Wall_quote_from_Chief_Joseph

This article is my reaction to an article over at LDS Living. While I respect the experiences of the author, I felt the post inaccurately portrayed why most people leave the Church.

I left the Church, and I have no plans to come back – my life is much more happy and blessed since leaving. If you are an active and orthodox Latter-day Saint, you may attribute my current happiness Satan’s deception. If my life was worse, you would say it’s the loss of God’s blessings. In the eyes of some Mormons, no matter how wonderful or difficult my life is, it will be the result of my apostasy. My fault. I will have brought this onto myself as a result of sin.

But that could not be further from the truth.

I served a mission and I worked hard. I served as a Zone Leader. I baptized nearly 30 people while serving a stateside mission – not something I ever told anyone before I left the Church. I was very modest and humble, never boastful. I served in various leadership callings in my student ward that put me in the ward council. I met a righteous, spiritual, faithful latter-day saint. We got married fast, and those days were blissful – we talked about serving couples missions when we retired, we went on baptism dates to the temple, we studied scriptures together. We were a Christ-centered coupled, and we did our best to be like him.

We got married. It was a beautiful day.

And from there on out, it was supposed to be Endure to the End. We went to Church weekly, we shared the gospel with friends, and we went out to save the lost sheep.

Which is were we ran into the problem.

I want to reinforce this point. We did NOT seek to doubt the Church. We were not trying to prove the Church wrong. We were not sinning. We learned the actual, uncorrelated, uncensored, history of the Church through every primary source we could put our hands on.

Which is why when I read an article like this in a Church owned magazine that my friends and family read that sends the message of “I left because of sin, and I came back because I repented” I get a little bit frustrated. I did not leave because of sin, and most former members of the Church didn’t either.

And that’s true for most people that leave these days. Just take a look at the sample study done by John Dehlin (which he then presented to the leadership of the Church). Of course, all of us would rather have the numbers straight from the tapir’s mouth, but I don’t expect that to happen anytime soon.

John’s study illustrates exactly what my experience was and is for tens of thousands of struggling Latter-day Saints. We did not sin. Our faith-crisis was simply the result of the Church’s massive truth crisis. The Church is obviously struggling to figure out what to do lessen the hemorrhage of many of its faithful members. New carefully worded and unsigned essays on topics that range from Joseph Smith’s polygamy (including a girl a few months away from her 15th birthday) to the priesthood ban for blacks (which the Church completely disavows but doesn’t apologize for). But still, the message is reinforced to members of the Church through official publications that sin is what leads people away from the Church.

Tell me, how did I sin when I discovered that South Park taught me a more accurate depiction of the translation of the Book of Mormon than two decades of Church attendance? Why am I the sinner when I learned that Joseph Smith pressured young girls and other men’s wives into marrying him, then lied about it and tried to hide it? Why am I told Joseph was sent to Carthage on false charges when in actuality he destroyed a printing press that was publishing the truth about his polygamy? Why am I a fool and prideful when I learn that Joseph’s “translation” of the so-called Book of Abraham papyri are wrong and the Book of Mormon contains dozens of anachronisms?

I would go to my bishop and ask for answers. Conversations with family either resulted in dismissing my concerns or ended with “doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.” I took that to heart. I stopped studying anything other than scripture. I doubted all my doubts before I did anything else. But it would not go away. I won’t rehash my entire journey out of the Church for you in this post, but you can read what I shared with my friends and family here if you are interested. Suffice it to say, I did not abandon the Church, the Church abandoned me.

One more tragic consequence of this article is its effect of those who are doubting the validity of the Church. To anyone who is in that boat, I want to make it very clear – it is not your fault. The Church has alway said that it was their job to teach to the doctrines of the gospel. They took it upon themselves to teach you Church history. By their own definition of honesty, they were dishonest. Your faith-crisis is not the result of Satan trying to trick you, God trying to test you, or sin. Just like we were taught in Sunday School growing up, lying always comes back to bite you in the butt.



Albert Carrington
Albert Carrington
Albert Carrington served as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles until he was excommunicated for adultery. During his disciplinary court, Elder Carrington tried to argue that he had only committed "a little folly in Israel!", but the current brethren couldn't be bothered to give him a break. Learn more about Elder Carrington here.
  • The White Stone

    Joseph’s use of seer stones, the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor,
    the
    polygamy etc. is nothing new, I knew of all those things from long
    ago. They were covered in seminary, Ensign articles etc. There are many Mormons out there who
    are well informed about all those things and remain fully faithful members, and many who become informed about them without losing their testimony. In my case (and in the case of many others) the reason for that is the fact that I have had a number of
    experiences before my mission, on it, and after that confirmed to me the
    truthfulness of all the church claims so I did not jump to conclusion. Most people dismiss out of hand those things that run contrary to what their personal experiences taught them but as a missionary I felt it was important that I took a very deep honest look at both sides. There are excellent resources like FairMormon that answer the accusations others have made.

    In doing that research I found that while there are many accusations that on the surface appear valid and damning, the truth is that they do not stand up to scrutiny and my testimony was strengthened by this exercise. I’ve gone head to head with professional anti-Mormons and come away just fine. I doubt there is an accusation you have seen that I didn’t check out and find wanting some time ago.

    Don’t you have a store of experiences of your own confirming the truth of the church to you? Have you hardened your heart against them and cast them aside being past feeling? You talk about many things you did, and they were good things but they are all external actions. A person could do those just going through the motions without developing a real relationship with Christ and living on borrowed light. The number of people you baptized is totally irrelevant. Perhaps your leaving the church has a lot to do with things you did not do when you were a member, but whatever the case there is a difference between you and those who know the same things and remain faithful Mormons. It would be wise to give some serious consideration to what that difference is.

    • Zelph on the Shelf

      These subjects were not part of the Church curriculum. I am glad you were taught these things, but I wasn’t. I absolutely felt that I had a relationship with Jesus Christ. I absolutely had spiritual experiences – I got a witness of the Book of Mormon and had multiple miracles happen in my life. I acknowledge the good the Church taught me.

      However, it has also been dishonest. It has done terrible, terrible things in the name of God. And I realized that the experience that I had had were not unique to Mormonism. Spiritual witnesses, healings, visions, prophecy, etc, all exist outside of Mormonism. A great video about testimony is here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycUvC9s4VYA).

      What issues did you feel were not as damning when you studied further? Because the opposite was true for me. I would read resource from FAIR, then check out the opposing viewpoint, always looking for primary sources. The evidence became more damning, not less. Though some accusations have less of a base than others, it is not anti-Mormon lies. If it is, please point it out to me.

      But instead, it is my fault. The last thing you say is that it is my fault I lost my testimony. Not the Church’s. The victim is blamed. I wasn’t told the truth, and when I decided I did not want to be associated with a dishonest organization, I am told I am the one that is following the adversary.

      I have been told all my life to stand up for good. I continue to do so. I feel that I am doing exactly what God would have me do – standing up to corruption, standing up for the marginalized, and defending doing good, not justifying evil.

      You can make Mormonism work to some degree as an apologist. But the Mormonism that you have to subscribe to is different than chapel Mormonism, and very different than the one Joseph Smith taught.

      • sylvia

        Zelph, it has not been dishonest and if they have done anything wrong it was because of imperfections of human beings who did things that were common at the time.

        • Albert Carrington

          It absolutely has. Remember when President Packer said “not all truth is useful?” Remember this bit from the Gospel Principles manual?
          “There are many other forms of lying. When we speak untruths, we are guilty of lying. We can also intentionally deceive others by a gesture or a look, by silence, or by telling only part of the truth. Whenever we lead people in any way to believe something that is not true, we are not being honest.”
          By leading people believe inaccurately the process of the Book of Mormon translation, where Joseph said the Lamanites and Nephities lived, the constant implications that they see Christ, acting like Joseph was never brought to court on real charges when he was, President Hinckley saying that members of the Church had a right to financial records on a TV interview but that not being the case, and I could go on, is completely dishonest. And this isn’t just slip up dishonesty. This is committees of people deciding to carry this out. I highly recommend reading this post: http://rationalfaiths.com/the-mormon-history-conspiracy/

          • Maryanne Schiller

            an example of how the church hid the truth????
            1974
            https://www.lds.org/friend/1974/09/a-peaceful-heart?lang=eng Joseph also used an egg-shaped, brown rock for translating called a seer stone. Martin Harris said that on the seer stone “sentences would appear and were read by the Prophet and written by [the one writing them down] and when finished [that person] would say ‘written;’ and if correctly written, the sentence would disappear and another take its place; but if not written correctly it remained until corrected
            1993
            https://www.lds.org/ensign/1993/07/a-treasured-testament?lang=eng
            “Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English.

            1977

            https://www.lds.org/ensign/1977/09/by-the-gift-and-power-of-god?lang=eng
            “Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light. And in the darkness the spiritual light would shine.

            1987 https://www.lds.org/ensign/1987/10/recent-events-involving-church-history-and-forged-documents.p1?lang=eng
            includes a great explanation on the seerstones among other things.

            As you can see…. the church NEVER lied or hid the truth about joseph smith using the seer stone, in a hat… it was in the ensign semi regularly and the friend – the fault lies not with the church. the fault lies with the false traditions of the fathers being passed down to the children in primary as fluffy gospel or partial truths because it is easier to teach part of the story to children who will not sit down… and its the fault of the parents for not learning these things and teaching their children… it is not the fault of the church as a whole that you did not learn of these things. we are a church made up of people. and people do the best they can. but they make mistakes… I beg you to research your concerns to see if the church lied or hid, or if you were simply not taught enough…there is a difference….

          • Davey t

            You do realise that these aren’t taught on a Sunday and never have been? – most members don’t pour through back copies of the ensign/friend to find fundamental historical facts. I was a missionary and I never once taught about Joseph marrying children, adultery or head in a hat revelations. I have no recollection of reading or hearing about these things from anyone anywhere. I only found these out when I started to investigate the church by using non-correlated sources as well as lds approved material.

          • sylvia

            There are answers for all these things if you want to see them. One may be that God just doesn’t want us to know it all right now. Be patient and we will eventually find out. They now have evidence of horses, plates of metal, etc…..another answer might be that God has hidden it from us…..but we can pray, we can look at the words of the current prophets and see the great good the church does in the world and help instead of wasting time on these silly things. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has been the greatest blessing in my life.

          • Davey t

            The answer I don’t think you want to see is that it’s a fraud. No one likes to be duped. I have no doubt that you have had wonderful experiences amongst like minded, generally great, people. I have no doubt that there will have been great comfort in times of distress from friends, family and even doctrine. The problem I had as a fully believing, very committed member who loved the church and all it stood for, was that I didn’t know what it would look like if it wasn’t true.

            Once you exit the church its literally like waking up from a fabulous dream and you can perceive very clearly the brainwashing and its effects. Sure the dream was sometimes awesome but it isn’t a patch on the real world. Post church thinking doesn’t go via a guilt/WWJD/quick prayer to check which choice filterset. Morally I find myself better than the church (by a long way – so surprising and now I wouldn’t want to lower my own standards), I am much sharper and clearer in my choices as I feel fully responsible for them and from an approach to the world I feel much more authentic as I don’t have to constantly pre-judge the worthiness of life’s variety.

            Don’t make excuses for God or explanations that might explain why the world is a certain way (divine beings don’t need excuses or explanations) because that is a tacit admission that you don’t know something. Just admit that. Then work from what can be verified and checked. Was JS a convicted fraudster? Did he defraud people with a fake seer stone before the first vision? Did he use the same fake seer stone in a hat to translate the Book of Mormon one letter at a time and yet need to correct basic spelling and grammar afterwards? The big question – would this look or sound any different if a con man like Warren Jeffs was doing this?

          • sylvia

            The charges against Joseph Smith can be defended if you are looking for it. There is also a lot of gossip from people who hated him……things that we don’t know for sure if it is true or not. Some day all the truth will come out. The seer stone was used as a sort of crutch at first and later he learned to rely totally on the spirit to receive revelation. Grammar and spelling are inconsequential. The biggest proof for me is how the Book of Mormon goes hand in hand with the Bible so beautifully. See 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 and compare to Ether 12:27 as just one tiny example. It brings me closer to Jesus Christ. The doctrines that he restored…….not just heaven and hell, all those that have died and not understood or even heard of Jesus Christ , are not lost! Families are an eternal union. We are here on this earth for a great purpose, to learn to be as God is and to progress and experience…. I choose to believe and have faith that Joseph Smith will be cleared of any wrong doing. He was an imperfect man , during a different time and culture.

          • Davey t

            “The charges against Joseph Smith can be defended if you are looking for it.” – please have a go at these starters for ten:
            – Joseph was employed to pretend he had magical powers with a rock he found and to lie about boxes of treasure , hidden in the ground and guarded by spirits. All of this occurred before he had the ‘first vision’.
            – Joseph committed adultery with married women whom he polyandrously ‘married’ in secret ceremonies. In some cases the husbands had no idea.
            – Joseph married at least one person using these supposed divine powers before he records having received those powers.
            – Joseph started to ‘marry’ (let’s be fair – these were not marriages in the conventional sense and while sex was reported non of the more mundane features of marriage such as co-habitation and financial/emotional support were in evidence) without Emma’s approval and ended up having to create scripture to specifically condemn her if she didn’t relent.
            – Joseph married many teenagers (youngest 14 – he was 37 at the time). This was not normal behavior even in the past. He had to threaten some of the women with stories of damnation or guaranteed salvation for them and their families (surely something at odds with the LDS idea of personal sin and judgment!) and angelic visits with drawn swords – all to make them comply to his requests.
            – Joseph was trying to create an Egyptian/English alphabet but even with his seer stone/divine gifts the result is not even wrong it’s not even in the ballpark. The facsimiles in the BoA can be readily translated now and they do not match (I will accept a partial hit on the 4 canoptic jars and a possible description) but in all other areas, including the fundamental characters displayed, names and actual purpose and meaning of the scenes displayed they are wrong. Add this to the kinderhook plates, greek psalter episode and BoM anachronisms and copy errors and we have to say that Joseph’s ‘translation’ skill was no better than I could do – i.e. no ability whatsoever.

            Bearing testimony of the wonders of an eternal family is fine but is as valid as the tale of the glory of Valhalla for all warriors to feast and prepare for the terrible glory of Ragnorak. Truth is of a different timbre and doesn’t in and of itself engender any feelings. So far we have only the evidence of evolution that says we are all one big biological family from humans back through hominids and back to simple worms. If families actually end up being eternal then we are in for a hell of a strange family reunion when we meet Grandpa amoeba!

            Tough though it is please do yourself a solid and have the courage to admit – I could be wrong. This life is ultra precious because we get one shot at it and there is so much to experience outside the confines of LDS myth and anti-women rights.

          • sylvia

            Pick one of these things and I will give you an explanation.

          • Davey t

            Egyptian Alphabet.

          • sylvia

            Are you referring to the incident with the Kinderhook Plates?

          • Davey t
          • sylvia
          • Davey t

            “The relationship of these documents to the book of Abraham is not fully understood. Neither the rules nor the translations in the grammar book correspond to those recognized by Egyptologists today. ”

            You did read the article didn’t you? It offers no explanation at all for the Egyptian Alphabet.

          • sylvia

            It also explained why this is not a problem in the full scope of things.

          • sylvia

            The problem I find with your answer is the Book of Mormon itself. I believe it is of God. I love it. I have studied it along with the Bible. No way could someone ,without God’s help, write such a book.

        • Albert Carrington

          Also, take a glance at this when you have a second. Maybe you will agree with me that the General Authorities have not been honest. Or maybe you can help me see where I am wrong.

          http://zelphontheshelf.com/95-questions/

      • The White Stone

        If you got a witness that the BoM is true then why brush aside the church because it didn’t do things the way you would have liked them done? The BoM being true means JS was a true prophet, and that means this really is the last dispensation and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the kingdom of God on the earth and will remain so up to the second coming of Christ. It doesn’t mean that every church leader will be perfect in every way, but it does mean rejecting their leadership is rejecting Christ.

        It is not the purpose of the church to turn every member into a expert in every minute trivial detail about everything related to church history. The Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, the details of how he first used the U&T, then a single seer stone, then needed no device is irrelevant trivia and it is not an act of deception to leave that out. The point is the divine nature of the translation, not the physical process. Why be so quick to accept a negative conclusion against the church that is contrary to your own personal experiences? When you run into something that seems to be a contradiction why not examine it in greater depth to find understanding than just buy into it?

        The gifts of the spirit are available to all who have faith in Christ, there is no LDS monopoly on it and that should not be news to you either, but there is a monopoly on priesthood authority which is needed for saving ordinances, and only in the church are there men called of God to lead his people.

        • Justin

          You really should watch that video. In fact, you should watch that whole video series it’s a part of here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL5F1EB3B4F919226D

          It’s very well done.

          You presented a beautiful chain of reasoning. Indeed, if the BoM is true then all those things follow. However, if the BoM is not true then it also follows that JS was a false prophet and that the LDS church is not the kingdom of God on the Earth. I’m tempted to share with you an early draft of a piece I’ve been working on about the BoM that clearly shows the BoM is a fraud, but I don’t know if you’re in a place where you have an open mind and are interested in seeing if the there could be something you don’t know. If not, it would be pointless and I’m not interested in arguing or attacking. Let me know if you have a genuine interest and I’d be happy to share!

        • robert_shaw

          “BoM being true means … the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the kingdom of God on the earth…”

          No, it does not, necessarily. Where did this “one, single, all-purpose, all-or-nothing testimony” concept come from? Not from the scriptures. Instead, the scriptures discuss “line on line, precept added to precept” — which suggests man should seek and is entltled to multiple, distinct testimonies, of multiple, distinct concepts.

          “It doesn’t mean that every church leader will be perfect in every way, but it does mean rejecting their leadership is rejecting Christ.”

          And that’s doubletalk. On one hand, it acknowledges that church leaders are imperfect, but on the other hand, it very much implies, subtly but ever so surely, that they are directed by Christ in everything that they say, do, and think, relative to their church positions and their dealings with the Saints — which also is false doctrine.

          • The White Stone

            A false prophet doesn’t bring forth true scripture, and a true prophet doesn’t found a false church. The logical implications of the BoM being true extend to the church being true too. Certainly one should seek their own testimony of all things, but with the understanding that truth is harmonious with truth.

            And I didn’t say that Church leaders are perfect in everything they say and do and think in their callings, I’m saying that they are acting in their callings with divine authority that the Saints are obligated to respect. You can not reject the Lord’s anointed without rejecting the Lord.

          • Michael Anderson

            I’m just curious. How do you know that the “Lord’s anointed” are who you think they are?

          • The White Stone

            The scriptures promise that a person can come to know by doing God’s will and seeking wisdom and confirmation of the truth from him. I would say that having no way to tell what God’s will is, who his true servants and teachings are, and having to rely on just your own judgement and hope you don’t wind up damned for picking wrongly is scary. Having the confirmation of the spirit that you are on the right track and a conviction that comes from a lifetime of experience is anything but scary.

          • Michael Anderson

            Okay, this is a great starting point. I have a few more questions:

            How do you know that the scriptures (BOM, PoGP, D&C specifically I assume) are reliable? How is this reliability distinguishable from the reliability of other holy texts (e.g. Voree Record, Koran, Bible, Torah, etc.)?

            Why do the specifics of God’s will always come from man? If they aren’t coming from man how do you know?

            There are tens of thousands of religious sects in the world, how do you know that you’ve chosen the right one (assuming there is only one correct sect)? It would appear that you have a greater chance of choosing poorly than you do correctly.

            And lastly: how do you quantify the experience necessary to determine that your conviction is correct? Does an increase in experience equal a greater chance of being correct? Are there any examples of people who believed something absolutely for an extended period of time, but were wrong? What is different about your conviction?

            I’m genuinely interested in your thought process and how you justify your conclusions.

          • The White Stone

            Your questions are all rooted in the idea of relying on your own wisdom to figure out what is true, and that is an endless, fruitless path. I reject the premise of relying on my limited understanding alone. I know the BoM is true etc. because I relied on God, trusted that He wanted me to know what was true and allowed him to let me know by doing what he said I had to do to find out. He has confirmed the truth of it to me many times, in many ways.

            What makes my experience different to me from others is that it is mine. There is no way to objectively or even subjectively measure and compare what somebody else claims to have experienced in their heart and mind against what I have experienced so it doesn’t matter to me what others claim. There is no way to know if they are lying, deceived, mistaken, exaggerating etc. but I know what I experienced perfectly. So I don’t need confirmation from other people, and I’m not bothered by other people disagreeing with me or making contrary claims. I know what I know and I know that I know it. If somebody tried to tell you grass is blue and the sky is green and the sun is black I doubt you would toss aside the evidence of your eyes and buy into what they said, even if they called you a closed minded fool or stubborn or arrogant and inflexible.

            If some other religious text teaches something that is the same as what the church teaches, good, if they teach something contradictory, too bad for them. My standard for what is true and what is not true is based first on what I know from God to be true, then on my own understanding in the other areas second.

          • Zina Jacobs-Smith-Young

            Aren’t you relying on yourself by assuming that your belief that God has told you something is superior to the “knowledge” of another religious person who believes their religious text is true?

          • Zina Jacobs-Smith-Young

            And yes, your “sky is green, grass is blue” argument is EXACTLY spot on.

          • Michael Anderson

            Interesting perspective. My questions are rooted in nothing more than critical thinking — a tool of logic for weeding out personal bias, contradictions, and comparing your internal model of the world with the actual world outside of you. It doesn’t rely on what you understand to be true, it relies on you understanding that you could be wrong. Contrary to popular belief, your experience of reality is merely an interpretation of what your body and mind is capable of sensing. Magicians rely heavily on this fact. It is very possible for you and I to have a completely false view of some (or all) aspect(s) of reality. Critical thinking is the best tool that we have to check our internal model against reality (reality being the physical construct in which we all exist). I’m sure that you’ll disagree with me and continue to think that there’s no way that you could possibly be wrong–that’s fine. I was there once. For some people that works. Maybe nothing would change for you anyway if you came to realize that your version of reality is not accurate. You’ve invested so much up to this point, why risk it?

            Could you please give me an example where relying on your own wisdom is an endless, fruitless, path? I can’t agree with such a blanket statement. If your “wisdom” on a particular matter is based on facts and experience, is your path always going to be endless and fruitless?

            If your understanding is limited and you have access to others with better understanding, why would you limit yourself? This is how science and technology continue to advance. On the other hand, sometimes you have no choice but to rely on your own limited understanding. This isn’t some special, religiously imbued guidance–it’s intrinsic fact.

            There are a few things that you haven’t been very clear about. How do you know that you’re actually communicating with God? How do you know that you “know” what you know? What facts do you have that ground your understanding? How have you tested your epistemological method?

            You said that “There is no way to know if they are lying, deceived, mistaken, exaggerating etc.”. I assume that you’re referring to people of other religions. All of your words seem to indicate that you think that they’re wrong. Is it possible that these words apply to you? Again, what makes you different? They, too, can claim that their experiences are their own. That’s not a difference; that’s a similarity. To an outside observer the validity of your position and the position of a person of a different faith are indistinguishable. You seem think that you have some unique, special knowledge about something that affects us all–that only you are qualified to understand. Special pleading my friend, special pleading. The point of my question has nothing to do with how you appear to others, it has everything to do with you being no different than those of a different faith.

            Your analogy about seeing colors differently doesn’t make a lot of sense. How do you think color blindness was discovered? If a reasonable person states that they see things differently than you, you don’t immediately throw out their statement and assume that they’re crazy. If you’re intellectually honest you try to discover why their view is different than your own. You ask, “am I seeing things correctly? What is the correct way to see things? Is there only one correct way? What mechanism causes this difference?” This is how discoveries are made. This is how ground is broken. This is how incorrect ideas are marginalized and how humanity advances. If you can’t question yourself, then you can only go so far.

          • The White Stone

            Coming to a knowledge that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, the church is the true and living kingdom of God on the earth etc. can only happen through personal revelation. Relying on critical thinking alone doesn’t get you there. Both critics and apologists would claim that critical thinking is in their favor, but even if one side was able to logically prove their reasoning was perfectly sound it doesn’t automatically mean they are correct. The next day may turn up some detail that sets everything on it’s ear all over again, or a fact that turns the tables may stay undiscovered, or some conclusive evidence may have crumbled to dust centuries ago. There are some documents from the past and artifacts that tell us some things, but it doesn’t give anything close to the full picture and not even all of those things can be trusted as accurate. Trying to establish religious or historical truth from that is an endless, fruitless path. Or as the scriptures describe it ‘Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.’ Each person has to find out for themselves on the terms God set, and his terms on personal revelation, not critical thinking.

            Somebody who has no experience with personal revelation has no frame of reference to understand it so I sympathize with your struggles to wrap your head around it. No detailed description of one person’s experience or another is going to help though. Also, I feel no desire to share deeply personal things with an audience that I highly doubt will treat them with respect. You are correct in that from your perspective, you would be unable to tell if what I said was genuine and accurate or not, so what is the point even? The only way to understand it is to experience it yourself.

            There is a reason God set it up that way. Knowing carries with it the obligation to conform your life to live it as best you can. If a person lacks the humility, faith, sincerity etc. needed to find out then they lack the ability to live it too and so are actually better off not knowing since by not knowing they are less accountable for the wrongs they do. On the downside they miss out on the blessing received by those who know and use their ability to live it. They can always choose to humble themselves and do what God requires for them to find out for themselves so they can live it and be blessed for it.

            I have no problem with science, but it is not a god to me. If science or critical thinking (or whatever label you want to put on man’s wisdom) comes into conflict with what I know by personal revelation, then I count that as evidence that there is something wrong with what man’s wisdom is concluding.

          • Michael Anderson

            Excellent! I’m glad that you’ve added some qualifying language to your statements. Reality is far more nuanced then we’d like to admit most of the time.

            It would seem that you’re confusing critical thinking with science … and you seem to be creating a straw man for science. It is true that science relies on critical thinking, but the two are definitely not synonymous. Perhaps you are confused by the various nuanced definitions of critical thinking. Let’s set up our working definition: “thinking about one’s thinking in a manner designed to organize and clarify, raise the efficiency of, and recognize errors and biases in one’s own thinking. Critical thinking is not ‘hard’ thinking nor is it directed at solving problems (other than ‘improving’ one’s own thinking). Critical thinking is inward-directed with the intent of maximizing the rationality of the thinker. One does not use critical thinking to solve problems — one uses critical thinking to improve one’s process of thinking” via Wikipedia. I would recommend delving further into the subject so you might learn how to apply it a little better yourself.

            I hate to have to tell you this, but it is very likely that no one person nor any collection of persons will ever know the absolute truth of most things, historical or otherwise. To assume otherwise is far beyond intellectual dishonesty. The best we can hope for is a functional knowledge of a specific field of research. Science has led us to an excellent functional understanding of electronics. Do we understand all of the physics behind electronics? No. Is there going to be a discovery that suddenly makes the transistor not work. No. Science is a process that leads to better approximations of reality. Nothing more.

            You are right about history — it is often based on best guesses from limited evidence and limited perspectives. There is a continuum of the believability of history and it is based on: the generational gap between now and the historical event. The amount of documentation and the number of corraborating independent sources. The traceability of documentation to its original source. And, the amount of physical evidence that can be tied to that history. (Not a definitive list)

            Religion (outside of historical claims tied to the religion) is even less reliable. Nothing in religion is testable to any reasonable degree. How do you confirm that a god created the universe? How do you confirm that Jesus was a god and our brother? How do you test that Joseph Smith spoke with angels and “translated” the golden plates? How do you verify that Gordon B. Hinkley is a prophet of the Christian God?

            Because religion relies so heavily on questionable history, the claims of other people, psychological/social pressure, believing in conflicting versions of reality, etc., I cannot bring myself to buy into it. When I was ignorant and naive I was able to be religious, but when I discovered the shaky foundation of such beliefs I couldn’t continue and be true to myself.

            With all of that out of the way let’s move on to “personal revelation” — the only True method for gaining Truth. That’s good enough for me. What goes on in someone’s head is outside of my jurisdiction anyway. Case closed! Except my shoulder angel (critical thinking) is telling me that something doesn’t smell right about this. There are a number of people claiming personal revelation that seems to harm other people. I trust you can look up the details, but I’ll throw out a few names: Julie Rowe, Brian David Mitchell, Warren Jeffs, David Koresh, Jim Jones, Ervil LeBaron, Gordon B. Hinkley, et. al. Oh but they were absolutely being led by Satan, or were mentally ill, or they were just lying. Except, conveniently, we have no idea of knowing for certain. So how can we tell where someone is getting their personal revelation from? We can’t–at least not with today’s technology. How about the person getting the revelation? How does an individual know where they are getting personal revelation from? Is it from Satan? How do you know? Is it from God? How do you know? Is it from a disjoint portion of your brain? How do you know? If you get a personal revelation that it is better that a certain apostate perish than a whole nation dwindle in unbelief, how do you know that it’s from God. It certainly lines up with the scriptures. What are you going to do? Are you faithful enough to heed the call?

            I can respect you not wanting to share your experiences with me. But like you said, your experiences are meaningless to me. Certainly I have had my own having been a BIC member up until recently–but I can now attribute those experiences to other phenomenon. I have no need to make them fit into the Mormon belief model. When you’re in that mindset, anything outside of intuition can be made to fit into the mold that Mormonism has established. Just as can be done when a person’s perception is shaped by any other religion. The funny thing about God’s supposed method for finding truth is that it is less accessable for those that are naturally analytical and critical. Religion in general is far less relatable and acceptable to those who require proof and a connection to reality. So it would seem that otherwise good people are getting thrown out because they favor naturalism (which is supposedly a product of God) over following people who are making unprovable claims. Conversely, it is interesting that it is the common creed of charlatans that you “just have to believe”. And if the claims of that belief don’t pan out, it’s because you: lack faith, or you’ve sinned, or you’re doing it wrong, or the timing isn’t right, or you just can’t know. It’s always the fault of the individual or a part of some unknowable plan. There’s always an out. Faith and blessings are a slippery creature that has no accountability. It’s quite human.

          • The White Stone

            I’m not confusing critical thinking and science, I’m lumping them together as both being methods that rely on man’s wisdom to discover truth. My degree is in Mathematics and I took courses in other disciplines of science as electives because I love learning. I loved the course I took in astrophysics, and it gave me greater insight into Mose’s account of the creation which really surprised me. Man’s efforts to understand things has it’s uses, but it has it’s limitations as well, especially when it comes to the divine. And as you said, you can never come to know something is absolutely true that way.

            But that is not the only way. A person can learn truth by personal revelation, and though it gain a conviction that is stronger than any certitude that comes from man’s reasoning. Just because it can’t be tested in a laboratory doesn’t make it unreal or unreliable. I trust it more than any other source.

            If somebody wants to know if God is really there, Christ really what the Bible claims, is the BoM true, Joseph Smith a prophet, the church he founded the actual kingdom of God etc. they have to do so on God’s terms, and His terms, by doing what a person has to do to receive such a divine witness. If you want to test it, that is the test, but the results will only be meaningful to you. That is by design.

            If somebody goes to university and cheats their way to a PhD and leaves knowing nothing, or just lies about having a PhD, does that mean going to university is pointless for everybody? No. Likewise just because some other person claims revelation to justify something offensive doesn’t invalidate the process. You don’t know if they actually followed the process, you don’t know if they actually experienced what they claimed. You can’t measure or examine their claims except to seek your own personal revelation to confirm it. Finding truth by personal revelation doesn’t mean you buy into what somebody else says just because they claim it was a personal revelation they received.

            Critical thinking is part of the process, we have to study things out for ourselves before going to God about it, but even if a person’s reasoning on it takes them in the wrong direction, they can still find out what is right. Sometimes personal revelation is a spiritual smack up the side of the head showing you how wrong you have been. Sincere effort is what’s required, and by sincere I mean having true desire to know and conform to the truth, even if that happens to mean joining the Mormon church, paying tithing, living the commandments as best they can, going to church and serving there etc. Idle intellectual curiosity is not enough. Like I said before, knowing something makes a person more accountable to God for living it, so God won’t let people know unless they qualify for it and ask for it.

            Man’s wisdom and personal revelation are two different tools for seeking knowledge, and you have to use the right tool for the right job instead of trying to do everything with only one tool. I can see that it is a hard concept for you to wrap your head around and you want to make things fit with the rules you are familiar and comfortable with. I understand that. When you are ready to try something else, I hope you remember what I’ve said. I need to spend less time here and more time on other things and I don’t’ think there is anything new for either of us to say so let’s agree to disagree and call it a day.

          • Michael Anderson

            Thanks for engaging me! I’ve enjoyed our conversation–it reminds me of how I used to think and feel about certain things. I’m glad that we’ve been able to keep this fairly civil even though we haven’t been able to agree on much. I didn’t really expect much agreement (or mind changing) considering our initial positions. There’s only one person who can change a mind: the owner. Big changes require a lot of epiphanies, self-discovery, letting go, acceptance, and time. It’s not always easy.

            You seem to be extending me an invitation to try Mormonism. I’m not sure if you simply haven’t read everything that I’ve written (could be the case considering some of your responses) or if you just refuse to accept that I used to be a True Believing Mormon(R). Let me clarify: I was a card-carrying, Church-employed Mormon little more than 2 years ago. I see very little likelihood that I’ll ever be convinced (a second time) that the LDS Church has any amount of truth that can’t be found outside of religious belief.

            I can see that it is a hard concept for you to wrap your head around and you want to make things fit with the rules you are familiar and comfortable with. I understand that. When you are ready to try something else, I hope you remember what I’ve said.

          • Michael Anderson

            And of course I can’t not remark on your other statements…

            I don’t really care what academic credentials you have. The level of critical and scientific thinking a person has does not always correlate with (or show causation from) the amount of formal education that person has — especially below the graduate level. The fact that you believe that there’s any reasonable relationship between the Moses mythology and the formation of the cosmos speaks to this point.

            I know that you won’t accept this, but the Christian God’s terms come from the mouths and hands of mankind. For some reason you seem to think that personal revelation (occurring in the minds of man) breaks the circular logic that this fact generates. The LDS religion is stacked with reliance on man and the knowledge of man from top to bottom.

            Your claim would be more believable if your god (in his infinite wisdom) had established his church using multiple restorations through independent prophets positioned across the globe. This would have reduced the cultural imperialism of Mormonism having started in a single culture and made spreading the word of the gospel a whole lot more efficient. And, of course, when the independently grown cells of Mormonism were discovered: outsiders would have to admit that there must be something to this religion and believers would have their testimonies strengthened. Of course some believers (seeing other cultures as wrong as fundamentalists sometimes do) might not accept the other cells of Mormonism. This is where faith in the truth of the gospel would have to come in. See, you’d still get your free agency AND there’d be multiple corroborating sources of the religion. It’d still be a religion of faith (even though there are reported instances where explicit confirmation occurs and takes away the faith aspect) and require a belief in a higher coordinating power, but it’d be a much more believable religion. What’s stronger than a single foundation? Multiple foundations that hold up the doctrine independently. Detractors could complain about Joseph Smith all they wanted, but testimonies wouldn’t fail due to his questionable character.

            Please stop making analogies, they aren’t helping you make any valuable points and they keep showing your ignorance. Let’s go over your PhD analogy, replacing nouns with the implied nouns: If somebody goes to [church] and cheats their way to a [revelation] and leaves knowing nothing, or just lies about having a [revelation], does that mean going to [church] is pointless for everybody? Perhaps my assumptions are wrong–if they are please feel free to give me the appropriate nouns. First, are you really comparing church (a place that tells you what/how to think) to a university (a place that ultimately tells you how to figure things out for yourself)? Secondly, a PhD is a personal revelation? This just isn’t going anywhere. Do you really go to church for personal revelation? Ugh, what a mess. I can see what you’re trying to do, but it realistically doesn’t mean anything.

            Moving on, it looks like you’re trying to reason your way around the fact that personal revelation is unreliable (and ultimately non-transcendent). Like I said in my last post, there is no accountability here. You can rationalize away misses and emphasize the hits. It’s like being your own personal psychic, but you’re far beyond the cold-reading stage.

            I’m hearing a lot of regurgitation of things that you hear in church: doctrine, Mormon mythology — all mingled with just the right amount of reason to make it believable to the masses. I love it when people claim to know how their god works when they’re just repeating things that humans reasoned out for themselves and passed along. A knowledge that would otherwise disappear and be irreproducible in the same form.

            Please give us your definition of “Idle intellectual curiosity” because it sounds like you’re assigning this term to the knowledge of men. Also, what is your definition of “idle”?

            Anyway, I’m getting a bit bored. If you happen to come back, are there any new ideas that you can throw at me?

          • Spencer Dardon

            Enjoy what you say. I’ll back it up as well.

            There are a lot of things I do not understand, and surely we do not have a full account of, but one thing I cannot deny is coming to know Jesus is the Christ and experiencing the atonement by faith in the words of the Book of Mormon, as well having the Spirit testify through my words as a missionary and feeling sanctified understanding a glimpse of the glory of God.

            Truly Jacob had it right when he stated ….. sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble.

            Lots I do not understand, but I know the greatest truth of them all. Christ lives and is who he declared himself to be. My Savior.

          • The White Stone

            Exactly. If somebody must have every answer, they have no faith. You have to let what you know give you peace about the things you don’t know.

          • robert_shaw

            No; the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon points to the divinity of Joseph Smith’s role, but does NOT necessarily demonstrate that the Salt Lake based LDS Church is true. In other words, the keys were NOT necessarily passed on from Joseph Smith to Brigham Young, whether directly or indirectly. And there are plenty of reasons to highly doubt that they were.

            [1]”And I didn’t say that Church leaders are perfect in everything they say and do and think in their callings, [2] I’m saying that they are acting in their callings with divine authority that the Saints are obligated to respect. You can not reject the Lord’s anointed without rejecting the Lord.”

            Typical, LDS doublespeak. You aren’t SAYING #1, above, but you of course are IMPLYING it, with #2. Further, you are IMPLYING that we must pledge our utter allegiance to them, and submit to them, and follow them, as though they are God.

            And it is idolatry. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

          • The White Stone

            If you accept the divinity of Joseph’s role, then you have to accept all he said about the destiny of this church, accept his counsel to follow the majority of the brethren etc. The historical case that BY held the keys and was the true successor of JS is very strong. No other claim of succession has stood the test of time, the CoC is the biggest break off and they are tiny and have drifted so far from their origins.

            And there is a difference between idolatry and authority. Consider the case of a soldier in the army. They have a commanding officer, that officer has authority to give certain kinds of orders, and even if a soldier thinks the orders are unwise, they are obligated to obey. Rebellion is treason against their country which is the source of their CO’s authority. They are only justified in not obeying them if it is an illegal order. Similarly, Bishop’s, Stake Presidents etc. on up to the Prophet have authority from God to perform their duties. Not every decision they make will necessarily be perfect, but those who follow them will be blessed and those who reject them and rebel against them are rebelling against the source of their authority which is God. A church leader may step outside the boundaries of their stewardship and if they do a member is not obligated to follow that, but when that is not the case we should have the faith to sustain them in their calling not because they personally have some special power, but because their authority from God.

          • robert_shaw

            The “test of time” is not a valid method for ascertaining authenticity and proper authority. And in fact, the Church is not faring altogether well with “the test of time.”

          • The White Stone

            The church doing better than ever. Just because the media puts a big light on a tiny fraction of people leaving doesn’t make it any more than a tiny fraction. They just re-organized my stake to add a new ward, we expect to have a temple here in a few years once the district below us becomes a stake, and they will probably split my ward before then. Far, far more people join every day than leave. We could easily replace the leavers just by our birth rate. 185 years of critics foretelling our imminent demise and being wrong isn’t going to end anytime soon.

          • robert_shaw

            You are missing the point (or are dodging it). The Church could be growing wildly; it even could be as big as the Catholic Church; and yet this in itself would not prove anything in regard to the authenticity of the Salt Lake based institution as being the same church that Joseph Smith organized and with the same keys.

          • The White Stone

            You said the church was not faring well and I said what I said to dispute that. If you want to make a case for some other specific church being the true church, go ahead. I’ll stick with what Joseph Smith said:

            “I want to say to you before the Lord, that you know no more concerning
            the destinies of this Church and kingdom than a babe upon its mother’s
            lap. You don’t comprehend it… It is
            only a little handful of Priesthood you see here tonight, but this
            Church will fill North and South America—it will fill the world.”

          • robert_shaw

            See D&C 10:67-68 concerning what “the church” actually is. It is not what you apparently hink it is.

          • The White Stone

            Like most words in English, church has a few different meanings and you have to look at how it is used in context. “this Church” as Joseph used it in that quote is the formally organized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Did Joseph ever say that the Church would cease to be the kingdom of God? No, and no other church has a realistic claim to the priesthood keys. Are you going to present a case for what church you think is the kingdom of God today, or are you one of those people who attack others beliefs without daring to expose your own views to the same examination?

          • robert_shaw

            “… ‘this Church’ as Joseph used it in that quote is the formally organized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.”

            You are outright altering what the passage actually says regarding what the church actually is. Remember what verse 68 warns about doing that?

            “the kingdom of God.” And what exactly is that supposed to mean?

            I know what it implicitly is purported to mean: the Salt Lake-based LDS Church practically is the very institutional incarnation of God upon the Earth.

            Taking that a step further, it is regularly and implicitly purported as well that its leaders, though they themselves admit to being imperfect and human, nevertheless can say or do no wrong in their callings and that we should therefore essentially worship THEM (in the clever NAME of worshipping God) instead of actually worshipping the true and living God as we should be doing. It is an extremely pernicious doctrine, one that is taught to every Latter-Day Saint, “between the lines.” I am a witness to it.

          • The White Stone

            If you are splitting these rhetorical hairs in the hopes of clinging to Joseph Smith as a true prophet when rejecting the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints it won’t work. If you accept Joseph as a true prophet, then you can’t cherry pick from his revelations, so you would have to include accepting this verse:

            D&C 115:4
            For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

            Can’t get more straight forward than that. Every case of ‘my church’, ‘this church’, ‘the church’ etc. in D&C 1:30, D&C 10:67-68 and so many other verses all refer specifically to the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and no other group, just the same as what Joseph said about this Church filling the world. If you want claim that Christ’s church is not The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, then 10:68 applies to you, not me.

            It does not mean that the leaders of the church ‘can do no wrong’, but it does mean that the church and those called to lead it have the authority of God to fulfill their duties. If they act wrongly or abuse their position or make some error they will account to God for it, and while God will tolerate them making some mistakes for a time, he will not tolerate the prophet leading the church astray. And I’ve never seen anybody get anywhere close to worshiping any church leader, that kind of hyperbole makes you sound silly.

          • robert_shaw

            “…then you can’t cherry pick from his revelations…”

            But God can. That is, he can — and does — revoke. Due to wickedness among the Nauvoo saints, and their failure to complete the temple in time, all bets were off.

            And in the first place, it is a fallacy to say that if the Lord says that His church will be called by a given name, that proves that a 21st-Century church of that name must be the Lord’s church. Not necessarily.

            Incidentally, I don’t accept D&C 132 as genuine, and I don’t consider that “cherry-picking.” It flagrantly contradicts Jacob 1 & 2. They cannot both be true. Indeed 132 is evidence of malfeasance, forgery and fraud in what would become the Salt Lake based Corporation Sole commonly known as the LDS Church. Why won’t the Church denounce 132? Because it would show that it really came from Brigham Young and his polygamous associates such as William Clayton, which would demonstrate fraud, which would undermine the Salt Lake church’s claim to authority, which is why it also is going along with the false notion that Joseph Smith himself practiced it.

            No, D&C 10:67-68 does not specifically refer to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That is not true.

            “…but it does mean that the church and those called to lead it have the authority of God to fulfill their duties.”

            You should read D&C 121, for one thing.

            “…he will not tolerate the prophet leading the church astray.”

            Said who? Said a purported prophet, Wilford Woodruff. He didn’t even claim that God said it. A classic, circular argument. Also contradicts doctrinal notions of Agency, not to mention the commandment that “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

            “And I’ve never seen anybody get anywhere close to worshiping any church leader…”

            Not hyperbole at all. Pledging one’s utter allegiance to “the brethren,” utterly trusting them and following them, most certainly is a FORM of worship, of idolatry.

          • The White Stone

            There is no fallacy. That revelation was specifically requested to resolve the issue of what to call the church, and in the revelation the Lord claims the church to be his and declares what name to give it. He did not say it would be called that for only a portion of the last days, and you don’t get to claim he revoked any part of it based on your reasoning.

            The only thing that can trump a revelation is a newer revelation (as in the case of where to build the temple) so the burden of proof is on you to show where the Lord declared to a true prophet that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is no longer his church.

            I don’t have a problem with D&C 132 and what Jacob said.

            D&C 132:8 says:
            David also received many wives and
            concubines, and also Solomon and Moses my servants, as also many others
            of my servants, from the beginning of creation until this time; and in
            nothing did they sin SAVE IN THOSE THINGS WHICH THEY RECEIVED NOT OF ME.

            Both David and Solomon went beyond what the Lord gave them and so pointing to them as bad examples is justified. Also Jacob was open to the possibility of there being a time when polygamy was commanded, which is why in Jacob 2:30 he says: For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.

            In Joseph`s day he commanded his people. The principle being taught is the same, polygamy is only acceptable with divine sanction, and sinful otherwise. And there are plenty of witnesses to the fact that Joseph was the source for 132, and it is a historical fact supported my many first hand accounts that Joseph practiced polygamy. It takes some pretty deep denial to believe Joseph never practiced polygamy.

            In D&C 10 the Lord describes his church and in 115 the Lord provides the name for his church. Same church. And I love the part in 121 where the Lord says: `Cursed are all those that shall lift up the heel against mine anointed, saith the Lord, and cry they have sinned when they have not sinned before me, saith the Lord`

            There was a time on my mission where I wound up giving blessings to sick people very frequently, and it actually became a bit routine until one time I went to bless somebody and I was about the say the kind of things I had been saying in the other blessings, but suddenly I could not. Instead of feeling that calm assurance confirming what I was about to say was right (things like `you`ll be blessed to recover quickly`) I suddenly felt right to my core that it would not be that way this time and my conscience would not let me say it. I had to pause and listen to what the Lord wanted and then I was able to go ahead. My agency was not taken from me, and I imagine that if some prophet was about to mislead the church in some important matter the Lord would do something similar. Of course he could just see to it that he dies before he gets to that point too but I seriously doubt the Lord has ever had to step in to that degree. Each of those blessings turned out as stated btw.

            Anyway, you seem to want to cherry picked based on your own preferences and relying on your own wisdom to determine what Joseph really revealed and did so good luck with that. Your allegiance appears to be to your own wisdom or what others have told you, mine is to the Lord and what he has told me.

            Those He has called to lead the church are just there to help me follow Him. What they counsel me within the boundaries of their stewardship that they say in the Lord`s name and doesn`t conflict with what leaders above them say is something I`ll do my best to follow, out of devotion to the Lord, not them. You can pretend you can see into my heart and accuse make false accusations about my relationship with church leadership all you want, but bearing false witness against somebody isn`t exactly Christian now is it.

          • robert_shaw

            You only assume — by way of a false logical leap — that they are the so-called “Lord’s Anointed.”

          • The White Stone

            That’s your opinion and you are entitled to it. At some point we well all know for a fact and I’m not worried.

          • Michael Anderson

            That’s not provably true. At some point you will be dead. If there is no life after death you will not know anything. The sad thing about that possibility is that you will not know that you were wrong. The other sad thing about that possibility is that horrible people will not get justice after they die. I know how you feel: that makes it mighty enticing to believe in an immortal, omniscient, omnipotent, loving, and just governor over our world.

          • The White Stone

            That immortal, omniscient, omnipotent, loving, and just governor over our world puts some pretty high demands on those who would follow him. Seems to me that most people prefer the idea that he is not there at all so they don’t feel they have to conform to any commandments they don’t like.

          • Michael Anderson

            Didn’t you mention that you had been battling detractors for a while? It’s odd that you would resort to a straw man representation with so much experience under your belt. Let me give you a bit of advice — you’ll be a more effective debater if you actually understand your opponent’s position. At this point I can’t take you very seriously because you continually show an unwillingness to delve beyond a shallow level of understanding. Try harder — I know you can do it!

          • The White Stone

            “Seems to me that most people…” is not how you start a straw man argument, that is how you voice an opinion.

            Starting with something like “I know how you feel…”, THAT is setting up a straw man argument, which is exactly what you did.

          • Michael Anderson

            That is correct–you stated that as an opinion. But since it was a direct response to my disbelief, there was an implication that your particular opinion applied to me. Why else would you state such a specific opinion? As slippery as you’d like to be, you were indeed setting up a false position for me in an attempt to discredit my statement.

            Although the line “I know how you feel…” doesn’t automatically indicate man argument, my statement could be construed as a straw man. The implication is that you believe in a god simply because you hope for justice and affirmation to your belief. We both know that that isn’t reason enough, and certainly not the only reason that you, yourself, believe in a god. I admit that it was a condescending jab at you, just like your statement was likely a condescending jab at me.

            http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Straw_man

          • Keila Jasper

            Why do people say this? If there is no god, and no life after death…you will know nothing. You will simply cease to exist. Just as you knew nothing and we’re unconscious before birth.

        • Dave H

          I’ve read the Book of Mormon cover to cover over a dozen times, and I’ve read from it’s pages hundreds of hours besides those readings. I started praying earnestly about the truthfulness of the book before my mission, kept it up all during my mission, and for another 10 years after my mission. It never felt right, but I had faith…I was convinced that I was just doing something wrong and I kept trying. It seems foolish in hindsight, but I thought it just HAD to be true.

          When the gospel topics essays were released, they were the first taste of any “anti-Mormon” material I’d ever seen. I had attended seminary, BYU, outside institute classes, etc…, and I had never heard most of this stuff. I read every footnote, and it was clear that the essays themselves were full of lies of omission. For the first time I allowed myself to believe that the church might not be what it claims. I decided to pray and ask for confirmation again…this time asking if the book was NOT true, if Joseph was NOT a prophet, etc… I received a confirmation unlike anything I’d ever felt as a faithful member, missionary, etc…

          If your experience has been different, I respect that. However, please never suggest that someone you don’t know didn’t try enough, etc… I tried more than anyone I know. I only wish God had led me out of the church sooner.

      • NoLongerASheeple

        The narrative taught by Mormon missionaries is a very whitewashed, “faithful” version of events which bears no resemblance to the historical record. Fact is, the church has been unable to hide or destroy the “problematic” elements out there in Internet-land. The assertions by amateur apologists that the church “has never tried to hide it” is simple falsehood. The church has engaged in a consistent battle for information control, starting with “correlation” and ending with labeling anything which portrays the church in a bad light as “anti-Mormon” regardless of the truth of such information.

    • sylvia

      I have found that if I am looking for answers to defend Joseph Smith there is much and vice versa. I also believe after studying Richard Bushman’s book “Rough Stone Rolling” that there is probably a lot of gossip in old letters etc. that exists, a lot that we don’t have the full story and the LDS church leaders were not aware of the things that have come out because of the internet, etc. any more than the average church member. I look to what the church has become, the great good it does and the beautiful, merciful teachings. The God that Joseph Smith knew and taught of is the most liberal and kind in all of Christendom.

      • Julie

        Dear God, give me strength…. Sigh!

        • sylvia

          The Church is not stopping anyone from reading anything and everything about Joseph Smith……in a court of law you have to carefully weigh the evidence on both sides. There is proof positive to me that Joseph Smith was inspired of God. There are good answers to ever accusation made against the prophet. As to the polygamy issue, many of the wives were just “sealed” to Joseph. Polygamy was used by God in biblical times…..for a wise purpose unto him. Someday we will have all the truth and you are right…truth is truth.

          • Julie

            I respect that you believe the you have “proof positive that Joseph Smith was inspired of God.” I really do. However, you said in your post that “the Church is not stopping anyone reading anything and everything about Joseph Smith,” but most LDS people don’t about or haven’t been given the information that I am speaking of. They have to go look for it. And that is not right. Truth stands on it’s own and doesn’t need to have explanations such as you made to the polygamy issue. “Sealed only? Well, I for one, don’t have to wonder anymore. “Wise purpose?” What Jesus Christ did was so awesome–He is the one that made it possible for us to get to Heaven. That was “His” purpose. And if being sealed to young girls and other men’s wives was so important, Jesus would have taught it while he was on the earth. Everyone has the right to know ALL of the history of the Mormon church. I am no longer Mormon, because of the polygamy/polyandry issues and much more. Some of my dearest friends are Mormon and as much as I would like to let them know what I have found out from the history, I refrain from telling them, because I know that it would hurt them, and I don’t want to do that. But it is wrong that this vital and important information isn’t shared and known in the way it should be. You say you know and you are okay with it, but many people would not be and that is sad.

          • sylvia

            Dear Julie, I confess that I was a little shocked, but I knew that the Book of Mormon was of God. I knew that polygamy was practiced in biblical times….I knew that in Jacob 2:40 polygamy was denounced by God as an abomination….that he uses it from time to time to build up a righteous people. In studying about Joseph Smith, I read Richard Bushman’s”Rough Stone Rolling”…..it tells in great detail what Joseph Smith was accused of without any sugar coating. I also read in his defense at fairlds.org. His polyandrous marriages had good explanations, the teenage girls were just sealed to him and he probably did not have sex with them, though we have no sure knowledge of this, nor is Joseph Smith here to defend himself. He did not want to do it. I believe that. We have plenty of testimonials as to his character from women who married him. We also have plenty of horrible accusations about him, mainly from immoral and wicked men who were angry with Joseph Smith. Who do you believe? This much I know. In a court of law you must listen to both sides carefully. I believe that Joseph Smith will be vindicated. I believe that polygamy was an earthly thing only to raise up a righteous people and that the people that lived it (including my ancestors) did it at great sacrifice. Life was different back then also. I believe the women needed each other while the men were gone on missions. The women became very strong and independent. I have letters from the wives, they truly loved each other and were kind. But I also believe that anyone who practices this now is going against God. I don’t believe that it will be lived in the eternities…..this is the answer given to me….though there has been no revelation on this. It just makes sense to me, but that is another subject. I wish you well in your search for truth. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has been a great blessing in my life. To me it is the most liberal and loving of all Christian religions. When I listen to the prophets and apostles speak I feel close to God. I am grateful for it. As for the church hiding things, I think the leaders themselves are just like us and are just finding out a lot of these things, they like us didn’t know what to think of some of the things. They see the importance of being very transparent.

    • MTB

      “In doing that research I found that while there are many accusations that on the surface appear valid and damning, the truth is that they do not stand up to scrutiny and my testimony was strengthened by this exercise.”

      I frequently hear this, that someone’s “testimony was strengthened” by their analysis of the various and problematic church history issues. In each instance, I’ve asked the individual making this claim to provide specifics. What exactly about Zina Huntington, Helen Mar Kimball, the Partridge sisters, Marinda Hyde, Fanny Alger was testimony-strengthening to you? Please be specific. I’ll give you all of the time that you need. How was their testimony of Joseph as seer and translator strengthened by an objective analysis of the Book of Abraham or the “translation” method of the Book of Mormon? How about the timing and various versions of the First Vision (did you actually read ALL of the versions)? What about the problem, that even Richard Bushman recognizes, of the claim of priesthood restoration? And the 3 and 8 witnesses? And the succession crisis? The treasure digging? And the priesthood ban? Modifications to the Book of Mormon and D&C? Archaeological, anthropological and historical challenges to the Book of Mormon?…….. I could go on, but you get the point.

      I was “The White Stone” 5 years ago. I defended the church at all costs. I was a 100% believer. Faithful in all things. But in my case, it turns out I didn’t know as much as I thought that I did. My belief, my faith, my conviction was rooted in a position of ignorance. I thought that I knew Joseph. I thought that I had a good grasp of the foundational events and claims of the Restoration. But, it turns out that I didn’t. And that was an excruciatingly painful realization as I had built my entire life around the church for 4 decades. So, I turned to those that I thought would have answers that I was simply unaware of. Bishops (one of which I was a counselor to). Stake Presidents. Church history department employee. General Authority. BYU Egyptologist. Mission Presidents. Friends. Family. And in my case, it turns out that these individuals, with 1 exception being the Egyptologist, were just like me. They didn’t know much about how it actually “all went down” with Joseph Smith. And they also had very little interest in educating themselves. As one Bishop told me, “I choose not to go there.”

      To wrap up, I’m interested in the specifics of how your study of the tough church history issues strengthened your testimony. And please be specific. Take the tough issues one by one and explain how you walked away with a strengthened testimony. Please don’t simply link to FAIR apologetics. For me, FAIR did far more harm than good.

      Regarding your statement “there are many accusations that on the surface appear valid and damning, the truth is that they do not stand up to scrutiny” ….. What I am personally seeing is that the court of public opinion does not agree with you. More and more people are becoming aware of the problematic issues, and after studying them, are voting with their feet as they walk out of the chapel doors.

      • Borismkv

        The reality is that the vast majority of information that is brought up as “proving” the church is false does nothing but appeal to logical fallacy. Most arguments about Joseph Smith’s actions, him marrying an “underaged” girl, all of that is ad-hominem. Joseph need not have been perfect to have been a prophet. The process and even the *results* of his translation of ancient text are unimportant to whether or not what he wrote contains truth. None of the arguments I have ever heard stand up to even the smallest amount of honest criticism and questioning. The simple fact is that it was easier for you to question the beliefs that are hard to follow than it was to question the information you used to convince yourself that those beliefs were invalid and wrong.

        • b77b

          Even after President Uchtdorf gave a talk about how people shouldn’t assume members leave to sin, we still see this “peering into the mind of the apostate” to explain the real reason why they left. I would suggest that this might itself be a by-product of your own cognitive biases.

          Research shows we humans are normally very bad at figuring out what is going on in another person’s head. (See, e.g., Difficult Conversations, The Righteous Mind, The Happiness Hypothesis, The Believing Brain, etc.). And we have cognitive blind spots and biases. Even when we are aware of them, we can’t completely eliminate their influence on our thinking.

          If one is a believing member, it is hard to understand how a good, honest person could come to the conclusion that the Church is not what it claims to be. It doesn’t make sense to many coming from the believing paradigm. So often one constructs an explanation that makes sense within that paradigm –they left to sin, because they were lazy, because the devil deceived them, etc. It cannot be that those people consulted primary sources like the Joseph Smith papers, as well as Church-friendly and not-so-friendly sources, weighed the arguments on each side, and arrived at a conclusion different from mine. There must be some other reason. This is a natural way to interpret these events (because of cognitive biases and other factors), but that doesn’t make it the best or most accurate way to interpret them.

          To address your last line–I suspect that most people who have lost their faith because of historical/doctrinal/scientific issues (including those who return to the Church as fully believing members) know that going through that transition is far more difficult than following LDS rules (I’m not sure which rules you think are so difficult).

          And to address your other post–pride may very well be a sin. But it is universal and impossible to shake completely. You can’t even tell someone you are not prideful without exhibiting pride. Perhaps the greater sin is self-righteousness, with its accompanying lack of empathy and compassion. From where I sit, nothing has caused more pain, conflict, violence, and evil in the world.

        • MTB

          Borismkv,

          When I read your statement: “The simple fact is that it was easier for you to question the beliefs that are hard to follow…….” I was tempted to not even respond to your comment. A statement like this, a mischaracterization of this sort (that you state as “fact”) indicates to me that you simply don’t “get it.” But, I’m going to try to cut you some slack, because I used to also, regrettably, think this way. I have pages and pages of journal entries stating how I simply could not fathom how non-members were not enthusiastically running to the baptismal font. I mean, it’s so completely obvious that the church is true, right???? And people only leave the church because they are too lazy to do all the things that are asked of us, right????….. It turns out that I was very naive.

          To be clear, I had no problem following my beliefs. I was completely committed. I could easily line up hundreds of ward members, stake and local leadership, GAs, family and friends, that could attest to this. AP? check. Extend as long as possible on my mission? check. Young Elders Quorum President? check. Gospel Doctrine Teacher? check. Frequent temple attendance? check. Full tithe-payer? check. Young Bishopric member? check (High Councilor told me that the Stake President had selected me as the next Bishop). Clean the ward? check. Faithful priesthood holder, and all that this entails? check. Willing to make a covenant to sacrifice all that I possess, even my own life if necessary? yup, check. Spend 20-30 per week on callings/service? check. Regularly and publicly defend the church? check……. You don’t know me, so I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it. But I was “all in,” in every sense. I was willing to sacrifice it all for the Lord/gospel/church. So, your insinuation that I had a problem with following my beliefs is completely insulting and incorrect. My church-attending wife would probably set you straight on this more forcefully than I currently am. A quick tip for your benefit: don’t make assumptions about people that you have never met (particularly if you have the arrogance to state it as a “fact”).

          Regarding Joseph Smith, you are correct in that he could have done any number of reprehensible things and still have had the First Vision. And he certainly could have carried on numerous adulterous affairs, and swindled many people, and the Book of Mormon could still be what he claimed that it was/is (the same defense could be made of Muhammad and the Quran). However, you don’t see a credibility issue with Joseph Smith? A man with a proven record of deceit and manipulation now states that some spectacular things (First Vision, Gold Plates) have happened to him and we are simply asked to take him at his word? For me, when I learned that Joseph had a credibility issue, and when I learned that the church had presented a whitewashed version of events, that’s when I gave myself permission to objectively examine the claims that Joseph made. And regardless of whether Joseph was a saint or sinner, I eventually concluded that Mormonism was built on fraud.

          I have spent time in Colorado City. Your argument works very well for the FLDS also defending Warren Jeffs (who many still fervently defend as prophet). And since you seem willing to give a pass on unethical/illegal behavior, there’s a modern prophet by the name of Christopher Nemelka that may want to speak with you….. Maybe we just have a different moral standard? I won’t excuse the behavior of Warren Jeffs. I won’t excuse the behavior of Jim Jones. I won’t excuse the behavior of Joseph Smith. These men all used/use their religious position and leverage to harm other people. Maybe you’re willing to give Joseph a pass on behavior that I view as immoral, unethical and illegal. But the moral and ethical standard that I strive to live by, that I choose to teach my kids about, will not allow me to give Joseph Smith a pass. However, my conclusions regarding the validity of the First Vision, Book of Mormon, Book of Abraham, Priesthood Restoration, etc. were reached independent of Joseph’s private behavior.

          Lastly, I’m very interested in your statement: “The process and even the *results* of his translation of ancient text are unimportant to whether or not what he wrote contains truth.” Please correct me if I’m not understanding your position. Using the Book of Abraham as an example, you’re stating that regardless of whether or not Joseph was correct in his understanding, and his “translation,” of the Egyptian papyri, is irrelevant because of the “truths” contained in the BoA? And what “truths” are you referring to (from the BoA, specifically)?

      • The White Stone

        What is testimony strengthening for me about such issues is the tactics that those who attack the church must resort to. Things like ignoring contrary evidence, double standards, portraying somebody’s personal view as if it was church doctrine, half truths. lies, omitting key details, taking things our of context, ignoring the historical factors, attributing motives based on personal bias, relying on dodgy sources, and every other tool of spin and deception. And yes, I keep my eyes peeled for that in pro-Mormon sources too and rarely find anything close to it.

        I’m not going to take the time to deal with every issue you have, but I’ll address one. Helen Mar Kimball was 14 when she and Joseph Smith married. Trying to stir up outrage over that is a clear case of ignoring historical context. 200 years ago there was no such thing as teenage-hood as we have it today. Once you hit puberty you were essentially considered to be an adult. Census data from the time shows something like 40% of women married while in their teens, 16 being the peak of the distribution. Getting married at 14 would be like a woman getting married at 19 or 20 today, a bit on the young side and not all that common, but not scandalous.

        Age differences were no concern to people back then either. Bach married a woman 17 years younger than he was, Lord Baden-Powel who founded Scouting married a woman 32 years younger than he was, Milton, author of Paradise Lost, married a woman 17 years younger than himself, Edgar Allen Poe married a 13 year old when he was twice that age.

        There are many other historical examples of such spring/autumn marriages and they were not scandalous in their day, nor was the age difference between Joseph and Helen an issue to their contemporaries. Nor is there anything specifying a minimum age for marriage or maximum age difference between spouses in scripture. Nor was there any law against marriage between people of their ages. The only way to create outrage over it is to apply today’s social norms to people who lived hundreds of years ago which is not legitimate. His marrying her in no way undermines his standing as a prophet of God. For the anti-Mormon however it is a chance to try and stir people up to anger.

        FAIR is an excellent resource and I highly recommend it. The court of public opinion is the great and spacious building. You are free to join them, point your finger and mock, and a very small percentage of church members are doing that, but truth is not a popularity contest. Even if 75% of the church left it proves nothing. That building floats in the air, no foundation, and great will be its fall.

        In the end however the important questions are was Joseph truly a prophet of God, is the BoM truly the word of God, is the church truly the kingdom of God on the earth. The only way a person is really going to know those things is by going to God and finding out from him. Once a person knows those things from God, then it it doesn’t matter what men say or write or claim or argue, or what things you don’t understand or find out you misunderstood. What God says to me trumps all else.

        • KAE

          Most teenage marriages were to others that were much closer in age. Never at any time was it legal for a married man to marry a single woman or an already married woman.

          • The White Stone

            Point is that she was legally and socially seen as being of marriageable age at the time, at large age differences like that were not considered immoral. The law did not forbid polygamy at the time. State law forbade adultery but only if it was open and public, not when it was clandestine and secret, but even so God is a higher authority than the state.

          • MTB

            The White Stone, you’re defending Joseph’s “marriage” of Helen Mar Kimball from a position of legal and social acceptance?

            Bigamy was illegal in the state of Illinois, punishable up to $1,000 and imprisonment up to 2 years (Sec. 121). Knowingly marrying a person that was already-married was punishable up to $500 and imprisonment up to 1 year (Sec. 122). Living in a state of adultery or fornication was punishable up to $200 and imprisonment up to 6 months (Sec. 123).

            http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=nyp.33433009071865;view=1up;seq=204

            You are incorrect in stating that “The law did not forbid polygamy at the time.”

            Your position that “God is a higher authority than the state” directly conflicts with Article of Faith #12: “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” You and Joseph also have to find a way to get around Article of Faith #13: “We believe in being honest….”

            A 37 year old man marrying a 14 year old girl in 1843 was NOT socially acceptable. Average marriage age of women, during this time, was 20-21 (sources vary). The average age of a girl’s first period, at this time, was 15-16 (sources vary; current average age of first period is 13).

            It was not legal for Joseph to marry Helen Mar Kimball. It was not socially acceptable for Joseph (age 37) to “marry” Helen Mar Kimball. And it absolutely wasn’t ethical for Joseph to do all of this behind Emma’s back. Additionally, Joseph used his religious/spiritual position of authority to get Heber C. Kimball to accept his advance towards Helen, promising exaltation for her family. Joseph did this after first testing Heber when he asked for Heber’s wife, Vilate (which Heber agreed to)…… Unfortunately, The White Stone, you’re in the tough position of trying to defend all of this.

          • The White Stone

            I attacked the critics positions on the marriage by pointing out the fact that women did marry that young back then, and that large age differences were not seen as some moral black mark. Milton, Baden-Powel and others did not suffer a loss of reputation for marrying women decades younger than themselves. I don’t know what historical facts from that time you rely on to conclude their ages made it unacceptable in that day. It was a different era and applying our ideas to that time is not valid grounds to claim Joseph was not a prophet.

            The only potential legal issue about it is the polygamous aspect, not their ages, but marriage law was not so clear cut as you seem to think. Often the state had no issue with a married person remarrying without a formal divorce if abandoned for a length of time, or allowed marriages without a marriage license as long as a minister of the church they were married in would vouch that the marriage met with the requirements of their faith. In Illinois adultery had to be open and public knowledge before it became criminal. Add on top of that that it appears that this particular marriage was never consummated, and may have been a sealing for eternity only. Also, Heber was the one who sought for it according to his daughter.

            As I said however, I don’t really care about the legal aspect of it because God’s authority trumps the authority of the State. If you disagree with that then that would make the State your god, and what a poor god that would be. The 12th AoF is a generalization, if you look in D&C 134 is clear that human governments have no right to infringe on freedom of religion, and it says that sedition and treason are not acceptable IF the government protects people’s rights (v5), so loyalty to the state is not absolute, it depends on the government protecting people’s God given rights.

            You can look in the Bible and see that Daniel openly, deliberately and knowingly disobeyed the law when it infringed on his religious freedom, and God saw fit to protect him when he was cast into the lion’s den over it. Capt. Moroni was perfectly willing to violently overthrow his own government to protect his people’s freedom of religion, and he is held up as an example we should all aspire too. The founding fathers of the USA knowingly committed treason against England, yet they were led to do so by God (again for the sake of religious freedom among other things). So I have no problem at all with any of the civil disobedience practiced by the church over polygamy, if you have to chose between obeying God and obeying the state, the right choice is God.

            That doesn’t mean civil disobedience is automatically what you do in those situations, there are other examples like Moses where God struck down the oppressors, or times like Alma the Elder and those who followed him who were commanded to endure it, then given escape, but it is a valid option in cases freedom of religion is being imposed upon.

          • MTB

            You “don’t really care about the legal aspect,” so I’m not sure it’s really worth continuing the discussion. It appears that you don’t accept any reasonable standard (legal, ethical or otherwise) to judge Joseph Smith’s behavior, so it’s pointless to explore this further. We’re both just wasting our time. Unfortunately, for your position, most people do have a reasonable standard in which they judge the behavior of others. And most people that learn about Joseph’s behavior find it to be indefensible (including many church members, many who now seem to be buying into the “fallen prophet” theory).

            Helen Mar’s marriage was never consummated? It appears that you agree with Brian Hales: that unless there is a sex tape, sex didn’t happen. The recent church essay is certainly open to the possibility that Joseph had sex with Helen. And Joseph was certainly sexually active with other wives (even Hales concedes this). Even in a scenario where Helen is not sexual with Joseph, she is expected to remain a virgin her entire life? Or, was Joseph waiting til she hit puberty to have sex with her (which was a practice that later occurred in Utah)? Regardless, my guess is that even if it could be proven that 37 yr old Joseph had sex with 14 yr old Helen that you would go to any lengths to be OK with it.

            You seem very willing to give Joseph the benefit of the doubt, at every turn. I’m interested in what was said about Joseph by those that knew him the best.

            “Joseph was very free in his talk about his women. He told me one day of a certain girl and remarked, that she had given him more pleasure than any girl he had ever enjoyed. I told him it was horrible to talk like this.” – Joseph Smith’s close confidant and LDS Church First Councilor, William Law, Interview in Salt Lake Tribune, July 31, 1887

            I have no idea if you have children. I would like to pose a question to you. Assume you have a 14 yr old daughter. Would you allow Thomas S. Monson to take her as his wife if he asked you for your daughter? What if Monson told you that God commanded him to do so? What if Monson told you that this act would seal his family to yours?

            Lastly, I was in Colorado City recently. There are people there defending the behavior of Warren Jeffs, in nearly the same fashion as you are defending Joseph Smith; God’s law trumps man’s law, Warren was commanded by God, the fact that critics attack us just proves that our church is true, etc……

          • The White Stone

            Whose legal standard, whose ethical standard? You want to take today’s and hold people from centuries ago to it when so much was so different. I don’t find that fair. I come at this with a conviction that JS is a true prophet, so unlike you I’m not trying to sit in judgement of him, I’m looking to better understand the situation in that context. The only way a person relying on their own mind could accurately judge what God will and will not do or ask of somebody is if they themselves are as wise and all knowing as God is, and nobody is like that. And to use hearsay from more than 40 years after Joseph’s death coming from a man who was an excommunicate apostate as if it had any kind of validity, what on earth makes you think I would put any stock in something like that? No intellectually honest scholar would rely on such a source.

          • Michael Anderson

            Kind of how no intellectually honest scholar would rely on a book of such dubious origins as the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham.

          • NoLongerASheeple

            People who tell me that “God’s authority trumps the authority of the State” terrify me. That’s exactly how we end up with Sharia Law.

            And marrying someone “decades younger” is a far cry from marrying a prepubescent teen. Or sending your friend on a mission and marrying his wife while you are gone the way Joseph Smith did. In the end though what is the greater evil? Having sex outside of marriage like Joseph did with Fanny Alger…or being sealed to another man’s wife in the temple and stealing her for eternity? Even Joseph’s friend Oliver Cowdery called it a “dirty little affair.”

            How much coercion is there in telling one of your followers that God is going to smite you with a “flaming sword” if she doesn’t marry you? Anybody with any sense of ethics can understand that using your position to score sex is unethical.

            If God really did those things and forced Joseph into polygamy (a proposition of which I entertain tremendous doubt) then he is a god I am unwilling to follow. For me to follow any god, that being would have to have a greater moral code than is displayed in early Mormon History. So which is it? Is God an amoral ruler over Mormonism, or is Joseph Smith an unethical and amoral man who used his position to gain access to women and sex?

          • The White Stone

            Ever think how scary it would be to live under a government that considered itself to be above God? It seems to me that the only time God exercises his veto is when the state tries to prevent His people from living the gospel, so you don’t have anything to fear from us Mormons unless you intend to violate our rights. The USA was founded on the concept that the God given rights we all have trump our allegience to an earthly king.

            I would say your understanding of early Mormon history is flawed, and your concept of morality is not a perfect match with God’s. You can look in 2Sam 12 and see that the Lord himself gave David plural wives, and doubled down on it saying he would have given David even more if he wanted. If you want to sit in judgemnt of God, you can do that, but it won’t get you far.

          • NoLongerASheeple

            I think it is far beyond time that humans sit in judgment of God. His behavior and actions are more in line with that of a mafia godfather than a loving deity.

            I have no fear of your worthless and powerless deity, nor of your imaginary afterlife. Any god who treats women as chattel, merely as whores for men like Joseph Smith, is not a god worthy of respect, let alone my worship.

          • KAE

            The mental gymnastics that believing Mormons have to do is almost laughable.

            “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.”

            Revised Laws of Illinois, 1833, p.198-99

            Lorenzo Snow’s testimony in the “Temple Lot Case”, pp. 320-322:

            “A man that violated this law in the Doctrine and Covenants,
            1835 edition, until the acceptance of that revelation by the church, violated the law of the church if he practiced plural marriage. Yes sir, he would have been cut off from the church, I think I should have been if I had. Before the giving of that revelation in 1843 if a man married more wives than one who were living at the same time, he would have been cut off from the church. It would have been adultery under the laws of the church and under the laws of the state, too.”

            So Joseph Smith (and a few others) were violating the law of the church and the state as he was actively engaged in polygamy and polyandry as early as 1833.

            And from the church’s essay on Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo:

            “In Joseph Smith’s time, monogamy was the only legal form of marriage in the United States.”

          • The White Stone

            I don’t really care what the law said, God’s commands trump them.

            As for the Temple Lot case, this a case of using an incorrect quote and ignoring contrary evidence to set up a false accusation. If you look at the actual 1650 page 1892 Temple Lot deposition transcripts (not the heavily edited 507 page abstract summary transcripts) the phrase at the end of the quote ” and under the laws of the state, too.” is not there, it is a fabrication. Furthermore, the same deposition has this exchange between the RLDS lawyer and Snow:

            Q. Could he [Joseph Smith] receive a revelation and act upon it, that
            was contrary in its teachings and provisions to the laws of the church
            to govern the church, without a violation of those laws?

            A. Yes sir, I see that distinctly and understand it and I want you to understand it too

            In other words, since Joseph was commanded to practice plural marriage, he was not in
            violation of the law of the church, he was authorized to do it even though it was not the law of the church. The claim that Snow’s deposition establishes that Joseph was in violation of state law or church law is not at all justified.

            You can compare the situation with David taking the shewbread that by law was only for the Priests. In his desperate circumstances he needed it and there was no other option. Christ cited the incident favorably when he and his disciples were criticized for gleaning on the Sabbath so it seems he didn’t have a problem with it. Or you can look at Nephi and Laban. By law it was cold blooded murder, but God commanded it. God has the authority to give specific exceptions according to his wisdom.

          • MTB

            The White Stone, you’ve made several references to God’s law trumping man’s law. What I find interesting about this is the fact that the church ended up caving to man’s law (The 1887 Edmunds-Tucker Act) by abandoning (sort-of, but not really) polygamy in 1890 (and again in 1904). Why did the church not simply adhere to God’s law, not man’s law? You stated that Joseph was commanded to practice polygamy. Brigham Young and John Taylor were very clear that it would always be practiced. But, apparently the institutional church doesn’t have the same conviction of God’s law trumping man’s law that you seem to have. If they did, they would still openly be practicing polygamy, no? Cuz that’s what God commanded. Or maybe “man” has more power that you give him credit for. Or, maybe the institutional church is more practical than you are and recognized that they would cease to exist if they didn’t finally yield to “man’s law” in 1890.

          • The White Stone

            Go back and read OD1 again, President Woodruff said he went to the Lord prepared to do His will either way, continue polygamy and fight the US government if that was what the Lord wanted, or give it up if that was what the Lord wanted. It wasn’t the church the decided to end it, it was the Lord who commanded it to stop, removing the conflict. In His wisdom that was the best course to take so the church was right to practice it when they were under command to do so, and they were right to stop it when that was the Lord’s command. Civil disobedience is a valid options at times, but not the only option and not always the right option.

            JS and BY did not teach that a man must have plural wives or a woman must be a plural wife to be exalted, and it was not church doctrine that the Saints would practice polygamy up to the second coming of Christ although some may have held that as a personal opinion. They did teach that members must accept it as a true and eternal doctrine but that doesn’t require being in a polygamous marriage. Since the doctrine is that polygamy is allowed only at those times when God ordains it so, and this is not one of those times, my being in a monogamous marriage is fully in harmony with the doctrine.

    • Matt Bennett

      White Stone, can I ask where you grew up? I grew up outside of Utah (Colorado) and these things were somewhat addressed there. I learned about most of the issues via FAIR or FARMS. I’m wondering if these things are taught in more detail outside of the “Mormon Bubble” of Utah and Idaho.

      • The White Stone

        I grew up and still live in Ontario Canada so there may be a Mormon bubble effect, but if so it is just that being in the Mormon bubble makes it easy to coast along living a Mormon life without having to put as much effort into understanding it. The material is there in multiple church publications and if a person is doing their best to be a student of the gospel it should not matter where they grew up.

        • Matt Bennett

          I don’t know. I think the “bubble” effect can be incredibly harmful. Mormon culture is rife with a lot of misunderstanding of our own history and the practical application of Christian doctrine. Elitism and pride run rampant. It’s the same phenomenon as the ancient Jews: get too many people who think they’re chosen in one place for too long and they end up worse than the supposed heathens around them. You can find various articles about uncomfortable topics in Church publications, but basic curriculum hasn’t been forthright in the discussions. I’ve lived in a few different states in the past few years and everywhere I’ve lived, a real interest and study into Mormon history has been the exception rather than the rule.

          • The White Stone

            I agree there is a danger of that, but a person can grow up in Utah and not turn out like that. If you are lazy about living the gospel in the bubble you end up like that, elsewhere you wind up as a less active.

    • NoLongerASheeple

      “In doing that research I found that while there are many accusations that on the surface appear valid and damning, the truth is that they do not stand up to scrutiny and my testimony was strengthened by this exercise.”

      Yes, all you had to do was twist it in your mind just a little and VOILA! it suddenly makes sense. When you start with the premise of “The church is true” it is amazing how easily you can make really disgusting behavior seem “godlike.” Behavior like, hmmm, marrying 14 year old girls, other men’s wives, being sealed to them for all eternity and thus stealing them from their rightful husbands for eternity. I really do think that religion poisons everything…including people’s ability to have compassion for the real victims (hint: not Joseph Smith.)

  • Sean Hurst

    These were my exact thoughts when reading this article. In my experience, people don’t leave to sin. Those who leave because they want to sin, often continue to agonize over it, if they believe the church is true. This often brings them back in the end (much like the story in this article). I began studying the issues to save a “fallen comrade,” at which point I found out that what he was saying was true and what the church was claiming was not. Big blow to my world view there. Yet, the church continues to teach that we all leave to sin.

    • Porter Rockwell

      Insinuating that apostates have some sort of moral sin to hide is a common theme among many religions. I have met many, many more people who have left over issues with Mormon history and the treatment of LGBT individuals than any others. I don’t know of any study that has been performed, but I would be willing to bet my retirement on the latter as the more common occurrence.

      • KAE

        I agree with you on that. My journey out started with the way the church was treating LGBT people. As I researched that it led to Mormon history and doctrinal issues. I belong to a couple of ex-mormon facebook groups and the historical and doctrinal issues are the reason all of the members are there.

    • Borismkv

      Pride is a sin, too, you know…

  • Davey t

    Excellent succinct comments. I see some people are suggesting that the new version of church history – as explained in the gospel topics – has always been taught (why new articles then?) and that they always knew them etc. Phooey.

    Since exiting the church (painful process, sad experience and nothing to do with sin, offence or a desire to disprove the church) it is as if I can think clearly again. I realised that when I was ‘in love’ with mormonism I was almost incapable of describing what would make it false, a blind spot in my mental perception. I was so focused on living the mormon life that I couldn’t see obvious flaws and lies. Now I have left it gets much simpler as hopefully my checklist will show – the biggest is point 4:

    1: If scriptural style, miraculous healing occurs in Mormonism then it would be common (daily? one would assume amongst 4 million active members giving and receiving blessings) national news (child regrows limb, woman comes back to life after x days in morgue, queues form outside LDS chapels for healings etc.) Lourdes is a fake shrine of healing and yet thousands line up just in case. If real healing worked even 5% of the time it would cause multitudes to descend on SLC – just like Lourdes. Also LDS incidence rates for all illnesses, removing healthy living and obesity modifiers, would be vastly lower since members would constantly be getting healed. As a former missionary I can confirm that Mormons do not have a name for healing and that no people stopped me on the street to receive my Priesthood endowed ailment removal skills.

    2: If the BoM was historically true then the Americas would be littered with artefacts and archaeological evidence. There are tiny viking outposts of a few hundred people in the Americas that have yielded artefacts. Million men civilisations leave evidence. It is that simple. God didn’t clean up all the Egyptian / Hebrew / Israelite artefacts just to make the bible a matter of faith and neither would any god do that for the BoM. Also early versions of bible text are available (things like the Dead Sea scrolls) – there is no earthly reason why God would take away the Gold Plates to make discovering Mormonism about faith only but the discovery of Christianity a matter of faith AND evidence. God doesn’t load the dice in the ‘last days’ to make the test a bit harder by providing evidence of the historicity of the bible but removing all evidence of the BoM.

    3: By their fruits ye shall know them. No prophecies, no revelations, no translations of ancient records (general conference is not the place to go to find out new information but it is the place to go to hear the same generic message repeated – pray/obey/pay) but self appointed apostles fooled by Hoffman, made up doctrine (racism in the Priesthood), vast investment in business (Kirtland bank fraud through to city Creek), miniscule investment in charity, refusal to open the financial books to the members, confusing/dishonest/untrue statements on core doctrine and history (Adam / God, As man is God once was, Kolob, Interracial marriage, polygamy needed – monogamy bad, free agency changed to moral agency, glory of God is intelligence v some truth is not useful/when prophet speaks thinking is done, changing temple ceremony , status of book of Abraham, meaning of D&C – especially regarding Everlasting Covenant, removal of magical practices – healing hankies/canes/cloaks, dowsing rods, curses, seer stones, how translation occurred, JS polygamy/polyandry/child brides/adultery) and an absolute lack of any priesthood power manifestations.

    4: The church of a true, divine and omnipotent and compassionate being would be at the forefront of all intellectual, social, personal and scientific fields. It would be spearheading the eradication of communicable diseases, its finances would be structured to bring about real world change through worldwide education facilities, its hospitals would be the best in the world (because blessings would work hand in hand with procedures), the exploration of the moon and solar system would be done with a pioneer spirit and by revelation, church conferences would be eagerly attended by world delegates and newspapers ,excitement would mount like an Apple product launch, as real prophets warned where earthquakes would occur, would reveal knew astronomical data, would share new technology to harness quantum power and would give new information that NEVER superceded previous, correct revelations and pronouncements but instead built on them. This church would be a veritable ‘beacon on the hill’ to the rest of the world.

    It is a fraud. One that gave me , at times, extremely happy experiences but a fraud nevertheless.

    • Borismkv

      1. You really just don’t understand the doctrine, do you?

      2. There is almost no surviving historical evidence of what is described by the majority of the Old Testament. The documentation used to create the bible exists, but the evidence of almost everything that has happened has been washed away by time. Even the location of the temple of Solomon in Jerusalem is gone. There is significant evidence to suggest that the tomb of St Peter contains the bones of Alexander the Great. This point is demonstrably false.

      3. You really need to actually investigate your own claims…there’s this thing called confirmation bias…you’re very obviously a victim of it…
      4. It’s absolutely fabulous that you have the mental foresight, wisdom, and knowledge necessary to determine exactly how the world would respond to this…This whole statement is pure arrogance and pride. The Jews killed their own Messiah because they didn’t like what he said. And, I’m sorry, but do you honestly think that a being who has lived countless billions of years, who watches over countless billions of stars and planets would actually waste his time revealing such inane and eternally unimportant matters as where an earthquake is going to hit? The level of arrogance in your post is astonishing. I just wish you could see it.

      • Davey t

        1 – is a personal attack (of course I understand the doctrine – I was a member for 35 years, missionary, EQP etc..) – don’t score points. Explain YOUR doctrinal understanding to refute the point – making wild assumptions is poor behaviour.

        2 Don’t make this too difficult. Jerusalem still exists. Bible makes authentic references to historical places YOU CAN STILL VISIT. BoM references places that – with the exception of the supposed Cumorah – you cannot.

        3 Evidence – not confirmation bias. Please feel free to list some modern prophecy/revelation or translation work accomplished by Monson.

        4 I suggest you read some church history on what the early prophets (Joseph and Brigham in particular) saw as the role of the church regarding science and knowledge and its place in the world.

        As you sit through yet another dire, uninspiring deluge of rehashed statements and quotes in the next general conference I hope you have the mental courage to ask yourself what on earth this all has to do with the supposed apocalyptic second coming of a divine being. As you get another story about Tommy and the widows ask yourself how long you can waste your time on this tripe.

        • Davey t

          In fact – I’ll do some of the legwork on point 4 for you (actually for anyone else who may come along and read this).

          “In the days of Joseph [Smith] it was considered a great privilege to be permitted to speak to a member of Congress, but twenty-six years will not pass away before the Elders of this Church will be as much thought of as the kings on their thrones,” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 4, p. 40).

          “It is our duty to concentrate all our influence to make popular that which is sound and good, and unpopular that which is unsound. ”
          ― Joseph Smith Jr., History of the Church

          “The exaltation and happiness of any community, goes hand in hand with the knowledge possessed by the people, when applied to laudable ends; whereupon we can exclaim like the wise man; righteousness exalteth a nation; for righteousness embraces knowledge and knowledge is power.”
          ― Joseph Smith Jr.

          “A man filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race.”
          ― Joseph Smith Jr.

          “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent and in doing good to all men; indeed we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul – We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” Articles of Faith

          “he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing—unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God; yea, unto such it shall be given to reveal things which never have been revealed; yea, and it shall be given unto such to bring thousands of souls to repentance, even as it has been given unto us to bring these our brethren to repentance.”
          ― Joseph Smith Jr

          “If an Elder shall give us a lecture upon astronomy, chemistry, or geology, our religion embraces it all. It matters not what the subject be, if it tends to improve the mind, exalt the feelings, and enlarge the capacity. The truth that is in all the arts and sciences forms part of our religion. Faith is no more a part of it than any other true principle of philosophy.”
          ― Brigham Young

          “It is the duty of a Saint of God to gain all the influence he can on this earth, and to use every particle of that influence to do good.”
          ― Brigham Young

  • Maryanne Schiller

    I left as a teen for pride reasons, but then I fought against the church, for the very reasons you mentioned and many many more. God led me back to church on a journey I wont share here. but some of that journey included me searching a little deeper about each issue, and praying about it. I came to learn and understand many important truths. Joseph Smith gave the priesthood to a black man and he was a 70, but God told him to change that for a time. the blacks of the day knew and understood it was temporary. Brigham young was a loud and bold man who is often misquoted, but was what the church needed in his time, and in the eternal perspective his imperfect self was who was needed. All our prophets from adam to monson were imperfect people. who often did sin. but brought about God’s purposes. in 1800’s marrying a teenager was acceptable and normal for the day. think about jerry lee lewis in the 50’s who married his 13 yr old cousin. it was ok and legal. just because we don’t approve now, doesnt make it wrong for the day. the polygamy issues was prophesied about, and if you consider the time that women could not own property or vote etc. they needed a name only. these women were being married off primarily in name in JS time, though not so much later. whether Joseph smith sinned or not does not negate the truth of the book of mormon. yes he used a rock in a hat to translate it. his description of this technology of holographic words displaying in a dark space matches current understandings…. he didn’t understand how it worked exactly, but don’t you think God is capable of using whatever he wants to help a person bring about his purposes….. yes there are seeming anachronisms in it, but then thats based on who’s information? did you know that archaeologists in oregon uncovered things like camels and horses? there is tons of debate over the hopewell peoples and the such as to if they are the book of mormon people or not… swords were first made 3300bc, why could the laminates and nephites not have made them? you do understand that technology is gained and lost over and over again throughout history just because the indians when we got here didn’t have swords made of steel, doesn’t mean there wasn’t a period when doing it was known and since forgotten. back to the idea of the horse. most people believe that the history of the horse in americas is ancient until it was rediscovered and the explorers brought horses and set them free, then the indians learned to use them… but ancient indian legends always did have horses. and there is no sudden recognition of a new species among the indians who had always known what was in their lands. just because the few explorers who were here first didn’t see people riding horses doesn’t mean there werent people riding them. the nodina site of the mounds builders as described by de soto, the indians lived in fortified towns with roads and had a vast trading system…

    there IS enough information to support it, there is also enough arguments to suggest it does not fit… the problem is, unless you can handle the horses head found in the mounds and know how to date it, you won’t know for sure. it becomes a matter of faith. do you trust in God, or man…??? did you at one time have a true testimony did you ever pray to know the truth and have it confirmed to your heart and your minds eye? do you now doubt those confirmations?

    you say that the church hid its history… well it didn’t…. I do HATE fluffy gospel where we learn in primary that JS used the urim and thumim or that the flood was only 40 days or that cain and able are the first children. but the truth is published by the church. in the friend and the ensign the story of the rocks in a hat were published. besides in the history of the church. which is published by the church…. and every member was encouraged to own a copy of both the history and the comprehensive history….. the problem is that we as we grow up hear the easy to tell story, and then feel like we’ve been lied to when we hear the rest of the story. I don’t think that intelligence or thinking is a sin. but it is easy to get snared into a trap of thinking that people who do not believe in our church or often in God have more truth than or understanding than what God will give you if you talk to him and ask him for the answers.

    There is not one single argument against the church I have ever heard (and I’ve heard plenty) that I have not learned the truth on. let go of the history for a moment, and ask yourself things like this… did I ever believe the book of mormon was true? why? did I ever believe the church was true? why? if the answer is because it was what you were taught. then I submit that you never did have a testimony, but that you were working from someone else’s testimony. seek the truth… not from man or woman or internet. seek it from God. Ask him which church is true. ask him if he exists. let go of what you think you know, for or against the church. read the bible and the book of mormon entirely and as you read it ask God to tell you if it is true.

    consider the basic tenants of the faith. who is god, what is our purpose, the need for priesthood authority, the need for the temples. are any of those things important to you? do you find your eternal perspective fulfilled where you are?

    you are correct often the church tells us that by sin we leave the church… and let me suggest, that the sin against the holy ghost may be the only sin you have committed on the way out, if you have denied that which he had confirmed in your heart to be true. I am not saying you have. though it is easy to do. consider your self carefully. have you ever had the spirit confirm it to be true, and are you now denying it? if you have not. has the spirit ever confirmed to you that the church is not true? or have you just not gotten an answer? I know the spirit has confirmed over and over again that the church is true. and when I find myslef doubting I pray to know, and I am reminded of those times when the spirit confirmed it to me, and I know that I already know. so then I ask for help to understand the what I am reading or hearing that seems to contradict what I know… it usually doesn’t take very long to open up my various books to find the subject matter and read straight from the horses mouth. and as I do if I am willing to hear the promptings of the spirit my minds eye is opened and my understanding is enlightened. and it can be that way for anyone.

    • Julie

      Hi Maryanne. I would like to address to the statements you made in your post. The first one being, “In the 1800’s marrying a teenager was acceptable and normal for the day. Honestly, and no offense to you, but what you wrote was shocking to me. Yes, some people did get married younger in that time period in history, but the people who got married were closer to the same age, AND, they weren’t already married to someone else. You also said, “Think about Jerry Lee Louis who married his 13 year old cousin. It was ok and legal.” I’m sincerely trying to understand why you would use Jerry Lee Louis as a comparison. Just because it happened doesn’t mean it was okay, legal or not. The one thing that keeps coming to my mind is what Joseph Smith said to some of these young girls, that by marrying and/or being sealed to him, their place and their family’s place in Heaven would be assured. Why would marrying Joseph Smith assure them a place in Heaven? Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought Jesus is the one who made that possible. Wasn’t what Jesus did enough? To add to this sentiment, I would like to share with you what Joseph Smith said when he gave his address to the dissentors at Nauvoo, History of the Church volume 6, pages 408-409. “God is in the still small voice. In all these affidavits, indictments, it is all of the devil–all corruption. Come on! ye prosecutors! ye false swearers! All hell, boil over! Ye burning mountains, roll down your lava! for I will come out on the top at last. I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet.” Wow.

      The other statement you made that I would like to address is this one, “You are correct, often the church tells us that by sin we leave the church… and let me suggest, that the sin against the holy ghost may be the only sin you have committed on the way out, if you have denied that which he had confirmed in your heart to be true. I am not saying you have.” Again Marryanne, no offense to you, but that was a very presumptuous thing to say. To speculate what Albert Carrington’s experience has been with the Holy Ghost is unfair I think he explained very well, how he came to the conclusion he did. Just because his conclusion is different than yours, does not make his wrong, or any less powerful and than what you have surmised from the experiences you say you have had. Thank goodness we live in a country that allows us religious freedom. Both yours, mine, Albert’s, everyones.

      • Maryanne Schiller

        honestly look at historical marriages. the more “modern” we get the more we judge children as such and the older they are required to be to get married. but no having an older man marry a younger girl was frequently the case throughout history… personally I think its a good idea… men don’t grow up til 40… and women are already adults by 20… but all joking aside. I mentioned jerry lewis because this happened not in the 1800’s but in the 1950s and he was 40+ and she was 13. it was OK. it was legal. and generally socially acceptable to Americans anyways. which shows that a 40 yr old marrying a teen is a prime example that what JS did in his day was not abnormal or a pedophile or anything of the such…. let me add that even today it is not uncommon for marriages to be as much as 25ish years apart. my grandparents though married to each other much later in life had 25 years difference. my neighbors today have a bit more than that seeing as she babysat for him when she was 12 and he was 30+… but now that they are both adults its no big deal…. how often today do old men marry younger women… are they bad for it? just because we now view 13 as too young… it was acceptable then. so whats the difference between a 50 yr old marrying a 25 yr old and a 13 yr old marrying a 28 yr old..(which is how old JS would have been to his youngest wife… is 15 years difference really so great?
        its a numbers game… sound big between 13 and 28
        but how about between 25 and 40? 40 and 55? 60 & 75….. its just not such a big thing….

        as to why it would give them salvation.. in mormon doctrine being sealed to an individual in the temple gives you a higher reward in heaven than those who do not. in that day many women were leaving families and coming alone, and so eligible worthy men were fewer and farrer between. additionally suppose for a moment you really thought JS was a prophet. I assume you don’t.. but lets pretend… if he was a prophet then as a chosen of God he is going to heaven. if he is and his stories are true. then section 132 tells us that by being married to a worthy person.. like the prophet.. would assure you a place in heaven. because almost nothing you can do at that point would lose you your eternal reward… this is seriously overgeneralizing… but can you see how if it is true then according to his understandings by marrying in spirit these girls and being sealed to them, they would be assured a place in heaven….

        I’m fully aware of this quote by JS. and well… I can see how it would be taken that he had some great amount of pride to say he has done something jesus did not… though in truth. Jesus’ church did not stay together, and JS church did. yes he is all riled up and speaking as a human does. and being prideful….. well can you blame him. seems like he’s having a common prophet problem of having some pride. kinda like moses being all high and mighty smiting that rock….

        whats the big deal? I’m guessing your holding him to some nonhuman higher standard. but if you saw God, was visited by angels, and was told by heavenly messenger how great things you would accomplish.. don’t you think you would let your pride slip out a bit when riled up….

        bring prophet down a notch to human messenger of God. and remember whatever else he is… he is a man…

        • Julie

          Hi Maryanne,
          Your wrote, “as to why it would give them salvation.. in mormon doctrine being sealed to an individual in the temple gives you a higher reward in heaven than those who do not. in that day many women were leaving families and coming alone.” This precious girl was fourteen years old. She had plenty of time to find a man to be sealed to and “obtain a higher degree of heaven.” I’m sorry Maryanne. I can’t buy it. We will have to just respectfully agree to disagree, and I do. As far as holding Joseph Smith to “some nonhuman higher standard,” all I can say to that is, this isn’t the only problem credibility that has been in question. The mental gymnastics required to deal with all of them makes my stomach and mind hurt. All the best to you.

          • Maryanne Schiller

            as to the girl, we can respectfully disagree…. we are on very different perspectives here…

            there are no great mental gymnastics required. just simple logic and reasoning. yes there are lots of questions. and if you are a Christian, and have ever spoken to an atheist about Christ I am sure they feel the same way… if you are Christian then I am sure you are willing to do the gymnastics, because you choose to believe. I believe because I have had the testimony of the Holy Spirit many many times, tell me that the Book of Mormon is true, and so is the LDS church… and so I am willing to look carefully at each question, and find the truth.. I pray that all those who earnestly want to know the truth, find the time and energy to jump through a few hoops to find the truth. its worth it in the end.

          • NoLongerASheeple

            What exactly does “true” mean? Are you trying to say that the Book of Mormon is “factual?” Clearly it is not. Steel making is a process that was not invented until 300 B.C.E. or about 300 years after Lehi allegedly set sail for America. Horses went extinct in the “New World” about 10,000 B.C.E. and weren’t reintroduced into the Americas until the Europeans came in the late 15th and early 16th century. The wheel didn’t show up in America until the Europeans brought the concept with them. Barley was another item which the Europeans brought with them. The main crop among the indigenous people was maize or corn.

            None of the geological, archaeological, anthropological, or biological records concur with the Book of Mormon narrative. There is however a great deal of evidence for a competing Siberian/Mongolian migration narrative.

            So…”truth?” I highly doubt that.

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  • Jennifer Boyer

    I enjoyed reading your perspective. I am an active member with a life lived much like yours before leaving the church. I am currently going through my own faith journey where i feel compelled to search out peoples stories to try to understand and have more empathy as to why they left or struggle in the church. Your thoughts helped me. Thank you.


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