the real decider would be the man. Zina turned down joseph 2 times and she only relented because joseph said an angel with a sword would kill him if she didn’t so no, of course your wife doesn’t have a say. She’s a woman! Women never have a say in anything in the mormon religion.

  • Luman Walters

    who wants to follow a god like that though? That kind of a god is not worthy of worship or respect. A woman has to pledge 100% loyalty to jospeh but joseph only pledges 1/30th loaylty in return. I’m suppossed to want to be in the same kingdom as somebody like that??? I’m supposed to sing praises about that man? No, that man should be on “to catch a predator and thrown in jail and make sure nobody kills him this time so he can rot”

  • karin

    Actually it hasn’t been 100 yrs. Only since the 90’s. I went to seminary in the 80s and i also read an older institute book so i knew. What i did’nt know was that Smith married already married women who’s husbands were still alive (and usually sent off on some mission ).

  • Brendon Shipley

    Contrary to public belief, and even to many members of the church, polygamy is a core tenant of the religion. Mormons would be practicing polygamy to this day if the United States government had not outlawed it. I think it would be illogical to be shocked to learn that Joseph Smith had multiple wives like Brigham Young did. Mormons already believe that polygamy is one of the pillars of the faith just as much as the Book of Mormon is. What we are seeing is simply a culture shock brought back into the forefront.

  • greensmythe

    No, victim shaming would be to tell the sober driver who gets hit by a drunk driver on New Year’s Eve, “You should have known…Everyone knows the roads on New Year’s Eve are dangerous!”

  • weylguy

    Good Lord — “Wrongness is akin to holiness”?! I must have read that wrong myself.

    Years ago, I dated a Mormon woman. We discussed the major issues, like the truly nonsensical Book of Abraham, the laughable story of the Kinderhook plates, the White Salamander Letter, Joseph Smith’s history of treasure digging using magical seer stones, and Smith’s 1826 arrest record (which still exists) for fraud. Her response was that even if Smith was indeed a lying fraud, and knew himself to be a fraud, the lies he told and the fraudulent acts that he committed were somehow part of God’s plan, so in fact there were no lies or fraudulent acts.

    It is THAT “logic” which sums up the Mormon Church — that being wrong is being right. I seem to remember a certain George Orwell warning us about this kind of thing.

  • GP

    I’d be very interested in a specific reference to backup your claim. I’ve spoken with several individuals of different ages about this who went through seminary who had no idea about Joseph Smith practicing polygamy even in general terms. I have even done some searching on my own and could not find anyone else to provide a reference. If you learned of it, then it may have been a seminary teacher who departed from the material provided by the church.

  • aironjohnson

    Yeah I agree it isn’t the church’s fault that members of the church are ignorant and don’t know everything about their religion. What people as a religious group do? Plus there is no reason to teach about something like that when it doesn’t apply today. Not sure why this article would blow up. If people didn’t know Joseph Smith had more than one wife they must be very slow because he is the prophet that implemented polygamy. And for those that might have left the church over this knowledge are just looking for an excuse to leave because this knowledge is not out of character for the church at all.

  • Cameron

    Sorry but that is helpful advice to be extra careful driving on New Year’s Eve. I think you’re further proving the point that not all “victim shaming” is useless.

  • clhnsn

    I certainly agree with the following concepts:
    1) Religion and “scientific” information are moving in opposite directions. You must recognize that religious evidence was not subject to time as scientific evidence is. From the beginning spiritual experiences were able to be experienced at full capacity and thus in the lack of scientific evidence they were more valuable in determining the mysteries of the world. Scientific evidence (being subject to time for experimentation or observation) has slowly began to catch up so that many of these mysteries can now be explained by theories (emphasis on the word theories). As I said previously I find most errors come when people fall to far to one side, either only accepting science or only accepting spiritual experience as evidence.

    2) Certainly old traditions can be hard to shake to those who refuse to accept scientific evidence (and vice versa). But you must consider that they are not absolutely insane to do so. The vast majority of even the STRONGEST proof is only evidential. Whichever way you decide to be, either purely scientific or purely spiritual, you are taking a gamble considering that both sides have the possibility of error.

    I find it hard to devalue to reality of spiritual experiences considering the strong population of people (including myself) who have had them. I am not saying I have had visions or talked with angels. But I have felt undeniable and scientifically inexplicable (yes I have tried) confirmations: When I prayed to find out if there was really a God, the first time I talked to my wife, and when someone told me I should drop my current career path and become a doctor. With that strong evidence (in the form of spiritual experiences) plus the evidence which I consider to be valid from scientific trial and observation I am able to accept Mormonism as it is currently.

    Now do I agree with everything… No. For example I did not agree that blacks were lesser spirits. I have always felt that this was just racism plain and simple. (BTW I’m half black and consider myself black) I will admit that being either one way or the other (fully spiritual or fully scientific) would be easier. I am often at turmoil, but that turmoil inspires inquisition which leads to resolution, peace, and awareness.

  • oneOone

    So your main evidence for your argument is… because it sounds “crazy”?

  • jake

    Can i say something and i do so with the utmost respect. I know we are led by men called of gid. We dont always understand why they ask certain things of us and i dont need to. I have a testimony of their calling given to me by the holy ghost. Thats enough for me. So i encourage all of you to pray about these issues to find the answer for yourselves. Dont take our leaders word for it or even mine. The invitation is there and the answer is so simple.

  • BD

    Joanna, this is a great article. I agree with many of your points. I’m not LDS and I have mixed feelings that the church is now admitting things that I got called an “anti-Mormon liar” for bringing up to the Mormons in my life. I’m shocked that the essays still try to put a positive spin on a vulgar practice. I guess this is a positive step towards transparency, but I remain troubled by the church’s latest essay.

    Even if people got married as young as fourteen “back then,” Joseph was still legally married to a woman who had no knowledge of the situation. Since bigamy was illegal then, it still makes Joseph a lawbreaker (this from a man who wrote the 12th Article of Faith). Moreover, 14 year-olds were, by no means, “older” back then. Smith had sex with his foster daughter…period. He also had sex with the wives of men who he sent away on missions and made the women lie about their liaisons.

    The church says Smith was forced, by an angry angel, to practice polygamy. Joseph must have been quite a seer to know to start practicing polygamy before the revelation and before the angry angel came. Moreover, none of the 40 women, suspiciously—including Emma—ever the angry angel. Smith didn’t have 40 wives; he had one wife and 39 known affairs, which he spent incredible time and energy attempting to conceal.

    I’m not that excited that the LDS church is “honest.” After all, it spent over 180 years being dishonest. I’m bothered that Joseph Smith had a printing press burned for exposing his polygamy…and that’s why he went to the Carthage jail. The essay is silent on this matter.

    I’m not impressed that some of Smith’s marriages MAY not have involved sex. Rather, I’m bothered by the fact that some DID. I’m bothered that some of these
    women were married to other men and that some were children. I’m bothered that any woman who rebuffed Smith’s advances were destroyed and shunned. Smith coerced every “wife” into the practice of polygamy. The church has, for the past 180 years, tried to collect, destroy, deny any reference to these
    relationships being physical.

    I don’t demand that Joseph Smith be perfect. Rather, I’m bothered that the LDS church depicts him as a model of virtue. Pardon me if I wonder whether a convicted con-man, polygamist, bank defrauder, fugitive, liar, pedophile, wife-thief, serial adulterer, plagiarist, and murderer might not be the best person to trust with a story about an invisible gold book. Jesus when spoke on how to tell false prophets when He said, “by their fruits ye shall know them.” There’s a whole orchard with Smith.

    It’s not that it was about raising children, or marrying a virgin, or being approved by the first wife, or about being more women than men or that it was OK after
    1834…because NONE of those applied to Smith. It’s not that it is Smith’s behavior was okay because “it was a long time ago.” It’s that it happened at all. It’s that those girls were children. It’s that it was a revelation and then Smith denied over and over and in May 1844 (he had 30+ wives by then) he offered to prove his accusers to be perjurers and to provide (falsified) affidavits.

    It’s not okay just because Mormons have a “testimony” that Smith was a prophet. That testimony finds its basis in a fictitious character carefully created by the church media department. Mormons who have a “testimony” don’t know the real Joseph.

    I’m not impressed that the church supposedly discontinued the practice by the
    commandment of God. Rather, they were virtually forced to do so by the power of the U.S. government and the full force of the Army. Clearly, the LDS church will change its history, doctrine, practices, and policies to make sure that it survives.

    So what if polygamy is not practiced now? Gordon Hinckley lied on national TV a few years ago and said it was only practiced after they came out West and it was not doctrinal. Seems to me that an angel appearing three times and the commandment of polygamy still appearing in Doctrine & Covenants 132…just seems pretty doctrinal to me. What of the myriad of now ex-Mormons were
    excommunicated, attacked, gas-lighted, called names and shunned for even
    suggesting what these essays contain. And oh, by the way, the Old Testament NEVER depicted God COMMANDING anyone to practice polygamy…even if He tolerated it.

    It’s not that it’s a fleck of history. It’s that thousands of children suffer in sexual
    relationships with adults in cults TODAY because of the practices and doctrines
    the LDS church cowardly failed to address, up until now, and which its founders taught as a requirement to enter heaven. It’s not about polygamy; it’s about the LDS church pretending that they are the defender of monogamous marriage, between one man and one woman as stating that this has always been so.

    Is not that the church has abandoned polygamy. It’s that the concept of men forcing women and children into their bed using revelation is “a thing” in Mormon
    doctrine. It’s about Warren Jeffs being JUST like Joseph Smith. He did not die
    an innocent lamb at the hands of evil men, he died because he slept with
    children and other men’s wives, he died because he violated masonic oaths, he
    died because when his adultery was exposed by his former close associate, whose wife he tried to shag, he destroyed the printing press.

    It is not that the media, and the world at large, do not understand Mormonism; it’s that Mormons don’t understand Mormonism. The LDS church owes some people an apology—and in that lot, I certainly do not include myself. I count the myriad now ex-LDS who were shunned, attacked, and excommunicated just for saying what’s in the LDS church’s latest essay as deserving of such an apology. I count William Law, whose printing press Smith ordered burned for exposing Smith’s polygamy, as another worthy of an apology.

  • BD

    I knew Smith was a polygamist and I knew before the internet was that widespread. If his proclivities were a “secret,” they were among the worst kept in history.

  • BD

    What is wrong with with such teaching is that, while the LDS church does teach some nice principles, it is far from the full historical picture and it is far from what the LDS church has claimed for itself.

  • john zimmerman

    Perhaps you are blinded by your own lack of knowledge. For instance, perhaps you should consider the possibility that at that time marrying a 14 year old wasn’t considered wrong. As for the Church announcing his taking a wife against the wishes of the first was a sin – according to the Doctrine & Covenants, it was not wrong.

  • Ken M

    I have read and studied a ton. I can (and probably have) read all that you think you know about the church. I know what I know. Re-read my post and try it. Until I humbled myself and inquired, I knew nothing. We are ever learning and never coming to the knowledge of the truth– until we connect with the source of all truth– God. The Spirit of God is the means by which we know the truth– the spirit of love, joy, and peace. Jesus taught the Spirit of Truth would guide us into all truth. Feeling the truth is just as important as understanding it intellectually– probably more important. Especially since logic can be used to explain some things well, and some things completely incorrectly (the world used to be flat per logic). The Spirit of God helps us see past our poor insight, methods, logic, lack of correct information, and short-sightedness. We must humble ourselves, consider ourselves fools before God, then ask in faith. Then you can know.

  • BD

    Just because Mormons have a “testimony” that Smith was a prophet doesn’t make his behavior acceptable. With the utmost respect, your testimony finds its basis in a fictitious character carefully created by the church media department. I’m sorry if, based on reliable historical evidence, I must conclude that Mormons who have a “testimony” don’t know the real Joseph.

  • weylguy

    The Book of Abraham, “translated” by Smith as a biblical tale of Abraham’s early life, was proven later to be nothing but a portion of the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead (funerary practice) — the originals still exist, even the portion Smith owned. The Kinderhook plates, taken from the grave of a “Mormon warrior” according to Smith, were shown to be a joke played on him by locals who inscribed nonsensical markings on some copper plates. Smith really was arrested for fraudulently “treasure digging” for a client. The White Salamander Letter was a modern forgery by the notorious forger and murderer Mark Hofmann, but it was accepted as genuine by church officials after dutiful prayer and assurances from God that it was the real thing.

    I won’t bother going into the stories told in the Book of Mormon about great North American Mormon cities and battles, for which no archaeological evidence has ever been found, nor its claim that Jews sailed from the Levant around 580 BCE to North America to merge with and become American Indians (whose DNA is completely distinct from that of people of Jewish descent), nor its record of horses and other animals that didn’t arrive in North America until the Spaniards introduced them in the 1500s.

    That’s my proof. What’s yours?

  • BD

    Pull your head out of the sand, Michael. There was no “mistake” about Smith’s polygamy. He said it was a command of God…enforced by a sword-bearing angel. Strange that none of the 30 or 40 women, including Emma Hale Smith, ever saw such an angel. “You have to marry me or God’s going to destroy me.” The words of the worst sort of manipulative, career sexual predator in the book. Exactly like Warren Jeffs.

  • BD

    Huh, John. Perhaps it’s not that marrying a 14-year-old girl wasn’t considered wrong back then. But, what was considered wrong, and was illegal then, was bigamy. Strange that a man who wrote the LDS church’s 12th Article of Faith would break the law so flagrantly. Of course, we can look at D&C 132 and even accepting it as Scripture–which none do outside of Mormonism–we can really see that most of Smith’s plural marriages did not measure up to the criteria set forth in the revelation Smith claimed to receive.

  • BD

    “If Joseph Smith was wrong, then the whole restored gospel is wrong.”

    Hmm. Yep, that would be my conclusion.

    “I know who Joseph Smith was because I know his works. You cannot separate one from the other.”

    Again, I wholeheartedly agree. What are the works of Joseph Smith. It seems the historical record shows he was a convicted conman, bank defrauder, pedophile, glass looker, and serial philanderer. Given his proven character, I think it safe to add “false prophet” to the list of Joseph Smith’s works. You can keep your “restored” gospel…as if the Gospel of Jesus Christ ever needed restoring.

  • kabbee

    I’m glad to see that discussion is out in the open, but as a “card carrying anti” (of course I’m really not anti-Mormon; I’m pro truth), I’m wondering how some would feel if I blamed them for falling for the Mormon line of hornswaggle when it’s so obviously made up (golden plates that somehow disappeared; JS chased by entities and running with them when they would’ve weighed 200 lbs; etc.)

    The onus of the blame on an act where someone is victimized is on the wrong-doer period. HIndsight in that area is useless (How is it going to change things?) and amounts to perpetuating the abuse and shifting the focus from where it belongs. There’s a difference between offering advice on how to act prudently, and you folks have deliberately blurred the space-time continuum. Our society locks up drunk drivers, not accident victims.

    I’m sorry you were all lied to, but I blame the liars and not the children.

  • bornfree777

    I graduated from BYU Law School and never knew about his polygamy. I certainly never knew about the 14 year-olds or the rampant polyandry. It means that the creator of this faith had terrible character. But, that is the proverbial tip of the iceberg of information available about Joe Smith. After being in this Church for 30 years, I learned about Joe Smith’s magic rock. He used this magic rock in his hat to seek buried treasure. In 1826, he was on trial for scamming with his magic rock in hat. Just a few years later, Joe used this magic rock in his hat to “translate” the Book of Mormon, while the plates were not even in the room. If that isn’t enough evidence of his fraudulent character, he also pretended to translate Egyptian Burial Prayers that he made into the Book of Abraham. Throw in his fake bank the Kirkland Anti-Bank, which caused people to lose money and you have a certified con man. For references see Mormonthink.com.

  • kabbee

    Yes indeedy, Mormons do value women. So much so that every worthy PH holder secretly wants a score or more in the hereafter.

  • kabbee

    Oh those pesky facts. So many of them that at some point once again the church will have to dismiss them as “anti-Mormon lies.”

  • oneOone

    You missed my point and possibly misinterpreted the point made by your ex (Not sure because I was not there). I prefer Trey Parker and Matt Stones description of Mormonism as a young church who’s history is so recent that we are able to observe the follies of it’s creation (I am severely paraphrasing). I think the point (Mormons and nonmormons may disagree) is throughout all these errors Mormons have still managed to create a pretty effective belief system. Effective in teaching principles which are conducive to unity, peace, and prosperity.

  • Whiskyjack

    Thank you. I’ve been looking for someone to raise the foundational problems of Mormonism. You could also mention the total lack of linguistic evidence for Semitic tribes in the western hemisphere, as well.

  • oneOone

    Every path to explanation has had mistakes. BTW what is the proof for your beliefs?

  • Jim Reed

    We have been trying to explain it to them, but not getting very far. Maybe we just didn’t have enough information. I guess you can take it from here.

  • weylguy

    I may indeed have missed your point. But principles involving unity, peace and prosperity should be based on evidential fact. The Mormons’ “pretty effective belief system” means nothing to me. It’s just nonsensical dogma parading as truth. If Jesus Himself came down and told the Mormons their faith was a lie, they’d go right on believing it anyway.

  • oneOone

    Yeah I’m responding to my own comment because I did not mean to deflect your comments by questioning your beliefs. I just wanted to point that every belief system (including any religion or science) can be torn apart if you look at it’s HISTORICAL foundations at one end and unanswered questions at the other.

    The main difference is some belief systems don’t know how to say” we don’t know” and others don’t know how to say “we were wrong”.

    From a religious perspective (if you will accept it) many prophets of old have been misled or incorrect. For Christianity in particular even those working closest with Jesus were often misled.

    Many of the questions you raised have been explained in theories published by people who are way more educated about that era than I. It is also irrelevant to the point that I am trying to make.

  • GP

    Ken, I am not saying that you don’t know the issues. I am saying that you cannot KNOW in the empirical sense that the LDS church is “true”. Let me give you an example. We know that when we drop an object here on Earth that the object will fall due to gravity. It is a repeatably testable truth. We have civil engineers who know how to build structures. They have testable methods for determining material strength, etc. None of this is “known” by feelings. You believe that the LDS church is “true” because you personally feel it. But how do you differentiate YOUR personal feeling of confidence versus those of other faiths (which you may attribute as being “false” or even “of the devil”)? Furthermore, there are individuals of the LDS faith who can “feel the spirit” when a false account is given – think of Paul H. Dunn. So the spirit is not a reliable or widely accepted indicator of KNOWING in the sense of the word as used in everyday life. You have a belief. What makes you want to say that you “know” the LDS church is true is because the GAs have conditioned members to think that their testimonies are not good enough if they just say they “believe”. So they are encouraged (or even pressured) to say “know” during bearing of testimony, when in fact, they just believe. Hopefully this makes sense.

  • Luman Walters

    I misread your comment. Looks like we’re on the same team.

  • oneOone

    That last statement is pretty bold. Anyway the principles which are taught as part of Mormonism are not dogma. The historical conception of Mormonism is dogma which in itself is a pretty big misnomer. I will admit that a few people would freak out if the church leaders denied many of the early actions of the church as they have with the whole “blacks” thing. But for the most part people would probably accept it for what it is… A pretty effective belief system. That is the reason I say dogma is a misnomer. Because even without all the spotty stuff the CURRENT principles which are taught are conducive unity, peace and prosperity. I know you mentioned that these principles should be based on evidential fact. Firstly… why? Is the success of a system determined by the ideology or understanding that promoted it’s conception? Analogy: do you understand that people take medicines whose mechanisms have not been explained or have been incorrectly explained. Short answer…many. But that doesn’t negate their efficacy.

  • Whiskyjack

    For a start, I don’t believe in things that have no credible shred of evidence. That pretty much eliminates religion and the supernatural. What I do believe is that if you can land a washing machine on a comet 500 million kilometers away, you probably have a good grasp of orbital mechanics.

  • RealHBSurfer

    No – usually they were at the ceremony! That’s because an early understanding of the law of adoption was being connected somehow to the prophet. If you check most dates of the marriages, they were AFTER joseph smith was dead!

  • RealHBSurfer

    That is a completely false. The material is the scriptures. WHO instructed you to spend no more than 5 minutes on it? Granted we do not know all things, nor have all things been revealed, but in the 80s I was taught about the different accounts of the first vision, polygamy, and a multitued of joseph’s mistakes that are clearly outlined in the scriptures. He was human and made mistakes, only Christ is perfect. The infallibility of prophets is an evangelical notion that the scriptures do not support.

  • oneOone

    Accepting the possibility of supernatural occurrences as evidence is pretty much a requirement for most people in life. Either that or you accept that there are many unanswered questions. Why? Because while some phenomena are well described by science MANY are not. Hence leaving the opportunity for debate and difference in belief on topics such as “what happens when we die?”. Landing a probe is hardly defining the meaning of existence.

  • RealHBSurfer

    Thats because most commenters on here are just parrots, regurgitating things they hear in media and in gossip groups. In seminary they were more interested in the cute person across the room than in the lessons. Not all things are completely understood, and we believe they are yet many things to be revealed. But to put your head in the sand and claim ignorance along with innocence is disingenuous.

  • Whiskyjack

    I accept that there are many unanswered questions. I suspect that the universe is pitilessly indifferent. You didn’t ask me if there was meaning to existence, you asked me what I believe. My response was meant to indicate that I believe things when I have good evidence for my belief.

    This discussion thread is about not only lack of evidence for believing in the Book of Mormon, but a lot of evidence for its falsity.

  • RealHBSurfer

    You could not be more wrong. God’s eternal law is one man and one woman (jacob 2:27-30) unlesss he commands an exception for his purposes. D&C 132 is about covenants, marriage being given as the best example. The exception at that current time to be introduced is polygamy. The point to D&C 132 is that abraham obeyed what the Lord commanded at that time (revelation for current circumstances explained joseph smith), whether it be multiple wives or going to sacrifice his son isaac. Orson Pratt became the main apologist for it at that time, but no doctrine claims that is the practice in eternity. While it remains a possibility for God’s purposes it is not a “pillar of faith”. Get your belief systems straight.

  • RealHBSurfer

    That house of cards is what you built, not what the church teaches.

  • GP

    What mistake are you referring to? The polygamy essay was very clear that Joseph’s practice (including the teenagers and already-married women) was a commandment of God. Believers need to own this as a commandment, not a mistake. So go ahead… explain how this is a commandment of God. Your attempt to label this as a mistake is a fall-through for not having scriptural basis for your claim. In fact, Jacob 2 and the 1835 D&C 101 expressly forbade polygamy.

  • RealHBSurfer

    Are you saying he was? Are you saying he did? Please provide proof. Many have tried, but just because these marriages were performed for theological reasons just claiming what you perceive does not denote understanding. Most of his marriages to woman already married included the husband at the ceremony! It was a way of being connected to the prophet at that time. I guess that makes Joseph in the gospels a molester as he then married Mary as a teenager.

  • kabbee

    Well, I see I’m permitted to post some analysis here; on Ms. Brooks’ last site I couldn’t get past the cyber-censors. I admittedly “zinged her hard” with a bit of historical fact checking and a link to a cartoon by my friend Pat Bagley (a “retired Mormon”) at the time of the Kate Kelly ex-communication. When she claimed that “excommunication was a 19th Century answer to a 21st Century problem,” I pointed out that no, ex-communication was used in the 20th Century; the 19th Century “solution” was “blood atonement.”

    And I’m sorry, Ms. Brooks, but the LDS faithful are not aware of the extent of that practice; it is hardly “well known,” and accounts are routinely dismissed as “anti-Mormon lies.”

    Anyway, I’ll take issue with that statement, “Smith was presented by Church curriculum as a virtually unflawed human being and the larger problem of how the LDS Church has tried to deny or manage our faith’s human problems and flaws.

    The problem is that Joseph Smith offered himself as the modern prophet of the Restoration, and the Church has presented him as such.

    As such, in-depth and critical looks at the actual history are fair game, and attempts to legitimize the founder’s “human excesses” (psychologists would label that attempt at rationalization as “minimizing”) amount to historical cover-ups, dissembling, and shoot-the-messenger tactics.

    Ms. Brooks, I recognize you’re writing from your pain, and people in pain do take refuge in themselves (and I’ll certainly acknowledge its awful reality for you, and it is human and understandable; Joseph Smith’s behavior, however, far exceeded the bounds of propriety or humanity. We lock such individuals up these days). What such a retreat within does do, however, is compromise one’s objectivity.

  • GP

    What a charged response, but with so little substance. Where in the seminary manuals is this taught? Where in the scriptures is polyandry commanded or even mentioned? Where in the scriptures does it talk about Joseph Smith marrying several dozen women including teenagers? Good for you and your 80’s experience. You must have had a teacher that went against what was in the church curriculum (which is an offense that can lead to church discipline for apostasy). But don’t project your own experience on other people when the material does not support what you’re saying.

    Finally, what mistakes? I’ve been asking that of people on the board several times. The church’s essay on polygamy/polyandry clearly states that Joseph was commanded of God (not mistaken). If you believe in the church, then please stop trying to incorrectly classify this as a mistake. Own up to it as a commandment and justify it.

  • GP

    “You could not be more wrong. God’s eternal law is one man and one woman
    (jacob 2:27-30) unlesss he commands an exception for his purposes”.

    The only exception cited in Jacob 2:27-30 is to “raise up seed” – of which JS had very little, if any. There was no open-ended exception cited in Jacob or any other LDS scripture until D&C 132 came along. And as I’m sure you’re aware, D&C 132 is still LDS canon. So Brendon is actually correct; polygamy is still a core tenant to the religion and is expected to be the case in the afterlife – this was mentioned in the essay. The practice of polygamy was abandoned due to legal pressures as stated by the manifesto ending polygamy. But it still very much remains an LDS doctrine as canonized in D&C 132.

  • al

    Its a shame to see so many people played for suckers.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOzp5q58fz4

  • bornfree777

    I never read the 10 commandment like this before – “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife – with the exception of my beloved servant Joseph Smith who is free to take anyone including 16 year old house maid, 14 year old daughters of your closest associates and pretty much anyone you want Joe. Don’t forget to use the Angel with the flaming sword excuse that one usually works in the end.”

  • weylguy

    You’re quite right, Eve. Just like the world doesn’t know that the number of Mormons in the world (13 million) is approaching that of Jews (15 million). Go figure.

    FYI, I recently gave a ride to a 19-year-old youth, on foot and loaded down with luggage (why do they always appear at my house asking directions?), who wanted to know where the Pasadena LDS church was. He told me that he had read that the Mormon faith was the only true Christian faith, and had come to join up. I advised him of the enormous illogical problems that the church had bought into, but to no avail. He got into my car and I dropped him off at the church steps on Sierra Madre Avenue. I now kick myself every time I think of how I helped lead him astray. Sorry, but IMHO the Mormon faith is an abomination of Christian philosophy.

  • TheProudDuck

    James, you’re doing yeoman’s work here, but —
    There is a difference between reserving priesthood to a small priestly caste, and singling out a despised minority as the only ones who *don’t* get the priesthood.

    The one is aristocracy, which is bad enough. The other is worse.

  • TheProudDuck

    You think Socrates was secular?

    Please read him.

  • TheProudDuck

    Kant stated the categorical imperative in one line, and then blathered on about it for the next 99 pages.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    Do you really think I’ve been teaching philosophy at the university level for over twenty years and haven’t read Socrates?

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    There’s plenty to talk about, when I teach him. Hardly blather.

    Do you actually have a point or are you just engaged in a little drive-by trolling?

  • john zimmerman

    Polygamy wasn’t illegal – the bigamy law (The federal Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act) was not signed into law on July 8, 1862 by President Abraham Lincoln.

  • kabbee

    Here’s a bit of actual history to counter your specious claim. The Morrill law was a federal law aimed at polygamy in Utah. It may come as news to you, but Joseph Smith never made it to Utah. The government needed the federal laws to counter LDS control of the territorial government.

    From the Revised Laws of Illinois, 1833.

    http://www.i4m.com/think/polygamy/polygamy_illegal.htm

    “Sec 121. Bigamy consists in the having of two wives or two husbands at one and the same time, knowing that the former husband or wife is still alive. If any person or persons within this State, being married, or who shall hereafter marry, do at any time marry any person or persons, the former husband or wife being alive, the person so offending shall, on conviction thereof, be punished by a fine, not exceeding one thousand dollars, and imprisoned in the penitentiary, not exceeding two years. It shall not be necessary to prove either of the said marriages by the register or certificate thereof, or other record evidence; but the same may be proved by such evidence as is admissible to prove a marriage in other cases, and when such second marriage shall have taken place without this state, cohabitation in this state after such second marriage shall be deemed the commission of the crime of bigamy, and the trial in such case may take place in the county where such cohabitation shall have occurred.”

  • kebbo

    Dave, I’m just curious. Did you have a problem with Brigham Young doing it, and polygamy in general, or was it just finding out that Joseph Smith did it that was so devastating? If so, why?

  • john zimmerman

    Specious claim? Polygamy is defined as the practice or condition of having more than one spouse at the same time, conventionally referring to a situation where all spouses know about each other, in contrast to bigamy, where two or more spouses are unaware of each other & not polygamous relationships. Thus the latter relationships were not punished under these laws.

  • Saurman

    A little American history: In 1896 Martha Hughes Cannon, a Mormon polygamist wife, physician, and women’s rights advocate became the very first female state senator elected in the US, defeating her own husband!

  • john zimmerman

    Bigamy is the unlawful act of knowingly having two or more wives or husbands at the same time, with the second not knowing about the first. Polygamy is the practice of having multiple wives based on religious beliefs, with all wives aware of, and agreeable to, the husband having several wives.

  • Wonderboywonderings .

    As long as I can remember–since I was a kid–I knew about polygamy. I also knew that Joseph Smith and BY both practiced it. It was anything but a secret. Btw, I’m 38 now, so that will give context to which generation I’m from. I grew up in Nowhereville, WA State. Not an especially Mormon place. I have to fundamentally take issue that the church systemically “hid” or “buried” this information. Micro-cultures within the church seem to be the actual culprit. I’ve no doubt that many people didn’t know and were shocked when first hearing the news. However, I was equally shocked when I first heard that so many people DID NOT know.

    Be careful to attribute to “The Church” what may actually be the fault of random people. I mean, seriously–IT’S IN THE D&C and the DECLARATIONS!

  • Wonderboywonderings .

    My fundamental issue with this article–and many of Ms Brooks’–is that she reasons within an assumed context that the church is, and has been, wrong on basically any topic with which she disagrees. I reject her unstated premise. There’s no evidence that JS and BY were wrong. Only peoples’ opinions. By all means, let’s talk about this stuff, and learn and understand it. But, instead of first rejecting it because we don’t like it, how about we seek to first understand why or how it might make sense and be true?

  • Luke

    i don’t think you can blame not knowing about JS and polygamy on anyone but the individual. All materials are in the church libraries. All of this info is readily available. I grew up in CO in the 80s, seminary in the 90s and we talked about this. Talked about it at church, and at home in conversations with my parents.

    On my mission, we talked about it a ton. Why do you think Mormons are synonymous with polygamy? Why is it a huge ongoing joke? Isn’t this just obvious? How can you possibly find these historical markers elusive?

    Ps, this is not a personal attack. I’m speak in generalizations

  • kabbee

    Well big guy, the story in my family is the happiest day of my great-great grandmother’s life was the day her husband’s first wife died. Given that she arrived here in 1855 and had no way back to Scotland, it’s a safe bet she only settled for second wife status because she had no choice. And incidentally, g-g-grandpa never took a third wife. We don’t think he dared.

    And you might review the events of the “Steptoe Expedition” (diverted to Utah to investigate the “Gunnison Massacre”) where around 100 Mormon women left Utah with the soldiers in his company (most married them when they arrived in California). Those women don’t appear to have been too happy or in harmonious marriages here in Utah. That’s the real reason Brigham Young was so opposed to U.S. troops being sent here in 1857 (see also Mountain Meadows Massacre).

    And a few weeks ago I was having lunch with none other than Satan’s right hand man himself, historian Will Bagley (Sandra Tanner and David Twede were there as well; it was a regular gathering of truly evil sorts). I asked Will about a statement he made about the Woodruff Manifesto a while before where he said Woodruff was convinced the Second Coming was nigh. Will said Woodruff believed it would be in a matter of months. So it wasn’t a big deal for him to tell the Saints to abide by the laws of the land.

    Well, Jesus’ return got delayed somewhere in the cosmos, but by the time of the Second Manifesto (see also the Smoot Hearings), there was no way the ladies would let the practice be resumed.

    But seriously, I love what you apologists do. First you say polygamy was legal, then when I point out it wasn’t, you try another shell game. I seriously love to steal that stuff when I’m in need of some serious satire to feed my minions.

    Judge: You sir, are charged with bigamy.

    Defendant: You honor, I have four wives. That’s polygamy, not bigamy.

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/bigamy

    Law. the crime of marrying while one has a spouse still living, from whom no valid divorce has been effected.

    And Webster’s…

    The act of entering into a marriage with one person while still legally married to another

    Class dismissed.

  • kabbee

    A little more American/Utah History: Women were afforded the vote in the territory to increase the power of the LDS voting bloc and counter the increasing number of Gentiles and apostates such as the Godbeites.

  • BD

    OneOone, I’d agree with you about one thing. There’s ultimately very little about Mormonism that is dogmatic. In fact, nailing Mormon doctrine down is much like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall. Impossible.
    Polygamy is only one example. Once it was part of a “new and everlasting covenant,” now the practice is in the Mormonism’s doctrinal dust bin.

    Here’s another example. Once upon a time, Mormons exclaimed with Lorenzo Snow, that, “As man is, God was. As God is, man may become.” They clearly believed they could, potentially, become gods just as God the Father had. I know some Mormons who do believe this. Yet Gordon Hinckley, while he was alive, in the August 4, 1997 issue of TIME, when asked if God had once been a man, answered as follows, “I don’t know that we teach it. I don’t know that we emphasize it. I haven’t heard it discussed for a long time in public discourse. I don’t know. I don’t know all the circumstances under which that statement was made. I understand the philosophical background behind it. But I don’t know a lot about it and I don’t know that others know a lot about it.”

  • BD

    Yep, John. You sold me. Joseph Smith was a great guy for banging teenagers and other guys’ wives…even practicing plural marriage in complete violation of the principles laid out for doing so in the revelation he supposedly received in Doctrine & Covenants 132, which, as I recall said these should be virgins (maybe the other guys’ wives were “spiritual virgins”? After all the Book of Mormon witnesses admitted they saw the gold plates with “spiritual eyes”). I also believe the practice was for “raising up seed.” Yet, I don’t recall any children being born (though there are some stories about a certain Dr. John C. Bennett, who “helped” out when Joe’s girls got in trouble).

    The carefully crafted image of Joseph Smith doesn’t square with the historical record. I’m not asking a prophet to be perfect. But, after the Kirtland Bank scandal, his criminal record for defrauding someone else by glass looking, I have to conclude that Joseph Smith was a brilliant and imaginative con man. Smith said an angel would destroy him, and his supposed revelation in D&C 132 said Emma Smith would be destroyed if she didn’t accept Joseph’s plural wives. That doesn’t square as much with what I know of revelation as it does with the modus operandi of a con man and a sexual predator.

  • Jim Reed

    Christianity had to try to pull little pieces or words from here or there to try to make their case, and sometimes alter history a little like add something to books of the New Testament or Josephus, or disappear certain years of the historical record that failed to mention the hours of darkness or Herod killing babies.

    Paul said he received his gospel from no man. He was more impressed with himself than he was with Peter the head of the church at Jerusalem. He saw Peter the Apostle, and James who was a Brother of the Lord. They were all brothers of the Lord, and this James was not an Apostle, so he was just a Brother of the Lord. Paul does not talk about learning Jesus from them. He was just not impressed, and he learned Jesus from himself.

    Paul lets us know when he is speaking for himself, and when he is speaking “for the Lord” meaning quoting what he saw in his visions, like 1 Cor 7:10. The gospels were written later, and they can refer to things in Paul, sometimes even taking things Paul said and reattributing them to Jesus.

    Christianity was talking about spiritual concepts and reading the scriptures. In 2 Cor 5:16 the reference is to Christians, not just Paul and is about living in the flesh or living in the spirit.

    If is only obvious that these men knew Jesus personally because Christianity needs it to be obvious because their case is so weak.

  • Saurman

    So they empowered women by educating them and giving them voting rights (and letting the hold office) in attempt to stay in control? Maybe our politicians today could learn a thing or two from them! Thanks for the insight!

  • kabbee

    I have a friend who noted that it was women in polygamous relationships who did manage some achievements because they had support from their sister wives. But what of the “Lost Boys” who wind up ejected from such cultures because there aren’t enough women to go around? That situation is another of polygamy’s dirty little secrets (in addition to horrific and epidemic child abuse). You can re-write that era as romantic fiction (particularly if you’re a male dreaming of multiple sexual partners), but the reality is a far cry from that fantasy.

    I have another friend who notes that if you want to understand 19th Century Mormonism, look at the fundamentalist sects such as the FLDS or the Church of Apostolic Brethren. You won’t find women getting educated in those environments, and if you want some more insights, read the works of women like Carolyn Jessop or Flora Jessop or others who’ve escaped that lifestyle.

  • “What if wrongness is human, sanctifiable, and perhaps even a source of holiness?” 1. The church has never before officially acknowledged that Joseph Smith had upwards of 40 wives. We shouldn’t sidestep that fact. 2. Everyone now knows about Joseph’s 14-year-old bride, and this leads people to assume that Joseph simply couldn’t keep his hands (and other bodily members) off young flesh. But why don’t people mention the three women in their 50s whom Joseph, a young man, married? Because it contradicts the early “horny Joseph” theory. Facts are, Joseph’s practice of polygamy was wholly different than anything I (and others of us) have ever encountered. And while I believe he was inspired by God to practice polygamy, I also think that he made many moral and ethical errors in the process of figuring out *how* to practice polygamy. 3. BH Roberts said that his testimony of the D&C was based on the fact of all the people the Lord calls to repentance in that book’s pages, Joseph gets called to repentance the most. And these recent revelations about Joseph’s complicated (and sometimes misguided and sometimes even disastrous) practice of polygamy give us concrete sins to help contextualize some of those calls to repentance. 4. Was Joseph the man whom we (at least some of us) lionize and adore? Yes, but not entirely. Was he the man whom his detractors called a scoundrel, a cheat? Yes, but not entirely. Was Joseph at times arrogant and boastful? Yes. Was he also humble and repentant? Yes. Joseph is all of these men. And seeing him as he was, warts and all, and seeing that the Lord nonetheless still used him as a prophet, gives me hope that I, with my sins, can be of use to the kingdom, too. In other words, wrongness *is* sanctifiable through repentance. I agree with you that this is one of the biggest things Mormonism can show the world.

  • kabbee

    Personally, I don’t see any difference between Joseph Smith’s practice of polygamy from that of Warren Jeffs.

    Humble and repentant? His actions in ordering the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor belie that claim. So does his possession of a firearm in the Carthage Jail and his ordering the Nauvoo militia to free him (an action that wasn’t carried out).

    As for his “gift of prophecy,” well, there’s the issue of DNA evidence overwhelmingly showing Native Americans are all descended from Siberian people who lived in Central Asia ~20,000 years ago, and the BOM contains errors lifted verbatim from the King James Bible (as well as other demonstrable plagiarisms); the BOA has been shown to have no relationship with the translation of the funerary papyrus Smith claimed was “written by his own [Abraham’s] hand”; do I need to add more? Honest, I have plenty, and the only thing the apologists have are half truths, distortions, straw man tactics, ad hominems, and outright prevarications.

    Oh, and when those fail, they all resort to bearing their testimonies and offering “spiritual witness.”

    I know some individuals who claim to see UFO’s regularly, and they are most sincere in their convictions and assure you they’re real and are monitoring us right now. I remain unpersuaded by either group.

  • Saurman

    I’m not condoning the practice. I am just always concerned when groups of people obviously opposed to something, demonize the people and practices of others that fail to share in their view. I was simply trying to expose some good, and a different point of view, in this sea of what I see as a witch hunt. I wish happiness for everyone and sharing the roadmap to such felicity is much more productive than exacerbating speculative negativity.

  • kabbee

    If condeming the sexual abuse of a child is demonizing child abusers, then I proudly plead guilty to the charge and will willingly submit to whatever sanctions or punishment is warranted. But you’ll have to answer me in turn on the charge of enabling, which is what I see you doing. Your use of term “condone” amounts to a straw man.

    As for other elements of the church, I can couch this a secular version of the Christian “hate the sin, love the sinner,” but the defenders of the faith are going to accuse me of personal attacks regardless.

  • Jeffery Jon Morris

    For the record. My testimony is based on modern revelation. It doesn’t matter to me what was happening so long a go. It was a different time, place, and civilization. If you have a belief system in place good for you. If you’re going to let so much gossip and rumors of what happened back in Joe Smith’s day be a determining factor of that belief, well how strong was it in the first place. Be the captain of your own soul. President Monson, just like Joseph Smith doesn’t affect my testimony. What Jesus Christ has done and worked for using those as tools to bring his gospel forward is just that. I sometimes think we forget, even the Prophet is still human. Be the captain of your own soul. Pray, ponder, listen. I’m also not going to say you’re wrong if you believe something different. If you’re not in control of your life then who is? Check out Tattooed Mormons on Facebook. It’s a facebook page started to share a message that free agency was the greatest gift we have ever been given other than the atonement. All of this coming to you from a bar stool with my son next to me watching some UFC. No I’m not drinking but my friends are and we’re all having a great time. Peace

  • Saurman

    I am not a historian, but from what I read most of Smith’s wives were between 20-40 years old, with the rare exception of a 14 year old who implied that her relationship with Smith was not of a sexual nature; not to mention that teens marrying in the 19th century (either male or female) was not uncommon. So for us to demonize these women or this man for following the dictates of their own hearts and participating in a practice foreign to our standards or desires IS intolerant; different strokes for different folks. Also, comparing Smith’s circumstances to modern groups ie FLDS, or by today’s standards or laws is like comparing apples and corvettes.

    Finally, I think we are too hard on one another and spend waaay to much time searching for, exploiting, and yes attacking all thing negative. You, me, and Smith are all flawed, but even so we all have wonderful attributes and can leave a legacy behind us when our lives are over. In Smith’s case that is millions of people world wide seeking to better themselves, those around them, and the world they live in.

  • kabbee

    Here are the wives of Joseph Smith who were under the age of 20:

    Fanny Alger (16); Sarah Ann Whitney (17); Flora Ann Woodworth (16); Lucy Walker (17); Sara Lawrence (17): Helen Mar Kimball (14); Nancy Winchester (14) (source: wivesofjosephsmith.org)

    Helen Mar Kimball’s later letters said she never would’ve agreed to the marriage if she’d known what it actually entailed. There’s considerable evidence that he had sex with most of his younger wives as well.

    I’ll let you re-think your analysis in light of this information; I am one of those Ms. Brooks would refer to as a “lay historian,” but she wouldn’t dare say that about my close friend and mentor, a little guy with the last name of Bagley…

  • superdoo

    Hard to make it long as a Mormon without realizing that polygamy was and continues to be a doctrine of the church and a belief that it is a commandment of God at times. Even mainstream Christians have to believe to believe that God either allowed Abraham and other prophets to have a mistresses or wives, and if so there were times where it got ‘turned off’ like with Jacob in the Book of Mormon.

    So I didn’t mean to say that I believe that aspect was a mistake, but the semi-deification of JS was and is. Whether it was hotels, banks, newspapers, general of a militia, city planning, farming and more, when it came to his personal life and ambitions JS was a failure in nearly everything, which stood in contrast to his life as a theological leader (whether you believe him to be a legitimate prophet or not that part of his life worked pretty well). Framing things that way might change perspective of him in a positive way.

  • Jim Reed

    When you say you’re not going to say we’re wrong if we believe something different, does that mean you think we are wrong for believing something different, you’re just not going to say it?

  • NotUtahNative

    Great article!!! Been there and left.

  • mgardener

    I’m not a church member and I knew about it for a long time!

  • Personally, I don’t see any difference between Joseph Smith’s practice of polygamy than that of Warren Jeffs.

    That’s fair. The distinction I’m making is that whereas Jeffs and others like him seem to marry exclusively only little girls — i.e., the practice seems to be mostly only about control and sex (i.e., control because that’s why you marry or have sex with an underage child: to control them) — Joseph Smith’s wives were mostly his age, although there were outliers in both the younger age range (14 y.o., 16 y.o.) and the older age range (50+); that is, Smith’s marriages clearly weren’t *only* about sex. (Nor, however, were they sexless, which is what makes this a complicated matter.) To be clear, personally speaking, I am emphatically not on board with polygamy; I say that so you don’t misconstrue this response as an apology for polygamy. But yes, I do believe that the Lord commanded polygamy for that place and time; but it wasn’t for everybody (i.e., both the commandment and the practice itself). Some clearly took to polygamy with a gusto, others not so much. I come from polygamous stock (great-great grandparents on both paternal and maternal sides). The church lied to its membership about polygamy both when they started it and when they stopped it. Some church leaders practiced in secret. It’s a complicated matter. But Ms. Brooks’s post is an attempt to (a) categorize these faults and secrecies as sins and (b) to point out that if the church where to wholly acknowledge and “own” these sins, if it were to embrace them, the Church could not only move past the issue but also put itself in a position for real spiritual nurturance and therefore growth.

  • “Humble and repentant?… (an action that wasn’t carried out).” But that’s my point — Joseph did sin. What you adduce are instances of Joseph’s arrogance and they represent specific sins that he had to (and likely did) repent for.

  • “Personally, I don’t see any difference … Warren Jeffs.”

    That’s fair. The distinction I’m making is that whereas Jeffs and others like him seem to marry exclusively only little girls — i.e., the practice seems to be mostly only about control and sex (i.e., control because that’s why you marry or have sex with an underage child: to control them) — Joseph Smith’s wives were mostly his age, although there were outliers in both the younger age range (14 y.o., 16 y.o.) and the older age range (50+); that is, Smith’s marriages clearly weren’t *only* about sex. (Nor, however, were they sexless, which is what makes this a complicated matter.) To be clear, personally speaking, I am emphatically not on board with polygamy; I say that so you don’t misconstrue this response as an apology for polygamy. But yes, I do believe that the Lord commanded polygamy for that place and time; but it wasn’t for everybody (i.e., both the commandment and the practice itself). Some clearly took to polygamy with a gusto, others not so much. I come from polygamous stock (great-great grandparents on both paternal and maternal sides). The church lied to its membership about polygamy both when they started it and when they stopped it. Some church leaders practiced in secret. It’s a complicated matter. But Ms. Brooks’s post is an attempt to (a) categorize these faults and secrecies as sins and (b) to point out that if the church where to wholly acknowledge and “own” these sins, if it were to embrace them, the Church could not only move past the issue but also put itself in a position for real spiritual nurturance and therefore growth.

  • Saurman

    I think you might be missing the boat here. I understand that you have a a serious issue with 20 percent of Smith’s wives (17 and under) and any women in the 1800s being married into polygamist families. I know that polygamy wasn’t the cultural norm and Smith marrying Helen Mar Kimball (14.7) and Nancy Winchester (14.9 ) is weird, especially by today’s standards (much less so in the mid-19th century). However, you and your band of historian witch hunters seem (at least to me) to be setting out on an expedition to demonize a mortal man and a cultural practice, and to what end? You have directed all of your energy to negativity and there has been not one mention of positive that came from this man or the practice of polygamy, and in fact when I tried to shed light upon one significant positive fact (a highly educated polygamist wife becoming the first female elected state senator in the US) you tried to tell me how it was all part of some evil plot. I’m not sure what the end game is for you or those like you. To demonstrate that Smith was flawed, and therefore the practice of Mormonism is somehow flawed? To fight against individual rights of whom to marry or how many to marry? If it is to protect young women from being exploited, spend your time and energy looking for women being illegally trafficked (there are millions out there), because in the US laws are already in place to help and protect young women from being exploited.

    In the end my point remains the same; we all need to first seek to understand then to celebrate and focus upon the good and positive that comes from people and groups no matter how different they may seem to you and me. There is so much good to be found in Smith’s legacy, there is so much positive that comes from the Mormons, there is so much positive that comes from people that live lifestyles and practice things that I yet understand but can learn from! I believe that in this world of negative we can all be beacons of positive light and hope, because I believe that in the end, as Paul McCartney once sang, “the love you take is equal to the love you make”.

  • H Taylor

    I knew that Joseph had many women sealed to him when I was only 10 years old – 45 years ago. God asked many of his servants to act by faith – Noah was asked to build an ark and was ridiculed for years. Abraham was asked to sacrifice his only son as a test of his faith. This was obviously something that Joseph did not want to do – he did so because he was commanded to do so. This to build up the church. As a result of those plural marriages thousands of children were born into faithful homes and many women had the protection of a family and husband in the western frontier, who would have otherwise been single. The author, Mark Twain, visited Brigham Young and had this to say, ” Brigham did society a great favor by marrying some of those women.” He indicated that he surly didn’t do it for physical lust. The early members of the church obviously had great faith in God.

  • H Taylor

    True – Mary was only 13 or 14 when she became pregnant with the Christ child. I the 1800’s most women married by the time they were 16 years old. The life expectancy was about 45 years at that time. Many of the women were “sealed” to Joseph after his murder. There isn’t a record of how many children were born to these wives.

  • Jim Reed

    Mevans,
    Are you giving a testimony here to try to convince some of us, or to convince yourself? We understand Mormons are not perfect, but Mormonism often does seem to be reasoning in a circle. It is kind of a closed society, with its system of rewards and punishments to keep people believing, and make them believe more deeply. Do you see it as a system that maybe should be questioned, and maybe is holding people mentally captive? Are you here because deep down you want to check things out?

  • Jim Reed

    The Mark Twain quote makes this this 369 comment thread worth it. Thanks.

  • Jim Reed

    It was only hidden from church members.

  • oneOone

    Dogma is easily identifiable in Mormonism but it seems to have less appeal than some of the other topics which are ultimately irrelevant but constantly debated. Within the Mormon church they are referred to as Gospel Principles.

    I will grant you that the early church leaders liked to extrapolate and reach for unnecessary answers. Recent leaders are very conscious that even their casual conversation or hopeful speculation must be moderated.

  • GP

    “I[n] the 1800’s most women married by the time they were 16 years old.”

    Well, you said it; now please show your source to back up your claim. And for bonus points, please show how common and acceptable it was for a 38 year old man to marry a 14 year old girl. I’m willing to bet you won’t reply… but at least you now have something to think about. If you can’t back a claim up with a source, then it would be more honest to preface your statement as being personal opinion (e.g. “I think”).

  • Yes. I do see Mormonism as a system that most certainly should be questioned and that does in fact does hold some people mentally captive. I myself was held captive by that system for decades (until I broke free and left; but now I’m back). When you ask “are you here because deep down you want to check things out?” I’m not sure what you mean. I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Brooks’s article. My comment was meant to show agreement with her main thesis; i.e., that wrongness is not only sanctifiable but is perhaps even the source of holiness. Did what I wrote in agreement seem to contradict that? Also, will you please give an example of the circular reasoning you mentioned? Thanks!

  • Jim Reed

    Talking about Mormonism here on RD must be very different from talking to other Mormons in church. Here everything can be questioned. I was just checking to kind of see how far you might be willing to go here on RD. I don’t think you can expect the same kind of results you could get in a Mormon environment talking to other Mormons. I was curious if you were here being 100% certain of your beliefs, or possibly here looking at what others have to say. It could be both at different levels. If you are Mormon you have to be 100% certain, but you might be different below the surface.

    The statement that wrongness is not only sanctifiable but is perhaps even the source of holiness could be used as an example of circular reasoning from the point of view of us outsiders. Mormons have always been an extremely self-assured people. They had all this history and talk of angels and such, and they were totally sure they were right. Now it turns out they were wrong, so wrongness is now a source of holiness. The point seems to be Mormons are right because they are right, unless they are wrong, then they are right because they are wrong. This might sound a little obscure, but to me it is an example of circular reasoning.

  • James

    You misstated my proposition, claiming it was a non sequitur. Now, you’re doubling down by misstating it again.

    I never said “being finite that renders something meaningless.” What I actually said was, “A VALUE (i.e., equality, justice, and love) that is ephemeral is ultimately meaningless.”

    Is there anything more pathetic than a “professor” of logic who misidentifies non sequiturs and then doubles down on his misstated propositions? I hope you’re already tenured, because you clearly don’t know what you’re doing when it comes to rhetoric.

  • I see now what you’re saying. You feel like Mormons operate from an a priori sense of “rightness” that, as it were, changes everything they touch into “right.” The circular thing you mention makes sense in that context. And you are right: Mormons are very self-assured, very confident in their rightness. That can be both irritating to outsiders and absolutely toxic to (some) so-called insiders. I reacted positively to Brooks’s statement about wrongness being holiness mainly because it goes so completely against what I’d characterize as “typical Mormon thinking” — i.e., trying so hard to be perfect that they’re (I’m) unwilling to face their (my) manifest imperfections — so I immediately seized on it. The principal of imperfection as holiness strikes me as true for anyone — Mormons or not. I think viewing wrongness and imperfectness as not only acceptable but as sources of holiness is a psychologically healthy thing. As for your other comments, I’m here because I’m a seeker. Mormonism is a comfortable religious system for me but I am not even remotely convinced that it, as it stands today, is 100% completely true (“true” in an empirical, global sense meaning valid for all people, everywhere, living or dead and encompassing all possible truth); i.e., Mormonism is a work in progress, as we all are.

  • Jim Reed

    I like to think that Joanna Brooks goes against “typical Mormon thinking” because she is smart enough to know she could never get away with typical thinking here on RD. It is probably just vanity on my part, but I like to think we are better than the typical religious discussions.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    I’m not only tenured. I’m Dept. Head.

    You’re making this personal and engaging in insult only diminishes you. It also reveals the shallowness of your alleged “Christian” character.

    Have a good day.

  • dansmith21

    Luman, see the entire section with title “The Lord counsels Joseph and Emma Smith concerning plural marriage.” Joseph having more than one wife is what half of the lesson plan is about.

  • PieRatz

    It never ceases to amaze me or disappoint—The literal amount of lively back and forth that Mormon related pieces inspire on RD. My own view has Mormonism as a keystone in the discussion of religion as a common human need as from my particular view it is mind-boggling that a dogma so relatively new, occurring post-enlightenment, has managed to become the behemoth that it is. Is it subconscious red flags in the minds of the devout and laughable disbelief from many outsiders that meet head-on and give rise these tornadic threads? Cognitive Dissonance vs. Are you kidding Me?

  • Jim Reed

    We go to war with the enemy we have, and not the enemy we would like to have.

  • DKeane123

    “From the time I was a nine-year-old girl, I worried anxiously that I might be one of multiple wives in the eternities.” – this was a pretty sad line. I had similar issues with hell as a Catholic. So much needless worrying.

  • Craptacular

    “Feeling the truth is just as important as understanding it intellectually– probably more important. Especially since logic can be used to explain some things well, and some things completely incorrectly (the world used to be flat per logic)” – Ken M

    There is so much FAIL in this statement I hardly know where to begin. First of all, “truth” needs no feelings, emotions, or supernatural source. In fact, feelings and emotions often cloud the “truth” from the observer. And logic can only be used to explain things “incorrectly” if you don’t have or don’t share all the facts.

    Let’s use your own example of the “flat earth” theory…by using a limited data set (only viewing a small portion of the earth’s surface) you could certainly be led to “believe” the earth is flat, but you would be wrong, wouldn’t you? Once you have a more statistically sound data set, “logic” works just fine. See how that works? That’s why the scientific model works best…we can eliminate those emotional and biased distortions.

    You can seek whatever refuge you want in your belief system, but you do this only by denying, ignoring, or distorting facts. It is this continual distortion, disavowing, and denial of history and facts by the mormon church that we are addressing now. But please, by all means, continue to bury your head in the sand and ignore us while you seek whatever comfort in “knowing” we will not be bothering you in your “celestial kingdom” with all your spouses (including the gay ones, once the mormons embrace those, as well).

  • kabbee

    I point out that apologists are going to come forward with ad hominem and straw man arguments, and you didn’t fail to disappoint.

    Perhaps I have the gift of prophecy. And there’s more to the Native American origins than simply DNA findings. (which was simply another coffin nail in the BOM’s claim to historicity). Scientists recently found evidence that inhabitants of Easter Island had Native American DNA sequences, suggesting their ancestors made landfall in South America. Yet no Hebrew or Middle Eastern DNA has been found even though the Sorenson Molecular Group tested hundreds of people along the coast of that continent (they were looking for it, honest. Read your Simon Southerton). Too, there was no maritime technology among ancient Hebrews, and without navigational aids such as a compass, transoceanic crossings are technically impossible. Consider the logistics of storing fresh water, for example? Or better yet, take the wife on an ocean cruise; she’ll love you for it, and you can get a firsthand idea of just how big those muthas are.

    And I’m sorry, I’m not going to make another attempt at the BOM. It’s badly written 19th Century fiction (I’m a former English teacher, BTW), and Mark Twain’s “Chloroform in Print” analysis said it all.

  • kabbee

    Joseph Smith is reported to have given the order to General Dunham to call out the Nauvoo Militia to free him.

    That was an action that took place. So when did Joseph repent? While he was firing through the door at his attackers at Carthage? Or when he uttered his Masonic cry of distress just before he died?

  • kabbee

    Go study the census records in the 19th Century about the average age of marriage. It will save you from looking so foolish in the future.

    And I suppose I do have a serious issue with child sexual abuse. Might be because I have a teenage daughter…

  • James

    Deliberately or not, you misrepresented my position by making an inferential error–namely, that if one thing is ephemeral then it is meaningless then all things that are ephemeral are meaningless–and I called you out on it. Rather than concede your mistake, you went for broke and fell flat again.

    Jesus called out the so-called scholars of his day–the scribes and Pharisees–on their logical errors, and I’m doing nothing more than extending you the same courtesy. (Admittedly, I AM enjoying the irony of calling the logic prof out on his fallacies.)

    Now, are you willing to man up and acknowledge that you misstated my position or will you continue to go ad hominem or go with another fallacy–perhaps this one?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_authority

  • SanAntonioRob

    What house of cards?
    That the truthfulness of the Church, the BoM, and the prophet Joseph Smith are all tied together has been taught by prophets since Brigham Young?
    Or is the thought that a prophet must be godly the house of cards? I hope not. I hope that God would not call an ungodly charlatan as the prophet of the restored church, and then deny me access to the temple because I drink coffee.
    This seems an odd comment from someone who in above comments makes it seems like he knows so much about the church, and that others who don’t must be daydreaming their way through lessons.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    The only one who has “attacked the person” is you. I have not done the same to you. If you are going to describe a characterization of your argument that you disagree with “ad hominem” then you are rendering any sort of dispute impossible.

    As for “manning” up, I have no idea what you mean. I certainly have no intention of speaking with you on the subject any longer, as you have demonstrated that you are not a civil interlocutor, your hand-waving at Jesus and the Pharisees notwithstanding. And no, I do not believe that I have mischaracterized your position.

    I’m sure there are others on the board who will be willing to speak with you further.

  • Gorgias

    Yes

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    Well, it likely won’t be the last incorrect thing you’ve thought.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    Or ethnographic. American Indians aren’t descended from Ancient Israelites or Egyptians or anyone else from the Middle East. Their ancestors came from Russia.

    The whole thing is a joke, really. It’s amazing to me that anyone buys it, let alone millions of people. Smith has to be the greatest confidence trickster of all time — no con man ever conned that many people.

  • James

    You cited your credentials: “I teach moral philosophy at the university level for a living and have done so for over 20 years.”

    I said: “If truth does not exist independent of human existence, then equality, justice, and love are nothing more than social constructs, which makes them ephemeral and ultimately meaningless.” (Note that I referred to a subset of ephemera, not the totality of ephemera.)

    You said: “I can think of any number of things that are ephemeral and also of great significance and meaning.”

    I clarified: “A value (i.e., equality, justice, and love) that is ephemeral is ultimately meaningless.”

    You rejoined: “There’s nothing about being finite that renders something meaningless.” (Again, you’re referring to the characteristic of being finite, and I’m referring specifically to a value that is ephemeral.)

    If you deliberately (or obtusely) misstate my positions while citing your own authority, I’m going to call you out on it. It is your misrepresentation of my positions that constitutes the breach of civility. Do you like it when people repeatedly misstate what you say?

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    I have already indicated that I will no longer speak with you on this topic. You’ll have to find someone else to chat with.

  • Saurman

    Good luck in your pursuit of whatever you are searching for. It is obvious that you are a passionate individual and I hope that in the end you find happiness!

  • fiona64

    Continuing to avoid such questions and instead giving truth a
    carefully-managed bureaucratic roll-out, sustains a ground-level Mormon
    culture of rigidity and anxiety that will continue to make the faith
    difficult to inhabit for many Mormons. In its most extreme expressions,
    this rigidity and anxiety leads to contemptuous treatment of those who
    question and challenge in ways the bureaucracy cannot manage, as the
    June 2014 excommunication of women’s ordination advocate Kate Kelly reveals.

    I’m glad you said this so that I didn’t have to, Joanna. The LDS hierarchy does not tolerate questioning, let alone out-and-out dissent.

  • fiona64

    I ask this in all sincerity; how could you *not* have known, given that it’s right in D&C?

  • fiona64

    And don’t forget, Emma is not to do the same! https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/132

    Quote:

    51 Verily, I say unto you: A commandment I give unto mine handmaid, Emma Smith, your wife, whom I have given unto you, that she stay herself and partakenot of that which I commanded you to offer unto her; for I did it, saith the Lord, to prove you all, as I did Abraham, and that I might require an offering at your hand, by covenant and sacrifice.

    52 And let mine handmaid, Emma Smith, receive all those that have been given unto my servant Joseph, and who are virtuous and pure before me; and those who are not pure, and have said they were pure, shall be destroyed, saith the Lord God.

  • fiona64

    Well, you said it; now please show your source to back up your claim.
    And for bonus points, please show how common and acceptable it was for a
    38 year old man to marry a 14 year old girl.

    He can’t, and won’t, because it’s not true.

    http://www.history.com/news/history-lists/5-things-victorian-women-didnt-do-much

    Quote: At the end of the 18th century, the average age of first marriage was 28 years old for men and 26 years old for women. During the 19th century, the average age fell for English women, but it didn’t drop any lower than 22. Patterns varied depending on social and economic class, of course, with working-class women tending to marry slightly older than their aristocratic counterparts. But the prevailing modern idea that all English ladies wed before leaving their teenage years is well off the mark.

    And: http://classroom.synonym.com/age-marriage-us-1800s-23174.html

    Quote: Between 1800 and 1900, women generally married for the first time between the ages of 20 and 22. Less is known about the average age of first marriages for men during the 19th century. In 1890, when the U.S. Census Bureau started collecting marriage data, it was recorded that the average age of a first marriage for men was 26 years, and the average age of marriage for women was 22 years.

  • kabbee

    For those unfamiliar with Mark Twain’s Roughing It, it’s an account of the young 27-year old Samuel Clemens’ cross-country stage trip in 1862. Such “travelogues” were a prized form of literature–and pre-date the novel–and in this one, the most famous American of the 19th Century serves up a style that would reduce Jon Stewart to the role of straight man. Here’s his description of “encountering polygamy” (Chapt. XIV) that H Taylor seems to be referring to. I confess, incidentally, that I’m not sure whether Taylor is bearing his testimony or writing some magnificent satire, and I congratulate him on his ability to leave me confused.

    Our stay in Salt Lake City amounted to only two days, and therefore we had no time to make the customary inquisition into the workings of polygamy and get up the usual statistics and deductions preparatory to calling the attention of the nation at large once more to the matter.

    I had the will to do it. With the gushing self-sufficiency of youth I was feverish to plunge in headlong and achieve a great reform here—until I saw the Mormon women. Then I was touched. My heart was wiser than my head. It warmed toward these poor, ungainly and pathetically “homely” creatures, and as I turned to hide the generous moisture in my eyes, I said, “No—the man that marries one of them has done an act of Christian charity which entitles him to the kindly applause of mankind, not their harsh censure—and the man that marries sixty of them has done a deed of open-handed generosity so sublime that the nations should stand uncovered in his presence and worship in silence.”

  • Whiskyjack

    Agreed. Mind you the only advantage the other religions have is that their origins are lost in the mists of history.

  • fiona64

    From where I sit, you look like a priesthood holder who doesn’t like it when women get uppity and talk about questioning … let alone actually doing it.

  • fiona64

    How do you KNOW that the historical record does not support that Joseph
    Smith and all other LDS prophets up until now are not speaking for God?

    Well, there is the whole “none of their prophecies have ever come true” business. And that’s aside from the fact that the burden of proof is on the one making the affirmative claim, so please provide some proof that the so-called prophet really is speaking for God … oh, and pro-tip? “A burning in the bosom” doesn’t count as proof.

  • fiona64

    In other words: keep praying until you come to the conclusion the prophet tells you to …

  • fiona64

    Yeah, actually, it was. I know I’m a little late to the party here, but the typical age of a woman at her first marriage was 22 years old during that period … *not* 14.

  • bornfree777

    This is just totally crazy. The Lord did NOT “give unto” Joseph these women. They were not play things or property. It’s disgusting and without any validity. He was an obvious horn dog pretending to talk to God.

  • fiona64

    Don’t tell me, let me guess: “You’re just bitter; you obviously left the church because you were offended. You left the church but you can’t leave it alone.”

    And now the chorus goes “I don’t know about that. I don’t know that we ever emphasized that. The prophet was just speaking as a man that time.”

    I feel you, my friend. I’ve been there … as a never-mo who has been talking about this stuff for decades to people who just stuff their fingers in their ears and chant “lalala can’t hear you.”

  • fiona64

    All you can do is choose to find out for yourself whether Joseph was
    called of God (or if there is a God to begin with). The pattern is
    simple. Humble yourself before God, ask him in faith if he is there,
    then allow him to answer through His spirit to yours. Better to follow
    the still small voice, than the screaming of the world.

    I did. The answer I got was “The Church of LDS is a load of bollocks.” Of course, your response to this is doubtless that I didn’t pray hard enough, since I didn’t get the right answer.

    I’ve talked before here about how the church has committed elder abuse against my parents, and I don’t feel like going into it again. It is, in my not even remotely humble opinion, nothing but a giant pyramid scheme set up to benefit the 12 old geezers at the top of it, to the detriment of the poor, delusional lot at the bottom.

  • fiona64

    Wow. That sure is a long version of “Women need to shut up and do what the menfolks tell them to …”

  • fiona64

    I’m sorry to hear that you conflate Christian patriarchy with misogyny.
    No religion or philosophy elevates the status of women more than we do.

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

  • fiona64

    Does the promise of exaltation to rule and reign as a queen and a priestess unto your husband truly constitute diminution?

    it sure as hell does, when the right to rule and reign as queen only comes if you’re married to a “godly man.”

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I am just a little bit better than a mere Ladies’ Auxiliary member.

  • fiona64

    That’s right; all women’s lived experiences must be dismissed as “bitter” by the priesthood holder, so that the cognitive dissonance doesn’t trouble him.

  • fiona64

    Did you ever stop to consider that polygamy is an expedient to female autonomy and spirituality?

    if this is the case with polygyny, why would it most expressly *not* be the case with polyandry? After all, when Emma Smith said she was going to go out and get an extra husband, Joseph had another “revelation” that she was to be faithful to him while he dorked half the county.

  • bornfree777

    Fallible is one thing but sexual pervert is another. Stop the apologizing for Joe’s disgusting behavior.

  • fiona64

    He was an obvious horn dog pretending to talk to God.

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I was merely pointing out that the old “sauce for the goose” proverb didn’t apply.

  • bornfree777

    I understood your point. I total agree with you fiona64. And poor Emma was threatened with destruction if she didn’t comply.

  • James

    I’ll accept your concession then.

  • fiona64

    Cool; it seems that we are in what a former colleague called “violent agreement.” 😉

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    To the extent that they depend on the literal truth of Biblical claims, yes, that’s correct.

    Modern Judaism does not.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    If that makes you happy, then please go ahead.

    It means absolutely nothing to me one way or another, and I am more than happy to allow others to read our exchange and determine who was civil and who was not.

  • Whiskyjack

    I suspect that depends on how you define modern Judaism. There exist in modern times fundamentalist and Orthodox Jews that adhere to many of the “truths” in the Bible.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    There is no such thing as “fundamentalist” Judaism. Judaism employs a hermeneutical literature — it does not take the Bible literally.

    However, by “modern” Judaism, I meant, primarily, Reform, which is the largest denomination in the US.

  • Whiskyjack

    I was using the term in the Wikipedia sense. The definition is very imprecise, and I bow to your first-hand knowledge.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_fundamentalism

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    Understood. Yes, “fundamentalist” in ordinary speech can sometimes just mean “really, really orthodox.”

  • GP

    Yup… it’s sad when you not only call out someone on their own baseless claim but also post sources to refute it. Hopefully we’ve struck a chord with at least a few… the confusion they must be going through just has to be awful!

  • BD

    It just astounds me that, as ugly as the evidence gets, no Mormon can say, “Joseph Smith was wrong on this one. Oh, but I know why. The “revelation” to practice polygamy was canonized in D&C 132. So, if that revelation is wrong–and to be upfront, I believe it is–then Joseph Smith’s credibility as a prophet has to be called into question. Again, being upfront, I believe that his prophetic ability should be called into question. This whole issue gets much easier when we realize that Joseph Smith was a more charismatic and much more eloquent version of Warren Jeffs. He made up the Book of Mormon with the help of a few buddies, particularly Oliver Cowdery. Yes, Emma Hale Smith, I’d submit, was also in on it…and put up with many of Joseph’s shenanigans because she was nearly as invested in the con. Later, guys like Sidney Rigdon would give him theological and intellectual material to build a bigger scam. He made up the Book of Abraham. He was a convicted con man…well proven by 1920s court records. He wanted to have sex with a lot of women. He liked the power he had…and the religious milieu in the wake of the Second Great Awakening provided fertile soil for his kind (just as it did for the likes of Charles Taze Russell and Ellen G. White). No Mormon will like my explanation, but it’s much easier to understand than the wild theories I see from Mormons here or on LDS.org’s Gospel Topics pages.

  • Jim Reed

    19th century Americans had a knack for making up new Christianities. I think it was what the audience of that day wanted, 20th century Americans were in kind of a religious holding pattern, and now in the 21st century they are ready for some kind of change, or reverse of direction.

  • Jim Reed

    When you think about it, no religion wants to fully deal with their errors. It just goes against religious thinking. If they wanted to find and correct all errors, they would be science. Or at the very least they would be something like historical knowledge that rejected apologetics.

  • Zachary Peterson

    I remember when I had a testimony of Joseph Smith without knowing about polygamy. When I learned of polygamy I was devastated and I even denied it really happened. It wasn’t until about a year ago that I came to grips with it. Since then I accepted Joseph Smith as a true prophet of God and I believe in everything that was revealed to him and all the other prophets of God, including Thomas Monson. I believe in polygamy. I believe that God is a polygamist. I believe that the most Christ like, selfless, life is a polygamous one. With all this in mind I don’t practice it because I am commanded not to in this life. I feel that our culture is unaware of the difference of belief vs practice. If Joseph Smith is the prophet of the restoration and Brigham young is our modern day Moses how can we deny that this is true?

  • fiona64

    Some people will do anything to avoid the pain of cognitive dissonance, I guess …

  • fiona64

    It’s because the apologists start descending to deny the evidence before them.

  • smigman

    “Is wrongness holiness?” I don’t think this question really captures the dilemma that the truth about Mormon history presents us with. It is possible to be passively wrong. It is possible to be wrong without causing anyone harm. What we are talking about with Joseph Smith’s polygamy (and many other historical issues) is not mere “wrongness”. No, what we are talking about is the founding prophet of Mormonism engaged in willful immorality. That is a much more significant dilemma for CTR Mormonism. Religious people have a long history of rendering willful immorality holy and I would hope that Mormons refrain from following that example.

  • Jim Reed

    You were a loyal church member, then you started hearing about Joseph Smith and you were devastated. You got over that, and a year ago you returned to belief in the church and the prophets. That is what we see as being so destructive about Mormonism. Once they have control over you, it is hard to break free, no matter what you find out about the reality of the church.

  • martin

    When we look at the past and all we can do is criticize and find wrongs and the negativeness of how historians will always side with those who they are more in tune with it makes me question who really is accurate and who really is the expert on mormon history. maybe only those who actually were there and walked in those shoes.

  • Bill-D

    It all depends on if truth is important to a person or not. If so, then find and face it, adjust and change to be in line with that truth and move ahead. If someone is in love with the lifestyle and camaraderie, then understand that it may not be factual, but it provides what your want.
    The real rub is can one base their eternal life on anything less than the truth? The long view should always take priority over the short view. Who would trade 80 or so years of this life for eternity?

  • Bill-D

    I hear you. “Truth should trump convenience and comfort”. In real life it does not. In order to have both, some close their eyes and spin and color until they come up with something they can believe if not examined too closely.
    This is true in most of the “only true way” denominations.

  • Bill-D

    You are so spot on. The truth has LITTLE to do with some people’s beliefs. They are able to hold multiple contradictions and still function somewhat. For them, truth can and will change, and there are no absolutes except the Prophet speaks for God, and the church is correct and true; facts be damned!

  • Russ Dewey

    I had actually forgotten I had posted that two months ago, but good old Disqus notifies you by email if you get a reply. Yes, I agree most people will not want to threaten their childhood beliefs. One thing different today from only 20-30 years ago is all sorts of online support for people who are honest truth-seekers. Biblical scholarship has blossomed, for example. The best way to address truth-seeking is to explore on your own, carefully looking for high quality scholarship for example (Amazon comment sections help a lot). Change must be gradual and there must be a positive alternative before people will leave the secure and known, whatever it is. Purely as a tactical matter, you’ll never get anywhere by confronting and pressing people anyway; they will just push back!

  • Bill-D

    Your words ring true.
    Love God, seek truth, and show mercy as Jesus showed mercy to us.
    Life is short, live it with purpose.

  • Thunder Boy

    Polygamy must be the Mormon “tenant” who got evicted for not paying her rent.

  • Derek P. Moore

    You are somewhat mistaken about the polygamy doctrines. Mormonism believes in polyandry, which is women having multiple husband, which you admit, but pass off as a bad thing. The doctrine is that women can have only 1 “for time and all eternity” sealing while alive, the others being “for time” (not “time only”, the word “only” occurs nowhere in the temple ordinance). After the death of all spouses, it is common practice for Mormon women to be resealed for time and all eternity by proxy to all of her marriage partners in life.

    Also, Kate Kelly has spoken at length about the Book of Mormon being a fraud and Joseph Smith being a pedophile rapist since her excommunication

  • Randy B

    I feel to correct you here. I did four years of seminary and four years of Institute and lived in a small but totally Mormon town growing up. Just because section 132 is there doesn’t mean it was discussed adequately or properly at church. The correlation department has successfully avoided any real conversation about polygamy.please show me in any CES literature where it truly discusses polyandry and Mary 14 year old girls? As of last year it did not exist.

  • Lulu

    I think it’s interesting that there is so much discourse on polygamy when those who want to discredit the Prophet forget the perilous times I. Which he and all Latter Day Saints lived. Historically at that time, women could not own land, could not vote and had no rights save for those within the bonds of marriage. Sad, but a historical fact. Historians may know how many wives the Prophet had, but do we truly understand the circumstances as to why? I believe with all my heart that the Prophet was a Man of God. But even in the Doctrine of Covenants he was shown to be a fallible man…so any individual who makes the perfunctory claim that Joseph is portrayed as seemingly “perfect” perhaps needs to brush up on their doctrine. There was much death, loss, sickness, persecution of all Latter Day Saints during that time. In order to understand truly, we would of had to walk a mile in those Saints shoes, and I for one do not feel qualified to make those judgements. I trust in the Lord, as should those who would condemn and judge harshly. He sees all things, and his plan will not be thwarted by any man. He is the Alpha and Omega.

  • Grant Kimball

    Milk before meat. But what if the “meat” is that the church isn’t true?

  • Blake

    Bornfree777 – I just wonder if folks who think they know all about this but do not are in a position to judge. He asked the parents of the 14 year old (there actually two of them) regarding the marriage and it was, based on all available evidence, pretty clearly merely a dynastic marriage. It is fairly clear he never had intimate relations with her and was interested in having a family sealed to him out of his love for them. I assume you are not against loving others?

    In addition, the evidence regarding Fanny Alfer is very inconclusive and open to several different conclusions — one of which is that he had no intimate relations at all with her. I of course do not expect nuanced assessment of evidence from those who are hell-bent on judging, but at least lets get the facts straight.

  • Blake

    Really? Read it again. She was threatened with destruction if she was unfaithful to Joseph; not if she did not comply. Read D&C 132 again.

  • bornfree777

    Blake – Mormonism is a verifiable fraud. There is a mountain of evidence that Joseph Smith was a financial con artist (See Kirkland Anti-Bank and Kirkland Land deals and the stone in the hat court proceeding from 1826), he was also a fake translator (See of the Book of Abraham and Kinderhook plates) he was also a womanizer to the extreme (see the Church’s own essay showing that he married 14 year-olds and other men’s wives). Further, the latest essay from the Church confirms Smith’s polygamy practices with Fanny Algers. Why would Oliver Cowdery call Fanny Algers a “dirty nasty little affair.” You need to read the information available.

  • Blake

    Unfortunately bornnotsofree, I disagree with full knowledge of the information. I believe that it is demonstrable that JS did not bite on the Kinderhood plates, there are genuine Jewish-Egyptian details that JS got right against all odds with the BofA, he may have “married 14 year olds but it is extremely likely that he did have sexual relations with them because he was actually sealing families to himself — and the Church has stated nothing of the sort regarding Fanny Alger. Why did Oliver Cowdery admit to several who inquired that he knew JS had not committed adultery with Fanny Alger? You need to read the information available. Then again, I am persuaded that you care little for the actual information and just prefer your hell-bent take on it.

  • bornfree777

    Ha ha continue to live in fantasy land. You are mistaken about the Kinderhook plates J.S. wrote about them in his journal. You are sadly brainwashed and can’t consider the information with an open mind. Best regards anyway – you are just devoting your entire life to a folly! At least its a nice folly!

  • Todd

    “From the time I was a nine-year-old girl, I worried anxiously that I might be one of multiple wives in the eternities. The LDS Church has to this day given me and hundreds of thousands of other anxious Mormons no reason to believe otherwise.”

    Well, other than the fact that the church doesn’t force anybody to marry. Marriage is a choice.

  • Joe

    Please point me to the manuals that taught it in the way you are describing. In the way it is presented in the new essays. I would love to read these manuals.

  • Blake

    That is it bornnotfree — anyone who disagrees with you, no matter how much more they know than you do (which is a lot) must be brainwashed. That explains everything – not.

  • Don

    I need to say just one thing! Let the one that has NO sin or faults cast the first stone!
    I am sixty six years old and have know all my life that polygamy was practiced in the church and it was done for a reason! Let us not try to judge the life’s and practices of a time which we did not and do not live. And if we are so blind that we still read all the scriptures and promises which the gospels brings to our lives and still we do not believe, then I feel then there is a problem of our own faith and non conversion and understanding to the laws which will and do govern the universe. Many people today believe that laws are something to break or they do not concern them, but I say with out laws we have nothing. There is opposition in All things, Good, Bad. But the need to have acceptance of man through the venue of a public forum and print wrongful and inaccurate statements to prove or disprove one belief is of NO service to ANYONE. The Lord has given a special gift that will and can testify to all truths and all you need to do is USE it.

  • Wonderboywonderings .

    Yes, by all means please correct me as to what I learned and when I learned it. Smh.

    Just because 132 might not have been “adequately” or “properly” discussed in your little all-Mormon town, doesn’t mean it was the same with everyone else everywhere else. Maybe my parents, my teachers, and my leaders knew the Scriptures and church history better than yours. Or, maybe I read the Scriptures and performed my own little synthesis and analysis And figured out that 132 talks about polygamy, since it does.

    Maybe for everyone that has to be spoon fed from a manual by a certified “CES Instructor” it’s a little tough, but that kind of underscores my original point: it’s more the dominant micro-culture where one attends that seems to be the culprit.

    As for a certain 14 year-old, there are scores of wives by BY and JS. How many people even now can speak intelligently on any given one of them without resorting to a secondary source (of which there are many).

    There’s a lot of history out there. Go find it. Stop waiting to be handed everything on a silver platter from the Church And exercise a little agency and initiative.

  • Richard Chappell

    What I always get a chuckle out of is the emphasis people put on the 14 year old wife as if that’s just horrendous. You’re falling for the historian’s fallacy – applying today’s cultural standards to a historical situation that didn’t apply. It was not that uncommon for 14 year old brides back then. They were usually done with school. Even Laura Ingalls Wilder was working as a school teacher at age 16. n many states in the US, the marriage age has only relatively recently gone up. In TX, the minimum age with parental consent was 14 until 2005, and was only raised to attack the Yearning For Zion group.

  • Dude

    Actually the rate of marriage for 14 year old girls was the same in the United States as it is today.

    Polygamy is actually widely practiced in Africa. Many research articles actually blame polygamy for the widespread prevalence of AIDS. It also generates a great deal of poverty and leads to greater marital strife. Young females are more likely to be sexually molested in polygamous marriages than monogamous ones and both genders have poorer academic achievement, with the greater discrepancy being for the boys.

    “By their fruits shall ye know them”. Polygamy is evil fools. It always will be.

  • Richard Chappell

    You can’t legitimately conflate the two. You may as well just pull stuff out of a hat. Oh wait, you did. Making accusations you know to be false is pretty evil, so I guess we know you.

  • mcr285

    My grandmother got married at age 14. It wasn’t actually all that uncommon for young women to get married between the ages of 14-16 back in the day. It was more common between the ages of 16-18, but 14 did happen quite often. It’s funny how many people act shocked at this, but they hear the stats on the dropping rate of teen abortions today and they congratulate themselves for teaching safe sex practices…. sigh….

  • shann wals

    Joseph was NOT a polygamist. There is no evidence. In fact, all evidence says he hated polygamy and made many proclamations against it in church documents from relief society to his own speeches. Emma proclaimed he did not practice it and no where in his journals does he mention any woman. Also, DNA has proven six of the twelve supposed children are not his. These are total lies. I can’t believe the church sight has said that JS was a polygamist. I know its not true.

  • corprate cut

    But what if he never was, or in fact fought against polygamy. I believed he was while on my mission, but I’m not so sure anymore. See the link.

    http://confessionsofanelder.blogspot.com/